People very often ask me how Prime Minister's Questions works, who gets to ask questions and how they are chosen. It is a random selection, MPs submit an application before a deadline and then names are drawn at random in what is called the shuffle.  The first 15 MPs out of the draw then appear on the Order Paper.

In previous years this alone was not a guarantee that you would get the chance to ask your question, as the session might have run out of time, however John Bercow in his role as Speaker always ensures that all 15 get called to ask their question. This has meant that PMQs now tend to over-run its allotted half an hour - very often running for as long as 45 minutes. As well as the 15 named questions on the Order paper, the Leader of the Opposition also gets 6 questions which usually come fairly early in the session.

I am also asked why MPs are seen jumping up and down, and the reason is to try and catch the Speaker’s eye for what is known as a ‘free hit’. These opportunities arise if there is a bias in the results of the shuffle. If all the 15 names on the Order Paper were from one party then the Speaker would randomly select Members from the other Party who indicate their desire to ask a question by standing up to catch his eye.

I submit my name into the draw every week but until recently I had only once been drawn out in this parliament, in September 2015. To illustrate the true random nature of the draw I have been drawn out for the last two weeks and as readers will know my previous question to the Prime Minister was on school funding.

Last week I raised the matter of business rates with her, as I have spoken to several businesses locally who are concerned about the impact of the revaluation on their business rates. Some local businesses have been lifted out of paying business rates altogether, however there are those who are facing hefty increases. I am conscious that I am writing this column prior to the budget, but the Prime Minister responded to my question about these increases saying that the Chancellor would be looking at this as part of his 2017 budget.

Any actions taken will be apparent by the time you read this, however I will listen closely to what those actions are and whether they help address the issues that have been brought to my attention by local companies.

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