Not all debates in the House of Commons take place in the main chamber.
There is also a smaller side chamber, named the Grand Committee Room, but more commonly known as Westminster Hall, because it sits next to the historic Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Palace of Westminster.
Each month, government departments take it in turns to hold debates in Westminster Hall, and as with other aspects of Commons life, MPs submit a form requesting a debate and then these are drawn out of a hat for each week.
The debates themselves can last for thirty, sixty or ninety minutes. They do not lead to any new laws but are a good way for MPs to be able to raise a subject, and to have a government minister respond.
Last week I was speaking in such a debate in my role as shadow minister, responding to a debate on calls that Freedom of Information rules should be extended to include private contractors delivering public services. It seems odd that we can submit an FoI request to a council, but not to a private company carrying out a public service, using public money, in a contract from that council. It is a loophole that I would like to see closed.
Next week I shall be back in Westminster Hall as backbencher to lead a debate on Wildlife Crime. It is a ninety-minute debate, but I intend to express my concerns about hunting in Cheshire and elsewhere.
There is a law against hunts with dogs killing foxes, but it is very weak. For a prosecution to be successful, you need to prove that the hunt intended to kill the fox. Just allowing a pack of unmuzzled hunting dogs to chase a fox down and rip it to shreds by accident is not enough.
We have seen several foxes killed in Cheshire alone since Christmas – and killed in the most horrific way. I had hoped we had seen the last of such barbarity, but clearly the law is being flouted, or maybe it is just not strong enough. So, I will be raising these issues next week.
Whereas the government controls the timetable in the main chamber, Westminster Hall gives Opposition and back bench MPs the chance to raise issues that are important to them, or to their constituencies, and the government minister can reply.
When the chaos of Brexit is sucking the political life and energy from other parts of politics, it is refreshing to be able to discuss the other issues that can sometimes be ignored.