Early Day Motions (EDMs) are formal motions, of no longer than 250 words, submitted for debate in the House of Commons which allow MPs to draw attention to particular issues.
EDMs do provide a good opportunity for MPs to publicise their views and draw attention to particular events or campaigns. MPs register their support for issues by signing individual motions. The majority of EDMs will attract only one or two signatures. In an average Parliamentary session only six or seven EDMs reach over 200 signatures. However, an EDM is not likely to be debated even if it gains a large number of signatures.
I, along with many fellow new MPs, do not sign EDMs as they have little legislative effect and are very expensive, costing taxpayers upwards of £500,000 a year. I believe that EDMs have become devalued by motions that, for example, congratulate football teams or are sponsored by NGOs and lobbyists. In reality these motions achieve very little in lobbying Ministers as it is extremely easy for them to ignore an EDM. By contrast writing to a specific Minister, as I do on behalf of many of my constituents, means that they can gauge the effect that certain decisions or policies are having.