parliamentary question

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Question addressed by members of a legislature to government ministers. In the UK Parliament oral questions, notice of which is given 48 hours in advance, are presented during question time; each MP called is also allowed to ask one unnotified supplementary question. At Prime Minister's question time special conventions apply, in particular allowing the Leader of the Opposition to ask up to three or four unnotified questions. Private Notice Questions, also delivered orally, are those which are allowed by the Speaker at short notice on the grounds of urgency. Written questions may be put to ministers at any time.

Formally, parliamentary questions offer one of the principal means by which members of a legislature may call ministers to account and scrutinize their operations. In practice, the regulation of questions by notification and limiting the number leads only to truncated debate and/or party political theatre. The long‐term decline in the Prime Minister's availability for questions in the House of Commons reflects the extent to which the importance of parliamentary questions to good government has diminished and their potential for embarrassing ministers, particularly the Prime Minister, with party political rhetoric has increased. Parliamentary questions also came under scrutiny during the 1990s when it was alleged that in a number of cases MPs asked questions in return for money from outside interests. Following the work of the Nolan Committee on Standards in Public Life, Parliament imposed the requirement that all MPs make full disclosures of their financial dealings so as to revive faith in parliamentary questions.


Subjects: Politics.

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