Question Time

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Question Time in a parliament occurs when members of the parliament ask questions of Government Ministers (including the Prime Minister) which they are obliged to answer. It usually occurs daily while parliament is sitting, though it can be cancelled in exceptional circumstances. Question Time originated in the Westminster system of the United Kingdom, but occurs in several other countries as well.

In practice, the questions asked in Question Time are usually pre-arranged by the organisers of each party; although the questions are usually without notice. Questions from government backbenchers are either intended to allow the Minister to discuss the virtues of government policy, or to attack the opposition. A typical format of such a government backbencher's question might be "Could the Minister discuss the benefits of the government's initiative on <issue>, and is the Minister aware of any alternative policies in this area?"[1] Ministers may attempt to avoid opposition questions, but lying or intentionally providing misleading answers to Parliament is not permitted by the standing orders. The resulting political outcry could, and often does, result in that Minister being relieved of their position, and possibly suspended from the House. Skilled Ministers will often attempt to turn around the opposition's questions, rather than answering the question asked using them to further attack the opposition.[2]

Contents

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, Question time lasts for an hour each day from Monday to Thursday (2:30 to 3:30 on Mondays and Tuesdays, 11:30 to 12:30 on Wednesdays, and 10:30 to 12:30 on Thursdays). Each Government department has its place in a rota which repeats every fortnight. The exception to this sequence are the Business Questions (Questions to the Leader of House of Commons), in which questions are submitted about Parliamentary procedure, as well as any issue that MPs might want to raise to the government. Also, Questions to the Prime Minister takes place each Wednesday from 12 noon to 12:30.

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