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Chamber and committees

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid)

Meeting date: Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Agenda: Point of Order, Portfolio Question Time, Ferries, National Health Service Waiting Times, Point of Order, Business Motions, Motion without Notice, Research Excellence Framework Results 2021


Contents


Point of Order

Good afternoon—

On a point of order, Presiding Officer.

At least allow me to say “Good afternoon”, Mr Kerr.

Stephen Kerr

I did not want to miss my opening, Presiding Officer.

I have, I admit, asked this question before in the chamber. It relates to the inequalities that exist between the Executive and Parliament and how badly we need a Parliament that has the power to hold the Executive to account.

Members quite often get short shrift from ministers when we ask oral questions in the chamber—when they do not answer the question at all but simply read out a civil service briefing that happens to be there in front of them, regardless of the specific nature of the supplementary question that is asked.

Today, Presiding Officer, I am asking for your help and guidance in respect of the quality of the answers that I am getting as a member of this Parliament in response to my written questions. In February this year, I asked a question, which was designated S6W-06242. In response, I was told

“We are working closely with local authorities and are in planning stages of this commitment. We will report to Parliament in due course.”—[Written Answers, 4 February 2022; S6W-06242.]

Six months later I asked the same question again, because I had not heard anything in the chamber about the matter. That written question was designated S6W-10759. I was given exactly the same answer—six months later. That is just one example of something that is commonplace and has been experienced by many members across the chamber.

Presiding Officer, what can you do, on behalf of us, as members, to ensure that the Government even attempts to answer the written questions that we submit, as members, on behalf of our constituents?

The Deputy Presiding Officer

Thank you, Mr Kerr—and thank you for advance notice of the point of order. However, you will be aware that the content of written answers is not set out in standing orders. Therefore, that is not a point of order on which I can rule, I am afraid.