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27 June 2008
PROC 5/07


Question time at the Assembly is to be examined in an inquiry initiated by the Standing Committee on Procedures.

Commenting on the new inquiry, the Lord Morrow of Clogher Valley, Chairperson of the Committee on Procedures, said, “Question Time is a very important part of Assembly business; it allows Members to put forward issues of concern to them and their constituents.

“Members already recognise the value of questions as a tool to scrutinise the work of Ministers and the Commission. The Committee is keen to see the role of questions enhanced.”

The inquiry will evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of oral, written and priority written questions and make suggestions for improvements. The response to questions requiring written response and the procedure for private notice questions will be examined and scrutinised by the Committee on Procedures.


Notes to Editors

Background information

A Member may ask a question of a Minister or the Assembly Commission and may seek either an oral or written reply. The purpose of Assembly questions is to seek information or clarification on any issue for which the Minister has responsibility. A question should not ask for an opinion, legal or otherwise, nor contain a disguised statement or debating point.

Oral Questions

Oral Question Time takes place from 2.30pm to 4.00pm on each Monday that the Assembly sits. Each Minister is questioned every four weeks on a rota basis but the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister is questioned every two weeks. During each Question Time three separate Ministers (for a maximum of 30 minutes each) will answer initial questions and supplementary questions from the Members posing them.

A Member is allowed to table just one oral question to each Minister. From the total questions submitted for each Department a maximum of 20 questions is randomly selected by computer and these are published each Wednesday morning. Questions which are not successful in the random shuffle fall although the Member may subsequently re-table the question for written answer or for oral answer at the next opportunity.

Written Questions

Questions tabled for written answer are due for answer ten clear working days later. Members may however table a priority question for answer within 2, 3, 4 or 5 later. A Member can table a maximum of 5 questions for written answer each day. Questions for written answer are published each day.

The Committee on Procedures has 11 Members –

Lord Morrow (DUP) (Chairperson)
Mervyn Storey (DUP) ( Deputy Chairperson)
Mickey Brady (SF)
Francie Brolly (SF)
Lord Browne (DUP)
Raymond McCartney (SF)
David McClarty (UUP)
Adrian McQuillan (DUP)
Sean Neeson (Alliance)
Declan O’Loan (SDLP)
Ken Robinson (UUP)

Media enquiries should be addressed to:

Debra Savage
Press Officer
NI Assembly
Tel: 028 90521405
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