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More Spontaneity for Assembly Question Time

The Assembly's Procedures Committee has recommended that Ministerial Question Time include time for topical and spontaneous questions to take place during the existing Oral Question Time. The recommendation comes as the Assembly considers the Committee's Report into Topical Questions.

The introduction of a Topical Question Time will be the first time that local Ministers take spontaneous questions from Members on a wide variety of issues--questions on which Ministers have not had specific briefing.

Gerry Kelly MLA, Chairperson of the Committee said: "As we began looking at this issue we recognised that the current planning process for Oral Questions meant that, in most cases, Ministers had time to research and prepare a response for the scheduled questions.

"Introducing Topical Questions--which already take place in Westminster and Edinburgh--will mean that Ministers will only know which Member will ask a question but not what they will be asking. The actual question will only become clear when it is asked on the floor of the Chamber.

"We believe that this is a real opportunity to improve Question Time and will give Members the chance to pursue issues that matter to them, including receiving a Minister's personal opinion; something that is disallowed under the current rules governing Question Time.

"We believe that this change will make Question Time more relevant and more interesting for our constituents."