Holyrood to implement time limits for questions

The presiding officer believes shortening the length of questions could allow 180 more to be put to MSPs every year.

Scottish Parliament to implement question time limit in bid to improve Government scrutiny iStock

The Scottish Parliament will implement time limits of 45 seconds for questions and one minute for answers starting from next week, the Presiding Officer has said.

In an email to members on Tuesday, Alison Johnstone said the extension of First Minister’s Questions from 30 to 45 minutes had not allowed more MSPs to question the Government, as had been the goal.

Johnstone and her deputies have repeatedly voiced their frustrations in the chamber over long-winded questions and answers.

“At the beginning of session five, there was cross-party agreement to extend FMQs from 30 to 45 minutes to enable more members to put questions,” she wrote.

“This extended period has not had the intended effect and each week there is significant unmet demand from members across the chamber to put important questions to the First Minister.

“As presiding officer, I take account of the interests of all members equally and I am determined that the opportunity should be afforded to more members.

Shorter exchanges, she said, could result in as many as 180 more questions being put to the Government every parliamentary year.

She added: “To achieve this, questions should be put within 45 seconds, and answers concluded within one minute.

“From the start of the new term in September, the Deputy Presiding Officers and I will intervene where required to implement this approach, allowing more members to put questions on behalf of their constituents and enhancing scrutiny.”

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