This chapter sets out the procedures for questions seeking information, including the answers to questions without notice.
Questions without notice and questions on notice
113. (a) A Member may ask a question in writing to be placed on the Questions on Notice Paper for written reply.
(b) During question time, a Member may ask a question without notice for immediate answer. (Amended 6 March 2008, 13 December 2016)
Questions without notice – number of questions
113A. Questions without notice shall not be concluded until all non-Executive Members rising have asked at least one question. (Adopted 15 September 1994)
113B. Immediately following the answer to a question, one supplementary question may be asked by the Member who asked the original question: provided that the supplementary question is relevant to the original question or arises out of the answer given, contains no preamble, introduces no new matter and is put in precise and direct terms. The Speaker may allow one further supplementary question from other non-Executive Members, provided that the questions are relevant to the original question or the answers given. (Inserted 6 March 2008. Amended 27 August 2009, 13 December 2016)
113C. (Temporary order omitted 23 February 2012)
Questions to Ministers
114. Questions may be put to a Minister relating to public affairs with which that Minister is officially connected, to proceedings pending in the Assembly or to any matter of administration for which that Minister is responsible.
Questions to Speaker
115. Questions may be put to the Speaker relating to any matter of administration for which the Speaker is responsible.
Questions to other Members
116. Questions may be put to a Member, not being a Minister, relating to any bill, motion, or other public matter connected with the business of the Assembly, of which the Member has charge.
Rules for all questions
117. The following general rules shall apply to questions:
(a) questions shall be brief and relate to a single issue;
(b) questions shall not contain:
(i) statements of fact or names of persons unless they are strictly necessary to render the question intelligible and the facts can be authenticated;
(vi) ironical expressions; or
(vii) hypothetical matters;
(c) questions shall not ask Ministers:
(i) for an expression of opinion;
(ii) to announce Executive policy, but may seek an explanation regarding the policy of the Executive and its application, and may ask the Chief Minister whether a Minister’s statement represents Executive policy; or
(iii) for a legal opinion;
(d) questions shall not be asked which reflect on or are critical of the character or conduct of those persons whose conduct may only be challenged on a substantive motion, and notice must be given of questions critical of the character or conduct of other persons;
(e) questions shall not refer to proceedings in committee not yet published or anticipate the outcome of a committee inquiry;
(f) the Speaker may direct that the language of a question be changed, if, in the opinion of the Speaker, it is unbecoming or does not conform with the standing order;
(g) a question fully answered cannot be re-asked. (Amended 6 March 2008)
Answers to questions without notice
118. The answer to a question without notice:
(a) shall be concise and directly relevant to the subject matter of the question (Temporary order 9 December 2008. Adopted 22 March 2012); and
(b) shall not debate the subject to which the question refers; and
(c) shall, in the case of the original question, be not longer than two minutes in length, and in the case of any supplementary question asked, not longer than two minutes in length. The Speaker may, at his/her discretion, order the clock to be stopped. (Adopted 18 November 2003. Amended 27 August 2009, 13 December 2016)
And the Speaker may direct a Member to terminate an answer if of the opinion that these provisions are being contravened or that the Member has had a sufficient opportunity to answer the question. (Amended 6 March 2008)
A Member who believes a response given to a question was in the form of a ministerial statement, may seek the leave of the Speaker to respond to the statement at the conclusion of Question Time for a period not exceeding five minutes. (Temporary order 9 December 2008. Adopted 22 March 2012)
Request for explanation concerning unanswered question
118A. If a Minister does not answer a question on notice (including a question taken on notice during questions without notice) asked by a Member, within 30 days of the asking of that question, and does not, within that period, provide to the Member who asked the question an explanation or statement satisfactory to that Member of why an answer has not yet been provided, then:
(a) at the conclusion of questions without notice on any day after that period, that Member may ask the relevant Minister for such an explanation or a statement in relation to the question; and
(b) the Member may, at the conclusion of the explanation or statement, move without notice “That the Assembly takes note of the explanation”; or
(c) in the event that the Minister does not provide an explanation or statement to the satisfaction of the Member, that Member may, without notice, move a motion with regard to the Minister’s failure to provide an answer, or an explanation or a statement. (Adopted 4 May 1995. Amended 6 March 2008)
119. (Standing order omitted 6 March 2008)
Questions on Notice
120. Questions on Notice shall be given by a Member delivering it to the Clerk within such time as, in the opinion of the Speaker, will enable the question to be fairly printed. The question shall be fairly written and signed by the Member. (Amended 6 March 2008)
121. (Standing order omitted 6 March 2008)
Answers to questions on notice
122. The answer to a question on notice shall be given by delivering it to the Clerk. A copy shall be supplied to the Member who asked the question and the question and answer shall be printed in Hansard.