The GSD notes the significant delays to the answering of oral questions put by Opposition MPs. As the public’s Opposition we are charged with the responsibility of raising matters before our Parliament and testing the strength of the Government’s policies. It will be recalled that the Government promised to hold monthly meetings of Parliament. Since September 2018 the Opposition has only had two opportunities to submit questions to the Government on a wide range of areas from public finances to housing, health, education and many others. This month the Government answered a limited number of questions which the Opposition submitted as far back as January. Delaying the answering of important questions means that responses become stale, outdated and ineffectual. The purpose of question time is to scrutinise the Government and the continual irregular use of parliamentary procedures by the Government is hampering the proper role of Opposition and functioning of the House. The agenda of the House also has 20 Bills which have been outstanding since 2018.
Elliott Phillips MP said:
“It is high time that the Government practices what it preaches. It should be a matter of deep regret that the Government has allowed only two opportunities in the last 8 months for questions to be submitted. Whilst we have given the Government space to navigate Brexit we cannot stand by and let the clear stifling of the proper parliamentary process to continue and become the norm. The repetitive use of procedures to delay the answering of Opposition questions is doing democracy a great disservice and the victims are the people who expect the Government to properly and fully answer questions put to it by the elected Opposition in good time. It is clear to all to see that the Government is losing popular support and its ostrich like approach on important domestic issues at the altar of Brexit is causing deep discontent within our community. Parliament must function properly so that the people of our community can see that their questions are being answered and the Government are held to account by probing questions in areas of significant public concern”