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Thursday 13 January 2000




Points of Order

It may be helpful at the start of the new term to remind Members that "points of order" must be strictly related to the conduct of proceedings. In particular, Members should be aware of the Standing Order under which they are seeking to raise a point of order with the Chair.

"Point of Order" is not a phrase which should be used when a Member is seeking simply to express a point of view on some matter. In particular the Presiding Officer wishes to discourage the misuse of "points of order" where Members ask the Presiding Officer if he has received notice that an urgent Ministerial statement will appear in the Business Bulletin. The new, more topical Question Time should eliminate this abuse of "points of order". The Presiding Officers will continue to deprecate bogus "points of order".


Questions for Question Time and First Minister's Question Time

The Presiding Officer has considered, in the light of the recent changes to Standing Orders, which oral questions should most appropriately be directed to First Minister’s Question Time rather than Question Time. The new arrangements replace Open Question Time with First Minister’s Question Time during which oral questions may be put to and answered by the First Minister, with up to six being selected by the Presiding Officer for answer each week. Questions for First Minister’s Question Time can be lodged up to 2pm on Monday of the week in which the member wishes the question to be answered, allowing greater topicality than was possible under the previous arrangements.

The Presiding Officer considers that any question relating to a matter for which the First Minister is alone responsible, including questions relating to meetings held by the First Minister or visits undertaken by him, should be most appropriately directed to First Minister’s Question Time rather than Question Time. If Members seek to lodge such a question, they will be advised accordingly by the clerks. This approach has been endorsed by the Parliamentary Bureau.


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