Members of the Senedd (MSs) may ask Oral Senedd Questions to the First Minister, Welsh Ministers, the Counsel General and the Senedd Commission about any matter falling within their areas of responsibility. Oral questions are answered during a designated Question Time in Plenary. The First Minister answers questions each week, whilst Welsh Ministers and the Counsel General answer questions on a four week rotation. Questions to the Senedd Commission also take place once every four weeks.
Notice of oral questions
The Presiding Officer conducts a ballot to determine the names of Members who may table questions to the First Minister and Welsh Ministers. Each Member may enter their name into a ballot. Any Member may table questions to the Counsel General and Senedd Commission. For questions to the First Minister, the Member must table their oral question at least three working days before the question is due to be answered. Questions to Welsh Ministers, the Counsel General and the Senedd Commission must be tabled at least five working days before the questions are due to be answered. Questions must relate to the responsibilities of the Minister concerned (or the responsibilities of the Senedd Commission in the case of questions to the Commission). A computer randomly selects the order in which the questions are to be asked in Plenary.
Members may ask Topical Questions to a member of the government if the Presiding Officer is satisfied that the question relates to a matter of national, regional or local significance where an expedited response is desirable.
Members may also ask Emergency Questions which are taken without notice. Emergency Questions may only be asked if the matter is judged by the Presiding Officer to be of urgent public importance.
Questions time proceedings in Plenary
During oral questions the relevant Members is called to ask his or her tabled question. Once the Minister (or Commissioner in the case of questions to the Senedd Commission) has replied, the Member can ask one other question which is related to their tabled question. This is known as a supplementary question. Other Members may also be called to ask a related supplementary question at the Presiding Officer’s discretion. The Minister (or Commissioner) replies to each supplementary question in turn. Deputy Ministers may answer a question on behalf of a Minister when they have responsibility for that subject.
Questions for written answer
If an oral question is not reached during Plenary proceedings, the Member will receive a written answer on the same day. Members can also table questions specifically for written answer by the Welsh Government or the Senedd Commission. There is no limit on the number of written questions a Member may table. All written answers are published in the Record of Proceedings.