Give Presiding Officer power compel MSPs to answer questions

Give Presiding Officer power compel MSPs to answer questions

Give the Presiding Officer the power to compel MSPs to give an answer to all questions asked: that is, a direct reply that is relevant to the question. This should include a process for a deferred answer if an immediate answer cannot be given. This will improve public trust and engagement.


Politicians don’t answer questions directly - they must be made to answer the question appropriately. The Presiding Officer must be able to address the MSP to ask them to fully answer the question and not waffle.

I don't see how this could work in practice. Lots of questions don't have direct answers. In the context of questions in the Scottish Parliament, the relevance of the answer will often depend on your political position. And, if the questions are usually asked for political point-scoring, surely the person responding should be able to put things in the context they see . . .

Ultimately I do not think this is not a power the Presiding Officer should have. MSPs should be free to answer as they wish and if they do not give a direct reply then that is them utilising their freedom as elected representatives to represent their constitutients as they see best. I also fear that the power to compel speach would politicise further the role of the Presiding Officer as it would become in danger of becoming another power centre to "capture" by political parties, thus reducing trust in the system and further increasing polarization.

JustCitizens think that this recommendation should be given priority. Ensuring there will be an answer when a question is asked, means that people across Scotland can understand without filters what is working and what is not working, and with time this will create a culture of trust towards MSPs and the role of the Scottish Parliament. If a question requires more time and resources to be answered, then a written answer within an established time-limit should be provided. This system will encourage individuals to ask questions through their elected representatives, which means they will pay more attention to Parliamentary Business.

Impossible and not up to her how an MSP chooses to respond to a question. Watching public can make up their own minds about quality or absence of answers. More important to reinstitute a culture of respect towards the Presiding Officer. Why do MSPs not immediately sit when she begins speaking? Why do her deputies get called 'Presiding Officer' rather than 'Deputy Presiding Officer'?

We love this recommendation. MSPs are paid to represent us and answer questions not fob us off or fob the other parties off- this should be enforced. Not answering questions wastes time! The PO should tell MSPs, ministers and the First Minister that they should answer and not ignore questions.

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