Question Time

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Question Time is also the name of a British television programme. For this entry, see Question Time (television).

Question Time is a section of proceedings in the Parliaments of the United Kingdom and many of its former colonies (such as Canada where it is called Question Period, Australia, and New Zealand).

It usually occurs daily while parliament is sitting, though it can be cancelled in exceptional circumstances.

During Question Time, backbenchers (members of Parliament who are not Ministers), including members of the minority parties, ask questions of the government's Ministers, which they are obliged to answer.

In practice, the questions asked in Question Time are usually pre-arranged by the organisers of each party, although the questions are without notice. Questions asked by members of the opposition parties are usually intended to force the government to admit failures or to otherwise criticise it, whilst questions from government backbenchers (termed "patsies" in the United Kingdom and "Dorothy Dixers" in Australia) are either intended to allow the Minster to discuss the virtues of government policy, or to attack the opposition. A typical format of such a government backbencher's question might be "Could the Minister discuss the benefits of the government's initiative on <issue>, and is the Minister aware of any alternative policies in this area?"

Skilled Ministers will often attempt to turn around the opposition's questions, rather than answering the question asked using them to further attack the opposition. However the oration must be rather precise, as the opposition member can raise the issue to the Speaker as to the wavering relevance of the response.

Whilst Ministers often try to avoid opposition questions, lying or providing misleading answers to Parliament is not permitted by the standing orders, and the resulting political outcry often results in that Minister being relieved of his position, and possibly suspended from the House.

The Australian standing orders and practice allow the Prime Minister to terminate Question Time by noting to the Speaker that "further questions be placed on the Notice Paper". It is possible for the Prime Minister to prematurely terminate or terminate Question Time altogether, although this is never done due to the implications it would have.

In the United Kingdom, the analogous parliamentary period would be Prime Minister's Questions, however, the questions are directed only to the Prime Minster.ja:クエスチョンタイム

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