Generally, the first hour of a sitting of National Assembly is devoted to Questions and that hour is called the Question Hour. Question Hours takes place every Tuesday and Friday from 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM. It has a special significance in the proceedings of Parliament.
Asking of questions is an inherent and unfettered parliamentary right of members. It is during the Question Hour that the members can ask questions on every aspect of administration and Governmental activity. Government policies in national as well as international spheres come into sharp focus as the members try to elicit pertinent information during the Question Hour.
The Government is, as it were, put on its trial during the Question Hour and every Minister whose turn it is to answer questions has to stand up and answer for his or his administration’s acts of omission and commission. Questions enable Ministries to gauge the popular reaction to their policy and administration. Questions bring to the notice of the Ministers many an abuse which otherwise would have gone unnoticed.
The Question Hour is an interesting part of the Parliamentary proceedings. Although a question mainly seeks information and tries to elicit facts on a particular subject, there are many a time lively and quicksilver repartees between the Members asking the questions and the Ministers answering them.
Notices of Questions
A member gives notice in writing addressed to the Secretary-General, National Assembly, intimating his intention to ask a question. Besides the text of the question, the notice states clearly the official designation of the Minister to whom the question is addressed as also the date on which the question is desired to be placed on the list of questions for answer as also the order of preference, if any, for its being placed on the list of questions when a member tables more than one notice of questions for the same day.
The normal period of notice of a question is not less than two clear days.
Grouping for Ministry (questions)
GROUP A- Prime Minister, Ministry of Home & Cultural Affairs, Ministry of Information & Communication
GROUP B- Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,Ministry of Education
GROUP C- Ministry of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Labor and Employment
GROUP D- Ministry of Works and Human Settlement, Ministry of Health
Types of Questions
A member who wants an oral reply to a question must write the words “for oral reply” on the notice of the question delivered to the Secretary General and if the member does not distinguish the question, it shall be placed on the list of questions for written answers.
Time of questions
The allotment of days and hours for asking questions shall be determined by the Speaker in consultation with the Secretary General. A member wishing to ask a question shall submit a notice to the Secretary General prior to 48 hours. If the question is not received prior to 48 hours, it will not be acknowledged. Approval shall be sought from the Speaker for the inclusion of the questions for the question hour. The speaker may direct that the language of the question be changed or the questions not be published, if in the opinion of the Speaker, it is unparliamentary or does not conform to the rules regarding questions.A copy of questions received and approved by the Speaker shall be shared with the members at least a day before the question hour session.
Time limit for deliberation of Question Hour
A question shall be completed within three minutes and answer shall be completed within seven minutes. Any supplementary questions, if any, shall be completed within two minutes and answer shall be completed within five minutes.
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