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(p. 174) 17. Questioning the Government 

(p. 174) 17. Questioning the Government
(p. 174) 17. Questioning the Government

Stephen Bates

, Peter Kerr

, and Ruxandra Serban

Page of

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date: 19 April 2021

This chapter examines how accountability is carried out in the UK Parliament through various questioning procedures which enable ministers and the government to explain and defend their decisions. Questioning the government provides an important means for Members of Parliament (MPs) and peers to hold the government, the prime minister, ministers, and departments to account. There are two main types of parliamentary questions: oral questions and written questions. Oral questions are both asked and answered on the Floor of the House of Commons or the House of Lords, whereas written questions are ‘often used to obtain detailed information about policies and statistics on the activities of government departments’. The chapter first explains these two types of parliamentary questions before discussing their purposes. It also considers debates over the issue of reforming parliamentary questions, and more specifcally Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs).

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