Statement by the Chief Minister on Parliamentary Procedure

The following statement on parliamentary procedure was delivered by the Chief Minister this afternoon:

Mr Speaker

Thank you for your statement and for leave to make my own which deals with matters also relating to Parliamentary procedure.

It is no secret that 2023 will be an election year.

As a result, the debates which we will have in Parliament will be followed perhaps even more assiduously than they are at most times by our many compatriots.

In the circumstances, I want to make sure that the Government contributes as much as possible to the smooth running of Parliament as we are able to.

In many respects, we have already changed Parliament beyond recognition from a manner of operation that we inherited and which left a lot to be desired.

Although hugely important, the long overdue introduction of cameras to these proceedings was the most high profile but least seminal of the changes.

Some more in-depth changes on the running of Parliament was necessary and is now, happily, taken for granted.

Quite unlike the position when I was in opposition, we have tried to help by publication of a timetable of proceedings for each session.

We want to ensure that continues and that it helps Honourable Members opposite to plan their work around the Parliament sessions.

Already they know we meet monthly in the third week of the month unless we are unable to – other than for Easter and summer recess.

That will already help them greatly in planning for the use of their time.

But we want to ensure that the public and Honourable Members will also know what questions are likely to be dealt with in a session and what Bills are likely to be taken.

The effects of both Brexit and COVID made continuing some aspects of what we changed less easy to continue.

As from today, we are looking at publishing even more information in the timetable so we can advance matters with the public and all Honourable Members aware of what business we are intending to take and when.

In particular, I am happy to confirm these matters which I know the opposition are often in contact with us on:

- That the Government will introduce a convention in this House, as has been the case in the United Kingdom to allow the Leader of the Opposition and a relevant shadow Minister, sight of Ministerial statements before delivery. 

- I shall ask the excellent Parliament team at No6 to advise your team when we are sure of the order in which questions will be taken to give notice to all the public and the Opposition to know in advance which Ministers are taking Questions on any particular day.

- I already endeavour to advise the Leader of the Opposition informally in advance, in answer to his request for information, which Bills on the Agenda are intended to be taken, and I shall try to continue to do so via your staff more officially to the Opposition and the public generally so that any person with an interest in particular Bill will be able to know more accurately when they may need to attend Parliament or tune into our debates. 

- Where possible, I shall continue to ensure that the Opposition will know in advance when a Bill is certified as being urgent. I shall ask that this should also be reflected in the timetable to be published so that the public can also see a Bill is to be taken that has not been published for the requisite six weeks. 
I know that these measures will also be helpful, in particular, to members of the press who report on our proceedings to inform our citizens of our work here. 
Mr Speaker, I hope this is helpful.