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14 April 2020
MSPs to take part in virtual question time

Holyrood

MSPs to take part in virtual question time

Members will be able to put questions about the Scottish Government's COVID-19 response to ministers via video link

The Scottish Parliament will introduce a virtual question time to allow MSPs to ask ministers about the Scottish Government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Up to 19 members will be able to put questions to cabinet secretaries including health secretary Jeane Freeman via live video link at 14:30 on Friday 17 April.

Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh said he hopes the new approach will “strike a balance between enabling our parliament to continue to function effectively during this uncertain and difficult time, while ensuring we don’t put others at undue risk”.

The sessions will be in addition to virtual leaders questions on Thursdays, which was trialled last week.

The number of questions MSPs will be allowed to ask will reflect party balance in the chamber.

SNP MSPs will be allowed nine questions, the Conservatives will be allowed five, Labour three and one each for the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Greens.

Members will have 30 seconds to ask their questions and ministers will have up to one minute to respond.

The first ever members’ virtual question time will be available to watch online on Scottish Parliament TV and will be broadcast on the BBC Scotland channel.

Macintosh said: “I know that members share my view that we must strike a balance between enabling our parliament to continue to function effectively during this uncertain and difficult time, while ensuring we don’t put others at undue risk.

“In exploring new technologies and extending virtual scrutiny arrangements to more and more members and to different formats, I believe we can successfully strike that balance.

“Again, I want to thank party leaders, business managers and parliamentary officials for working with such speed and efficiency to enable us to build on the successes of last week.”

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