Tory MS hits out at Presiding Officer over rejected topical questions
A Tory MS has accused Presiding Officer Elin Jones of continually rejecting her topical questions on important issues that could be answered by Welsh Government ministers.
Aberconwy MS Janet Finch Saunders posted a video to X on Wednesday (January 24) hitting out at Ms Jones for refusing all but two of the Tory politician’s 21 topical questions which she has tabled over the last two and half years.
Mrs Finch Saunders said she was “really disappointed” that her question today on the increase of rough sleepers dying on Welsh streets had been rejected by the Llywydd.
A Senedd spokesperson told Nation.Cymru there were two topical questions accepted by the Llywydd today, one from Plaid Cymru on free-to-air rugby and one from the Welsh Conservatives on the 20mph default speed limit.
Disappointed with @yLlywydd‘s decision to reject numerous topical questions. Transparency and accountability are vital in our democratic process. Let’s encourage open dialogue and ensure that all voices have a chance to be heard. #DemocracyMatters #Transparency @WelshConserv pic.twitter.com/Jjw1dsxgPY
— Janet Finch-Saunders MS/AS (@AberconwyMS) January 24, 2024
Mrs Finch Saunders has called for an explanation from Ms Jones on what criteria she uses when selecting which topical questions can be asked in the Senedd.
Senedd Members can table only one topical question request in any sitting week and questions are selected at the Llywydd’s discretion.
Senedd guidance for Members states that a topical question can only be asked if the Presiding Officer is satisfied that it relates to a matter of national, regional or local significance where a ministerial response is desirable.
The Presiding Officer will give consideration to whether the matter has been or could be raised elsewhere during proceedings.
Members are expected to provide supporting information to explain why they consider the question meets the required threshold.
20 minutes is allocated to topical questions each week and the Presiding Officer will not usually select more than two for each session.
The Presiding Officer does not have to select any question if it did not meet the criteria – even if it was the only question tabled that week.
Speaking in a video posted today, Mrs Finch Saunders said she has written to the Presiding Officer for an explanation.
She said: “Today I’m really disappointed. We have a mechanism in the Senedd whereby we can raise concerns on a Wednesday – which is opposition day.
“My concern today was to raise a topical question on what is the minister doing about the increase of those sleeping rough dying on our streets.
“I’m really disappointed that this has been rejected by the Llywydd. In the two and a half years of this term that I’ve been here I’ve tabled 21 topical questions on really important issues and I’ve only had two of those accepted.
“So I will be writing to the Llywydd today just seeking out why these questions seem to keep being rejected.
“We need to know in the interest of transparency and accountability what is the criteria that gets your question accepted.”
A Senedd spokesperson said: “The Llywydd considers many topical questions every week. Today, seven were submitted and two were accepted: one from Plaid Cymru on free-to-air rugby and one from the Welsh Conservatives on the Welsh Government’s 20mph review.
“The process is clearly set out in updated guidance issued to all Members in October 2023.
“The guidance notes that the Business Committee which includes a representative from every party has determined that 20 minutes should be allocated to topical questions each week and, therefore, the Llywydd will not ordinarily select more than two topical questions for each session.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.