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Tory MS hits out at Presiding Officer over rejected topical questions

24 Jan 2024 4 minute read
Presiding Officer Elin Jones –  Matthew Horwood/The Welsh Parliament.

Emily Price

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.


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.”

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5 months ago

Had a look at the record at the Senedd. An interesting thing and many rejections. I suppose there is only so much time.

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
5 months ago

No critisism against the presiding officer but 20 mins a week and only 2 selected. That is very poor this needs changing as the Govt and Ministers should be questioned by the opposition That’s what democracy is all about.

Owain Glyndŵr
Owain Glyndŵr
5 months ago

They are, in FMQs and other ministerial questions.

Paul ap Gareth
Paul ap Gareth
5 months ago

20 minutes once a week, is reserved for topical questions, for each session only two questions are asked and sessions only occur when the Senedd is sitting. And she is wondering why she’s only had two questions accepted over the course of two and a half years.

If there are 40 back bench MSs, There is not a lot of questions that can be tabled. It would be interesting to see how many questions other MSs have been allowed to ask during the same period. Two questions seems about par considering all the limitations.

Owain Glyndŵr
Owain Glyndŵr
5 months ago

The cognitive dissonance from Tories, including Janet Finch-Saunders, would be funny if it wasn’t so serious. Tories “We must cut public spending and taxes.” Tories “Labour hasn’t spent enough money on the NHS and Local Government.” Once I get past my seething anger the first question I want to see asked is, what would the Tories like cut in order to increase funding to the NHS and/or Local Government? With this bunch of Tories you NEVER get an answer because if they provided one they’d have to take responsibility and they have no intention of doing that. The Presiding Officer… Read more »

Richard E
Richard E
5 months ago

JFS is well known for grandstanding and changing her views to chase what she sees as issues of electoral importance. Unable to “ reach across the isle “ indeed even to other northern tories her views tend to reflect the headlines in her local Llandudno newspaper.

EJ has to be fair to all across the chamber – not just those who seek to “ hog “ this important time for back benchers.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
5 months ago

How ironic Welsh Tory Janet Finch Saunders bemoaning not being able to table a question about rough sleepers dying on our streets when those are likely destitute because her beloved nasty party in London who control our benefits system use private company Capita to assess those with mental & physical disabilities are deemed fit to work with most likely ending up on the streets having being sanctioned by the DWP. Let’s overlook that fact and replace it with Conservative alternative facts. 😐

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