By Andrew Defty
The weekly Prime Minister’s Questions is undoubtedly an important mechanism for holding the government to account. The requirement that the Prime Minister must come to the chamber of the House of Commons on a weekly basis to answer questions about government policy and administration provides a valuable, and rare, opportunity for individual MPs to scrutinise government.
By Mark Shephard
Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) attracts a high level of interest because it is the one procedure where the Prime Minister is expected to face questioning in the House of Commons by parliamentarians each week that parliament is sitting. However, it is often derided as an ineffective procedure. For example, in a 2015 radio interview Nick Clegg called it a ‘farce’ that should be ‘scrapped’ and research by the Hansard Society has revealed that large proportions of the public do not like the pantomime point-scoring of PMQs which is perceived to undermine the capacity for effective scrutiny and influence of the government. Even the current PM and the current leader of the largest opposition party don’t like the way it operates. When David Cameron became leader of the Conservative Party in 2005 he called for an end to point-scoring ‘Punch and Judy’ politics. When Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party in 2015 he also wanted less theatre and called for more fact during the procedure.