Written Questions in Parliament


One way in which Parliament can scrutinise the executive (and backbench MPs too!) is by issuing written questions. This article is an idiot’s guide to written questions, explaining what they are and how they work, with some really useful examples for any questions on effectiveness of Parliament/parliamentary oversight of the executive.

“So, what’s a written question?

Much like oral questions, which are asked directly in the House of Commons and so tend to get more coverage, written questions are a way an MP can expose government failings, raise an issue with ministers or put government policy on the record.

Unlike oral questions, there’s no need for an MP to sit in the chamber for hours and hours waiting for their turn to speak – and the answers are available online for all to see.

However, they are often not as high profile as oral questions as they are not asked in the televised House of Commons chamber where ministers can be put on the spot.

There’s a fully searchable database of written questions for the 2015-16 parliamentary session, and historical written questions can be found in Hansard.”