Fix Opinion

Prime Minister’s Questions Still Great At 50


Adam Kelly
England – Prime Minister’s Questions turns 50 this week.
most recognized and popular session of parliament in the world celebrates its
birthday with David Cameron at the dispatch box, half a century after Harold
MacMillan first spoke at regular sessions.
known as PMQs and broadcast across the world and on the internet, every
Wednesday the Prime Minister answers questions from MPs on anything they wish.
PMQs has become important and special for the battles and duals between the man
in power and the leader of the opposition, across the table, dispatch box to
dispatch box as MPs on both sides of the house heckle and cheer, while the poor
speaker tries to maintain some form of order.
other countries, such as the United States, many complain that PMQs is
pointless, half an hour a week for each side to try and ‘win’ something they
cannot see. But PMQs is a British institution, an event and a place for the
issues of the week to be discussed and debated, and to get some idea of which
party is doing best.
1961, a committee of MPs recommended that the Prime Minister take questions in
a formal setting at a set time each week. Before this, PMQs were treated just
as any other minister in the government and asked whenever he or she appeared.
the committee found that set sessions worked better so PMQs was born, at first
as two 15-minute sessions on Tuesday and Thursday.
practice remained until former Prime Minister Tony Blair created one 30-minute
session as an alternative in the late 1990s.
PMQs began it was like any other question time, a place for backbenchers to ask
questions and get responses,
over time it formed into the thing it is today: a powerful, hard-hitting
session where one side wins and the other doesn’t.
some hate it, calling the heckling and cheering child-like and insisting MPs
should behave better, I love PMQs and I hope the majority of the public agrees.
such as the United States have no formal way of questioning the president in Congress
—and it never happens. Presidents are questioned, if at all, mostly by
PMQs began, newspapers reported on it, but then radio joined in and after that,
television began showing the sessions.
will stand forever as an example of British democracy and a transparent Parliament.
It is
a great thing – and if it ever disappeared I would personally knock on the Prime
Minister’s door and ask for serious answers to my questions.