New Set Up for UK Parliamentary Question Time


I would reorganise the way Parliamentary Question Time (PMQs) is set up in the British Parliament. The public are exhausted by the continual Punch and Judy approach to politics. The present set up is not ‘fit for purpose’ as the cliche goes.

Under the present system both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition face each other across the House and are mainly concerned with how their performance will be perceived by their own party members and the media.

With regard to live BBC TV transmissions of PMQs they don’t seem to have helped the public. The main goal for the PM and Leader of the Opposition is not to reveal a weakness, show any sign of being out of touch or a complete fool. PMQs have never taken on the substance or the gravitas that is required, unless of course, the House of Commons is presented with the death of an MP or leader of a party. On the occasions when that has happened the House takes on the mood of the final act in King Lear.

Time for a change, time to create and manage a better PMQ approach in the House.

I propose the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition position themselves in front of the Speaker (behind the table on the left of the image above) and address MPs on both sides of the House.  This would cut down the ‘knock about’ cheap theatre approach and bring political credibility and social responsibility to the procedure. 

With a little luck the behavior of the MPs would improve by not having the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition facing each other as if they are squaring up for a duel. 

Throughout Europe parliaments are ‘in the round’ not directly facing each other. 

There will be many British Politicians who are reticent to change a system that has been in place for a hundred years or more but it might be worth a try for one session of the next Parliament. The only people who would fight this change would be newspaper editors and TV journalists who seem to get turned on by the abysmal PMQs spectacle.

Writing on behalf of millions of the British public I can confidently say we are all sick of the present system.