THE Presiding Officer is set to introduce a time limit for questions during FMQs and other Holyrood business to “enhance scrutiny”.

MSPs will be given 45 seconds to ask questions of the First Minister and other members of the Scottish Government, while they will be given a strict one minute to provide a response.

It comes after FMQs was extended from 30 minutes to 45 minutes during the last term to allow more members to put questions forward, but the PO said the move did not have the “intended effect” and there was still significant demand from MSPs to ask questions.

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The change will apply to FMQs, general questions and portfolio questions taken in the Holyrood chamber.

Alison Johnstone informed MSPs of the decision in a letter ahead of the Scottish Parliament reconvening on Monday September 4, with chamber business to kick off on Tuesday September 5.

In a letter to MSPs, Johnstone (below) set out how the cross-party agreement to extend FMQs was brought in to “enable more Members to put questions” to the First Minister.

“This extended period has not had the intended effect and each week there is significant unmet demand from Members across the Chamber to put important questions to the First Minister,” she wrote.

The National: Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone

“As Presiding Officer, I take account of the interests of all Members equally and I am determined that the opportunity should be afforded to more Members.

“More concise exchanges throughout will provide time for a substantial number of additional questions over the course of a parliamentary year.”

Johnstone explained that if four or five extra MSPs were allowed to ask supplementary questions during FMQs, an additional 150 to 180 questions would be taken each parliamentary year.

“To achieve this, questions should be put within 45 seconds, and answers concluded within one minute,” she explained.

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“From the start of the new term in September, the Deputy Presiding Officers and I will intervene where required to implement this approach, allowing more Members to put questions on behalf of their constituents and enhancing scrutiny.

“For clarity, this will apply in all question times - FMQs, general questions and portfolio questions.”

The PO said she was grateful for the support of the FM and other party leaders in bringing in the change.