Written questions are placed on the Order Paper, following a 48-hour notice period. These questions seek from the Ministry, detailed, lengthy or technical information relating to “public affairs”. All questions are assigned numbers when they are submitted (e.g., Q-1, Q-2).
There is a limit of four questions per Member on the Order Paper at any one time; for three of these, the Member may request an oral answer in the House. Written questions for which an oral answer is requested are marked with a superscript ‘1’. As they were formally marked with an asterisk, they are often referred to as “starred questions”.
A Member may request a reply to a written question within 45 calendar days by so indicating when filing his or her question. If a question is not answered within 45 days, starting from the day on which the question is transferred on the Order Paper, the failure of the Government to do so is automatically referred to the appropriate standing committee.
Alternatively, Members whose questions remain unanswered after 45 days may decide to take the matter up during Adjournment Proceedings. If a Member chooses to proceed in this way, the reference to the committee is dropped.
Prorogation of a session or the dissolution of Parliament clears the Order Paper and cancels any requests for information contained under the rubric “Questions on the Order Paper”. Members who wish to pursue their requests for information from the Ministry must resubmit their questions in a new session.