MSPs given chance to question Scottish Cabinet in virtual meeting for first time

MSPs will be given the chance to question Scottish Cabinet ministers virtually, as the Scottish Parliament continues its digital shift due to coronavirus.

By Sam Shedden
Friday, 17th April 2020, 9:02 am
Updated Friday, 17th April 2020, 9:04 am
The Scottish Parliament will hold a virtual meeting today.

In an hour-long session starting at 2.30pm on Friday, 19 MSPs will be able to question four members of the Cabinet on the Scottish Government's response to Covid-19.

Following two successful question sessions between the First Minister and party leaders, this will be the first to be open to all MSPs.

Announcing the move on Thursday, Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh said the party affiliations of MSPs allowed to ask questions will reflect the make up of Holyrood, with nine from the SNP, five from the Conservatives, three from Labour and one each for the Lib Dems and Greens.

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Available for questioning will be Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell and Health Secretary Jeane Freeman.

The session comes a day after the UK Parliament announced plans to convene virtually when it returns from Easter recess next week.

The Scottish Parliament is also currently in recess but is expected to sit only on Tuesday next week, however MSPs will be in attendance in the chamber while observing social distancing guidance.

In a letter to MSPs earlier this week, Mr Macintosh said: "I know that members share my view that we must strike a balance between enabling our Parliament to continue to function effectively during this uncertain and difficult time, while ensuring we don't put others at undue risk.

"In exploring new technologies and extending virtual scrutiny arrangements to more and more members and to different formats, I believe we can successfully strike that balance.

"Again, I want to thank party leaders, business managers and parliamentary officials for working with such speed and efficiency to enable us to build on the successes of last week."