Debates, motions and amendments
Debates are one of the most frequent items of business on the plenary agenda. Many types of debate are brought forward in Plenary, including:
- Government debates;
- Opposition party debates on a topic of their choice;
- Committee debates relating to a report published by the committee; and
- Debates proposed by individual Members other than members of the government.
Other than in the case of Government debates, the time allocated for all other types of debates and their frequency are determined by the Business Committee.
Motions and amendments
The basis for any debate is a motion and any associated amendments
. Motions are a mechanism for obtaining a decision (or resolution) from the Assembly, and, except where a set of rules called ‘Standing Orders’ state otherwise, are subject to amendment.
The purpose of an amendment is either to modify a motion to increase its acceptability or to present to the Assembly a different proposition to the original motion. Any Member may table a motion or an amendment.
Other than Government debates, the subject of debates are not included in the Business Statement and Announcement, but are published a week beforehand when the relevant motion is tabled.
Structure and outcome of a debate
A typical debate begins with a Member introducing the debate topic, also known as ‘moving the motion’. Who introduces the topic depends on the type of debate. For example, a Welsh Minister introduces a government debate and the Chair of a committee introduces a debate on a committee report.
If a Member has tabled an amendment to the motion, they are invited to explain why they are asking the Assembly to amend the original motion. The Presiding Officer (or Deputy) will then call other Member who have requested to speak on the topic.
In the case of debates on committee reports or opposition party debates, the Minister responds to the points raised by Members. Finally, the Member who introduced the debate makes their closing remarks to the Assembly.
At the end of a debate, the Presiding Officer asks the Assembly to agree the motion. If any Member objects, the motion must be put to the vote. Members may be asked to vote immediately, or may be asked to do so at a designated ‘voting time’.
See more about how Members vote
Short debates differ from other debates as they allow any Member, other than a member of the government, to have a general debate on a topic of interest or constituency matter, without requiring the Assembly to vote at the end of the debate (as there is no associated motion). Members are selected from a ballot held by the Presiding Officer and permitted to bring forward a topic of their choice. The Member will open the debate and speak for their allocated time. The Minister or Assembly Commissioner responsible for the topic being discussed usually responds to the short debate.