No Right Turn has compiled statistics on which MPs ask the most primary questions in the House during question time. It’s useful to look at – I was unaware Bill English had asked the most for National.
However oral questions are a bad tool to judge how productive MPs are. If MPs don’t ask many oral questions, it is usually not for lack of trying. The larger parties meet every morning to decide what questions will be asked, and who asks them. And often you have MPs try day after day and week after week to get their pet question asked. However if their colleagues don’t agree it is a priority, then they don’t get the chance. Also even if there is an issue in someones portfolio area, it may be given to an MP more experienced in trapping Ministers.
So you can’t label someone an under-performer on the basis of their lack of oral questions.
A better measure in my opinion would be written questions. Written questions (and OIAs) are how MPs dig up issues and scandals in their portfolio area. No matter how obscure the portfolio, an MP should be continually firing off written questions relating to it. You get to know the portfolio much better, and you often get good material for a release.
UPDATE: NRT has now done stats (in excel) for written questions also. Very interesting.
The most prolific question asker over the last 2.5 years was Muriel Newman with 3929 followed by Tony Ryall on 2702 and Katherine Rich on 2414. Next is Rodney Hide on 2330 and Bill English on 1878. Four Opposition MPs asked no questions at all. Government MPs generally ask no questions, as if they want an answer to something they get it direct informally from the Minister’s Office.