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Sittings of the House (1 May)

Volume 543: debated on Monday 30 April 2012

I beg to move,

That at the sitting on Tuesday 1 May—

(1) the House shall sit at 1.30 pm;

(2) there shall be no sitting in Westminster Hall; and

(3) the Speaker shall not adjourn the House, if a Message from the Lords Commissioners is expected, until that Message has been received.

All good things must eventually come to an end, and this extraordinarily productive Session of Parliament is no exception to the rule. The motion before us is quite usual in the run-up to Prorogation to facilitate the meeting of the House as it comes to the end of the Session. The first part of the motion sets out the time that the House shall sit tomorrow. Of course the House would normally sit at 2.30 pm on a Tuesday, but it is quite usual when the House is meeting to prorogue that it meets earlier than usual. Perhaps the proposed time is slightly later than would be normal in these circumstances. The reason for that is that the other place is debating the Joint Committee report on House of Lords reform on Tuesday morning and, as Parliament prorogues as a whole, the proposed time at which we are sitting reflects the negotiations in the other place to conclude the debate on the subject which began there today.

It is also in accordance with the past practice of arrangements for Prorogation to cancel the sitting in Westminster Hall, and paragraph (2) of the motion achieves that aim. It is unfortunate for Members who were successful in the ballots that their debates will not take place. Also, it is quite usual at the end of the Session that some scheduled business has to fall, once the House sets the time for Prorogation. I hope those hon. Members will be successful in securing debates early in the next Session.

By the time of Prorogation, we will have sat for a total of 290 days in this Session.

As the hon. Gentleman says, as always from a sedentary position, it is the longest ever. This stems from the move to spring-to-spring Sessions, which moves the start of the Session to the spring from the autumn. It is the longest Session that I can remember, and it is right that we now bring it to an end with the final piece of legislation in the Government’s planned programme.

The business managers have aimed to balance the needs of the House this Session, providing adequate time for scrutiny of legislation, including the provision of multiple days on Report for nine Bills. Members should also be aware that 18 Public Bill Committees finished their work early. As well as introducing 40 Bills implementing a wide range of coalition policy, we provided 58 days for the Backbench Business Committee, with more than 40 of those enabling debate on the Floor of the House. I know that Members around the House will welcome this inclusion in the balance of time available to the House. I look forward to the outcome of the Procedure Committee report on the work of the Backbench Business Committee, as the House continues to improve it in the future. In addition, extra time was provided both for private Members’ Bills and for Opposition time, in recognition of the unusual length of the Session. I commend the motion to the House.

Question put and agreed to.