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Number of Sitting Days

Volume 559: debated on Thursday 28 February 2013

5. What comparative assessment he has made of the annual number of sitting days of the House and that of other parliaments around the world. (145143)

Based on statistics from the Society of Clerks at the Table in the Commonwealth, United States Congress and European Parliament—an unimpeachable source—the House of Commons sits for more days and for longer than most comparable Parliaments.

The important thing is not the number of days that a Parliament sits but how effectively that time is used. Does the Leader of House believe that the success in this House of the scheduling of debates by the Backbench Business Committee is likely to be a model copied by other Parliaments around the world?

I agree with my hon. Friend. We are unique in this place in having established a Backbench Business Committee which puts a substantial proportion of the time of the House at the disposal of Back-Bench Members without being controlled by the respective Front-Bench teams. That is terrifically important. I was struck when I visited the Scottish Parliament last week that, although there is time for Members’ debates, it is at the behest of the business managers. As a business manager, I might see advantage in that, but the House of Commons has resolved to give Back Benchers a substantial amount of time, and that is a welcome reform led by my predecessor.