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Point of Order

Volume 600: debated on Thursday 15 October 2015

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. In business questions, the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) mentioned the conference season. Surely it is unacceptable in this day and age that Parliament goes for three weeks without any scrutiny of the Government. Surely the political parties can organise their conferences at weekends so that Parliament can continue to sit. Is there anything that you can do to help to facilitate this and to make the political parties have their conferences at weekends so that the House can continue to scrutinise the Government during that period?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order, of which I had no advance notice, but about which fact I make no complaint whatever. I simply say to him the following: first, at the moment it is a matter for the parties, though potentially it could be the subject of a resolution by the House.

Secondly, I think that there is a psychic quality about the hon. Gentleman, because I have, in very recent days, penned words on this very matter that might appear in an organ of note within the House soon. As so often, I find myself very much in agreement with the hon. Gentleman. This is our main place of work. This is where people expect us to be. The idea that, because voluntary organisations choose to hold a voluntary gathering, we should absent ourselves from our main place of work for three weeks has long struck me as incongruous. It appears that it also strikes the Scottish National party as incongruous, as it seems perfectly capable of organising a substantial conference on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday, thereby not necessitating a further week of absenting from parliamentary business. I think I had better leave it there for now.