We give careful consideration to how we manage the recesses across the year, but ultimately it is a decision for the House. My colleague the Chief Whip and I are always happy to consider the calendar across the year. We have a November recess because it was originally the time of the Queen’s Speech, and there were always two or three days either side for Members to spend time in their constituencies.
I appreciate that, but that is the point: it was previously the date of the Queen’s Speech, but that now takes place in May. I am still confused, therefore, as to why the Government feel that November is an appropriate time for this recess, especially given that it does not fit with school half terms—if that is what the Leader of the House was thinking: that people could spend time with their families.
The November recess is not particularly designed to be family time; it is for Members to spend time on important constituency work. Those who seek to take part in the important business that sometimes takes place here on a Friday will know that it is not always easy to find weekdays to spend in the constituency. It is sensible, therefore, to set aside a few days across the year primarily for constituency work.
Will the Leader of the House explain why the Government have not yet given the dates for the Easter recess, and can he guarantee that they will co-ordinate it with the school holiday and not make the same mistake they did with the November recess? Announcing the date would enable Committees to organise their hearings and MPs would be able to plan their time in their constituencies?
We will always do our best to give as much notice as possible, but our prime responsibility, as business managers, has to be to ensure that the Government’s business can be delivered across the Session. We will seek to strike the right balance and provide that information as soon as we practically can.