My Lords, I thought that this would be a suitable point to tell the House about recess dates and to confirm that, because of the inevitably slow progress of business over the past three months, there will need to be some changes to our Summer Recess dates. We will now rise for the summer adjournment on Wednesday 29 July, which is one week later than originally intended. We will also return earlier in September, on Wednesday 2 September. There will no longer be an adjournment for the party conference season.
I hope to be able, at a later date, to confirm a short adjournment in either October or November, but that will depend entirely on the progress of business. I will place a copy of this statement in the Printed Paper Office, and copies are available in the Royal Gallery. I will advertise the new dates via this week’s Forthcoming Business.
Having been part of the initial discussions on this, I wanted to ask about the fact that we are coming back in midweek. It seems rather odd that we will finish on a Wednesday and then come back on a Wednesday. Would it not seem better to go on until the Thursday and then not come back until the week after the Chief Whip is proposing, given the expense of getting people here and the inconvenience of having broken weeks?
My Lords, I agree that it does immediately look odd, but the reasons are that we have looked at the business that needs to be done and the dates that would allow it. The amount of time that has to pass between different stages of Bills means that it is imperative that we come back that week. I accept that for some people, myself included, it will cause difficulties, but we have looked at that. Of course, if circumstances change and we make tremendous progress, we could look at it again, but that has been communicated to the usual channels. The reason that we need to come back for those two days is to get business started during that week, but I am entirely able to look at that at a later date if it is not necessary. I take the point about two days in a week basically disrupting the whole week.
I do not think that I misheard the Chief Whip, but can he indicate whether these are the same dates as the House of Commons will sit? From the nodding, it looks as if they are. I will let him answer; obviously, we understand the need to get on with legislation. However, it has always been of some interest that we should sit the same days as the Commons, wherever that is possible.
The House of Commons has not announced its recess dates yet. I wanted to make sure that, as far as we were concerned, noble Lords had the earliest possible opportunity to plan. I can see why we should be aligned with the House of Commons to a certain extent, but it is an important principle that we do not always have to sit at the same time as the House of Commons. Sometimes the Commons is at a different stage of legislation from us, so every Chief Whip reserves the right to alter dates due to the progress of business. I do not know when the House of Commons is going to announce its dates, but it has not done so yet, so I cannot confirm whether they are exactly the same.
I am very content with that and, as I say, we understand the need for this. It does mess up my holiday, but even I might forgive the Chief Whip for that—for once.