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September 2017 Sittings

Volume 618: debated on Thursday 8 December 2016

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House announced recess dates up to, and even including, Whitsun at last Thursday’s business questions. Further dates will be announced in due course, and in the usual way.

My right hon. Friend is not likely ever to be admonished by Mr Speaker for verbosity. As far as September 2017 is concerned, this House will be sitting here. I think my right hon. Friend is referring to the renovation and renewal of this place; that would not take place, if it is voted on in this House, until the early 2020s, so we would be sitting here in September 2017. But my right hon. Friend may wish to spend some time in the cellars of this place, because there one can gauge, if one has a tour, just how much work needs to be done in the renovation of this House, and I am afraid an extra couple of weeks in the summer recess won’t cut it.

We certainly do not want the right hon. Gentleman to go to the cellars and stay there until 2022; we would miss him greatly.

On timetabling, can the Deputy Leader of the House say what progress has been made in government in securing a money resolution for the Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill, which was passed by a majority of 216 on Second Reading four weeks ago?

That has nothing to do with sitting in September 2017. The House is in a very curious mood today; questions are very interesting, but they suffer from the disadvantage of bearing little or absolutely no relation to the matter on the Order Paper. But the Deputy Leader of the House is a barrister, so if he cannot respond, nobody can.

In relation to September sittings, I think the Deputy Leader of the House did not quite get the point my right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest West (Sir Desmond Swayne) was making: if we are to have a renovation of this House that lasts a number of years, clearly not meeting in September means there are many months when work can be carried out uninterrupted. In that case, would it not be a good idea to move September sittings around the country, starting of course with Wellingborough, because the Deputy Leader of the House, who is the Member for Northampton North, would not have far to travel then? And perhaps we should take this a little further: maybe the idea should be to take them abroad, so those overseas can see how British democracy works, and may we start with Brussels?

It is always very tempting to spend time in Wellingborough, with or without my hon. Friend. The reality is that there have been decades of under-investment; there is a huge amount of work in utilities, including electrics, sewerage, telephones and every manner of utility and facility in this House. It is very far from clear that an extra couple of weeks, even were they to be allocated, in the summer would be sufficient time. But in any event, on the exact point my hon. Friend makes, the reality is there will be a debate on this matter and ample opportunity to discuss it.