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Arrangement of Business

Volume 795: debated on Wednesday 23 January 2019

Announcement of Recess Dates

My Lords, noble Lords who have been assiduous in looking at the Forthcoming Business will see that there are some dates regarding the Easter Recess. In the first sitting week after Christmas, I gave an undertaking to come back to the House at the earliest opportunity to make an announcement about forthcoming recess dates.

Noble Lords will not need me to remind them that we continue to be in uncharted waters—a point made by the Leader of the Opposition. Therefore, what I say today is highly provisional. Nevertheless, I have been listening to those on all sides of the House who have made it clear that they would welcome some dates, if only on the basis of best intentions. I am happy to be open with the House about these intentions, but the usual caveat about dates being subject to the progress of business has never been so strong.

Eagle-eyed Lords will already have seen from this morning’s edition of the Forthcoming Business that it is my intention that the House should rise for the Easter Recess at the conclusion of business on Thursday 4 April and return on Tuesday 23 April. These dates match the provisional dates indicated for the House of Commons. If possible, I intend to provide for a long weekend in February. I have spoken of this several times, but I continue to anticipate that, next month, the House will need to sit on days when the Commons is not. I will let noble Lords have details of any long weekend very soon, but I hope it is helpful in the meantime to give such notice as I can for the Easter Recess.

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord the Chief Whip. It is helpful for noble Lords who are trying to plan to ensure that they can play their full part in the work of your Lordships’ House—which we all want to do—to have the dates for the Easter Recess. Can I press him on the February long weekend? We understand that the Government have set themselves a rather challenging timetable, partly—I have to say—through their own incompetence in not bringing legislation forward sooner. If noble Lords wish to take part in the business of your Lordships’ House as much as they can, they need some certainty as to when they need to be here. I find it incredible that we are coming towards the end of January and we are not able to have dates for February. The noble Lord has said “in due course”. If he wishes noble Lords to play a full part in the work of this House, they need some greater certainty about what is happening in the next few weeks.

I appreciate that question. I understand why the noble Baroness has asked it, but I need to be certain of government business in the middle of February. If you read what I said, you will have a pretty good clue as to when I am telling you it might be. If you will allow me a week to see how business runs, I will come back to the House. The noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, is not here today. He is in Strasbourg. I have no doubt he would be very keen to make sure that we have some time in February for our families.