Letters: Out of the House

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The Leader of the House of Commons has announced that Parliament will close for its annual summer break from Tuesday 27 July until Tuesday 19 October - a break of more than 11 weeks.

Adding the generous breaks for Christmas and Easter, Parliament is closed for more than 17 weeks. For a third of the year, government and ministers escape immediate and public accountability, in the Commons, to the public's elected representatives.

How different might have been Home Office ministers' responses if the passport renewal crisis had occurred at the end of July. They would have had more than two months to deny that there was a problem without any parliamentary scrutiny or censure.

Some "progress" has been made in reforming parliamentary timetables, notably in reducing hours by not sitting on Fridays to allow MPs more time in their constituencies. So is there really any reason to continue this tradition of lengthy closures at Christmas and Easter, and the obscenely lengthy closure in the summer and autumn, a tradition based on Victorian lifestyles and systems of travel and communications?

MICHAEL BRYANT

Honfleur, France

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