Speaker John Bercow criticises Parliament's conference season break

The Speaker says the practice of breaking during conferences is 'incongrous'

Jon Stone
Thursday 15 October 2015 16:14
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The Speaker said he would eleborate on his views in a future article
The Speaker said he would eleborate on his views in a future article

The Speaker of the House of Commons has criticised Parliament’s policy of breaking for recess while political party conferences are underway.

John Bercow described the practice of “incongruous” and said political parties were voluntary organisations and that Parliament should not be beholden to them.

Responding to a point of order from an MP who described the conference recess as “unacceptable”, Mr Bercow replied:

“I have in very recent days penned words on this very matter, which might appear in an organ of note within the House soon. This is our main place of work; this is where people expect us to be.

“The idea that because voluntary organisations choose to hold a voluntary gathering we should absent ourselves from our main place of work for three weeks has long struck me as incongruous.”

Less than two weeks after MPs return to Parliament from their summer recess on 7 September, conference recess begins on 17 September.

This halt to parliamentary business lasts around a month until 12 October.

No laws or debates take place during recess, though MPs tend to consider themselves still at work while Parliament is not sitting.

The argument for going into recess during conference season is that nearly all MPs are members of political parties and may have a role to play at their respective conferences

Most MPs will take part in constituency business during recess, and many will have a role to play during party conferences – though not all attend these.

The SNP conference is currently underway in Aberdeen.

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