Parliament’s long summer recess should be consigned to history and a November half-term break introduced permanently, as MPs on the procedure committee try to make life as an MP a little more family-friendly.
After months on consultation, the backbench committee which counts Jacob Rees-Mogg as a member has recommended that MPs cut short summer recess and instead add a half-term break to their calenders in November or go for a more radical shake-up where parliamentarians spend four or five weeks as Westminster followed by a week in the constituency.
Meanwhile, the annual autumn conference season could be pushed into the first three weeks of September, cutting the summer recess to two instead of three months and ending a fiddly arrangement in which MPs return to parliament for two weeks in September only to break up again for the annual party gatherings.
The committee, headed by Tory Greg Knight, has been looking into the issue since last March. However, attempts by some of the new intake with young families to try to overhaul parliamentary hours to end to late night sittings have been rebuffed by MPs further away from London.
“Current weekly sitting patterns prompt widespread, though by no means universal, dissatisfaction. However, there is as yet little consensus about how they might be best changed,” says the report.
It notes that those whose families are in or close to London prefer earlier finishing times while those further away want to “compress sitting hours into as short as possible space of time during the week”.
As it stands, the 2.30pm start on Monday will stay but Tuesday’s sitting could potentially shift to an 11.30am start, allowing MPs to finish up at 7.30pm instead of 11.30pm.
All in all, it will not result in MPs cutting back on the 150 days they currently spend in Westminster but might go some way to helping MPs – particularly those with young families – to juggle their commitments in the chamber and at home a little more comfortably.