Anyone who reads this column regularly will know that, about this time every year, I start chuntering about Parliament’s absurdly long summer break. The Government keeps working throughout the summer, but usually Parliament can’t be bothered to keep tabs on what Ministers are up to between July and October. We could go to war or have a run on the banks, and there’d be no-one in Westminster to stop it.
But not this year. Whisper it quietly but, gasp, MPs are actually going to go to work in September. Yes really. Obviously it’s only for two weeks – we wouldn’t want to tire anyone out now, would we? – but it’s a major step in the right direction. There’s still an absurdly long half-term break for everyone to attend their various Party Conferences, although I’m still not convinced that Parliament should grind to a halt for the TUC conference (they aren’t a political party, after all), or that political conferences have to happen in October. But at last and at least the voters can finally see their MPs are doing what the rest of the country regards as perfectly normal; going in to the office for a spot of work in September.
So I’m delighted that the long summer recess has finally been cut. It was more than twice most people’s entire annual holiday entitlement, without counting the other breaks over Christmas and Easter as well.
But now we’ve got to use the extra time properly. There’s a huge list of legislation to get through; everything from a Bill to scrap as many quangos as we can find (hooray!) to making the country greener by encouraging renewable energy. Maybe next year MPs will work for the whole of September, instead of just for two weeks. Now that would be progress....