Parliament has broken up for an 82 day recess. Yes, 82 days off. There is no Parliament to go to until the second week of October. It’s the wrong decision by the majority, at a time of crisis in the public finances and a time of economic problems generally.
Some Labour MPs say they do not think people should be part time MPs. Maybe they should explain that to the Foreign Secretary, who told me in answer to a question about a week in his life that he spent 81 hours of the week on his second job as a Minister, leaving it quite tight to do a minimum 40 hours as an MP.
They should also explain to me how any MP can do a good full time job when there is no Parliament to go to for 17 weeks of the year. Yes, there are letters to answer, cases to take up, and people and institutions to visit. They can be fitted in to a busy Parliamentary day.
If any organisation in Wokingham would like me to visit or has something they want me to take up, August and September is a good time to do it, as my main job has been taken away for those months. The government can get up to what it likes and we have no opportunity to question and probe, or to get them to change their minds.
The truth is MPs are very busy on those minority of days in the year when Parliament meets for the day and the evening, and when there are many other meetings grouped at Westminister that are important to constituents. An MP just has to knuckle down and work through for 15 hours or so to get the most out of it. When Parliament is not in session there not only is Chamber to attend, questions to ask and contributions to make to debates, but all the behind the scenes meetings, meetings with people wanting to brief us and other events dwindle or disappear as well.
Labour have failed to make the Commons family friendly in its hours, and now prevent us doing our job for 12 weeks at a stretch. When there is no Parliament sitting, it’s not half the job. All I can do is write letters to Ministers. It’s not the same as meeting them daily and challenging them acorss the floor of the Commons.