The idea that Parliament may be recalled during this Summers recess is not one I can claim is an original thought. Others have been suggesting it as a possible outcome of the discussions regarding MH-17 or the appalling destruction of innocent men and women in Gaza by an Army that is no longer acting in a manner that any of us can support. Add to this the prospect of unexpected events such as last Summers atrocities in Syria and the idea of a recall is not a matter of IF but WHEN. The need for a return to Parliament is also clear to those of us who have lost confidence in a Government that like the Israeli Army is acting in a manner that cannot be understood by any of its previous standards. The problem with unplanned recall is that we the taxpayers will bear an unreasonable cost. Firstly in terms of a broken holiday costs for MPs and secondly in the corridors and various rooms of the Palace of Westminster the highly skilled maintenance staff who are working under significant pressure or their insurers will be forced to sue the Government for loss of business.
It is almost certain that there will need to be a return to the Commons and planning for the unexpected is not easy. However there are reasons why Parliament should be at work that have nothing to do with an emergency that have been overlooked by those who plan the timetables for our legislators. My suggestion is that our MPs are warned now that they will be recalled before the emergency actually gets called. The MPs left for their constituencies last Tuesday on 22nd July. They are due to return on Monday 1st September which means they will have been away from Parliament for 7 weeks less one day. Then they are at their desks in Westminster for 2 weeks before taking another 5 weeks off for them and 200,000 other people plus the press to take part in Party Conferences. Now would be a good time for the administrators to work out the best time for a further two weeks to be inserted into the time in Westminster.
Two weeks may seem like a long time for emergency that is yet to be identified as such and of course the risk is that planning for it now, that the period chosen is not the best one. However doing nothing clearly does not help anyone. If during the additional two weeks, there is no emergencies to discuss, there are two important matters that Parliament has so far failed to address. It is usual for Parliament to carry out scrutiny of legislation before the legislation is passed. However post legislation scrutiny is a perfectly valid way for Governments to operate. The two pieces of legislation are Data Retention and Investigatory Powers (DRIP) which was not scrutinised at all, and the Part 2 of the Lobbying Bill which is shortly to take affect on the charities in the UK, a matter that many people believe was poorly thought through. Two weeks of further scrutiny might not lead to changes in the case of either of these pieces of legislation, but I am confident that this would be a good use of public money, particularly as at least two MPs are sueing the Government over its failure to adhere to policy on the DRIP. Revisiting the legislation even after its passage might remove the need for this action.