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What chance a recall of Parliament during the Easter recess?

By Jonathan Isaby

This afternoon, after the usual hour of departmental questions in the Commons, there will be an Urgent Question at 3.30pm on armed forces redundancies, followed by no fewer than four oral statements by ministers: William Hague on the situation in Libya and the Ivory Coast; Andrew Lansley on NHS Reforms; Owen Paterson on the Omagh bomb; and Steve Webb on pensions. I think this must be a record in one day, certainly in the time I have professionally been covering Parliament.

All of which means that some hours allocated toay for Opposition Day debates will be lost. As a result, I gather that Labour will use the time remaining for their motion on policing and not move their second tabled motion on Green policy, and that the Government will find another half day of debate for Labour on another day by means of compensation.

Events out of politicans' control accout for two of today's statements, whilst the other two needed to be made before the Commons rises for its Easter recess at the end of business tomorrow - with MPs not due to return to Westminster until Tuesday 26th April, after Easter.

But the business of government will continue over these coming three weeks - just without the opportunity for ministers to be held account for what they are doing by MPs in the Commons.

However, with British service personnel in action in Libya, that lack of accountability is even more of an issue than usual during a recess.

In the last four weeks, there have been eight occasions when either David Cameron or William Hague has come to the Commons chamber for a statement or debate relating to events in Libya. This afternoon's statement from Hague will be the ninth.

If the Commons were sitting for the next three weeks, it is unthinkable that MPs would not get the chance for regular updates from ministers at the Despatch Box on the operation in Libya and to ask questions of them.

As such, I wouldn't be at all surprised if there is a clamour for a recall of Parliament at some point before Easter. In fact, Hague should make clear this afternoon that he and the Prime Minister will not hesitate in volunteering to orchestrate such a recall rather than waiting for others to demand it.


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