Parliament doesn’t conduct business all year round. It takes breaks called recesses. There’s typically one in the summer that lasts several weeks and many shorter ones including at Christmas, Easter and during party conference season.
Here are the House of Commons recess dates for the 2017-18 parliamentary year:
|Recess||House rises||House returns|
|Summer||20 July 2017||5 September 2017|
|Conference||14 September 2017||9 October 2017|
|November||7 November 2017||13 November 2017|
|Christmas||21 December 2017||8 January 2018|
|February||8 February 2018||20 February 2018|
|Easter||29 March 2018||16 April 2018|
|May||3 May 2018||8 May 2018|
|Whitsun||24 May 2018||4 June 2018|
The media often likes to refer to recess as a holiday, but in reality it’s an opportunity for MPs to dedicate time to their constituency. This includes:
- responding to letters and running advice surgeries for constituents to help to solve their problems, which could be anything from housing issues to benefits being stopped;
- working on party matters;
- taking part in civic activities like visiting local businesses and attending school fetes.
(MPs typically spend most Fridays in their constituencies doing this sort of thing when the House is sitting, but that’s not always possible, especially for those whose seats are far from Westminster.)
If something important happens, Parliament can be recalled during recess. Recent examples include honouring Jo Cox MP after her murder in 2016 and voting on whether to support air strikes against ISIS in Iraq in 2014.