John Penrose MP

I know turkeys aren t supposed to vote for Christmas, but I d hoped for better from my fellow MPs. The summer recess gives MPs ten weeks away from Parliament. Ten weeks!

I know turkeys aren't supposed to vote for Christmas, but I'd hoped for better from my fellow MPs.

The summer recess gives MPs ten weeks away from Parliament. Ten weeks! That's at least twice most people's entire annual holiday, and it doesn't include the breaks we take at Christmas, Easter and half terms either.

So when, earlier this year, there was a chance to vote for a shorter summer break, I supported it.

It wasn't a radical proposal. It only said that, rather taking the whole of August, September and half of October off, it might be a good idea for Parliamentarians to do a bit of work in September and October like the rest of the world instead.

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I and a few others supported it, but we were heavily outvoted. Interestingly, the idea was backed by a lot of the most recently elected MPs. I think that's because we can still remember what the real world outside Westminster is like.

Of course it's understandable if people want more holidays. Which of us wouldn't take a few extra days if our bosses offered them? But too many people are already disconnected from politics in Britain, and the sight of MPs taking such a long break can't help to reconnect them with electors, can it?

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It isn't good for the way the country is governed either. Last summer, for instance, Israel invaded Lebanon and Tony Blair supported them strongly. Whether you felt he was right or wrong, at least he should have had to explain himself to Parliament. But by the time MPs got back to Westminster in October it was all over bar the shouting.

If MPs want Parliament to be taken more seriously in future, they'll have to work harder. Respect has to be earned.

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