Early bath?


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The fag end of the current parliamentary year could be even shorter than expected. There's a lot of chatter about the possibility that Parliament could be prorogued next Thursday - ending the current two year-long session.

MPs and peers would then reconvene on 9 May for the State Opening and the Queen's Speech. Then they will rise again (that sounds a bit Biblical; I mean they will have another break) on 24 May, for their Whitsun recess, returning on 11 June for nearly a month of continuous legislating until 17 July, when they rise early for the summer, to avoid clashing with the Olympics and the Jubilee festivities.

In short, it will be a rather sporadic summer at Westminster. Last night, MPs voted 319 to 241 to allow the Finance Bill, which enacts the provisions of the Budget, to be "carried over" into the next session, so there will be no time pressure (there may be plenty of other pressures) on ministers to make concessions on pasties, child benefit, charitable donations etc, to get it through before the music stops.

The Scotland Bill, currently before their lordships, could get the same treatment; which would leave the Legal Aid (etc) Bill the only major piece of legislation to be passed. So an early bath next Thursday looks entirely plausible - allowing MPs to join the fray in local elections, mayoral referenda and so on, or to head off to some sun-kissed refuge, if they prefer and their local parties don't mind.

Mark D'Arcy, Parliamentary correspondent Article written by Mark D'Arcy Mark D'Arcy Parliamentary correspondent

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