Picture 16 As this Labour Government continues to limp on for what I anticipate will be its final few months, the government benches seem to be getting emptier for debates and even question times in the Commons, as Labour MPs either give up the ghost or retreat to their constituencies in the hope of saving their seats.

Debates are featuring increasingly few contributions from Labour backbenchers and it's becoming quite a regular occurence for the Commons to rise early of an evening due to a lack of MPs wanting to contribute.

And as if more evidence were needed of Labour losing the will to do anything in Parliament, it turns out that the Commons will rise for its Christmas break earlier than it has done in living memory when it rises on Wednesday 16th December.

Sir George Young pointed out at Business Questions last week:

"The Leader has just told the House that we are to go into recess over a week before Christmas — that is the earliest the House has risen, as far as I can recall. Back in 1997, we rose on 22 December. That was when the Government had some leadership and some ideas. Our constituents will be working long after the date that she has just announced, and Conservative Members have an unquenched thirst for doing the job we were sent by our constituents to do beyond that date. Is this not further evidence that the Government are running out of steam?"

For reference, here are the dates on which the House rose for Christmas over the last twenty years:

2008 – 18th December
2007 – 18th December
2006 – 19th December
2005 – 20th December
2004 – 21st December
2003 – 18th December
2002 – 19th December
2001 – 19th December
2000 – 21st December
1999 – 21st December
1998 – 17th December
1997 – 22nd December
1996 – 18th December
1995 – 20th December
1994 – 20th December
1993 – 17th December
1992 – 17th December
1991 – 20th December
1990 – 20th December
1989 – 21st December
1988 – 22nd December

Jonathan Isaby

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