Parliament may sit for extra days after Queen's death paused proceedings

Ministers are "looking at changing the recess dates", PM's spokesperson says
Flags engineers hang flags in Parliament Square as preparations are underway for the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. Photo: amer ghazzal/Alamy Live News

By Alain Tolhurst

15 Sep 2022

Parliament could sit for extra days next week, after the death of Queen Elizabeth II meant that all government and House of Commons business was paused for 10 days to mark a national period of mourning.

The prime minister’s official spokesperson confirmed yesterday that the annual break for conferences, previously due to commence on 22 September, could be altered in order to address urgent government matters. 

Business including Liz Truss’s promised fiscal event to accommodate the energy package in particular needs to be approved by MPs.  

Neither the Lords nor the Commons is sitting this week, as parliamentary business is suspended during the period of national mourning and is not due to recommence until after the Queen's funeral on Monday.

Members had expected to rise again for recess from Thursday 22 September for the annual party conference season until October 17, but discussions are now underway to allow the government to sit during this period to make up for time lost during the mourning period. 

“We are looking at changing the recess dates,” the prime minister's spokesperson said on Wednesday. 

It is understood that a number of options are being considered. One is that parliament may break for conferences later that previously planned next week. Another is that the conference recess period could end earlier in October. 

It is expected that details will be finalised when parliament returns next week. 

Many MPs are believed to want the chance to swear the oath to the King when the House of Commons sits again next week. Senior MPs including Liz Truss and Labour leader Keir Starmer took part in a swearing in ceremony on Saturday, but others are not required to do this.

It has been suggested that so many MPs are keen to take the optional oath of allegiance to the new King that an entire day of parliamentary time could be taken up by the process.

Parliament has played an important role in proceedings during the mourning period so far, with King Charles welcomed for the first time as head of state on Monday morning. 

The Queen will be lying in state in Westminster Hall, the oldest surviving part of the Palace, from 5pm on Wednesday until 6.30am on Monday.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to stand in queues up to ten miles long and through the night to file past the coffin in parliament before the funeral on Monday.  

Alain Tolhurst is chief reporter and Caitlin Doherty is a reporter for CSW's sister title PoliticsHome, where this story first appeared.

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