Commons recess led to Syria vote

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THE coalition’s defeat on taking military action against ­Syria highlights the stupidity of parliamentary recesses (other than in the festive season and for routine maintenance during party conferences).

Recalling parliament inevitably over-dramatises events, and was particularly unwise and unnecessary when the new session would start only two days later.

In a recess, ministers are out of touch both with each other and with MPs, enabling one or two (such as Hague) to ratchet up expectations and their own influence. The vacationing Prime Minister clearly had no idea of how attitudes were developing, and allowed himself to be stitched up by Miliband.

It also meant that on such a vital issue, almost 100 MPs did not vote, permitting a hardly overwhelming majority of only 13 against the principle of military action.

Governments govern 52 weeks per year and require constant scrutiny by parliament.

John Birkett, St Andrews

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