The start of silly season - Refugee Council
July 30, 2007

The start of silly season

So here it is, Parliament is out for summer and the ‘silly season’ has begun.  The House of Commons and the House of Lords will lie dormant for over two months, until the 8th October, during which time our newspapers will be void of political drama and controversy and filled with fluffy stories about crop circles and celebrities instead.  My favourite so far is a story about a Ugandan tree species that is under threat from extinction because its aphrodisiac properties has led to booming demand and over-harvesting. 

So what does recess really mean?  MPs trot back to their constituencies, teir Researchers and staff in Westminster breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy long lunches and early finishes, and the government escape any Parliamentary scrutiny for 2 ½ months. 

The Parliamentary session ended in a flurry ministerial statements, 69 over the last 2 days of the session, all of which avoided proper Parliamentary scrutiny as there will now be no debates and no opportunity for MPs to table probing Parliamentary Questions until October.  Call me a workaholic, but surely something is amiss with this extended holiday period?

These statements included the publication of Whalley’s report into the riots at Harmondsworth and Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centres.  The report highlights fundamental flaws in the management and use of the centres – points that we will definitely be raising with Ministers when they return from their break in the autumn.

Another snippit of significant political news for us at the Refugee Council last week was the new appointment of the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Keith Vaz MP.  Let’s hope we can get an inquiry into the plight of destitute refused asylum seekers high on his ‘to-do’ list in his new job.