This House of Commons Library briefing paper discusses the procedure for recalling Parliament, as well as providing details of recent occasions when Parliament has been recalled.

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The House of Commons was last recalled on 2 June 2020 to reconsider the resolution on Proceedings during the pandemic agreed to by the House on 21 April 2020. This was the 30th recall during a recess since 1948.

Under Standing Orders, the Speaker of the House of Commons determines whether the House is to be recalled on the basis of representations made by Ministers.

Under the Labour Government (1997-2010), Members argued that they, rather than the Government, should be able to make representations to the Speaker to recall Parliament. The Labour Government announced proposals to effect this change but the proposals were never implemented.

In a Hansard Society Lecture in October 2017, Speaker Bercow noted the current rules that allow only the Government to request a recall of the House of Commons. He said that the Government should have this power but he went on to ask whether another mechanism could be devised to allow other Members to request a recall.

The costs incurred by Members in attending the House when it is recalled are met by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority in accordance with rules in The Scheme of MPs’ Business Costs and Expenses.

The Standing Orders of the House of Lords and of the devolved legislatures in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast provide for early recall if the circumstances require it.

The House of Lords has generally been recalled when the House of Commons was recalled but it was not recalled on 2 June 2020.

  • Commons Research Briefing SN01186
  • Author: Richard Kelly
  • Topics: Parliament

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