House of Commons Library

Recall of Parliament

Published Friday, October 20, 2017

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 20 June 2016 to pay tribute to Jo Cox who was murdered on 16 June 2016. This was the 29th 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 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 MPs’ Scheme of 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 was also recalled on 20 June 2016.

Commons Briefing papers SN01186

Author: Richard Kelly

Topic: Parliament

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