When parliament works

Like most MPs, Martin’s work as MP for the last ten years has been divided between his constituency and Westminster.  Parliament only meets in Westminster for parts of the year – roughly equivalent to school terms.  The gaps in between are known as ‘recesses’ and during these times Martin is based at his Cheltenham office (except for family holidays of four weeks or so a year).  As Parliament is currently 'dissolved' for the General Election on 7 May, Martin cannot use the initials 'MP' or the MP's office in Westminster and is spending almost all his time campaigning in Cheltenham.

Constituency office

Martin’s constituency office at 16 Hewlett Road is open from 9am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday all year except between Christmas and New Year.  Please phone 224889 for an appointment with Martin or one of his team.

Parliamentary dates

The main parliamentary recesses are at Christmas, Easter and in August.  There is also a few weeks' recess in late September when the parties hold their conferences.  Occasional recesses are held at other times, for instance just before the Queen's Speech which begins a new session of parliamentary sittings.  The latest published recess dates are available on Parliament's website here.

Each parliamentary session now ends in May with most legislation being either completed or lost as parliament is 'prorogued' or suspended.  A new session will then start shortly afterwards with a new Queen’s Speech – the statement of the government’s plans for new laws during the following year.

The exception is the last session of a parliament when it has run its full five years, after which it is 'dissolved' and a General Election is called to elect the next parliament.

Parliamentary times

In London, Parliament normally sits from 2.30pm on Mondays through to 5.30pm on Thursday, occasionally sitting on a Friday to consider legislation proposed by ordinary MPs not the government (‘private members’ bills’).

Normal timings for main business in the House of Commons itself are:

          Monday        2.30pm – 10.30pm
          Tuesday       11.30pm – 7.30pm
          Wednesday  11.30am – 7.30pm
          Thursday      9.30am – 5.30pm
          (Friday           9.30am – 3pm)

As well as main debates in the House of Commons itself, MPs also sit on select committees scrutinising government actions and policies, other bill committees that examine proposed new laws in great detail and even European committees to double-check legislation and proposals being made at European level.  These committees take place throughout the week at different times, often outside the times for business in the House itself given above.

MPs can also take part in ‘adjournment debates’ which don’t lead to votes but oblige ministers to answer MPs’ arguments over important issues.  These take place in the House of Commons chamber after main business has finished or in a second chamber just off Westminster Hall.