Commons finishes four hours early as MPs swiftly deal with business

The House of Commons finished more than four hours early, as the chamber stumbled on during the Brexit deadlock.

MPs spent fewer than 45 minutes debating the main business of the day before winding up on Monday at 6.04pm.

The Commons would normally be expected to conclude at 10.30pm on Mondays.

The sitting on Monday started at 2.30pm with work and pensions questions before the Government added two statements to the schedule.

MPs started consideration of the Non-Domestic Rating (Preparation For Digital Services) Bill’s second reading at 4.51pm and concluded it at 5.32pm – just 41 minutes.

Tory former minister Sir John Redwood was the only backbench MP to make a speech, with others opting to intervene on the frontbench contributions.

The adjournment debate would normally be expected to start at 10pm but was under way by 5.37pm and concluded shortly after 6pm.

The final debate was on promoting self-build housing, led by Conservative Victoria Prentis (Banbury), which was dominated by approving mentions of TV presenter Kevin McCloud and his Channel 4 programmes Grand Designs and Kevin McCloud’s Man Made Home.

The Commons has finished early on several days in the weeks since the Easter recess as talks between Labour and the Conservatives continue in a bid to break the Brexit impasse.

No votes have taken place in the chamber since April 10 and MPs approved the Whitsun recess, which is due to take place from close of play on May 23 until June 4, unopposed.

The Labour whips wrote on Twitter: “This is a Government clinging to the office, but not in power.”

Earlier local government minister Rishi Sunak said of the Bill under consideration: “What we’re doing today is just a very small first step on a journey that does require an enormous amount of engagement and consultation.

“The main measure in this Bill allows HMRC to expend resources on beginning to explore designs for a new digital service for business rates.

“The reason this is necessary is because today HMRC’s current statutory functions do not include activity in connection with the administration of business rates.”

For Labour, shadow communities minister Jim McMahon raised criticism of the Government’s spending record on local government.

He said: “The critical thing is local government doesn’t need a secretary of state to batter it all the time, it needs a champion to really celebrate what goes on in every community – and, regardless of party political affiliation, to really fly the flag for what has been proven to be the most efficient arm of any government unit in this country.”

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