Just days after Parliament broke up for the summer recess, parents of MPs are already wondering how on earth they are meant to occupy their children until the House of Commons re-opens in October. After the initial novelty of spending some time with their Members of Parliament again, desperate parents were today seen outside the gates of the Palace of Westminster begging police officers to let their children back in on the grounds that they’d ‘forgotten their lunchboxes’.
‘It’s absurd that they get so long off,’ said Alan Duncan’s father today. ‘It’s not even August but already it seems like weeks ago that the Speaker let them take games in on the last day of term. All Alan’s doing is sitting around the house watching repeats on the Parliament Channel and getting under my feet. I keep telling him to go and get a job, but he just laughs at me.’
Members of the public have also reported concern at the return of MPs to their constituencies. ‘The problem is the lack of facilities which means they’ve got nothing to do,’ said one of Ann Widdecombe’s constituents today. ‘You see them hanging around on street corners, and it’s scary. All you’ve got to do is look at them in the wrong way and they’ll have you there for hours going on about how they shouldn’t all be tarred with the same brush. The community is living in fear.’
But for some MPs’ parents the summer holidays isn’t all bad news. Tony McNulty’s mum and dad are said to be delighted that recess will allow their son to move out and return to the North London constituency home which he can’t get to when Parliament is sitting due to the prohibitive commute. And Alistair Darling’s parents have wasted no time in packing him off to Camp Westminster for the summer in the hope that some extra tuition will mean he isn’t held back a few years come the next election. Those close to Gordon Brown have suggested he may also be joining his Chancellor following his embarrassing showing at sports day when he couldn’t even win the sack race.
However, for the majority of parents dreading being stuck at home with their MP all summer, there was some further bad news today as the Chief Medical Officer admitted that it may be necessary to keep Parliament closed come October to curb the spread of swine flu. ‘It’s a last resort, but we may need to tell Ministers to stay at home if we’re to have any hope of managing this virus. In fact, it’s probably also best if they avoid people and public places,’ he added, ‘at least until we can develop a vaccine.’
(Hat-tip to Stan Laurel)