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Tuesday, 2 April, 2002, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
Parliament to be recalled
Houses of Parliament
Parliament's Easter break is to be interrupted
The House of Commons and House of Lords are to be recalled from their Easter break so MPs and peers can pay their tributes to the Queen Mother.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said Parliament would be recalled on Wednesday following discussions with the Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, and the opposition parties.

Wednesday, 3 April - Parliament recalled
Tuesday, 9 April - Queen Mother's funeral
Wednesday, 10 April - Commons and Lords return
There will also be discussions between Downing Street and Buckingham Palace over what role the prime minister will play in the funeral proceedings.

Deputy prime minister John Prescott said the recall would give MPs the opportunity to pay their respects to a "great lady" who played an extraordinary part in the lives of this nation.

'Great loss'

He said tributes and messages received from foreign governments, and especially those from the Commonwealth, demonstrated what a great loss her death was to the whole world.

Meanwhile, Downing Street confirmed that the prime minister will go ahead with his planned meeting with President George W Bush in the United States at the weekend.

The talks have the full agreement of Buckingham Palace and Tony Blair will be back for the funeral on Tuesday.

The House of Commons and House of Lords are currently in recess for the Easter break, and the Commons was not due to sit again until Tuesday 9 April, a day after the Lords was to return - and the day of the Queen Mother's funeral.

A lot of people of my parents' generation would find it very odd had Parliament not been recalled

Tam Dalyell, MP
Prime Minister Tony Blair will lead tributes in the House of Commons, which will sit for three hours, starting at 11.30am.

Mr Blair will be followed by Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy and Father of the House - the longest-serving member - Tam Dalyell.

MPs are then expected to follow with their own tributes.

Mr Dalyell welcomed the decision to recall Parliament.

"I think a lot of people of my parents' generation would find it very odd had Parliament not been recalled," he said.

"There is not an obligation for every MP to be there. They may be away on business and all sorts of things abroad. But nevertheless, the recall of Parliament should take place. I do think it is appropriate."

National importance

The Leader of the House of Lords, Lord Williams of Mostyn, is expected to lead peers' tributes at 11.30am.

He will be followed by Conservative Leader of the Lords, Lord Strathclyde.

The House of Lords had been due to sit next Monday, but will not now return for its next session until Wednesday, 10 April, the day the Commons also gets back down to business.

It is only at times of great national importance that the Houses of Parliament hold sittings during their scheduled breaks.

In Autumn last year the House of Commons was recalled in the wake of the 11 September terror attacks on the US and subsequent military action in Afghanistan.

The move is normally taken when a General Election is imminent, during a national emergency or when there is a threat to UK security.

When the Queen Mother's husband, King George VI, died in February 1952, Parliament was already sitting but a day was set aside to enable MPs and peers to pay tributes.

Prime Minister Tony Blair
"She was held in the most enormous affection"
Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Royal Family"
Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy
"She never lost that common touch"
See also:

30 Mar 02 | UK Politics
When Parliament has been recalled
30 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Tory leader's tribute to Queen Mother
30 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Tony Blair's tribute to the Queen Mother
30 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Political tributes flow for Queen Mum
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