MPs and peers make contrasting choices on sitting dates

I know the two Houses of Parliament are supposed to operate independently, but this is getting silly. Both have just announced their sitting dates for the coming year, and they are quite different.

Which means that Parliament has several periods when it is half open, with one House sitting but not the other. This is awkward for ministers, awkward for parliamentary staff and expensive for the taxpayer - and also means that the extensive (and expensive) renovation work that takes place to the Victorian fabric of the buildings while the politicians are away may be slowed down. Another cost.

The key differences come in February and over the summer, when the Commons finishes a week earlier, returns for a fortnight in September and then takes a conference break, while the peers do not sit at all in September and return a week earlier in October. I suspect the difference in February has something to do with the probable slow progress of the Health and Social Care Bill through the Lords.

Perhaps there's an implicit threat there that their lordships might not get away in February if the bill is behind schedule...

Here are the two sets of dates:

Commons

Rise Nov 15th, return Nov 21st

Rise Dec 20th, return Jan 10th

Rise Feb 9th, return Feb 20th

Rise March 27th, return April 16th

Rise May 24th, return June 11th

Rise July 17th, return Sept 3rd

Rise 18th Sept, return Oct 15th

Lords

Rise Nov 16th, return Nov 21st

Rise Dec 21st, return Jan 10th

Rise Feb 16th, return Feb 27th

Rise March 28th, return April 16th

Rise May 28th, return June 11th

Rise July 25th, return Oct 8th