02.03.2018

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The Simple Politics guide to next week in Parliament.
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What a difference three years makes


Whisper it, but, next week may be a little quieter on the Brexit front. Sure, the Lords will continue their marathon committee stage, and the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, has a speech. But. It's 2018, we're never going to have an entirely Brexit free week. 

No, the big story in Parliament next week is the energy price cap. On Tuesday,  MPs will debate the measure that is one of Theresa May's promised ways to fix areas where the free market doesn't work for everyone. There has been a lot of debate and scrutiny of this Bill, so by time it has it's first debate in the Commons, it is all but guaranteed a fairly easy ride. 

The big talking point of the energy cap Bill is it's closeness to the energy freeze that Ed Miliband planned for a Labour government, should they win the 2015 election. At the time, senior Conservatives fell over each other to criticise the move.  Here's what a couple of them said:

David Cameron: 'You want to live in some sort of Marxist universe where you control these things but you need a basic lesson in economics'

Boris Johnson: 'I find it rather incredible that he can seriously pretend to want to do something for the hard-pressed energy consumers in this country, and I find it astounding that so many people are falling for his Wonga-like offer.'
 
Now, there are some subtle differences between the policies. Next week's Bill will be about a cap, not a freeze and the level of the cap will be set by the watchdog, Ofgem. Expect an interesting speech from Ed Miliband, though, on Tuesday.

Sunday - Brexit with your breakfast. After all the speeches this week (May, Fox, Lidington, Major, Blair, Corbyn, etc etc etc), there will be quite a lot of discussion about the UK leaving the EU on the Sunday morning TV shows. The only confirmed guest I can find, though, is the excellent First Aid Kit who will be performing live at the end of Marr.

EDIT. Just as I was sending this off, I've seen that Theresa May might do another pre-recorded interview with Marr.

Monday - The Lords are on Day 4 of the committee stage Brexit Bill chat. MPs are debating a new law about data protection. All eyes will be on the Commons at 3.30, though, when Theresa May makes a statement to the House about her vision for Brexit.

Tuesday - The Energy Cap Bill is in the Commons. The Lords enjoy a day off Brexit and debate laser misuse and tenancies for victims of domestic abuse.

Wednesday - PMQs! Woop! Corbyn has gone on Brexit for two weeks in a row now. The clear difference between the two parties (over a customs union) helps provide a line of questioning. It means it's been a while since Corbyn went on the NHS, though.

After that, MPs will debate a motion put forward by Plaid Cymru and one by the DUP. The Lords have Day 5 of the Brexit committee stage.

Thursday - It's International Women's Day. Both the Commons and Lords have debates dedicated to women.

Friday - No business planned for Friday, so... It's all so quiet. It's all so still. You're all alone and so peaceful until... a Brexit story breaks. 
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Our pick of the laws being debated in Parliament next week...
European Union (Withdrawal) Bill
It repeals the original Act that took Britain into the EU in 1972, and transfers the laws that came from the EU into British laws. It doesn’t tackle each policy area individually, there will be separate laws for things like immigration, but it sets up the legal framework to make Brexit possible. Expect a lot of debate about this, the devolved assemblies in Scotland and Wales aren’t happy about it, and the Bill will transfer power to Ministers after Brexit to amend laws without a vote Parliament.
More details
Domestic Gas and Electricity (Tariff Cap) Bill
This Bill will put in place a requirement on the independent energy regulator, Ofgem, to cap energy tariffs until 2020, with the possibility of it being extended to 2023 if necessary.

The Bill comes after the BEIS Select Committee (a cross party group of MPs) scrutinised the draft Bill and backed an absolute cap on energy tariffs, which the Government has accepted in full so this Bill is not expected to be very controversial.
More details
Secure Tenancies (Victims of Domestic Abuse) Bill
This Bill would make it a requirement that social housing tenants in England who currently have a life-time tenancy and are fleeing domestic violence be granted a similar life-time tenancy in their new home. The requirement would also apply if an abuser moved out of the home, thus ending a joint tenancy. This Bill came about because concerns were raised about the previous Housing and Planning Act, that it would leave victims of abuse with no housing security.
More details
One of the big emerging stories of the week is the Labour support for an amendment to the Trade Bill. Here's our guide.
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