It's been an odd week. We've had a load of smoke and mirrors. Parliament had 2 days debating Article 50. There was lots of hot air and rhetoric before MPs voted by a huge majority to give Theresa May the power that she thought she already had. Yesterday, with much fanfare, the White Paper was released. It gave nothing new and many MPs didn't bother turning up for the great reveal.
Next week, in a spectacular display of bravado, MPs will bitterly discuss changes they'd like to make to the Bill. There will be much hand-wringing and many furrowed brows. None of the suggested changes will be made. T'was ever thus in Parliament. It's just the way it works.
Over in the Lords, though, they will be debating laws that are trying to prepare the country fro a post-Brexit world. They're working on promoting economies for us to deal with, on shaping our digital economy and on saving the government money on NHS drugs. It's a busy week and it's one that reminds us that the real work of Parliament is often that that doesn't get the biggest fanfare.
Our pick of the laws being debated in Parliament next week...
Health Service Medical Supplies (Costs) Bill
This would let the government intervene in non-generic medicine prices, as it currently can only intervene in branded ones. It closes up a loophole investigated by The Times, which pointed out that some drugs bought by the NHS have gone up 1000% in price. The pharma industry won’t be very happy, but expect broad support for this from across parties.
This is a Government Bill from the Department for International Development. It would increase the amount of money the Secretary of State can allocate to the Commonwealth Development Corporation - a government-owned investment company that predominantly operates in emerging markets in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
This will bring in a ‘universal service obligation’ for internet access. So every person would have the legal right to broadband which is at least 10Mbps, in the same way people have the right to a phone line and postal services. Most MPs are supportive of this but implementing it is more difficult in rural and hard to reach areas.
There will also be more age verification for websites that show pornographic images.