03.11.2017

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The Simple Politics guide to next week in Parliament.
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A horrible time in politics - but there is positivity out there.


This last week has been a truly horrible time to be covering politics. There have been times this week when doing what we do has felt genuinely horrible. Spreadsheets, videos, tweets and articles have time and time again shown some of the people we trust with the future of our country are abusive, self-serving and predatory. Possibly worse, many of their colleagues knew exactly what was going on and actively helped cover it up.

Watching the rush from the great and the good to suddenly agree that something needs to be done, doesn't really wash for me. They all knew last week, last month, last year that it was going on. It just didn't suit to take action at that point. I was at Parliament's Education Service nine years ago. I was warned about not getting too close to an MP. They had a reputation. That was just standard operating procedure.  Work around people, keep quiet, heads down, get on with the job.

That said, it has to be good that there is now consensus to 'clear the stable' and to finally get this sorted. A line has, at last, been drawn. Maybe, just maybe, we can start to see the change in the culture that is sorely needed.

Despite all that, I want to focus on the positives today. I still believe that the vast majority of those in Parliament are decent, hardworking people who are in politics to do what they can to improve the country for everyone. It's so easy to focus on the few, but we mustn't fall into that trap.

As I write, MPs are debating the use of force in mental health units, with a view to improving treatment, and reducing the number of injuries and fatalities. MP after MP is standing up and talking seriously, from the heart, about some of the most vulnerable people in society. It's a Private Member's Bill, so it has a long and arduous road to becoming law, but this is what Parliament does and is supposed to do. Through discussion with constituents, a problem has been highlighted. Vulnerable people are being treated badly. MPs are finding ways to better look after them.

This horrible time will, I'm sure, continue over the weekend (who knows what the newspapers are saving for the Sunday scoops) and into the future. But. Let's be pleased the worst examples are being revealed. Let's not allow the disgusting behaviour of a few tarnish the reputation of the many. And, finally, let's focus on the good, hard work that is done in Parliament and beyond.


Sunday -  Well, the politics programmes are going to be pretty bleak, I'd imagine.

Monday - It's a backbench business day in the Commons -they'll be debating Britain's membership of the  European Economic Area as well as transport in the north of England.  Over in the Lords, they have the only law of the week as they continue to work through the Data Protection Bill.

If you were one of the 103,554 people who sign a petition to 'Make mental health education compulsory in primary and secondary schools', you may be interested to tune into the debate from MPs at 4.30 on the subject. 

Tuesday- Not too much going on in the main chambers today. MPs have a backbench debate on temporary accommodation. Lords are signing off various motions.

The action today is in the Commons select committees. The range of people coming in to give evidence is huge. From Tony Hall (head of the BBC) to Cressida Dick (head of the Met Police) to four young people with experience of care coming in to give evidence to the Education Committee about fostering, committees are hearing from the people who know what the committee members themselves don't. Committee work is often overlooked, but some great things are done in those rooms.

Rest of the week - It's a mini recess. MPs are back in their constituencies. 
This is the only new law being debated in Parliament next week...
Data Protection Bill 
This aims to bring UK data protection up to date and to widen the definition of personal information to include internet information such as IP addresses and cookies. It will also bring the UK in line with EU data protection laws so there is consistency after Brexit. The Bill will give individuals more control over their personal data and will allow people to request companies delete information held about them. It will also increase the punishment for organisations that do not comply with data protection laws.
More details
Here's a quick explainer (published on Thursday on Facebook) on the  week's biggest Brexit story.
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