A budget for Northern Ireland
(And a visit from someone who isn't all that popular over here)
There's no getting away from it. Next week is pretty quiet in Parliament. There is an all-day Opposition Day on Wednesday in which Labour set the agenda, and there's another half day on Tuesday in which the Liberal Democrats get to choose the topic. Thursday is, as usual, debates on areas chosen by the Backbench Business Committee.
Lucky then, Monday has something pretty interesting. Westminster is setting a budget for Northern Ireland. This is the second budget they have set in the absence of a government at Stormont. It's more interesting and controversial, though, because it's the first that they have had to take spending decisions. Previously they have only been a continuation of previously laid down plans.
The government have tried hard to not take this measure, giving the Northern Ireland parties more and more time to come to a new power-sharing agreement. This has not yet been achieved, however, and there is still no agreement, so this bill is coming into force.
Events in Parliament aren't always the big story.
On Friday next week, Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States of America makes a 'working trip' (not a state visit) to the UK. He will be greeted by Theresa May, The Queen and a large group of protesters. A 6-meter balloon depicting Trump as a baby in a nappy will fly over Parliament Square. Expect chaos in London.
He's then going to pop up to Scotland to play a bit of golf. The Scottish had suggested that particular leg could not go on because they wouldn't pay for his £5m security bill. This week it was announced, however, that Westminster would foot that particular sum and Trump will travel as planned.
Monday - MPs will debate the Northern Ireland budget as described above. There will be much discussion of how keen everyone is to see the Northern Ireland Assembly up and running again. There will also be a debate on a series of petitions that called for visas to be given automatically to those visiting British family members.
Tuesday - Today MPs will quickly whip through the remaining stages of the Non-Domestic Rating (Nursery Grounds) Bill (details below) before turning their attention to an Opposition Day debate on the subject of the choice of the Liberal Democrats. At time of writing I don't know what the subject will be, but I'd imagine that it would start with 'Br' and end with 'exit'.
Over in the committee corridor, they will be studying the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill.
Wednesday - PMQs. Last time out, Jeremy Corbyn surprised almost everyone by using all six questions on buses. This week, with just 2 PMQs sessions to go before the summer, it could be anything. I suppose it depends on the success or otherwise of the big Chequers Brexit meeting.
After that, it's a Labour Opposition Day. They'll be debating Shipbuilding in Britain and Blue Light Emergency Services.
Thursday - Backbench Business day. MPs will debate The Practice of Forced Adoption in the UK and Lessons from the Collapse of Carillion.
Friday - No Parliament, but there is the small matter of that Trump visit.
EARLY WARNING KLAXON!
The following week, MPs will debate the Trade Bill and it will be all about whether the UK will stay in a / the Customs Union. We'll bring you everything you need to know about that at 10am on Friday. If you know anyone who might like our briefing, why not forward them this link where they can sign up? http://eepurl.com/bhUGhP
Our pick of the laws being debated in Parliament next week...
Non-Domestic Rating (Nursery Grounds) Bill
Nursery grounds are places where plants or trees are grown from seed and then sold on to other businesses for maturing, as opposed to garden centres that sell more mature plants to the public. Agricultural businesses and buildings are exempt from paying business rates, this Bill would put plant nurseries and any associated structures (such as poly tunnels) into the same bracket as agricultural businesses and also exempt them from rates.
This Bill aims to strengthen the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy and is partly in response to the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury earlier this year. It will introduce a number of new laws, including the ability of police and immigration officers to question people suspected of hostile activities at airports and ports, and then potentially deport them. It will also introduce longer sentences of up to 15 years for terrorist propaganda offences and make it easier to tackle those who stream or repeatedly view extremist material online.
Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill
Electronic information is increasingly important for the investigation and prosecution of criminal offences. The companies providing services which generate and store electronic data, such as internet service providers, are often located outside the UK. This puts this type of data beyond the current reach of existing UK court orders. This Bill would enable law enforcers in the UK to obtain data from foreign service providers in countries with which the UK already has judicial cooperation.