07.09.2018

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The Simple Politics guide to next week in Parliament.
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The Salisbury Incident - where to now?
 
We now know a lot about what happened that weekend in March. We know that the two Russian operatives flew into London, stayed at a budget hotel, travelled to Salisbury for a reconnaissance trip. They then went back to the hotel only to return the next day to place the Novichok on the Skripal's doorknob. We know that the nerve agent was contained in an adapted perfume bottle. Tragically, we also know that this bottle was later found by Charlie Rowley, who gave it to his partner, Dawn Sturgess, who rubbed it on her wrists. This action exposed her to fatal levels of the nerve agent and she died on 8th July.

All this, it appears, is factual. The trouble is, what do we do now? The two men are safely back in Russia and presumably will never be given up by the Russian state to stand trial in the UK. So, what can we do?

That's what next week in Parliament will focus on. On Tuesday, MPs will be looking at the Counter-Terrorism Bill. This was introduced well before this new intelligence. It gives the police power to stop anyone they think might be acting suspiciously in ports and airports. It's specifically designed to make it harder for spies / agents / whoever to come to the UK specifically to do terrible things. The question of what else can be done will be addressed on Wednesday. Then, there is a general debate on 'The Salisbury Incident'. Expect MPs to queue up to condemn the actions of these two, the Russian military intelligence arm, GRU, and the Russian State. Also expect MPs to voice their support for Salisbury itself, which is struggling as shoppers and tourists stay away. Whether concrete action plans are agreed on remains to be seen.

Saturday - Are you going to the Big Tent Ideas Festival? If so, make sure you check out Speaker's corner at 12.30 - Simple Politics' very own Hattie Schofield will be talking about the Wild West media - and why we're the stables. I've had the pleasure of reading some of what Hattie's going to say and it's rather brilliant. Even if my description of the talk makes it sound a little tenuous. She's super talented and amazing to listen to, so make sure you catch her.

Sunday - The politics on Sunday morning has all had a bit of a shift around. Peston has left for Wednesday nights. Marr has an hour extra in bed and starts at 10 and Sophie Ridge moves her slot to the 9am vibe that Marr used to own. Make sure you're watching for the next few Sundays. It's going to be pretty gripping.
 
Monday - On paper, today's debate in the Commons on what legislation is needed for the withdrawal agreement should be quite interesting for those who like a bit of Brexit chat. In reality, though, it may well be overly technical and just another way of leavers and remainers bad mouthing each other. 

If you like that kind of thing, you'll love the debate in Westminster Hall over a petition that calls for Article 50 to be rescinded if the Vote Leave campaign broke electoral laws. Nothing will come of this, but there will be some passionate speeches from (mostly) remainer MPs.

Tuesday - MPs debate the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill. Details of that are below. Small groups of MPs will continue to go through a couple of bills line by line. That's the Offensive Weapons Bill and the Civil Liability Bill, both of which are also explained below. 

Fans (and critics) of the BBC may be interested to note that Tony Hall, Director General, will have his annual grilling from the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee at 9.30.

Wednesday -.It's the second and final PMQs of this short season. Corbyn has moved from never, ever asking about Brexit to almost always asking about Brexit. It does, to be entirely honest, make the Corbyn / May clashes a little repetitive. Who knows what he'll go on this week, or whether it will be a little more interesting. 

After that, expect a much more collaborative mood as MPs debate the Salisbury Incident.

The Lords today will continue to look at the Ivory BIll that would ban the sale of any kind of ivory in the UK.

Thursday - Do you love discussion of the mechanics of Parliament? If so, today's debate is a zinger. MPs will discuss the process of voting by proxy. That means that if someone is on parental leave, they can nominate an MP to vote on their behalf. At the moment there are various complex arrangements, and this would greatly facilitate MPs taking real parental leave.

Friday - And that's it in Parliament. It's officially party conference season. We start with the Liberal Democrats.in Brighton on Saturday. It's all very exciting. 

Saturday & Sunday - I'll be in Bath - at the egg theatre - performing with Comedy Club 4 Kids legend Tiernan Douieb in our family politics show 'How Does This Politics Thing Work Then'. It's creative, fun and informing. I absolutely love it. We're on at 11.30 and 3 on both days, so if you can make it to Bath, do come along. Suitable for children 6+.
Our pick of the laws being debated in Parliament next week.
Civil Liability Bill

The Government made a commitment in its election manifesto to regulate whiplash claims after car accidents because whiplash claims have risen considerably, when road traffic accident rates have actually fallen and car safety devices have improved. The Government also says that this has resulted in higher insurance premiums in England and Wales. The Bill will ban the practice of making a whiplash claim without medical evidence and make a tariff for the amount of money issued in compensation claims. Some compensation lawyers have already criticised this bill as sacrificing compassion for victims in favour of lower insurance premiums.

More details
Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill

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. As with most counter-terrorism measures this will be heavily scrutinised by civil liberties and human rights groups.

More details
Offensive Weapons Bill

Knife crime increased by 22% in the UK in 2017, and between 2013 and 2017 the number of recorded corrosive substance (acid) attacks increased from 183 to 504.  

This Bill will make it harder for people to buy knives and acid online, and will make it illegal to possess certain weapons such as knuckle dusters, flick knives, and rapid firing rifles. These measures form part of the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy announced earlier this year and could get cross party support, however the opposition parties regard lack of police resources one of the main causes of increasing crime, which is not a factor this Bill addresses.

More details
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