10.11.2017

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The Simple Politics guide to next week in Parliament.
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Pay careful attention. I shall write this only once.

The Brexit Bill is back. It's been a while. But, oh boy, is it back now. It's going to be a bit technical, so here I'm going to do my best to break down what's going on. At the end of the email, there is a guide to how a law is made, which you may also find useful.

On 11th September, MPs voted 326 to 290 to agree on the general principles of the EU Withdrawal Bill. 

What normally happens next is that a small group of MPs goes away and spends a few weeks going through the bill line by line. It's called the Committee stage. During Committee, changes to the bill can be made. 

In this case, the bill is far too important for a handful of MPs. So, the committee stage is open to all MPs and is happening in the House of Commons itself. MPs will have 8 days to scrutinise, debate and make changes to the bill. Two of those days are next week.

On each day, different sections of the bill are looked at. On day one of the Committee stage, MPs are looking at the first line of the bill for 4 hours and then clause 6 for 4 hours (see day breakdown below for details). On day two, they go back to clauses 2,3 and 4. 

It is all very technical. But. There are some incredibly important changes being suggested. Corbyn wants to include a guarantee of membership of groups like Euroatom and Europol in the bill. Theresa May wants to include a specific time and date that we leave the EU (11 pm, 29th March 2019). 

In theory, with DUP support, May should be able to get the bill through the 8 days without any major changes. The challenge for the opposition is to make such a compelling case for some of the changes, either some Conservatives rebel or the government make concessions.

We'll be covering all the action live on twitter and doing our best to explain what's going on.  We'll be posting highlights on Facebook, too. 

Sunday - With the Paradise papers, harassment scandals, 2 cabinet ministers down, May talking tough on Brexit, and a budget on the way... it's safe to say that the Sunday morning politics shows are going to be essential viewing. 

Monday - Today, MPs will debate Northern Ireland. It looks likely that the day will be used to pass a budget, but not to take overall direct rule. Expect much talk the DUP and Sinn Fein finding common ground so the Assembly can reopen.

Tuesday-  Day one of the Brexit Bill committee.  The first four hours are to debate changes to the first line, which says: 'The European Communities Act 1972 is repealed on exit day. '  All the proposed changes are adding conditions to this. Some want to be 'subject to...' or 'on condition of...'.

The next four hours are dedicated to the way we interpret laws that are now UK laws, but used to be EU laws. The idea is to ensure that the future decisions of EU courts don't have any impact on the UK. Some of the suggested changes are to make any transition period easy - and keep EU courts decisions for two more years.  

Corbyn has also suggested changes to this section about employment and equality rights. He wants UK courts to be legally bound to take EU courts decisions on these areas into account.

Wednesday -  We briefly get to swap the depth and technicality of the committee for our weekly dose of PMQs. Not for long, though. At 12.45, we're neck deep in Brexit committee business.

First up today is clause 2. This just shifts all old EU law into UK law. The big amendment to be discussed here (from Corbyn and Carloine Lucas, amongst others) is to say that anything to do with employment, equality, health and safety or fundamental rights can only be cahnged by a full Act of Parliament.

Clause 3 picks up all the EU regulations etc that clause 2 left behind and makes them part of UK law.  There are very few changes that have been put down for that. Apparently, most people agree that it's pretty much fine.

Finally, for the week of Brexit debating, it's clause 4. This is the one that transfers all our rights from the EU into UK law. A cross-party group want to include some animal rights, too. Others want environmental principles to come into UK law in this clause. There are also lots of changes to ensure that all of the rights are transferred and none left out.

Thursday - It's a Backbench Business day. They will debate the roll-out of Universal Credit and the 'defence aerospace industrial strategy '. 

Friday - Both the Commons and the Lords are off today. We shall be lying in a dark room.
With Northern Ireland, Brexit and the Budget, it's a huge couple of weeks in Parliament. If you were going to recommend this email to someone, now might be a pretty good time.
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Our pick of the laws being debated in Parliament next week...
European Union (Withdrawal) Bill
This is the Bill that has been called the Great Repeal 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
A Bill About Northern Ireland

We don't have the details about this one yet, but it is very significant.

After months of negotiation and deadline extensions, there is still no Northern Ireland Assembly. That's really problematic because basic services like schools and hospitals rely on budgets etc from the Assembly. 

It looks like James Brokenshire (NI Minister) will introduce a budget for NI from the Commons on Monday, but won't start a full time 'direct rule' just yet.

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
With the Brexit Bill being the big story of the week, here's a quick guide to how laws are made.
Over on social media this week, we were guessing what the John Lewis Christmas advert might be.
Here is the Simple Politics prediction: 

David Davis wandersround a store. Looks at Union Jack toaster. Barnier
seen looking at crepe pan.
Both sigh.

Cut to Christmas Day at the Davis / Barnier house (that's a thing, right?) they both got not quite what they wanted.

Brexit nirvana.
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