13.04.2018

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The Simple Politics guide to next week in Parliament.
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The elephant in Parliament


Next week is scheduled to be focused no the Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill. It's a pretty common sense bit of legislation that will make it illegal to shine a laser into the eyes of someone driving a car, or lorry or whatever. The bill is scheduled to run through all it's Commons stages on Monday and Wednesday. Apart from that, the MPs have very little business to worry about. There is a general debate on anti-semitism on Tuesday. 

The Lords aren't scheduled to be doing all that much either. The highlight of the week for them is the Brexit Bill finally getting to the stage where they can vote on things to change - and as the government doesn't have a majority in the Lords we'll start to see defeats rolling in.

The elephant in the chamber, though, is Syria. It remains to be seen how much time will be given to MPs to debate or even vote on the issue of British involvement in military strikes. I would imagine that the Prime Minister will come to the Commons on Monday and discuss the Cabinet decision made on Thursday this week that military action is needed in Syria. There could even be a general debate on the matter.

Will Parliament get an overall vote on the issue? It's not clear. One of the reason it's not clear is that the UK doesn't have a written constitution - there's no guidebook to tell us exactly who has the power to take us to war. In theory, the Prime Minister can decide without a vote. But, in recent years (2003, 2013, 2015) it has become convention that Parliament is consulted. Now, the PM could ignore that convention. It's not set in stone. Also, it looks pretty likely (right now) that she'd lose any vote on the matter. The ball's in the PM's court.

Finally, Syria has taken the focus off the murder rate in London and elsewhere. This all blew up while Parliament was in recess. Expect it to come back up again when the politicians are back in the places.

Sunday - A big morning of politics on TV. Peston's back, as well as Marr in his regular slot. No confirmed guests at the time of writing, but with so much going on in politics right now, you'll want to tune in.

Monday - Officially, the business today is the 2nd reading of the Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill and a general debate on Housing and Homes. I would be amazed, though, if - at the very least - the Prime Minister didn't come to the chamber to give a statement on Syria. I'd also expect a statement (or an Urgent Question) about the murder rate in London and other cities in the UK. Statements and urgent questions start at 3.30pm on a Monday. 

Tuesday - Again, business today may well be moved around in the light of Syrian debates etc. But, the government won't want to move this one. The scheduled business is a general debate on anti-semitism. This will involve condemnation from around the chamber, but also a lot of finger pointing at Corbyn and the Labour Party, including (if the protest a couple of weeks ago is any guide) from some people within the party itself.

Wednesday - PMQs! Should be a good one. Depending on what level of debate they've already head this week, Corbyn could go on Syria, or he could go on police numbers and murder rates. As ever in 2018, expect a rowdy Commons.

There is very little else scheduled in the Commons for Wednesday, but the Lords are moving onto the Report stage of the EU Withdrawal Bill today - and this is the bit where they will vote on making changes to the Bill. Expect a few government defeats, either today or in the upcoming weeks.

Thursday - Backbench business in the Commons - a debate on surgical mesh, followed by one on cancer treatment. 

Friday - Nothing in Parliament today. Away from the Palace of Westminster, though, expect Syria debate to dominate everything.
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Just getting buckled in for another long-term of Parliamentary action. We'll be here until almost August bringing you all the action.  If you'd like to support us in our work, you can sign up to give a small monthly donation here: www.patreon.com/simplepolitics 
Our pick of the laws being debated in Parliament next week...
European Union (Withdrawal) 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
Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill
This House of Lords Bill aims to make it an offence to shine a laser pen, or any type of laser beam, at any vehicle. Currently, it is only an offence to shine a laser at an aircraft, this Bill will widen the offence to include cars, trains, trams, ships and bicycles. It will also increase the penalty and could result in imprisonment for offenders. The second reading involved a debate about the levels of fines and whether air traffic control towers should also be included. 
More details
Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Bill

This is another Brexit Bill. It is designed to give the UK the powers we need to support UK hauliers to continue operating internationally after the UK leaves the EU.The bill makes arrangements to enable a permit scheme, if required as part of a deal, which would ensure UK hauliers can obtain the paperwork to operate in the EU. It would also set up a trailer registration scheme to ensure UK hauliers comply with EU countries.

More details
Theresa May and the cabinet have agreed that military action should be taken in Syria. We're yet to see if Parliament will have a vote on any British involvement.
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