FATHERS DAY SPECIAL OFFER!
Our family show How Does This Politics Thing Work Then? starts this weekend, we're in Farnham on Saturday and then London's Underbelly on Sunday. We've got a few tickets left for Sunday afternoon, so we're selling a limited number at just a fiver each. That's a 60% saving! Click the link at the bottom of this email and use the code GOVERNMENT.
The size of the fight in the dog
This week has been exhausting. Admittedly, the super late night sessions that we had thought were on the horizon never happened, but there was a whole lot of commotion and coming and going.
Ultimately, the government will be pretty pleased that they managed to win every single vote. It was a smooth 20-0 in the end. That means that the Lords will look, probably, look at most of the changes that they put in last time and decide it's not worth putting them in. I say probably because it's really up to them. They were pretty keen on, say, the EEA last time. If they are really up for the fight, they could put it back in. As we now know, the government doesn't have a majority in the Lords so they can put in whatever they want. It really will come down to how stubborn they want to be.
The issue, however, is the compromise that was promised. The Lords had an amendment to make that said that, if Parliament voted down the deal, they could tell the government what to do next. Now, the government clearly didn't like that. The trouble for the government is that there were a few Conservative rebels who agreed with the idea. The vote was going to be tricky.
At the last minute, though, up popped Dominic Grieve. He's a Conservative MP who was one of the rebels. He has come up with a compromise. It had three parts a) if Parliament vote the deal down, the government will return with a plan within a week, b) if we haven't got a deal by the end of November, the government would, again, come along to Parliament and explain what's going on, and, finally c) it there was no deal by mid February (6 weeks before the leave date), Parliament could the tell the government what to do.
There was much chat before the vote on the meaningful vote (if that makes sense) and the PM persuaded them to vote down the amendment on the promise that a) and b) of the Grieve amendment would be accepted. Crucially, though, the PM told the rebels that they would come up with an amendment of their own as a replacement for the c) section.
The rebels accepted the deal, but soon after voices started murmuring that the PM might not go as far as had been understood. Her trouble is she really, really doesn't want to give Parliament the power to dictate to the government under any circumstances. On the other hand, she knows that if the compromise amendment doesn't go far enough, the Lords can put part c) or even the original meaningful vote amendment back in on Monday and she'd be unable to prevent rebels voting for it on Wednesday when the Bill returns to the Commons.
So, that's where we were at 5 pm last night. Then, the government compromise amendment was announced. It involved a statement by 21st January if no deal had been reached and a vote would take place within two weeks and MPs (and the House of Lords) would get to vote whether or not they accept the statement. There is no sense of Parliament instructing the government. As such, Grieve has said that this compromise is unacceptable. Anna Soubry, too, has said it may not meet rebel demands.
So, what happens now? Well, the Bill is in the Lords on Monday. They can add whatever they like, either the original amendment or Grieve's original compromise amendment. Then the Bill returns to MPs on Wednesday. Unless the PM can pull off something pretty special, the Commons might well vote to agree with the Lords.
Monday - The big story of the day (and the week) is that the EU Withdrawal Bill is back in the Lords. The government successfully got rid of all the changes that the Lords put in last time, so it will be interesting to see how many they want to put back. There will be something about a meaningful vote.
MPs will also be a little Brexity. They have a three hour emergency debate on the impact of the Brexit on Scotland. They are doing a bit of ping pong for themselves, with the Electric and Automated Vehicles Bill.
Also, if you're not a fan of all this ping pong, you might like to know that, at 4.30pm, there is a debate on the abolition of the House of Lords after 170,000 people signed a petition calling for a referendum on the subject.
Tuesday - We've got a day off Brexit today. Probably not in the news as there will be lots of chat around plans and schemes and the rest of it. MPs will be debating a motion put forward by the Labour Party for an Opposition Day. The topic of that will be announced at some point next week.
The Lords will be looking at a Bill that aims to discourage people from allowing houses to sit empty.
Wednesday - We've got PMQs at 12, and then the EU Withdrawal Bill will be back in the Commons. The focus will be on the Conservative rebels and on what Theresa May can do to reassure them.
The Lords are looking at a brand new Bill to modernise our court system. Details below.
Thursday - Backbench business in the Commons. They'll be debating the importance of refugee family reunion and Erasmus. The Lords will be debating various things including the support available to carers.
Friday - Nothing in either chamber today. Your MP should be in the constituency holding surgeries if you want to try to book an appointment.
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. The Bill has passed through both the Commons and the Lords and is now ping ponging between the two while they try to find some common ground. This could last a while.
Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of Staff) Bill
The Government made a commitment to modernising the courts and this Bill is the first set of court reform measures to be introduced.
The Bill will introduce much greater flexibility to the deployment of judges.
It will also free up judges’ time to focus on more complex matters by allowing suitably qualified and experienced court and tribunal staff to be authorised to handle uncontroversial, straightforward matters under judicial supervision. The measures in the Bill will also increase the efficiency of the courts and tribunals.
Elephant populations have declined by a third in the last decade with an estimated 20,000 a year still being killed by poachers for their ivory.
Following a public consultation last year, the Government has introduced a Bill that will ban the buying and selling of all ivory products.
At the moment it is still legal to trade antique ivory that dates before 1947, however there have been cases where new ivory has been passed off as antique, which is what this Bill aims to prevent. It will also increase the penalties for ivory trading up to five years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.
New show Klaxon!!!!
In collaboration with Comedy Club 4 Kids, this new family show is going to be so, so, good. Bring your little people. Or other people's little people. But make sure you ask them first.
I'm doing another talk for Funzing - this time an introduction to politics. This is really what I do best. If you'd like to give your knowledge a bit of a brush-up, come along to this in London on 5th July. Dates in Bristol (and possibly Manchester) soon.