16.03.2018

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The Simple Politics guide to next week in Parliament.
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When events take over


We should get this out the way first: there is not much scheduled to happen in Parliament next week.

The Lords are effectively debating Brexit all week. MPs attention will be on drawing up a budget for Northern Ireland (while encouraging the relevant parties to start talks again). There is so little scheduled that on Thursday, there is just a general debate on the economy (spoiler: The Conservatives think it's great; Labour think it's awful).

If this all sounds familiar, that's because it is. A study this week showed that there have been fewer votes this year than in any first nine months after an election since 1997. Generally, this government is all about Brexit. There is talk about a domestic agenda, but they're not pushing it through Parliament right now. And even Brexit is stalling in Parliament. Partly because they Lords are doing a lot of debate on the main Bill and partly because they're worried that right now, they're going to lose key votes on the Trade Bill. So that's been kicked back till May. 

That's not to say though that all is quiet. Events have taken over. Monday was the busiest day in living memory for Urgent Questions and Ministerial Statements in the Commons. MPs discussed anti-Muslim hate crime, bullying of Commons staff, setting a Northern Ireland budget, US tariffs on steel and aluminium, the plight of civilians in Afrin and, of course, the Salisbury incident. None of which was scheduled. All of which is important. The planned debate on a technical Bill was then cancelled because there wasn't enough time. 

Next week, we can expect more of the same. There is no doubt that Russia will be debated again at some point. It also seems highly likely that other events will rear their heads and demand attention from our elected representatives. These are turbulent times.

Sunday - With events running so fast, taking time on a Sunday morning to watch the politics programme is so useful. Get up to speed and inform your opinions. 

Monday - The Lords are on Day 8 of the committee stage Brexit Bill chat. They sat deep into the night last week and may do so again today. MPs are debating a law that helps victims of domestic abuse to get secure tenancies.

Tuesday - The Commons starts the legal process needed to set a budget for Northern Ireland, while the Assembly is still not sitting. Lords are debating the Nuclear Safeguards Bill that paves the way for nuclear security post Brexit.

Wednesday - PMQs! The Russia situation has given May a bump in the polls (well, in the one poll that's been published since). Expect Corbyn to come out fighting. Once that's over, MPs get back to the Northern Ireland budget. Lords are on day nine of the Brexit Bill committee stage. They are starting early (at least early by their standards) in an attempt to finish by midnight.

There are a couple of interesting committee meetings today. The Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, is up in front of the Education Committee (10am) and Boris Johnson is up in front of the Foreign Affairs Committee (2pm). Both will be given a thorough grilling and have to defend their record. 

Thursday - Thursday might be the quietest day I've ever reported on. A general debate about the economy in the Commons and a series of fairly obscure motions in the Lords. A good day for hobbies. 

Friday - MPs aren't sitting today, but the Lords are looking at Private Members Bills, starting off with the abolition of by-elections for hereditary peers. 

Finally, with politics and the news being so full of conflict and discontent, I would like to wish you, dear reader, a wonderful weekend. 

Peace and love.
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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
Nuclear Safeguards Bill

When the UK leaves the EU it will also leave Euratom - the European Atomic Energy Community.

This Bill aims to replace the Euratom nuclear safeguards with domestic ones to make sure that the UK’s nuclear energy material is still safe and not being diverted into the arms trade and that the UK nuclear industry will still be able to trade with European countries after Brexit.

 

More details
Secure Tenancies (Victims of Domestic Abuse) Bill
This Bill would make it a requirement that social housing tenants in England who currently have a life-time tenancy and are fleeing domestic violence be granted a similar life-time tenancy in their new home. The requirement would also apply if an abuser moved out of the home, thus ending a joint tenancy. This Bill came about because concerns were raised about the previous Housing and Planning Act, that it would leave victims of abuse with no housing security.
More details
There's a whole lot of chat about the Chemical Weapons Convention right now. Here's an overview.
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