20.04.2018

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The Simple Politics guide to next week in Parliament.
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The question that won't go away.


Theresa May has been clean from the get-go. Brexit means Brexit. We are leaving the Customs Union and the Single Market. We're gone. We might try to form a customs partnership, but it would have to give the UK considerably more freedom to sign trade deals around the world than *the* Customs Union has.

The trouble for her is that some people give two hoots about what she says on the matter. As a secondary teacher for over a decade, I sympathise entirely.

Much like a teacher losing control of the classroom, issues are springing up all over the place. It isn't too much of a problem for her that Labour have changed/clarified their policy to be in favour of *a* customs union. It's more of a problem that an amendment has been put down on the Trade Bill. That, though has been kicked down the road, until a solution can be found. The problem has, for now, been nullified. 

This week, there was defeat in the House of Lords  - again on a motion calling for *a* customs union. Under normal circumstances, that's not the end of the world either. You patiently wait until the Bill returns to the Commons then you use your majority to undo the change. The trouble is, there are enough Conservatives who want to see the UK remain in a customs union, she may not be able to get the result she wants. Even Micheal Gove has suggested it might be tricky. The truth is though, this Bill isn't going to be back in the Commons for at least a month, so, like the Trade Bill it can be kicked down the road for a bit.

Enter, the Liason Committee. You remember them. They are the Avengers of Select Committees. All the heads of all the Commons Select Committees getting together. Well, they have used the Backbench Business Committee to table a motion on Thursday that calls for 'an effective customs union'. And this is happening. No kicking it down the road. No avoiding the issue. It's got support from Conservatives who won't be whipped into voting it down. It should be added that there are Labour MPs who will vote against it. Brexit isn't always a party issue. But. It looks like it might have the votes to get through. Only time will tell, but the debate (starting at around 11.30 on Thursday) and the vote (around 2.30/3pm on Thursday) will be worth watching.


Sunday - It's the London Marathon, so Marr has been shunted to BBC Two. Outrageous. Peston is in his normal place (ITV) at 10. With the Windrush fallout, Syria fallout, London (and other cities) murder rate and Brexit to discuss, these shows are, once again, essential viewing. 

Monday - Recently, Mondays have been jam-packed with Ministerial statements and Urgent Questions. I'd expect the same this time round. Scheduled business in the Commons is the brand new Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill. Details of that below.  Lords are on Day 2 of the Report Stage of the EU Withdrawal Bill. Expect further government defeats.

Also, if you were one of the 237,237 (what a lovely number, BTW) who signed a recent petition calling the government to: 'Stop the privatisation of NHS services', you might be interested to know that it's being debated in Westminster Hall (the second debating chamber - a bit like Court Number 1 at Wimbledon) at 4.30pm.

Tuesday - A pretty quiet day scheduled in both Houses. There's a new law in the Lords looking at regulating whiplash claims after an accident. Details below.

Wednesday - PMQs! The Labour Party have a debate after on social care and schools, so Corbyn might choose to go on Education. Or possibly police cuts. Or maybe Windrush again. Or maybe the NHS. Or maybe even a customs union. OK, I'll admit it. I have no idea what he'll go with.

Over in the Lords, they're continuing with the EU Withdrawal Bill.

Thursday - Thursday is the big customs union vote. The vote itself should take place around 3pm. If the government loses and MPs vote to keep us in "an effective customs union", a huge change in Brexit tactics will be needed.

Friday - Private Members Bills in the Commons. These are very unlikely to become law but are often very interesting debates. That said, the first to be debated is Chris Bryant's law about assaulting emergency workers. That's on its final hurdle before it goes to the Lords. It's got a real chance of becoming law. The next two are on workers rights and then the oversight of the BBC.
Teachers!
We've got an amazing weekly quiz. It's every Friday. Classes compete with others in their school and in other schools. It's super fun. We're just starting the Summer League. There's still time for your school to get involved.
Check it out: https://www.simplepolitics.co.uk/education/friday-quiz 
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
Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill
The Chancellor made a commitment in the 2017 Autumn Budget to enable councils to double the council tax levy on homes that have been empty for two or more years from 50% to 100% with a view to bringing them back into use, thus increasing housing stock and discouraging crimes such as vandalism, and squatting. The Bill also says that businesses with more than one office or space within a single building should only pay one set of business rates, where currently they can be charged multiple times.
More details
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 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.
More details
With the government being defeated in the Lords this week, and presumably again next week, here's a guide to what happens next. It's called ping pong. 
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