I feel an apology is in order. I've completely run out of ways to say that what Parliament is doing right now is almost entirely irrelevant to the future of our country. I've told you it's a bit of a side show. I've told you it's a distraction. I've told you they are in a holding pattern.
If you ever find yourself idly wondering about inner workings of SP (it's OK, I know you don't, this is just a rhetorical device), you may like to know that one of the highlights of the week is Andrea Leadsom's Business Statement. Every Thursday she comes to the Commons and reads out what the agenda is for the Commons the next week. Sometimes two weeks at a time, but more often just the one week. It's interesting because it shows the government's priorities and gives a window into their plans. It's also interesting because Valerie Vaz then stands up and says what Labour would like to discuss.
Anyway. This week, Leadsom got to her feet and told us the week was going to start with a General Debate to celebrate 100 years of the RAF. Yep. That's the main business of the House for Commons for Monday. A procession of MPs telling each other how much we value our aeroplane based armed forces.
Now, please don't think I'm talking down the RAF. I'm sure they are very, very useful. And brave. And strong. And resilient. And they won the Battle of Britain. And that movie 'A Matter of Life and Death' is brilliant. It's just that it shows how little is going on. And I haven't got any more ways of telling you about how little there is going on. My river of metaphors for quiet has run dry.
Of course, next week is not going to be quiet at all. There will be more endless Brexit shenanigans. The EU 27 may well sign off the outline of what we'd all like our future relationship to be. The Withdrawal agreement will continue to be prodded by all sides. Behind closed doors, the people whose job it is to make sure MPs vote the way they are told (the whips) will be working hard to gather support for the meaningful (series of) vote(s). There will be press conferences and statements to the House, no doubt.
It won't always be like this. Sure, next week I will almost certainly be describing another tranquil week at the Palace of Westminster. But. Mark your cards now. It still looks like the meaningful vote debate will start on 10th December, with the first votes on 12th. And then, finally, I'll bring you some action on a Friday. Can't wait.
Peace and love,
Saturday - How Does This Politics Thing rolls into the Colchester Arts Centre at 2pm. There are still a few tickets left. It's a family comedy politics show that I do alongside the wonderful Tiernan Douieb from Comedy Club 4 Kids. It's full of joy, laughter and voting. If you've got children (6+) and you're in the area - come along!
Sunday - Watch Marr, yeah? He'll have people on to talk about Brexit and the EU 27 who may well (but might not) be signing off some bits. Monday - MPs debate how ace the RAF have been over the past 100 years. There is a Bill about modernising the courts, too. See below for details.
Tuesday - More court modernisation action today. And a small group of MPs are pouring over the Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill, too. The Brexit committee are meeting at 1.15. They haven't confirmed their witnesses for the session, but these 20 or so MPs are incredibly clued up on all things Brexit and it might well be worth a watch.
Wednesday - PMQs!
The PM is terrible at Brexit and the NHS and Austerity.
The Labour Party were all awful in government and want to bankrupt the country
Yeah, but your Brexit shambles, though
Sure, but you want to borrow a trillion pounds
Blah blah blah blah
We're pretty bored of PMQs at SP HQ by now. To be fair, the one just after the withdrawal agreement was quite good. But generally, both Corbyn and May are intent on ramming home their attack lines. Which we've all heard before. There's always hope, though. This one could be a humdinger.
Another Brexit committee meeting is scheduled for 9.15, so that could be good.
Also today is the Offensive Weapons Bill that aims to make it harder to get hold of weapons. There was some excitement because the Bill was going to ban these massive 50.cal rifles. A small group of people like to use these in 2-kilometre ranges. Yep. 2,000 ranges. Some members of the Conservative Party were making a stand for these people's rights to use them. The government has now taken that on board, though, and, with additional security checks, 50.cal gun fans can carry on shooting at things very, very far away.
Thursday- General debate time. This time on improving education standards. Which is clearly an important thing. I mean, we all want schools to be good, right? Except that this is a general debate. So it will lead to no action being taken. Still, fans of competing ideologies around education should have a fun couple of hours.
Friday - No Parliament. Just lots of Brexit scheming, probably.
Our pick of the laws being debated in Parliament next week.
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.
This Bill will give the Government powers to set up and fund healthcare deals with other countries after it leaves the EU. At the moment the UK has Reciprocal Healthcare agreements with other countries based on its EU membership. These agreements support people from the UK to obtain healthcare when they live in, work in or visit other countries and vice versa, for people from other EU countries in the UK. The Bill has already attracted some criticism as it does not mention retaining the European Healthcare Insurance Card that ministers had previously said they would consider.
Knife crime increased by 22% in the UK in 2017, and between 2013 and 2017 the number of recorded corrosive substance (acid) attacks increased from 183 to 504. This Bill will make it harder for people to buy knives and acid online, and will make it illegal to possess certain weapons such as knuckle dusters, flick knives, and rapid firing rifles. These measures form part of the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy announced earlier this year and could get cross party support, however the opposition parties regard lack of police resources one of the main causes of increasing crime, which is not a factor this Bill addresses.