24.03.2017

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The Simple Politics guide to next week in Parliament.
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Our thoughts are, of course, with the friends and families of the 4 killed in the attacks on Westminster. Also, with the 50 injured and the many, many caught up in the whole thing, physically or emotionally. 

It's a big ol' week. Historic, in fact.


While there is lots going on in Parliament next week, all focus will be on Wednesday's triggering of Article 50. At some point that day, the UK Ambassador to the EU will hand a pretty long letter (I've heard 9 pages) to Jean-Claude Juncker and with that, Article 50 will be triggered.  We'll have set sail. The news will be full of people telling us how 'historic' and 'unprecedented' it all is. Very little will actually change. The EU27 (that's what we're calling them now apparently) will meet in April to discuss what they want from any deal. And then the negotiations begin. It'll be long and drawn out. Most will happen behind closed doors. But, come April 2019, we're definitely off.

Back in Parliament we're at the time of year when loads of laws are coming to the end of their journey. The Bus Services Bill, for example on Monday finishes its journey through the Commons, but they've changed it so it'll go back to the Lords. Tuesday has the Neighbourhood Planning Bill back in front of MPs since the Lords rejigged it a bit. Wednesday will have the Digital Economy Bill and the Pension Schemes Bill finishing up in the Lords and Commons respectively. Oh, and the new Prison and Courts Bill being looked at very closely by a group of MPs. Thursday is the last day of term for Parliament, so they'll spend it debating bits and bobs they need to get done before they break up. 

As ever on weeks when one big news item looks to dominate - keep an eye on the detail. Or at least on our social media streams. There are some important changes in the laws that are finishing up right about now.
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Our pick of the laws being debated in Parliament next week...
Prisons and Courts Bill
This proposes widescale reforms of prisons, the courts and whiplash compensation. It aims to rehabilitate offenders as well as punishing them, and transfers powers to prison Governors to do that. It also sets out a massive investment in IT for the courts and expands the use of virtual court hearings, especially for vulnerable witnesses. It will also cap compensation pay-outs for whiplash claims, and require medical evidence.
More details
Bus Services Bill

This Bill aims to improve bus services by devolving responsibility for them to elected mayors and councils. It also gives them new franchising powers, so they can take control of local services like Transport for London does. A number of Lords changes were overturned by MPs; including the removal of automatic franchising powers to all local authorities in England and the reintroduction of a ban on new municipal bus companies.

More details
Neighbourhood Planning Bill

This Bill aims to give local communities more power to plan the homes and infrastructure they need. It would speed up the planning process by minimising delays caused by pre-commencement planning conditions and establish an independent National Infrastructure Commission to provide the government with expert advice on infrastructure issues.

Back in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
More details
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