Mark D'Arcy, Parliamentary correspondent

Mark D'Arcy Parliamentary correspondent

This is where you can come for my take on what goes on in the chambers and committee rooms around Westminster

Week ahead in the European Parliament

16 September 2014

MEPs return to Strasbourg for the first time since the summer recess, and for only the second plenary session since May's European Parliament elections.

My colleague Alasdair Rendall has been having a look at what's happening this week in the European Parliament.

With the new European Commission still to be formally approved, there is a dearth of legislative business, meaning the week will be taken up with a series of statements on topical affairs, and debates on the various ongoing foreign crises, from Ukraine to Gaza.


The session begins as ever at 4pm, with the formal opening of the session from European Parliament president Martin Schulz. This is the opportunity for general announcements to be made and for tributes to be paid to the victims of various disasters that have occurred since the last plenary session in July. It is also the opportunity for MEPs to amend and formally approve the week's agenda.

The first substantive item of business is a question from MEPs to the European Commission on the impact to European agriculture of the recently imposed Russian trade ban. The embargo, which began last month, affects any imports from the EU of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, milk and dairy imports.

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Why Andrew George's benefit bill may become law

5 September 2014
Andrew George MP
Lib Dem MP Andrew George saw his bill move to the next stage

A glimpse of the coalition yet to come?

A Lib-Lab alliance has just voted Andrew George's Affordable Housing Bill through second reading and registered a considerable parliamentary/political coup in the process.

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Week ahead

4 September 2014

Next week offers a blend of solemn world affairs and feverish internal politicking, as Westminster debates crises across the world and attempts to solve its internal battle over the appointment of a new Clerk of the Commons.

Meanwhile, will the week end with a bill to commit the UK to meet the UN's target for aid spending being humanely killed to clear the way for the EU Referendum Bill?

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Clerk row rumbles on

3 September 2014

Mr Speaker Bercow is now on an ASBO - an Amiable Speaker Behaviour Order.

His retreat from appointing the Australian Parliament's Carol Mills as the successor to Sir Robert Rogers as Clerk of the Commons should - just - be enough to ensure his survival in the Chair until the next election, so long as he allows the process to be managed by MPs and refrains from intervening, and from finding other ways to annoy Conservative MPs.

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Private members games

3 September 2014

Two layers of parliamentary game-playing should make Friday's sitting of the Commons an interesting affair.

It's the start of the private members bill season, with the first measure in the queue the Lib Dem Andrew George's Affordable Homes Bill.

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Week ahead

29 August 2014

It was supposed to be a quiet uncontroversial couple of weeks, with the Commons September sitting observing pre-referendum purdah, in much the same way as MPs avoid controversial business in the run-up to local and euro-elections.

But events, dear boy, have intervened, and so the pre-arranged agenda for the first week of September may be little more than a basis for negotiation, when MPs return.

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BBC Parliament - To War!

To mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, I'm presenting a night of special programmes on Sunday on BBC Parliament.

Here's what we have in store:

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Parliamentarians of the year

It is quite easy for the backbenchers, the parliamentary rank and file, who're not holders of grand office as ministers or party spokespersons, to fall into thinking of themselves as pondlife, but the last parliamentary year has provided an object lesson on what an individual MP or peer can achieve. So today I thought I'd nominate my most influential backbench MP and Peer of the year.

Step forward, from the Commons, Conservative backbencher John Baron. He's not a household name or a fiery orator, but his fingerprints are all over the two most significant parliamentary events of the last 12 months.

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Week ahead

With the Commons long gone, the final three days of parliamentary action before the Lords followed them into the summer holidays looked pretty humdrum - until the controversy over the reshuffle flared up and motion was put down for peers to debate on Monday evening. Peers are clearly pretty miffed about the downgrading of the leadership of the Lords from full cabinet rank and even a soothing letter to the Conservative peers from David Cameron has not mollified them.

Other than that, the week will be dominated by detailed debate on the Government's proposals to reform the system of Judicial Review.

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Week ahead

It's the final lazy hazy crazy days before the Commons Summer Recess, always assuming that none of the several international crises under way at the moment force a postponement. But there's still time for two new Cabinet ministers to make their question time debut - with Education Secretary Nicky Morgan taking questions on Monday and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Tuesday.

And Their Lordships will be continuing into the following week - and putting in some heavy legislative grind along the way. Watch out for some very interesting issues in Committee on the Criminal justice and Courts Bill.

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About Mark

Mark has been a correspondent for Today in Parliament since 2002, and also presents BBC Parliament's political book review show, Book Talk.

His career has included stints at LWT's Weekend World and the Leicester Mercury. He has also produced and occasionally presented Radio 4's The Westminster Hour.

As well as being a politics nerd, he is a cricket fanatic, amateur cook and Bruce Springsteen fan.

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