Week ahead in Parliament

Theresa May Queen's Speech Image copyright Hoc
Image caption Will Theresa May face problems as MPs vote on the Queen's Speech on Thursday?

The new Parliament swings into action next week with votes on the Queens Speech in the Commons and Lords.

And behind the scenes the whole place is seething with intrigue and jockeying for position.

The first point to make is that almost no-one imagined the election two weeks ago would lead to the current hung Parliament, so all kinds of factions and individuals are still coming to terms with the new scenario and are still working out their objectives and strategies.

Already the government has made its opening procedural gambit of declaring a two-year parliamentary session. I doubt this move is anything to do with avoiding a vote on a Queen's Speech in 2018, as some have speculated.

To be sure it would be bad news for any government to be defeated on their legislative programme, but Labour can table a no-confidence motion at any time, so removing one possible occasion for such a vote seems an unlikely ploy.

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Committee powerhouse takes time to get going

Brexit Committee Image copyright HoC
Image caption Eyes will be on the Brexit Committee in the next Parliament

The modern - elected - Commons committee system has become a political powerhouse, certainly in comparison to its tepid predecessors.

In the last Parliament, the Work and Pensions and Business Committees held spectacular hearings on the plight of the pensioners of the collapsed British Home Stores chain; the Foreign Affairs Committee had to be courted by David Cameron as he sought to ensure he got a Commons majority for military intervention in Syria; the Brexit Committee caused considerable ripples with its report on the status of EU nationals resident in the UK; the Health Committee pushed for a new tax on sugary drinks, and a pincer movement involving Health, Communities and the Public Accounts Committees highlighted the issue of NHS funding.

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Could John Bercow's future be in doubt?

John Bercow Image copyright PA

Will there be a serious attempt to stop John Bercow resuming the chair of the Commons, now he has indicated he could seek to continue through the full length of the new Parliament?

Back in February, five Conservatives signed an early day motion of no confidence, but the attempt to unseat him fizzled out.

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Can a Conservative and DUP pact work?

Arlene Foster (left), leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, with Prime Minister Theresa May Image copyright PA
Image caption Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, with Prime Minister Theresa May

Can a Conservative and DUP pact possibly govern for the life of this Parliament? They face a long, precarious high wire act if they attempt to do so, and they - and any alternative alliance - will be beset by troubles and entanglements at every turn.

Armed with a combined majority of three MPs, their pact would also be bolstered by the absence of the seven Sinn Fein MPs who continue to refuse to take their seats, and probably by the support of the independent unionist, Lady Sylvia Hermon.

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MP with committee clout

Andrew Tyrie Image copyright HoC

If there is any one MP who has dramatised the increased clout of the Commons select committee system, it is Andrew Tyrie - who announced today he is quitting Parliament at the election.

A flinty, austere, exacting figure, Tyrie has been chair of both the Treasury select committee since 2010, but probably reached the zenith of his influence leading the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, which helped shape the post financial crisis framework for the banking system, pushing the government rather further than it wanted to go, in the process.

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Week ahead in Parliament

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Media captionThe end of the Parliamentary session involves a few odd actions and Norman French being spoken in Westminster

It's the last rites of the 2015 Parliament - and in a frenzy of last minute deal-making, the legislation which can be completed will be rushed to the finishing line, while all manner of bills and other parliamentary business is dropped for lack of time.

Watch out for plenty of brinkmanship, particularly on a key amendment to the Criminal Finances Bill (see below). This will also make the whole timetable pretty fluid and prone to last minute alteration as new events are crowbarred in.

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Farewell to an independent-minded MP

Douglas Carswell Image copyright AFP

So. Farewell. Then. Douglas Carswell.

The independent MP for Clacton will not be contesting the seat he won in the Conservative interest in 2005, then held in a by-election, and General Election on behalf of UKIP. And so ends one of the more remarkable - and effective - parliamentary careers of the 21st Century.

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Election 2017: Parliamentary timeline

Theresa May addresses media Image copyright Reuters

And that is how you spring a surprise.

Westminster's conventional wisdom had pretty much ruled out the election which Theresa May has just called, and her snap election will force a snap decision on quite a lot of MPs: should they stay, or should they go?

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Week ahead in Parliament

Westminster Image copyright Getty Images

Half of Parliament is sitting for a little over half the post-Easter week - and the most significant action will probably come in the form of ministerial statements or urgent questions. With the end of the parliamentary year looming, the government is focused on shepherding through the remainder of its legislation and tying up remaining business before the music stops, probably in early May.


Tuesday 18 April

The Commons returns at 1430 BST for Treasury questions - watch out for Brexiteer pressure on Chancellor Philip Hammond, who is seen as the leading cabinet supporter of a "soft Brexit".

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