Viewing guide: What's on in Parliament in coming week
It was a strangely low-key start after the recess, but there's a bit more pep in the Lords and Commons in the week ahead.
Business opens on Monday with Work and Pensions questions in the Commons, before MPs move on to the report stage of Iain Duncan Smith's sweeping Welfare Reform Bill, which abolishes Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit and replaces them all with the new Universal Credit.
As usual for a Monday, committee business is pretty thin - but the Joint Committee (ie of Peers and MPs) on the Draft Defamation Bill has scheduled what should be a stonking session with with science writers about the alleged chilling effect on their work of the current law. Star witnesses include Bad Science blogger Ben Goldacre and science writer Simon Singh, who was unsuccessfully sued by the British Chiropractic Association for criticising their activities. The Committee has a further session on Wednesday (see below.)
Over in the House of Lords, it's the report stage of the European Union Bill. Will the Lords - now the more Europhile part of Parliament - inflict further damage on the Government's proposed "referendum lock" on further transfers of political power to Brussels, having already inserted a threshold clause requiring a minimum number of voters to take part? Then there's a debate on selling of Government shares in publicly owned banks - which could provide some relief to the public purse in a few years' time.
Tuesday in the Commons begins with Foreign Office questions - before MPs move on to detailed consideration of the Armed Forces Bill. This is the bill which parliament must pass every five years to renew the legal basis for maintaining the Army, Navy and RAF. It also includes some measures to improve the welfare of personnel.
In Westminster Hall there are a series of backbench debates including one on the National Programme for Information Technology in the NHS - following on from the devastating National Audit Office report and the brutal Public Accounts Committee hearing of a couple of weeks ago. (See post of 25th May)
Committee business kicks off with a Treasury Committee hearing on the Private Finance initiative. The Business Committee will be continuing its scrutiny of the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill and the Public Administration Committee continues its investigation into the meaning of David Cameron's "Big Society".
The Transport Committee has its last session on the traffic management inquiry (how do you knock utility company heads together to limit holes in the road and curb congestion without road pricing etc...). The Home Affairs Committee continues its investigation into phone hacking with witnesses from the phone networks. Meanwhile the Joint Human Rights Committee will be looking at the impact of the new independent living benefits, with witnesses from disability groups.
And watch out for the International Development Committee's report on whether the UK should continue to provide development aid to India - a country which critics point out has its own space and nuclear weapons programmes.
The main business in the Lords is the Second Reading of Michael Gove's Education Bill - which gives schools greater disciplinary powers and relaxes some aspects of the inspection system.
On Wednesday, Commons business begins with Cabinet Office questions - an opportunity, perhaps, for Labour MPs to taunt the Conservative backroom policy mastermind Oliver Letwin over his comments about the undesirability of people from Sheffield taking holidays abroad. That is followed by Prime Minister's Questions, which has been a pretty disappointing, low level slanging match for some weeks now. Even the pre-scripted soundbites have been pretty poor of late. Then MPs move on to the final consideration of the Welfare Reform Bill.
There are some lively-looking committee sessions on offer: the Public Accounts Committee takes a look at the lessons from the previous Government's Private Finance Initiative - based on this National Audit Office report. PFI is a bit of a theme in Parliament for the next couple of weeks - with a Westminster Hall debate due later this month and Tuesday's Treasury Committee hearing.
Two Cabinet Ministers - Justice Secretary Ken Clarke and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt are before the Joint Committee on the Draft Defamation Bill, along with Justice Minister Lord McNally. The Energy Secretary Chris Huhne is before the Environmental Audit Committee, talking about Carbon Budgets, and Work and Pensions Minister Maria Miller will be giving evident to the Work and Pensions Committee on the new Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission - the replacement for the now defunct Child Support Agency.
With the Military Covenant much in the news at the moment, the Defence Committee will be taking evidence on the after-care of military casualties from Professor Simon Wessely, Director of the King's Centre for Military Health Research.
The Lords will be returning to the European Union Bill (see above) and then there is a short debate on changing the Barnett Formula - the method by which public money is allocated between the nations of the UK to a "basis of need." Given that the debate is to be opened by Lord Barnett, who invented the formula as Chief Secretary to the Treasury in the 1970s, this could be an interesting occasion.
On Thursday the Commons opens for business with questions to the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Look out for more questions about the Police investigation into illegal phone hacking by newspapers from Labour's Tom Watson, and probably plenty of complaints about the Olympic ticketing issue. That's followed by a double turn from the Leader of the House, Sir George Young, who faces his monthly question time and then announces the Commons business for the following week. MPs then return to the Armed Forces Bill for the third reading.
There's not much committee business. Somewhat after the event the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee - Cleggwatch - will be vetting the appointees to the UK Bill of Rights Commission - the government commission that is to investigate the case for a British Bill of Rights. This could be more entertaining than it sounds because the Commission seems to have a built-in deadlocked, with its membership divided evenly between supporters of the current Human Rights Act and critics.
Sir Leigh Lewis, a veteran civil servant and former permanent secretary, is to chair the committee. The witnesses are a pretty formidable bunch: Lord Lester of Herne Hill; Martin Howe QC; Professor Philippe Sands QC and Baroness Helena Kennedy.
In the Lords peers continue to wade through the detail of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill - at the moment the committee stage seems to consist mostly of tidying up the ramifications of their removal of the central proposal in the Bill, the elected Police Commissioners. The next real action on the Bill may come when the Government tries to put the Commissioners back into it, which may well happen when the Report Stage is reached, in due course.
That will be followed by a short debate on the European Union Committee report on the future of economic governance in the EU - a very live issue, inflamed still further by Tony Blair's call for an elected European President.
The Commons are sitting on Friday to debate a series of Private Members' Bills. As usual proceeding will be dominated by Christopher Chope, the Conservative usual suspect who has mastered the mystic arts of the backbench bill to the point where he has brought dozens of them to the floor of the House. He will introduce the first three items on the agenda: the Employment Opportunities Bill; the Tribunals (Maximum Compensation Awards) Bill and the Public Bodies (Disposal of Assets) Bill.
Someone else will get a look in if the fourth Bill on the list is reached. But the Conservative Brian Binley should not be banking on getting his Shared Parenting Orders Bill to the wicket.