The key new parliamentary committee inquiries
Westminster's off for the summer, but there's the promise of plenty of committee activity when Hon Members and Noble Lords return from their sun-kissed holiday destinations. Here's a (probably not exhaustive) list of new inquiries:
* The Joint Committee of MPs and Peers set up to scrutinise the draft Financial Services Bill will be considering whether it would help the UK to prevent or handle a future financial crisis, and how it would deal with bank failure and protect the taxpayer. The Committee will be chaired by Major-era cabinet heavyweight Peter Lilley.
* To hack or not to hack? The Lords Communications Committee is pondering the future of investigative journalism. Everyone says it's vital for a healthy democracy, but traditional ways of delivering it are under threat from declining newspaper readership, and advertising revenue, and from fragmenting TV audiences. So can the internet and social media ride to the rescue and safeguard a strong journalistic culture? Conservative Peer Lord Inglewood will be in the Chair as the Committee investigates.
* Continuing its investigations into different kinds of cyber-crime, the Commons Science and Technology Committee will be turning its attention to malware - malicious software, spread online. It will examine the impact of malware on individuals, the responsibilities of Government to aid in preventing malware infections and the economy that has grown up around this industry.
* The Science and Technology Committee will also be looking at the evidence base for the Government's alcohol consumption guidelines. The Chief Medical Officer recommends that men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day and women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units a day. But what's the evidence underpinning these limits and how regularly is it reviewed? How well does the Government communicate its guidelines and how do they compare to those provided in other countries?
* The European Commission is planning to reform the Common Fisheries Policy to secure fish stocks and fishermen's livelihoods for the future while putting an end to overfishing. The package of measures will be debated by the European Parliament and the Council with a view to agreeing them by the end of 2012. The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee will examine whether the new system will deliver long-term environmental and economic sustainability for Europe's fisheries, the marine ecosystem and coastal communities.
* While MPs consider salt water fishing, the House of Lords EU Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment Committee will ponder EU Freshwater Policy. The European Commission plans to publish a "Blueprint to Safeguard Europe's Water" towards the end of 2012, which will have aim to evaluate the EU's current freshwater policies and identify any gaps and identify any measures and tools that could help ensure a sustainable, good quality water supply in the long-term. The Committee sees this as a critical time to examine the EU's role in the sustainable management of freshwater. It has launched its inquiry in order to provide a substantive input to the discussions in 2012 which will lead up to the Blueprint.