Viewing guide: The pick of the week ahead in Parliament
After this week's dramas, a rather more humdrum Westminster week is in prospect. One peculiarity is that, while there is a lot of legislative heavy lifting to be done in the Lords, the Commons is mostly dealing with the loose ends and final stages of bills. Which gives MPs time for backbench debates, opposition days and general debates on a variety of subjects, while their lordships are furiously chewing their way through all manner of big, complicated bills, crammed with contentious issues.
(Someone commented on last week's post that it would be a good idea to include more details of timings; I'm happy to oblige, with the caveat that much of the timetable for the main chambers of the Commons and the Lords is subject to disruption by government statements or urgent questions. If the Speaker approves either of these, the timings for subsequent business are pushed back. Normally they are taken immediately after question time.)
MPs sit at 2.30pm on Monday where business kicks off with communities and local government questions. That's followed by the first of three full Commons days devoted to polishing off the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, which includes several highly controversial measures. At some stage, amendments to make a four month sentence mandatory for 16-18 year olds carrying a knife will be introduced, after ministers responded to pressure from Tory backbenchers led by Nick de Bois. The expectation is that this, and the restrictions to legal aid in the bill, will result in a stormy passage in the House of Lords. At the end of the Commons day (probably 10pm) there's a debate on the 75th anniversary of the Jarrow Crusade - led by the Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn.
As usual on a Monday, action is sparse on the committee corridor but at 3.15pm the Public Accounts Committee will be following up on whether its thoughts on the Smart Meter Roll Out and the Rural Payments Agency have been put into action. A little earlier, at 2.15pm, the Joint Committee (i.e. of MPs and peers) on Privacy and Injunctions quizzes a galaxy of media moguls and megastars as it considers whether a new privacy is needed. Topping the bill, Alan Rusbridger, the Editor of the Guardian, Ian Hislop of Private Eye and John Witherow of the Sunday Times.
Also in action (at 1.30pm) will be the Scottish Affairs Committee. It will be meeting in Glasgow City Chambers to take evidence on the Crown Estate in Scotland and immigration issues including student immigration. But after the accusations flying around between its members this week, the atmospherics at the meeting may be studied as closely as the substance of its business.
And at 4.35pm the constitutionalists gather for the Joint Committee on the Draft House of Lords Reform Bill. This is the committee pondering the government's plan for an all, or maybe partially, elected upper house to replace the Lords. Witnesses include Dr Meg Russell of the Constitution Unit and former Lib Dem front-bencher David Howarth, now back in academia at Cambridge.
In the Lords - from 2.30pm - it's ping pong time, with peers considering amendments made to the Pensions Bill in the Commons. The bill sets out to equalise the state pension age at 66 in 2018. Faced with worries about the effect on women in particular, the government has announced changes to the planned transition to the new dates. Will they be acceptable to the Lords? Or will the amendments be pinged back to the Commons?
Peers then move to the third reading of the much-mangled Localism Bill.
Tuesday in the Commons begins (at 2.30pm) with Treasury Questions - George Osborne and his team including the newly-promoted Chloe Smith, spectacularly fast tracked to become Economic Secretary to the Treasury. Will any jealousy show as the takes her first questions? That is followed by a Ten Minute Rule Bill on Education and Training for Young People with Autism from the Conservative Lee Scott. The main business is the continuation of the Legal Aid etc Bill, before proceedings end with a debate on World Vegan Day led by one of the handful of Commons vegans - Labour's Kerry McCarthy.
Meanwhile in Westminster Hall at 9.30am, Col Gaddafi's biographer, Daniel Kawczynski, will lead a short debate on UK relations with Libya. He may, just possibly, mention his Early Day Motion EDM 2300, "That this House urges the Government to initiate a full independent inquiry into Mr Tony Blair's financial engagement with the late Colonel Gaddafi." Other subjects covered in non-controversial (sic) debates include: Effectiveness of the Regional Growth Fund; Parental supply of alcohol to under eighteens; UK relations with Ukraine and Personal safety onboard cruise ships and the case of Rebecca Coriam.
There's plenty of good committee business: The government's preferred candidate to head the Schools inspectorate, Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, appears before the Education Committee for a pre-appointment hearing at 9.30am. The Head of the highly successful Mossbourne Academy, in Hackney, was hailed as "my hero" by the Education Secretary Michael Gove. He is already talking about the need to target "coasting" schools in leafy suburbs.
At 10am, Hector Sants, Chief Executive of the soon to be scrapped Financial Services Authority, gives the Treasury Committee his views on government plans to replace his organisation with a Financial Conduct Authority.
Two eminent mandarins will give the Public Administration Committee the benefit of their experience as it kicks off an inquiry into the government's plans to change the role of Head of the Civil Service. Lord Butler of Brockwell KG GCB CVO, and Lord Armstrong of Ilminster GCB CVO top the bill at 10.30am.
At 11.30am, the Home Affairs Committee continues its inquiry into home-grown terrorism - the Roots of Violent Radicalism - with Sir Norman Bettison of the Association of Chief Police Officers and other experts - and then (from about 12.30pm) it moves on to quiz the Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, about concerns about the rules governing removals from the UK and the way in which they are enforced.
Away from Westminster, it's eyes down for the Culture, Media and Sport Committee which visits Dagenham as part of their gambling inquiry, taking evidence at Mecca Bingo and then sticking around for the first game of the day.
In the Lords - which sits from 2.30pm - there's more heavy legislating as peers continue processing the Education Bill (day three of report stage) and the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill (day two of committee stage). But look out for the dinner time debate (at about 7pm) when Labour's Lady Thornton has a motion down intended to block the appointment of the new chair of the NHS Commissioning Authority - the nerve centre of the new system proposed for the NHS in England under the Health and Social Care Bill. Lady Thornton's alarmed by his evidence to the Health Committee at his confirmation hearing a fortnight ago.
On Wednesday Commons business starts at 11.30am with Cabinet Office questions. Expect much mockery of Minister Oliver Letwin after he was photographed dumping paperwork in bins across St James' Park. Then it's PMQs, which this week was loud, trivial and crass. And the House will then put the finishing touches to the Legal Aid etc bill.
Across in Westminster Hall, at 11-11.30am there is a controversial non-controversial debate on parliamentary lobbying, led by Labour veteran Paul Flynn. Plus further debates on the standard of living in Telford, high speed rail and the North of England, statutory protection for consumers in building work for loft conversions, and government policy on preventing carbon monoxide poisoning. (When I say these are non-controversial debates, incidentally, that doesn't mean I think they're trivial or unimportant. Westminster Hall is the venue for debates which are not explicitly party-political, and don't result in a vote.)
There's plenty more committee action - and one report which might well get some attention: the Culture, Media and Sport Committee's follow up to its earlier offering on allegations of corruption in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids - they said they were "appalled" by evidence they had been given. Their new report will be published at 11am.
At 9.30am the Education Committee holds its second session on the child protection system, with evidence front line practitioners in health, education and early years, and from major national children's helplines. And the Work and Pensions Committee takes evidence from the British Chambers of Commerce, Confederation of British Industry, Federation of Small Businesses and Trades Union Congress, among others, on plans for auto-enrolment into pensions, also at 9.30am.
Amid rumours that No 10 is about to seize control of energy policy, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne appears before his departmental committee at 10.15am. They then reconvene at 2.15pm to hear evidence on whether wave and tidal power could meet a significant part of UK energy needs.
The Scottish Affairs Committee asks the Electoral Commission about the mechanics for conducting a referendum on separation for Scotland at 2.30pm. This inquiry is not popular with the SNP-led Scottish Government.
Having heard from the FSA chief earlier, the Treasury Committee will take evidence from Which?, Consumer Focus and the Citizens Advice Bureau about the new-fangled Financial Conduct Authority at 3.15pm and then move on to hear about the final report of the Independent Commission on Banking at 4pm.
In the Lords (which sits from 3pm) it's day two of what the government optimistically hopes will be 10 days of committee-stage debate on the Health and Social Care Bill. And it may also be high noon - as key amendments from Lib Dem demi-rebel Lady (Shirley) Williams and former Lord Chancellor Lord Mackay of Clashfern on the precise responsibility of the health secretary for health services in England come up for debate. There's some confusion as to quite what the government line on these amendments will be - and whether or not they will be opposed by ministers. But this is the key bone of contention - whether amidst all the talk of "commissioning bodies" a minister retains ultimate responsibility - and if so, why the bill can't spell it out. With Lib Dem peers having supposedly ended their opposition to the bill, this will be a key test of its chances of making it to the statute book by the end of the parliamentary session, next April.
On Thursday the Commons sits at 10.30am for culture questions, with Jeremy Hunt. After the weekly statement on forthcoming business in the chamber from the Leader of the House there's a debate on the Silk Commission on funding for the Welsh Government - and whether it should have fundraising powers of its own.
It's a typically thin Thursday on the Committee Corridor, with Sir Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England appearing before the Committee on the Draft Financial Services Bill at 9.45am. The draft bill is the measure designed to separate "utility" from "casino" banking operations, and so make all our savings safer. It's being investigated and polished up before being fed into the full parliamentary process. More parochially, the special Committee on Members' Expenses (at 10.15am) will be hearing from Luke March, a former Compliance Officer with the expenses watchdog IPSA, plus Max Freedman of Unite's Parliamentary Staff Branch and the Members' and Peers' Staff Association.
In the Lords, peers are debating the creative industries, the importance of supporting financial stability and economic growth in the EU - and the report by the Lords Communications Committee on regulating of TV advertising.
There's also a historic first as BBC1's Question Time is recorded in Westminster Hall.
Neither House sits on Friday but as part of Parliament Week, a series of events to encourage engagement with and awareness of Parliament, the UK Youth Parliament will be debating in the House of Commons - with live coverage on BBC Parliament and Democracy Live from 9am.