Week ahead in committees

Even though the Commons is only sitting for two days next week, MPs still manage to cram in some fairly significant committee business....and as Easter looms, watch out for some important reports.

Here's my rundown...


The Public Accounts Committee goes walkabout to take evidence at Barking Town Hall (in Chair Margaret Hodge's constituency) on capital funding for new school places, based on a report from the National Audit Office - in other words, with a quarter of a million new places needed in schools in England, are the expanding schools getting the buildings they need? The committee will visit a local primary and secondary school in the area to see some of the problems of finding classroom space. Chris Wormald, permanent secretary at the Department of Education, will be quizzed at 3.15pm.

Back on the committee corridor, the Treasury Committee have a busy couple of days as they hold three evidence sessions on the Budget, culminating in an appearance by the Chancellor George Osborne. To tee that up, they speak first to economists from Citigroup, Capital Economics and Goldman Sachs, followed by the tax and spending think-tank, the Institute of Fiscal Studies, followed by John Cridland, the director general of the CBI, and Paul Smee, director general of the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

The Communities and Local Government Committee (at 4.10pm) holds its sixth evidence session on the private rented sector, with the mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, topping the witness list. Newham introduced compulsory licensing for all landlords in the private rented sector from January 2013.


The Treasury Committee (at 10am) continues to hear from the independent numbers tsar, Robert Chote, chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility. It's the quango set up by George Osborne to provide independent economic statistics and forecasts, as it continues its inquiry into the Budget. And in the afternoon, at 2.15pm, the committee reconvenes to hear from the Chancellor himself, George Osborne.

The International Development Committee (at 9.30am) has its second evidence-taking session on Global Food Security. With the G8 event on malnutrition fast approaching, and the NGO campaign on hunger also ongoing, this session is an opportunity for the committee to explore some of the broader strategic issues relating to food security, and to examine the respective roles of various key institutions. The first panel includes representatives of the World Food Programme (WFP), Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). The second panel includes the UK government's Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir John Beddington, together with the heads of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee (at 11.30am) will hear from Secretary of State Vince Cable in its final evidence session for its inquiry into the Kay Review of UK Equity Markets and Long-term Decision Making - this is a coalition wedge issue. Dr Cable is thought to believe that the City is not good enough at investing in UK industry, and may well highlight disagreements with Conservative colleagues in the Treasury.

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee (at 10.30am) takes evidence on support for creative industries from witnesses including Sandie Shaw, chair of the Featured Artists Coalition and the Energy and Climate Change Committee (at 10.30am) examines the Renewable Heat Incentive which is designed to encourage technologies like ground source heat pumps and biomass boilers in homes and businesses. Their manufacturers give evidence.

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