Week ahead

It's the final lazy hazy crazy days before the Commons Summer Recess, always assuming that none of the several international crises under way at the moment force a postponement. But there's still time for two new Cabinet ministers to make their question time debut - with Education Secretary Nicky Morgan taking questions on Monday and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Tuesday.

And Their Lordships will be continuing into the following week - and putting in some heavy legislative grind along the way. Watch out for some very interesting issues in Committee on the Criminal justice and Courts Bill.

Here's my rundown of the parliamentary week ahead:


The Commons opens at 2.30pm for Education Questions - and a statement from the prime minister reporting back on yet another EU summit is expected. It may include a section on the Ukraine situation - or, possibly a separate statement may follow.

The day's Legislation is the Second Reading of the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill - the Coalition Agreement included a commitment to encourage volunteering and involvement in social action. The Bill aims to reassure volunteers that the courts will consider the context of their actions in the event that they are sued for negligence or breach of statutory duty. The idea is to tackle the "compensation culture" which might deter people from volunteering or getting involved in activities of benefit to the community.

The day's adjournment debate is on police investigations into alleged crimes by police officers - former minister Charles Hendry wants a review of the way these are handled in the wake of a fatal accident involving a constituent and an off-duty traffic policeman.

In Westminster Hall (4.30pm) there will be a chance to debate the biggest E-petition so far put before the Commons (122,000 signatures at the time of writing, and counting) on making Eid and Diwali public holidays - Conservative Bob Blackman will argue that a million people in Britain celebrate these holidays and that public holidays should not be restricted to Christian festivals. And he's also unimpressed by the argument in the government response to the petition that it would damage the economy to hold more public holidays, noting that the UK has fewer than other EU countries.

In the Lords the committee stage, scrutiny of the Criminal justice and Courts Bill continues into Day two of five - look out for quite a series of interesting amendments: Labour's Lord Beecham wants to prevent a residence test being applied over whether someone seeking a judicial review is entitled to legal aid. Key issues include the proposed new young offenders colleges, extreme pornography, revenge pornography. And in particular knife crime, where a vote is likely after Lib Dems Lord Marks, Bns Hamwee, Lord Dholakia and Lord Paddick put down an amendment striking down the knife crime mandatory sentencing clauses voted through by Conservative and Labour MPs, in the teeth of Lib Dem opposition, in the Commons.

The Lib Dem, Lord Starkey, who campaigned for a posthumous pardon for the computer pioneer Alan Turing, for his conviction for homosexual acts which would not now be illegal - is seeking to get all such offences disregarded for people now dead - to posthumously remove any stain from the character of those convicted. And three senior lawyers Lord Lester, Lord Pannick, Lord Marks and the former Law Lord, Lord Lloyd, have an amendment down to allow for the Parole Board to review whole-life sentences in cases where a prisoner has served 25 years, and has made sufficient progress towards rehabilitation that lifetime detention may no longer be justified.

The Crossbencher and former NHS manager Baroness Finlay of Llandaff will propose an expanded working of the definition of ill treatment and neglect by a care worker - adding the words in italics: "It is an offence for an individual who has the care of another individual by virtue of being a care worker to ill-treat or wilfully neglect that individual in a way that amounts to a serious and substantial departure from the duty owed by the care worker to the individual in all circumstances and causes the avoidable death of, or serious harm to, that individual."

And two former senior Police officers, the former Chief Commissioner of the Met, Lord Blair and the former Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Lord Dear, will oppose the section on Corrupt or other improper exercise of police powers and privileges (Clause 23) in its entirety.

And Lord Blair is also opposing another clause, 24, along with his Met Commissioner predecessor, Lord Condon, and Lord Lloyd, on making a whole life term of imprisonment the starting point for sentencing for murder of police or prison officer.

There's lots, lots more, with amendments on such subjects as child sexual grooming and revenge porn - but bear in mind that this is a committee stage debate, so the point usually is more to gauge support and extract responses from ministers than to actually force votes, although there's always the chance of an ambush.


The Commons begins its final scheduled day before the summer break (11.30am) with the continuing stand-off over two private bills, the Transport for London Bill and the Buckinghamshire Filming on Highways Bill - both of which are opposed by backbench MPs - expect these to not be moved, thus avoiding them being forced to a debate.

That probable non-event will be followed by Foreign and Commonwealth Office Questions.

Conservative awkward squaddie Philip Hollobone presents a Ten Minute Rule Bill on Child Benefit Entitlement (Disqualification of Non-UK EU Nationals) which is followed by a motion to approve a Statutory Instrument on data retention. And then there's the traditional end of term adjournment debate in which MPs can speak on any subject they choose.

And the very last event is an adjournment debate on the Future of HM Revenue and Customs services in Scotland led by labour MP Gregg McClymont.

Meanwhile, in Westminster Hall, there are debates on conditions in refugee camps (9.30-11am) and on Care Home top-up fees (11am).

In the Lords (from 2.30pm) the main legislating is on another bill carried over from the previous Parliamentary year, the Wales Bill which deals with elections to and membership of the National Assembly for Wales; and its income tax-raising powers.

Labour have secured a topical question on the future of the spare room subsidy/bedroom tax. Former social security minister, Baroness Hollis of Heigham, will ask the government whether they have any plans to change their policy following the publication of their report 'Evaluation of the Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy: Interim Report' - in other words they're pouncing on the recent change in the Lib Dem party line.

The Infrastructure Bill, Committee (Day 6) continues in the Moses Room - key issues are on community energy and the Wood Review into North Sea Oil and Gas.


The Lords meets at 3pm to continue their detailed committee stage debates on the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill - key issues include trial by a single magistrate and personal injury claims - and there will be a short debate on their EU select committee report on the Euro area crisis

In Grand Committee - peers' equivalent of Westminster Hall - there will be a series of short debates starting (at 3.45pm) with one on Supporting children and young people who have had a stroke. Then the work of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, then on helping local markets throughout the UK, on improving the quality of careers guidance in schools and, finally on increasing awareness of the medical need for periodontal checks following the fitting of dental implants.


In the Lords, from 11am, peers debate issues chosen by backbenchers - Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the health benefits of organic food; the role of agriculture and the food industry in the UK economy and, finally, the EU Committee Annual Report 2013.

Neither House sits on Friday July 25th. But Peers are back in the Chamber for three days the following week.