Week ahead

Further attempts to beef up the voters' rights to sack their MP between elections (Monday) and the possibility of detailed allegations about historic child abuse (Thursday) supply the main possibilities for parliamentary drama next week.

One nerd point to watch out for, though, is the possibility that the government may suffer its 100th defeat in the House of Lords in the near future - they're on 98 at the moment. Next week's agenda doesn't seem to offer too many opportunities, but you never know.

Here's my rundown of the week ahead:


The Commons day opens at 2.30pm with Defence questions. Any ministerial statements or urgent questions will follow at 3.30pm.

Then MPs turn to the Recall of MPs Bill. Following the demise of the Zac Goldsmith's "Real Recall" proposals, which would have given voters sweeping powers to remove MPs who had displeased them, a number of alternative proposals are on offer in this report stage debate.

The Lib Dem, and former deputy Leader of the Commons, David Heath, is suggesting a system allowing voters to attempt to force a by-election if the Election Court agrees there is a case that their MP has met the criteria for the long standing offence of Misconduct in Public Office. (Annoyingly, Mr Heath can't be in the Chamber for the debate and his amendments will be proposed by his colleague Julian Huppert.) The controversial bit of his proposals is that a petition to bring the issue to the Court would only require 500 signatures - too low for some tastes.

There are also amendments from the SDLP's Mark Durkan setting out an MP's pledge: "I solemnly undertake that, in the course of my duties as a Member of Parliament and service to my constituency, I shall act in adherence with the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament and uphold the standards of public life with selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership"; and making complaints of a significant breach of that oath by at least 500 constituents a way of starting the recall process.

Mr Durkan's SDLP colleague Margaret Richie has another amendment down, making the taking of the MP's pledge an alternative to the normal oath that has to be sworn before an MP can take their seat...potentially a significant move in the Northern Ireland context, and one that would get the SDLP MPs off the hook of having to swear allegiance to the Queen.

Labour spokesman Thomas Docherty - with cross-party support - is proposing to allow recall to be triggered where an MP is suspended from the House for 10 days (the bill currently specifies 21 days) and only if the suspension is as a result of a report from the Commons Standards Committee - that's because the Speaker can suspend MPs for longer than that for misbehaviour in the Chamber. And he's also proposing that a conviction for parliamentary expenses abuse would automatically trigger Recall. All three of these proposals are likely to go through.

And there is also an amendment from the Conservative Greg Knight and former MEP, Chris Heaton-Harris, to extend recall to UK members of the European Parliament.

In the Lords (from 2.30pm), the first business is the introduction of another new peer - Baroness Helic, the former chief of staff to William Hague, when he was Foreign Secretary. The day's legislating starts with the third reading of the Wales Bill, where the remaining issue outstanding is votes at 16 at any referendum on Welsh tax devolution.

After that, peers turn to the second report stage day on the Consumer Rights Bill, where the main issues include the government proposal to require 48 hour notice periods for trading standards visits; and Labour proposals on housing issues like extra protection for tenants' rental deposits by placing a duty on lettings and management agents to use money protection schemes (a separate account), double charging of both landlords and tenants for the same service, and banning letting agents fees.


The Commons meets at 11.30am for Health questions, followed by a ten minute rule bill on parliamentary and constitutional reform from the Conservative Andrew Rosindell - it calls for equal democratic rights for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, which would clearly include EVEL (English Votes for English Laws).

Then MPs turn to the report and third reading stages of the Pension Schemes Bill. This is quite a technical measure following on from the 2014 Budget, which promised savers greater flexibility to access their defined contributions pension pots.

Then there's a motion to approve money resolutions the Self-build and Custom House-building Bill, the Local Government (Review of Decisions) Bill, the Health and Social Care (Safety and Quality) Bill and the Control of Horses Bill. Normally this a nodded-through formality, but following the intra-Coalition knife-fight over the withholding of money resolutions for the EU Referendum Bill and Andrew George's bill to reverse the government's housing benefit reforms, variously called the abolition of the "spare room subsidy" or the "bedroom tax", we might see a few more cross-government blows exchanged.

Over in Westminster Hall, former minister Norman Baker - one of the greenest Lib Dems - has a debate on fracking, the controversial technique for extracting gas from underground (9.30am - 11am).

The big debate in the afternoon (2.30pm - 4pm) is on the processing of Personal Independence Payment decisions - led by Labour's Yasmin Qureshi.

In the Lords (2.30pm), questions to ministers reflect White Ribbon Day - marking the campaign on male violence against women. They cover refuges for women and children fleeing domestic violence, women's safety on transport and progress since the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme was implemented.

The day's main legislating is the second reading of the National Insurance Contributions Bill, which brings in reforms to simplify NICs paid by the self-employed, allow HMRC to place conditions on the conduct of individual accountancy businesses and other promoters of tax avoidance schemes; and a Targeted Anti-Avoidance Rule for intermediary companies.

Then peers turn to two Labour debates: Lord Liddle, Tony Blair's former EU advisor, on the case for the UK's membership of the EU; and Lady Kingsmill on her report on working conditions in the care sector.


The Commons opens (at 11.30am) with half an hour of Scotland questions, followed by prime minister's question time, at noon.

Labour's Julie Hilling has a ten minute rule bill on dogs' registration - the aim is to raise cash to enforce dog control laws.

The day's main debate is an Opposition half day - on a subject to be announced - and that's followed by a motion to approve a statutory instrument relating to terrorism.

In Westminster Hall, the morning's big debate (9.30am - 11am) is on re-employment of redundant Remploy workers, led by Labour MP Ian Lucas.

In the afternoon the Conservative MP, Robert Halfon, whose Harlow constituency has been the subject of considerable publicity on the issue, raises illegal encampments in the east of England.

In the Lords (from 3pm), it's the final day of report stage consideration of the Consumer Rights Bill. The key issues include payday loan advertising, nuisance calls, the "keep me posted" issue to ensure people can insist on paper rather than online billing, and protecting children from adult content on the internet.

During the dinner break, the former Commons Speaker Baroness Boothroyd leads a debate on the steps being taken to preserve the Houses of Parliament as part of a World Heritage Site.


The Commons meets at 9.30am for Culture, Media and Sport questions, followed by the mini-Women and Equalities question time, and the weekly Commons Business Statement by the Leader of the House.

Then it's on to two debates chosen by the Backbench Business Committee. First, the Labour former minister Michael Meacher calls for the government to begin moves to ensure that the highest earners earn no more than 50 times the lowest income.

And that is followed by a debate on the progress (or otherwise) of the historic child sex abuse inquiry - led by the cross-party team of Simon Danczuk, Zac Goldsmith and Tessa Munt.

Given the loss of the two people nominated to chair the inquiry, there are plenty of issues to raise about the delays in starting work, but with all kinds of allegations swirling around about an establishment child abuse ring, there is also the possibility that some of the speakers may seek to name names.

In the Lords (11am) the day is devoted to crossbench debate. The subjects chosen are the role of religion and belief in British life and arts education in schools. There will also be a short topical debate on the impact of the National Lottery on the occasion of its 20th anniversary.

A Proscription of Terrorism Order is last business in the chamber.


It's private members' bills in the Commons (from 9.30am) with Lib Dem Sarah Teather's Tenancies (Reform) Bill due for its second reading. The bill aims to protect tenants against retaliatory eviction.

Next in the batting order are the Low Pay Commission (National Minimum Wage) Bill (Dan Jarvis), the Benefit Entitlement (Restriction) Bill (Chris Chope) and the Counsellors and Psychotherapists (Regulation) Bill (Geraint Davies).

The Lords are not sitting.