Week ahead

It's a big week in the Commons with MPs debating the government's latest anti-terrorism bill and the Chancellor delivering his Autumn Statement, jousting with the Lords over judicial review and debating whether to set a target for development aid in law.

Its rather quieter in the Lords, where any kind of contested vote looks unlikely - perhaps the calm before the storm, before they get their teeth into the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill, probably in the new year.

Here's my rundown of next week's business:


The Commons opens at 2.30pm with Education questions, and the main law-making action will be Consideration of Lords amendments to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill. This is an example of the famous ritual of Parliamentary ping-pong, in which legislation re-written by one House is sent to the other, so that the changes can be accepted or rejected.

In this case, the government suffered three major defeats in the Lords over plans to curtail the use of judicial review - one amendment was won by 66 votes, which may incline peers to stick to their guns on that particular point. The Commons response to this is hugely significant, given the widespread outrage at the proposed changes from lawyers and campaign groups alike.

A fourth government defeat on the bill - to prevent children under fifteen being placed in a secure college - was by just a single vote and may well be reversed by MPs.

The day's adjournment debate is an intriguing and topical one, with Conservative former member of the Culture Committee, Damian Collins, who has long taken an interest in the running of football, discussing the jurisdiction of the Serious Fraud Office and 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup bids.

Over in Westminster Hall (4.30pm - 7.30pm) there's a debate on an e-petition on ending the conflict in Palestine - led by Labour MP Grahame M Morris.

In the Lords (from 2.30pm) question time has a World AIDS Day theme with subjects raised including the campaign to address HIV stigma (Baroness Gould of Potternewton); reducing late HIV diagnoses (Baroness Prosser); and developing a vaccine to address global HIV/AIDS (Lord Collins of Highbury).

The day's main legislating is on the Modern Slavery Bill - peers will devote today and Tuesday's committee stage debates to the sections dealing with Offences, Prevention Orders and Maritime Enforcement.

Key issues include a general duty for certain organisations to have regard to the interests of victims; the definitions of slavery, human trafficking and exploitation (especially offences against children), penalties and asset confiscations. One interesting amendment from the Crossbencher Lord Hylton would make judgments of UK courts and tribunals concerning UK-based employees enforceable against foreign embassies and consulates, despite diplomatic immunity, if they are made under the provisions of the Modern Slavery Bill.

And there will also be a short debate on the report of the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Electoral Conduct. The inquiry, chaired by the Labour MP Natascha Engel, described some disturbing examples of intimidation and racism in elections and proposed that all the parties sign up to a mechanism for dealing with it. The debate will be led by the former Presiding Officer of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Lord Alderdice.


The Commons sits at 11.30am for Foreign Office questions - followed by a ten minute rule bill on Overseas Voters (15 Year Rule) from the Conservative Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.

The main business is the second reading of the newly published Counter Terrorism and Security Bill. This is a seven-part measure covering allowing police to temporarily seize a passport at the border when it is suspected that an individual is travelling for on terrorism-related activity; create a new temporary exclusion order to disrupt and control the return to the UK of a British citizen suspected of involvement in terrorism abroad; amend the Terrorism Prevention and Investigations Measures system (TPIMS) to allow the home secretary to require a subject to reside in a particular location, restrict travel outside their area of residence and ban them from possessing guns, weapons or explosives.

There's the controversial requirement on communications service providers to retain the data that would allow relevant authorities to identify the individual or the device that was using a particular internet protocol (IP) address at any given time and it will also require the government and local authorities to have policies in place to prevent people being drawn into terrorism and ban insurers from paying ransoms to terrorists.

The government's run into trouble on this kind of issue before, notably over the Communications Data Bill, where Tory and Lib Dem backbenchers objected. The Tory dissenters objections don't seem to be quite so intense on this measure - but many of these issues will be fought out at committee stage (see below).

This debate will give us a good idea of the scale of problems the bill may face at later stages - and MPs will be seeing a lot of it in the near future - because detailed consideration will be via three days in committee of the whole House on Tuesday 9, Monday 15 and Tuesday 16 December.

And to equip them for that, both the Home Affairs and the Human Rights Committees will be holding hearings on the bill next week. (Home Affairs have the Counterterrorism Coordinator, DAC Helen Ball, Shami Chakrabati of Liberty and David Anderson QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, before them in a session starting at 2.45pm on Wednesday, and Human Rights have the Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire, at 9.45am on Thursday).

The day ends with an adjournment debate on government policy on tackling corruption, led by led by smart Tory backbencher Stephen Barclay, who says the new government strategy due to be published soon provides a chance for Parliament to look at way City handles corruption - and the revenue from corruption abroad which is finding its way into City financial institutions. The new anti-corruption minister, Matt Hancock, is expected to reply.

In Westminster Hall, the big morning debate (9.30am - 11am) is on benefit sanctioning - led by Labour's Paul Blomfield.

In the Lords, peers take their first look at the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill - now with added PubCo regulations, as it arrives for its second reading. The main issues likely to be flagged up for further attention at this stage include late payments, credit data, payments systems, company registrations, procuring authorities, a statutory pubs code, company transparency and employment issues including zero-hours contracts and penalties for breaches of National Minimum Wage legislation.

This is followed by a Money Bill - the second reading and remaining stages of the Childcare Payments Bill.


In the Commons at 11.30am the day begins with Welsh questions - and watch out for devolutionary fallout from the Smith Commission recommendations. And block your ears against the deafening thud of markers being put down for new powers for the Welsh Assembly.

That is followed by prime minister's questions, which may prove to be a mere appetizer for the Chancellor's big set-piece economic announcement, the Autumn Statement - the main bone of contention in this annual tweaking of the government's spending plans is rumoured to be NHS funding, but it's also a highly political occasion because it will set the parameters for the economic debate up to the election.

There's also talk of a sweeping cost-cutting reorganisation of government. We shall see.

All this will rather eclipse the day's ten minute rule bill on Buses (Audio Announcements) from the DUP's Jim Shannon.

And MPs will also wave through the remaining stages of consideration of the Taxation of Pensions Bill.

In Westminster Hall (9.30am - 11am) the Conservative George Hollingbery leads a debate on the management of UK sea bass stocks. And in the afternoon Labour's Alex Cunningham opens a debate on levels of youth service provision (2.30pm - 4pm).

In the Lords at 3pm, the day's main business is the continuing detailed consideration of the Modern Slavery Bill - where the focus is expected to be on prevention and risk orders and maritime enforcement.

And there's also a debate on improving the health of lesbian, bisexual and trans women led by the Lib Dem, Lady Barker.


The Commons opens at 9.30am with Transport questions, followed by questions to the House of Commons Commission, the administrative arm of the House, and to the Leader of the House - this is MPs' monthly chance to talk about internal issues about the running of Parliament.

Then there's the weekly Business Statement in which the Leader of the House announces what MPs will be debating in the coming week.

The main business is a motion to approve a Statutory Instrument - the government is being annoyingly coy about what exactly this is - the assumption is that it's a measure to enact some rabbit plucked from the Chancellor's headgear on Wednesday....

After that MPs move on to two subjects chosen for debate by the Backbench Business Committee.

The first is on the Financial Conduct Authority Redress Scheme - led by Conservatives Guto Bebb and Mark Garnier, and Lib Dem Mark Williams. This will be the third backbench debate on this subject and it's been called because of continuing concerns about the voluntary scheme to compensate people in 40,000 cases of mis-selling of interest rate swap derivative products (£3bn has been paid by the banks so far).

That's followed by a debate on the availability and pricing of branded medicines on the NHS led by the former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, and Lib Dem Julian Huppert.

In Westminster Hall (1.30pm) the Conservative, Stephen Mosley, leads a debate on Small Business Saturday.

In the Lords, the main debates are on subjects chosen by Conservative peers - first, the former Sports Minister Lord Moynihan has a discussion on the governance of sport, both nationally and internationally, and then Viscount Younger of Leckie opens a debate on the Autumn Statement and measures to promote economic growth, and supporting businesses in the UK.

There's also a short debate led by the Labour peer and former MP, Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, on the procedures and practices governing the arrangement of business in the House of Lords - there have been occasional outbreaks of discontent over the way the Lords agenda is arranged via inter-party discussion in the so-called "usual channels" and some peers are becoming envious of the Commons Backbench Business Committee - a rather unusual emotion in the Upper House.

Lord Foulkes has been one of the complainers from time to time and may well have a reform plan in mind.


It's private members' bill time in the Commons (from 9.30am) with former Lib Dem Cabinet minister Michael Moore's International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill the first to reach report stage.

The bill seeks to enshrine the UN target for international development spending into law - and is supported by the Secretary of State, Justine Greening. But it has also been criticised by the foreign secretary - and could face an attempt to talk it out. Its supporters turned out in strength to ensure it was not stopped at second reading, and they may need to do so again, to send it off to the Lords.

I expect the Moore Bill to absorb most of the available debating time - but some of the bills below might also get an airing. Next in the batting order is the report stage for the Specialist Printing Equipment and Materials (Offences) Bill - David Amess's measure to make it an offence to knowingly supply criminals with the equipment needed to forge documents like passports, driving licences and credit cards. The need for such an offence was identified as a result of the Metropolitan Police's Project Genesius. It may well be that a deal is done to ensure that this bill does get the time it needs to complete report and third reading.

It is even possible that there may be a few minutes left for such measures as Christopher Chope's Convicted Prisoners Voting Bill and Andrew Bingham's Household Safety (Carbon Monoxide Detectors) Bill.

In the Lords (from 10am) the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, leads a debate on the role of soft power and non-military options in conflict prevention. Even a week ahead, this has already attracted 18 speakers.