Viewing guide: The coming week's highlights in Parliament
They're back! The Commons resumes normal service in the coming week with a few sharp battles in prospect in the chamber and plenty of interest on the committee corridor too.
Monday opens with defence questions, before MPs move on to the first of two days devoted to polishing off the Protection of Freedoms Bill. Watch out for a major skirmish over the programme motion for the Report Stage (see previous post) in which the Conservative Edward Leigh and an impressive array of cross-party allies seek to ensure their new clause on "insulting behaviour" is not kicked to the back of the queue of amendments and never debated.
As the row over the government's proposed changes to the planning system continues the Communities and Local Government Committee takes its first look at one of the documents which will inform decisions in future, the Draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). As usual with these inquiries, they're starting with experts - including Dr Adam Marshall of the British Chambers of Commerce, Jessica Bauly, Head of Infrastructure at the CBI, Dr Hugh Ellis, Chief Planner, Town and Country Planning Association, and Alex Morton, Senior Research Fellow, Policy Exchange.
Not to be outdone in pointy-headedness, the Treasury committee hears from the chairman of the Independent Commission on Banking Sir John Vickers about its proposals to insulate high risk banking activities from "utility" high street banks. The minister in charge of constitutional reform, Mark Harper, appears before the joint committee considering the Draft Bill on House of Lords reform.
In the House of Lords, Peers polish off the Armed Forces Bill, which has to be passed in order to authorise the continued existence of the Army, Navy and RAF. This week there was some chuntering about the pace at which the Bill was being pushed through, and about what some peers saw as the rather perfunctory references to the Military Covenant.
Then it's on to the fourth day of Report Stage consideration of the Localism Bill - the third of 12 days of Grand Committee debate on the Welfare Reform Bill will be held in a committee room upstairs.
On Tuesday, the man in charge of the Coalition's constitutional agenda, Nick Clegg, has his regular question time in the Commons, and so does the Attorney General Dominic Grieve - since he's one of the few Conservatives on record supporting the present Human Rights Act, he could end up taking almost as big a bashing as the Deputy Prime Minister, who's now used to being monstered from all sides. Then MPs will conclude their debate on the Protection of Freedoms Bill.
As normal on a Tuesday, there are plenty of Committees in action. The Foreign Affairs Committee will be hearing from the Chandlers, victims of an attack by Somali pirates, and the Home Affairs Committee will be quizzing the new Commissioner of the Met, Bernard Hogan-Howe, on his work in general and on policing large scale riots in particular. And for that part of the session he will be joined by US policing guru Bill Bratton, former Chief of Police for Los Angeles and former New York City Police Commissioner.
The Justice Committee will launch its new inquiry into Youth Justice with evidence from a phalanx of experts, and then from workers at the sharp end, from the Halton and Warrington Youth Offending Team. The Transport committee will continue its probe into the cost of motor insurance with evidence from former Home Secretary and Justice Secretary Jack Straw, and then from the Motor Accident Solicitors' Society, AXA UK, and former MP Andrew Dismore, who now represents the Access to Justice Action Group. Proceedings are rounded off by two ministers from the Department for Transport, Mike Penning (who has had some sulphurous rows with the Committee Chair Louise Ellman) and Jonathan Djanogly from the Ministry of Justice. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley will be cross-examined about public expenditure on health at the Health Committee. And former Chancellor Alistair Darling will give his thoughts on bank regulation to the Joint Committee on the Draft Financial Services Bill.
There's also an intriguing looking session of the Committee on Members' Expenses, which is looking at reform of the MPs' expenses watchdog, IPSA. The witnesses are Ira Madan, Houses of Parliament Consultative Occupational Physician and then eminent journalists Peter Riddell, and Matthew Parris.
One thing that may not be happening is agreement on the scheduling of a backbench debate on an "in-out" referendum on the EU. But this will not be because of any dark machinations by the whips. The Backbench Business Committee looks almost certain to endorse a debate, given that it is backed by a public petition with 100,000 signatures and by plenty of MPs. But those who want the debate are determined to get their ducks in a row. There is a motion to be negotiated and shuttle diplomacy to be conducted between the fractious tribes of Tory euroscepticism - so it may be that they aim for a debate in November or later. I'll offer more thoughts on this anon….
In the Lords they're starting at 11am, three and a half hours early, to accommodate the massive speakers list for the Second Reading of the already much amended Health and Social Care Bill - 92 peers are currently down to speak, in what promises to be an epic Lords sequel to its stormy passage through the Commons. I reported before on the procedural battle which may result in part of this bill being kicked to a select committee for consideration (or should that be vivisection?). Earl Howe opens for the Government, with Labour's Lady Thornton leading for the Opposition - but the key voices may belong to Crossbenchers like Lord Owen and rebel Lib Dems like Lady (Shirley) Williams.
It's been agreed that their Lordships will pause in the debate when they run out of steam, and resume on Wednesday at 11am, to conclude. That is when the votes will take place - unusually there will be an amendment designed to kill the bill at second reading, which is not something the Lords normally do, and is essentially a gesture, and unlikely to be agreed. Then there will be the vote on the Owen Hennessey amendment referring part of it to a select committee. (see previous post). This has a pretty good chance, keen observers of the Upper House believe.
And so to Wednesday, where the Commons warms up with Welsh questions before moving onto bigger game as the prime minister faces MPs. Then there's an Opposition Day motion on a subject as yet unannounced. In Committee land the education committee ponders the revised schools admission and appeals codes and the Public Accounts Committee returns to one of its favourite topics, HM Revenue and Customs annual accounts, with the top brass of HMRC. There's also a rumour that the defence committee is trying to arrange hearing on Libya.
In the Lords the NHS bill is due to resume (see Tuesday's entry above), followed by what will presumably be a more sedate session on the Localism Bill.
The week ends for both Houses on Thursday. The Commons will be questioning the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Caroline Spelman, and the Commons representatives of the Church Commissioners, the Public Accounts Commission and the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission - with MPs facing the redrawing of many constituency boundaries and with the prospect of important changes to the way the electoral register is compiled, that last set of questions could be unusually lively.
Then there are two Backbench Committee debates. First a series of changes to procedure will be considered - these cover everything from the rules on ministerial statements to the allowing of "hand held electronic devices" in the chamber. Since anyone in the press gallery can see the glow of i-phones and i-pads as MPs tweet and e-mail through debates, that last one is more a case of catching up with reality than breaking through into the 21st century. Anyway, when MPs have got those issues off their chest, they can turn to a general debate on HS2 - the controversial plan for a high speed railway from London to Birmingham, and eventually Manchester. This could provide a rumbustious end to the week, given the building fury around all kinds of planning issues at the moment.
There's not much Committee action; but I can offer a second helping of Sir John Vickers of the Independent Commission on Banking, this time at the Joint Committee on the Draft Financial Services Bill. More planning fun, too, in the Lords, where peers will be debating the Government's consultation paper on proposed changes to the planning system and then the impact of Government policy on universities.