Viewing guide: The pick of the week ahead in Parliament

Mark D'Arcy
Parliamentary correspondent


Parliament's getting on with the grind next week: lots of unglamorous legislating and scrutinising, without many set piece battles in prospect. But plenty for people with particular interests to sink their teeth into.

Monday in the Commons starts with MPs questioning the Education Secretary Michael Gove and his team - and they then move on to debate their own pensions. The government motion reaffirms support for giving IPSA, the MPs' expenses watchdog, control of their pension scheme, and for increasing MPs contributions in line with the increases Lord Hutton recommended for all public sector pension workers. But there's an amendment down from four awkward squaddies, Chris Chope, Peter Bone, David Anderson and Bill Esterson which deletes that second bit. This could be fun.

That is followed by a Backbench Business Committee debate calling for the release, uncensored, of all government documents - including cabinet minutes - on the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

Committee business, as usual on a Monday, is fairly thin. But the Public Accounts Committee has a promising-looking session on how on earth HM Revenue and Customs is going to collect our taxes while slashing its admin costs by a quarter. And the Communities and Local Government Committee continues its look at the National Planning Policy Framework. This session pits the housebuilders against the National Trust, with NT Chair Simon Jenkins topping the bill.

In the Lords, peers continue their work on the Localism Bill - denuded last week of its provisions for local referendums to consult people about local issues. Labour peers say the bill has been "gutted".

Tuesday begins with health questions - pitting Secretary of State Andrew Lansley against his Labour predecessor Andy Burnham, now reshuffled to shadow his old department. That's followed by a 10-Minute Rule Bill from Paul Maynard. Mr Maynard, who has cerebral palsy, wants more help for disabled people with complex mobility needs. MPs will then debate the Pensions Bill, which speeds up plans to raise the state pension age to 66. A government concession aimed at reducing the effect on key groups of women this week should ease its passage into law. Meanwhile, planning issues keep popping up - and the Conservative Anna Soubry has a Westminster Hall debate on the future of Green Belts in England.

It's a busy day up on the committee corridor. The health committee has a confirmation hearing with Professor Malcolm Grant, the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley's preferred choice to head up the NHS Commissioning Board, the independent body at the centre of his vision for a reshaped NHS. The transport committee has an "ask anything" session with Secretary of State Phillip Hammond. Technically he's talking about the work of his department which means subjects ranging from the fate of train makers Bombardier to the HS2 project could come up. And the Home Affairs Committee is talking to a former FBI agent, Ali Soufan, about "the roots of violent radicalism."

At the culture committee it's religious groups versus bookies in a session on gambling, while the Treasury committee ponders the inner mysteries of banking reform. But watch out for the Backbench Business Committee, where a bid for debating time for a motion calling for a referendum on Britain's EU membership is expected. The Conservative backbencher David Nuttall will lead the charge, and given the number of strong eurosceptics on the committee, approval is highly likely.

Over in the Lords, it's the Report Stage of the Education Bill, where interesting looking votes on schools' right to search their pupils looms - a sensitive issue for parents and teachers. The Government is planning to remove the requirement for a chaperone, and for the search to be by a teacher of the same sex as the pupil searched; Labour wants to keep the chaperone. The other issue is pupil exclusion - and in particular the safeguards for excluded pupils with special needs.

Wednesday in the Commons begins with Northern Ireland Questions followed by the weekly joust between David Cameron and Ed Miliband at PMQs. That's followed by another 10-Minute Rule Bill, this time from newly minted Labour Whip, and former advice worker, Yvonne Forvargue - she wants debt management companies to be required to tell their clients they can get free help and advice from Citizens Advice Bureaux and other organisations. Then there are two Opposition day debates, on energy prices and the Government's plans to introduce Individual Voter Registration in place of the present system of registering to vote.

Outside the chamber the Education Committee launches a new inquiry into Child Protection with Jim Gamble, former head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and top academics. The aim is to explore the key strengths and weakness of the system and find out what worries frontline practitioners. The Work and Pensions Committee looks at one of the most controversial aspects of the Government's Welfare Reform Bill - the replacement of the Disability living Allowance. The Culture, Media and Sport Committee continues to probe the Phone-Hacking affair, with evidence from the lawyers who vetted e-mails for News International and from a lawyer for the hacking victims who says he was told he was effectively dealing with NI boss James Murdoch before Mr Murdoch says he was involved in dealing with the issue. With a live criminal investigation and a judicial inquiry into press standards under way, these sessions have the relatively limited aim of probing the accuracy of evidence given to the committee in its earlier inquiry into hacking.

The Northern Ireland Committee is investigating fuel smuggling and the Environmental Audit Committee is looking at the issue of sustainable food, while the Public Accounts Committee is probing the 20 or so NHS trusts which may not be viable as foundation trusts by 2014 - the Committee may well visit several of them.

And watch out for the publication of a joint parliamentary committee's report on the Draft Defamation Bill - the committee, under the chairmanship of former Conservative cabinet minister Lord Mawhinney has been examining the proposals for less restrictive libel laws, to end the "chilling effect" of prosecutions on legitimate debate and comment. The Government has been promising a Bill for the next Queen's Speech, next May.

In the Lords, Peers are looking at the detail of the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill - the replacement for the pervious Government's control orders system.

On Thursday, the Commons kicks off with questions to the Energy Secretary Chris Huhne - expect probing on some of the problems the opposition sees with his flagship "Green Deal" policy to encourage energy efficient home improvements. The MPs have a general debate on planning - which could be a pretty fraught occasion for Ministers, who can expect bombardment from their own backbenches. The interesting question will be how many colleagues are prepared to defend what suddenly seems a very unpopular set of government policies. The one public committee session is with the Political and Constitutional Reform committee.

In the Lords there are debates on protecting the home and person from intrusion and assault, and on history teaching in schools.

Both Houses sit to consider private members' bills on Friday. The Commons starts with the report stage of Sir Paul Beresford's Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims (Amendment) Bill which creates a new offence of Causing or allowing child or vulnerable adult to suffer serious physical harm. That is followed, if time remains by Phillip Davies' Equality and Diversity (Reform) Bill.

But the most exciting action may by in the Lords where former Liberal Leader David Steel's House of Lords Reform Bill is to be considered in Committee. This measure is very popular with individual lords, but not with their parties. It tidies up the worst anomalies around the present composition of the upper house - the preposterous by-elections for hereditary peers, leaving an all-appointed House that looks rather like the present one. But it as seen as a way of deflecting more sweeping reforms which would create an elected senate. Some peers will doubtless argue that the government should use the bill as a down payment on Progress towards reform. Others fear it might stall the process of change indefinitely. An interesting question is whether there will be any serious attempt to squash it altogether.