Monday, March 10, 2014

This week in the Lords: 10-13 March 2014

Yes, I know, I missed a week… already. What can I say?...

As the Lords heads towards its proroguement for the session, voting tends to intensify, Committees finalise reports and thoughts turn to the Queen’s Speech on 3 June – what will be in it, if anything, what messages for the General Election might be gleaned, that sort of thing. However, there’s still plenty of work to do…

Monday is relatively quiet, as the House deals with Day 3 of the Committee Stage of the Immigration Bill, whilst Ros will be speaking in a debate on the current situation in Gibraltar, requested by Baroness Butler-Sloss from the Crossbenches.

Another sign that the Parliamentary session is nearing its end is consideration of Commons amendments, and Tuesday sees two such exercises, firstly on the Offender Rehabilitation Bill, and then the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill. The latter is where the controversy will lie, with the Commons proposing that those found to be the victims of a miscarriage of justice will only be eligible for compensation if they can prove that they did not commit the offence. Personally, this strikes me as a mean-spirited, penny-pinching piece of legislation which suggests that the destruction of an individual’s life by the State need not have consequences for the State.

Otherwise, the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Bill receives its Third Reading, and Ros has a busy day, with Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment and Energy (EU Sub-Committee D) meeting under her chairmanship in the morning to consider the latest draft of its report on Food Waste, and then the European Union Committee itself meeting in the afternoon.

There is more legislation on Wednesday, with the Third Reading of the Pensions Bill, and another (probably depressing) day of the Committee Stage of the Immigration Bill. However, there are two interesting Oral Questions, one from our very own John Sharkey on encouraging banks to refer small and medium-sized enterprises which apply unsuccessfully for credit to other sources of credit, and the other from Baroness Rawlings on future funding for the BBC World Service.

The day closes with a debate on plans for the future of Bletchley Park, to be opened by resident National Treasure, Baroness Trumpington. Given that she served in Naval Intelligence at Bletchley Park, it will be intriguing to see what she has to say. It might be worth checking her outfit too, now that she has earned a reputation for fashion.

Elsewhere, in the Committee Corridor, the Constitution Committee continue their look at the constitutional implication of a Yes vote in this autumn’s referendum on Scottish independence, taking evidence from Alistair Carmichael and Jim Wallace. Alistair will be in something of a hurry, as he’ll be giving a speech in Aalborg the next day under Ros’s watchful eye.

Thursday is one of those relatively uneventful days, although Olly Grender does have an Oral Question on encouraging social landlords to amend new and existing tenancies to make it easier to work from home.

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