Welcome back to a suddenly rather quieter set of benches, as the avalanche of key votes has settled, and a new Parliamentary session glides effortlessly away from the Gracious Speech. We’re still catching up after the recess, so bear with us…
Having debated the Speech itself, and given the Government several pieces of its mind over Lords Reform, the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill has its Second Reading today. For more information, check out Norman Lamb’s piece, published in Liberal Democrat Voice last week.
The European Union (Approval of Treaty Amendment Decision) Bill has its Second Reading on Wednesday. Whilst the title is obscure to say the least, the Bill will, if passed, represent the United Kingdom’s approval of an amendment to Article 163 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union with regard to a stability mechanism for Member States whose currency is the euro. Expect much disapproval from the Eurosceptics, as well as another demonstration from Lord Pearson of Rannoch (UKIP) that he is in a parallel universe.
Next Monday sees the Second Reading of the Crime and Courts Bill. Intended to establish the National Crime Agency and to abolish the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the National Policing Improvement Agency, it also deals with issues relating to the judiciary and the structure, administration, proceedings and powers of courts and tribunals, as well as addressing questions about border control and driving under the influence of drugs.
Liberal Democrat Peers have oral questions on development of entrepreneurship opportunities for young people (Mike Storey, 24th), Government assessment of night flights at Heathrow (Susan Kramer, 28th),and on a tax on plastic bags (Kate Parminter, 28th). On the 29th, a question on aid from the EU to the occupied territories of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza from Baroness Tonge will doubtless be watched closely by both sides of the Israel/Palestine debate. And yes, Jenny will be sitting on the Liberal Democrat benches, even if she isn’t a member of the Group.
In addition, two Short Debates will be opened by Liberal Democrat Peers on Thursday. Sue Miller will be asking for papers on the Government’s policy on food security, whilst Susan Kramer will be raising the subject of alternatives to high street banks for small and micro-business borrowing.
In the Committee corridors, watch out for the Economic Affairs Select Committee’s look at the economic implications for the United Kingdom of Scottish independence (today), the Constitution Select Committee on accountability of civil servants – Margaret Hodge and Sir Alan Beith are amongst the witnesses here (tomorrow). And it’s ‘all change’ for the various Committees, with new appointments coming into effect. Key appointments for Liberal Democrats include;
Constitution – Baroness Falkner of Margravine and Lord Macdonald of River Glaven
Economic Affairs – Lord Shipley and Lord Smith of Clifton
European Union – Lord Maclennan of Rogart, Baroness Scott of Needham Market and Lord Teverson
National Security Strategy – Lord Lee of Trafford
* Mark Valladares is a member of ALDE Party Council and takes up his role as a member of the International Relations Committee on 1 January 2015