Next week in the Lords: 4-7 February

House of LordsStrangely enough, in the absence of a Lords Reform Bill to debate (and who’s sorry now?), things are relatively quiet on the red benches. Quiet, but not exactly dead, I’m delighted to say. And now that Paddy Ashdown has hit Twitter, life is going to be a bit more exciting. And talking of Twitter, don’t forget that our Parliamentary Party in the Lords has its own Twitter feed. And yes, those are real Peers tweeting, in live time. So, what might they be covering next week?

On Monday, business kicks off with, amongst other things, an oral question from Hugh Dykes on derogations and opt-outs from European Union legislation (how many do we have now?). The Committee Stage of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill reaches Day 4, whilst the Mental Health (Discrimination) (No. 2) Bill reaches its Committee Stage. This is intended to repeal legislative provisions that can prevent people with mental health conditions from serving as Members of Parliament, members of the devolved legislatures, jurors, or company directors. Having successfully been passed in the Commons, and having received support from all benches in the Lords at Second Reading, this is expected to have a trouble free passage.

Meanwhile, in Grand Committee, Margaret Sharp will be opening a debate following up the report of the Science and Technology Committee on Science and Heritage, and in the Committee corridor, the Economic Affairs Finance Bill Sub-Committee will be taking evidence from senior HMRC officials on matters relating to international corporate taxation. I’m guessing that all of those suggesting that multinationals are undertaxed will never notice what takes place there, which is a pity really…

Tuesday sees the Report Stage of the Scrap Dealers Bill, good news if you’re a church warden or run a railway, although it did see a Government amendment seeking a sunset clause defeated by 89 votes to 31. This is followed by the Report Stage of the Defamation Bill, to be welcomed by anyone who believes in free speech. Continuing the tax theme, Lord Harrison (Labour) has an oral question on resources and staff for the full collection of tax (not enough of either is the gist of his approach, I expect).

Liberal Democrat Peers are a caring bunch, and on Wednesday, John Sharkey and Chris Rennard perform a double act, asking questions on factors contributing to the rise in childhood obesity and on helping people reduce their sugar consumption respectively. Lord Howarth of Newport seeks to take advantage of the Coalition’s problems with constitutional reform by asking whether the Government intend to proceed with any reforms of the composition of the House of Lords. Admittedly, he might be better off taking that to whatever committee is drawing up Labour’s 2015 manifesto, but… Oh, and yes, the Growth and Infrastructure Bill continues through its Committee Stage…

There is, I guess, a certain irony from the perspective of your author, that the week comes to a close on Thursday with a short debate on the role of civil society in promoting peace in Israel and Palestine, courtesy of Kishwer Falkner.

Finally, don’t forget that the Liberal Democrat Peers have their own group blog, which is well worth a read.

* Mark Valladares is mildly irritated that his future involves travelling to London on days when his wife will be in Suffolk…

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