5-9 February: this week in the Lords

I had rather expected that this would be a short week – the Lords usually goes into recess for just over a week, covering Valentines Day, most years. But not this year, it seems…

The Committee Stages of the Victims and Prisoners Bill (day 3) and the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill (day 5) are the main business on Monday, whilst the Restoration and Renewal Client Board is holding a private meeting in Portcullis House (another building with its own maintenance issues).

You might already have guessed that there’s a lot of legislation grinding through the Lords at the moment, and Tuesday sees the Third Reading of the Pedicabs (London) Bill and the Report Stage of the Automated Vehicles Bill. But the most interesting piece of business for the day is the moving of the draft Electoral Commission Strategy and Policy Statement. Labour have a Motion of Regret down in the name of Lord Khan of Burnley, and given the concerns raised by the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, I suspect that we will need significant reassurance before it is safe to believe that the Conservatives aren’t about to remove another of the significant guardrails that protect our democracy.

There’s also a very salient Oral Question from the Bishop of St Albans, asking the Government what assessment they have made of the state of the finances of local authorities. We all know the answer, and several hundred Conservative councillors will doubtless be hoping (in vain, I suspect) that the answer isn’t as gloomy as the current reality.

Wednesday is Groundhog Day, with the Committee Stages of the Victims and Prisoners Bill (day 4) and the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill (day 6) grinding on.

Meral Hussein-Ece has secured a debate on the humanitarian situation in Gaza on Thursday and, given her passionate views on the humanitarian catastrophe that has, and continues, to take place there, I’m expecting a strong condemnation of some of the actions of the Israeli military and, in particular, the continued destruction of human life and the infrastructure that supports it. In addition to Meral, contributions are expected from John Alderdice, Qurban Hussain, Barbara Janke and John Lee. Given his expertise on the psychology of terrorism and political violence, John Alderdice’s contribution will certainly be measured and well-informed.

The Economic Affairs Committee published a report at the end of 2022 entitled “Where have all the workers gone?” and it’s taken an unconscionably long time to secure a debate on it. Susan Kramer will be speaking to it from our benches, whilst Tim Clement-Jones and Don Foster will be contributing to the debate on the Communications and Digital Committee’s report on digital exclusion.

And it’s a full five day week for the Lords, with Lorely Burt’s Conversion Therapy Prohibition (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) Bill receiving its Second Reading. There’s also an attempt by Lord Northbrook from the Conservative benches to permit daughters to inherit peerages and baronetcies. Admittedly, they can only do so if there is no eligible male to inherit, so it isn’t true equality, but it is at least a start towards it.

* Mark Valladares is the Lords Correspondent for Liberal Democrat Voice.

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One Comment

  • > Report Stage of the Automated Vehicles Bill

    From what I can see, it doesn’t seem to update the law around the presumed correctness of computer programs; one of the big issues flagged up in the Post Office Horizon System scandal.

    Given the complexity of these systems, the presumption should be the (automated vehicle) program contains errors and will make mistakes/wrong judgements.

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