Coming up in the Lords… 10-20 January

Welcome to Liberal Democrat Voice’s coverage of the House of Lords, where we’ll be flagging up some of the forthcoming events at the more reflective end of the Palace of Westminster. So, without further ado…

The House of Lords returns to work next Tuesday after its Christmas recess, with a heavy legislative schedule to be dealt with before the end of the Session, and the first fortnight offers a hint of what is to come.

Days 2, 3 and 4 of the Committee Stage of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill will be taken on, with Lord McNally leading for the government. Highlights are likely to include a Labour attempt to introduce a requirement for a pre-commencement impact assessment, as they hope to demonstrate how damaging the legal aid proposals will be for women, ethnic minorities and other vulnerable groups. Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat lawyers will be attempting to bolster the independence of those assisting the proposed new Director of Legal Aid Casework. Expect plenty of comment from Lords Phillips of Sudbury, Thomas of Gresford and Macdonald of River Glaven, amongst others.

Days 3 and 4 of the Report Stage of the Welfare Reform Bill are also awaiting the unwary, with the likelihood of further difficulties for the Government following the sizable rebellion that caused a defeat on the proposed underoccupation penalties for social housing residents before Christmas. There will be a series of attempts to lessen the perceived harshness of some of the proposals. And given that the Committee Stage ran for seventeen days, this one could run and run…

What else is there to draw the eye? There will be oral questions from Hugh Dykes on discussions with other EU member states on the Eurozone agreement (10th), Mike Storey on cyber-bullying (11th), Bill Bradshaw on passenger rolling stock and Judith Jolly on the commissioning of integrated health and social care services (12th). The following week sees Chris Rennard raise his concerns about the accuracy of electoral registers (16th) and Roger Roberts address careers advice for the under-25s (17th).

Meanwhile, the EU Sub-Committee G (Social Policies and Consumer Protection) will continue its look into the EU contribution to the modernisation of higher education in Europe, quizzing David Willetts on his views on the subject.

And finally, for this edition, the 17th sees the laying of Orders for mayoral referendums in Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Coventry, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Nottingham, Sheffield and Wakefield… whether they want them or not…

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