Coming up in the Lords: 23-26 April

With the Lords having packed in so/too (delete as appropriate) much business before the Easter recess, the Commons will return a week earlier than their ermine-clad colleagues, so this is a shorter than usual report.

Ironically, the biggest event of the week will not take place in the Chamber, or even in the Committee corridors. It is, of course, the publication of the much-leaked report of the Joint Committee on the draft House of Lords Reform Bill. I don’t expect it to be particularly satisfactory to anyone, if the leaks are to be believed, but we are hoping to have an article from a member of the Joint Committee on the day of publication, so keep an eye out for that.

The name of the game will be ping-pong, with consideration of Commons amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill on 23 April, and likewise for the Protection of Freedoms Bill the following day, leading to potential last ditch attempts to change each. Adding to the drama, the Third Reading of the Scotland Bill will also be squeezed in on the 24th, probably in the slot after the Protection of Freedoms Bill.

The final piece of business on 24 April is the Second Reading of the Sunday Trading (London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) Bill, allowing for rather more liberal opening hours during the period of these events. If the Bishops serve any purpose at all, expect them to raise concerns at the first possible opportunity.

And finally, a Private Members’ Bill which has hitherto escaped my attention reaches its Third Reading, the Parliament Square (Management) Bill. Sponsored by the Chair of Marlesford Parish Council in Suffolk (that would be Lord Marlesford), it proposes a relaxation of the right to protest in Parliament Square but calls for the area to be cleared of tents, structures for the purpose of sleep, placards and litter between midnight and 6 a.m. It is hard to imagine that it will actually reach the statute book, given that it needs to clear all of its stages in the Commons still, but it is an elegant solution to the eyesores that have led to the current restrictions.

There are no oral questions from Liberal Democrat Peers to report this week, although there is a question from Lord Blair of Boughton on marking the 200th anniversary of the assassination of Spencer Percival, a less than entirely renowned former Prime Minister.

And last but not least, it is with much regret that I must announce the demise of EU Sub-Committee G – Social Policies and Consumer Protection. As a result of reorganisation of the Committee structure, one of the EU Sub-Committees had to go, and it had to be the one chaired by an ethnic minority woman, didn’t it? A pity in many ways, as Baroness Young of Hornsey is a highly regarded Committee Chair, but I suspect that we will see her back in some new capacity shortly.

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One Comment

  • Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera 14th Apr '12 - 8:05pm

    If we are a Party that is committed to the upper house being reformed, why do we seem to have so many Liberal Democrat Peers that remain silent on the issue? Is it because once people are in the ‘club’, they rather like the exclusive nature of it?

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