Coming up in the Lords… 6-16 February

Whilst the Commons continues to doze, the Lords continues to put in a long shift at the legislative coalface. This week, the highlights are as follows;

Day 2 of the Report Stage of the Protection of Freedoms Bill takes place on 6 February, with rumours of a Conservative-led rebellion on the vexed question of the vast array of people and organisations that have access to your home. We hope to have an article on the subject nearer the time, so watch this space.

On 7 and 9 February, the Committee Stage of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill reaches days 8 and 9. In all likelihood, this Bill still has a long way to go, with fifty amendments still to be debated at the time of writing, and time beginning to run out in this Parliamentary session.

The Health and Social Care Bill has reached its Report Stage, with Days 1 and 2 scheduled for 8 and 13 February. Whilst the first Marshalled list of Amendments is still to be drawn up, the opposition to the Bill in the Lords has scented weakness, with talk of more and more concessions. In reality, there is a danger that expectations are overblown, but Earl Howe, said to have a very good bedside manner indeed, quite unlike Andrew Lansley, is likely to make a stab at retaining as much of the Bill as can be salvaged.

Day 3 of the Committee Stage of the Scotland Bill, is timetabled for St Valentine’s Day. We await with interest the attempt by the Earl of Caithness to save Rockall for the Union in the event of Scotland gaining its independence (Amendment 26). More seriously, expect further attempts by the likes of Lord Forsyth from the Conservative benches, and Lord Foulkes from the Labour benches, to whittle away at the powers to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. So much for localism?

Finally, as far as legislation is concerned, 10 February sees the Report Stage of the other House of Lords Reform Bill, that of Lord Steel of Aikwood. There are those who see this as being instead of wholesale reform, and those who see it as an interim step as part of the process towards that reform. And, of course, there are those amongst the hereditary Peers who would rather die than see any reform at all…

Last, but not least, there will be Oral Questions from Lord Dykes (7th) on progress being made on discussions with European member states on the future legal basis for the European fiscal compact treaty, Lord Avebury (13th) on the progress being made towards the framing of a new constitution and preparations for elections in Zimbabwe, Baroness Hussein-Ece (also on the 13th) on plans to reduce the age at which women in England first undergo smear tests, to bring it into line with that in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and, last but not least, Baroness Tonge (16th) on the number cases of female genital mutilation were investigated by the police.

16 February sees the Lords adjourn for a late winter break before returning to action on 27 February. Your correspondent will be using the time to make a trip to the Arctic Circle to examine one of the world’s most successful logistics and distribution businesses and, assuming that I don’t freeze to death, I’ll be back in a fortnight’s time.

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2 Comments

  • Richard Underhill 26th Dec '18 - 12:59pm

    Mark Pack has commented on “Amendments to the Island Of Rockall Act 1972″. This should be taken seriously.
    My late father, an RAF officer working at MOD HQ in London, went out with the Royal Navy during the Cold War to Rockall. Their task was to plant a Union Jack on the island of Rockall. He did not go ashore personally, but those who did planted the flag in concrete.
    The naval party were later told that they would need to go again because the flag had been washed away. They did.
    The military motivation was that “if the Russians took it they could use it observe a British gunnery range.”
    When John Alderdice was APNI leader I mentioned this to him and suggested we should think about fishing rights and rights for oil and gas exploration. In the context of 200 mile limits a large area would be covered.
    Multiplying by the square of the radius gives 40,000, Pie is 3.14159246+ so more than 120,000 square miles).
    Compare what happened in the Falklands, so stop laughing and support his lordship.

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