Next week in the Lords… 22-25 April (and there shall be ping pong enough for all)

House of Lords chamberYes, I know, I’ve been rubbish at keeping up with this in recent weeks, but it’s a busy week ahead in the Lords, as they return from their early Spring recess for a hectic week of tying up loose ends before the end of the Parliamentary session when they… go off for the recess before the Queen’s Speech…

So, without further ado…

Monday sees the introduction of the Bishop of Truro, just in time for consideration of Commons amendments on the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and Growth and Infrastructure Bills. Yes, the ‘right to build bloody great house extensions without a by or leave’ debate will doubtless be repeated. Less contentious, hopefully, will be the Third Reading of the Succession to the Crown Bill.

Also, Hugh Dykes has an oral question seeking information about a likely publication for the findings of the Chilcot Inquiry into the Gulf War, before heading off to Grand Committee to kick off a short debate in Britain’s relationship with the European Union.

More Commons amendments dominate Tuesday, with the Public Service Pensions Bill, the Defamation Bill and the Crime and Courts Bill all heading the way of the Lords. The Defamation Bill is still the subject of further remedial action, with Julian Huppert having been rather reassuring earlier in the week in relation to the treatment of corporations.

Not everyone is as convinced though

There are two Select Committee meetings of potential interest, as the Communications Committee pays a private visit to BBC Broadcasting House, and the Economic Affairs Committee considers corporate taxation.

The Procedure Committee of the Lords is its guardian against overly radical change, but the growth in the size of the House in recent years has forced it to move on the matter of oral questions. There is a feeling that some members are rather dominating these limited opportunities, so the Committee proposes capping members at seven per calendar year on Wednesday. They also propose to repeal three Standing Orders, one of which appears to have been overridden by statute since 1678. You shouldn’t hurry reform…

The real excitement, however, is reserved for the National Health Service (Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition) (No. 2) Regulations 2013 – motion to annul. 38 Degrees have indicated that the proposals will destroy the NHS as we know it, and Peers have received plenty of e-mail and other traffic on the subject. It probably won’t – no proposed reform ever has despite the prophets of doom who have opposed all of them. However, given that the facts are rather complex, only time will tell who is right.

In Grand Committee, former Tourism Minister, John Lee, opens a debate on maximising tourism in the United Kingdom.

The week ends on Thursday with Tim Clement-Jones asking about the economic impact on the UK tourism industry of new visa restrictions for visitors from Brazil. Given that the proposals were put on hold when David Cameron confirmed the decision to keep visa-free access for Brazilian tourists at Prime Minister’s Questions, after John Thurso MP warned that imposing restrictions could harm the tourist trade, it will be interesting to see how this goes, if it takes place at all.

We’re not expecting the Lords to sit in the following week, but you never know how long a game of ping pong might last…

* Mark Valladares has been enjoying spending rather more time with his wife than usual…

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2 Comments

  • Al McIntosh 19th Apr '13 - 3:00pm

    Ping pong (aka wiff waff to some, table tennis to the rest of us) is a notoriously fast game full of treacherous spin and misdirection. The members of the upper house can’t afford to take their eyes off the ball.

    For example, one of the commons amendments that are not mentioned above is reportedly to the Growth and Infrastructure bill is to put back in the “shares for rights” clause where as little as £2,000 worth of shares could buy away prospective employees’ redundancy rights. It is arguably a much more important issue than house extensions.

  • SURESH CHAUHAN 23rd Apr '13 - 5:44pm

    Mark’s naive comments about the SI500 debate on NHS competition rules, s75 of the Health and Social Care legislation
    are very disappointing.
    Firstly, these top down reorganisation of the NHS does not have any electoral mandate. Secondly, the Coalition Agreement specifically ruled this out. Yet, within 3 months later, we have this nasty Bill, being sponsored by no less than that latent tory, Nick Clegg.

    The SI500, as currently drafted, are at complete variance from the assurances given by Ministers to Parliament. Hence the opposition.

    Some of our 38 Degrees members had a meeting with Norman Lamb. He indicated that there will be a new DOH guideline which will pacify all the critics of SI500. This may or may not be true, but the fact that this guideline WILL not have any legal backing. He and his team are obviously trying to fob off opposition this way.

    I hope the more realistic Lib Dem Peers will ignore this childish effort and throw the SI500 out.

    I am also told that the first draft of SI500, in the form of SI257, were placed before Parliament on 13th February without proper consultation with the LIb Dem cabinet members.

    One wonders when the LIb Dem will opt for a more realistic and dynamic leadership!

    Perhaps, the ensuing rout in local elections will help focus minds.

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