Next week in the Lords: 4-7 March

House of Lords chamberYes, we’re back, after this column’s regular late winter break to study comparisons between government systems in the Caribbean. And whilst the House of Lords and the Cuban leadership do have some similarities – having octogenarians in prominent positions, for example – you would probably want to see more of Eric Avebury than you would Fidel Castro…

So, on with the motley…

Monday kicks off the week with the main business being Day 2 of the Report Stage of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill. Amongst the amendments to be discussed is an cross-party attempt to add caste discrimination to the list of issues covered by the 2010 Equality Act, sponsored by the indefatigable Eric Avebury, amongst others. Meanwhile, Meral Ece is seeking to strengthen local authority obligations on equality impact assessments, and the Bishop of Hereford and Baroness Trumpington from the Conservative benches come together to form an unlikely alliance to try to save the Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales. Debate on amendments continues on Wednesday.

Also, Hugh Dykes has an oral question on representations received from the public on the negotiations for the new EU budget.

Day 2 of the Committee Stage of the Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill dominates Tuesday, although there seems to be little organised opposition on the red benches thus far, perhaps proving that where principles clash with retail politics, the Labour Party tends to favour the latter. There are two Private Members’ Bills, with Susan Kramer taking the Presumption of Death Bill through its Third Reading, whilst the Mobile Homes Bill passes through its equivalent stage.

Celia Thomas introduces a report from the Delegated Powers Committee on the scrutiny of delegated legislation, bringing to bear her years of experience in the working of the House and of Parliament. Her Committee (she is its Chair) scrutinises proposals to delegate power from Parliament to another body, something that most Liberal Democrats would encourage, I suggest.

There are two oral questions from our Bench on Wednesday. Mike Storey raises the issue of measures to detect and prevent sudden cardiac death, whilst Tony Greaves has a fascinating question on ensuring that wage-earners who are below the income tax threshold benefit from future increases in the personal allowance.

The Antarctic Bill receives its Third Hearing, and there’s the potential for a bit of a scrap in EU Sub-Committee F, which takes evidence from representatives of Cancer Research UK and the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association as part of their scrutiny of the new EU Tobacco Products Directive.

Thursday sees the annual International Women’s Day debate. Will Navnit Dholakia take his annual opportunity to have a gentle dig at the Church of England over its lack of women bishops? And will our Peers feel constrained from taking part by recent events?

All this, and more, in next week’s episode of “People in Ermine”…

* Mark Valladares would quite like to be in the House of Lords, as he thinks that the robes would match his eyes…

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