What’s on in our Parliaments this week?

Holyrood and Westminster are back from their half term break this week and the Senedd starts its break. Here’s what to watch out for.

Westminster

The Lords get to grips with the Elections Bill. Unlock Democracy have written to peers expressing their concerns with the measures it contains.

The bill gives this Government, and future governments, unprecedented power over the way our elections are run.

I want to give you one clear example of this.

Elections in the UK are overseen by an independent watchdog, the Electoral Commission. This bill would give the power to the Government of the day to set the commission’s policy and strategy. Furthermore oversight of the Commission’s work is carried out by the Speaker’s Committee, which now, for the first time, has a Government majority.

Put simply, this leaves the fox guarding the henhouse.

It means that a Conservative Government could tell the Electoral Commission to focus its efforts on investigating union funding of Labour. It could mean that a future Labour Government tells the Commission to focus investigations on Conservative donors.

This power shouldn’t be in the hands of any Government – it should stay in the hands of the independent watchdog.

Most readers of this site will agree and you can sign up to support this here.

On Wednesday Lib Dem peer Mike Storey has a question on the effect of Covid-19 on school children in the most deprived communities and Sarah Ludford will be leading for us on the Refugees Family Reunion Bill.

On Thursday, Don Foster has a debate on the link between gambling advertising and gambling related harm.

On Friday Alison Suttie has a debate on “An Electoral System fit for Today”

In the Commons, Munira Wilson has a Westminster Hall debate on the future of the old Teddington Police Station. She and local Council Leader Gareth Roberts want it to be used for affordable housing and wrote to the Mayor to express that view recently:

Munira Wilson MP and Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, have written to London Mayor Sadiq Khan calling for the site of the former Teddington Police Station to be retained for community use. The site is currently being advertised for sale on the open market.

“When the announcement was made that Teddington Police Station was to be closed, I fought to keep it open, as part of my broader efforts to hold the Government to account on its promises of more police officers on our streets,” says Munira. “Now that Teddington Police Station is for sale, we must ensure that we maximise the social and community benefit of the site– not just sell to the highest bidder.”

We will also find out the Government’s plans on how we live with Covid  let all the tough and traumatic effort of the past two years go to waste and let Covid rip through the vulnerable.

The full Westminster timetable is here.

Holyrood

On Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon will set out the Scottish Government’s plan to deal with the next stages of Covid which may well be more cautious than the Westminster equivalent.

There is also a Scottish Government debate on the Nationality and Borders Bill. That piece of legislation will not find much love in Holyrood.

It’s a Conservative opposition day on Wednesday which will focus on health and Net Zero and then there’s a Member’s Debate celebrating LGBT History Month.

On Thursday, it’s a Net Zero, Environment and Transport Committee debate on the implications of COP26.

You can see the whole Holyrood programme here.

 

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