Next week's committees
It may be a shortened Parliamentary week as MPs and peers lurch towards the Christmas recess, but in select committee land they won't be bringing in games, or wearing party hats. It's a surprisingly busy couple of days before the break.
On Monday the Treasury Committee kicks off a quickfire inquiry into the pre-Budget report with evidence from assorted academics and economists. They cram in two more sessions before the break - see below.
The Children, Schools and Families Committee continues its look at Sure Start Children's Centres, with evidence from children's charities, including Barnado's; and the Communities and Local Government Committee continues its examination of the Preventing Violent Extremism programme, criticised for being an uneasy mix of counter-terrorism and community development policies. Witnesses include Guy Wilkinson, national inter-religious affairs adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and leading figures from other religious communities.
There could be ructions at the Public Accounts Committee hearing on the emergency bailout of the banks in 2008 with the Treasury Permanent Secretary Nick Macpherson. PAC Chairman Edward Leigh is still fuming that the government failed to tell him it had underwritten the Bank of England's rescue package for RBS and other casualties of the credit crunch. He believes Treasury rules required that Parliament should be informed when the taxpayer shoulders such burdens.
And there are plenty of other issues to explore - not least the £80m spent on consultants' advice, during the bailout process.
And for dessert there's the hearing of the special Committee on Issue of Privilege, investigating the police raid on the office of the Conservative immigration spokesman, Damian Green. In what may be the final evidence session, MPs are speaking to Sir Gus O'Donnell, Secretary of the Cabinet and head of the Home Civil Service, and Robert Hannigan, head of Intelligence, Security and Resilience, Cabinet Office; plus Bob Quick, formerly one of Britain's most senior anti-terrorist police officers. The committee has already heard from a group of senior officers, but, interestingly, has chosen to take former Assistant Commissioner Quick's evidence separately.
Tuesday sees the Home Secretary Alan Johnson before the Home Affairs Select Committee, to talk about the work of his department. That means pretty much anything the committee members fancy. The McKinnon extradition saga, bonuses in the Borders Agency, whatever....
The Treasury Committee talks to Nick Macpherson, the top Treasury mandarin about the pre-Budget report, making straight the way for an appearance by the Chancellor, the following day.
The Culture Media and Sport Committee will hold an evidence session on the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games. Witnesses include Lord Coe, the Chairman, and Paul Deighton, the chief executive of the London Organising Committee of the games and John Armitt, chairman, and David Higgins, chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority
Defence Minister Quentin Davies goes before his departmental committee to talk about defence equipment, and later in the day Lord Drayson, who rejoices in the impressive title of Minister for Strategic Defence Acquisition Reform, appears in a second session of the same inquiry. He will be followed by Bernard Gray, the expert called in to review the defence procurement system, who announced this week that he's joined the Conservatives. A touch of tribalism might just creep in when he gives evidence.
The Joint Human Rights Committee rounds off its look at the ructions in the new super-quango, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, with evidence from the Equality Minister, Harriet Harman.
Rather impressively, several committees are taking evidence on Wednesday, the last day of term. The Committee on Arms Export Controls, which produces an annual report to Parliament, will take evidence from the UK Working Group on Arms and the Export Group on Aerospace and Defence.
Employment Minister Jim Knight will be telling the Work and Pensions Committee about how his department and its programmes are coping with rising unemployment. The Foreign Affairs Committee continues its inquiry on Global Security: UK/US Relations, with Foreign Office Minister Ivan Lewis, and the Treasury Committee rounds off its rapid inquiry into the pre-Budget report, by talking to the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, live and in person.
Also on Wednesday, the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee is due to publish its report on the Consultative Group on the Past - the group which controversially recommended £12,000 "recognition" (not compensation) payouts to the families of all the 3,500 casualties of the Troubles, including those of paramilitaries.