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Mark D'Arcy, Parliamentary correspondent

Mark D'Arcy Parliamentary correspondent

This is where you can come for my take on what goes on in the chambers and committee rooms around Westminster

The next Parliament: Coalition 2.0 or confidence and supply?

David Cameron and Nick Clegg outside No 10 in May 2010
Forming a second coalition may be much more difficult in 2015

It is beginning to dawn on MPs and peers quite how difficult it's probably going to be to govern after the next election.

The polls suggest a second, rather messier, hung parliament, in which forming a majority government looks tricky to impossible.

In 2010, the simple sum of Conservatives + Lib Dems = working majority made the current, fraying coalition government inevitable.

Next time, with (probably) fewer Lib Dems, (probably) more SNP MPs and (maybe) a significant UKIP presence and (perhaps) a couple of Greens there could be a range of possible governing combinations, but more than two parties would probably be required.

And stitching enough votes together via a sustainable five-year policy deal may prove pretty difficult.

Read full article The next Parliament: Coalition 2.0 or confidence and supply?

Long time, no See...

It turns out to be rather bad career news for a number of Reverend Prelates.

The Church of England has long planned to fast-track women bishops into the House of Lords, so the announcement that the Rev Libby Lane is to be consecrated as the Bishop of Stockport raises the prospect of the first ever female presence on the Lords Bishops' Bench. (No quibbles, please, about abbesses sitting in medieval parliaments…)

Read full article Long time, no See...

Close shave?

The Speaker has just had not one, but two near-death experiences.

That's one analysis of the new report on the special Commons committee set up in the wake of the summer fiasco over the attempted appointment of Carol Mills as the next Clerk of the Commons.

Read full article Close shave?

Week ahead

It's the last parliamentary week of 2014, with 12 or so sitting weeks after that, before the next election.

Parliament's due to be dissolved on 30 March - but may actually cease operations a bit before, perhaps as early as 19 March....triggering, heaven help us, a six week election campaign.

Read full article Week ahead

What will be the fate of Lord Saatchi's bill?

Today's main event in the House of Lords is the final helping of detailed consideration of Lord Saatchi's Medical Innovation Bill, which would give medical practitioners more flexibility to try new treatments on seriously ill patients.

His aim is to loosen what he clearly regards as the stultifying effect of the current law of clinical negligence on responsible medical innovation - and he seems to have government support.

Read full article What will be the fate of Lord Saatchi's bill?

100 not out...

This week the House of Lords scored its ton - 100 government defeats since the start of the Parliament.

And it's no empty landmark…peers have forced ministers to think again, water down or drop controversial proposals on all kinds of issues since 2010.

Read full article 100 not out...

Of mice and (gentle)men

Forget EU referenda or the Autumn Statement. The really titanic struggle being fought out in Westminster at the moment is over the future management of the Commons.

Ever since the fiasco over the attempted appointment of Australian Parliament official Carol Mills to take over from Sir Robert Rogers as Clerk of the Commons, a special committee under Jack Straw has been taking evidence about how best to reform the governance of the House.

Read full article Of mice and (gentle)men

Week ahead

Fracking, anti-terrorism powers and a battle between the Commons and the Lords over restrictions on judicial review are next week's main (scheduled) Westminster events.

And for all the moaning about a "zombie Parliament" with nothing to do, there's a fair bit of interesting legislation being cranked through the legislative sausage machine...with a promise of some very complicated tax legislation to clamp down on avoidance by multi-national companies, promised for the near future.

Read full article Week ahead

Frustrating Fridays?

Another Friday, another Commons delaying action; there's been a lot of this lately and tempers have started to fray.

I was once reproved by Tory awkward squaddie Philip Davies for using the words "on and on he droned" to describe one of his regular speeches in the Commons Friday debates on private members' bills.

Read full article Frustrating Fridays?

Week ahead

It's a big week in the Commons with MPs debating the government's latest anti-terrorism bill and the Chancellor delivering his Autumn Statement, jousting with the Lords over judicial review and debating whether to set a target for development aid in law.

Its rather quieter in the Lords, where any kind of contested vote looks unlikely - perhaps the calm before the storm, before they get their teeth into the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill, probably in the new year.

Read full article Week ahead

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About Mark

Mark has been a correspondent for Today in Parliament since 2002, and also presents BBC Parliament's political book review show, Book Talk.

His career has included stints at LWT's Weekend World and the Leicester Mercury. He has also produced and occasionally presented Radio 4's The Westminster Hour.

As well as being a politics nerd, he is a cricket fanatic, amateur cook and Bruce Springsteen fan.

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