Week ahead

 

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It's the fag end of the current Parliamentary session - with the 17th Century ceremony to prorogue the current Parliament due to be held at 1.30pm on Tuesday.

Cue much doffing of cocked and tricorn hats, and lots of archaic phrasing, about the Parliament "y-holden in our City of Westminster". Plus the intonation of various formulae in Norman French to signify the royal assent to every law passed in the session.

Before those rather niche delights, though, we have a little light legislating and a handful of select committee hearings.

Monday in the Commons begins with questions to the Communities and Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, and his team - after which MPs will be invited to rush the Sunday Trading (London Olympic and Paralympic Games) Bill into law, at a single sitting. The bill was passed by the Lords last Thursday - it will relax restrictions on Sunday trading during the period of the games.

Convenience store operators and the shop-workers' union USDAW both oppose the bill - but Labour has been given assurances on the right of workers not to do extra time during the Olympic period, if they don't want to.

The Commons day ends with an adjournment debate opened by the Conservative Edward Timpson, on developing a UK strategy for rare diseases.

On the committee corridor, the Public Accounts Committee (at 3.15pm) has a session on "managing early departures in government" - the cost of redundancies and early retirement as the government seeks to make savings. The session is based on this National Audit Office report.

The Communities Committee (at 4.10pm) continues its look at the work of the Local Government Ombudsman, and also examines the working of the European Regional Development Fund; and the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy - a super-committee of all kinds of exalted parliamentarians, chaired by the former Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett - hears from the current foreign secretary, William Hague at 4.30pm.

There's also a private meeting of the Culture Media and Sport Committee, to finally sign off on their long-awaited report on the phone hacking saga. This was the inquiry which resulted in the celebrated appearance of Rupert and James Murdoch. The original intention was to investigate whether the committee had been lied too in the course of its earlier investigation - and the looooong drafting period suggests its members have been deadlocked on who to blame for what.

They have taken advice from senior lawyers, including, I understand, Attorney General Dominic Grieve; not least about the danger that their report could prejudice the criminal trials of those charged with hacking. The report will be revealed on Tuesday.

Over in the Lords (from 2.30pm), peers warm up with half an hour of questions, and then plunge into a debate on the report of the joint committee which has been examining the coalition's plan to replace them with a mostly-elected house. Expect most of them not to like those plans - and to say so at some length. So far, 81 peers have put down to speak on Monday - with a further eight scheduled for an overspill session on Tuesday, before the prorogation ceremony. Be afraid.

The last rites of the Parliamentary session are performed on Tuesday. It is just about possible MPs might have to deal with some last minute Lords messages on Sunday trading - if they were to reject some change made in the Commons. But otherwise, there will be no Commons business at all.

In the Lords there will be overspill speeches from Monday's "till they drop" debate on Lords reform, followed by the end of term ceremonials.

The only other event of note is the press conference at 11.30am on the Culture Committee's long-awaited phone hacking report. But just when you thought it was safe, the committee will return to the subject in its forthcoming inquiry on media plurality, due to start after the Queen's Speech.

Honourable members and noble lords will be back on 9 May, to debate the Queen's Speech (including, we're promised, extensive debate in the Lords of constitutional reform, ie more about Lords reform) and digest the outcome of next week's local elections and referenda.

 
Mark D'Arcy Article written by Mark D'Arcy Mark D'Arcy Parliamentary correspondent

Week ahead in the European Parliament

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