Week ahead

 

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Parliament is taking a little while to regain momentum after the State Opening ceremony.

Questions to ministers don't resume in the Commons until Tuesday, and there are no debates in Westminster Hall - the Commons parallel chamber. The week will be dominated by themed debates on the bills in the Queen's Speech.

But it is possible that urgent issues may be introduced via urgent questions or ministerial statements - emergency debates are unlikely unless something very big happens.

One issue to watch out for is the Rochdale sex abuse case - where there may be a request for a government response via an urgent question. The children's minister, Tim Loughton, is due to publish an interim report on the government's strategy against child sexual abuse, so he'd probably welcome a chance to highlight the action being taken.

The Commons assembles on Monday at 2.30pm, and unless there is a statement or urgent question, MPs will plunge straight into the Queen's Speech - with the theme of the day business and the economy. Business ends with an adjournment debate led by the Tottenham MP David Lammy on Payment under the Riot (Damages) Act 1886 - pursuing complaints from his constituents about their difficulties in extracting compensation for damage from last summer's riots.

On committee corridor the only action comes from the Public Accounts Committee (at 3.15pm) which investigates the immigration points system - student route. This follows a report from the National Audit Office criticising the way new immigration rules for students were implemented. The witnesses include Dame Helen Ghosh, the permanent secretary at the Home Office; Lin Homer, and Robert Whiteman, the chief executive of the UK Border Agency.

In the Lords, peers convene at 2.30pm for half an hour of questions to ministers, before turning to the Queen's Speech.

The theme for debate will be constitutional affairs, so peers will, once again, be focusing on their own future and the government's proposals to reform their House. Plans to introduce Individual Voter Registration (IVR) in the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill may also feature - critics claim the new system could result in perhaps millions of people losing the right to vote. Lib Dem minister Lord Wallace of Saltaire leads for the coalition - head to head with Labour's Lord Falconer.

On Tuesday, Commons questions to ministers resume, with the Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Ken Clarke in the frame. The MPs return to the Queen's Speech - they will cover foreign affairs and international development.

More select committees are back in action….the Treasury Committee looks at the prospects for the disposal of the taxpayer's stakes in Lloyds Bank and RBS. In the last session, they heard warnings that the money put in to keep the "too big to fail" banks afloat may never be recouped. Witnesses include Adam Young, of Rothschild and other City figures.

The Home Affairs Committee (at 10.15am) hears from the immigration minister, Damian Green, trade union officials and airline executives on delays at airport passport control. This is a live issue at the moment - but the session will also slot into the committee's monitoring of wider immigration issues.

The Culture Committee (at 11.30 am) questions the Referees Association, the Football Association, Raj Chandarana of the Football Supporters' Federation, and Lord Ouseley (of Kick It Out) about racism in football.

The Defence Committee (at 2.30pm) takes evidence on defence acquisition - the government's new approach to defence technology and the commissioning and buying of weapons systems. The lead witness is Peter Luff, minister for defence equipment, (himself a former select committee chair) backed up by senior officials and service personnel.  

In the Lords, peers continue debating the Queen's Speech - focusing on home affairs, health, law, and justice and welfare.

Wednesday's business begins (at 11.30am) with questions to the Northern Ireland Secretary, Owen Patterson, and his team. And then, at noon, David Cameron faces Ed Miliband at prime minister's questions. The main business is the continuing debate on the Queen's Speech, which will focus on the cost of living.

It's another busy committee day - the Defence Committee (at 2.30pm) takes evidence on cyber security with the Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey MP.

And the Public Accounts Committee turns its beady eyes on the Regional Growth Fund. The latest NAO report said the £1.4bn funding could result in 41,000 extra private sector jobs but thousands more could have been created from the same resources. Witnesses are Sir Bob Kerslake, permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government; and Martin Donnelly, Permanent Secretary, BIS. Continuing the employment theme, the skills minister, John Hayes, is before the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee (at 9.15am) talking about apprenticeships.

The Education Committee (at 9.30am) hears from members of the Royal College of Paediatrics about the effectiveness or otherwise of the child protection system - topical in the light of the Rochdale case. And the Environmental Audit Committee (at 2.15pm) continues its inquiry into wildlife crime - including the illicit trade in products made from endangered species, like rhino horn.

The Lords continue their Queen's Speech debate, with a debate covering agriculture, business and the economy - with an amendment down from Labour's leader, Lady Royall. Freely translated it will read: "Thanks for the speech, Ma'am, but the content offered up by the government is pants." The vote on that is expected at about 10pm - and it will be interesting to see if the inclusion of Lords reform in the government programme has any impact on the voting at this early stage.

On Thursday, the Energy Secretary Ed Davey fields questions from MPs. It's a fair bet that someone will ask about the government's proposal to build new nuclear power stations - given the increasing questions about the financial viability of the programme. The Leader of the House will announce what MPs will be debating in the following week, and then it's back to the Queen's Speech - with the theme for the final day of debate jobs and growth.

There are a couple of committees in action: the Energy and Climate Change Committee (at 9.05am) continues its look at the prospects for the UNFCCC COP 18 international climate negotiations in Doha this December. At issue: what a legally binding global framework to reduce emissions should look like; whether there will be sufficient finance committed to fund the various UNFCCC programmes and commitments; and whether the UK should pursue an agreement to reduce emissions through other forums.

And the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee (at 10am) looks at an issue which did not appear in the Queen's Speech - the government's commitment to introduce a statutory register of lobbyists. In the dock, sorry, witnesses' seat will be Mark Harper, minister for political and constitutional reform.

The Lords (sitting from 11am) stagger to the finishing line of their Queen's Speech debate, focusing on defence, foreign affairs and international development.

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

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