- 29 June 2012
- From the section UK Politics
The Treasury Committee's promised session with Barclays Chief Executive Bob Diamond should be at least as headline grabbing as the famous hearing which produced the mass grovel by bank bosses at the start of the credit crunch.
The word is that he will appear in the week of 9 July - but it's possible preparatory hearings, perhaps with ministers, or regulators, may be scheduled for this week. The Treasury Committee has cancelled its planned activities to concentrate on the interest rate fixing scandal. And, as during the credit crunch, their deliberations could well have big ramifications for the regulation of the whole sector.
Watch out, too, for David Cameron's post-EU summit statement to the Commons, not least because of a new upsurge in backbench demands for some kind of EU referendum.
The Conservative John Baron has led one effort and is involved in the second, in which the veteran eurosceptic Bill Cash has revived his bill to hold a referendum on any moves towards fiscal union or economic governance within the eurozone.
He's backed by five other select committee chairman and prominent eurosceptics from the new intake - Bernard Jenkin, John Whittingdale, John Redwood, John Baron, Greg Knight, Graham Stuart, Richard Shepherd, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Chris Heaton-Harris, Zac Goldsmith and Peter Bone. The bill is scheduled for debate way down the order paper on Friday - so it will probably not be reached unless someone manages some fancy footwork. But it could well be mentioned in other contexts.
Monday in the Commons opens (at 2.30pm) with Communities and Local Government Questions. That may be followed by the prime minister's EU statement, and then MPs move on to the Finance Bill report stage debates.
On the committee corridor, as is usual on a Monday, business is light; the Public Accounts Committee (at 3.15pm) takes evidence on the Energy Landscape Review and the Communities and Local Government Committee (at 4.15pm) launches its new inquiry into Councillors and the Community with evidence from academic experts the Local Government Association. The thrust of this inquiry is that most elected councillors are white males in their 60s and that there is an urgent need for more representative, er, representatives in town halls.
In the Lords, peers warm up with questions on civil service numbers and release plans for prisoners on indeterminate sentences for public protection, before moving on to their fifth day of detailed committee scrutiny of the Crime and Courts Bill (the bill to create the new National Crime agency and make changes to the running of the courts).
On Tuesday the Commons kicks off with questions to Justice Secretary Ken Clarke. That's followed be a Ten Minute Rule Bill from the Conservative Oliver Colvile: the Honours (Equality of Titles for Partners) Bill. Then MPs polish off the Finance Bill with day two of the report stage, followed by the third reading. The day ends with an adjournment debate on violence against health workers, led by Labour's Nic Dakin.
On the committee corridor a couple of Treasury Committee sessions have been cancelled - presumably to make way for hearings on the interest rate fixing scandal; watch this space.
The International Development Committee (at 10.30am) opens its inquiry into The Future of Afghanistan: Development Progress and Prospects after 2014. The committee will be asking about progress in development in Afghanistan since their last visit in 2007 and the prospects after Nato hands responsibility for security to Afghan forces in 2014.
Sparks may fly at the Public Administration Committee's valedictory hearing with Dame Suzi Leather, the outgoing chair of the Charity Commission (at 10.30am). In the past, the committee has been scathing about the charitable status allowed for what it regards as openly party political think-tanks and lobby groups. They may be minded to fire some parting shots at Dame Suzi and some warning shots at her successor.
The Transport Committee (at 10.45am) has another new inquiry - into road freight. The Road Haulage Association, the Freight Transport Association and Transport Minister Mike Penning form the guest list. Mr Penning has clashed with the Committee Chair Louise Ellman in the past - but relations are now said to be a little more cordial.
As has become its habit, the Home Affairs Committee (at 11am) canters through a variety of subjects in a single, long, sitting. First they continue their inquiry into localised child grooming, inspired by the horrific Rochdale case, with evidence from the children's minister, Tim Loughton. Then they move onto a session entitled Valuing the Police, with the departing Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Denis O'Connor. Then they move onto their continuing inquiry into drugs with evidence from prison service officials and from the Justice Secretary Ken Clarke.
The Defence Committee (at 2.45pm) join the throng of select committees investigating the implications of Scottish independence. The Scottish Affairs Committee has already heard evidence about the chances of the Royal Navy continuing to build ships in Glasgow, in the event of independence, and this inquiry will cover the ramifications for the nuclear submarine fleet and for Scottish regiments, among many other subjects.
Across the Palace, the Lords European Union Committee (at 4.10pm) will hear from the Minister for Europe, David Lidington, on the outcome of the latest EU summit. Meanwhile the Lords Constitution Committee (at 10.30am) looks at the accountability of civil servants.
In the Lords proper, there are questions on the distribution of NHS spending across England, assistance to first time house-buyers and the immigration status of overseas students, before peers move on to the second day of committee scrutiny of the Financial Services Bill - only six more to go..... and there's a short debate on access to water in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank led by the Lib Dem, Baroness Brinton.
On Wednesday the Commons convenes at 11.30am for Northern Ireland and PMQs.
Then there are two debates inspired by select committee reports - on the work of the UK Border Agency, then on UK-Turkey relations and Turkey's regional role. The adjournment debate is on the Navitas wind farm, Swanage - led by the Conservative, Richard Drax.
Wednesday is not quite as frenetic as usual on the committee corridor. The Education Committee (at 9.30am) has a one-off evidence session on child destitution, with The Children's Society and the Children and Families Minister Sarah Teather plus the Immigration Minister Damian Green. Over at the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee (at 3pm) there is a "follow-up" evidence session with the Universities Minister, David Willetts, who had such a duffing-up on his previous appearance that they've called him back for another go.
In the Lords (from 3pm), question time ranges from economic policy to uninsured drivers, to illegal elephant poaching and ivory sales. Then peers turn to the third reading of the European Union (Approval of Treaty Amendment Decision) Bill - which will signal British acquiescence to the new financial stability mechanisms set up for the eurozone. There have not been many fireworks over this, so far, but given the recent rise in eurosceptic activity in Westminster, I wonder..... Lord Howell of Guildford leads for the government. Then it's back to the committee stage of the Crime and Courts Bill.
And there's a short debate on the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, led by the former Health Secretary, Lord Fowler.
And so to Thursday. The Commons meets at 10.30am for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Questions, and then the monthly catch-all session for the Church Commissioners, the Public Accounts Commission and the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission.
The it's backbench debates - with Public Administration Select Committee chair Bernard Jenkin leading a debate on his committee's long-standing recommendation to beef up the powers of the prime minister's adviser on ministers' interests - a subject of renewed interest in the light of the Jeremy Hunt/News International imbroglio. That is followed by a debate on VAT on air ambulance fuel payments, led by Guy Opperman and Hugh Bayley.
The adjournment debate is on female genital mutilation among at-risk girls - led by the Conservative Jane Ellison.
It's another light day on the committee corridor, with the Environmental Audit Committee (at 2.15pm) continuing its inquiry into protecting the Arctic, with evidence from Foreign Office Minister Henry Bellingham. The Political and Constitutional Affairs Committee (at 10am) hears from the Law Commission, in its inquiry into the quality of new laws.
The Lords open for business at 11am. After 30 minutes of questions, there's a debate on the competitiveness of UK industry led by the Conservative former Cabinet minister Lord (Patrick) Jenkin.
Then the Lords discuss some draft orders under the 2003 Sexual Offences Act. The Supreme Court has ruled that the indefinite notification requirements for sex offenders, with no opportunity for review, are incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Now the government wants to introduce a mechanism for reviewing the requirements. Offenders would be entitled to make an application 15 years after their release from custody - and the government insists that public safety will always be the first priority and that sex offenders who continue to pose a risk will remain on the register for life, if necessary.
Friday sees the opening of the new private members' bill season with a series of second reading debates (starting at 9.30am) - with Labour's John McDonnell introducing his Bank of England (Appointment of Governor) Bill - which gives the Treasury Committee power to veto appointments to what is probably the most powerful quango post in the land.
This is the second session running where Mr McDonnell has topped the private members' bill ballot - a fluke which he is exploiting to maximum advantage. Expect some heavyweight support from select committee land, and not just from the Treasury Committee; this is a principle which other committees would like to see extended to other key quangocrats.
Next up is Sir Paul Beresford's Prisons (Interference with Wireless Telegraphy) Bill - which would allow prisons to block mobile phone signals, making it pointless to smuggle phones in. Fresh from his coup in extending the law on abuse of children and vulnerable people, Sir Paul has the support of the Ministry of Justice. But his pet scheme to extend the principle further and allow schools to block mobile signals as well might be a bit more contentious.
The bills further down the list - Simon Kirby's Disabled Persons' Parking Badges Bill and especially Bill Cash's European Union Act 2011 (Amendment) Bill - see above - are less likely to be debated.
And the week ends with an adjournment debate on the regulation and inspection of childminders, led by former Home Office minister, Meg Hillier.
The Lords are not sitting.