Week ahead

There's a packed programme in Westminster next week, with plenty of potential for backbench drama and party battles - as well as some high profile select committee business.

On Monday the Commons opens for business with Defence questions, and that will be followed by a statement on the latest EU summit by David Cameron. With the prime minister hinting at a promise of an EU referendum, he can expect to face some pretty determined cross examination from his own eurosceptics as well as from Labour.

That's followed by a debate on the Hillsborough disaster following the report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel in September. Expect individual MPs to major on different aspects of the 395-page report and the vast body of supporting documentation published by the panel. And expect calls for the government to provide the resources to allow the courts, the IPCC and the coroner to provide definitive answers to the many remaining questions about the tragedy.

Meanwhile in Westminster Hall (4.30pm - 7.30pm), the Conservative Edward Garnier leads a debate on children's cardiac surgery at the East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre at Glenfield, Leicester. The debate was prompted by an e-petition signed by more than 100,000 people which called for the government to save the centre. Former minister Mr Garnier will call on the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to reprieve what he says is a state-of-the-art cardiac unit.

On the committee corridor, Erkki Liikanen, chairman of the group reforming the structure of the EU banking sector, appears before the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards (at 2.30pm) to discuss the report his group recently published on banking reform and how this might affect the government's draft Banking Reform Bill. And the Communities and Local Government Committee (at 4pm) continues its wide ranging inquiry into how to make more people from all walks of life want to serve as a councillor.

Over in the Lords, question time covers the new English Baccalaureate and government plans for making the case for UK membership of the EU - if any. Then peers move on to the third reading of the Local Government Finance Bill, which covers council tax benefit, business rates and other issues. Labour is planning to put down amendments, including a call for an independent review of CT reduction schemes, for guidance to local authorities on who should be considered "vulnerable" and so entitled to a Council Tax discount.

That is followed by a short debate on the economic impact and effectiveness of development aid, based on a report by the Lords Economic Affairs Committee. A planned short debate on Hillsborough, secured by the former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer, has been postponed, because the Bishop of Liverpool is not available to speak.

On Tuesday, the Commons convenes at 10.30am for health questions. There's a ten minute rule bill on careers advice in schools for 12 to 16-year-olds, proposed by the Lib Dem, Gordon Birtwistle. Then MPs debate a motion to approve a financial resolution relating to an HGV Road User Levy Bill, and a motion to approve a money resolution on the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Bill.

In Westminster Hall, from 9.30am there are a series of debates led by backbenchers. The subjects include transport infrastructure in Essex, the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and households in fuel poverty.

The top select committee hearing will doubtless be the Culture, Media and Sport Committee session (at 10.30am) with the new Director-General of the BBC, George Entwistle, on the BBC's response to the Jimmy Savile case. The committee is still a little under strength, after a number of its members were promoted in the reshuffle, and departed for other reasons...but it has been joined by the former Culture Secretary, Ben Bradshaw.

The Energy and Climate Change committee (at 9.15am) has a session on the issues involved in building new nuclear power stations - can the finance be raised? Will the public accept them? Do we actually have the ability to build them, in any case? And what will be the consequences of failing to build them - will we lose our nuclear industry without new power stations? A host of expert witnesses give their views.

And the Justice Committee (at 9.45pm) has its turn investigating the courts' interpreting and translation services and the contract to provide them by Applied Language Solutions, who were monstered by the Public Accounts Committee last week.

Finally the Home Affairs Committee (at 2.45pm) has one of its multi-headed evidence sessions, with witnesses on the Independent Police Complaints Commission and on localised child grooming.

In the Lords, question time subjects include a review of the status of UK membership of the European Defence Agency. Then peers move on to some rapid legislating. They start with the the third reading of the Trusts (Capital and Income) Bill, and then the Infrastructure (Financial Assistance) Bill is pushed through all its stages in a single day - watch out for Lord Andrew Adonis's return to the front bench to lead for Labour - while Lib Dem Chief Whip Lord Newby leads for the Coalition. Then Labour's Baroness Smith of Basildon continues a recent trend for "regret motions" against regulations brought forward by the government by bringing one against a statement of changes in immigration rules.

On Wednesday in the Commons (from 11.30am), Northern Ireland Questions are followed by the usual high noon duel of PMQs. And then, hostilities will be resumed when Labour launch an opposition day debate on the police - will the motion still include a reference to the former-Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell, and his alleged use of the word "plebs" to describe officers in Downing Street?

The adjournment debate, led by the Conservative Mark Menzies, is on the regulation of onshore gas exploration and extraction - this could be interesting; he's a former PPS in the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and represents a seat in Lancashire, where much of the exploration for shale gas reserves is concentrated. He plans to raise issues around the regulations surrounding shale gas and enforcement of those regulations.

Meanwhile, in the less frenzied atmosphere of Westminster Hall, the subjects of backbench debates include off-shore wind generation in North Wales, stillbirth certification and discrimination against the Baha'i community in Iran.

The day's committee business includes the Justice Committee's annual session (at 9.30am) with the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve. His recent ruling that the government does not have to release Prince Charles's letters to ministers is pretty certain to come up. There's also another meeting of the now hyper-active Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, with Martin Wheatley, who produced a report on the Libor-fixing scandal.

In the Lords (at 3pm), questions range from the passenger service to the Isles of Scilly following the closure of the helicopter service, to ensuring the government's pupil premium benefits individual children. The main event of the day will be continued committee stage debate on the Financial Services Bill - with Labour promising a "Wonga amendment" to clamp down on payday lenders. And there will also be a short debate on piracy in the Indian Ocean.

On Thursday, bleary-eyed MPs take their seats in the Commons at 9.30am for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, questions - followed by questions to the various senior MPs who speak for the Church Commissioners, Public Accounts Commission and the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission. One face which will be missing is that of the late Sir Stuart Bell, who, for a long time, spoke on behalf of the Church Commissioners.

That is followed by the weekly statement on forthcoming Commons business, by the Leader of the House, Andrew Lansley. And the rest of the day is devoted to debates chosen by the Backbench Business Committee. First up, Sir Malcolm Bruce, chair of the International Development Committee, makes a short statement and takes a couple of questions on his committee's report on DFID's work in Afghanistan.

Then there is a debate on a motion calling on the government to stop the recently-authorised badger cull. There has already been considerable preliminary manoeuvring - the anti-cull lobby has held a meeting with celebrity supporters Brian May and Bill Oddie to woo MPs, and pro-cull MPs are also organising. Even if passed, the motion will not automatically prevent the cull - but it will ratchet up the pressure on ministers.

In the Lords (from 11am), there are a series of debates initiated by backbench peers. The first is on the relationship between media standards and media regulation - led by the crossbench or independent peer Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve. Another crossbencher, the Earl of Listowel, raises the standards of service for looked-after children and response to changes in residential childcare in the light of recent child protection failures; and the Conservative, Lord Lexden, discusses the treatment of homosexual men and women in the developing world.

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