The week ahead in Parliament

Chancellor Rishi Sunak on a visit to a shopping centre Image copyright AFP

MPs will spend most of the coming week talking about money.

The central event will be a financial statement from Chancellor Rishi Sunak, with an economic debate to follow.

And the main Commons debates on Tuesdays and Wednesdays are Estimates Day debates. These will focus on particular aspects of government spending, chosen via the backbench business committee.

These debates are an opportunity to air concerns about spending. An estimate selected for debate can be amended, but only reductions to the estimate can be proposed; it's not open to MPs to propose increasing spending through this mechanism.

Once the estimates have been agreed, they're put into legislative form through a Supply and Appropriation Bill.

Read full article The week ahead in Parliament

The week ahead in Parliament

Palace of Westminster Image copyright Getty Images

The lesson of the last few weeks is that the government's majority is not quite as solid as the raw Commons numbers make it appear, and that Conservative backbenchers, especially heavy metal ex-ministers, have few inhibitions about putting down serious amendments to government legislation.

This week sees one case in point, in the shape of the amendment on family reunion for children to the Immigration Bill, which could make life interesting for the whips.

Read full article The week ahead in Parliament

The week ahead in Parliament

Palace of Westminster Image copyright Getty Images

Non-Covid and non-Brexit controversies loom in the Commons agenda, as MPs debate the actions of Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick and the rules for their new independent complaints system to address harassment and bullying claims.

And there's also a whole lot of law-making going on, with MPs processing bills on extradition and medical regulation, while in the Lords the government will be hoping to fend off peers intent on re-writing sections of the Fisheries Bill.

Read full article The week ahead in Parliament

The week ahead in Parliament

Westminster Image copyright PA Media

A bit of normal Westminster politics seems to be seeping back into the pandemic Parliament, with the government facing a couple of possible defeats in the Lords, a cabinet minister facing a difficult question time in the Commons, and the faith, family and flag wing of the Conservative Party on manoeuvres over divorce reform.

Plenty of important law-making continues, not least Commons and Lords debates on the regulations which will ease the lockdown.

Read full article The week ahead in Parliament

The week ahead in Parliament

Queue Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Is queuing the way of the future? Many MPs hope not

Parliament's new normal is still not very normal. True, bill committees are back, with the Finance Bill, the Domestic Abuse Bill and the Immigration Bill among those under detailed scrutiny in the larger committee rooms, where social distancing is possible.

This week also sees the return of Ten Minute Rule bills, with a couple of interesting legislative proposals on regulating London pedicabs and on local energy. These are often put down more to make a point than in any serious hope that they will become legislation, but it has happened in living memory.

Read full article The week ahead in Parliament

Boris Johnson could regret virtual Parliament victory

MPs lining up to vote in the Commons chamber Image copyright HoC
Image caption MPs lining up to vote

This is what a working majority feels like.

The government's emphatic defeat of moves to bring back online voting for MPs unable to attend Westminster during the pandemic shows that it can comfortably see off the kind of rebellion that plagued Theresa May, and always threatened David Cameron (in his post-coalition mini-majority phase).

Read full article Boris Johnson could regret virtual Parliament victory

The 'Mogg Conga'

MPs lining up to vote in the Commons chamber Image copyright HoC
Image caption MPs lining up to vote

Comedy gold…. In theory, what one MP called the "Mogg Conga," the Commons new socially distanced method of voting is perfectly simple.

A queue of honourable members snaked around the Palace of Westminster, back as far as the parliamentary offices at Portcullis House (quite a long way!) and slowly filed into their Chamber, marching left of the Mace to vote "Aye" and right of the Mace to vote "No" and should produce a steady flow of votes - simple in theory, but the practice was a bit messier.

Read full article The 'Mogg Conga'

The week ahead in Parliament

Sir Lindsay Hoyle Image copyright EPA
Image caption The Speaker says he won't allow MPs to crowd in to the chamber

The House of Commons that resumes business on Tuesday will be neither virtual, nor normal.

After several weeks when MPs were actively discouraged from attending Westminster, they will be back, but the strictures of social distancing will mean normal parliamentary socialising - chats in the Tearoom, coffee-filled gossip sessions in Portcullis House, meals in the Members' Dining Room, and all the rest, will still not be possible.

Read full article The week ahead in Parliament

Liaison Committee will challenge Boris Johnson's style

Boris Johnson Image copyright UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor
Image caption Boris Johnson at PMQs

Since Tony Blair first appeared before the Commons Liaison Committee back in July 2002, the bi-annual questioning of the PM by select committee chairs has tended to disappoint.

Quiet, civilised and focussed on detail, while PMQs is (or used to be, pre-COVID-19) shouty and confrontational, a media reared on the knockabout in the Commons chamber found the 90-minute sessions a let-down.

Read full article Liaison Committee will challenge Boris Johnson's style

Role of PM's inquisitor to be decided

Theresa May addresses MPs Image copyright PA
Image caption Theresa May appeared before MPs on the Liaison Committee several times

Should the prime minister choose the individual who leads his (theoretically) twice-yearly questioning?

Since the days of Tony Blair, the prime minister has faced regular questioning by the Commons Liaison Committee, the super-committee made up of the MPs who chair the select committees.

Read full article Role of PM's inquisitor to be decided