Week ahead

Next week's most intriguing parliamentary event looks set to be the report stage debate on Conservative backbencher Nick de Bois' amendments for mandatory sentences for repeat possession of a knife, by over and under 18s, in the Criminal justice and Courts Bill - which are signed by about 50 Conservative MPs.

The vote could pit Conservatives against their Liberal Democrat coalition partners - leaving the issue to be decided by Labour MPs. There is a distinct possibility that the Conservatives can defeat the Lib Dems with the aid of Labour votes, which could mean coalicious infighting... and perhaps set a precedent for the Lib Dems to pull the same stroke against the Tories.

MPs will also be polishing off the Consumer Rights Bill - and the new legislative action is mostly in the Lords, where the Infrastructure Bill and the Serious Crime Bill debut.

Elsewhere, nominations for the Chair of the Health Select Committee (vacated by Stephen Dorrell) close at 5pm on Tuesday - and his replacement will be voted on, on Wednesday.

Here's my rundown of the main events next week (as always timings will vary if ministerial statements or urgent questions are dropped into the schedule):


The Commons meets at 2.30pm for Education Questions, now an increasingly fractious occasion.

And then the Foreign Secretary William Hague will make a Statement on the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.

The main legislating is the report stage and third reading of the Consumer Rights Bill - which creates a framework for key consumer rights on contracts for goods, services, digital content and unfair terms in consumer contracts.

In the Lords, the Serious Crime Bill becomes the first bill from the Queen's Speech to be launched on its journey through Parliament.

Criticised by some as the sweepings of the Home Office floor, the bill will refine the definition of a serious crime by allowing for the recovery of criminal assets. It re-defines child cruelty to encompass a larger range of victims, including those who've suffered psychological harm and it creates a new offence of possessing paedophile manuals. It also allows people who are suspected of terrorism overseas to be charged in the UK.

Other key issues include proceeds of crime, organised and gang-related crime, drug diluting agents and protection of children.

In the Moses Room - the Lords equivalent of Westminster Hall - there will be a short debate on plans for further decentralisation of the UK in the event of a 'no' vote in the Scottish independence referendum.


The Commons meets at 11.30am for Foreign Office Questions, before MPs move on to the report stage and then third reading of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill. In addition to the de Bois amendments (see above) the Conservative MP Robert Buckland has an amendment down to allow victims in cases of aggravated trespass to sue in the courts, and Labour front-bencher Helen Goodman has a series of amendments aimed at controlling foreign-based internet pornography.

It will be up to the Speaker to decide which amendments are called - but given the level of backbench support for Nick De Bois' proposals, they are likely to get to the wicket.

Over in Westminster Hall there will be the usual series of backbench debates opening with the Conservative Andrew Griffiths raising the need to increase sign-ups to the organ donation register - (9.30 - 11am).

Recent figures showed that ten people in his area of Burton and South Derbyshire died, while waiting for donors to come forward.

In the Lords, from 2.30pm, Peers debate a series of select committee reports on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment, on Personal Services Companies and on youth unemployment.


The Commons opens (at 11.30am) with International Development Questions, followed at noon by Prime Minister's Question Time.

The Labour have their first Opposition Day Debate of the new parliamentary year - on energy prices. They have the option of dividing up their time and staging a second debate, too.

In Westminster Hall, my eye was caught by the Conservative MP Charlotte Leslie's debate on dust pollution and fly infestation in the Avonmouth area of Bristol (4 - 4.30pm). This follows a fly infestation caused by birds pecking at bales of waste which allowed flies to escape and lay eggs all over the town. She is critical of the way the Environment Agency has handled the issue.

In the Lords (from 3pm) Peers get their first look at the Infrastructure Bill, where key issues include the Highways Agency, issues around planning and the Land Registry, energy markets and fracking.

Government whips don't expect too much trouble on that last, controversial issue, although Green Peer Jenny Jones has signalled her opposition to the measure which she says will ride roughshod over the public interest in pursuit of the vested interests and greed of a few."


The Commons meets at 9.30am for Energy and Climate Change Questions, followed by the weekly Business Statement, from the Leader of the House.

MPs will then discuss terrorism proscription order, before moving on to two Backbench Business Committee debates - first on the UK's relationship with Africa and then on defence spending. Watch out for a contribution from the newly anointed Defence Select Committee Chair, Rory Stewart.

The adjournment debate looks interesting.

Former Culture Secretary Maria Miller will be talking about the law on internet revenge pornography - sexually explicit media that is distributed online, without consent of the person pictured, to humiliate them.

Maria Miller warns that It has now become such a problem that a number of states in the US have introduced particular laws to try and tackle revenge porn.

Over in Westminster Hall (1.30 - 4.30pm) there will be a debate on two Political and Constitutional Reform Committee reports - on Parliament's role in conflict decisions and on the need for a constitutional convention for the UK

In the Lords (from 11am) the main event is a Labour debate on their reform proposals for the House of Lords and its place in a wider constitution. This is followed by an important one- hour mini-debate on the threat from the spread of militant aggressive Jihadism in the Middle East.

Final business of the day is on the terrorism proscription order which is also discussed in the Commons.

Neither house sits on Friday.