Week ahead

David Cameron during the Queen's Speech debate Image copyright PA

It's a different kind of parliamentary week - the Commons and the Lords are both focused on debating the Queen's Speech, and there's no legislation to speak of, and no action in the Commons parallel chamber, Westminster Hall.

So as the discussion unfolds in a series of themed debates, the main points of interest will be where parties or individuals put down markers on the content of the different measures.

Watch out for comment from the increasingly influential select committee chairs weighing in on such subjects as the sugary drinks tax (Sarah Wollaston of the Health Committee); the implications of the Counter-Extremism Bill (Harriet Harman of the Joint Human Rights Committee), and the Prisons and Courts Bill (Bob Neill of the Justice Committee).

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Media captionQueen’s Speech: What next?

The other thing to watch for in the Commons is the performance of the new intake. In their first Queen's Speech debate, a year ago, they were still finding their feet; now they have a chance to show what they can do, and the government whips have tipped the wink to their backbenchers that Tory talent-spotters will be looking to identify those new MPs who might be ministerial timbre.

But some may be aiming for a different audience. There's a subspecies of new-generation MP whose aim is to carve a career on the committee corridor, so they will be making their pitch as independent-minded and original thinkers, and they will be aiming as much at the other parties as at their own side.

Meanwhile, having pulled off one successful coup with their TTIP amendment, the cross-party alliance of Brexiteers will be hoping for a few more. There's a conscious strategy to use parliamentary theatre to put pro-Brexit points across., and I would be surprised if they rested on their laurels.

Here's my rundown of the rather pared-down parliamentary calendar for the coming week:


In the Commons (2.30pm) the debate on the Queen's Speech continues; the theme of the day is defending public services - where TTIP might come up. There's no departmental question time.

The adjournment debate, led by the Conservative John Glen, is on the work and oversight of the Advertising Standards Authority.

In the Lords (2.30pm) after the usual half hour of questions to ministers, peers resume their Queen's Speech debate, where the topics will be foreign and European affairs, international development and defence.


The Commons opens (11.30am) with Foreign Office questions, and then MPs continue their Queen's Speech debate, where the theme for the day will be Europe, human rights and keeping people safe, at home and abroad.

The adjournment debate is on the budget for community pharmacies - led by Labour's Michael Dugher.

In the Lords from 2.30pm, the Queen's Speech will cover home, legal, constitutional and devolved affairs.


The Commons day begins (at 11.30am) with Welsh questions, followed at noon by the first PMQs of the new parliamentary year. Then there's the final segment of the Queen's Speech debate, covering the economy and work.

The adjournment debate is on the centenary of the Battle of Jutland - led by the Portsmouth MP Flick Drummond.

In the Lords (3pm) peers' Queen's Speech debate concludes with a session on economic affairs, energy, environment, local government and transport.


The Commons opens (9.30am) with a mini-question time for the Attorney-General, followed at 9.55am by Women and Equalities questions. Then the Leader of the House, Chris Grayling will deliver his weekly announcement of forthcoming Commons business.

The adjournment debate is on the Coal Authority and compensation procedures - led by Labour MP Adrian Bailey.

In the Lords from 11am the main debates are on issues chosen by Lib Dem peers.

First, the case for improved individual school capacity to deal with commonly occurring special educational needs and disabilities - led by Lord Addington.

Then, there's a short debate on ensuring every eligible young voter is registered to vote ahead of the EU referendum - led by Lord Roberts of Llandudno, and finally on the Five Year Forward Review for mental health recommendations and the case for ensuring equal access to mental and physical healthcare - led by Baroness Brinton.