Week ahead

Flags Image copyright European Photopress Agency
Image caption The House of Lords will be debating the outcome of the EU referendum

Next week MPs will debate courts and tribunals fees, expressive arts subjects, online abuse and the UK's creative industries. But hang on a minute; isn't there some big subject missing?

On Tuesday and Wednesday, their Lordships have a full-dress, two-day debate on Brexit, with (so far) 122 peers down to speak; so many, in fact, that the House has decided on an early start, and will swing into action at 11.30am.

No such debate is on offer in the Commons - where MPs have had to make do with two statements by the prime minister.

In truth, next week's parliamentary agenda rather pales beside the high drama of resignations and leadership crises besetting both main parties.

Half the interest in next week's events lies in their potential for theatre around these events, with blue on blue, and red on red incidents possible at every turn. None of the Cabinet contenders for the Tory crown has a question time opportunity to strut their stuff at the despatch box, and in any event I doubt the resignation-ravaged Labour front bench is in any shape to attempt to monster them.

But there's still plenty of opportunity for those further down the food chain to audition for greatness and hope to be noticed.

On the subject of Labour's woes, the Speaker has not heard the last from the SNP and, indeed Plaid Cymru, in their bid to cash in on their troubles by assuming the role of the official Opposition.

With the Wales Bill due for detailed consideration this week, Plaid Cymru's Westminster group leader, Hywel Williams, says that following the mass resignations from the Labour shadow cabinet, Labour do not have a shadow secretary of state for Wales, or a shadow Wales Office minister, so they cannot be deemed fit to carry out the role of the official Opposition - which he would be happy to assume.

And I'm pretty sure the SNP will try another stratagem, in their attempt to shove Labour off the Opposition front bench.

Here's my rundown of the week ahead:


The Commons meets at 2.30pm for Education questions - and that is followed by two Estimates Day debates on courts and tribunals fees and on energy spending priorities. (There are three Estimates Days a year, which focus on the estimates of public spending by government departments. The topics are chosen by the Liaison Committee and follow up on select committee reports.)

The adjournment debate, led by the Conservative James Cleverly, rehearses a rivalry more primal than anything in either party leadership - it marks the tercentenary of the Royal Regiment of Artillery and the Corps of Royal Engineers. For the Gunners, Mr Cleverly is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Artillery, and for the Sappers: Defence Minister Mark Lancaster, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Engineers. Both, doubtless, sporting full regimental superiority.

In Westminster Hall (4.30pm-7.30pm) MPs will debate e-petition 111731 complaining about the exclusion from the English Baccalaureate, or Ebacc, of art, music, drama and other expressive subjects. The petition, which attracted 102,499 signatures, argues that this is "limiting, short sighted and cruel".

In the Lords (2.30pm) the usual half hour of questions to ministers will be followed by the second day of detailed, committee consideration of the Bus Services Bill - key issues include the secretary of state's role on local authority bus deregulation, the ban on local authority municipal bus services; and disability access on buses.

The dinner break debate is the regret motion - with a likely vote - from Labour's Lord Hunt of King's Heath, on the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations in relation to e-cigarettes.


The Commons meets at 11.30am for Health questions, followed by a brief canter through the formalities of the Supply and Appropriation (Main Estimates) Bill.

Then the main business is the first committee stage day on the Wales Bill - which sets out the powers and responsibilities of the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh government for the foreseeable future.

With no Labour team in place, most of the amendments come from Plaid Cymru or the Welsh Lib Dem, Mark Williams - although there is one co-signed by Jeremy Corbyn and his Chief Whip Rosie Winterton. It will be interesting to see who bats for Labour; Paul Flynn again?

There's a very topical adjournment. Labour's Yasmin Qureshi raises the effect of the EU Referendum on the incidence of race hate crime.

Image caption Lord Lawson is one of the few peers to have supported the Leave campaign, for the UK to exit from the European Union

In Westminster Hall, the subjects for debate are: employment for people with disabilities (9.30am -11am); commemoration of contribution of (Plaid Cymru patriarch) Gwynfor Evans to Welsh politics (11am-11.30am); regional differences in energy network charges (2.30pm-4pm); provision of services for asylum seekers in Glasgow (4pm - 4.30pm), and dormant betting accounts (4.30pm-5.30pm).

In the Lords (11.30am) peers begin their set-piece debate on Brexit. It's always worth remembering that noble lords are (a) more Europhile to start with than the Commons, and (b) unencumbered by any worries about offending constituents. One point to watch will be the performance (and reception) of the pro-Brexit peers, the former Chancellor Lord Lawson, the former foreign secretary Lord Owen, plus UKIP's two peers, Lord Pearson of Rannoch and Lord Willoughby de Broke.


The Commons meets at 11.30am for Scotland questions, followed, at noon by Prime Minister's Questions.

Next, doubtless, will come a mega-statement on the long-awaited Chilcot Report in the Iraq war. A huge occasion.

The main debate is on a Labour Opposition Day motion, on a subject to be announced.

The adjournment, led by Labour's Ann Coffey, is on the cross-examination of vulnerable witnesses.

In Westminster Hall, MPs debate: artistic remuneration for online content (9.30am-11am); advice and guidance on pension freedoms (11am-11.30am); broadband in Wales (2.30pm-4pm); doping and the Olympic Games (4pm-4.30pm) and electric and hybrid electric cars (4.30pm-5.30pm).

In the Lords (3pm) the debate on Brexit continues into day two...


The Commons meets at 9.30am for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs questions, followed by mini-question times for the MPs who speak for the Church Commissioners, the Public Accounts Commission and the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission.

Then comes the weekly Business Statement from the Leader of the House, Chris Grayling.

The rest of the day is given over to backbench business, starting with a statement from the chair of the Defence Committee, Dr Julian Lewis, on their report on Russia: Implications for UK defence and security.

Then MPs move on to debate on a motion on online abuse - former Cabinet minister Maria Miller, who is one of the leading figures in the Reclaim the Internet Campaign, which campaigns against abuse and bullying online leads proceedings.

That is followed by a general debate on support for the UK's creative industries and their contribution to the economy led by Chris White, Julie Elliott, Michelle Thomson and Chris Law. And the adjournment debate is on human rights in Sri Lanka - led by Labour's Wes Streeting

In Westminster Hall (1.30pm- 4.30pm) there's a debate on blood cancers and the Cancer Drugs Fund - led by the DUP's Jim Shannon and the Conservative, Henry Smith

In the Lords (11am), Conservative debates: first up is on the global opportunities for trade and the need for a comprehensive strategy to encourage and support Britain's businesses to engage internationally.

Second debate - on the roles agriculture and horticulture play in Britain's rural economy and of agricultural science. Lunch break business in-between the two debates is a topical QSD from Oona King on the case for holding a second referendum on the UK's membership of the EU.

Final QSD of the day is on the government's plans to work with other nations to address large movements of refugees and migrants.


The Lords is sitting (10am) to debate private members' bills - the second readings on the Modern Slavery (Transparency in Supply Chains) Bill; the Armed Forces Development (Royal Prerogative) Bill; and the Bread and Flour Regulations (Folic Acid) Bill.

More on this story