Week ahead

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Image caption Will Southern Rail's performance be discussed at this week's Transport Committee session

There are strong signals this this is going to be Heathrow Week - with the government at least indicating its preference on the issue of airport expansion in the South of England.

Expect a massive row - the more so because a decision in favour of Heathrow expansion has already been heavily trailed.

Elsewhere, watch out for the next private member's bill in the Commons pecking order, with ministers under pressure to support Bob Blackman's Homelessness Reduction Bill.

After this week's increasingly irritable exchanges over the Sexual Offences (Pardons) Bill the government's approach to private members' bills is under scrutiny, not least because the Commons Procedure Committee is pressing for sweeping reform of the whole process.

Here's my rundown of the week ahead:


The Commons opens (2.30pm) with Communities and Local Government questions - watch out for attempts to secure the support of the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, for his Conservative colleague Bob Blackman's Homelessness Reduction Bill - a private member's bill heavily supported by the CLG select committee, which is first up for debate on Friday.

As usual, any post-weekend urgent questions or statements will follow at 3.30pm - with Theresa May expected to report back on the latest European Council meeting.

The day's legislating is the second reading of the Health Service Medical Supplies (Costs) Bill - which would amend the National Health Service Act 2006 to put beyond doubt that the government can require companies in the statutory scheme to make payments to control the cost of health service medicines.

These payments can be either instead of, or in combination with, measures to limit prices directly or control their profits. The bill would also allow the government to apply penalties for non-compliance and to recover any payments owed through the courts following a right of appeal to a tribunal.

In Westminster Hall (4.30pm- 7.30pm) MPs will debate e-petition 125475 on the Local Government Pension Scheme: "Five million people rely on the LGPS to pay their pensions. Government wants powers over LGPS investment funds, but they could gamble away members' money on infrastructure projects. This is not allowed in any other UK scheme, including the MPs'. The LGPS must be invested in members' best interests."

Committee of the day (4.05pm) is the Transport Committee hearing on Rail Franchise Agreements with questions being asked about whether they are delivering a good service for passengers. The witnesses include Network Rail and the RMT and ASLEF unions. And the crisis hitting the Southern Railway (GTR) network looks likely to come up.

In the Lords (2.30pm) peers move to day two, of the Bus Services Bill report stage. The issues include disability access, rights on municipally owned buses and the social value of buses. This is followed by a series of debates on orders on everything from the misuse of drugs to self-build housing. One, on contracting-out functions relating to Royal Parks, will be the subject of a regret motion from Labour's Lord Stevenson, but it is not expected to be pushed to a vote.


The Commons opens (11.30am) with Treasury questions. Then the Conservative, Victoria Prentis, presents a Ten Minute Rule Bill to require mandatory local consultation for changes in services proposed by NHS Trusts and healthcare commissioning authorities.

This may be the day of the long-awaited statement by the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, announcing his decision on whether to permit a third runway at Heathrow. If it does happen, this will probably be the biggest parliamentary event of the week, even though an actual Commons vote would not then happen for another year, or more. A Labour Opposition Day motion, on a subject to be announced, will then follow.

In Westminster Hall, my pick of the debates is Stephen Kinnock's on the effect on funding for Wales of the UK leaving the EU (9.30am-11am); Pete Wishart on the future of plumbers' pensions (11am- 11.30am) and Andrew Rosindell on government policy on the British Indian Ocean Territory and the Chagos Islands (2.30pm-4pm).

My committee of the day is the Environmental Audit Committee hearing (11.30am) on what Brexit means for the environment, with first Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency; and then the DEFRA Secretary Andrea Leadsom (12.15pm). This committee has become notably harder-hitting in this Parliament....

In the Lords (2.30pm) the second reading of the National Citizens Service Bill, which puts the existing Service on a statutory footing, is not controversial and should not detain peers for long. This is followed by two SIs: the first on civil legal aid, and the second on Contracts for Difference (an energy SI).

Dinner break business is a QSD from Margaret Wheeler on the government's response to the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman's Report of Investigations into unsafe discharge from hospital


The Commons opens (11.30am) with Northern Ireland questions, followed, at noon by Prime Minister's questions.

The Ten Minute Rule Bill, from the Labour MP Steve Reed, aims to extend parental leave for parents of premature babies - it supports a campaign by groups like Smallest Things and Bliss. Current provision lacks flexibility these parents need to care for premature babies struggling for their life. Many parents end up losing their job or seriously in debt as well as the trauma of having such a sick child.

Then MPs will be asked to approve or reject Lords amendments to the Investigatory Powers Bill - which is being fast-tracked to ensure it is in force when existing powers lapse at the end of the year.

Committee pick of the day is the Northern Ireland Affairs hearing (9.30am) on government support for UK Victims of IRA attacks that used Gaddafi-supplied Semtex and weapons; where the former foreign secretary Jack Straw will be the star witness. The inquiry examines why the victims of terrorist attacks using Libyan supplied arms have not received compensation from Libya, unlike victims from other nations.

In the Lords (3pm) peers have their second committee stage day on the Policing and Crime Bill; key issues include statutory duty of flooding, police/media collusion, whistle-blowing and the IPCC, and powers of police volunteers and special constables. During the dinner break there is a short debate on the government's policy on offender training entrepreneurship. The promised amendment on a pardon for gay men for convictions for sexual offence which are no longer a crime, is not expected until November.


The Commons meets at 9am for the mini-question times for the Attorney General and the Minister for Women and Equalities, followed by the weekly Business Statement from the Leader of the House, David Lidington.

The afternoon's Backbench Business debate is on the UK Youth Parliament Select Committee report on young people's mental health - which highlights the scale of mental illness amongst young people and the need for better provision.

Meanwhile in Westminster Hall (1.30pm) MPs debate two reports from the Defence Committee: Shifting the goalposts? Defence expenditure and the 2% pledge, and An acceptable risk? The use of Lariam for military personnel, HC 567, and the government response. Committee Chair Dr Julian Lewis ringmasters proceedings.

In the Lords (11am) most of the day is devoted to Conservative debates: firstly on the opportunities presented by the UK's departure from the EU for the promotion of global free trade, and the impact on domestic and international trade; and secondly, on the government's plans to promote social mobility.

Between them, there will be a short debate on the likelihood of there being a solution to the situation in Cyprus before the end of 2016.


It's the second private members' bill day in the Commons (from 9.30am) where the first bill on the agenda is the Conservative former council leader Bob Blackman's Homelessness Reduction Bill, which aims to place much greater emphasis on local authorities taking preventative measures to help address homelessness before it occurs, and strengthens the provisions for 'non-priority need' households.

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The bill is strongly backed by the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, of which Mr Blackman is a member, and which has focused strongly on homelessness in this Parliament.

Further down the agenda are the Steve McCabe's Protection of Family Homes (Enforcement and Permitted Development) Bill and Geraint Davies' UK Environmental Protection (Maintenance of EU Standards) Bill, which may or may not be debated, depending on how long is spent on Mr Blackman's.

The previous week saw a number of bills pulled from slots lower down the agenda, suggesting a bit of tactical thinking by promoters of various measures, so keep an eye out for changes.

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