Commons Gallery: what to watch out for this week
Sebastian Whale looks at what’s coming up in the Chamber and Westminster Hall this week
No let up
More late-night action in the offing for MPs this week, with the EU (Withdrawal) Bill returning to parliament on Monday. Another two days of eight hours debate are scheduled, with day five of the committee stage taking place on Wednesday. Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom confirmed last week that day six, seven and eight of debate would take place on the 12th, 13th and 20th of December, meaning the committee stage will be wrapped up before the Christmas recess. MPs will debate clauses relating to restrictions around EU retained law in devolution legislation delegated powers for devolved authorities, and financial provision and associated powers.
And after the row about the publication of the Brexit impact assessments, David Davis is set for a must-see showdown with MPs on the Exiting the European Union Select Committee at 9.15 on Wednesday morning.
Late on Monday will be Labour frontbencher Jim McMahon’s adjournment debate on universal credit sanctions in greater Manchester. In a piece for The House, the shadow DCLG minister claims problems surrounding the Government’s flagship welfare reform are “fast becoming the issue that constituents are most likely to approach me about”. He writes: “The hardship grows as the caseload grows. “Which is why we need a pause, to review and to refine.”
Backbench business debates
Justice Committee chair Bob Neill will have the first of two backbench business debates on Thursday. Writing in these pages, the Conservative MP says the focus on the crisis across our prison estate has “tapered off” since the general election. “We run the risk of giving the impression that the situation has improved in recent months. The Justice Committee has been very clear – all evidence points firmly to the contrary,” he writes. With “soaring levels” of self-harm and suicides, a considerable increase in violence and the lack of support for acute mental health needs in prisons across the country, the issue should “remain high on the agenda”, Neil writes. Sheryll Murray, Conservative MP for South East Cornwall, will follow with a debate on the UK fishing industry.
It’s looking busy over in Westminster Hall this week. On Tuesday Tory MP Chris Davies will discuss Swansea’s bid to be City of Culture in 2021, and Labour MP Stephen Doughty will mark World Aids Day 2017 later that afternoon. Kicking things off on Wednesday morning is Tory MP Gillian Keegan, who has a debate on youth employment. Stephen Kinnock has a debate on the effect of Israeli demolitions on Palestinian communities, followed by his Labour colleague Neil Coyle’s consideration of government financial support for victims of terror attacks. Former defence minister Sir Mike Penning brings everything to a close with a debate on unduly lenient sentences.
Stop. Hammond time
The pick of the bunch on committee corridor is Philip Hammond’s scheduled evidence session with the Treasury Select Committee (TSC) on Wednesday at 2. Nicky Morgan, chair of the TSC, told The House the Chancellor succeeded in showing the government was about more than just Brexit when he delivered his Budget on 22 November. But with revised growth figures, stagnant wages, above-target inflation and poor productivity growth, the Cabinet minister is likely to face some tough questions.
Elsewhere, highlights include DWP Minister Damian Hinds and Business Minister Margot James being grilled by the Scottish Affairs Committee at 9.45 on Tuesday. At the same time, former ministers Francis Maude and Oliver Letwin, flanked by former government adviser Baroness Finn, will chat to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs committee about civil service effectiveness.