Commons Gallery: the last week of action for 2017
Sebastian Whale looks at what’s coming up in the Chamber and Westminster Hall this week
Reaching the summit
The last week of parliament in 2017 has arrived. Theresa May will begin with a statement to the House on the EU Council in Brussels, at which it is expected the EU27 leaders would have signed off on phase one of the Brexit negotiations. The final hurdle on Brexit for 2017 will arrive on Wednesday, with the last day of the committee stage of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. And with the Government yet to back down on enshrining into law the exit day from the European Union, it could be the most vociferous day of debate yet.
Theresa May however has a few more engagements to meet before she can set her sights on the Christmas break. On Wednesday at midday, she will trade barbs with Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Minister’s Questions. The PM then has the somewhat daunting task of appearing before the Liaison committee for an end of year debrief. The committee, which is chaired by Tory MP and Health Committee chair Sarah Wollaston, takes evidence from the PM three times a year.
Putin the work in
Tom Brake on Thursday has a backbench debate on Russian interference in UK politics and society. The Liberal Democrat MP is calling for an open and comprehensive inquiry, arguing it is “of crucial importance”. He tells The House: “It is in everyone’s interest to participate in democracy without the fear that the results have been tampered with by Russia or any other state. Arron Banks and Nigel Farage may be Putin fans, but President Putin certainly isn’t a friend of this country and would only have interfered in the referendum to damage the UK and the EU’s security.”
Ten Minute Rule Motions
Two Ten Minute Rule Motions this week. On Tuesday, Tory MP Sir Henry Bellingham will call for “protection for drivers of emergency vehicles responding to emergencies from civil liability and criminal prosecution in specified circumstances”. He tells us he has been “very concerned for some time now” about the “hounding” of police officers as a result of accidents involving vehicles being pursued by the Police. “My Bill is certainly not designed to be a charter for irresponsible police driving – what it does do is to use a level of common sense and pragmatism,” he says. “Hopefully this will mean that the necessary investigations can be dealt with expeditiously and officers are allowed to go back to work as quickly as possible.”
Labour MP Joan Ryan’s motion on Wednesday will call on the Government to improve safeguards for victims of torture and other vulnerable people and to ensure that individuals with evidence of a history of torture or severe physical, psychological or sexual violence are not detained for immigration purposes except in very exceptional circumstances.
Arguing immigration detention policy is “not fit for purpose”, she tells The House: “The government’s treatment of victims of torture is unacceptable. The Home Office must consult with NGOs like Freedom from Torture and Medical Justice as it undertakes a review of the Adults at Risk policy.”
She adds: “There were almost 400 recorded suicide attempts in UK immigration detention centres in 2015 and there are far too many people held in immigration detention who are vulnerable and who have been victims of torture.”
Labour MP Stephen Kinnock has a debate on the steel sector deal first up on Tuesday morning. Highlights include Tory MP James Gray’s debate on the Blue Belt programme of marine protected areas (4.00), and Labour MP Lisa Nandy’s discussion on childcare for fostered children (4.30).
On Wednesday, former Tory minister John Whittingdale will discuss the situation in Ukraine at 9.30. On the theme of foreign policy, Labour MP Ann Clwyd has a debate on International Human Rights Day and the UK’s role in promoting human rights at 4.