Lords Gallery - what to watch out for in the Upper Chamber this week
Gary Connor looks ahead to this week’s agenda in the Upper Chamber
EU Withdrawal Bill
Peers will finally reach the end of the mammoth Committee process after a final two days of consideration this week. Monday is likely to begin with the continuation of government and opposition amendments related to devolution. Other issues that are likely to be of interest next week include introducing “flexibility” to the exit date, as well as what happens in the event of no deal being reached with the EU. Wednesday is likely to be quieter, but looks to include debates on the impact of the legislation on health and social care, as well as an amendment to prevent the repeal of the European Union Act 2011, which requires a referendum to be held on amendments to EU treaties.
HPV vaccinations question
Since 2008, young girls have been routinely vaccinated against HPV, and from April this year, it will be given to men who have sex with men. On Monday afternoon, Baroness Altmann (C) will press the government on the case for inoculating all boys. When the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation looked at the issue last year, it said there was little evidence to justify extending the programme more widely. Writing in this week’s magazine, Altmann describes the situation as “discrimination” and points out that it would cost £20 million a year – or 0.0001% of the NHS budget – to fix.
Net migration question
Lord Holmes of Richmond (C) tells The House he has been pushing for the removal of students from the net migration figures “for a long time”, and he’ll continue to make his case in the chamber with an Oral Question on Monday. He says over 50 current world leaders and heads of state studied at British universities, and calls our education system the “sparkling jewel in Britain’s soft power crown”. Holmes argues that even those who take a hard line on immigration don’t see students as an issue and taking them out of the numbers makes sense on an economic, social and geopolitical level. “Everyone needs to keep pushing”, he says. “Change needs to come – and it will.”
Humanitarian crisis in Syria
Following on from his question on the issue last week, Lord Roberts of Llandudno (LD) leads a debate on the situation Syria on Thursday afternoon. “People must be bored with me!”, Roberts tells The House, but adds that he’s concerned that we don’t let Syria “slip out of our minds”. In the last week, 237 people were killed in Syria, 37 of them children. He wants the government to speed up the number of Syrian refugees brought to the UK. “When they come, let’s give them a smiling welcome”, he says.
Animal welfare regulations
Away from the main chamber on Tuesday afternoon, peers will consider a series of statutory instruments; two of which relate to animal welfare. The first will introduce an updated licensing system for selling pets, providing boarding for cats and dogs, hiring out horses, dog breeding and keeping animals for exhibition. The second fulfils a Conservative manifesto pledge to introduce mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses in England. The regulations specify that cameras must be present where live animals are unloaded, kept and killed and abattoirs will have to keep recordings for 90 days.