Inside Politics – McGrigors

Local authority elections take place across all 32 councils in Scotland on Thursday, 128 English councils and in Wales all councils apart from Anglesey.  Those living in London will also vote to elect members of the London Assembly and for the Mayor, while for the first time Liverpool and Salford will select their first directly elected mayors.  Other cities including Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and Sheffield will hold a referendum on whether they will vote for directly elected mayors in the future; Doncaster, however, will decide whether to abolish its directly elected mayor.

It?s a short week for Parliaments in Westminster and Holyrood because of the elections and also because the Queen will formally prorogue Westminster, marking the end of the current session.

Before then, today MPs will race to ensure the Sunday Trading (London Olympic and Paralympic Games) Bill becomes law in a single sitting and ensure it is enacted before the Olympic Games get underway.  Attention in the Lords over the next two days is likely to be focussed on the report of the Joint Committee on reform of the House.

The Scottish Parliament will squeeze its usual two days of business into Wednesday, including First Ministers Questions, to accommodate the local authority elections on Thursday.

Spain has followed the UK back into recession according to official figures.  The situation is likely to dominate talks between EU finance ministers in Brussels especially after Standard & Poor has downgraded nine Spanish banks. The Chinese Vice-Prime-Minister Li Keqiang will be in Brussels on Thursday to formally begin a series of discussions on energy between the EU and China at a meeting with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

At the end of this week voters in France will return to the polls for the second ballot in the Presidential elections to decide between Nicolas Sarkozy or Francois Hollande.  Polls since the first round indicate that M. Hollande could take the Presidency. Also on Sunday, Greek voters will head to the polls for the first elections since the economic crisis took hold.  However, whatever the outcome of the vote the European Commission has sought assurances from political parties that they will stick to the austerity programme no matter who gets into office.

Tomorrow, McGrigors and Pinsent Masons are merging their experience resources and international reach under the name Pinsent Masons. We will continue to provide your Inside Politics ebulletin under our new branding next week.

Scottish Government

The Scotland Bill completed its Westminster stages with Commons agreement to the final Bill. The Bill provides the Scottish Parliament with limited taxation powers over income tax, land transaction and landfill taxes, and some powers to borrow for capital purposes.  It also devolves responsibility for regulation of air weapons, and powers to set drink driving and speed limits, as well as introducing a new procedure for Scottish criminal cases to be considered by the UK Supreme Court.
(Scottish Government, April 26)

The First Minister will write personally to the CEOs of some of Britain’s biggest businesses to highlight to them the attractions of investing in Scotland, as part of a campaign to promote Scotland as business location.
(Scottish Government (April 25)

VisitScotland published research which concluded that tourism would not be adversely impacted by windfarms, and Scottish Enterprise published a map of intended investments in offshore renewables.
(Scottish Government, April 24)
(Scottish Enterprise April 23)

The Scottish Parliament
Committees

Tuesday May 1
Health and Sport – Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Bill (Stage 2); NHS Boards budget scrutiny (evidence); Inquiry into integration of health and social care (private)

Education and Culture – Early Years (evidence); Subordinate legislation

Justice – Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Bill (private)

Welfare Reform – Welfare Reform (Further Provision) (Scotland) Bill (evidence from Nicola Sturgeon, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities Strategy)

Equal Opportunities – Subordinate legislation (evidence from Nicola Sturgeon, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities Strategy); Subordinate legislation; Work programme (private)

Public Petitions ? New petitions; Current petitions; Work programme (private)

European and External Relations – EU Structural Funds (evidence); Support for families abroad; Brussels Bulletin; Developments in the Eurozone (private); Annual report (private)

Wednesday May 2
Economy, Energy and Tourism – Land Registration etc. (Scotland) Bill (Stage 2)

Finance – Local Government Finance (Unoccupied Properties etc.) (Scotland) Bill (evidence)

Chamber

Wednesday May 2
1.30 pm Time for Reflection
followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions
1.35 pm Themed Question Time: Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth
2.15 pm General Question Time
2.35 pm First Minister?s Question Time
3.05 pm Scottish Government Debate: National Performing Companies
followed by Public Body Consent Motion: Public Bodies (Abolition of the Advisory Committee on Hazardous Substances) Order 2012
followed by Business Motion
followed by Parliamentary Bureau Motions
5.00 pm Decision Time
followed by Members? Business debate on National MS Week (George Adam, Paisley, SNP)

The House of Commons

Monday April 30
2.30pm: Communities and local government questions including topical questions
followed by All stages of the Sunday Trading (London Olympic and Paralympic Games) Bill [HL].
followed by If necessary, consideration of Lords amendments.
followed by Adjournment debate: Developing a UK strategy for rare diseases (Edward Timpson, Con, Crew and Nantwich)

Tuesday May 1
House not sitting

Westminster Hall

Tuesday May 1
9.30am: Pensioners’ allowances (Yasmin Qureshi, Lab, Bolton South East).
11.00am: VAT on hot take-away food (Stephen Gilbert, Lib Dem, St Austell and Newquay).
12.30pm: Government’s forthcoming consultation on abortion counselling (Diane Abbott, Lab, Hackney North and Stoke Newington).
1.00pm: Future of Arpley landfill site (David Mowat, Con, Warrington South).
1.30pm: Food security in the Sahel (Chris Evans, Lab, Islwyn)

Lords Chamber

Monday April 30
2.30pm: Oral questions – Whether there are any plans to tidy up and clean the stonework in the inner courtyards of the House of Lords Palace on a similar basis to the work done on the Royal Court, Speaker?s Court, Commons Court and Commons Inner Court (Lord Flight, Con); What is the current position regarding the deportation of Abu Qatada (Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, Lab); Whether they will encourage HM Inspectorate of Constabulary to undertake a thematic review of race relations policies within police forces in the United Kingdom (Baroness Howells of St Davids, Con); What consideration they have given to excluding university-sponsored students from the United Kingdom?s net migration statistics (Lord Clement-Jones, Lib Dem)
followed by Motion to approve the draft Public Bodies (Abolition of Courts Boards) Order 2012.
followed by Second reading of the Trusts (Capital and Income) Bill [HL].
followed by Debate on the report of the Joint Committee on the draft House of Lords Reform Bill.

Tuesday May 1
House not sitting

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