The week in Westminster

So I’m on the train to London. As usual I am easing into the week by listening to my “Country, etc” Spotify playlist: it starts with Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash, cranks up a notch with Son Volt, Uncle Tupelo and Calexico, and ends with a god blasting from early Lemonheads and Thin White Rope.

First thing today is a meeting Baroness Royall, the Labour Leader in the Lords, has convened with South West SERA (the Socialist Environmental Resources Association, which is Labour’s green affiliate); then I’m meeting a Labour MEP to talk about, inter alia, the EU-Colombia Free Trade Agreement; then it’s Home Office Questions, followed by a statement from Hague on Syria and then the Second Reading of the Financial Services Bill. I’m also going to an Orchid Project event, to mark International Day Against FGM.

Tomorrow starts at 9.30am with a Westminster Hall debate on “intellectual property and its contribution to economic growth”, which has been called by Pete Wishart, the SNP MP and former member of Runrig. I will probably go along in the forlorn hope that we might be able to get to a new place in the piracy debate, one that doesn’t start from the premise that it’s an outrageous breach of someone’s fundamental human rights not to allow them to help themselves to the product of someone else’s labour. (And yes, you can talk about the need for the music industry to develop ‘new business models’ to adapt to the changing world but I still adhere to the old-fashioned view that it ought to be up to the musician whether or not he/she wants to give their work away.) There’s also a briefing just across the river at the BPI in the afternoon on the same issue, which I might get to, votes permitting.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda is Deputy Prime Minister’s questions, then a Labour Opposition Day debate on “Responsibility and Reform in the Banking Industry”, with votes at about 7pm – I’ll post the wording of our motion later – followed by a backbench business committee debate on metal theft. The Government scuppered Labour’s Graham Jones’ private members’ bill on this but it now looks like they’re planning on bringing in laws themselves (so they can get the credit!) This is just a general debate though; there’s no legislation on the table yet. And my diary tells me I have a meeting with Indonesian ambassador and a photo-op with the British Heart Foundation, with instructions to “wear something red”.

Wednesday is Cabinet Office Qs and PMQs of course, then some votes on
he police grant and local government finance. There’s a Whizz-Kidz reception and I’ll be talking to people about my forthcoming Food Waste Bill. Thursday is Culture Media and Sport questions, a meeting of the All-Party Russia group and then a debate on the forthcoming Somalia conference. Unfortunately I can’t speak in that debate, as it’s FCO-led so I will be on the frontbench (and I’m not the shadow Minister for Africa, so a colleague will be winding up the debate; Douglas Alexander and William Hague are opening). But I’m very glad it’s happening and I’m going to be in the Chamber for most of it.

And then it’s back to Bristol – and it’s actually half-term recess so we won’t be back in Parliament until Monday February 20th.

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