A journalists’ guide to the week ahead, provided by forward planning service Foresight News.
This week sees the return of Parliament after the three week conference jolly and straight back in at the deep end is Liam Fox, who’s up at Defence Questions today. Dr Fox was in hot water last week after it was revealed that his personal friend Adam Werritty had accompanied him on an official visit to Sri Lanka in July this year. Fox has ordered the MoD’s permanent secretary Ursula Brennan to investigate whether Werritty’s presence on the trip, or his regular visits to the Ministry, were in breach of the Ministerial Code.
There’s plenty of select committee action this week; first up is the Treasury Committee on Monday, where Andrew Tyrie and co. will take evidence from Sir John Vickers and other members of the Independent Commission on Banking. Other committee business this week includes Jack Straw’s crusade against the cost of car insurance (Transport Committee, Tuesday) and UN and NATO representatives discussing operations in Libya (Defence Committee, Wednesday).
A few key economic indicators are released on Tuesday, with the Office for National Statistics’ publication of the Index of Production coming alongside the British Retail Consortium’s retail sales monitor and the BCC’s Q3 economic survey. Retail sales rose last month; it’s probably too early to tell what effect the Prime Minister’s conference speech has had on this month’s figures.
In other stuttering economy news, Slovakia is set to become the final eurozone country to vote through extended powers for the European Financial Stability Facility. The vote, which takes place Tuesday, had been delayed as the Slovakian government’s junior coalition partner sought guarantees of votes on individual loan disbursements.
Fresh from being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last week, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf contests the Liberian Presidential election on Tuesday, where she seeks a second six-year term. Johnson became Africa’s first female elected head of state in 2005.
Back in the House of Commons, David Cameron and Ed Miliband face off for the first post-conference PMQs on Wednesday. Neither the PM nor the Labour leader produced outstanding conference speeches so an early victory in the Parliamentary dust-off is almost a necessity for both, though Miliband should benefit from having a shiny new shadow cabinet behind him.
Staying in Westminster on Thursday there’s a Backbench Business Committee debate on the August riots in England. The debate focuses on the response to the disorder and, in particular, the issue of sanctions for those involved. With certain members quick to start the finger pointing, blaming anything from parents and previous governments to an apparently widespread gang culture, there’ll be plenty to say all round on the matter.
There’ll also be birthday salutations in both Houses on Thursday; former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher turns 86.
G20 finance ministers and central bank governors are due in Paris on Friday, and, barring any further delays in Slovakia, there should be congratulations all round for meeting the commitment on extending the EFSF by this meeting. And in the wake of the Bank of England’s authorisation of an additional £75bn in QE, George and Mervyn should have plenty to discuss on the journey.
The latest Irish edition of the OECD‘s series of economic surveys is published in Dublin on Friday and despite widespread doom and gloom in the country earlier in the year, the last quarter’s GDP figures jumped by 1.6 per cent and the Irish central bank recently increased its growth forecast to 1 per cent for the year. However, fears of a prolonged international slump and the continuing effects of domestic austerity measures resulted in the bank’s forecast for 2012 being revised down from 2.1 per cent to 1.8 per cent.
The Chinese Communist Party Central Committee stages its annual meeting in Beijing from Saturday. It’s likely to be the final time Hu Jintao presides over the meeting; he’s due to hand over the presidential reigns to Xi Jinping next October.
Finally the Princess Royal presents the official Letters Patent to the town of Wootton Bassett on Sunday. The Wiltshire town was granted royal patronage by The Queen in March this year for in recognition of its role in military repatriations which passed through the town on the way to RAF Lyneham. From today the town is known as Royal Wootton Basseett.