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Summary

  1. The Commons day began at 11.30 GMT with questions to International Development Secretary Justine Greening.
  2. The prime minister and Labour leader Ed Miliband exchanged blows over Europe during PMQs
  3. Labour MP Chris Williamson was granted an urgent question on Rolls Royce job cuts.
  4. Labour MP Thomas Docherty proposed a ten minute rule bill entitled Armed Forces (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill.
  5. The main business of the day was an opposition day debate on the top rate of income tax; and local bus services.
  6. The adjournment debate was led by Stephen Phillips on Ebola in west Africa.
  7. Peers began the day with a half-hour question session, which was followed by a debate on the Serious Crime Bill, which cleared the House of Lords.
  8. The main business of the day was report-state examination of the Infrastructure Bill.
  9. Peers also took part in a short debate on regulations that set out the fundamental standards for health and social care providers.

Live Reporting

By Pippa Simm and Sam Francis

All times stated are UK

Goodnight

That wraps up our live coverage of Wednesday's proceedings in Westminster. Do join us tomorrow.

Lords adjourns

Peers have completed the list of scheduled business for today, and the House adjourns.

They'll be back tomorrow morning, at the usual time of 11.00 GMT, for an introduction ceremony and a half-hour question session with government ministers.

The main business will comprise of a series of debates, including on domestic violence and Ebola.

Community electricity right

The debate has now turned to part four of the bill, which contains measures allowing for the creation of a community electricity right.

It would give individual residents in a community, or groups connected with the community, the right to buy a stake in a renewable electricity development, in or adjacent to the community.

Government response

Arguing against Bishop Smith's amendment, government spokesman Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon warns it could cause "significant problems".

The bishop later withdraws his amendment, and Lib Dem Lord Teverson takes to his feet to propose a change to the bill regarding planning applications. It, too, is withdrawn.

Bishop sets out case

The Bishop of St Albans
BBC
Bishop Smith makes the case for his proposed amendment to the Infrastructure Bill

'Two-tiered regulation' concern

The bishop says he is concerned that the proposal in the bill is "significantly lower than that agreed through cross-industry consensus", and warns that exempting small sites will cause "confusion" by creating a "two-tiered regulation system".

Carbon compliance standard amendment

The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Alan Smith, is seeking a new clause on the carbon compliance standard for new homes.

The government is committed to implementing a zero carbon standard for new homes from 2016.

So-called zero carbon homes are built to comply with energy efficiency and emissions standards with any remaining emissions offset elsewhere.

Under the bill, developers will be allowed to offset carbon emissions from new houses once they have been built.

Firms would have to contribute to carbon abatement schemes if homes they build in England do not meet the required standard of sustainability.

Small sites, which are most commonly developed by small scale house builders, will be exempt.

Infrastructure Bill resumes

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath agrees to withdraw his amendment, and the motion to approve the regulations is passed, bringing an end to the debate.

Report-stage scrutiny of the Infrastructure Bill resumes.

What are the regulations?

The regulations being debated in the Lords chamber introduce "fundamental standards" for health and social care providers.

They are designed to help improve the quality of care and transparency of health and social providers by ensuring that those responsible for poor care can be held to account.

They are a response to

Robert Francis QC 's inquiry into the Stafford Hospital scandal.

But Lord Hunt says there are concerns about the impact of the regulations on residents in care homes, in particular that they could reduce current protections in relation to complaints systems, food and emergency procedures.

Commons wraps up

And that's it. Desmond Swayne brings the day's business in the Commons to a close.

MP will return tomorrow at 09.30 GMT when the main business will be two backbench business debates on UK foreign policy towards Iran and promotion of the living wage.

Do stay with us as the House of Lords continues, where the main business is the report stage of the

Infrastructure Bill.

What is a regret motion?

A regret motion is a way of expressing criticism of certain regulations or statutory instruments, without challenging them directly, as it does not require the government to take action.

They are an invitation for the House to put on record a particular point of view, but they have no practical effect.

Dinner break

Peers are taking a short break from the Infrastructure Bill to debate a motion to regret regulations which set out the fundamental standards for health and social care providers.

The motion has been tabled by Labour's health spokesman in the Lords, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath.

Health Minister Earl Howe responds for the government.

Government response

International Development minister Desmond Swayne responds for the government.

Adjournment debate

Stephen Phillips is questioning whether money being given to non-governmental organisations in West Africa is being correctly spent, and whether the bodies are as efficient as possible.

He claims there is evidence that the government needs to "take a grip" of what is going on "on the ground" and make sure money is being properly directed.

Ebola background

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa was first reported in March 2014 and is the deadliest occurrence of the disease since its discovery in 1976.

The World Health Organisation has said that there was still a significant lack of beds in Sierra Leone and Liberia, with more than 3,000 needed.

In August, the UN health agency declared an "international public health emergency".

The disease infects humans through close contact with infected animals or spreads between between humans by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs.

Ebola can also be spread indirectly through contact with contaminated environments.

The incubation period can be anything from two days to three weeks, and diagnosis is difficult.

Adjournment debate

Conservative MP Stephen Phillips begins today's adjournment debate on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, a situation he says he fear "will get worse before it gets better".

Result correction

Labour's second motion is defeated as well, by 278 votes to 208, a government majority of 70.

Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle informs the House that in the vote on the previous income tax debate the number of backers for the motion was erroneously announced as 248, whereas the correct figure was 238. This doesn't change the outcome of vote as 287 MPs voted against the motion.

Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke then presents a petition from his constituency with 800 signatures protesting the close of Dover Medical Practice.

What is report stage?

The Infrastructure Bill is currently being debated at report stage.

This is an opportunity to consider further amendments following committee-stage scrutiny.

Consideration of complex or wide-ranging bills at report stage can be spread over several days.

If a bill is passed at report stage, it moves on to the final stage, third reading.

Government response

Transport Minister John Hayes is now responding for the government, and he is animated.

Gesturing around the chamber he tells MPs he "pities" the opposition for their record in government on transport and, now, their motion. He congratulates the government - and his own department - on improving local bus services.

John Hayes
BBC

Opposition debates

Following the wind up speeches MPs will vote on the Labour motion before turning to the today's adjournment debate at roughly 19.15 GMT.

Opposition day debates are an opportunity for the opposition to raise subjects they believe the government may be vulnerable on but, if passed, they are not binding and cannot compel the government to form policy based on the text of the motion.

'No threat' to the public forest estate

It's up to Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon to respond to the mini-debate on behalf of the government.

He stresses that the government has "no plans to dispose of the public forest estate", and insists that Clause 21 does not present a threat to its future.

However, the minister says he has acknowledged peers' concerns and commits to bringing back an amendment back at third reading "to exempt the public forests estate from transfer to the Homes and Communities Agency".

Baroness Royall welcomes his assurances, and agrees to withdraw her amendment.

Public perception

Lib Dem Baroness Parminter is not entirely convinced about the need for the amendment.

She is worried that it would create a perception among the public that the House of Lords "does not believe it's government intentions" for the public forestry estate, whereas she believes minister are "acting with good faith".

Statements aren't acts

Lord Jenkin of Roding, a Conservative former environment secretary under Margaret Thatcher, agrees with Baroness Royall that a statement "however formally issued, is not the same as an act of parliament".

He can see the merit of some form of amendment to "place the intention of the [government's] statement firmly on the statute book", and concludes by saying he will listen to the minister's response with great interest.

Lord Jenkin of Roding
BBC

Opposition closing speech

Shadow transport minister Gordon Marsden begins winding up the debate for Labour.

Contributions to today's debate have "shown the failings of our bus network outside London", and largely endorse the Labour party's view, he says.

Solutions not arguments

Liberal Democrat Mike Thornton calls for MPs to stop bickering over their differing approaches and appeals for a "cross-party investigation" into how to improve buses.

"It's a solution we need, not an argument," he tells the chamber.

Legal Eagle support

Lib Dem Lord Phillips of Sudbury provides another voice in support of the opposition's amendment.

Public Forest Estate clause

The government says Clause 21 of the Infrastructure Bill is "completely unconnected to the government's stated policy to establish a new public body to hold the public forest estate".

Lords Leader Baroness Stowell said in July: "The government has no intention of transferring land from the new body to the Homes and Communities Agency, as the public forest estate is currently in use and not declared surplus.

"As such, the powers will not be used in relation to this body and will therefore have no effect on it."

The bill is designed to allow land to be transferred directly from arms-length bodies to the Homes and Communities Agency, to reduce bureaucracy and manage land more effectively.

The intention behind the move is to make it easier for surplus and redundant brownfield land to be sold and to help build more homes, according to the government.

Warning over subsidy scheme abuses

Before being cut off for going over his time, Conservative MP Martin Vickers warns the chamber that subsidy schemes are open to abuse and can tempt "less than scrupulous operators" to defraud the government in order to get increased subsidy.

Mr Vickers claims the current system allows operators who provide vital services to "blackmail" local authorities into applying for greater subsidies.

Privatised forests

Meanwhile, Labour peer Lord Clark of Windermere notes that the coalition doesn't have the best of records in this area, recalling the opposition to proposals to sell off some English forests in 2011 - which resulted in a government u-turn.

He does not believe the government intends to privatise the forests estate, but he fears the bill leaves the door open for future governments to do so.

Lord Clark of Windermere
BBC
Lord Clark sets out his reasons for supporting Labour's amendment

Bishop's support

Supporting the amendment, the Bishop of St Albans emphasises the benefits to the public and the environment of public forests, and stresses the need for continued public access.

Public Forest Estate amendment

Peers are now debating a Labour amendment designed to protect the Public Forest Estate against privatisation.

Opening the debate, opposition spokesman Baroness Royall of Blaisdon describes forest as "the lifeblood of our communities".

She welcomes government assurances on the matter, but insists that these need to be written in to the bill.

The amendment would prevent any possible back-door privatisation of the public forest estate by ensuring that clause 21 on the Homes & Communities Agency would not have any effect on the rights or liabilities of the Public Forest Estate.

What is the Infrastructure Bill?

The Infrastructure Bill is wide-ranging, and proposes to change the Highways Agency from an executive agency into a government-owned company, and to allow the Homes and Communities Agency to gain control of land directly from other government quangos.

Dependant on consultation, the bill will mean developers can run shale gas pipelines under owned land without consent.

It also allows for Species Control Orders to control invasive, non-native species that pose environmental threats.

Amendment withdrawn

Baroness Whitaker agrees to withdraw her amendment after the minister's reply, and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon sets out about explaining a new group of government-tabled amendments.

Bus subsidies

Councils subsidise bus companies to run routes to remote areas which would otherwise not be cost-effective.

According to a Freedom of Information (FoI) issued by Labour, bus subsidies from major English councils have been cut by 23% since 2010.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said councils were compelled to cut back their concessionary ticket schemes for the elderly and disabled. The LGA blames reduced support on falling government grants, which have fallen by 39% since 2010.

Design issues

Labour's Baroness Whitaker has the floor now, to make the case for a new clause in the bill on sustainable development and design.

It would ensure that design issues are taken more seriously by decision makers in the preparation of policy, the peer argues.

Amendment withdrawn

Opposing the amendment, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon emphasises the government's commitment to sustainable development and well-designed new town communities, and asks Lord Adonis to withdraw his amendment. He agrees to.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
BBC

Bus fares

Transport Committee Chair Louise Ellman says that three inquiries into buses by her committee have provided "one over-riding message", that the deregulated system is not working effectively.

Ms Ellman says the intended aim of deregulation - to increase competition, improving services and lowering fares - "simply hasn't happened".

Instead a small number of operators have monopolised the market and pushed up fares, which has negatively affected millions of people across the country, many of whom rely on bus services.

She too claims that bus usage is down.

Transport committee chair Louise Ellman
BBC

'Carbuncle Cup'

The next amendment - which has also been tabled by Lord Adonis - concerns new towns.

The opposition front bencher explains that it is designed to "capture the spirit of the post-war rebuilding of the country that was spurred on by the original New Towns Act 1946".

But while the legislation provided powers to deliver new towns, those that were built did not always conform to the "highest design and quality standard", he tells peers.

Lord Adonis explains that the amendment would ensure protection for natural and historic environments, to require high quality inclusive design and contribute towards a low carbon future, in the building of new towns.

The aim, he elaborates, is that no part of a new town would be eligible for the "Carbuncle Cup", an annual award for the "ugliest building" in the UK.

Labour defeat in the Lords

The results are in, and it's a Labour defeat.

Peers vote by 235 to 195 - majority 40 - to reject a call for a National Infrastructure Commission to identify the long-term infrastructure needs of the UK.

Labour 'did nothing'

Concluding his remarks Patrick McLoughlin says that he agrees that small operators need to improve their technology. He says the bus industry is growing because of the government's decision to back business and devolve authority.

He ends with a parting shot at Labour who he says "did nothing" for buses during their 13 years in government.