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Summary

  1. MPs met at 11.30 GMT for questions to the Cabinet Office team; followed by prime minister's questions at 12 noon.
  2. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt made a statement on A&E waiting times following an urgent question from his Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham.
  3. Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers announced a new bill to devolve corporation tax to northern Ireland during a statement on the Stormont House agreement.
  4. The day's main business was the report stage consideration and third reading of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill.
  5. Labour MP Nia Griffith led the adjournment debate on the regulation of the hairdressing industry.
  6. Peers met at 15.00 GMT for oral questions; followed by repeats of the Commons statements on A&E waiting times and the Stormont House agreement.
  7. After that, peers debated the Pension Schemes Bill in a committee of the whole House and conducted a debate on improving skills in the NHS.

Live Reporting

By Aiden James and Sam Francis

All times stated are UK

Goodnight from the Lords

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Bradley accepts the government's assurances and withdraws the amendment, which is the last one to be debated tonight.

That concludes business in the Lords for today.

Join us tomorrow for live coverage of Parliament from 09.30 GMT, beginning with questions to business, innovation and skills ministers in the Commons.

The House of Lords will sit from 11.00 GMT and peers will debate topics including the future of the NHS.

'Exceptional job'

House of Lords

Parliament

Government spokesman Lord Bourne says NEST has been doing "an exceptional job" since its establishment.

He says that research had shown that some of the restrictions on contributions and transfers were "seen as a barrier" by some would-be investors.

However he argues that removing contribution limits was not a "proportional" response before 2017, when some restrictions are set to be relaxed.

NEST scheme

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour work and pensions spokesman Lord Bradley is introducing an amendment which would lift a cap on contributions to the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) scheme.

NEST is a workplace pension scheme introduced under the government's pension reforms.

Lord Bradley also calls for an end to the ban on transfers to NEST from other schemes.

"The effect is to discourage those employers who currently have schemes elsewhere," he argues.

Lord Bradley
BBC

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord German welcomes the commitment from both side of House to more transparency and withdraws his amendment.

As a matter of parliamentary convention, amendments are rarely pushed to a vote during committee stage in the Lords.

If peers are dissatisfied with the government's position they may choose to introduce another amendment during the next stage of a bill's passage - report stage - and force a vote.

Divisions on amendments are more common during report stage.

Improved governance

House of Lords

Parliament

Government spokesman Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth says ministers are consulting on proposals to require trustees to improve the governance of their pensions schemes.

He insists that the government takes the transparency of schemes seriously.

Labour backing

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord German's amendment gains the backing of the Labour benches.

Shadow work and pensions spokesman Lord Bradley says he supports any measure "that improves transparency for the public".

Lib Dem amendment

House of Lords

Parliament

The Lib Dem backbench amendment would require trustees or managers of an occupational pension scheme and the managers of a personal pension scheme to account for their investment decisions to the scheme's beneficiaries.

"The more savers are informed the better the market will work," Lord German argues.

Pension Schemes Bill debate resumes

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers reconvene to consider further amendments to the Pension Schemes Bill at committee stage.

Liberal Democrat Lord German is introducing an amendment which is backed by a group of Lib Dem peers.

Short break

House of Lords

Parliament

That's the end of the debate on skills in the NHS and the House is taking a short break before peers resume debate on the Pension Schemes Bill.

Government response

Health Minister Earl Howe tells peers that the government has asked training body Health Education England to ensure that "professional and personal development continues beyond the end of formal training" for NHS staff in England.

GP training call

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Parekh calls for increased training for GPs as part of efforts to improve medical competence.

Lord Parekh
BBC

NHS debate

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers are taking a break from the Pension Schemes Bill for a short debate on improving the level of medical competence and skill in the National Health Service.

Labour peer Lord Parekh is opening the debate.

Statutory instruments

House of Lords

Parliament

Ministers can exercise powers conferred by an act of Parliament by using statutory instruments, which enable the government to bring parts of an act into force or alter it, without Parliament having to pass a new act.

If the government accepts the recommendations of the Delegated Powers Committee, MPs and peers will need to approve statutory instruments in Parliament before ministers can exercise certain powers under the Pension Schemes Bill.

An act of Parliament can be referred to as primary legislation, while statutory instruments are also known as secondary, delegated or subordinate legislation.

Ministerial powers

House of Lords

Parliament

The Pension Schemes Bill was one of the pieces of legislation scrutinised by the House of Lords'

Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee.

Many laws confer powers on ministers and the committee examines such proposals.

It has recommended that some of the powers be subject to the approval of Parliament, known as being subject to the "affirmative procedure".

The "negative procedure" refers to statutory instruments which automatically become law unless there is an objection from either House.

More on the Pension Schemes Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers are continuing their detailed scrutiny of the Pension Schemes Bill.

As well as new provisions for private pensions, the bill gives force to measures announced in the Budget, such as giving people aged 55 and over more flexibility about how to access their defined contribution pension savings from April 2015.

Savers will no longer be required to access their pension through a paid for annuity and will have greater choice over how they use the money in their defined contribution scheme.

The measures are contained in the current bill and the

Taxation of Pensions Bill, which achieved royal assent in December.

End of Commons business

House of Commons

Parliament

Drawing his remarks to a close, Mark Harper tells MPs that hairdressers are already to subject a number of regulations that mean the risks involved in their profession are "comprehensively dealt with".

That brings an end to today's business in the House of Commons. MPs will be back tomorrow at 09.30 GMT with two back bench business debates.

The first is on higher education funding and a report from the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee. This will be followed by a debate on a report from the Foreign Affairs Committee concerning Gibraltar, entitled

Gibraltar: Time to get off the fence.

Stay with us though as the House of Lords continues its scrutiny of the Pension Schemes Bill.

Trim legislation

House of Commons

Parliament

Responding for the government Work and Pensions Minister Mark Harper says he is "not attracted" to Nia Griffith's suggestions, as he is unsure what problem she is trying to solve.

Legislation should be focussed on where the risks are, not where they may appear, he argues.

Cutting remarks

House of Commons

Parliament

Conservative MP Richard Fuller argues that hairdressing sector is working adequately at the moment and is regulated sufficiently by word of mouth. Bad hairdressers will quickly get a bad reputation and go out of business, he says.

Heavy regulation didn't prevent unscrupulous practices in banking he argues, and warns that regulation could put off many young people, who may have not found "formal education their direct interest", from beginning their own business.

Public protection

House of Commons

Parliament

You do not need a qualification to become a hairdresser in the UK. Ms Griffiths argues that this leave the public unprotected from "unscrupulous" and undertrained hairdressers.

This is especially troubling because hairdressers use sharp implements and chemicals in their work, she adds.

'Shared risk' pensions

House of Lords

Parliament

The Pension Schemes Bill will create a new framework with three categories of pension: defined benefit, defined contribution and shared risk.

The current types of pension scheme are defined benefit, which include final salary schemes, and defined contribution.

Defined benefit schemes promise to pay pensions benefits based on a fixed factor, typically salary and length of service, while defined contribution schemes pay out a sum based on the value of a member's fund on retirement.

According to the

Department for Work and Pensions, shared risk or "defined ambition" schemes would "offer a promise while members are saving for their pension about some of the outcome from the scheme, but not all".

Fairer cuts needed...

House of Commons

Parliament

We are now on the final business in the House of Commons - the adjournment debate - today led by Labour MP Nia Griffith on regulating the hairdressing industry.

Leave it to the Lords

House of Commons

Parliament

Several MPs have complained about many of the key issues, especially surrounding oversight of security services, being left unfinished decided in the House of Lords.

In the last two days the government has indicated it may make concession on judicial oversight in the House of Lords.

Pension Schemes Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers now move on to their committee stage consideration of the Pension Schemes Bill.

The bill, which extends to England, Wales and Scotland, would establish a new legislative framework for private pensions.

Committee stage gives peers an opportunity to examine a bill in detail and to propose amendments.

Historical Investigations Unit

House of Lords

Parliament

Crossbench peer Baroness O'Loan, who has served as police ombudsman in Northern Ireland, calls for the new Historical Investigations Unit to have access to information held by the security services in the UK.

The Stormont House agreement proposed the new unit to investigate killings that took place during the Troubles.

Baroness O'Loan
BBC

Too few safeguards

House of Commons

Parliament

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper endorses the bill but argues that there are too few safeguards to protects personal liberties and freedoms from excessive state power.

She suggests that Labour will return to many of the issues they have raised in the House of Commons when the bill passes to the House of Lords.

Yvette Cooper
BBC
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper setting out Labour's concerns with the bill

What is third reading?

House of Commons

Parliament

The third reading is the final review of the contents of the bill. Debate is limited to the contents of the bill and no further amendments are allowed to be tabled - unlike in the House of Lords.

For controversial bills such as this, third reading is also the final opportunity for interested parties to fire parting shots at the government.

Report stage completed

House of Commons

Parliament

MPs unanimously agree to pass the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill at report stage. Which means we move to the third reading, the bill's final stage in the House of Commons before it is sent to the House of Lords.

Consent not consult

House of Commons

Parliament

SNP MP Pete Wishart welcomes a government amendment that would require the home secretary to consult the relevant devolved institutions before making changes to counter-terrorism legislation, but says the measures need to go further.

The home secretary will not only need to discuss matters but will need "consent" from the Scottish Parliament if any future devolution settlement is to work, he argues.

The Scottish Parliament is responsible for delivering many of the counter-terrorism measures contained in the bill through devolved powers over education and the police force.

Amendment withdrawn

House of Commons

Parliament

Home Affairs Minister Karen Bradley says Ms Johnson's amendments are unnecessary as there has yet to be a final decision on the functions of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board.

A public consultation is being carried out on the terms of regulations of the boards composition, remit, powers and functions.

Diana Johnson withdraws her amendment but again indicates Labour may return to the subject as the bill passes through the House of Lords.

Stormont House Agreement statement

House of Lords

Parliament

The House moves on to the second repeated statement of the day, as Northern Ireland spokeswoman Baroness Randerson updates peers on the Stormont House agreement in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers made the statement to MPs earlier, announcing that new legislation aimed at

devolving corporation tax to Northern Ireland would be presented to Parliament shortly.

The devolution of corporation tax was a key demand of political leaders in Northern Ireland in the run up to the Stormont House Agreement, which was finalised in Belfast last month after 12 weeks of inter-party talks.

The UK government convened the talks in a bid to sort out enduring problems at Stormont, including the Northern Ireland Executive's budget, welfare reform, flags, parades and the legacy of the Troubles.

Privacy and Civil Liberties Board

House of Commons

Parliament

Shadow Home Affairs minister Diana Johnson moves a series of amendments to give powers to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board, which will support the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.

The bill as it stands "doesn't determine anything", Ms Johnson says, and the board needs powers to counterbalance the strong security interests in Whitehall.

Labour also want to rename the body the Counter-Terrorism Oversight Panel, to reflect the nature of its work.

'More funds'

House of Lords

Parliament

Health Minister Earl Howe says the government has invested extra funds in the NHS in England, which will pay for more staff.

The funding has been "made possible by a strong economy", he adds.

Earl Howe
BBC

Amendment withdrawn

House of Commons

Parliament

Diana Johnsons withdraws her amendment but indicates that the subject may be returned to when the bill passes through the House of Lords.

A&E statement

House of Lords

Parliament

Questions are over and Health Minister Earl Howe is repeating a statement made in the House of Commons on A&E performance.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt made the statement to MPs earlier, in response to an urgent question from his Labour shadow, Andy Burnham.

Mr Burnham called on the government to hold an urgent summit on how to alleviate pressure on A&E services in English hospitals.

The call came a day after figures showed the NHS had missed its A&E waiting time target for the last three months of 2014.

Sufficient opportunity

House of Commons

Parliament

Responding to the debate, Home Office Minister Karen Bradley says the amendment is not necessary as only the home secretary can provide such guidance on the Prevent strategy, subject to a consultation.

A public consultation will a provide a sufficient opportunity for interested parties to help shape the guidance, Ms Bradley argues.

Climate change question

House of Lords

Parliament

The Bishop of St Albans has asked the fourth and final question in the Lords, on the agreement reached at the United Nations climate change conference in Lima in December.

Extra checks needed

House of Commons

Parliament

Shadow Home Office minister Diana Johnson is tabling an amendment that would require the approval of both Houses to any guidance given out as part of the government's

Prevent strategy.

Ms Johnson says she is concerned there is no parliamentary oversight over guidance that might have a bearing on free speech, academic freedoms and doctor-patient relationships.

She adds that the amendment is also being tabled as a result of concerns that central government involvement may be harmful to the counter-terrorism strategy, with extra checks needed.

Diana Johnson
BBC
Diana Johnson sets out the case for the Houses of Parliament to approve guidance for the government's Prevent strategy.

Disabled Students’ Allowances

House of Lords

Parliament

Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) are available to higher education students living in England who have disabilities, long-term health conditions, mental health conditions or specific learning difficulties, such as dyslexia.

Third oral question

House of Lords

Parliament

Another Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Addington, asks the third question to ministers.

He asks whether any reform of Disabled Students' Allowance will take full account of the case for encouraging independent learning and study for eligible students.

'City-regions'

House of Lords

Parliament

Lib Dem leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg

has backed a report calling for large "city-regions" to get tax-raising and spending powers, with elected mayors at the helm.

Lord Greaves argues that many areas outside of the proposed city-regions "feel very much as if they are being left in limbo".