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Summary

  1. We joined the Commons as Labour MP David Winnick introduced a ten minute rule bill on people's civic obligation to vote.
  2. The main business was two opposition day debates on energy prices and the steel industry.
  3. Peers began their day at 15.00 GMT with oral questions followed by the Recall of MPs Bill being considered in a committee of the whole House.
  4. The House will also held a short debate on a report of the Communications Committee on media plurality.

Live Reporting

By Aiden James and Sam Francis

All times stated are UK

End of business

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Foulkes withdraws his amendment having secured promises from the minister, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, that the government will consult peers on potentially changing the policy on banning recall petitions in the build-up to a general election.

Peers will be back tomorrow at 11. GMT for a series of debates, chosen by backbench peers.

Similarly, MPs will be back tomorrow as well, at 09.30 GMT. The main event in will be two debates chosen by the Backbench Business Committee.

Quicker petitions?

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers now turn to another amendment from Lord Foulkes, to allow recall petitions to be tabled within three months of a general election. Under the bill as it stands recall petitions can not be tabled within six months of a general election.

However, Lord Foulkes admits that his intentions are to provoke debate on the subject - and indeed says he would like to see petitions banned for longer than six months before a general election.

Sufficient legislation

House of Lords

Parliament

Government Spokesman Lord Gardiner of Kimble says that current legislation around the actions of the Election court are sufficient to deal with illegal practices during election campaigns, and there is no need to complicate matters by including it in this bill.

Lord Dubs withdraws his amendment, but indicates that he may re-table a similar measure in the future if he can secure support.

Election fraud trigger

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers are now debating an amendment tabled by Labour Peer Lord Dubs to introduce a new trigger for recall proceedings, if an MP has been convicted of illegal practices in their election campaign.

The amendment would effectively bring the work of the electoral court, a special court convened to hear claims of illegal practices during elections, into the bill.

Amendment withdrawn

House of Lords

Parliament

Despite complaining that he had not received a satisfactory answer form Lord Wallace, Lord Foulkes of Cumnock withdraws his amendment.

Appeal to withdraw

House of Lords

Parliament

Government spokesman Lord Wallace of Saltaire says Lord Foulkes's amendments would make the bill unworkable, not only removing the second trigger for recall, but "wrecking" all other triggers.

Lord Wallace adds that the amendments also seek to overturn the will of the House of Commons - which has primacy in these matters - and

voted to approve the triggers by 204 votes to 125, and calls on Lord Foulkes to withdraw his amendment.

Standards Committee votes

House of Lords

Parliament

Several peers have pointed out that when a similar amendment was tabled in the House of Commons, seven of the

10 MPs on the Standards Committee abstained from voting on the matter, and the three that did vote -
Dominic Grieve, Sir Paul Beresford, and Geoffrey Cox - all voted against it.

Peers in favour of scrapping the trigger have argued that these are the actions of a committee uncomfortable with their ability to fulfil their role as it becomes politicised.

Politicisation of the Standards Committee

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Foulkes indicates that he's tabling this amendment based on the concerns raised at the Bill's

second reading by Labour's Lord Campbell-Savours, who cannot attend tonight's debate.

Lord Campbell-Savours warned that allowing the Commons Committee on Standards to trigger recall proceedings, by suspending an MP, would lead to the inevitable politicisation of the committee.

Lord Campbell-Savours argued that letting MPs determine whether a colleague - or political opponent - is to be subjected to a recall challenge. would lead the committee into making "political judgments".

Remove Recall trigger

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers now turn their attention back to the Recall of MPs Bill.

First up is Lord Foulkes of Cumnock's amendment to remove the the trigger for a recall if the House suspends an MP for 10 sitting days.

No changes to policy

House of Lords

Parliament

Responding to the debate, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth says the government will not be considering changes to policy before a government commission researching the development of a clear "measurement framework" for media plurality, and considering the first ever "baseline market assessment" of media plurality reports back.

Need for plurality

House of Lords

Parliament

Opening the debate, Committee chair Lord Inglewood argues that media plurality must be ensured to prevent media owners from having too much influence over the political process.

If there is sufficient media plurality, citizens will have the opportunity to be informed through access to a diversity of viewpoints, he adds.

Lord Inglewood
BBC
Conservative chair of eth Lord Communications Committee Lord Inglewood.

Communications Committee report

House of Lords

Parliament

The Communications Committee

report argues that Ofcom, the media regulator, should have a bigger role in ensuring media plurality, including having the final say on media takeovers.

The Lords committee called for politicians to be stripped of the power to have the final say on large deals, following the heavily criticised process surrounding

News Corporation's failed £8bn bid to take full control of BSkyB.

Any media takeovers should be reviewed by Ofcom to judge their impact on media plurality, the report said.

The report also recommends that the BBC should be included in any assessment of media plurality for the first time, as should the impact of newspaper websites and digital outlets such as the Huffington Post, Google News, Facebook and Twitter.

The committee said that with the BBC funding external services such as the World Service, there needed to be clarity in the corporation's next royal charter about how funding was used "positively [to] promote external plurality in the wider UK media".

Amendment withdrawn

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Foulkes withdraws his amendment, on the understanding that the government will come up with their own solutions to the problems he has raised.

Peers now move to the Dinner Break debate - so called because it allows peers involved in scrutinising the bill a break for dinner - on the report of the Lords Communications Committee on media plurality.

Goodnight from the Commons

House of Commons

Parliament

MPs finish their day but will be back tomorrow from 09.30 GMT, when the main business consists of two debates on topics chosen by the Backbench Business Committee.

The first will be on contaminated blood and the second will concern the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a trade agreement to be negotiated between the European Union and the United States.

Stay with us today as the House of Lords continues its debate on the Recall of MPs Bill.

Representation of the People Act

House of Lords

Parliament

Responding to Lord Foulke's point that an MP can be disqualified from the House of Commons if found guilty of a crime abroad - under the Representation of The Peoples Act 1981 - Lord Gardiner of Kimble says this is only the case if an MP is detained for the crime in the UK.

Anyone detained for more than 12 months abroad will not automatically be disqualified from being an MP, he says.

Another turn for Ed Vaizey

House of Commons

Parliament

Ed Vaizey is once again the minister tasked with replying for the government in a very different debate.

Mr Vaizey is a minister in two departments: business, innovation and skills and culture, media and sport.

Labour response

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour spokeswoman Baroness Hayter points out that under the amendment, a transgender person convicted of driving a car in Russia, a woman convicted of driving a car in Saudi Arabia, or a gay person imprisoned for being gay in Iran or Nigeria could all be subject to recall proceedings.

Indicating Labour will not support the bill, she says peers should not allow another jurisdiction to trigger a recall in this parliament.

Baroness Hayter
BBC
Baroness Hayter

Adjournment debate

House of Commons

Parliament

The Labour motion on the steel industry is agreed without a vote and the final business of the day begins.

Liberal Democrat MP Sir Bob Russell is opening an adjournment debate on horticultural industry skills and training.

Sir Bob Russell
BBC

Opposition day motion

House of Commons

Parliament

The Labour motion recognises the importance of the UK steel industry, including as a provider of highly-skilled jobs.

It places value on the steel supply chain which supports strategic industries, and calls on the government to block imports that do not reach UK standards.

It also asks the government to work with the Scottish and Welsh governments, as well as trade unions, and calls for an urgent review to establish whether mitigating measures on energy prices can be brought forward.

Types of amendment

House of Lords

Parliament

During committee stage, amendments can serve a variety of purposes, alongside altering the bill.

If the bill is highly contentious, many amendments will be pegs for debate to give publicity to party or individual viewpoints, tabled in the knowledge they will never make it on to the statute book.

Similarly so-called "probing amendments" are often deployed to get a minister to clarify the provisions of a bill and outline the thinking behind it.

'No issue'

House of Commons

Parliament

Business, Innovation and Skills Minister Ed Vaizey is closing the steel industry debate for the government.

He says he understands there will not be a vote at the end of the debate, as "the government takes no issue with the motion put forward by the opposition".

Ed Vaizey
BBC

Foreign Offience

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers now move to a "probing amendment" tabled by Labour's Lord Foulkes of Cumnock to widen the provisions in the bill and allow convictions received in foreign countries to trigger recall proceedings.

Lord Foulkes points out that this is already the case in the Representation of the People Act 1981, which sets out the conditions for disqualification from membership of the House of Commons. "So why not here?" he asks.

'Benches empty'

House of Commons

Parliament

Shadow business, innovation and skills minister Ian Murray is summing up for Labour in the steel industry debate.

He says that "the benches opposite are empty" with only the Lib Dem MP for Redcar, Ian Swales, speaking from the backbenches and no Conservatives taking part.

Ian Murray
BBC

Amendment withdrawn

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Tyler withdraws his amendment, but urges peers to try to find a solution to the problem - highlighted by the Constitution Committee - that MPs are able to determine whether the recall process can be triggered.

Parallel processes

House of Lords

Parliament

Government spokesman Lord Gardiner of Kimble argues the amendments could lead to confusion by creating a parallel process of investigation by the Parliamentary standard committee, the House of Commons and the misconduct hearings.

A 'very heavy sledgehammer'

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour spokeswoman Baroness Hayter says she sees "no merit at all" in the amendments, describing the judge-led hearings as a "very heavy sledgehammer" for dealing with misconduct.

Political offences

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour peer Lord Maxton asks whether it is right that his uncle, former MP James Maxton, who served time in prison for organising strikes in the shipyards, would be subject to recall proceedings under the bill even though he was immensely popular in his constituency.

'Uncertainty'

House of Commons

Parliament

The Labour MP for Scunthorpe, Nic Dakin, says the planned sale of Tata's Long Products division to international industrial company Klesch Group means that "2015 begins with uncertainty about the future ownership" of a large part of the UK steel industry.

Nic Dakin
BBC

Opposition day debates

House of Commons

Parliament

Today's Commons debates on energy prices and the steel industry are opposition day debates.

Twenty days in each parliamentary session are made available to opposition parties to choose the main subject of debate.

Since 2010, most of these debates have been led by Labour, which is the largest opposition party.

The SNP, Plaid Cymru and the DUP have also led opposition day debates.

Constitution Committee

House of Lords

Parliament

The House of Lords Constitution Committee - which examines all public bills for constitutional implications - has raised a number of potential problems with the Recall of MPs Bill.

In a

report on the bill the committee highlighted:

  • that MPs convicted of an offence for political reasons, such as engaging in a public protest against aspects of government policy, will have recall proceedings triggered against them under the current bill
  • MPs themselves, rather than voters, determine whether the recall process can be triggered as the Commons Committee on Standards can suspend MPs for more than ten days, which would trigger recall proceedings
  • the bill as it stands makes signing a recall petition a public act, potentially putting citizens off voting

More on Tata sale

House of Commons

Parliament

Vince Cable says he had "substantial discussions" with Tata in India on their planned sale of their Long Products division.

He welcomes "the fact that Tata has engaged with the Community union" and says he believes the sector has a long-term future.

Avoiding politics

House of Lords

Parliament

Tabling his amendment, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Tyler tells peers his amendment avoids the "inevitable politicisation of the Standards Committee" that would result from MPs being allowed to determine whether a colleague - or political opponent - is subjected to a recall challenge.

Lord tyler
BBC
Lord Tyler sets out the case for his amendment

@Number10press

No. 10 Press Office ‏tweets: PM: Steel production is up and employment in the steel industry is up because we've got the car and aerospace industries growing. #PMQs

@SarahChampionMP

Labour MP Sarah Champion tweets: Waiting to speak to defend UK Steel with many Labour colleagues, virtually no one on benches opposite! Only 330,000 worker jobs after all!

Ravenscraig 'sabotaged'

House of Commons

Parliament

SNP MP Angus MacNeil claims Ravenscraig steelworks, which closed in 1992, was "deliberately sabotaged".

Business, Innovation and Skills Secretary Vince Cable, who is making the opening speech for the government in the Opposition day debate, says he doubts that "conspiracy theory".

He says the steel industry "halved" in 1980-81 and there was another contraction in the industry after 1997.

Misconduct hearings

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers are now debating a series of amendments to create special misconduct hearing, operated by two judges, to decide whether a recall petition should be opened.

This would take the decision out of the hands of MPs on the Standards Committee.

Amendment passed

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers agree to include a clause allowing recall proceedings to begin if an MP has been found guilty of falsifying their expenses in the bill without a vote.

'Rue the day'

House of Lords

Parliament

Warning about the ease in which a media storm can be created over issues surrounding false expenses Lord Martin tells peers to think twice before voting for the amendment.

Any time he has been involved in legislation where all parties are in agreement "we rue the day we've made that decision" he says.

Expenses scandal

House of Lords

Parliament

The Speaker of the House during the expenses scandal, Michael Martin, now Lord Martin of Springburn, warns former MPs now in the House of Lords against condemning MPs exposed to criticism during the expenses scandal.

"If only those former MPs who were quick to criticise would be willing to produce their bank statements [dating from their tenure in the House of Commons] we might be able to see what they claimed in parliamentary expenses," he says.

He suggests there may be less criticism if this were the case.

Michael Martin
BBC
Lord Martin of Springburn

More on the opposition motion

House of Commons

Parliament

The Labour motion being debated today "calls on the government to recognise the importance of the steel industry and to work with it, the Scottish and Welsh governments and trade unions to provide a co-ordinated plan for the industry's future".