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Summary

  1. The day started at 11.30 GMT with justice questions, followed by a ten minute rule bill from Labour MP Jim Hood.
  2. After that, MPs considered Lords' amendments to the Modern Slavery Bill.
  3. Then there was a debate on motions relating to the Committee on Standards' reports on standards and conduct in the Commons.
  4. There was also a backbench business debate on Guantanamo detainee Shaker Aamer, which was followed by the adjournment debate.
  5. Peers followed oral questions with the third reading of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill.
  6. The Lords completed all stages of the Corporation Tax (Northern Ireland) Bill and the Supply and Appropriation (Anticipation and Adjustments) Bill.

Live Reporting

By Sam Francis and Aiden James

All times stated are UK

Goodnight from the Commons

House of Commons

Parliament

And that's a slightly early end to business in the House of Commons today.

MPs next meet at 11.30 GMT tomorrow for international development questions.

David Cameron will face Ed Miliband at Prime Minister's Questions at noon, before George Osborne delivers the final Budget of this Parliament.

If you can't wait until 12.30 GMT tomorrow, you can access

BBC News stories, features and analysis on the Budget now.

Minister replies

House of Commons

Parliament

Replying to the debate, Education Minister David Laws says "this government is determined to do whatever we can" to ensure that school staff, governors and others have the information they need to keep people "safe from harm".

The government has also established an improvement fund, he says.

Schools can apply for this extra funding to improve maintenance.

David Laws
BBC

End of Lords business

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers then take another money bill, the Supply and Appropriation (Anticipation and Adjustments) Bill, in a single gulp.

And with that business in the House of Lords is concluded for the day.

Peers will return tomorrow at 15.00 GMT for the committee stage of the House of Commons Commission Bill.

'Boosting the entire UK economy'

House of Lords

Parliament

Treasury Minister Lord Newby winds up the debate, telling peers that the UK government, the Northern Ireland Executive and the "business community" support the bill.

He says it has the potential to "encourage genuine investment", helping Northern Ireland "become more competitive" and so "boosting the entire UK economy."

And with that peers agree to pass all stages of the bill en bloc. The bill, which has passed all stages in the House of Commons, will now be sent for royal assent to become law.

All-party report

House of Commons

Parliament

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health, which is chaired by Jim Sheridan, commissioned a report on asbestos in schools.

Lib Dem MP Annette Brooke and Labour MP Ian Lavery, who are also members of the group, are contributing to tonight's debate.

The group reported that more than 75% of Britain's state schools contain asbestos, putting children and staff at risk of exposure, which can lead to the fatal lung disease mesothelioma.

Over 140 school teachers have died from mesothelioma in the past ten years, the group said, while an unknown number of cleaners, administrative staff and caretakers have also died.

Labour response

House of Lords

Parliament

Shadow Northern Ireland spokesman Lord Davies of Oldham bemoans the fact that peers have not been able to question the government on a "point of such substantial detai,l because this is a money bill and there's no chance of pressing the issue any further".

While Labour supports the bill, there are "anxieties" about the "trade off between [corporation tax] and the block grant" and the wider impact on devolution arrangements and the whole issue of the Barnett formula, which have not been addressed.

Adjournment debate

House of Commons

Parliament

MPs arrive at today's final debate about an hour earlier than originally scheduled.

Today's adjournment debate concerns asbestos in schools and is led by Labour MP Jim Sheridan.

Jim Sheridan
BBC

Motion approved

House of Commons

Parliament

MPs back the motion calling on the US government "to release Shaker Aamer from his imprisonment in Guantanamo Bay and to allow him to return to his family in the UK".

MPs are now presenting petitions from their constituents.

'No further detainees'

House of Commons

Parliament

"Aside from Mr Aamer, the UK is not considering accepting any further detainees" from Guantanamo, minister Tobias Ellwood tells the House.

He insists that the UK government will continue to press for an "urgent resolution" of Shaker Aamer's case.

'End of the beginning'

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Browne
BBC

Democratic Unionist Party peer Lord Browne of Belmont says the bill will have the potential "to transform the Northern Ireland economy in the long term and ensure a level of prosperity it has not enjoyed before".

"A reduction in the corporate tax rate is one of the most effective policy tools to achieve a rebalancing of the Northern Ireland economy towards the private sector, which is an essential prerequisite to future economic prosperity," he tells peers.

Paraphrasing Winston Churchill he tells peers "this is not the end, or even the beginning of the end. But perhaps it is the end of the beginning."

Guantanamo closure 'contentious'

House of Commons

Parliament

Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood says the closure of the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba "remains a contentious political issue in Washington".

There are "stark differences of opinion" in the US Congress, he adds.

Saudi government role

House of Commons

Parliament

Shadow Foreign Office minister Gareth Thomas adds his voice to the calls for Shaker Aamer to be released "as soon as possible".

He asks ministers "whether the Saudi government supports Mr Aamer's release".

Mr Aamer is a citizen of Saudi Arabia and a British resident, with a family in the UK.

'This amazing ally of ours'?

House of Commons

Parliament

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas asks why, "if the US is meant to be this amazing ally of ours", the UK government cannot obtain Shaker Aamer's release.

She says that Mr Aamer is suffering from a number of health problems and claims he has witnessed and suffered violence.

Caroline Lucas
BBC

'Knows too much?'

House of Commons

Parliament

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn suggests that Shaker Aamer's situation "doesn't say very much for the power of the US presidency".

President Obama campaigned for the closure of Guantanamo Bay detention camp, and then "specifically" ordered "the release of those where there is no case whatsoever against them, and they're still not released".

He asks why Mr Aamer should still be detained.

"Is it because he knows to much? Is it because he has seen too much?" he asks.

'Moral outrage'

House of Commons

Parliament

Shaker Aamer's incarceration is a "moral outrage", Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron says.

"It's even more outrageous that this occupies so little space in the consciousness of people in Western societies - this blot on our collective conscience," he adds.

"There is not an excuse that is acceptable" for Mr Aamer not to be released, he argues.

'Piecemeal dismantling' of the UK

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean
BBC

Conservative former Secretary of State for Scotland Lord Forsyth of Drumlean is now on his feet opposing the bill.

The "shoddy" bill will not only make up part of the "piecemeal dismantling of our constitution and United Kingdom", it will not achieve its intended goal of encouraging business to Northern Ireland, he says.

The bill will instead "create a more complex tax system" putting off potential investors who will see the Republic of Ireland as the simpler option.

He accuses the government of marking this as a "money bill to rush it through Parliament as part of their pledges in the Stormont House Agreement" which he says is already being

"reneged" on by the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Prepared for block grant cut

House of Lords

Parliament

Ulster Unionist Party peer Lord Empey argues that Northern Ireland is prepared for the "inevitable" reduction in the central block grant from the UK government.

In February, the

Treasury announced that Northern Ireland's block grant being cut by £325m a year. Under European rules, the Northern Ireland Executive will have to make up the shortfall.

A cut in corporation tax will mean less revenue is collected for the Treasury, but Lord Empey argues the tax "can be varied in different ways, thus easing the burden in reduction of public spending."

'Fall from grace'

House of Commons

Parliament

David Davis MP
BBC

David Davis speaks to support the motion calling on the US government to release Shaker Aamer.

He also argues that the UK's international standing has suffered as a result of its support for US treatment of detainees: "We have fallen from the grace we were in and we have essentially done what Al-Qaeda would have liked us to have done."

Picture: Jane Ellison

House of Commons

Parliament

Shaker Aamer's MP, Jane Ellison, is in the chamber but as a minister cannot participate in the debate.

Jane Ellison
BBC

Lower UK corporation tax

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Trimble
BBC

Nobel peace laureate, former leader of the Ulster Union Party and First Minister of Northern Ireland Lord Trimble, now a Conservative peer, warns the bill may cause tension amongst other parts of the UK who also want corporation tax powers.

He suggest the drafted bill may be able to be applied to Scotland and Wales, but not English regions and he warns "people in England will not be happy if they feel they are not being fairly treated."

Lord Trimble's preferred measure would be to encourage the chancellor to reduce corporation tax across the UK making today's bill obsolete "because the corporation tax across the UK is so low".

"That would be a very happy result."

Backbench Business Debate

House of Commons

Parliament

MPs approve the motions relating to the standards system and move onto the Backbench Business debate.

John McDonnell MP opens the debate on Shaker Aamer's imprisonment in Guantánamo Bay.

Shaker Aamer, who is 48 years old, has spent over 13 years in the high security US prison in Cuba and the UK government has called for his release on several occasions.

Maiden speech

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Hay of Ballyore
BBC

Former speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly Willie Hay, now Lord Hay of Ballyore, is making his maiden speech in the House of Lords.

In the House of Lords, a Member must make a maiden speech before they can table a debate or an oral question in the House of Lords. The maiden speech is expected to be short, uncontroversial and not express views that would provoke an interruption. It must take place during a listed debate.

Lord Hay speaks in support of the bill. It is right to allow to decision-making to be taken at the local level "to take account of local differences", he says.

It is hard to think of a "more different place" than Northern Ireland given it is the only region of the UK to have a land border with another nation "let alone another nation with a much lower tax rate" and given the history of its recent "troubles", he adds.

'Solving economic problems'

House of Lords

Parliament

Shadow Northern Ireland Minister Lord McAvoy gives Labour's backing to the bill, but warns that it is "not going to solve Northern Ireland's economic prospects, but its a measure that should be implemented to try and rebalance the economy."

About the Committee on Standards

House of Commons

Parliament

The Committee on Standards has 13 members. Ten of these are MPs from the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties, while the remaining "lay members" are not MPs.

Kevin Barron says the committee has recommended that the membership should be increased to 14, "of whom seven should be lay members".

This would increase the diversity of the committee, he argues.

Kevin Barron
BBC

Stormont House Agreement

House of Lords

Parliament

Stormont House Agreement
BBC

The introduction of this legislation was one aspect of the

Stormont House Agreement reached on 23 December 2014, which set out arrangements for the governance of Northern Ireland on a number of issues.

The Bill allows the Northern Ireland Assembly to set the rate of corporation tax in respect of certain trading profits - the buying and selling of goods and services but not income from property. The devolved powers would apply to micro, small or medium-sized companies largely based in Northern Ireland.

Corporation tax is currently 21% in the UK, compared to 12.5% in the Republic of Ireland; the major parties in Northern Ireland hope that cutting corporation tax will create stronger growth in the region.

Standards system debate

House of Commons

Parliament

MPs agree the remaining Lords amendments to the bill.

The next item of business concerns the standards system in the House of Commons and the conduct of MPs.

Labour MP Kevin Barron, who chairs the

Committee on Standards, is opening the debate.

Northern Ireland bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Celebrating St Patrick's day in their own inimitable way, peers now begin their debate on all stages of the Corporation Tax (Northern Ireland) Bill.

The bill gives the Northern Ireland government some flexibility over its corporation tax rates.

As a

money bill, it's not something the Lords are able to amend - and the passage of the bill through the House is expected to be relatively brief.

Minister closes debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Home Office Minister Karen Bradley is closing the debate on the Modern Slavery Bill and striking a conciliatory tone.

She tells MPs that "the bill today looks very, very different" from the original draft bill proposed in 2013.

She congratulates government ministers in the Lords but also the opposition for a "constructive" approach.

Karen Bradley addresses MPs
BBC

Small Business bill passed

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers pass the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill at third reading, meaning it has passed all stages in both the Commons and the Lords and is now in a process known as parliamentary "ping pong".

Both Houses must agree on the final form of the bill before it can proceed to royal assent and become law.

Late payment changes

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers agree to a government concession requiring companies to reference their late payments and the amount of interest owed to suppliers in their business statements. Labour had argued for these measures at Committee stage of the bill.

Moving the motion, Business Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe argues that "companies in the UK have used their economic power to make gains at the suppliers' expense for too long."

These changes "will bring increased transparency" will "encourage a change in corporate behaviours", she says.

Other Lords amendments

House of Commons

Parliament

Among the remaining amendments being considered is one which would make explicit that one of the personal circumstances that may make someone vulnerable to slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour is that they are a child.

Another would clarify that the offence of forced or compulsory labour can cover a very broad range of types of work and services, including begging or pick-pocketing.

Another would clarify that the consent of a victim to their travel is irrelevant to whether an offence has been committed, regardless of whether they are an adult or a child.

Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers now move to the third reading of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, which aims to ensure that the red tape that affects small businesses is frequently reviewed and either cut or altered to remain effective.

Met Commissioners condemnation

House of Lords

Parliament

Two former Commissioners of the Metropolitan Police have condemned the plans for water cannon in London.

Lord Condon, who held the post between 1993 and 2000, says "no compelling case has been made" for the use of water cannons in London, and since it has the ability to "dramatically affect the mood and tone of how police respond to challenging situations", it should be banned.

Lord Blair, the Met commissioner from 2005 to 2008, adds that water cannon only serve two purposes: "keeping protestors from sites" and "keeping protestors from fighting each other." As the Metropolitan Police has been doing this for 150 years without the need for water cannon the Home Secretary is "asking the wrong question", he concludes.

He asks Lord Bates to "explain this to the Mayor of London, the prospective candidate for Uxbridge and goodness knows what else [Boris Johnson]" ,who approved the purchase.

'Much improved'

House of Commons

Parliament

MPs are now considering a large group of less contentious Lords amendments to the Modern Slavery Bill.

Shadow Home Office minister Diana Johnson says the bill has been "much improved" by scrutiny by MPs and peers.

Diana Johnson
BBC

Home Secretary response soon

House of Lords

Parliament

Home Office Minister Lord Bates responds, telling peers that the Home Secretary will make a decision on water cannon soon after receiving a report from the

Centre for Applied Science and Technology.

However, he assures peers that the government will not take the decision lightly, adding that the government agrees that it could result in a "significant change in the nature of policing".

MPs disagree with peers

House of Commons

Parliament

MPs vote to overturn the Lords amendment by 276 votes to 209 - a majority of 67.

Ban water cannon

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour's Lord Clinton-Davis asks the government to ban the use of water cannons in London, which he says are "wholly dangerous and unworkable", "alien to the British way of life", and "opposed by a large majority of police officers."

The Metropolitan Police agreed to purchase three water cannon for London

in June last year.

The water cannon will not be deployed until the home secretary authorises their use in England and Wales.

About the Lords amendment

House of Commons

Parliament

Peers defeated the government and backed an amendment to end the "tied visa" arrangements for migrant domestic workers.

The amendment would enable them to change their employer after they have arrived in the UK and be granted extensions to their visa to seek other employment in the same work sector.

MPs are now voting on whether to accept or overturn that amendment.

Social work funding

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour's Baroness King of Bow calls for central government funding for the recently established

College of Social Work.

The college, which aims to help give social work "the standing it deserves and the status it needs to influence national policymaking and public debate", is already funded through membership fees.

But Baroness King argues that improving the training of social workers is "of such importance that under-resourcing it would be a false economy."