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Summary

  1. The day in the Commons began with questions to the Attorney General; and then to the Women and Equalities team.
  2. The Business Statement was next, outlining the week ahead, then there were two backbench business debates.
  3. The debates were on the national security checking of the Iraq Inquiry report; and then on diversity in the BBC.
  4. Peers conducted their usual question time session; then a debate on the access given to retired members of the House.
  5. Peers also considered the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill.

Live Reporting

By Kate Whannel, Patrick Cowling and Sam Francis

All times stated are UK

Get involved

MPs adjourn

House of Commons

Parliament

That concludes the day and indeed the week in the House of Commons.

MPs will return on Monday to debate the national living wage and educational attainment in Yorkshire.

House of Commons clock
HOC

We 'should be proud' of safety net

Adjournment debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Communities and Local Government Minister Marcus Jones runs through the numbers in terms of funding for tackling homelessness - saying "the homelessness safety net in this country is still one we should be proud of".

Government is also "exploring other options" to improve the evidence base in what works in tackling homelessness, Mr Jones says, adding that this will "help local authorities target their interventions more smartly".

"Supporting local authorities is not just about funding," he says, pointing to the need for "greater innovation, integration of local services, and earlier prevention".

Mr Jones says that he has reconvened the ministerial working group on homelessness and assures Kate Osamor that the government will "continue to invest in programmes to break the cycle of long term homelessness". 

Marcus Jones
HOC

BBC White Paper promised

BBC diversity debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Concluding his speech, minister Ed Vaizey assures MPs that diversity will be very prominent in the White Paper, which will be published in May.

The debate has been prominent on Twitter during the afternoon, with the #BBCDiversity trending.

Screengrab
BBC

Perambulating peer

Parliamentary magazine tweets

A look back

What's happened in the Upper House this week?

House of Lords

Parliament

It has been quite a week in the chamber with the red benches.

We have seen several government defeats on the Housing and Planning Bill, which after two grueling full days of scrutiny is not even half way through its report stage on the floor of the House.

The government was also defeated on the Energy Bill on measures surrounding the ending of onshore wind subsidies.

Political heavyweights from the time of the Good Friday Agreement discussed the Northern Ireland Bill and the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement, which ensured the continuation of effective devolved government in Northern Ireland.

If you have missed any of those debates - never fear. The Housing and Planning Bill is back for more report stage scrutiny next week, and the highly contentious Trade Union Bill will be dissected and examined by peers on Tuesday.

Plenty to keep the political aficionado interested...

Debate on homelessness

House of Commons

Parliament

The debate on diversity in the BBC concludes and Kate Osamor rises to introduce her debate on homelessness in Edmonton.

Enfield Borough Council says that in recent years there has been an increase in homelessness after years of decline.

The council has argued that it lacks affordable private rented homes to meet demand.

Homeless person in London
PA

What next?

Government department tweets

Broadcasters league table

BBC diversity debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Culture, Media and Sport Minister Ed Vaizey rises to respond and sets out his own league table when it comes to broadcasters' actions on diversity.

At the top, he puts Sky which he believes has made "remarkable" efforts to tackle diversity.

Next is Channel 4, who he says has made a difference despite being "slightly bureaucratic".

Towards the bottom are ITV ("they do not have the passion for this issue") and Channel Five ("who appear to do absolutely nothing").

Concerning the BBC he says he was tempted to give the BBC "a good kicking" but instead acknowledges the changes that have been made. 

Ed Vaizey
HOC

Missing out?

Political Association tweets

Co-directors Jack Gamble and Quentin Beroud on performing Richard ll in Parliament.
Co-directors Jack Gamble and Quentin Beroud on performing Richard ll in Parliament.

House adjourns

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Ahmad brings his remarks to a close with a slight "Freudian slip" as he calls it, of expressing the need for a "new runway" - before swiftly correcting himself to say "new railway".

The minister finishes by saying "HS2 is an investment to a better future and now is the time to secure it".

After a few queries regarding the committee stage scrutiny of the bill, the minister finishes and the House of Lords adjourns for the day, and indeed for the week.

Northern investment

High Speed Rail Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Transport Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon addresses the issues raised in the debate on connectivity and investment in the Midlands and the north, saying "investment is clear in the northern powerhouse as we want to correct a historic underinvestment".

Lord Ahmad says the government will be investing £13bn in northern transport links including improved road access to ports in Liverpool and the Humber.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
BBC

Leaving the BBC

BBC diversity debate

House of Commons

Parliament

David Lammy says he knows of many ethnic minority staff who have left the BBC because of the culture.

Shadow culture, media and sports minister Chi Onwurah agrees and says that she has a list of many producers, directors and others who have left the BBC.

She says she will not, read the list out but may do so in a year's time if the situation has not improved.

Chi Onwurah
HOC

Transport spending 'secure'

High Speed Rail Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon rises after nearly five hours of debate on the High Speed Rail Bill's second reading, and has the happy task of addressing all the questions and issues raised over the course of the debate.

On the concern that several peers have about HS2 draining financial support for the existing railways, Lord Ahmad says the government is investing £38bn in the railways over the next five years.

"The overall transport investment outside of HS2 spending is £60bn over the next five years," he also says.

Lord Ahmad also raises wider positive impacts of the HS2 project, telling the House that it is worth considering "the expertise that we are developing on large scale transport infrastructure".

Newby 'not accepted' by pub tenants

Pubs Code adjudicator

Westminster Hall

Concluding the debate, Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland says Anna Soubry's decision to keep Paul Newby is "quite absurd given the factual evidence".

There is a "clear conflict of interests" with Mr Newby's former role and his new position, he argues.

"All bar one genuine tenant-representing organisation are saying very simply they will not accept Mr Newby and they will not have him act on any of their cases."

"They should not accept him," he adds and "gently asks" Ms Soubry to "look again at what I have said today".

Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland
BBC

'We aren't all straight, able-bodied, white English men'

BBC diversity debate

House of Commons

Parliament

SNP's John Nicholson opens his speech: "We aren't all straight, able-bodied, white English men and the BBC should reflect us in all our glory."

He says charter renewal offers "a perfect opportunity to enshrine the principles of diversity".

The MP begins to sound a little hoarse and his speech is briefly interrupted when David Lammy brings him a glass of water.

"I feel I am closer to power," he says, noting that the glass is in fact made of glass. "We usually get plastic."

John Nicholson
HOc

A 'new dawning' for pubs

Pub Codes adjudicator

Westminster Hall

Business Minsiter Anna Soubry concludes that she has "full confidence that Paul Newby will be an excellent adjudicator".

She says she hopes "everyone will welcome this pubs code so we can have a new age and a new dawning for our pubs, so they continue to be great uniquely British places".

But pubs must have "an element of fairness, not just to the tenants and so we get the right investment and we have a sustainable pub industry in this country".

Railways are forever

High Speed Rail Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour shadow spokesperson Lord Tunnicliffe echoes Lord Rosser's comments at the start of the debate by saying "Labour unambiguously support this project".

Lord Tunnicliffe tells the chamber that making a railway "is a very special thing".

"Railways, if they are well done, last, in human terms forever; this railway will be here in hundreds of years' time," he says.

The Labour shadow minister says that he believes the regenerative benefits of HS2 to the north and the midlands will be "much, much higher than predicted".

Lord Tunnicliffe
BBC

Rupa Huq's 'couch potato days'

BBC diversity debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Labor's Rupa Huq relives her "couch potato days" reminiscing about programmes including Black and White Minstrel Show, Love Thy Neighbour and Mixed Blessings.

She acknowledges that these programmes were made at a time "before political correctness" but argues that in some senses "we haven't moved on".

She cites the programme Citizen Khan as a show that stereotypes Muslims by portraying them as backward - "not quite cutting off people's hands but I can imagine that being in a future episode".

Citizen Khan
HOC
BBC sitcom Citizen Khan

Minister: care with decision

Pubs Code Adjudicator

Westminster Hall

Business Minister Anna Soubry sets out in her speech that she "dislikes stereotypes" and says that she too likes "pints of ale in pubs".

For pubs to survive the government must "ensure the industry is sustainable", and she says she does not want Pubcos to go out of business.

She says she dislikes the stereotype that as a minister she does not know her responsibilities.

She says she appointed Paul Newby as Pub Codes Adjudicator as he was the best candidate and she "took the decision with great care".

Business Minister Anna Soubry
BBC

Level of disruption 'not necessary'

High Speed Rail Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Liberal Democrat spokesperson Baroness Randerson responds to the debate for her party.

Baroness Randerson says that her party supports the railways and supports high speed rail as they are "the norm" in other countries and the UK must catch up.

The Liberal Democrat peer offers a warning note to this support - saying "that does not mean that we should be uncritical - that is why on these benches we are not uncritical cheerleaders for the scheme".

Baroness Randerson points out some of her party's "serious concerns", including that they do not think the level of disruption caused to communities at all stages of the route is necessary.

'We have seen progress'

High Speed Rail Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Liddle
BBC

Labour peer Lord Liddle says "we do truly live in the age of the train" and regales the House with his experiences as a boy spending over six hours on the train between London and Carlisle.

"So we have seen progress," he says, with a smile.

Speaking about business and tourism, Lord Liddle says: "Connectivity is important - speed does matter. That is why we need to improve the quality of the railway."

Lord Liddle also makes the point that "transport can make a vital contribution to the rebalancing of the economy" and echoes the concerns of Lord Prescott by asking "will the project happen or will the Treasury take flight?"

London stations 'not satisfactorily resolved'

High Speed Rail Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Former Cabinet Secretary Lord Turnbull calls for a "full comparative study of all the alternatives to Euston before any final decision is taken".

"I strongly support the objectives of the project as a whole" the former head of the civil service says but admits "he has some doubts about it". 

One problem is that the "London approach has not yet been satisfactorily resolved'", he argues.

In the meantime, the planned railway station at Old Oak Common in Hammersmith should be used as an alternative.

Former Cabinet Secretary Lord Turnbull
BBC

Auntie should 'let go of the purse strings'

BBC diversity debate

House of Commons

Parliament

SNP MP Kirsten Oswald expresses concern that the BBC uses Scottish licence fee payer money to fund its London operation.

She suggests the corporation tries to give the impression that more money is spent in Scotland than is the case - for example she notes that Question Time, despite being produced by a Welsh company, is deemed to be produced in Glasgow. 

She says that Scots rate the BBC less highly than other parts of the country and warns that unless "Auntie in London" can let go of its purse strings support for the licence fee will be diminished. 

Kirsten Oswald
HOC

Young: HS2 Bill's survival proves its benefits

High Speed Rail Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Former Conservative minister for both transport and the Treasury, Lord Young of Cookham, tells peers "we are living through the most intense downward pressure on public expenditure in my life time".

For the High Speed Rail Bill to "get through the Treasury in this background shows that even the most hard-nosed men and women who guard public expenditure understand the benefits of HS2".

He argues that HS2 will have the same "regenerative effect" on areas connected by the route as HS1, also known as the Channel tunnel, had on Kings Cross.

Lord Young of Cookham
BBC

Licence fee payer 'should have a say' in BBC governance

BBC diversity debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Labour's Gareth Thomas suggests that many of his Somali and Chinese constituents would not feel the BBC portrayed their communities.

He wonders if the "representation deficit" could be alleviated by allowing the licence fee payers to elect some of those involved in governance.

He argues that this could encourage more diversity, create more accountability and establish an important line of defense against political interference. 

Gareth Thomas
HOC

'Yet to make a convincing case'

High Speed Rail Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Crossbench peer Lord Rowe-Beddoe reminds peers that the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee concluded the "government has yet to make a convincing case for a £50bn investment".

Lord Rowe-Beddoe, who is a member of the committee, says he is "concerned and greatly disappointed that the unanimous conclusion largely remains ignored by this bill".

"I remain dissatisfied," he says.

Crossbench peer Lord Rowe-Beddoe
BBC

What is a beer tie?

Westminster Hall

Man Drinking a pint of beer
Getty Images

There are two ways of setting up a pub - an individual or group can set it up independently, meaning they have to pay the going market rate for rents etc, but leaving them free to buy supplies, such as alcohol and food, from whoever they like.

The alternative is a tied option meaning that they rent the premises from the pub company or brewery that owns it. The rent and insurance and other items, referred to as "dry rent", are then typically lower than the actual market rate.

In exchange for this discount, pub landlords must buy beer and other supplies from the company that owns their establishment. This is the "wet rent".

Landlords pay a much higher rate for this "wet rent" than they would if they bought their supplies on the open market.

Pub trade body BBPA says the tied arrangement enables an individual to run their own pub for a relatively small start up cost of around £20,000 compared with the £250,000 required to set up independently.

And pub companies such as Enterprise and Punch Taverns, which between them own 9,000 tenanted pubs, argue this is the only way for many pubs to get off the ground in the first place.

Nonetheless, tied licensees are around £13,000 a year worse off than their untied rivals, according to Camra, with 60% earning less than the national minimum wage equivalent salary of £10,000 a year. 

The government's own research suggests that half of the "tied pub" licensees in the UK earn less than £15,000 a year, which is indicated as the minimum starting salary for an employed licensee by the government's National Careers Service.

When to build?

High Speed Rail Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour peer Lord Lea of Crondall
BBC

Labour peer Lord Lea of Crondall argues that there is never a perfect moment for building.

He argues that the 19th Century Ribblehead Viaduct would not have been built today."It would thought to be absurd by all environmentalists," he says.

"What about [Isambard Kingdom] Brunell's bridges? They wouldn't have been built."

High Speed Rail has huge benefits "in terms of noise and pollution" over other forms of transport, Lord Lea says, and the project should not be blocked.

Ribblehead Viaduct in North Yorkshire
BBC
The Ribblehead Viaduct in North Yorkshire would not have been built today, Lord Lea of Crondall argues

'The talk of the community'

BBC diversity debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Dawn Butler
HOC

Labour's Dawn Butler opens her speech with a memory of arguing with an actor friend who couldn't find work in the UK and so was moving to the United States.

She reveals that his name was Idris Elba and that he ended up doing very well in the US.

However she laments that such talent couldn't be kept "in house".

She offers a second memory of growing up and the excitement of seeing a black person on TV - "it was the talk of the community".

Idris Elba
PA
Idris Elba has starred in TV shows including The Wire and Luther

Catch up

BBC diversity debate

'Human cost of new developments'

High Speed Rail Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Conservative peer Baroness Pidding warns peers to not "neglect the human cost of new developments".

Many households are receiving "unacceptably low offers for their properties" she says, and many MPs whose constituencies line the HS2 route complain "compensation crises are causing much worry stress stress to their constituents".

"These problems cut across party lines," she says, adding it is up to parliament to "ensure all affected are being treated fairly".

Baroness Pidding
BBC

BBC fails public trust 'over and over again'

BBC diversity debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Andrew Turner
HOC

Conservative Andrew Turner tells MPs that the impartiality of the BBC is ingrained in the nation's psyche but says the BBC fails this trust "over and over again".

He accuses the corporation of failing to look at itself critically pointing out that the BBC Trust's impartiality reviews never looked for systemic bias and that its complaints procedure was "patronising and inefficient".

'Serious doubts' about HS2 limited

High Speed Rail Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour's Lord Berkeley says he has "serious doubts about HS2 Ltd" due to their "approach to and performance at the House of Lords Committee".

During a hearing with the peers HS2 Ltd, the company developing the high speed rail, made several false claims, Lord Berkeley says.

The company, established by the UK government, claimed putting a train line through Euston was "more expensive than HS2's scheme but could not provide any evidence and still cannot substantiate the cost of their scheme at Euston".

"I don't believe they know what the cost of the scheme is," he argues. 

The debate should be about "the most cost effective way of getting extra capacity" but at the moment the "journey time" is being increased by laying the train line through the wrong stations, he argues.

Lord Berkeley
BBC

BBC corporate body needs 'rewiring'

BBC diversity debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Helen Grant congratulates the BBC on making a step change in their coverage of women's sport.

If they can tackle gender diversity in sport, she asks, then why not racial diversity in their own organisation.

She calls for a "rewiring" of the corporate body with diversity "running through its veins". 

Helen Grant
HOC

Connect Heathrow to HS2

High Speed Rail Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Crossbencher Lord Birt says that it would be a "grave mistake" not to connect Heathrow to HS2 from the outset - explaining his recent experience of Cologne's airport being linked to high speed rail despite only serving Germany's fifth largest city.

The Liverpudlian peer also calls the decision not to include Liverpool in the HS2 connections to London "a massive reverse for that city that is still trying to overcome the adverse effects of history".

'Money talks'

BBC diversity debate

House of Commons

Parliament

David Lammy tells MPs that "money talks" and that it is money alone that will drive change.

He notes that when the BBC felt it had a problem about representing nations and regions it established a dedicated pot of money to facilitate change - "not just mentoring and apprenticeship schemes".

'Finishing the job'

Pubs Code Adjudicator

Westminster Hall

Conservative MP Stewart Jackson suggests that "if I was in a pub I'm sure [Paul Newby] would buy me a fine flagon of ale and we'd talk about life the universe and everything" but that he does not think Mr Newby should be Pubs Code Adjudicator.

Even the "impression that there is a conflict of interest" is enough to discount him from the role, he says.

He also calls on the government to close the loopholes mentioned by Greg Mulholland.

"It wont be perfect," he says but "we are finishing the job".

Conservative MP Stewart Jackso
BBC

Thinking of ancient woodlands

High Speed Rail Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour's Baroness Young of Old Scone is making a lengthy and detailed case for the protection of designated ancient woodlands that are threatened by HS2 developments.

She highlights the fact that it is not only the affect on rare and irreplaceable flora and fauna in these ancient woodlands, but also the animal species who rely on those habitats.

In terms of the bill, Baroness Young says that the current engagement by the planner of the scheme is setting "a bad precedent" in terms of future infrastructure developments as they relate to all environmental concerns - not just ancient woodlands.

'I'm only half way through!'

BBC diversity debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Conservative Bob Stewart intervenes to "really commend" David Lammy for his contribution and hopes that the brilliance of his rhetoric will encourage the BBC to act.

David Lammy expresses gratitude but points out that he is "only half way through". 

Bob Stewart
HOC
David Lammy
HOC