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Summary

  1. MPs met for Culture, Media and Sport questions.
  2. Labour MP Diana Johnson asked an urgent question on airdrops to besieged areas of Syria.
  3. Leader of the House Chris Grayling outlined the forthcoming business for the week in the Business Statement.
  4. MPs approved the draft European Union Referendum (Voter Registration) Regulations 2016, extending the deadline for voters to apply to register to vote.
  5. There was a backbench debate on carers.
  6. The House of Lords conducted a number of debates, including on the balance of power between the government and Parliament; and FGM prosecutions.

Live Reporting

By Sam Francis, Esther Webber and Georgina Pattinson

All times stated are UK

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End of Lords business

House of Lords

Parliament

The Lords has finished for today and will return at 10am tomorrow for consideration of these private members' bills: 

  • Asset Freezing (Compensation) Bill 
  • Register of Arms Brokers Bill 
  • Renters’ Rights Bill 

Government defends anti-FGM measures as 'significant'

Debate on female genital mutilation (FGM)

House of Lords

Parliament

Responding to the debate on behalf of the Home Office, Lord Keen of Elie says the government has taken "significant steps to end FGM in a generation but we know more work is needed".

Lord Keen
BBC

Call for action on FGM

Debate on female genital mutilation (FGM)

House of Lords

Parliament

Crossbencher Lord Berkeley of Knighton is opening a debate on female genital mutilation (FGM).

He asks what steps the government intends to take, after NHS statistics show that in 2015, over 1,000 cases of female genital mutilation were reported every three months, and the lack of any successful prosecutions to date.

He says the numbers are "appalling" and a national action plan is needed. 

Lord Berkeley
b

Voter registration deadline extended

Motion to approve EU Referendum (Voter Registration) Regulations 2016

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers have approved the EU Referendum (Voter Registration) Regulations 2016, which extend the deadline to register to vote in the EU referendum to midnight on 9 June.

They now move on to a debate on female genital mutilation. 

Voter registration deadline extension

Motion to approve EU Referendum (Voter Registration) Regulations 2016

House of Lords

Parliament

Cabinet Office Minister Lord Bridges of Headley is introducing a motion to approve the EU Referendum (Voter Registration) Regulations 2016.

The regulations extend the deadline to register to vote in the EU referendum to midnight on 9 June.

Call answered

Labour MP tweets

NHS bankruptcy warning over obesity

Debate on tackling obesity

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers move on to a debate tabled by Conservative Baroness Jenkin of Kennington, who is asking the government what assessment they have made of recent new dietary advice that contradicts recommendations to eat a low-fat diet to tackle obesity.

She warns that "obesity and related illnesses are costing the country a fortune" and "if we don't wake up to the extent of this crisis, the NHS could end up bankrupt".

She goes on to ask why calories are not labelled on alcoholic drinks. 

Baroness Jenkin
BBC

Lords leader: Peers must know when to take no for an answer

Debate on the balance of power between the government and Parliament

House of Lords

Parliament

Baroness Stowell
BBC

Lords Leader Baroness Stowell of Beeston tells the House: "To succeed in my job I have to listen to this House and sometimes I have to deliver difficult messages to Cabinet colleagues - they don't always like what I have to say."

She suggests the "balance of power has shifted toward Parliament more than has been the case for nearly 20 years".

She says the government is "still considering" the Strathclyde review but "we [the Lords] must acknowledge when it is right to take no for an answer" in shaping legislation.

Poetic licence

Barrister and Assistant Parliamentary Counsel tweets

'A way to go' in improving scrutiny of government

Debate on the balance of power between the government and Parliament

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Wallace
BBC

We're now reaching the closing speeches - with Lib Dem Lord Wallace of Tankerness speaking of the "delicate balance" between the executive and Parliament. 

He thinks scrutiny of government has been improved by topical questions and select committees "but there's still some way to go". 

He cites in particular the "onslaught" of delegated legislation and "quasi-legislation" in the form of official guidance.

He says it's "incumbent on us to fight against moves to weaken our ability to hold the executive to account".

Poem reveals frustrations of a law-maker

Baroness Thornton reads a poem about drafting laws.
Baroness Thornton reveals the discovery of a poem on drafting and making law.

Robo-ministers?

Debate on the balance of power between the government and Parliament

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour's Lord Haskel has been speaking about the potential of artificial intelligence to assist in the drafting of legislation. 

He reassures peers: "It's not the start of the slippery slope of ministers being replaced by robots."

He points out that machines can read and analyse clauses in loan agreements in contracts of sale and point lawyers in the right direction. 

Business in the Commons concludes

House of Commons

Parliament

Business in the House of Commons has concluded - having finished the day's business ahead of schedule, the Commons decided to skip today's adjournment debate and call it a day.

MPs will return on 13 June at 2.30pm for the final stage of the Policing and Crime Bill.

Former civil service chief: Strathclyde review misunderstood

Debate on the balance of power between the government and Parliament

House of Lords

Parliament

Crossbencher and former head of the civil service Lord Butler of Brockwell says Lord Strathclyde's proposals have been "misunderstood". 

"He is not proposing Lords' powers on statutory instruments should be curbed - but to substitute a procedure which the Lords rarely dares to use with one that could be used much more frequently."

However, he agrees with Baroness Smith about the "unsatisfactory nature of the legislation presented by the executive to Parliament".

Read more about the Strathclyde review.

Lord Butler
BBC

'Our respect is not enough'

Carers debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Health Minister Alistair Burt pays tribute to carers whose work can "can scarcely be quantified of questioned".

"Our respect is unreserved but respect is not enough."  

Concluding the debate, he says the government need to "make sure our own support for people is clearly demonstrated as well."

He says the government's legislation is improving life chances for carers but admits it is "taking time to bed in".

"We owe carers a duty of care. Not just to provide them with the support tool and information they need to care well but to make sure their own health well-being and life goals are not compromised."

Health Minister Alistair Burt
BBC

What is Carers Week?

House of Commons

Parliament

Screen grab of the Carers Week website
Carers UK

The 6-12 June is Carers Week in the UK, an annual campaign to raise awareness run by Carers UK.

The campaign seeks to highlight the challenges carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.

This year focuses on "Building Carer Friendly Communities" - which support carers to look after their loved ones "while recognising that they are individuals with needs of their own".

Download the research report here.

Carers should not be 'struggling to make ends meet'

Carers debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Responding to the debate for Labour shadow health minister Barbara Keeley focuses on the financial hardship suffered by many carers.

She tells MPs that around "1.2m carers are in poverty" in the UK. 

"I feel very strongly no carer should be pushed into poverty because of their responsibilities.

"It's terrible to think so many carers out there are struggling to make ends meet."

shadow health minister Barbara Keeley
BBC

No alternative to my plans, says Lord Strathclyde

Debate on the balance of power between the government and Parliament

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Strathclyde
BBC

Lord Strathclyde, who wrote a recent review of the House of Lords' powers, asserts: "I don't detect a concerted attempt by this government to circumvent scrutiny by either House of Parliament."

He concedes that the legislative process could be improved by "more thought-through policy and better drafting".

But he goes on to defend his proposals, noting that although they have been criticised by various committees, "nobody has come up with an alternative". 

He says: "Far from clipping the wings of this House, I want to give them new powers by allowing them to demand a minister comes to the dispatch box to explain themselves."

Care legislation

House of Commons

Parliament

Carers’ legislation is a relatively recent phenomenon. 

The needs of carers, independent of the needs of those they are caring for, have been recognised and subsequently strengthened in law by three private members’ bills that became Acts of Parliament: The Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995, the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000, and the Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004.

These have recently been further strengthened by the Care Act 2014, which for the first time means that carers will be recognised in the law in the same way as those they care for.  

Under the Act:

  • local authorities have a responsibility to assess a carer’s needs for support, where the carer appears to have such needs;
  • following the assessment, the local authority must decide whether the carer’s needs are ‘eligible’ for support from the local authority. This approach is similar to that used for adults with care and support needs;
  • the local authority and the carer will agree a support plan;
  • carers should receive a personal budget, which is a statement showing the cost of meeting their needs, as part of their support plan

The Children and Families Act 2014 gives young carers (and parent carers) similar rights to assessment as other carers have under the Care Act.

Labour calls for new approach to legislation in the Lords

Debate on the balance of power between the government and Parliament

House of Lords

Parliament

Shadow leader of the Lords Baroness Smith of Basildon is opening a debate on the balance of power between the government and Parliament. 

She begins by noting the position of the Conservatives in not having a majority in the Lords, saying the government "has not welcomed the challenge" from the upper chamber and she says she realises it must be "frustrating".

She warns that tackling this by the creation of new Tory peers would be "easy and unsatisfactory", and that a better route would be to ensure legislation is "fit-for-purpose" by the time it reaches the Lords. 

It follows the government-commissioned review which recommended curbing the Lords' powers after peers voted down planned tax credits cuts.  

Baroness Smith
BBC

Blast from the past

Parliamentary service tweets

Labour queries options for delivering aid to Syria

Statement

House of Lords

Parliament

Shadow international development spokesman Lord Collins of Highbury asks: "What will happen if the Syrian government refuses permission for land access [for aid]?"

He says: "Every day every week, living conditions are becoming intolerable." 

Foreign Office Minister Baroness Anelay says it is important to "take stock" of the UN's request for land access and wait for the outcome of that. 

She adds Russia will play a key role in influencing Syria's course of action. 

Lord Collins
BBC

Lords hear statement on Syria

Statement

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers are now listening to the repeat of an answer to an urgent question in the Commons.

Foreign Office Minister Baroness Anelay says UK officials are today meeting International Syria Support Group (ISSG) officials and the UN in Geneva to press Bashar al-Assad's forces to allow air drops.

She tells peers: "Air drops are a last resort" as land delivery is "safer, and more efficient". 

If no progress is made on delivering aid to besieged towns, however, Lady Anelay says the ISSG must "consider very carefully what further steps may be taken". 

Huge job

Full time carer tweets

Outlining economic risks of leaving EU 'is Project Sanity'

Debate on the economic and financial prospects of the UK

House of Lords

Parliament

Responding to the debate for the government, Lord Ashton of Hyde says that to discuss the downsides of leaving the EU is not "project fear" but "project sanity", quoting Lord Patten of Barnes. 

He defends the Treasury's forecasts on Brexit as a "genuine attempt" to outline what would happen.

If we stay in the EU, he continues, "British businesses will have full access to the European free trade area and it brings jobs and lower prices."

Issue-by-issue: what both sides claim

Lord Ashton
BBC

Unpaid carers in England 'struggling'

House of Commons

Parliament

A young pair of hands hold and elderly hand
BBC

Unpaid carers in England are struggling to get the support they need despite new laws introduced to help them, according to a report by Carers UK.

The Care Act was introduced in England last year to provide better support for those needing care and those who provide it unpaid.

Under the Act, carers are entitled to an assessment of their needs, but the charity's survey suggests almost a third of those who had an assessment had to wait more than six months to get it.

The survey also found 54% of those responding to the online survey expected their quality of life to get worse in the next year - compared with 50% before the changes were brought in.

Labour: Government pursuing own agenda on economy

Debate on the economic and financial prospects of the UK

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour's Treasury spokesman Lord Davies of Oldham responds to the debate by saying: "We have got to increase our productivity, we have got to increase our skills. What have we got instead? A commitment to austerity."

He claimed the "commitment to austerity" was born out of the government's wish to "realise their own political and ideological agenda". 

House of Commons

The leader of the House of Commons rejects calls from MPs to overturn a ban on speaking Welsh at Westminster.

Read more

'Who would pick up the slack?'

Carers debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Opening debate Conservative MP Mims Davies praises the "carers army that turns up day in and day out".

The unpaid carers contribution is worth an "estimated £132bn a year, the same as the NHS budget", she argues.

"Who would pick up the slack if they didn't turn up to work one day?"

Conservative MP Mims Davies
BBC

Confusion cleared up...

Deputy leader of the House and BBC's parliamentary correspondent tweet

Tweets
BBC

Debate on 'silent carers army'

Carers debate

House of Commons

Parliament

MPs now move to today's Backbench Business debate on Carers Week, led by the Conservative Mims Davies. 

Ms Davies has said she wants to highlight the work of the "silent carers army" of people in the UK who care for ill, older or disabled people. 

The 2011 census showed that 5.4m people in England (10.2% of the population) were providing some level of unpaid care, with 1.3m providing 50 or more hours of unpaid care per week.  

Emergency legislation passed

Voter Registration

House of Commons

Parliament

MPs pass the emergency legislation to extend the voter registration deadline without the need for a vote.

The regulations will pass to the House of Lords where it needs to be approved by the end of the day to come into effect.

UK's economic prospects are 'good'

Debate on the economic and financial prospects of the UK

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Leigh
BBC

Conservative Lord Leigh of Hurley opens his speech by expressing his hope the debate "doesn't descend into a rant on the forthcoming referendum".

He argues the UK's "prospects are good" and voters, "not content with a coalition that made great strides in restoring our economy, they voted for more of the same - a resounding mandate to improve the competitiveness of our business climate". 

Parliamentary inquiry into glitch

Voter Registration

House of Commons

Parliament

Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin announces that the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, which he chairs, will carry out an investigation into the glitch on the government website.

"We have already pencilled into our programme what we will do in the aftermath of this referendum," he tells MPs.

This will add to the inquests by the Electoral Commission and the government.

Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin
BBC

Letwin: Website capacity now doubled

EU Voter registration

House of Commons

Parliament

Oliver Letwin announces the voter registration website has had its capacity doubled to allow for any future spikes in applications.

Tuesday's spike was "three times as intense as the spike before the general election" but it would now take "a spike six times as large" to cause the site to fail again.

Conservative MP Liam Fox, who had asked Mr Letwin to explain how the website had been amended, called on those "following proceedings to register in plenty of time to vote".

"Leaving registration to the last two hours possible may not be the wisest thing to do."

Voter extension may be legally challenged

Leave.EU founder Arron Banks has announced he is considering launching a legal challenge to the deadline extension.

The insurance millionaire said there were grounds for a judicial review of the "unconstitutional" move.  

Yesterday Conservative MP Sir Gerald Howarth said people had had "months and months" to register to vote and it was "their fault" if they had left it until the last minute.

His party colleague Ian Liddell-Grainger said the extension to the deadline amounted to "gerrymandering" and another Tory, Andrew Bridgen, said it set a "very dangerous precedent".

In an interview for BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Banks told political correspondent Ross Hawkins: "We've got lawyers that are looking at it at the moment.

"They are tending to say it's unconstitutional because once you've set the rules you can't really change it halfway through, and Parliament really shouldn't be doing this."

A Britain Stronger in Europe source said Mr Banks was entitled to spend his money as he wished.  

Leave.EU founder Arron Banks
BBC
Leave.EU founder Arron Banks

Lord Haskel urges peers to look beyond the referendum

Debate on the economic and financial prospects of the UK

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Haskel
BBC

Peers have moved on to a debate on the economic and financial prospects of the United Kingdom.

In his opening speech, Labour's Lord Haskel says: "There is life after the referendum - possibly a more turbulent one."

He draws attention to possible protectionism in trade after the referendum and US election, excess capacity in China, redundancies in the oil industry, and the fall in manufacturing.

"We are seeing sentiment moving away from our preoccupation with the deficit," he says, asking if the government is coming round to the view that "the market also has to serve people not just business".

214,000 applications caused website to crash

Voter registration

House of Commons

Parliament

Oliver Letwin tells MPs that in the hour leading up to the Government's website crash "214,000 applications" for voter registration were made.

This "exceeded the number of applications the websites was designed to deal with" he says "and it's no surprise the website fell over".

The Electoral Commission urged people to sign up until the end of Thursday in order to vote on 23 June.  

This month's vote is the first on the UK's relationship with Europe since 1975
ELECTORAL COMMISSION

EU referendum: news and background

UK and EU flags
Reuters

MPs are debating the legislation which extends the deadline for people to register to vote in the EU referendum.

The date of the referendum is 23 June. You can read news and background on the referendum here.

Emergency legislation introduced

Voter registration

House of Commons

Parliament

Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Letwin is now tabling emergency legislation to allow the deadline for people to register to vote in the EU referendum until midnight tonight.

It follows a computer glitch which left some people unable to sign up before the original midnight Tuesday deadline.  

The Cabinet Office said the issue had been caused by "unprecedented demand".  

Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Letwin
BBC