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Summary

  1. Brexit committee is questioning Sir Ivan Rogers
  2. MPs start with International Development questions
  3. PMQs at noon
  4. MPs debate two motions on Police Grant and Local Government Finance Reports
  5. Peers question government ministers from 3pm
  6. Lords then looks at Digital Economy Bill at report stage

Live Reporting

By Kate Whannel, Ben Butcher and Alex Partridge

All times stated are UK

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Peers in the House of Lords

A senior Tory MP says he will start to question the House of Lords' existence if peers "mess around" with the Brexit bill.

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Lords adjourn

House of Lords

Parliament

House of Lords clock
BBC

The debate concludes as does the day in the House of Lords.

Tomorrow peers begin at 11am with oral questions followed by debate on the Health Service Medical Supplies (Costs) Bill and the Neighbourhood Planning Bill. 

Minister responds to the debate

Nutrition debate

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Bates
BBC

Minister Lord Bates responds to the debate.

He tells peers that there is clear evidence on the most effective ways to tackle nutrition.

This includes encouraging breast feeding and the use of vitamin A and zinc supplements.

He says it is also important to focus on preventing malnutrition in children under five years old as it can have the biggest impact on their future potential.

Good nutrition is 'the foundation of sustainable development'

Nutrition debate

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Collins of Highbury
BBC

Labour's international development spokesman Lord Collins of Highbury says that good nutrition is the foundation of sustainable development.

He says the UK has taken "a leading role" in the fight against malnutrition.

He urges the government to commit £530m to improving nutrition after 2020 arguing that this would improve the efficacy of other health programmes. 

House of Commons adjourns

House of Commons

Parliament

Commons clock
BBC

That ends today's business in the House of Commons. 

Tomorrow morning kicks off at an earlier time of 9.30am with questions to the Transport Secretary. 

Statistics are 'shaming'

Nutrition debate

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour's Baroness Thornton describes the statistics on nutrition as "startling and shaming". 

She says malnutrition is the primary "destroyer" of human potential on the planet and asks why only 1% of foreign aid is spent on nutrition.

The first and simplest intervention, she argues, would be to encourage mothers to breastfeed in the first six months.

Minister: Landlords have 'moral duty' to work with police

Adjournment Debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Communities and Local Government Minister Andrew Percy says social housing landlords have a "moral duty" to work with the police and residents. 

He says that landlords can use "social injunctions" which can be a "fast and effective" form of dealing with disruptive neighbours. These can in turn make it easier to evict consistent offenders, he says.

Debate on female nutrition begins

House of Lords

Parliament

Baroness Manzoor
BBC

Peers now move on to the dinner break business debate on improving the standards for women and girls globally.

Conservative Baroness Manzoor opens the debate and tells the House that 73% of people in poverty are women and that 60% of those who are undernourished are women.

How can adolescent girls can attend school when they are weak and dizzy as a result of poor nutrition, she asks.

She urges the government to expand programmes on women and girls' nutrition.

Adjournment debate on the Aster Group introduced

Adjournment Debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Simon Hoare
BBC

Conservative Simon Hoare introduces tonight's adjournment debate on the Aster Group Housing Association and private residents. 

He says he has tabled the debate after an elderly constituent felt obliged to move out of her house, owned by Aster, due to the behaviour of her neighbours. 

He raises that without "duty of care", housing associations such as Aster have no obligation to deal with complaints similar to this and says colleagues have raised similar concerns in their constituencies. 

Aster own and manage 28,000 homes and plan to develop 9,500 new homes in the next seven years. 

Government reaches piracy deal with search engines

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Speaking for the government Baroness Buscombe says the government has "finalised the text of a code of practice" with search engines, aimed at curbing the availability of pirated content and with the "general aim of supporting legitimate content".

She says a voluntary agreement is "quicker, more flexible" and means parties involved in the agreement are already working to deliver on it.

She asks that the amendment be withdrawn because "a statutory power is not needed at present".

Of the newly announced agreement Labour's Lord Stevenson of Balmacara says he "can't see this lasting" and that a statutory power will be needed at some point. But he withdraws the amendment.

MPs support of the Local Government Finance Report

Local Government Finance Report

House of Commons

Parliament

MPs have voted in favour of the Local Government Finance report with a majority of 112.  

They also supported orders on referendums relating to council tax increases, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and the Tees Valley Combined Authority without votes.

Peers debate curbing internet piracy

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

File photo dated 06/08/13 of a woman using a laptop
PA

Peers are now debating an amendment that would bring in a code of practice for search engines compelling them to minimise the availability of illegally pirated copyright material.

The sponsors of the amendment, who include both the Labour Party and the Lib Dems want to stop search engines linking to sites that illegally distribute pirated material.

Minister: finance report 'reaffirms commitment' to local government

Local Government Finance Report

House of Commons

Parliament

Marcus Jones
BBC

Communities and Local Government Minister Marcus Jones sums up by saying "he looks forward to longer terms reforms in funding", the settlement being proposed today "reaffirms our commitment to funding certainty to local government."

He says that the government recognises the need for "dignity, respect and independence" for those seeking social care, and argues the additional funding will help supply this.

Following his speech a vote is called on the spending proposals.

Tory backbenchers call for 'rebalance' of funding

Local Government Finance Report

House of Commons

Parliament

Steve Double
BBC

Conservative Steve Double says it is “right that [Local Government funding] is going under period of dramatic reform…to make it fit for purpose.” He says that it would deal with the “imbalance” between funding in urban and rural areas, an opinion shared by other rural MPs.

Fellow Tory Kevin Hollinrake says it is “simply not fair” that London constituencies appear to receive more local government grants, claiming that while most constituencies need to increase council tax, many in London have frozen them.

Peers vote against copyright amendment

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

The opposition amendment 20 is defeated by 182 to 133.

Peers are now debating an amendment, protecting payments to "creators" like writers and directors for re-transmission of TV programmes when the rights have been transferred to a broadcaster.

Peers vote on copyright amendment

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Baroness Buscombe
BBC

Baroness Buscombe acknowledges the problem and says the government has committed to conducting a review.

She promises to bring forward proposals if the evidence suggests that it is necessary.

She seeks to assure peers that she "will think more about this" but says she cannot commit to introducing an amendment at a later stage of the bill.

Lord Stevenson decides that it is "worth testing the opinion of the House" and the amendment goes to a vote. 

Stevenson: An injustice is being perpetrated

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers begin debate of amendment 20, which is supported by both Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

The amendment seeks to provide protection to owners of copyright works by prohibiting unauthorised decoders other than in strictly controlled circumstances.

Labour's Lord Stevenson says that an injustice is being perpetrated by the manufacturers of such devices.

Lib Dem's Lord Clement-Jones adds that the devices could have an "extremely detrimental effect" on the audio-visual industry.

'Further questions' raised over Dubs scheme closure

Home Affairs Committee

Select Committee

Parliament

Yvette Cooper
BBC

Committee chair Yvette Cooper sums up the session by saying there is "clearly an ongoing willingness" from councils to take refugee children via the Dubs scheme. She says she finds it "quite extraordinary" to hear that councils are offering places that are not being taken up.

She says the government offered "two key reasons" why the Dubs scheme had been curtailed: the risk of encouraging trafficking and the inability of local councils to offer places.

In today's first session, the committee heard experts saying they thought closing the scheme risked more trafficking, and in the second they heard from councils that places were still vacant.

She says the session has "given us further questions which we will need to pursue."

Aiding competition in the mobile market

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Stevenson
BBC

Peers now debate a Labour-Lib Dem amendment which aims to aid competition in the mobile market.

The amendment gives Ofcom the power to impose caps upon wireless telegraphy licenses where the applicant owns more than 30% of the total useable phone spectrum.

Mobile companies pay a fee to Ofcom in order to use the spectrum - airwaves spaces.

Labour's Lord Stevenson argues that the merger of BT and EE created a "behemoth" in the communications market. 

Lord Ashton of Hyde argues that the allocation of the spectrum is a matter for Ofcom.

Lord Stevenson says this is an ongoing discussion and withdraws his amendment. 

New recruit

Labour MP tweets

BreakingGovernment defeated on phone bill caps

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Division result announcement
BBC

Peers vote for amendment 244 votes to 198.

The amendment aims to make it easier for consumers to switch contracts and to cap their monthly bills. 

Government funds 'critical' for council Dubs offer

Home Affairs Committee

Select Committee

Parliament

Conservative Tim Loughton says that the UK has a 10,000 foster place shortage for children who are already here. He says a consideration of this "must apply" too and while he "admires" the goodwill shown by Hammersmith and Fulham he asks "practically, how can we provide that support package? How can you do it when another authority can't?"

Hammersmith and Fulham council leader Stephen Cowan refuses to comment on the capacity of other councils to take on Dubs children. 

He says his council has done a "comprehensive assessment" of the capacity of their children's department and concluded that the "critical issue is full cost recovery" from the government. 

With a government commitment he says they could house 100 migrant children in the next 12 months. 

He says the amount of money needed would be around £750,000.

Communities committee chair questions funding review

Local Government Finance Report

House of Commons

Parliament

Clive Betts
BBC

Clive Betts, chair of Communities and Local Government Committee, says the spending power of local councils has decreased 25% between 2010-16.

He says no other department has been hit by spending cuts in the same way, creating a £5.8bn funding gap.

This could make the funding review redundant if the resources aren’t in place in the first place, he says.

He says it is “no good getting the needs assessment right in terms of the allocation of resources to individual authorities, if you get wrong the overall needs of local governments as a whole at the beginning of the process”.

Peers vote on capping phone bills

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Clement-Jones
BBC

We have had the full range of standard ministerial phrases, says Lib Dem Lord Clement-Jones.

Lord Clement-Jones notes that the response included "the full range" of ministerial reasons not to accept an amendment including unintended consequences, too preccriptive, can't enshrine principles in the bill and risk of duplication.

He says he can't see merit in the response and asks how it goes against the principles of the bill to have the amendment in the bill.

The amendment goes to a vote.

Amendments are 'too prescriptive'

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Baroness Buscombe
BBC

The government's spokeswoman Baroness Buscombe argues that there already exists various ways of managing mobile phone usage. 

She notes that some providers offer capping services.

Technology is "constantly changing" she says, and concludes that the amendment is "too prescriptive".

Lib Dem peers seek to introduce caps for mobile phone bill

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

A woman using a mobile phone
PA

The next amendment, tabled by the Lib Dems, would allow customers to set a cap for their mobile phone contracts.

The amendment also makes it easier for consumers to switch mobile providers where the service is sub-standard.

Lib Dem Lord Clement Jones argues that mobile phone billing is "very complicated" and that vulnerable people can "get into difficulty".

Local government settlement 'deepens divisions'

Local Government Finance Report

House of Commons

Parliament

The shadow communities minister Gareth Thomas references the Surrey Council 'texts' in reference to unfair distribution of social care and local authority funding. 

He says that only two of 152 social care authorities have been able to increase their funding more than Surrey, asking "if Surrey can't cope with demand for social care, where can?" 

He says in the most deprived areas, social care fell by £65 per person, but rose £28 in the wealthiest areas. 

He finishes by stating that the settlement, with its increased emphasis on local tax revenues, will deeper divisions in services between wealthier and more deprived areas.

Peers debate a social tariff for broadband

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Baroness Janke
BBC

Next Lib Dem Baroness Janke introduces her amendments which calls for a social tariff to be included in the USO.

The tariff aims to ensure that low-income households can have access to basic broadband.  

The minister Lord Ashton of Hyde says he is sympathetic to the amendment but thinks "further work" should be done before committing to such a tariff.

Baroness Janke welcomes his response and withdraws her amendment. 

Peek behind the scenes

SNP MP tweets

Council: our Dubs offer met 'resistance' from government

Home Affairs Committee

Select Committee

Parliament

Stephen Cowan
BBC
Stephen Cowan, leader of Hammersmith and Fulham council

Stephen Cowan is the Labour leader of Hammersmith and Fulham council in west London. 

He tells the committee that the council publicly committed to taking 10 unaccompanied children as part of the Dubs scheme, an offer which they later upped to 15.

He says they still have two empty slots, and have been "pestering" the Home Office to get some children to fill them since October. He admits that there is a "funding issue" of "about a third of £1m" for the council, but given guarantees from the government he could “confidently say we can take an extra 100 children over the next 12 months”. 

He says that'd be a "significant dent" into the 3,000 figure originally proposed for the Dubs scheme.

He raises questions about the government's commitment to the scheme. He says the Home Office were initially “not pleased” at H&F’s public offer to take Dubs children even though the offer was an expense to be covered by the borough. Even then they experienced "resistance", he claims.

He says there should be a “comprehensive review” of how the government has approached the Dubs amendment and still thinks the UK needs to “step up and do its fair share”.

Opposition says local services at 'tipping point'

Local Government Finance Report

House of Commons

Parliament

Gareth Thomas
BBC

Shadow communities and local government minister Gareth Thomas questions how business rates for multi-national online retailers can see business rates decrease whilst local, family-owned small businesses see theirs increase. 

He welcomes the review into limiting the impact of business rates, but questions how the policy was decided on. 

On funding, he criticises the 40% reduction in government funding of local councils since 2010 at a time when local services were at "tipping point" and that "not a single extra penny of new money had been found" for social care. 

He says that the extra money proposed by Sajid Javid in his statement was not sufficient. 

He says that funding figures produced by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid were "sloppy" and based on "distortions and half-truths".

BreakingGovernment defeated on broadband speeds

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Division result announcment
BBC

Peers defeat the government 250 votes to 206.

The amendment states that everyone has a legal right to broadband with download speeds of at least 30 megabits per second by 2020.

The amendment also calls for rural areas and SMEs to be prioritised when rolling out the minimum broadband requirements. 

New witnesses discuss child migrants

Home Affairs Committee

Select Committee

Parliament

The Home Affairs Committee is now hearing from a second panel of witnesses. They are:

  • Tam Baillie, Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland
  • Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader, Hammersmith and Fulham Council
  • Richard Crellin, Children’s Society
  • Cllr David Simmonds, Local Government Association

Smuggled migrants end up in 'sexual exploitation...drugs' in the UK

Home Affairs Committee

Select Committee

Parliament

Committee chair Yvette Cooper says the cost charged by smugglers to get someone from northern France to the UK is £3,000. She asks how unaccompanied children are getting across, since she thinks it's unlikely they have enough money. 

Lily Caprani of Unicef says there's a distinction between smugglers and traffickers, but sometimes people can only pay part of the fee, so have to work for the smuggler to pay off their debt, or they end up being trafficked.

She says "very often it is that they're in debt bondage to that person, they may have to perform some kind of illegal labour, it could be sexual exploitation...they may end up working in drugs" once in the UK.

Broadband amendments 'not outlandish'

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Mendelsohn
BBC

Labour's Lord Mendelsohn defends his party's amendment (supported by the Lib Dems) - "it is not outlandish but a defence of government goals".

He says the targets set by the amendment would make the bill "fit for the future".

The debate on these amendments conclude and peers push the matter to a vote. 

Peers seek to introduce minimum broadband standards

Digital Economy Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

House of Lords
BBC

The first amendments seek to set a minimum broadband speed that companies should provide. 

The amendments would also require the government to prioritise small and medium-sized enterprises when rolling out the universal service broadband obligation (USO). 

Minister Lord Ashton of Hyde tells peers that Ofcom is currently looking at what should be included in the USO.

He says there will then be a public consultation and argues that this amendment would mean by-passing this consultation.

We may go home satisfied, he says, but warns that the amendments may delay the implementation of the USO and leave people "more frustrated". 

Javid promises change to business rates

Local Government Finance Report

House of Commons

Parliament

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid notes the "unfair" impact of proposed business rate increases. 

He said that "more needs to be done to level the playing field and to make the system fairer" and promised to soften the blow in time for the Spring Budget next month. 

The updated business rates - which are due to come in on 1 April - were increased (or decreased) in line with how much rent could be charged on property, the first such reevaluation since 2010. 

This caused shock as some areas have seen property values increase considerably in recent years, particularly in southern urban areas, but decreased in others. 

No pies here...

Conservative MP tweets

Debate on Digital Economy Bill begins

House of Lords

Parliament

A BT Openreach engineer working on telephone line
PA

Peers now begin debate of the Digital Economy Bill. 

The bill:

  • Introduces a new "Universal Service Obligation" entitling consumers to a minimum broadband speed
  • Updates intellectual property rules for digital industries
  • Makes Ofcom responsible for regulation of BBC activities and gives the BBC the power to maintain or remove concessions on TV licences relating to age.
  • Introduces age verification for online pornography with penalties for non-compliance
  • Establishes a new statutory code for direct marketing to strengthen enforcement action

Votes are expected on minimum broadband speeds and capping mobile phone bills.