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Summary

  1. Day starts with Home Office questions
  2. Urgent question on sale of Opel-Vauxhall
  3. Statement on Sky/21st Century Fox merger
  4. Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill to be debated
  5. Peers start with oral questions
  6. Move onto Higher Education and Research Bill
  7. Work and Pensions Committee investigating PIPs

Live Reporting

By Kate Whannel and Esther Webber

All times stated are UK

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Alex Hunt

BBC News

A guide to how the UK will leave the European Union following the 23 June referendum vote.

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End of business in the Lords

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers vote 128 to 36 to reject a Labour amendment which would require the Office for Students to make arrangements for students to be offered alternative places if their higher education provider ceases to operate.

That concludes Monday in the Lords. 

Unusually, peers return at 11am on Tuesday for an extended report-stage debate on the bill enabling the government to activate Article 50. 

Peers voting on student protection measures

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers are voting on a Labour amendment which would require the Office for Students to make arrangements for students to be offered alternative places if their higher education provider ceases to operate.

Bill 'goes further than ever' to protect students

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Government spokesman Lord Young says the existing protections for students in the bill "go further than ever before".

He argues that setting out options for students' protection if their universities are suspended could cause them unnecessary concern. 

Peers seek protection for students at suspended universities

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Watson
BBC

Labour education spokesman Lord Watson of Invergowrie introduces an amendment which would require the bill to specify what happens to existing students if their institution is suspended. 

He refers to the government's earlier assertion that students are at the centre of the bill's reforms. 

Crossbench peers Baroness Wolf of Dulwich and Lord Bilimoria also lend their support. 

MPs adjourn

House of Commons

Parliament

House of Commons adjourn
HoC

The debate concludes and that ends the day in the House of Commons.

MPs return tomorrow at 11:30am for questions to the Justice Secretary Liz Truss followed by debate of the Children and Social Work Bill. 

Labour bid to increase powers to sanction universities rejected

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers vote 140 to 45 against a Labour amendment which would have given the Office for Students the power to restrict enrolments if the OfS has reasonable grounds for believing that a registered higher education provider is in breach of an ongoing registration condition with respect to the quality of the higher education offered by the provider.

A cure will be found through research - minister

Parkinson's disease debate

House of Commons

Parliament

David Mowat
HoC

Health Minister David Mowat responds to the debate.

He says that there is an issue with diagnosing Parkinson's in young people because of an an "assumption that if you are young and have dizziness" that is symptomatic of more "benign problems".

We are going to find a cure through research, he says, and tells MPs that spending on neurology has increased from £30m to £55m in past five years.

Concerning Personal Independence Payments, he notes that the government's green paper on welfare proposed removing assessments for those with progressive diseases such as Parkinson's.

Peers voting on powers to sanction universities

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers are voting on a Labour amendment which would give the Office for Students the power to restrict enrolments if the OfS has reasonable grounds for believing that a registered higher education provider is in breach of an ongoing registration condition with respect to the quality of the higher education offered by the provider.

Detail sought on penalties for universities

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour's Lord Stevenson of Balmacara asks for more detail on the "range of opportunities for redress" available to the Office for Students if a university is in breach of registration conditions. 

Education Minister Viscount Younger says the OfS would have "an escalating suite" of options but would only apply sanctions in "exceptional circumstances". 

Parkinson's and Personal Independence Payments

Parkinson's disease debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Labour's Nick Thomas-Symonds raises the problem of accessing Personal Independence Payments for those with Parkinson's.

The difficulty, he says, lies in the fact that the severity of symptoms fluctuate.

Far too many people, he argues, have to go to a tribunal to get what they should have been given in the first place.

Call to expand definition of universities

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers resume report stage of the Higher Education and Research Bill.

Conservative Lord Carrington of Fulham introduces a "probing amendment" - that is, one which won't be pushed to a vote - concerning the "possibly unique" legal status of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. 

"This gives the problem that it is a body which doesn't really fit" into the definition of higher education institutions in the bill, he says. 

But government spokesman Lord Young says the bill won't affect existing universities. 

'Old before my time'

Parkinson's disease debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Nick Thomas-Symonds
HoC

Labour's Nick Thomas-Symonds quotes two constituents on being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

First, Gaynor: "I never felt quite so lonely, mourning for the future I thought I had, old before my time."

Secondly, Jordan: "The doctor kept saying I was too young and that it was a psychological problem".

Debate on young-onset Parkinson's disease begins

Adjournment debate

House of Commons

Parliament

MPs now begin the final item of business for the day - an adjournment debate on young-onset Parkinson's disease.

In Parkinson's disease, the brain is progressively damaged leading to tremors and difficulty moving.

There is no cure for the disease, but medication and brain stimulation can alleviate symptoms.

Those diagnosed before the age of 50 are considered to have young-onset Parkinson's.

'Time present and times past'

Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

John Hayes
HoC

Transport Minister John Hayes agrees with Richard Burden that no one, "least of all the opposition", wants to give the government "a blank cheque". 

He says the new powers given to ministers in the bill should be open to parliamentary scrutiny.

On insurance and driverless cars, he says that it is "critical" that no one will be worse off in terms of liability.

He tells MPs that he was challenged to produce some poetry in his response and so concludes with some lines from T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets:

Time present and time past

Are both perhaps present in time future

And time future contained in time past

Labour won't push for assisted dying legislation

Assisted dying debate

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour spokesman Lord Tunnicliffe tells peers that given MPs rejected legislation on assisted dying recently, the party will not push for more parliamentary time for the issue. 

Ministry of Justice spokesman Lord Keen of Elie says even if there were a consensus on the need to legislate, there would be none on what form legislation should take. 

It represents a "highly emotive and divisive" question, he adds.

Debate on assisted dying oversubscribed

Assisted dying debate

House of Lords

Parliament

Tonight's debate on assisted dying is heavily subscribed, so speakers have been limited to one minute each.

A few highlights from crossbenchers' speeches: 

  • Former archbishop Lord Carey voices support for physician-assisted dying while acknowledging he's "out of step" with many Christians
  • Lord Low insists there is support for assisted dying among disabled people
  • Baroness Finlay says better care is needed before we consider assisted dying 
  • Baroness Masham expresses concern on behalf of vulnerable disabled people

Burden: Ministers shouldn't be given a blank cheque

Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Shadow transport minister Richard Burden welcomes measures in the bill which would make distracting pilots with lasers an offence but regrets that the government hasn't included measures on the use of drones. 

Automative cars offer huge benefits, he says, but also present challenges.

He says that the bill is seeking to "future-proof" legislation but argues that that this has led to ministers giving themselves "a blank cheque".

On electric cars, he calls for better public procurement of such vehicles and "the right consumer incentives".

In concluding, he says the bill is "worthwhile" but the government needs to do more to move the UK to "a low-emission future". 

Assisted dying could threaten disabled people, peer warns

Assisted dying debate

House of Lords

Parliament

Crossbencher and Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson discusses her fears over how facilitating assisted dying could devalue disabled people.

If the UK enacts such legislation, she warns "we are simply in the waiting room". 

US assisted dying laws 'compassionate', peer argues

Assisted dying debate

House of Lords

Parliament

Baroness Jay
BBC

Labour's Baroness Jay of Paddington is opening a debate on recent legislation on assisted dying in North America, and whether those laws provide an appropriate basis for legislation in England and Wales. 

She says things have "moved on significantly" there and in a comparatively "stable" way.

The approach pioneered in the US state of Oregon is "gentle and compassionate", she argues. 

'Modern' not a parliamentary term?

Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Richard Burden
HoC

Shadow transport minister Richard Burden notes that the bill was originally intended to be called the Modern Transport Bill.

However, he says, it had to be changed because the term "modern" was not considered to be a parliamentary term. 

"Make of that what you will," he adds.

Government defeat on electoral registration through universities

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers vote 200 to 189 for Labour peer Baroness Royall's amendment which would enable students to opt in to be added to the electoral register through the process of enrolling at university.   

Switching one 'dirty fuel' for another?

Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

SNP MP Carol Monaghan asks if increasing the use of electric cars could lead to "simply switching dirty fuel in our cars to dirty fuel in our power stations".

Fellow SNP MP Drew Hendry argues that renewable energy could be the way forward but accuses the government of "stifling" renewable energy.

Peers vote on electoral registration through universities

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour's Baroness Royall of Blaisdon does not accept the government's assurances and forces a vote on her amendment which would enable students to opt in to be added to the electoral register through the process of enrolling at university.   

Government resists electoral registration through universities

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Young
BBC

Responding for the government, Lord Young says ministers agree with the aim of registering more students to vote but this amendment is "the wrong vehicle". 

Lord Young says registering through universities is too much of a "one-size-fits-all" approach. 

He offers a concession in the form of getting the Office for Students to publish a link to the electoral registration process on its website.

What does the bill do?

Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Illustration of driverless cars
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

The House of Commons Library has produced a briefing note explaining the policy background and contents of the bill.

The 'Luddite perspective'

Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

John Pugh
HoC

Lib Dem John Pugh expresses scepticism about electric vehicles.

He wonders if the electricity generated to power the cars will be produced in an environmentally friendly way.

He also suggests that making more electric cars will use up the rare elements that go into producing batteries.

Conservative Tom Tugendhat congratulates the MP on making "a fine speech from a Luddite perspective".

Peer calls for students to join the electoral register through universities

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Baroness Royall
BBC

Labour's Baroness Royall of Blaisdon is introducing an amendment which would enable students to opt in to be added to the electoral register through the process of enrolling at university. 

She says the results of a trial in Sheffield along those lines were "staggering" and it would help "embed good practice". 

The Lib Dems also express support for the amendment. 

How will the electricity grid cope?

Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Iain Stewart
HoC

Conservative MPs Iain Stewart and Neil Parish both raise concerns over how the electricity grid will cope when "everyone comes home at 6pm and puts their cars on to charge," as Mr Stewart puts it. 

Mr Parish says that while the current usage of electric cars in the UK is at 2%, in Norway it is at 25%. He thinks that we are close to the tipping point for electric cars in the UK. 

Mr Stewart believes that "range anxiety", the concern shared by many electric car owners that their car may not make it to the next charging point, is mainly holding back the technology at this point. 

Government seeks to remove barriers to accelerated courses

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers have returned to report-stage consideration of the Higher Education and Research Bill. 

Taking to the dispatch box, Lord Young of Cookham declares himself a "fresher" when it comes to this bill. 

He's introducing a set of government amendments which would allow Parliament to introduce higher caps for fees on accelerated courses.

Supply chain 'inadequate' - Labour

Sale of Vauxhall-Opel statement

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Mendelsohn
BBC

Labour spokesman Lord Mendelsohn pays tribute to workers at Vauxhall-Opel and asks what can be done to ensure they have a "secure future". 

He argues the government needs to do more to develop the UK supply chain, branding the current strategy "inadequate". 

For the Lib Dems, Lord Foster of Bath says Brexit "could place our plants at a real disadvantage".

But Business Minister Lord Prior responds that Brexit is an opportunity to make the UK "a sterling player". 

Peers hear Vauxhall-Opel statement

Sale of Vauxhall-Opel statement

House of Lords

Parliament

Cars
Vauxhall

Business Minister Lord Prior of Brampton is repeating an answer to an urgent question given earlier in the Commons on the sale of Vauxhall-Opel to the PSA group.

The French company that owns Peugeot and Citroen has struck a 2.2bn euro (£1.9bn) deal to buy General Motors' European unit, including Vauxhall.

GM Europe has not made a profit since 1999 and the deal has raised fears about job losses at Vauxhall.

The UK factories at Ellesmere Port and Luton employ about 4,500 people.

Former BBC director warns of 'financial adversity' in journalism

Sky and 21st Century Fox statement

House of Lords

Parliament

Crossbencher and former BBC Director General Lord Birt says it's important to remember the financial pressures facing news organisations and asks if that will be considered.

Government spokesman Lord Keen of Elie says "clearly this will play a part" but ultimately it is a matter for Ofcom.

SNP says transport reforms do not go far enough

Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Drew Hendry
HoC

Drew Hendry, the transport spokesperson for the SNP, says that the bill is welcome, but doesn't go far enough.

He expresses concern at the use of autonomous vehicles in rural areas and wants to see consultations with disabled people in these areas. He says that the four testing areas launched in 2015 by the government for self-driving cars did not cover anything other than cities. He argues that Scotland should therefore be included in the next round of trials. 

He says there is still confusion surrounding what happens in the event of a drunk driver getting into an autonomous vehicle. 

He adds that there is not enough in the bill to allow police to take action against people who use laser points against drivers of cars and pilots of aeroplanes. 

Peers hear statement on Sky and 21st Century Fox

Sky and 21st Century Fox statement

House of Lords

Parliament

Government spokesman Lord Keen of Elie is repeating a statement on the proposed merger between Sky and 21st Century Fox.

Earlier Culture Secretary Karen Bradley told the Commons that she has not yet taken a final decision on intervention.

She said a final decision would be taken within 10 working days from 3 March - the date she received notification of the takeover bid.

Competition concerns and broadcasting standards were among the issues of concern, she said.

Both Sky and Fox are controlled by businessman Rupert Murdoch, who also owns the Times and the Sun newspapers.

Government defeat over ranking universities

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers vote 263 to 211 in favour of crossbencher Lord Kerslake's amendment, which would prevent universities from varying fees based on whether they are rated gold, silver or bronze. 

Plans to rank universities in England to be gold, silver or bronze depending on their teaching quality come into force this year.

Peers voting on plans to grade universities

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Crossbencher Lord Kerslake is not satisfied with the government's response and pushes his amendment to a vote. 

His amendment says the system of gold, silver and bronze universities must not be used to rank English higher education providers as to the regulated course fees they charge.

'An exciting new era in transport'

Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Andy Mcdonald
HoC

Labour is "broadly supportive" of the bill, says shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald.

He says it marks the beginning of "an exciting new era" in transport. 

He welcomes measures to tackle the "dangers of lasers" but suggest that the government should look at the availability of such lasers.

He also adds that Labour will, at a later stage, table amendments to regulate the use of drones.

Bronze, silver and gold awards concern peer

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Kerslake
HoL

Lord Kerslake is raising his concerns about the proposed new grading system for universities. 

The bill allows student fees to rise in line with inflation, but also allows for new grading systems of bronze, silver and gold to dictate, to a certain extent, how much universities can charge. 

The bill allows for universities with silver and gold ratings to raise their fees, while bronze-rated universities will not be permitted to. He expresses his confusion at this situation when the government says that bronze-accredited universities will still be classified as good educational institutions. 

Lib Dem Baroness Garden adds to Lord Kerslake's speech by saying this could deter international students from such establishments. 

Grayling: Our lives will change for the better

Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Chris Grayling
HoC

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling tells MPs that the bill paves the way for a "revolution in the emergence" of autonomous vehicles.

He describes the production of such cars as one of the most exciting developments "for a very long time".

Our lives will change for the better, he says and "we want this country to be at the forefront" of the technology.