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Summary

  1. Peers questioning government ministers
  2. Urgent question on the European Parliament's Brexit red lines
  3. Third reading of a bill to ratify the Istanbul Convention
  4. Debate on Brexit and the EU budget
  5. Second reading of private members' bills

Live Reporting

By Esther Webber and Gary Connor

All times stated are UK

Goodbye for now

House of Lords

Parliament

That's where we leave our live text coverage of the Lords today. Peers will take part in second-reading debate on private members' bills for the rest of the afternoon: 

  • Local Audit (Public Access to Documents) Bill
  • Merchant Shipping (Homosexual Conduct) Bill
  • Guardianship (Missing Persons) Bill 
  • Farriers (Registration) Bill.

Then peers rise for recess, returning on 24 April. 

UK aiming for 'fair play' over EU budget - government

Brexit and the EU budget debate

House of Lords

Parliament

Young
HoL

Government spokesman Lord Young agrees that the UK wants an "amicable" deal and a "fair play" in reaching an agreement on any bill payable after Brexit. 

He says estimated figures for the bill are "speculation" at this stage. 

There's "disagreement and uncertainty" with regard to the UK's legal position, he adds, which is not surprising given the lack of precedent.  

'I hoped to die before I understood the EU budget'

Brexit and the EU budget debate

House of Lords

Parliament

Tunnicliffe
HoL

Labour spokesman Lord Tunnicliffe tells peers: "My aspiration to die before understanding the structure of the EU budget has been frustrated by being nominated to speak in this debate."

He also expresses surprise that the committee came down on the side of concluding the UK would not be obliged to payments after Brexit. 

He describes the UK as a "responsible partner" which should honour its obligations.   

Lib Dems 'not persuaded' by talk of no EU bill

Brexit and the EU budget debate

House of Lords

Parliament

Ludford
HoL

Winding up for the Lib Dems, Baroness Ludford says she's "not really persuaded" by the conclusions of the report in view of the evidence given by legal experts. 

"There's no reason for us to be over-generous," she acknowledges, but says she doesn't see how the UK will not be bound by money it had previously committed to EU projects.

Cancellation of membership or divorce?

Brexit and the EU budget debate

House of Lords

Parliament

Earl of Lindsay
UK Parliament

Conservative the Earl of Lindsay says there is a "fundamental question" to consider before negotiations begin - whether Brexit is the "cancellation of a club membership or a divorce."

He says that every pronouncement from European Union figures since the referendum suggests that they see the separation as a divorce, and on what share of EU liabilities is owned by the UK.

He asks whether ministers accept if the Brexit settlement will be like a divorce payment.

The Earl of Lindsay also considers whether the UK is under a legal obligation to make payment for pension liabilities, and if so, how much would need to be paid and how that is determined.

"I think there was no agreement on which methodology would be the right methodology," he says, recalling the different range of views of witnesses.

Peers add to pressure on bereavement benefits

Esther Webber

BBC News

View more on twitter

The government is facing pressure from its own backbenchers on changes to bereavement benefits, after Conservative former pensions minister Baroness Altmann called for a rethink. 

The new Bereavement Support Payment will replace a suite of bereavement benefits and provide bereaved parents with an initial lump sum and up to 18 monthly payments. 

At present, widowed parents can receive payments until their youngest child leaves school. 

"What is our national insurance welfare state for if not to support families properly in such tragic circumstances?" she asked. 

Her words were echoed by fellow Conservative Lord Polak, who suggested ministers were "targeting the wrong area".

Work and Pensions Minister Lord Henley told peers the changes represent "an improvement at the initial stage", which he said could be the most difficult. 

He added the government had consulted on the changes, made amendments to the regulations before they were introduced and would review them in due course. 

Government has 'much to lose' if no agreement made

Brexit and the EU budget debate

House of Lords

Parliament

Former cabinet secretary and crossbencher Lord Butler of Brockwell says that the report is a "very good example" of the service that the House of Lords performs for the country.

He continues by emphasising that the government has "much to lose" if an agreement with the EU is not made, but that there is also "much at stake" for the EU.

"What should a reasonable agreement look like from the UK's point of view?" he considers.

"I think that a continuation of the UK's payment... after we've left is not a strong claim."

UK payments to EU after Brexit contested

Brexit and the EU budget debate

House of Lords

Parliament

Falkner
HoL

Lib Dem Baroness Falkner of Margravine is opening a debate on a report from the European Union Committee on Brexit and the EU budget.

The report found that if the Government wishes to include future market access on favourable terms as part of the discussions on the withdrawal agreement, it is likely to prove impossible to do so without also reaching agreement on the issue of the budget.  

However, she says the committee heard evidence that: "Article 70 of the Vienna Convention on the law of the treaty might provide legal basis for an enforceable claim against the UK."  

On that reading, the UK "would have a legal obligation to pay its dues" after Brexit, she concludes. 

Istanbul Convention Bill passes third reading

Preventing Violence Against Women Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers approve third reading of the Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Bill, originally introduced as a private member's bill by the SNP's Eilidh Whiteford. 

Government to 'carefully consider' European Parliament Brexit red lines

Private notice question

House of Lords

Parliament

Goldie
HoL

Labour Brexit spokesperson Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town is asking a private notice question on the potential impact of the resolution adopted yesterday by the European Parliament on the government's ability to achieve the negotiating objectives set out in its White Paper.

She asks for a "parliament to parliament dialogue". 

Government spokesperson Baroness Goldie replies that it's "perfectly healthy" for the two parliaments to engage and "we look forward to an early resolution of the citizenship issue".

She says the government recognises the European Parliament's vital role and will carefully consider its resolution. 

The European Parliament overwhelmingly approved a non-binding resolution that lays out its views on the Brexit negotiations.  

The resolution outlines the need for a “phased approach” to negotiations.

This would require progress on the terms of Britain’s withdrawal, including settling financial commitments, before talks on a future trading relationship can start.

Bereavement benefit changes under fire

Oral questions

House of Lords

Parliament

Altmann
HoL

Conservative former minister Baroness Altmann to asks the government to reconsider changes to bereavement benefits for parents with dependent children. 

Under new rules, the payments to widowed parents will be limited to a maximum of 18 months.  

She asks what benefits are for if not to support families in "tragic circumstances". 

Work and Pensions Minister Lord Henley pledges to take concerns to the secretary of state, but denies it's a cut as there are "no initial savings to the taxpayer". 

Government rules out making beneficial ownership public overseas

Oral questions

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour's Lord Howarth of Newport asks why the government doesn't use powers to require the UK's overseas territories and crown dependencies to make beneficial ownership public. 

Government spokesperson Lord Young says such powers are only used in "exceptional circumstances" such as outlawing capital punishment or decriminalising homosexuality. 

Government pressed on tax havens

Oral questions

House of Lords

Parliament

Sharkey
HoL

Lib Dem Lord Sharkey is asking the government what steps it is taking to curb the use of tax havens. 

He says Oxfam has found banks are making billions through tax havens.

Government spokesman Lord Young of Cookham tells him the government is "committed to a regime where tax is fair and competitive" and to "plugging the loopholes". 

Thursday in the Lords

Coming up...

House of Lords

Parliament

Big Ben
AFP

Good morning. Peers start at 11am with questions to ministers, before the equivalent of an urgent question on the European Parliament's resolution on its approach to Brexit negotiations. 

Then there's third reading of the Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Bill, followed by a debate on Brexit and the EU budget.

Later peers will give debate several private members' bills at second reading.