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Summary

  1. Communities questions start day in Commons
  2. Urgent question on air quality strategy
  3. Motion on business of the Commons this week
  4. Main business is Northern Ireland bill
  5. Peers meet for questions to government ministers
  6. Next Lords considering orders and regulations
  7. Motion to approve government's economic assessment, as required under EU law
  8. Debate on race in the workplace

Live Reporting

By Aiden James, Kate Whannel and Esther Webber

All times stated are UK

End of business in the Commons

House of Commons

Parliament

The adjournment debate wraps up, and the Commons adjourns. 

MPs return tomorrow at 11.30am for justice questions. 

Minister assures MPs monkeys are protected

Adjournment debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Environment Minister George Eustice says regardless of specie, the failure to provide for an animal's welfare is against the law.

Anyone mistreating their monkey could go to jail for six months under existing laws, he tells MPs. 

Keeping monkeys as pets compared to torture

Adjournment debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Drax
BBC

Conservative Richard Drax opens his debate on keeping primates as pets.

He tells MPs that 66 species of monkey can be bought as easily as a goldfish in a plastic bag and that keeping them in captivity is a type of "torture". 

He calls for a requirement for private owners to meet the same standards as zoos. 

MPs approve fresh attempt at Stormont deal

Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments and Regional Rates) Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

MPs then approve remaining stages of the bill, which has been fast-tracked in time for dissolution.   

'We do not want to see direct rule' - minister

Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments and Regional Rates) Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Winding up second reading, Northern Ireland Minister Kris Hopkins stresses that nobody wants to see direct rule from Westminster. 

"We want local politicians who've been given a mandate to take responsibility" and do their jobs on behalf of "hard-working people", he says.  

'Leave no stone unturned' in bid to restore Stormont

Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments and Regional Rates) Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

McDonnell
BBC

The SDLP's Alasdair McDonnell says he's "saddened by the impasse" affecting Northern Ireland, which he warns is undermining trust in institutions. 

"We must leave no stone unturned" in the effort to reach a solution, he advises. 

MP highlights impact of Northern Ireland budget stalemate

Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments and Regional Rates) Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

The UUP's Danny Kinahan tells the House that in the absence of an executive to set budgets, "the most vulnerable are always those who pay the price".

He says schools do not have the ability to plan ahead but are operating on the basis of "guesswork". 

Stormont's finances have been controlled by a senior civil servant since the start of the financial year due to there being no executive.

What does the bill do?

Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments and Regional Rates) Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Stormont
AFP

The Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments and Regional Rates) Bill allows the government a fresh attempt to restore devolved government at Stormont.

Parties in Northern Ireland are currently trying to reach a power-sharing agreement following the resignation of the late deputy first minister Martin McGuinness following the renewable heating incentive scandal

Under existing legislation it is not possible for an executive to be formed on the basis of the March 2017 election, even if an agreement were reached. 

A new election would be needed, or a change to the Northern Ireland Act 1998. 

The Bill therefore provides for the possibility that the ongoing negotiations bear fruit, by changing the effect of the 1998 Act in this instance to provide interim arrangements.

Without an executive to set the regional rate, rate bills cannot be issued and revenue cannot be collected. The bill addresses this by setting a regional rate itself.

An early finish for peers

House of Lords

Parliament

The House of Lords adjourns at an early hour for a Monday.

Peers meet again from 2:30pm on Tuesday for questions, before getting stuck into some parliamentary ping-pong as bills pass between Commons and Lords until agreement is reached on their contents.

We are in a period known as the "wash up", a process of trying to get legislation through its remaining stages before Parliament dissolves for the general election campaign.

Peers will consider whether to accept or reject Commons amendments to the Technical and Further Education Bill, the Neighbourhood Planning Bill and the Bus Services Bill.

They will also consider the remaining stages of the Criminal Finances Bill and take part in a short debate on support for the steel industry.

MP brands DUP 'veto-holic'

Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments and Regional Rates) Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Mark Durkan
BBC

The SDLP's Mark Durkan says the DUP accuses Sinn Fein of over-use of vetos when it is "the most veto-holic of all the parties we have seen".

He describes the bill as "ephemeral" in that it simply resets the timeline for reaching a power-sharing deal, adding that he regrets it has been necessary. 

'We pick people like us for jobs' - minister

Race in the workplace report

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Prior of Brampton
BBC

Business Minister Lord Prior of Brampton says Baroness McGregor-Smith has produced an "excellent" report.

"The moral case is obvious, the economic case is a no-brainer," he says. "But if it is a no-brainer, why is progress so slow?"

"We have a deep, subconscious stereotype of what different people are like," he claims.

"Xenophobia has deep evolutionary roots," he says, adding: "Today, interview selection and promotion processes in the workplace are the modern setting.

"We pick people like us. We pick people who will fit in... white, male, and people who want to play rugby at weekends".

He insists that the government is "impatient to change the status quo" and calls discrimination "a moral outrage". 

However, ministers are not considering legislation at this stage.

DUP MP: Devolution should be up and running

Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments) Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Sammy Wilson
HoC

There is no reason, argues the DUP's Sammy Wilson why devolution in Northern Ireland should not be "up and running".

"People were elected, they have a mandate," he says and blames Sinn Féin for preventing the Northern Ireland Assembly from functioning.

He urges Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire to make clear to Sinn Féin that the consequence of "not getting the assembly up and running" is that decisions will be made in Westminster.

He also attacks Owen Paterson for his suggestion that MLAs should not be paid if Stormont is not sitting.

"They are not lying at home watching TV," Mr Wilson says. "He should know better."

Labour peer attacks government's 'poor' response

Race in the workplace report

House of Lords

Parliament

Replying to the debate for Labour, Lord Stevenson of Balmacara accuses the government of producing a "very, very poor response" to what he calls a "very valuable report".

"Can the government explain why it thinks a voluntary approach is the right way to do this?" the shadow business spokesman asks.

Lib Dem peer: It takes a threat, not encouragement

Race in the workplace report

House of Lords

Parliament

The Liberal Democrats' equalities spokewoman, Baroness Burt of Solihull, says she was "quite shocked" by the level of ethnic minority participation in the workforce.

She describes it as a "loss of energy and talent that could be harnessed".

Calling for action, including legislation if necessary, she argues: "It takes more than common sense sometimes for companies to act in their own best interests. It takes a threat."

However, she laments that "the strongest language" in the government's response to the report is "encourage".

Paterson: NI politicians should lose public money

Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments) Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Owen Paterson
HoC

Former Northern Ireland secretary and Conservative MP Owen Paterson expresses exasperation at the current situation. 

He argues that if local politicians "don't come to their senses by 29th June" they (and their staff) should no longer receive public money.

He adds that Stormont costs £1m a month in salary and expenses.

The report's 'case for action'

Race in the workplace report

House of Lords

Parliament

The summary of Baroness McGregor-Smith's report sets out what it calls "the case for action".

It reads: "In 2015, one in eight of the working age population were from a BME (black and minority ethnic) background, yet BME individuals make up only 10% of the workforce and hold only 6% of top management positions.

"The employment rate for ethnic minorities is only 62.8% compared with an employment rate for white workers of 75.6% – a gap of over 12 percentage points."

It adds: "All BME groups are more likely to be overqualified than white ethnic groups but white employees are more likely to be promoted than all other groups."

You can access the report and the government's response here.

'Is one murder not worth more than the RHI scandal?'

Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments) Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell says he doesn't want to defend Sinn Féin but argues that the current political situation was triggered by the Renewable Heat Initiative scandal and a "serious issue of confidence" that needed to be dealt with.

Laurence Robertson replies that RHI is not "a big enough issue" to bring down the institutions in Northern Ireland.

DUP Jeffrey Donaldson accuses the SDLP of failing to challenge Sinn Féin over a "brutal murder of a young man by members of the IRA".

Is one murder not worth more than the RHI scandal? he asks.

Robertson: People will choose direct rule over chaos

Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments) Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Laurence Robertson
HoC

Chair of the Northern Ireland Committee Laurence Robertson expresses concern that political instability is putting off companies who might otherwise choose to invest in Northern Ireland.

Most people don't want to see direct rule, he says, but argues that if the alternative is "chaos" people will chose the former.

He says that is ironic that the party opposed to direct rule (ie Sinn Féin) will be responsible for bringing it about.

Exam debate concludes

Westminster Hall

And there ends a brief Westminster Hall debate.

Labour's Helen Jones suggests that this topic will be returned to and concludes by wishing her fellow MPs, if not luck, then a sunny election campaign. 

'Those of us who have broken through a barrier'

Race in the workplace report

House of Lords

Parliament

Baroness Bottomley of Nettlestone
BBC

Conservative peer Baroness Bottomley of Nettlestone says she endorses most of Baroness McGregor-Smith's recommendations.

The former health secretary adds a note about women in the workplace, arguing that "there comes a moment when those of us who have broken through a barrier" have a duty to support others.

Minister: Students will not need to learn 250+ quotes

Closed book examinations debate

Westminster Hall

Nick Gibb
HoC

Education Minister Nick Gibb praises Helen Jones "fluency and strong use of language" and wonders if that is a consequence of her own "immersion in English language".

Turning to the petition he insists that students will not be marked on their ability to learn text by heart.

He also disputes the figure cited in the petition - that students would have to learn over 250 quotes. 

Furthermore, he argues that open book exams can often disadvantage students as they may waste time searching for quotes that will not give them extra marks. 

Labour outlines risks of power-sharing stalemate

Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments and Regional Rates) Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Anderson
BBC

Shadow Northern Ireland secretary David Anderson says that he still believes an agreement on power-sharing can be reached. 

"People will have to compromise," he predicts, and failure to do so would be "dangerous".

He lists what he sees as "sticking points" including same-sex marriage and abortion rights in Northern Ireland, prompting the DUP to accuse him of "pontificating" and prioritising "Sinn Fein demands".

He welcomes the bill as it allows more time to reach a deal. 

Debate on 'race in the workplace'

House of Lords

Parliament

Baroness McGregor-Smith
BBC

Baroness McGregor-Smith opens the final debate today, on her report on "race in the workplace".

The Conservative peer carried out the review for the government. Among her recommendations were an improved monitoring of employee data, unconscious bias training for employers and diverse interview panels.

"It is still so difficult for many of us" to discuss race in the workplace, she argues, adding that she too feels uncomfortable about it.

She adds that she does not want to see another report, telling peers: "We just need to get on and change the outcomes for so many people who have great talent."

Background to Westminster Hall debate

Commons library tweets

The arts should not be reduced to 'glorified memory test'

Closed book examinations debate

Westminster Hall

Emma Lewell-Buck
HoC

There are no other backbench speakers and so, next up is shadow education minister Emma Lewell-Buck.

She begins with a quote: "Life depends on science but the arts make it worth living."

She argues that it makes no sense to reduce the arts to "a glorified memory test".

Urgent question repeat

Air quality strategy question

House of Lords

Parliament

Air pollution
PA
Air pollution has been described as a "public health crisis"

Environment Minister Lord Gardiner of Kimble repeats the answer to today's Commons urgent question.

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom answered the question in the Commons, which was tabled by her Labour shadow, Sue Hayman.

In a surprise move on Friday, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) lodged a fresh application with the High Court to postpone publication of its draft clean air plan until after the election.

It argued to move was necessary in order to comply with election "purdah" rules limiting government announcements with political implications during the election period.

The environmental lawyers who have brought legal proceedings against the government, ClientEarth, said they were considering whether to challenge the application.

Earlier in the Commons, Labour and the SNP both accused ministers of "hiding behind" election rules, arguing that public health matters are exempt.

Labour MP reveals Canterbury Tales party piece

Closed book examinations debate

Westminster Hall

Edition of the Canterbury Tales
PA

Labour MP (and former English teacher) Helen Jones opens the debate by telling MPs that her head is "stuffed full of quotations" from Keats to DH Lawrence.

She admits that her "party piece" is reciting the opening prologue to Canterbury Tales.

To engage with a piece of literature you have to memorise it, she argues.

However she also suggests that open book examinations mean students are asked "far more stretching and searching questions" than closed book exams.

There is a case for both kinds of examination, she concludes.

Debate is 'somewhat absurd' says Labour spokesman

UK economy assessment

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Davies of Oldham
BBC

Labour Treasury spokesman Lord Davies of Oldham says the minister made "the best fist of a pretty thin case".

"It is somewhat absurd" to be talking about EU economic convergence "when the government has set its sails in the opposite direction", he argues.

Lord Davies attacks the government's record on the economy and condemns cuts to "in-work benefits" such as tax credits.

'A little odd' order

UK economy assessment

House of Lords

Parliament

Baroness Neville-Rolfe
BBC

Treasury Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe says the final order in the sequence for consideration today "might, at first glance, look a little odd".

The House is being asked to approve the government's assessment of the UK economy, which it is obliged to prepare for the EU as part of the Convergence Programme to bring EU economies into line.

Despite the UK leaving the EU, the minister insists "there is good reason" for today's debate.

"Until we leave the EU, we have all the rights and obligations of a member state," she tells the House.

She goes on to defend the government's record on the economy and deficit.

Northern Ireland executive depends on 'will to make progress'

Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments and Regional Rates) Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Brokenshire
BBC

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire opens second reading of the Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments and Regional Rates) Bill.

The bill provides for the setting of a Northern Ireland Regional Rate, enabling household bills to be issued in their usual cycle of ten monthly payments. 

The rate for 2017-2018 will be increased in line with inflation. 

The also seeks to remove the present legal barrier to the formation of an executive, enabling any deal reached between the parties in the coming weeks to be implemented.  

It depends on "the will to make progress", Mr Brokenshire. 

MPs approve business motion

Business of the House motion

House of Commons

Parliament

Commons Leader David Lidington is asking MPs to approve a motion wrapping up parliamentary business before the election. 

They agree it without a vote. 

Peer tells of son's struggle with prescription drugs

House of Lords

Parliament

Earl of Sandwich
BBC

Having agreed an order under the Immigration Act 2016 concerning biometrics and legal aid, peers are considering an order to ban substances under the powers of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

Crossbench peer the Earl of Sandwich welcomes an increased awareness of the risks of benzodiazepines, which are sedatives used to treat sleeping problems and anxiety.

The Earl of Sandwich says his son "suffered from benzodiazepines for several years and has only, mercifully, recently recovered from them". He notes that such drugs have been legally prescribed to people.

The House agrees the order and moves on to an order concerning the functions of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, which brings together 10 councils in a devolved "city-region".

Government accused of 'hiding behind' election rules

Air quality strategy question

House of Commons

Parliament

Labour and the SNP both accuse ministers of "hiding behind" election rules concerning the delay to the publication of their air quality strategy, arguing that public health matters are exempt. 

Mrs Leadsom says the delay is "very short" and is only being sought to comply with "proprietal rules". 

Debate on 'closed book' GCSEs to begin shortly

Westminster Hall

Doors leading to an examination room for students to sit exams
BBC

At 4.30pm MPs will begin a Westminster Hall debate on e-petition172405.

The petition objects to the introduction of “closed book examinations” for GCSE English Literature ie. exams which prohibit students from bringing the texts into the exam.

The petition argues that exams should test how a student interprets a text, not their memory.

The government have argued that the assessment rewards those who have gained a deep understanding of literature but that students will not have to remember the exact words of poems in order to succeed.

The petition has collected 110,290 signatures.

Air quality strategy publication delayed

Air quality strategy question

House of Commons

Parliament

Leadsom
BBC

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom tells MPs "significant progress" has been made on improving air quality. 

She says that election guidance means "it would not be appropriate" to consult on the strategy at this time.

She confirms the government has sought an extension to the deadline and will publish a final plan in September.

'The end of this Parliament is nigh'

House of Lords

Parliament

Government Chief Whip Lord Taylor of Holbeach updates the House on forthcoming business because, as he notes drily, "there were several developments last week".

The major development of course was the small matter of the House of Commons voting for an early general election, abruptly curtailing the business of the Parliament elected in 2015.

"The end of this Parliament is nigh," Lord Taylor says, adding that it is "expected to prorogue at the conclusion of this Thursday's business".

Prorogation marks the end of a parliamentary session. Parliament is expected to be formally dissolved next week, ahead of the general election on 8 June.

Labour calls for action on air pollution

Air quality strategy question

House of Commons

Parliament

Cars
PA

Shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman is asking her urgent question on when the government will publish its air quality strategy. 

In September 2015, the government released a draft air quality strategy saying it expected eight regions of the UK - including London, Birmingham, Leeds and Southampton - to still be in breach of EU limits for NO2 by 2020.

The government's proposals for improving air quality include restrictions on diesel cars, including charging drivers for entering "clean air zones" or even banning them.

Question on 'mini-nukes'

Oral questions

House of Lords

Parliament

Nuclear proponents say transportable mini-reactors could be the future for the industry
NUSCALE
Nuclear proponents say transportable mini-reactors could be the future for the industry

The final question, from Labour peer Viscount Hanworth, concerns Small Modular Reactors.

These are small, transportable nuclear reactors - or "mini-nukes" - which some nuclear engineers believe could be part of the solution to the energy crisis.

You can read more from BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin.