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Summary

  1. Commons started with questions to the culture secretary followed by the attorney general
  2. Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom set out future business
  3. Two statements on a parliamentary complaints policy and supported housing
  4. Debate on Russian interference in UK politics
  5. Peers take part in debates on climate change and ivory trade

Live Reporting

By Esther Webber, Kate Whannel and Richard Morris

All times stated are UK

Happy Christmas...and see you in the new year

That's where we leave our coverage of Parliament - the last debate of 2017.

Thank you for following us here and we hope you'll join us for more parliamentary coverage in 2018.

End of business in the Lords

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers are giving their traditional end-of-year thanks to retiring members of staff before they rise for the Christmas recess.

The House of Lords returns on 7 January 2018.

Responses from the government

General adjournment debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Michael Ellis
HoC

"It was all going so well," Deputy Leader of the House Michael Ellis says, until the "last part", referring to Karin Smyth saying she hopes that next year will bring a Labour government for the UK.

Responding to Sir Paul Beresford, he says that in the UK, there is much more work to be done on the issue of cancer treatments, but 7,000 more people are alive today than there would have been thanks to new treatments.

He tells Jamie Stone that the Scottish government has had the funding for broadband in rural Scotland since 2014, but the Scottish government haven't used it yet.

Referring to Lyn Brown's points, he says a consultation has been launched by the government on fixed odds betting terminals.

He says to Nigel Huddleston that most members "get on very well across this House," and can disagree professionally, but have a chat otherwise.

He invites Deirdre Brock to declare anything more she knows about Scottish and NI funding in the Leave campaign to the House, for it to be discussed further.

He tells Siobhain McDonagh that the government is putting in £1bn into tackling homelessness and rough sleeping.

He wraps up by thanking the whole House for their work and their protection of the Houses of Parliament, as well as thanking the Armed Forces.

'Fairly sombre debate' - Labour

General adjournment debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Karin Smyth
HoC

Opposition spokesperson Karin Smyth is summing up for Labour, saying it has been "a fairly sombre debate this afternoon," and she says whatever side of the House members sit on, "our constituents often face the same problems".

She thanks those who work in the community to provide public services, even at a time of enormous pressure, she adds.

She congratulates Bristol City on their 2-1 win against Manchester United last night.

She'll be catching up with The Crown and wants to see The Last Jedi, she says.

She wishes everyone across the House a safe, happy and peaceful Christmas.

Finally, she hopes that next year will bring about a Labour government.

Hard-working MP thanks Hansard

Parliamentary reporters tweet

128,000 children will be homeless on Christmas morning - Labour MP

General adjournment debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Siobhain McDonagh
HoC

Labour's Siobhain McDonagh says that 128,000 children will wake up homeless on Christmas morning, and over half the homeless households in London are in work, she adds.

She says that a quarter of temporary accommodation is only inspected by councils once the tenants have left.

She says that 22,000 families have been moved in England to another borough, often without the receiving borough being given any information about their arrival.

Government defends ivory ban exemptions

Ivory debate

House of Lords

Parliament

Gardiner
HoL

Environment Minister Lord Gardiner of Kimble responds to the debate, stressing the need to "do everything we can to make sure future generations do not inherit a world without elephants".

He outlines the government's promise to ban the sale of ivory objects which contribute directly or indirectly to poaching - currently the subject of a consultation which ends on 29 December.

He says ministers "recognise a case" for some items to be exempt, including musical instruments, objects with a small amount of ivory, and items of historic or artistic interest - adding that this will not be finalised until the end of the consultation.

These exceptions apply where artefacts have a value independent of their ivory content, he explains.

Allow reporting of Scottish/Northern Irish Brexit funding - SNP

General adjournment debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Deirdre Brock
HoC

The SNP's Deidre Brock calls for halting new rules on reporting of donations made between Scottish and Northern Irish organisations during the EU referendum. She says potential moving of the dates would disable transparency on this kind of funding.

She says the Constitutional Research Council gave money to the DUP's Leave campaign in Northern Ireland. It has also funded the European Research Group and the Chairman of that group, Exiting the EU Minister Steve Baker, she says.

She believes there should be a debate on this in the new year.

Labour: Ivory ban exemptions are too vague

Ivory debate

House of Lords

Parliament

Shadow environment spokesperson Baroness Jones of Whitchurch winds up this afternoon's debate on the ivory trade for Labour, pointing out that there is widespread support for tackling an industry associated with "cruel and unnecessary slaughter".

She says whatever action is taken it needs to be "operable, simple and deliverable".

On the question of exemptions, she says there should be an end to the distinction between pre- and post-1947 antiques, as it's unworkable.

She adds that the exception for works of art is overly "vague".

Call for cross-party work to tackle online abuse

General adjournment debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Nigel Huddleston
HoC

Conservative Nigel Huddleston says he is very concerned by "what's happening online".

He says that generally, MPs in the House of Commons do get along; they do sometimes "vehemently disagree," but he says while Parliamentarians have opinions, it doesn't "necessarily mean that we're right".

He says that different Parliamentarians may look at the same data and see different points.

He says if MPs are using a hashtag which is then being exploited by another group, then it is incumbent upon them to distance themselves from the trend.

It can be "disheartening" that "occasionally in this place...to hear people insinuate that because I'm a Tory, therefore I wake up in the morning wanting to hurt poor or disabled people, that is so far from the reality, it's downright offensive," he says.

"If anybody believes that in a public debate sphere or forum, then I feel really sorry for them," he adds.

He finishes by calling for cross-party work to call out abuse against people online.

Newham poverty raised

General adjournment debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Lyn Brown
HoC

Labour's Lyn Brown is using her speech to discuss poverty in Newham. She says that research suggests that 13 out of 20 children in Newham live in poverty.

Newham is one of the areas of highest deprivation in the country, she says, and has one of the highest number of betting shops in any borough

There are "81 in operation, 12 on one street alone," she says.

"Newham Council estimate that £20m of residents' money was lost to Fixed Odds Betting Machines in just one year," she says.

She says she has called for a reduction in the maximum stake to £2. She says a £2 limit would help to stop problem gambling. It would be a "great, if belated Christmas present" to the children of Newham, she adds.

Ex-Met chief backs ivory sale ban

Ivory debate

House of Lords

Parliament

Hogan-Howe
HoC

Ex-Metropolitan Police chief and crossbencher Lord Hogan-Howe is giving his maiden speech. He speaks of his 38 years in the service, saying he has "never lost the thrill of arresting the bad guy to help the good guy".

Turning to the topic for debate, he says he backs a ban on ivory for domestic sale, but notes this still leaves the way open for a loophole via gifts and exchange.

He warns that the exemption for items of artistic and historical value is "too subjective and too broadly drawn".

Improve connectivity in Scotland - Lib Dem MP

General adjournment debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Jamie Stone
HoC

Liberal Democrat Jamie Stone uses his speech to call for increased connectivity in his constituency of Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross.

He says that broadband and energy "do not respect national boundaries", adding that people in his constituency struggle with Universal Credit claims because broadband is so slow, and he sees energy connectivity is still not good for his constituencies.

He finishes by thanking all the staff for introducing him to the House of Commons over the past six months.

Christmas wishes from the Leader of the House

Leader of the Commons tweets

HPV vaccinations for men and women?

General adjournment debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Sir Paul Beresford
HoC

Conservative Sir Paul Beresford is using his general debate speech to call for vaccination of HPV for both girls and boys.

He says that the virus is mostly harmless, but there are two types which are dangerous to humans, and can cause illnesses.

The prevalence of head and neck cancers is one of the fastest increasing in the UK, he says the cancer is also more suffered by men.

There is a link between the two, he says, cervical cancer is linked to HPV and head and neck cancers are linked to HPV in men, he adds.

MPs turn to general debate

General adjournment debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Bob Blackman
HoC

As is customary before any recess, the House of Commons now turns to a general debate on "matters to be raised before the forthcoming adjournment". MPs may raise any topic as part of the debate.

Conservative Bob Blackman says that his Homelessness Reduction Act was one of the last pieces of legislation to be given Royal Assent before the general election. He says it is both the longest and most expensive private members' bill in history, but will change how homeless people are treated.

Peer raises questions on destruction of ivory

Ivory debate

House of Lords

Parliament

Carrington
HoL

In the Lords, Conservative Lord Carrington of Fulham is opening his debate on a motion that this House takes note of the impact of the trade in ivory on endangered species, and of the efforts being made to eliminate that trade while protecting the cultural heritage of antique ivory.

He tells peers "the first priority is to protect elephants" and while the trade of post-1947 ivory objects is already illegal, "the current ban has not worked".

He discusses the difficulty of discerning which antique ivory objects are of "museum quality" and therefore should not be destroyed.

RT under fire in the Commons

Russian interference debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Matt Hancock
HoC

Matt Hancock, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Minister says that tomorrow the Foreign Secretary will be in Russia and will have discussions with the Russian government about disinformation.

"The SNP needs to take a cold hard look at itself," Mr Hancock says, referring to the fact that former SNP leader Alex Salmond now has a programme on the Kremlin-backed RT broadcaster.

"It is vital that we do not surrender our own values of liberal democracy" in response to Russian disinformation, the minister says.

He says that Ofcom has found RT to be in breach of broadcasters' code on 13 occasions.

"Our best defence is our critical faculties," Mr Hancock says.

He says the government may take a view, but the National Cyber Security Centre is only able to respond to direct hacking, rather than take views on disinformation or bots being used.

'Constant vigilance'

Russian interference debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Liam Byrne
HoC

The SNPs Europe spokesman Stephen Gethins says that Russia is "a wonderful country with a rich history".

However, he says, President Putin has had a "devastating impact" on his own people and urges the UK to work with the EU to stabilise countries threatened by the Russian Federation.

Shadow digital economy minister Liam Byrne says it is "ludicrous" that the national security strategy does not include an objective to defend "the integrity of our democracy".

"The price of freedom is constant vigilance," he says.

Call out malign Russian intent - Conservative MP

Russian interference debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Bob Seely
HoC

Before becoming an MP Conservative Bob Seely worked as a journalist in the Soviet Union.

He stresses the importance of "calling out malign Russian intent" and makes a recommendation.

He says that in 1980s America a powerful intelligence committee was set up to "inoculate society against the lies that are told".

He calls for the UK Parliament to emulate this.

'Putin is manipulating this debate'

Russian interference debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Conservative Bernard Jenkin argues that his debate is what Russia wants.

Russia, he says, wants to be seen have influence and to be "tweaking the face of the west".

"President Putin is manipulating this debate," he tells MPs.

Leigh: Left is using Russia as an excuse for electoral failure

Russian interference debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Edward Leigh
HoC

"Let's keep a sense of proportion," suggests Conservative Sir Edward Leigh.

He cites a study by the Oxford Internet Institute that found that Russian Twitter accounts contributed "relatively little" to the Brexit conversation.

"If this is the best Russia can do we can probably rest," he says.

He argues that the left has to find an excuse as to why the workers are "abandoning their ideology" and that Russia provides a convenient explanation.

A tale of Christmas past from the Today in Parliament archives.

A festive offering from the archives - the tale of a disappointing Christmas card.
In January 2002, the late Lord St John of Fawsley, the Conservative former cabinet minister, Norman St John Stevas, complained about the state of the Christmas cards produced by the House of Lords.  From the archives of BBC Radio 4's Today in Parliament.

Labour MP's questions for the government

Russian interference debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Ben Bradshaw
HoC

Labour's Ben Bradshaw says that when he first started asking questions about this a year ago, he was treated "as a bit of a crank".

He says that there are now multiple independent or Parliamentary bodies investigating Russian interference, but he wants to know why the government investigating this themselves, rather than leaving it to Parliament.

He says that Russia is classified as a Tier 1 threat, but it appears that the intelligence services do not appear to be pursuing them.

He wants to know how much support is being given to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee by the government in their inquiry.

"Russia is a nasty, nationalistic, ultra-Conservative corrupt kleptocracy, it's racist, it's homophobic, and it makes no secret of wanting to undermine our democracy," he says.

Daily Politics moodbox: Voters' views on 2018 politics
Does 2018 promise to be as eventful and unpredictable as the outgoing year in terms of politics?

Committee chair criticises social media companies

Russian interference debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Damian Collins
HoC

Damian Collins, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, says that their first committee session on Russian interference was held earlier this week.

He says that a Russian bot account replied to his tweet about the committee hearing to say "that we should be careful because we can all be wiped out in a single stroke".

He says that on a previous occasion when he tweeted a link of a discussion between him and Hugo Rifkind about Russian interference in the US, the Russian Embassy in London Twitter account "compared me to Joseph Goebbels".

He says there has been a deletion of 30,000 fake accounts which could have been used to cause instability in the West.

He says Russian accounts all support the separatist cause in Catalonia.

He criticises the social media companies, and says he doesn't believe that people understand how they can be targeted by hyper-partisan and propaganda content by Russian bots.

'Russia is a clear and present danger' to the UK - Lib Dem

Russian interference debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Tom Brake
HoC

Liberal Democrat Tom Brake is opening the Backbench Business debate on Russian interference in UK politics and society.

He says that "Russia is a clear and present danger" to UK democracy.

It is not a case of one smoking gun, but it is a case of joining up the dots, he says.

He says that the Scottish independence referendum was a case of Russia trying to discredit the outcome; general interference happened in the United States, and he believes it happened in the EU referendum.

He is not attacking Russians, he is attacking the Russian government, he adds.

He says that Russia would have only interfered in the EU referendum if it could damage the UK.

Mr Brake says that the channel RT is being used as a "tool for destabilisation from the Kremlin," but he says that Ofcom does not always enforce sanctions against the broadcaster.

He is not advocating shutting down RT, but he wants to see RT to follow Ofcom rules, he says.

He says that the Electoral Commission has only been asked to investigate Russian adverts on Twitter and Facebook, but not the use of bots.

Missing it much?

BBC journalist tweets

A long-term sustainable plan

Supported housing statement

House of Commons

Parliament

Tom Brake
HoC

Liberal Democrat Tom Brake asks if the minister will commit to an annual review to make sure the investment "does in fact come," and if the government has a long term sustainable plan for the sector.

Mr Jones says the government is putting in place a long-term sustainable plan for the sector and working with the sector very closely.

Guarantee of 'no penny pinching' sought from SNP

Supported housing statement

House of Commons

Parliament

Deirdre Brock
HoC

The SNP's Deirdre Brock asks for a guarantee "that there will be no penny pinching"; and that extra care housing costs will be met in full by central government, "without quibble or caveat".

She says the responsibilities for the government cannot be handed over to charities, housing associations or local government.

Mr Jones says that sheltered rent will cover extra care housing as well.

He says "this is not at all about penny pinching".

He says that the government is working with the devolved governments in Scotland and Wales on their funding for this area.

Government 'protecting the most vulnerable' - minister

Supported housing statement

House of Commons

Parliament

Marcus Jones says that short term accommodation beyond 2020 will be covered by a transfer from the Department for Work and Pensions, to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

He says the government is clear on how future provision will be assessed.

Tenants will have the help and support they need when the changes come in to effect, he says.

There are deficiencies in the current system, he adds.

He says the government is committed to protecting the most vulnerable, and by working with the sector they can get this right, he adds.

'Folly' and 'flaws' - Labour

Supported housing statement

House of Commons

Parliament

John Healey
HoC

Shadow housing secretary John Healey says he fails "to see anything fresh in this statement" but welcomes it.

He says the Commons has played a "big part" in getting the government to reverse its plans on supported housing. Charities and housing associations, as well as MPs, have spoken strongly on this to warn of the "folly and the flaws" of the changes, he adds.

He says the joint committee report has led the basis for the change in the government's thinking.

He does, however, say that the statement today "does nothing" to clear up concerns.

He says the commitment up to 2020 is because the Treasury Red Book shows that the government "has inked in cuts of half a billion pounds in 2021-2022".

He says grant funding decisions in the future, taking decisions from ministers, will "no longer be needs-led".

Changes to funding to be applied a year later

Supported housing statement

House of Commons

Parliament

Marcus Jones
HoC

Communities and Local Government Minister Marcus Jones is giving a statement on supported housing.

He says the government is determined to ensure that the funding "protects and boosts" the level of this type of housing.

Mr Jones says that funding changes will now be applied in April 2020, rather than April 2019.

He says the government will work in the rented sector to provide better cost control for tenants with long term disabilities or mental health conditions.

"There are real advantages to this new approach," he says, adding that the government is giving the security that the sector needs. The sector has now given the go-ahead for £50m in investment since the announcement, he says.

He says women's refuges will now receive the same level of funding they currently receive until 2020.

'Important that we make more progress' - Lib Dems

Complaints and grievances statement

House of Commons

Parliament

Jo Swinson
HoC

Deputy Lib Dem Leader Jo Swinson says it is "important that we make more progress".

She says many members of the Working Group are "disappointed that we are not further forward". She asks if she agrees that vested interests "not least, whips' offices reluctant to give up their power," must not be allowed to "derail" progress on harassment.

Ms Leadsom says she has spoken to whips "on all sides of the house" and "all are very keen to see resolution of this matter".

She says she believes there will be fast progress in the new year.

Get this dealt with 'as quickly as possible' - SNP

Complaints and grievances statement

House of Commons

Parliament

Pete Wishart
HoC

SNP Commons Business Spokesperson Pete Wishart commends the Leader of the House for the progress that has been made so far.

It is "profoundly disappointing" that the group has not managed to produce a report before Christmas, he says. By failing to deliver the report, he says that they have "let everyone down in the House".

"This is far too an important issue to be lost in party political machinery," he says. He asks to get people around the table "as quickly as possible," "so we can start protecting the people of this House".

Ms Leadsom shares his enthusiasm for further work and speedy progress She says, "we do need to make fast progress."

Labour's stance 'misrepresented'

Complaints and grievances statement

House of Commons

Parliament

Valerie Vaz
HoC

Shadow Leader of the House Valerie Vaz thanks Andrea Leadsom for her leadership of the group.

Ms Vaz says that the position of the Labour Party in response to the report was "misrepresented" in the press at the weekend.

She says it is valuable that people who may not have been consulted get their voices heard.

Jeremy Corbyn wants a separate independent sexual harassment advisor and support, she says.

Longer term, there should be mandatory equalities training for all, she says. She suggests it could be included along with fire safety and cyber security training.

"This is too important an issue," she says and adds that there needs to be an independent team.

Leader of the House outlines new complaints procedures

Complaints and grievances statement

House of Commons

Parliament

Andrea Leadsom
HoC

Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom, is giving a statement on an independent complaints and grievance policy for the Houses of Parliament.

She says a fuller report will be made in the new year following continued consultation. The Parliamentary Working Group features members from all parties represented in the Commons as well as three union leaders.

The group has also heard from staff in the Parliamentary Estate, as well as business leaders and other significant figures.

The group accepts that complaints must be held separately from political channels, and that there must be separate ways of handling complaints from staff.

Andrea Leadsom says there must be an HR service for staff in Parliament, with an interim service introduced in the new year, in lieu of a fuller service to follow.

A new behaviour code is being consulted on, which will sit alongside the standard code of conduct.

Sanctions will differ according to the severity of the grievance. Lower level complaints may include training or an apology. In serious cases, further work needs to be carried out in order to make sure that new rules can be enforced.

The work of the group is "ongoing for the time being," "excellent progress has been made in a short space of time," she concludes.

Report into HMP Liverpool to be published in January

Lords questions

House of Lords

Parliament

HMP Liverpool
Press Association

Labour's Lord Beecham has the final question today, he wants to know if or when the government will publish the recent report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons on HMP Liverpool.

Justice Minister Lord Keen of Elie notes that "not a pound" has been spent on cell accommodation at the prison since 1994.

He describes the situation as "deeply troubling" and says the report will be published on 19 January.

Equalities and Brexit?

Lords questions

House of Lords

Parliament

Pregnant woman in an office
Press Association

Liberal Democrat Baroness Hussein-Ece asks the government what equalities impact assessment they have undertaken into the implications of Brexit.

Exiting the EU Minister Lord Callanan says the UK does not need to be a part of the EU to have strong equalities protection.

He adds that UK law already goes beyond EU law. "She need not fear," he says.