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  1. MPs debate private members' bills
  2. House of Lords sits from 10am

Live Reporting

By Gary Connor

All times stated are UK


And that's where we'll leave coverage of today's events in the House of Commons. Thank you for joining us.

We'll be covering events in Westminster again next week - find out what's on here on BBC parliamentary correspondent Mark D'Arcy's blog.

Labour MP introduces bill

Employment and Workers Rights Bill

House of Commons


Labour's Stephanie Peacock begins what will be a brief debate on her bill.

At 2.30pm, proceedings will be suspended resumed on another sitting Friday, although in practice, this means the bill is unlikely to progress further.

Ms Peacock's bill contains provisions about removing equal pay exemption, the right to apply for an employment contract and complaints to employment tribunals.

Congratulations as bill passes

Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill

House of Commons


"I want to reiterate my thanks and congratulations," says shadow minister Louise Haigh, to Chris Bryant and Holly Lynch.

"We've seen a fantastic debate today, conducted in a comradely spirit."

Minister Rory Stewart says that his comments are a "tribute" to Mr Bryant and Ms Lynch.

"I hope that all the emergency services feel very strongly the support in the House for their work," he says.

The bill will now head to the House of Lords for consideration.

Clauses 'should not remain in the bill' - Bryant

Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill

House of Commons


Chris Bryant rises to move another amendment to remove three clauses from the bill., which deal with the taking of samples after assaults on emergency workers.

"I've tabled these amendments... simply because I think they would not be efficacious and should not remain in the bill."

After a short debate, it is agreed that the clauses will be taken out of the bill, bringing report consideration to a close.

Minister calls for changes to bill

Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill

House of Commons


Rory Stewart

Justice Minister Rory Stewart says an attack on an emergency service worker is an attack "on us, an attack on the state" and therefore should be more harshly punished than on an individual citizen.

He says the government proposes to accept the offence of a sexual assault as an aggravating offence.

The government believes it would be better to withdraw some amendments and clauses from the bill to leave it in a better state, he says.

One of those is to remove the offence of common assault by spitting, which he says is already covered.

He also asks that new clause 1, new clause 2 and amendment 9 is withdrawn because he believes that a higher tariff for an attack on a uniformed member of staff should be double the tariff for an individual - but not quadruple.

Looking ahead to next week

Lords tweets

Attacking emergency workers 'callous' - Tory MP

Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill

House of Commons


Conservative Craig Tracey says he does "sympathise" with many of the issues being raised during the debate, particularly around spitting.

"To attack someone who is trying to help someone in an emergency is callous, heinous and totally unacceptable."

Warning 'not to complicate the statute book'

Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill

House of Commons


"There is a danger in this House that we legislate for the sake of something being done," warns Conservative Robert Courts.

He says that MPs need to be careful "not to complicated the statute book" but says that the Commons needs to make clear that emergency workers are protected.

'Issue of perception' warns Conservative

Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill

House of Commons


Conservative Alex Chalk says that there is an "issue about perception" but it would be wrong for the message of the debate to be that the UK is soft on imprisonment.

He says it is "appalling" to think that an ambulance worker might be sexually assaulted in the line of duty, but there is currently an offence on the statute books that carries a ten-year sentence.

It would be a "very curious case" if that happened and the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute under the current offence, he tells MPs.

Emergency workers 'cannot walk away' - Labour MP

Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill

House of Commons


Labour's Holly Lynch says she's supporting amendment 3, which adds sexual assault to the list of charges which would aggravate sentences if they inflicted on an emergency worker.

"The reason that we have to go that bit further," Ms Lynch says, of emergency workers, "is because they cannot walk away".

She urges colleagues to support the amendment.

'We've loved every minute' - Chris Bryant

Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill

House of Commons


Philip Davies concludes his remarks, and is followed by the bill's sponsor, Labour MP Chris Bryant, who says he thought he'd be speaking "a little earlier" than now.

"We've loved every minute," he claims.

Mr Bryant pays tribute to members across the House, particularly his party colleague Holly Lynch.

"I hope that by the end of today, we'll have a bill that's eminently suitable to go on to the House of Lords."

Chris Bryant introduces an amendment that includes spitting in the definition of types of assault.

Disproportionate sentencing?

Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill

House of Commons


Thirty minutes into his speech, Conservative Philip Davies seems no closer to winding up his remarks.

Minister Rory Stewart intervenes to suggest that increasing sentencing to 24 months would lead to those convicted of offences against emergency workers receiving four times the jail term than someone convicted of assaulting a normal person, which Mr Stewart suggests could be disproportionate.

Mr Davies implies that sentencing overall is too low and tells MPs he'd be doing "cartwheels" if the government increased terms.

Today's bill

Commons tweets

Background: Ministers back tougher sentences for attacks on emergency staff

From 16 October 2017

BBC News

Attacks on emergency workers will face tougher sentences under a new law which has been given government backing.

Rhondda Labour MP Chris Bryant's private member's bill would double the maximum sentence for common assault against an emergency worker to a year.

Mr Bryant called assaults on police and paramedics "a national disgrace".

Read more.


MPs move on to scrutiny

Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill

House of Commons


The division on whether to sit in private is lost, by 2 votes to 69.

MPs move onto the report stage of Chris Bryant's bill.

Conservative Philip Davis moves New Clause 1, which would make assaults specifically on police constables carry the same penalty as the new offence in Mr Bryant's bill and not just the six months currently available to courts.

What's on today?

Parliamentary reporters tweet

Welcome to Friday...

Private members' bills

House of Commons


Good morning, and welcome to our live coverage from the House of Commons.

Up first are the remaining stages of Labour MP Chris Bryant's Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill.

They'll then move on to debate the general principles of the Employment and Workers' Rights Bill, from Labour MP Stephanie Peacock.

But first MPs are dividing on a motion on whether to sit in private. It is a procedural tactic, to check how many members are on the parliamentary estate.

Today in the Commons

What happened?

House of Commons


The day kicked off at 9:30am with Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs questions, with MPs' questions on everything from the availability of plastic recycling, to Brexit.

Commissioner questions confirmed that the House of Commons, for now, is not considering introducing electronic voting, much to the dismay of the SNP benches.

The urgent question on Home Office removal targets, tabled by shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, changed to an announcement that the Home Office would "scrap" them.

This urgent question was asked after Ms Rudd told MPs at the Home Affairs Committee on Wednesday that the department did not use targets, but said today in the Commons that "local" targets for "internal" use had been set.

There were two ministerial statements, the first announced the government's future plan for an AI sector deal, the second announced that 69,000 households had taken advantage of the waiving of stamp duty for first time buyers.

The debate in the Commons this afternoon was on Britain retaining some kind of customs union agreement with the EU. Passionate arguments were heard on both sides, and the House passed the resolution without a vote.

This means that the government must now speak to the House within three months on what they intend to do about the customs union.

The Commons will return at 9:30am tomorrow morning for private members' bills.

Government is 'entirely committed' to Good Friday Agreement

Customers and Border debate

House of Commons


Mel Stride

Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride says that the government will not "undermine" the Good Friday Agreement and remains "entirely committed" to it.

The government remains "confident of a deal" and so therefore the prospect of a "no deal" remains unlikely, he says.

He adds that the UK will be able to strike Free Trade Agreements with the rest of the world, which it currently cannot do.

"When we leave the European Union we will leave its customs union, that is a matter of fact," he says, adding that it is the only way the UK can be independent.

Yvette Cooper concludes the debate, saying that it has been "excellent", drawing so much expertise from across the UK and in the committee members as well.

She says "there is no evidence that underpins" the minister's words, and she urges the government to bring forward a "proper debate" for the Commons.

"It is time for the government to stop running away."

The motion on the order paper passes unanimously, meaning that the Commons has now formally asked the government to remain in a customs union with the EU. This is the first example of a Liaison Committee motion passing in such a form in Parliament, says Labour's Chris Leslie.

The customs union was supported by Thatcher - Labour

Customs and Border Debate

House of Commons


Peter Dowd

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Peter Dowd says that the single market and customs union was something supported by Margaret Thatcher.

The prime minister "has caused confusion", he says, adding that Labour are "not in the business of keeping Britain in the EU through the back door"; but many MPs are warning of the huge risks to the UK - for problems with supply chains, for example - of leaving the customs union.

He says that remaining in the EU customs union would allow for continued protections of the UK's workers' rights and other employment rights.

"Today's debate sends a clear warning to this government that it cannot simply steamroll...members of the House," he adds.

'Three times the economic crash of 2008 over a 12 year period'

Customs and Border Debate

House of Commons


Angus MacNeil

The SNP's Angus MacNeil says that most people didn't pay attention to what happened at borders.

"6% damage, or three times the economic crash of 2008 over a 12 year period," he says, referring to the economic impact of Brexit according to government estimates.

The UK will not have as much control over its trade, he says, and warns that Scotland will be "referendum ready" for the "economic harm the UK is about to inflict on itself".

Plan would entirely give up 'control to the EU'

Customs and Border debate

House of Commons


Marcus Fysh

Conservative Marcus Fysh says that the customs union plan "entirely gives up control to the EU".

The "customs union plan" would weaken the UK's sovereignty, he says, whereas leaving the customs union means "we would be able to make our way independently in the world".

News from Tory leader in Scotland

BBC tweets

'What a well run Cabinet'

Customs and Border debate

House of Commons


Tom Brake

Liberal Democrat Exiting the EU Spokesperson Tom Brake says "what a well run Cabinet" referring to the fact that Amber Rudd will not be drawn on leaving the single market and the "Foreign Secretary threatens to resign if we do".

"Many members have referred to the Irish border, but I think it is a real pity that the secretary of state only went to the Irish border" in the last week, he says.

He says that "not a single minister" has been to visit the port at Dover to see the impacts could have on leaving.

"The UK has recently been threatened with a nearly £2bn fine for failing to handle imports at our ports effectively, leading to significant VAT losses in other EU countries," he says.

Healthcare will be impacted from leaving the customs union - Health Committee Chair

Customs and Border debate

House of Commons


Dr Sarah Wollaston

The Health Committee Chair, Dr Sarah Wollaston, says that from the "research lab" through to "the pharmacy itself" there is a very complex supply chain.

"There are around 700,000 diagnostic tests that rely on the availability of radioactive isotopes," she says.

"We're talking about blood plasma derivatives", and "the supply of dialysis equipment", she adds.

She says after the Manchester Arena attack there were 500 medical devices which were flown in at very short notice from Belgium to help patients after the incident.

The cost of generic drugs to the NHS "will go up", she says, and "the unhindered flow" of medical devices is "at risk".

"I think there will be a huge crunch moment of reality for which the public will never forgive us in this House, if after we leave the European Union, people's drugs and life saving equipment are not available.

"This is where we are starting to run into Brexit reality," she says.

Forklifts at Combilift's factory

John Campbell

BBC News NI Economics & Business Editor

The County Monaghan manufacturer Combilift draws about 10% of its workforce from Northern Ireland.

Read more

This is a self-imposed 'calamity' - Grieve

Customs and Borer debate

House of Commons


Dominic Grieve

Conservative Dominic Grieve says that today's debate offers an opportunity to the possible merits "of staying in a customs union".

He says that a customs union "is not perfect" but the UK would have no control over the rules if it leaves the EU.

"Just because one imposed one calamity on oneself doesn't mean that one then goes to inflict greater calamities, simply on the basis that one has to do it in order to prove the theory, the mistaken theory, that one has espoused," he says.

"Every Japanese company will be gone in ten years' time," he says the Japanese Ambassador to the UK has warned if the UK continues in its current track.

"In any case, free trade agreements come with strings attached," he says.

"The Irish border is a microcosm of the bigger problem."

He calls for MPs to start injecting "some realism" into the debate on the customs union.

'Britain would be reduced' to agreeing to the EU

Customs and Border debate

House of Commons


Simon Clark

"In a customs union, Britain would be reduced to taking whatever deal we were handed by the EU," says Conservative Simon Clark, adding that not having a veto means the UK has no control over the outcomes.

"There would be no sensible agreement which we could agree with," he adds.

He says that many people see remaining in the customs union as "a stepping stone" to remaining in the EU.

"Not leaving the customs union would fatally damage the prospects" of a freeport in the Teesside area, he says.

He says that the UK is seeking "an ambitious trade agreement both with Europe and with the rest of the world".

We cannot have 'any return to any hard border in Northern Ireland'

Customs and Border debate

House of Commons


Owen Smith

Labour's Owen Smith thanks Jeremy Corbyn for allowing him to speak "more freely" during this debate. Earlier this year, he was sacked by Mr Corbyn for speaking out in favour of single market and customs union membership.

"We cannot countenance any return to any hard border in Northern Ireland," he says.

The Chief Constable of Northern Ireland is warning the UK what a return to a hard border could do, he says, and he adds that this is also a view shared by Northern Irish politicians.

The view of the OBR, the OECD and of the British government is that the British economy will not grow as fast as it would otherwise because of Brexit, he states.

The 32 Commonwealth countries 'already have free trade agreements with the EU'

Customs and Border debate

House of Commons


Antoinette Sandbach

Conservative Antoinette Sandbach says that when she voted in the EU Referendum she didn't think a lot about leaving the customs union or rules of origin.

She says that the International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, wrote an article for the Mail on Sunday in 2012 which said the UK should "renegotiate a new relationship with the European Union, one based on an economic partnership involving a customs union and a single market in goods and services".

She says she understands the importance of the fishing industry to Ms Murray's constituency of South East Cornwall, but her constituency will be affected by changes in car manufacturing, agriculture, pharmaceutical, energy and food matters.

"I have to vote in a way" that best serves her constituency, she says.

The 32 Commonwealth countries frequently referenced by Brexiteers "already have free trade agreements with the EU", she adds.

Rudd clarifies customs union stance

Home secretary tweets

Rudd customs union comments causing a stir

The Times's deputy political editor and Huffington Post's executive editor of politics tweet