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Summary

  1. The House of Lords debates private members' bills

Live Reporting

By Richard Morris, Lucy Webster and Robbie Hawkins

All times stated are UK

Theresa May is giving a speech in Belfast

The UK and EU agree there should be no hard border post-Brexit, but are at odds on how to achieve it.

Read more

Goodbye

That's where we leave our coverage of the week in Parliament.

We'll be back on Monday at 2.30pm for more from the Commons and the Lords.

Peers debate bill on EU information

European Union (Information) Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers have debated the European Union (Information, etc.) Bill, introduced by crossbench peer, Lord Dykes.

The bill would require the government to provide information relating to the EU in written and electronic forms; and local authorities would be required to distribute the information free of charge in public buildings.

The bill defines information as the purpose, scope and effect of the EU's activities and how it is organised, while another section of the bill would require information on the EU's town twinning scheme to be made available.

The bill was given second reading and will now be considered at committee stage.

Bill sent for committee consideration

Children Act (Amendment) Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers give the bill a second reading, and it will now proceed to committee stage, where it will be examined in greater depth.

Why Conservatives are fighting each other
The government is heading towards the summer break, wracked by infighting among Tory MPs.

What is the bill about?

Children Act (Amendment) Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

You can read more about the bill here.

Currently, Female Genital Mutilation Protection Orders safeguard victims under the Female Genital Mutilation Act. This bill would allow courts to make interim care orders under the Children Act 1989 in cases relating to FGM.

The interim order would mean local authorities would have shared parental responsibility for the child.

Peer introduces bill to protect girls at risk of FGM

Children Act (Amendment) Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers now listen to Lord Berkeley of Knighton introducing a bill which would amend the Children Act of 1989, to protect girls at risk of female genital mutilation.

Crossbencher Lord Berkeley says the 1989 act does not currently protect girls at risk of this specific offence, and this amendment bill would do that.

He says he was horrified to learn about FGM when he attended a debate led by the late Lady Rendell, and he says that there is no basis for the practice in religion.

Education is the best way to stop FGM, as it is often a practice passed from grandmother to mother, he says, and it is often done for the supposed benefit of men.

Bill moves on

Civil Partnership Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

The bill passes its second reading and moves to committee stage.

Minister 'unconvinced' by bill

Civil Partnership Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Minister Baroness Williams sums up for the government, but says that while she has listened carefully to the arguments, she is unconvinced that the bill offers a solution to the problems explained by campaigners.

Campaigner calls for change to the law

In his speech, Lord Lexden refers to a campaigner on the issue, Olivia Utley, who wrote an article about the issue for The Times.

You can read it here.

She says:

I was brought up by my mother and her sister in as a stable a unit as one could possibly imagine. I’ve never considered my aunt as anything other than a parent, and to anyone who knows us, the idea that we “aren’t a family” would seem absurd. But the law says otherwise. The sisters who raised me have no legal means by which to make their relationship official, meaning that they are exempt from the rights afforded to civil partners and married couples; most importantly the right to inherit a joint tenancy, and the right to pass on a jointly owned home to each other free of inheritance tax.

Civil partnership bill 'would extend new rights' to siblings

Civil Partnership Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

You can read more about the bill here.

It is being proposed by Conservative Lord Lexden

Lord Lexden says his bill would "extend new rights" and confer on thousands of men and women the legal status which "they have hoped for".

Sibling couples may have decided to spend their lives together in homes until their death and "special recognition should be given to them" he says.

What are today's bills?

House of Lords

Parliament

The first bill for consideration today is the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (Amendment) (Sibling Couples) Bill.

This bill would amend the Civil Partnership Act 2004 to include sibling couples.

Good morning

Welcome to coverage of today's events in Westminster - we'll be covering the House of Lords today, as peers debate private members' bills.

Today in the Commons

What happened?

House of Commons

Parliament

The Commons agreed on a new code of practice for dealing with complaints and grievances for staff working in the Commons.

The decision made today will be subject to a review in six and 18 months' time, and is the result of a cross-party effort to standardise practices for dealing with complaints.

The government confirmed that it would be updating and changing mandatory sex and relationships education in schools, and MPs heard an urgent question from Labour on ESA underpayments.

The Commons returns at 2:30pm on Monday with Housing, Communities and Local Government questions.

'Tobacco control is a key priority for us'

Tobacco Control Plan

House of Commons

Parliament

Steve Brine
HoC

Wrapping up the debate on the Tobacco Control Plan, Health Minister Steve Brine thanks MPs for their remarks on smoking.

He says local authorities are not the only ones responsible for helping quitting smoking as some suggests, and that there are new grants available for others to provide the services.

Asked whether there are plans for "vaping areas in hospitals", he says it is for NHS Trusts to introduce their own policies.

"Ultimately we are judged on our record," he says, "we want to make the smoke free generation a reality."

"Tobacco control is a key priority for us."

'Paramilitaries smuggling tobacco' in Northern Ireland

Tobacco Control Plan

House of Commons

Parliament

Jim Shannon
HoC

DUP MP Jim Shannon says that there is a serious problem in Northern Ireland of illegal tobacco smuggling involving paramilitaries, and HMRC needs to do more to combat this.

He encourages English HMRC officers to talk more with their opposite numbers in Northern Ireland and Scotlandto improve approaches.

"We can look at these things collectively and establish a policy that will help us all."

Tory MP: 'Make the manufacturers pay'

Tobacco Control Plan

House of Commons

Parliament

Bob Blackman
HoC

The chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking, Bob Blackman, says there is definitely a case for further tobacco control measures.

"The industry has money to pay for the measures that we need to control tobacco, to mitigate the harm that is causes."

"Let us make the manufacturers pay," he says.

He says there is a need for "mass media campaigns" to shock people into realising how dangerous smoking is for people's health.

Smoking 'huge challenge' for government

Tobacco Control Plan

House of Commons

Parliament

Sharon Hodgson
HoC

Shadow public health minister Sharon Hodgson says smoking is a "huge challenge" for government, especially when looking to tackle the number of people that smoke during childhood.

She asks "with local smoking services on their knees how can the government meet targets for quitting?"

She says ambitions to reduce smoking in pregnancy are "unlikely to be met without urgent action".

Ms Hodgson says she welcomes the minister's targets, but asks how the government will help younger women and women from disadvantaged backgrounds stop smoking during pregnancy.

Disappointment for MP

Kevin Barron's amendment did not receive Commons backing

MPs debating Tobacco Control Plan

Tobacco Control Plan

House of Commons

Parliament

Steve Brine
HoC

MPs are now debating the Tobacco Control Plan.

The government published its latest tobacco plan in July 2017, providing four national ambitions for tobacco control:

  • Reduce the prevalence of smoking amongst young people
  • Reduce smoking in pregnancy
  • Make all mental health sites smokefree by 2018
  • Help individuals quit by backing evidence based innovations for quitting

Health Minister Steve Brine is opening the debate and says thousands of people continue to die as a result of tobacco around the world.

"The UK government can help make a dent on that toll by sharing knowledge and skills."

In a broad ranging speech, Mr Brine says "we will continue to keep the harms of products, such as heated tobacco, under review" and reminds the House that "the promotion of tobacco products is unlawful".

Chief whip under fire

BBC tweets

MPs raise points of order on pairing

Point of Order

House of Commons

Parliament

Deputy Speaker Dame Rosie Winterton
HoC

In a point of order, Labour's Wes Streeting says recent press reports suggest that the Conservative Chief Whip Julian Smith has "instructed MPs to break their pairs".

He refers to comments by the Leader of the House suggesting the breaking of the pair was done in error.

He says the Chief Whip must now resign as he has broken the ministerial code.

He asks how MPs can compel Julian Smith to come to the House and answer for his actions.

Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine adds to this, asking whether the Chief Whip can be summoned to the house "without hiding behind the Leader of the House" through an urgent question.

Deputy Speaker Dame Rosie Winterton says she is sure the Leader of the House's earlier comments "were said in good faith" and if that she had said something incorrect unintentionally then she would correct the record.

"I also don't think we should rush to any conclusions based on what is reported on social media."

She says it is a convention that the Chief Whip does not speak in the House, it is for the Speaker to decide whether to accept an urgent question, and that it is the government to decide who responds to an urgent question.

Conservative Chief Whip Julian Smith is under pressure to explain why an MP took part in crunch Brexit votes despite an agreement not to.

Mr Lewis told Brandon Lewis to break a voting pact with a Lib Dem MP "by accident", sources have told the BBC.

He has apologised to the MP in question, Jo Swinson, who had a "pairing" agreement with Mr Lewis.

Lord Pickles gives maiden speech

Effect of referendums on parliamentary democracy

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Pickles
HoL

Lord Pickles, formerly a Conservative local government secretary, is giving his maiden speech in the House of Lords. He recalls not believing someone from his background could become a peer, and his teenage communist beliefs growing up in a Labour family.

He recalls his grandfather saying in despair that he would probably end up a Conservative and sit in the House of Lords.

On the subject of the debate, he quotes President Nixon: "Once the toothpaste is out of the tube, it is impossible to put it back."

He concludes that if his grandfather could meet current peers, he would realise that he had judged the House too harshly.

'Do referendums properly'

Effect of referendums on parliamentary democracy

House of Lords

Parliament

Crossbencher Lord Wilson rises to say "I fear that we are all going to say the same thing".

He speaks about the advantages, such as flexibility, of having an unwritten constitution.

"We tend in this country to do big change as if we were under anaesthetic," he says, "and referendums have slipped in in this way."

He says governments have begun to use them to avoid difficult decisions.

He says referendums should be used but only as a final step, once Parliament has properly debated what the options mean.

He says this was the main mistake of the Brexit referendum and asked how an option could be put to the public which the government believed to be against the national interest.

MPs vote against amendment

Complaints and grievance policy debate

House of Commons

Parliament

MPs vote against Sir Kevin's amendment:

Ayes: 22

Noes: 79

Majority: 57

The motion then passes without a vote.

What does the amendment do?

Complaints and grievance policy debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Chair of the Standards Committee Sir Kevin Barron's amendment would remove a paragraph that calls for information no longer to be published on live investigations.

Sir Kevin says it would be "huge step backwards in terms of transparency".

View more on twitter

House divides on transparency amendment

Complaints and grievance policy debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Andrea Leadsom rises to wrap up the debate, and she says she acknowledges the calls for six month review.

She appeals to members to vote against Kevin Barron's amendment, arguing "we need confidentiality and consistency".

With that, the House divides on the amendment.

Consider trade unions for MPs, says Labour MP

Complaints and grievance policy debate

House of Commons

Parliament

We have to have permission to challenge and confidence to do so, says Labour's Rachael Maskell, another member of the steering group.

"The independent investigation process is the most powerful part," she says, with it vital someone is with "no interest in anything other than resolve and justice to the person involved".

"We need ensure that everyone has that sense of justice," Ms Maskell says, referring to historical cases.

She argues that training should be mandatory as if not "perhaps those that would most benefit from it may miss out".

She asks for the Leader of the House to consider "the role of trade unions and what they can bring to this place".

'Sovereignty lies with the people'

Effect of referendums on parliamentary democracy

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour's Lord Parekh says people's views on referendums are clouded by their views on Brexit and he wants to decontextualise the debate.

He says it is important to remember that in parliamentary democracy, sovereignty does not lie with Parliament but with the people.

He lends support to the use of referendums, especially as, he says, people feel detached from their representatives.

Measures 'don't go far enough' regarding historic complaints

Complaints and grievance policy debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Caroline Lucas
HoC

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas praises the new system, but says that there is "more to do".

She says there are concerns around the independence of the final stages, suggesting the process is "undermined" by MPs playing a part in the decision making.

Historic complaints can go "unresolved", which means the measures don't go far enough, she says.

Ms Lucas suggests "reforms that will deliver real change have been delayed until after the next election", arguing the idea that MPs did not know they would have to sign up to rules against abuse when they stood for election is not good enough.

Referendums 'undermine' Parliament

Effect of referendums on parliamentary democracy

House of Lords

Parliament

Next on the order of business is a debate tabled by Lord Higgins on the impact on the UK's parliamentary democracy from the use of referendums.

The Conservative peer says the issue needs to be considered in a wider sense than just the Brexit referendum.

Referendums were unpopular for a long time because of their association with dictators, he says. He says they are becoming more popular among the public as politicians become more unpopular.

He says referendums prevent politicians from exercising their own judgement as is normally expected in UK representative democracy.

He says the Brexit referendum was approved as 'advisory' but is treated as binding. He says the result was affected by false promises and possibly illegal financing so it is perhaps not right to respect it fully.

He says there is a problem when the view of the majority in a referendum contradicts the view of a majority of parliamentarians.

He says another referendum on Brexit would create more confusion and it is time for Parliament to make decisions.

The case for referendums is weak, he says, and there should be better rules on turnout and majorities.

Concluding, he argues that referendums create rule by the majority and can negatively effect minorities.

A complaint 'means we've already failed'

Complaints and grievance policy debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Layla Moran
HoC

Lib Dem Layla Moran, who chaired the policy's steering committee for a while, says that "if it gets to the point of a complaint we've already failed".

She hopes that the policy means harassment will no longer occur.

"This place should be the best place to work in the entire country," she says, suggesting that Parliament has "lagged behind" for too long.

'50 complaints of abuse' around Parliament

Complaints and grievance policy debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Jess Phillips
HoC

Labour MP Jess Phillips says this is a positive step forward, admitting that she has been a "naysayer" throughout the process but suggesting the report is significant progress.

"It will be a massive pleasure to me to no longer be the referral system for victims of violence in this building," she says.

"I think I'm up to around 50 complaints from a variety of people, from different political parties, about members of parliament and others that work around politics as well."

She says she has some concerns over historical cases, as "most of those cases that are brought us to do anything at all won't be able to go through this system."

However, she says she has a "deep trust in the Leader of the House in her desire to make this right".

Ms Phillips worries about "how it looks" with attempts to pull back on transparency, which she suggests "was a deal done that had to be done to put this through".

Political parties are "no way near" where they need to be on this, she says, "every day I take complaints about the processes people are put through by the political parties".

She ends with a massive thank you to victims that came forward, "you are considerably braver than us".

'Not everyone in Parliament has behaved in a morally decent way'

Complaints and grievance policy debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Chair of the Standards Committee Sir Kevin Barron says not everyone in Parliament has "behaved in a morally decent way".

He says that suggestions that "MPs mark their own homework" does not fairly reflect how his committee operates, as there are a number of lay members who have never been MPs who work with the committee.

He says lay members do not currently have voting rights however, and he would like that to change.

The committee released a report last week on the policy, supporting the extension of the complaints procedure to cover allegations of bullying and harassment, and sexual harassment.

He is critical of parts of the policy, and has tabled an amendment to the motion.

View more on twitter

No many on the green benches?

Institute for Government tweets

Report 'will have great credibility'

Complaints and grievance policy debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Pete Wishart
HoC

Pete Wishart, the SNP Commons business spokesperson, says he's "not been involved with a piece of work that's been so detailed" in his 17 years in Parliament.

"This report will have a great credibility in the House," he says.

He says he hopes it will redefine the culture in Parliament, which needs to be tackled to ensure that everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

He says it shows the kind of work that can be done if MPs get together to ensure they do this.

It's disappointing there isn't an opportunity for historic complainants to come forward presented by the report, but he says he hopes this will still be addressed. He also expresses concern about transparency, confidentiality and consistency.

Training "is a critical part of the report", he says, praising the inclusion of what constitutes bullying and sexual harrassment, as well as how to prevent it and how to deal with it.

"Parliament has to lead... we would be shirking our responsibility if we did not tackle this."

Parliament is overwhelmingly a good place to work

Complaints and grievance policy debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Maria Miller
HoC

Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee Maria Miller says "Parliament is overwhelmingly a good place to work" and there "is a responsibility to deal with this".

Issues which people are finding hard in Parliament are part of "a much wider context".

"This process does need to be independent" of the "intricate network" that is in Parliament.

"The Leader of the House is entirely right" to protect the confidentiality the system seeks to introduce, she adds.

She says that there needs to be more advice to members on how to deal with reporting of problems when they are witnessed.

"We cannot allow bystanders to simply watch things going on without acting," she states.