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Live Reporting

Sophie Morris, Robbie Hawkins and Julia Butler

All times stated are UK

  1. Proxy voting debate: MPs call for change to Westminster voting

    House of Commons


    MPs' last day in Parliament before conference season kicked off with questions to International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and his ministerial team, followed by questions to Women and Equalities ministers.

    Prisons Minister Rory Stewart then responded to an urgent question from Labour MP Mohammad Yasin on concerns about HMP Bedford, before Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister George Eustice delivered a statement on scallop fishing in the Channel.

    The Business statement saw concerns raised about the abuse of MPs' families, and then MPs moved to the much awaited general debate on proxy voting, with Jo Swinson's son Gabriel listening to the last of the debate in the chamber.

    MPs recounted stories about their own maternity or paternity leave and many called for changes to be made to the way Westminster works.

    The day ended with an adjournment debate led by Labour's Catherine West on the humanitarian situation in Burma.

  2. That's it for our coverage of the Lords today...

    What happened today?

    House of Lords


    Earlier today in the House of Lords, during a debate on anti-Semitism, numerous Labour peers including Lord Mendelsohn and Lord Parekh, as well as other crossbench peers, were not afraid to criticise the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's handling of the anti-Semitism row.

    There's also been a debate on IVF to mark its 40th anniversary, and on the need to reform the Lobbying Act.

    The Lords will continue to debate the way formal international declarations of genocide or crimes against humanity are made until 6pm.

  3. Leadsom: I'm determined it's me that makes the change

    Proxy voting debate

    House of Commons


    Andrea Leadsom

    Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom says she "will be very boring and very quiet" in her closing remarks, so as not to disturb Jo Swinson's new baby.

    She "quietly reminds those" who have criticised the delay in the debate taking place, that the Leaders' office and business managers have never before managed to change voting procedure.

    "I'm determined to get that right, and that it's this government that makes that change, and in fact that it's me as leader that makes that change.

    "I intend to bring forward a substantive motion as soon as possible."

    She stresses that any changes need checks to ensure they match the requirements of the House.

    Quote Message: But I don't think that our ambitions for modernising Parliament should be limited only to proxy voting. There is much more that we can consider when looking at what we can do to modernise this amazing place to work... there is no question in my mind that we need to make progress." from Andrea Leadsom
    Andrea Leadsom
  4. 'Time to reconsider' government's attitude to declaring genocide

    International Declarations of Genocide Debate

    House of Lords


    Lord Alton

    Peers turn now to a debate on the way formal international declarations of genocide or crimes against humanity are made, opened by the crossbench peer Lord Alton.

    He is also asking how the government can further the prosecution of those responsible.

    He says "we've seen genocide again and again, with 'never again' happening endlessly again."

    Lord Alton says that against this backdrop, it is impossible to understand why governments fail to make formal declarations of genocide and to take appropriate action.

    He says a petition with signatures from 160 MPs was sent to the prime minister asking her to lead on seeking a referral of the Burmese military to the International Criminal Court.

    A UN report says top military figures in Myanmar must be investigated for genocide in Rakhine state and crimes against humanity in other areas.

    The report, based on hundreds of interviews, is the strongest condemnation from the UN so far of violence against Rohingya Muslims.

    At least 700,000 Rohingya fled violence in the country in the past 12 months.

    Lord Alton says as the 70th anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide approaches, it is about time to reconsider the government's longstanding policy to genocide determinations, and to consider new policies to ensure that the government is "fully equipped under its obligations in the genocide convention to prevent and combat genocide".

  5. Labour: 'We have to get it right'

    Proxy voting

    House of Commons


    Shadow leader of the House Valerie Vaz concludes the debate on behalf of the Labour Party.

    She welcomes the contributions from male MPs in this debate, saying the issue is important to both mothers and fathers.

    Ms Vaz concludes her remarks by saying "we have to get it [proxing voting] right, and soon".

    Valerie Vaz MP
  6. There is a clear consensus, get on with it - SNP MP

    Proxy voting debate

    House of Commons


    David Linden

    SNP David Linden says the issue of proxy voting is "incredibly personal" for him.

    He says he wasn't intending to take part today, but explains that he and his wife have had a complex pregnancy and as a result he won't be able to be in the house when the Agriculture Bill goes through the House after recess.

    "Proxy voting won't help me, I will miss that first week back," he says, but "I am incredibly frustrated that this issue has been kicked into the long grass time after time."

    "There is so much consensus in this house, a clear consensus. Get on with it."

  7. I was told I 'wasn't worth the money' because I had a baby

    Proxy voting

    House of Commons


    Emma Reynolds

    Labour MP Emma Reynolds says she was told by a constituent she "wasn't worth the money, because I was on maternity leave".

    A national newspaper also said she had the second worst voting record during this time, without checking with her as to why.

    She says only proxy voting would allow new parents to continue to represent their constituency, whilst it would "send an important signal" to young people wanting to start a family but also considering standing as MPs "that they can do both".

  8. SNP MP: Maternity leave 'sacrosanct'

    Proxy voting

    House of Commons


    Patricia Gibson MP

    SNP MP Patricia Gibson says the status of this proposal is similar to when we had the smoking ban in public places. "Why is it taking so long?" she wonders.

    Ms Gibson argues the case for proxy voting but issues a caveat that "maternity leave is sacrosanct" and nothing should be done that would "interfere or erode" it.

    Ms Gibson says pregnancy discrimination is still a big issue and a stark reminder of how fragile rights for mothers can be.

    The SNP MP warns against sending a signal to outside employers that women on maternity leave are still able to carry out some tasks.

  9. IVF 'changed what motherhood meant'

    IVF 40th Anniversary Debate

    House of Lords


    Baroness Boycott

    Feminist campaigner Baroness Boycott says at the time leading up to IVF being introduced she was "more worried about not getting pregnant than getting pregnant".

    The battle then was "contraception, not conception", but she says IVF changed "the prospect of what it [motherhood] could mean for you as a woman... it was a quite staggeringly wonderful invention."

    She warns that "access to IVF has all to often become an option open only to the privileged," and that there are of risks of poorer women essentially "renting their womb" for financial gain. She compares this to the sale of organs.

    Concluding, she says "it worries me that men are left out of the picture when it comes to IVF" - they deposit what's needed and the process leaves them there. She "would hate to see anything that devalues fatherhood... it is just as important as motherhood."

  10. 'More debate needed on gene editing'

    IVF 40th Anniversary Debate

    House of Lords


    Earl of Selborne

    Conservative peer the Earl of Selborne says the most recent big development surrounding IVF is the regulators' discussion of gene editing in 2016.

    Since 2016, scientists have been able to conduct gene editing for use and research in the UK, but the process remains illegal for reproductive purposes.

    He says "gene editing has the potential of preventing a future child from developing a genetic disorder" but there are moral issues involved which require in depth discussion.

    The Earl of Selborne says interventions with gene editing "must not marginalise disadvantaged groups in society", and that more work and research needs to be conducted in this area.

    He says there is a need for wider debate on the role of gene editing for reproductive purposes, as he believes this could be a crucial developing area of IVF in the coming years.

  11. Lib Dem Peer: surrogacy legislation needs modernising

    IVF 40th Anniversary Debate

    House of Lords


    Lord Barker

    Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Barker says the laws on surrogacy are so tight, that now there is a strong argument that the laws have turned out to be "too restrictive".

    Baroness Barker says she hopes the government will work with surrogacy charities to come forward with legislative proposals that will be more beneficial to people, as for many, time is running out and it is an urgent issue.

    She says it is time to update the legislation as "there are now many more ways of getting pregnant than there were when this legislation was put in place".

    Baroness Barker calls for more clarity on the regulation of research and treatment. She says the UK has led the way with IVF, and by providing more clear research, we can continue to do this.

    "These laws apply for the protection of women, and is the sort of work we do best."

  12. 'I wish every success to this great enterprise'

    IVF 40th Anniversary Debate

    House of Lords


    Lord Mackay of Clashfern

    Lord Mackay of Clashfern says he "had responsibilities in the early days of the law" and shares his memories of trying to pass legislation on IVF through Parliament, stressing the role played by the House of Lords.

    The Conservative peer says it is "a tremendous area of success for our doctors and our scientists".

    "I wish every success to this great enterprise as it moves on into the future."

  13. 'UK should be proud of giving birth to IVF'

    IVF 40th Anniversary Debate

    House of Lords


    Baroness Deech

    Crossbench peer Baroness Deech opens the next debate in the Lords today on the 40th anniversary of the first baby born using in vitro fertilisation.

    She says IVF has kept up to date with changes in the modern family, and has enabled the UK to be "a pioneer in informative but innovative research".

    Baroness Deech acknowledges that while moral debates continue, "we should be wary of putting too much pressure on women to get pregnant at all costs", and for men to be seen as simply sperm donors.

    "No childless woman should ever be made to feel that she can only be perfected and given a role in life by being subjected to every reproductive technique".

    Baroness Deech notes that at present, embryos can only be kept alive for 14 days. She says researchers beginning to experiment with embryos up to 28 days is too controversial and would reignite debates over the issues and rights of an embryo.

    She says IVF has gone from a matter of a simple fertility treatment, to a matter of "convenience and preference", including the choice of sex of a baby.

    Baroness Deech says the UK must be proud of this concept they gave birth to.

  14. Harman: Proxy voting 30 years late

    Proxy voting

    House of Commons


    Mother of the House Harriet Harman says proxy voting was less of an issue when MPs were "overwhelmingly male" but "there has been a transformation inside and outside the House [of Commons]".

    Ms Harman says that MPs with illnesses "have been well served by pairing" and it provides a necessary degree of discretion but "you have either had a baby or you haven't" and proxy voting suits that.

    "Proxy voting is 30 years too late", she says.

    Harriet Harman MP
  15. Minister: Labour peers 'courageous' in criticising Jeremy Corbyn

    Topical Question on Anti-Semitism

    House of Lords


    Lord Bourne

    Lord Bourne, Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government, says he would like to pay tribute to members of the Labour Party who have shown "considerable courage in criticising their own leadership".

    Lord Bourne says anti-Semitism is "far from a criticism of the Labour Party, it's a criticism of its leadership".

    He says it is impossible to think the Labour Party of any leader before would be where the party is today.

    "It is a problem that needs addressing quickly".

    Lord Bourne says the message to Jewish people, politicians and general members of the public in the UK is that "we remain in this country, totally committed to tackling anti-Semitism alongside other religious hatreds, and doing whatever else is needed to become a united country".

  16. Lord Beecham: Some still 'refuse to accept' problem

    Topical Question on Anti-Semitism

    House of Lords


    Lord Beecham

    "It is deeply disappointing that this appalling manifestation of racism should still be with us," Labour spokesman Lord Beecham says.

    It is "especially troubling," he says, that there are people still "in denial" about the problem, with some in his own party "refusing to accept it exists", even after Jeremy Corbyn accepted it was a problem.

    "Let's be clear, this is not just a matter for the Labour party," he adds, "all three major parties have encountered the problem in some degree."

    He says if that the issue is to be tackled two areas that need improvement are the failure of tech companies to combat abuse on social media and the promotion of "a multi-ethnic society throughout education system".