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Summary

  1. Wednesday's proceedings began with questions to Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb and his team
  2. Prime Minister David Cameron took questions from opposition leader Ed Miliband and backbench MPs from noon
  3. Following PMQs, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper asked an urgent question on the removal of foreign national offenders
  4. MP Michael Fabricant then introduced a ten minute rule bill that proposes to overturn the law that bans the majority of homosexual men donating blood
  5. The main business of the day included opposition debates called by the Democratic Unionist Party on the National Crime Agency, and the Military Covenant
  6. Alliance Party MP for East Belfast Naomi Long led the day's adjournment debate, on the active inquiries investigating historic child abuse
  7. The House of Lords sat from 1500 BST. Following questions, the main business of the day was examination of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill
  8. The government is defeated by one vote in the House of Lords over a Labour amendment limiting the scope of "secure colleges"
  9. Peers debated how the draft conclusions of the Haass talks could be built upon to find a consensus on dealing with the past in Northern Ireland

Live Reporting

By Pippa Simm

All times stated are UK

  1. Criminal Justice round-up

    Although the Labour party inflicted a defeat on the government today - as its amendment preventing under-15s from being placed in "secure colleges" was passed by just one vote - the government still has several opportunities to remove parts of the bill they don't like.

    Unlike the House of Commons, amendments can be made at third reading in the House of Lords, but this is only if the issue has not been fully considered and voted on during either committee or report stage - which isn't the case here.

    What is more likely is that Ministers will try to remove the clause once the bill is sent back to the House of Commons when the bill has completed its remaining stages in the Lords. As this bill began life in the House of Commons, MPs get the final say on the bill's wording.

    Although it was a surprising victory, it will be tricky to keep the clause in the bill as it passes through Commons.

  2. End of proceedings

    Baroness Howe withdraws her amendment but suggests she may return to the issue at third reading, which brings an end to the day in the House of Lords

    Peers will be back at 11.00 BST on Thursday with a trio of debates on the construction industry, alternatives to university and Malawi, after the peers oral question session.

  3. Video links for children

    Crossbench peer Baroness Howe of Idlicote tables an amendment requiring a remote video link, which allows evidence to be given away from a court room, to be made available for all young witness and victims involved in criminal trials.

    A child's evidence can often be crucial in deciding the outcome of a criminal case and where in cases of sexual abuse "they are often the only witness" she tells peers.

    Despite this NSPCC has found that over half of young victims experience stress symptoms, ranging from "sleeping and eating problems and depression to bed wetting and self harm" she says

    The amendments are supported by the NSPCC, Barbados and Victim Support

  4. Amendment passed

    Peers have passed a government amendment, tabled by Justice Minister Lord Faulks, aimed strengthening a ban on law firms offering money and iPads as incentives to clients to bring personal injury claims that had previously been agreed to by peers.

    Peers had previously heard that firms were offering as much as £250 to pursue a personal injury claim.

    The new rule prevents regulated law firms from avoiding the ban by offering rewards through unregulated third parties and was agreed to without a division.

  5. Passage of a Bill

    The report stage is an opportunity to consider further amendments following committee stage. Consideration of complex bills at report stage can be spread over several days - today is the second of three days of report stage on the Criminal Courts and Justice Bill for example.

    If the Bill is passed at report stage, the legislation moves on to a third reading. This is the final stage in the House of Lords - barring any parliamentary ping pong.

    Unlike the House of Commons, amendments can be made at third reading in the House of Lords, provided the issue has not been fully considered and voted on during either committee or report stage.

  6. Second amendment

    Tabling a second amendment aimed at protecting children involved in the criminal justice system, the Earl of Listowel sets out his plans to give youths aged over 17 detained in Police custody the right to be held in Local Authority accommodation rather than a police cell.

    Children aged 16 and under already have this right, but the Earl of Listowel argues "police custody is an unsuitable and detrimental environment" for any child.

    the Earl of Listowel
  7. Amendment tabled

    Crossbench peer the Earl of Listowel kicks off scrutiny of the Criminal Courts and Justice Bill by tabling an amendment he says is the "solution" to problems around the anonymity children in court proceedings.

    The amendment would make anonymity "into adulthood" for children involved in court proceedings the default position, though judges will be allowed to remove it where they consider it necessary.

  8. Report stage resumes

    Peers return their attention to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill as the report stage gets under way once again.

  9. Haass talks

    US diplomat Richard Haass chaired all-party talks in Northern Ireland, which considered divisive issues such as flags, parading and dealing with the past.

    After talks ended on 31 December 2013, Dr Haass said that a final agreement was "not there" but there had been "significant progress", and that he continues to believe the final blueprint he negotiated with the Stormont parties is viable.

    Dr Haass has warned that violence could re-emerge in Northern Ireland if progress is not made in dealing with the past.

    Further talks began in Belfast on 16 October, to resolve the difficulties between the parties in the devolved government.

  10. Haass talks debate

    Peers now move to a debate on finding and implementing an agreement on dealing with the past in Northern Ireland - building on the draft conclusions of the Haass talks.

  11. Amendment defeat

    Lord Ramsbotham's amendment has been defeated by 127 votes to 90, a government majority of 37.

  12. Day ends in the Commons

    Home Office Minister Norman Baker concludes his speech, which brings an end to the day in the House of Commons.

    MPs will be back at 09.30 BST on Thursday, and have a variety of business to deal with, including a debate on a backbench call to scrap legislation enacting fixed-term parliaments.

    Do stay with us for now though, as the House of Lords begins a debate on Northern Ireland. That'll be followed by further scrutiny of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.

  13. Amendment division

    Peers have divided on an amendment to only allow the use of force on children in "secure colleges" as a last resort, or for the purposes of preventing harm to the child or others.

  14. Extra amendment

    Not to be put off, Lord Ramsbotham tables another amendment aimed at unearthing the criteria for the selection of probation service contracts.

    Contracts to carry out probation services in 20 English regions and one Welsh region were tendered out to private companies and charities in 2013.

    It has been suggested that the government has been providing 10 year contracts for these services in order to lock future governments into the current penal system scheme.

  15. Government response

    Norman Baker, a minister at the Home Office, is responding to the adjournment debate on behalf of the government.

  16. Close vote

    Lord Ramsbotham's amendment falls by 191 votes to 178, a government majority of 13. Still pretty close.

  17. Another vote

    Time for another division on the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, on former Chief Inspector of Prisons Lord Ramsbotham's amendment to prevent "secure colleges" from being established until comprehensive rules on their operation - including on the use of force and the treatment of young offenders with mental or physical health needs - have been established.

  18. Adjournment debate

    The adjournment debate is now underway, led by the Alliance Party's East Belfast MP, Naomi Long. The subject is active inquiries into historical child abuse.

  19. Remaining orders

    The debate on the Military Covenant is over, and attention turns to the remaining orders of the day.

    Chris Skidmore, the Conservative MP for Kingswood, presents a petition on the Minor Injuries Unit at Cossham Hospital.

  20. Government defeat

    It's a government defeat, and there was only one vote in it.

    Labour inflicts a defeat on the government's plans for "secure colleges", as their amendment preventing under 15 year olds from being placed in the colleges is passed by 186 votes to 185.

  21. Amendment vote

    Peers are dividing to vote on an amendment to prevent anyone under the age of 15 from being placed in a secure college. The amendment is part of a group of amendments that are trying to limit the number of young offenders that will be housed in proposed new "secure colleges".

  22. DUP closing speech

    Jim Shannon, the DUP's Strangford MP, is delivering the party's closing speech, and underlines the importance of "fair treatment" of British military veterans living in Northern Ireland.

  23. Amendment proposals

    Peers are debating a series of amendments that would, amongst others things:

    • ensure that girls and young women were not detained at the same college as boys or young male offenders,
    • prevent anyone under the age of 15 from being placed in a secure college, and
    • ensure there are adequate specialist provisions for the mental health and wellbeing needs of young people in secure colleges
  24. DUP line

    Rev William McCrea reasserts the DUP's line that Northern Ireland equality law is a "barrier" to providing support for ex-service personnel.

    The South Antrim MP says the party is "proud" to support the Armed Forces and will accept "nothing less" than the "full implementation" of the covenant.

  25. Military Covenant debate opened to floor

    The front bench speeches have been made, meaning the floor is now open to backbench MPs.

    Conservative MP Oliver Colvile, who sits on the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee and vice-chairs the all party parliamentary group for veterans, is first up.

    He argues that more needs to be done to support veterans with mental health problems, citing examples from the United States.

    He warns that Britain is set for a "tidal wave" of mental health issues, which the government "has to do something about".

    Oliver Colvile
  26. Lord Ramsbotham's view on colleges

    The government's plans to build a new multi-million pound secure college in Leicestershire is simply a "cost saving exercise" based on "presumed economies of scale" former Chief Inspector of Prisons Lord Ramsbotham says.

    Government claims that education, health care and safety are at the heart of the new project are "salves for our conscience" he says.

  27. Labour endorsement

    Speaking on behalf of the opposition, shadow defence minister Gemma Doyle praises the "sacrifices" the Armed Forces make, and says the "continued support" of their families should also be recognised.

    Ms Doyle endorses the DUP motion, and urges the government to ensure the full implementation of the military covenant through the UK, including in Northern Ireland.

  28. Amendment withdrawn

    Former Chief Inspector of Prisons Lord Ramsbotham withdraws his amendment on secure colleges, but indicates that he will push for a vote on another related amendment later on.

    In order to avoid repetition, related amendments are often grouped and debated together, but are voted on in numerical order. This means an amendment may be voted on hours after its content has been debated.

  29. Commons debate

    The current debate - tabled by the Democratic Unionist Party - is scheduled to conclude at 19.00 BST. It'll be followed by a half-hour adjournment debate on inquiries into historic child abuse. This has been tabled by Alliance MP Naomi Long.

  30. Lord Faulks support

    Justice Minister Lord Faulks concludes his remarks by telling peers that they should not delay the government's "secure colleges" plans, because they are "fearful".

    The current system of looking after young people in custody "is not satisfactory" and these young people are often left with no "significant education" he tells peers. The college will offer "a real opportunity for education".

    He says: "This is a good idea.

    "Caution is understandable but in seeking to delay what may be to the real advantage of young people would be a mistake."

  31. NI equality

    Anna Soubry insists the military covenant is not only "alive and well" in Northern Ireland but "going from strength to strength" - as she rejects the need to amend the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

    The minister says the government's view is endorsed by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, quoting it as saying it's "reassured that the Northern Ireland equality framework does not create a greater barrier to implementation of the covenant in Northern Ireland than elsewhere in the UK".

    She hopes these "reassurances" will be communicated throughout Northern Ireland so everyone understands what the covenant means, "ensuring that there is no disadvantage" to veterans.

    Defence Minister Anna Soubry

    She says a bid

  32. Government position on secure colleges

    Justice Minister Lord Faulks counters claims that the government's "secure college" plans were rushed, telling peers that the government has "engaged with wide range of stakeholders and experts" in forming their programme.

    "Throughout the process ministers have written to, and met with, a wide range of stakeholders to keep them appraised of our plans," he told the House.

    The designs for the UK's first secure college, set to open in Leicestershire in 2017, had been tested by NHS England, the Department of Education and experts in "education and custodial provision", he added.

    Justice Minister Lord Faulks
  33. Government response

    Defence Minister Anna Soubry is responding to Jeffrey Donaldson's speech on behalf of the government.

    She explains the principles of the covenant, and says the government has worked hard to "rebuild" it, including through improvements to health care, education and housing.

    She cites additional funding for injured personnel to have access to "the latest world-leading prosthetic limbs" as a specific example.

  34. Support for Armed Forces

    Jeffrey Donaldson calls for changes to the 1998 Northern Ireland Act to ensure greater support for Armed Forces veterans.

    He says officials in Northern Ireland had indicated to him that the legislation had constrained departments in terms of providing adequate support for veterans - and adds that greater clarity over how the covenant should be implemented, is needed.

    Mr Donaldson - who sits on the Commons Defence Committee - calls on the government to amend the law to give veterans a "distinct status" to ensure they receive "the recognition and provision they deserve".

    Jeffrey Donaldson
  35. Labour view on secure colleges

    Labour Justice spokesman Lord Beecham begins his wind up speech on Lord Ramsbotham's amendments, which he has put his name to, by quoting a letter to the Telegraph, describing the government's plans to build the UK's first secure college for young criminals in Leicestershire as "bad for children, bad for justice and bad for the taxpayer".

    He called the college, which would house hundred of young offenders, the "largest children's prison in Europe".

  36. What is the Military Covenant?

    The Military Covenant is the nation's duty of care to the Armed Forces. It was enshrined in law in 2011 to ensure nobody in the forces was disadvantaged by their service. David Cameron had pledged that the military would get "the recognition it deserves".

  37. Current system

    At the moment young offenders are sent to either a secure training centre or a young offenders' institution, depending on their age and offences.

    They currently spend an average of 12 hours a week in education while in detention - but the new college would double that.

  38. What's a secure college?

    In January the government revealed its plans to build the first secure college for young criminals in England and Wales.

    The college, set to open in Leicestershire in 2017, would house hundreds of young offenders and double the time they spent in education.

    The college would have a head teacher, or principal, who would be in the core management team alongside an offender manager. It will eventually house up to 320 young offenders aged between 12 and 17-years-old.

  39. Commons debate motion

    The motion calls on the UK government to ensure that the Military Covenant is fully implemented throughout the UK, including in Northern Ireland.

  40. Commons business

    The debate ended with the DUP motion be approved without the need for a vote. Business in the House of Commons moves on to the second of the DUP's opposition debate, the subject of which is the Military Covenant. It is being led by the party's Lagan Valley MP, Jeffrey Donaldson.

  41. Deputy speaker intervenes

    After several more refusals to take interventions from MPs, Karen Bradley explains that she has been under "strict instructions from by the deputy speaker" to keep to time.

    Lindsay Hoyle, currently in the Speaker's chair, interrupts to say "I'm not being dragged in to this" - and tells the minister she can take interventions if she wants to.

    Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle

    Ms Bradley clarifies it was Deputy Speaker Dame Dawn Primarolo, who occupied the chair at the start of the debate, that gave her "strict orders".

    DUP MP Rev William McCrea is not happy. He raises a point of order and accuses Ms Bradley of trying to "hide behind" the excuse of time limits to avoid answering questions.

    Mr Hoyle tells him that is not a point of order.

  42. Lords debate

    Peers are debating a series of amendments put down by former Chief Inspector of Prisons Lord Ramsbotham that would stop secure colleges from being established until comprehensive rules on the operation of secure colleges - including the use of force and the treatment of young persons with mental or physical health needs - have been established.

    Chief Inspector of Prisons Lord Ramsbotham
    Image caption: Chief Inspector of Prisons Lord Ramsbotham
  43. Commons interventions

    Home Office Minister Karen Bradley is refusing to take interventions from MPs on the grounds that time is short, as there is another debate to be held.

  44. Intervention in Commons

    Conservative Bob Stewart intervenes in the minister's speech to say the UK government should "impose" the NCA on Northern Ireland.

    Ms Bradley responds by saying the government must "respect" the devolution settlement, under which policing is devolved in Northern Ireland. However, DUP MP Ian Paisley rises to speak, and insists it is time for the government to act.

  45. BBC's Chris Mason and Labour History Group

    ‏@ChrisMasonBBC & ‏@LabourHistory

    Chris Mason tweets: The great grandson of the Liberal Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, has been elected to the House of Lords, reports @cripeswatson

    Labour History Group replies: @ChrisMasonBBC @cripeswatson He joins 2 fellow great-grandchildren of PM Asquith already in the Lords - Baroness Bonham-Carter & Lord Hylton

  46. NCA debate in Commons

    Home Office Minister Karen Bradley is closing the debate on the National Crime Agency, on behalf of the government. She emphasises the important role the NCA plays in tackling organised crime and makes the case for it to operate fully in Northern Ireland.

    The NCA does not have the powers to carry out police operations and recruit agents in Northern Ireland, after Sinn Féin and the SDLP blocked the move.

    "It is only right that people of Northern Ireland are afforded the same protection in the fight against serious and organised crime," Ms Bradley argues.

  47. Amendment

    Peers get the second day of report stage on the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill under way with an amendment on how Secure Children's Homes are classified, which Labour justice spokesman Lord Beecham says will serve as "an appetiser for the mains course that is in the form of [Labour's amendment] on Secure Colleges".

    Labour justice spokesman Lord Beecham
  48. House of Lords

    The peers are to be joined by another hereditary peer.

    The Clerk of the Parliament, David Beamish, announces the Earl of Oxford and Asquith as the winner of the recent by-election for one of the seats reserved in the House of Lords for an elected hereditary peer.

    Under a compromise struck in 1998 to facilitate the removal of most hereditary peers from the Lords, 92 remain, and their numbers are replenished through by-elections where current peers vote for candidates drawn from the hereditary peerage.

    The contest follows the death, in July, of Liberal Democrat peer Lord Methuen.

    Clerk of the Parliament, David Beamish
    Image caption: Clerk of the Parliament, David Beamish
  49. SDLP response

    The SDLP MP for Foyle, Mark Durkan, refutes the "insinuation that the SDLP is somehow wilfully blocking good work that the NCA should be doing".

  50. Statement repeated

    According to the National Audit Office (NAO), one in six foreign offenders living in the UK have absconded. This figure includes 58 dangerous individuals, some of whom have been missing since 2010.

    Removals of foreign offenders from Britain has fallen to 5,097 from a peak of 5,613 in 2008/09, while the number of home office staff working on Foreign National Offender cases has risen from 100 in 2006, to nearly 1000.

    By the end of March 2014, 12,500 FNOs were living in Britain, either in prison or within the community awaiting deportation. The NAO claims that public bodies have spent an estimated £850m on dealing with these criminals.

  51. House of Lords

    Home Office Minister Lord Bates is repeating a government response given to an urgent question in the House of Commons by Home Secretary Theresa May on a National Audit Office report on the removal of Foreign National Offenders.

    Home Office Minister Lord Bates
    Image caption: Home Office Minister Lord Bates
  52. Implications for UK as a whole

    Another DUP MP, Sammy Wilson, warns that if Northern Ireland becomes a "backdoor for serious international crime", it will have "huge implications" for the rest of the United Kingdom.

  53. SDLP's argument attacked

    Rev William McCrea - the DUP's spokesman on justice and home affairs - attacks the "bankruptcy" of the SDLP's argument for opposing the NCA, and claims it must have a "hidden reason" for not supporting the organisation.

    The South Antrim MP says the limited powers of the NCA in Northern Ireland means "there is a backdoor open to organised criminal gangs in areas of drug enforcement, human trafficking and serious criminality".

    He claims the nationalist parties' objection to the NCA centres on it being "a UK-wide agency", and accuses them of pursuing a "crusade to remove and block anything that is British from the Northern Ireland".

    DUP MP Rev William McCrea
  54. International pressure

    Crossbench peer Lord Alton of Liverpool urges the government to increase pressure on its international partners to do more to combat Ebola, revealing that Swedish furniture manufacturer IKEA has provided more funds to the cause than "Spain, Luxembourg and Norway" combined.

    International Development Minister Baroness Northover reassures peers that the UK is calling on all countries to "scale up their efforts."

    Lord Alton of Liverpool
    Image caption: Lord Alton of Liverpool
  55. Oversight concerns

    Defending her party's position, Margaret Ritchie, the SDLP MP for South Down, stresses that it supports the "principle" of the National Crime Agency, but is concerned about a "lack of proper oversight mechanisms".

    Sinn Feín and the SDLP blocked a move to give the NCA powers to carry out police operations and recruit agents in Northern Ireland.

    Ms Ritchie says that for negotiations on the NCA to progress, there must be clarification on the issues of accountability and oversight.

    Margaret Ritchie
  56. 'Appropriate' powers

    Opening a debate on the devolution commission, chaired by Lord Smith of Kelvin, Labour peer Lord Foulkes of Cumnock calls on the government to ensure the commission is based on principles, rather than "party horse trading", to ensure only "appropriate" powers get devolved.

    Lord Foulkes of Cumnock
    Image caption: Lord Foulkes of Cumnock
  57. Call for transparency

    Today's session in the House of Lords gets underway with Baroness Anelay of St Johns telling peers that the Foreign Office "stands ready to support" the Qatari government in its attempts to improve the treatment of migrant workers employed in the gulf state during the construction of World Cup 2022 venues.

    Baroness Anelay tells peers the question over whether Qatar should lose its rights to host the World Cup - put to her by Labour peer Lord Monks - is a "matter for Fifa itself". She does however believe that "every sporting authority should be responsible and transparent in its dealings."

    Baroness Anelay of St Johns
  58. Lord Fox

    Former chief executive of the Liberal Democrats, Christopher Fox, becomes Lord Fox as he is introduced in the House of Lords.

    Former chief executive of the Liberal Democrats, Christopher Fox
  59. New peer

    Before that peers welcome another member to the House of Lords: former chief executive of the Liberal Democrats, Christopher Fox. He will join the Liberal Democrat benches in the upper chamber, as Lord Fox.

  60. Lords about to begin

    Our live coverage of the House of Lords is about to begin. Today's main business is the second day of report stage of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.

    As peers scrutinise the wide-ranging bill, a vote may well be forced on the government's Secure College proposals for young offenders, which Labour peers claim will introduce risk and uncertainty.

  61. Health Committee coverage

    You can continue to watch the remainder of the Health Committee's evidence session here.

  62. UK case

    British nurse William Pooley, who survived Ebola after being given the experimental drug ZMapp, is the only known UK resident to have caught Ebola in the current outbreak.

    Mr Pooley, who caught the disease while volunteering in West Africa, returned to Sierra Leone to resume his work on 20 October.

  63. Ebola risk in the UK

    Responding to a question from Health Committee member Andrew Percy, a Conservative MP, Dame Sally Davies erepeats her comments that, under current modelling, the UK is "likely to get a few cases [of Ebola] over the next few months". The number shouldn't reach "over a handful", Dame Sally adds.

  64. No 'safe haven'

    DUP MP Nigel Dodds emphasis that "we cannot afford" for Northern Ireland to be seen as a "safe haven" for criminals and their "illegal criminal assets", as he makes the case for the NCA to operate in Northern Ireland.

  65. Ebola symptoms

    Ebola is a viral illness of which the initial symptoms can include a sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and a sore throat, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Subsequent stages are vomiting, diarrhoea and - in some cases - both internal and external bleeding.

    The disease infects humans through close contact with infected animals, including chimpanzees, fruit bats and forest antelope.

    It then spreads between humans by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, or indirectly through contact with contaminated environments. Funerals of Ebola victims can be a risk, if mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased.

  66. Policing south Armagh

    Andrew Robathan, a former Northern Ireland minister, claims that south Armagh, which has a Sinn Fein MP, is a "bandit country" with no "rule of law". "We need to have the NCA in there...to find out what is happening," he argues.

    North Down MP Sylvia Hermon intervenes to state that the "vast majority of people in south Armagh are actually law-abiding, decent citizens". Mr Robathan says she is right, and adds that "decent people who see crooks getting away with things are as appalled as anybody else".

  67. 'Myth busting'

    Responding to a question on how the Ebola virus might mutate, Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, tells the committee she would be "totally surprised if it became airborne" , as has been suggested.

    Ebola is not airborne, Dame Sally assures the panel, and adds that she is "delighted to myth bust" the topic.

    Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer
  68. Diagnosis risk

    Dr Paul Cosford, Director for Health Protection and Medical Director at Public Health England, tells the Health Committee that there is a risk that more common tropical diseases, such as malaria, are getting misdiagnosed as Ebola, resulting in correct treatment being withheld.

    He said, however, that there is "a clear algorithm for diagnosing Ebola" being used by NHS staff, which includes testing for other tropical diseases that might produce similar symptoms, which should reduce incidence of this happening.

    Dr Paul Cosford, Director for Health Protection and Medical Director at Public Health England
    Image caption: Dr Paul Cosford, Director for Health Protection and Medical Director at Public Health England
  69. Backbench contributions

    The floor is now open to backbench MPs. Deputy Speaker Dawn Primarolo asks members to keep their contributions to under 10 minutes, otherwise a time limit will have to be enforced.

  70. Deadline needed

    Labour front bencher David Hanson challenges the government to set out a "road map" for securing an agreement among the Northern Ireland parties to sign up to the NCA. He suggest a timescale should be set because deadlines can "focus minds".

    Shadow Home Office minister David Hanson
  71. Health Committee

    The Health Committee is about to begin its evidence session on Ebola with Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies.

    The Ebola outbreak in West Africa was first reported in March 2014, and has rapidly become the deadliest occurrence of the disease since its discovery in 1976.

    Over 4,500 people have reportedly died from the disease in five countries; Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and the United States.

  72. Sinn Fein absent

    Sinn Fein MPs are not present in the debate, as they refuse to swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen which is required to sit in the House of Commons.

  73. NI criminality

    Shadow Home Office minister David Hanson pledges Labour's support for the motion. He cites a report which states that criminal gangs in Northern Ireland are involved in drugs, human trafficking, fuel fraud, killing, and preying on society.

  74. Government position

    Mike Penning informs the House that the government will be supporting the DUP motion. The justice minister says he hopes the debate can convince Sinn Fein and the SDLP to understand that blocking the NCA is "harming their constituent".

    "What we need to do is wipe away the ideology and get the NCA working in Northern Ireland like it does in the rest of the country," he adds.

    Mike Penning
  75. Criticism

    Intervening, Independent MP Lady Sylvia Hermon, who represents North Down, criticises the SDLP and Sinn Fein for their "irresponsible" position on the NCA. She claims that Northern Ireland risks becoming a "honey pot" for human traffickers, drug dealers and criminal gangs.

    Independent MP Lady Sylvia Hermon
  76. NCA must 'operate in full capacity'

    Justice Minister Mike Penning is speaking on behalf of the government in the debate. Mr Penning - a former coalition minister in the Northern Ireland Office - says it is vital for the NCA to be able to "operate in full capacity" in Northern Ireland.

  77. Concerns

    Sinn Féin and the SDLP, worried about the NCA's accountability, blocked a move to allow the body to operate fully in Northern Ireland.

    Gregory Campbell tells MPs there is an "onus" on both parties to sign up to its full implementation in Northern Ireland, in order to fight criminal gangs.

    "The net needs to be tightened, and the organisation that can help tighten the net is the National Crime Agency," he argues.

    Gregory Campbell addresses the Commons
  78. NCA remit

    The National Crime Agency (NCA) came into being last year, replacing the Serious and Organised Crime Agency. It targets crime gangs across local, national and international borders.

  79. Calls for NCA

    The motion being debated condemns the "increasing number of illegal activities being carried out by organised criminal gangs" in Northern Ireland and calls for the implementation, in full, of proposals for the National Crime Agency to help deal with the problem.

  80. Main business

    The Commons has moved on to its main business now, beginning with a debate on the National Crime Agency. It is being opened by Democratic Unionist Party MP, Gregory Campbell, who represents East Londonderry.

  81. Bill unopposed

    Michael Fabricant's bill is unopposed and it clears its first parliamentary hurdle: first reading. The next stage - second reading, which involves a debate on the general principles of a bill - is scheduled for 6 March. However, it is unlikely to become law due to lack of parliamentary time.

  82. Cross-party support

    The Lichfield MP tells the House of Commons his legislative proposal has cross-party support.

    He argues that a monogamous, healthy, sexually active gay man who does not have HIV/Aids or Hepatitis B, nor is having sex with someone that has these diseases, should not be prevented from donating blood. He says he wants equal rules to be applied to the straight and gay communities.

  83. Current law 'discriminatory'

    Mr Fabricant argues that the current law is unfair and discriminatory towards homosexual men and says the rules on blood donation need to be changed to reflect modern medical science.

  84. Giving blood

    Currently, a man who engages in sexual relations with other men can donate blood, provided he has not undertaken the act in the last 12 months. Gay women have never faced similar restrictions on donating blood, nor have heterosexual men who are promiscuous with multiple partners and practise unsafe sex.

  85. Urgent question ends

    That brings the urgent question session to an end, and business moves on to the ten minute rule bill.

    Conservative MP Michael Fabricant is proposing a bill to overturn the law banning most gay men from donating blood. Under House procedures, he has ten minutes to make the case for his bill.

  86. Attack on Labour's record

    A helpful intervention for the home secretary from Julian Smith, the Conservative MP for Skipton and Ripon.

    He asks Theresa May to remind the House what a "mess" Labour left the government on immigration. Mrs May attacks Labour's record and says the party has "refused to apologise" for their immigration policy.

  87. Conservative view

    Conservative MP Peter Bone says his constituents cannot understand how someone who comes to the UK and commits an offence is not deported. "We have to get to grips with this problem," he urges.

  88. Lib Dem contribution

    A question now from Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert, argues that "close working" with the European Union is essential to deal with the deportation of foreign criminals, and warns that leaving the EU would make it "much, much harder".

  89. House updated

    Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve asks that the House is kept updated on the impact the Immigration Act is having on challenges and appeals.

    He also warns that the Conservative manifesto pledge to repeal the Human Rights Act "will be singularly ineffective".

  90. Jack Straw question

    Labour former Home Secretary Jack Straw questions why fewer foreign national criminals are being deported when there has been a "nine-fold increase" in the number of staff working in this area.

    Mrs May repeats that there is "more to do" but stresses that an increase in the number of appeals has made it harder for the authorities to deport offenders. She adds that the cut in the number of appeals an offender can make should speed up the process.

  91. Home Affairs Committee position

    Keith Vaz, the Labour chair of the Home Affairs Committee, says successive governments have failed to get a grip of the problem - and asks the home secretary to look at some of the committee's "sensible" recommendations.

  92. Legacy

    Theresa May acknowledges the "challenges we face" but notes that the current government has been the first to adopt a cross-government strategy on dealing with foreign national offenders.

    The report makes clear that efforts to remove foreign criminals have been hampered by a range of barriers, including the law, she adds, citing a 28% rise in appeals, and human rights legislation.

    Mrs May goes on to attack Labour's immigration legacy, claiming the party "opened the floodgates" on immigration.

    Theresa May
  93. May criticism of Labour position

    Responding, Theresa May criticises her opposite number's "staggering" remarks, claiming that Labour is "still debating whether it even needs to respond to the public's concerns about immigration".

  94. NAO report conclusions

    The NAO report found poor use of IT, a lack of communication, failure to use existing powers, cumbersome and slow referral process and an action plan lacking a structured approach, the shadow home secretary tells the Commons.

  95. Passing blame?

    Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper says the PM has broken his pledge to deport more foreign criminals, telling MPs that fewer are being removed that in 2010.

    She tells Theresa May it is no good blaming appeals and human rights, as more than a third of failed removals "were the result of factors within the Home Office's control".

  96. NAO recommendation

    Theresa May says the Home Office will look at the NAO's recommendations carefully and work with the other agencies involved "as we continue to build the system".

  97. Government steps

    Theresa May list steps the government has taken to reform the deportation process and make it easier to remove foreign criminals from the UK, including a cut in the number of grounds on which they can appeal their deportation, from 17 to four.

  98. Urgent question

    Prime minister's questions is over - and Home Secretary Theresa May is on her feet to make a statement on the NAO report on foreign criminals.

    Her statement has been prompted by an urgent questions from Labour front bencher Yvette Cooper.

  99. Cheer for clerk

    A huge - and prolonged - cheer in the House of Commons for Commons chief clerk Sir Robert Rogers, who David Cameron congratulates for his recent peerage.

  100. PM clear

    David Cameron is questioned on a National Audit Office report which criticises ministers for failing to deport enough foreign criminals. The PM is clear "the buck stops with me". He says the report notes there is a "proper cross-governmental strategy" in place, but argues that human rights legislation is hampering efforts to deport criminals.

  101. Post update

    ‏@paulwaugh

    PoliticsHome.com's editor Paul Waugh tweets: Cam less than subtle dig at Bercow saying whole House will want to congratulate Sir Robert Rogers on peerage. Hence Tory jeers

  102. Fracking question

    In response to a question on fracking, David Cameron says he wants to see a "robust" regulatory and environmental permissions regime.

    He argues that fracking would be good for the economy and reduce energy costs - but is concerned that some want to hamper the industry with regulations.

  103. Post update

    @jameskirkup

    The Telegraph's James Kirkup ‏tweets: Disturbance in public gallery of Commons during PMQs. Man taken away by attendants after striking glass screen. MPs largely unaware.

  104. Labour leader

    Ed Miliband
    Image caption: Ed Miliband questions the prime minister on the NHS in England
  105. Cutting taxes

    Labour MP Nic Dakin asks the prime minister to rule out "further increases" in VAT.

    David Cameron contends that the government's plan is not to raise taxes on ordinary people but to reduce public spending to "go on cutting people's taxes", citing increases in the personal income tax allowance.

    He claims it is the Labour Party that wants to put up taxes, as well as "spending and borrowing".

  106. David Cameron answers questions

    David Cameron
    Image caption: Prime Minister David Cameron trades blows with the opposition leader, Ed Miliband
  107. SNP question

    The SNP's Angus MacNeill asks the PM to confirm that the option of full fiscal autonomy in Scotland will be on the table in the devolution negotiations being led by Lord Smith of Kelvin.

    David Cameron says he stands by the promises he made - and cautions the SNP to stick to their promise that the referendum would end the question of independence "for a generation, possibly a lifetime".

  108. Post update

    @amolrajan

    The Independent newspaper's Amol Rajan: #PMQs as ever contriving to be the worst possible advertisement for British democracy, at a time when it is in dire straits already.

  109. Flood question

    After a question from Tory Andrew Percy on flood defences, David Cameron says the government has increased spending in this area, and promises to look at the proposals made by the Brigg and Goole MP.

  110. Post update

    @FionaODonnellMP

    Labour MP Fiona O'Donnell ‏tweets: DC in training for asking the questions. He certainly can't answer them. Move over #PMQs

  111. Leaders' exchanges end

    That brings the leaders' exchanges to a close. The floor is now open to backbench MPs to question the prime minister.

  112. 'NHS crisis'

    David Cameron attacks Ed Miliband's leadership credentials and says the party doesn't have an economic plan.

    The Labour leader counters that the deficit is "going up by 10%" under the government - and claims David Cameron only offers "five more years of crisis" in the NHS.

    David Cameron responds by listing the government's economic achievements, including falling unemployment and low inflation. Labour has "nothing offer to this country...simply not up to the job", he concludes.

  113. Post update

    ‏@montie

    Conservative commentator Tim Montgomerie tweets: Tory Welsh NHS line is a good one for Cameron. A better one is you can't look after the NHS if you can't look after the economy #PMQs

  114. Defends government record

    Ed Miliband attacks David Cameron's funding pledge for the NHS if the Conservatives win the election - and says only Labour can guarantee the cash it needs.

    The PM counters that Mr Miliband is "totally terrified of Labour's failures in Wales", and defends the government's record on the health service in England.

  115. Answering questions?

    Ed Miliband asks the PM to admit that his "top down reorganisation" of the NHS in England has been a "total disaster".

    David Cameron says he is happy to defend his record - and says it is time for a comparison between the health systems in England and Wales. He presses Ed Miliband to commit the same - but he responds by accusing David Cameron of not answering the question.

  116. Focus on Wales?

    Ed Miliband claims the prime minister is trying to focus on the Welsh NHS because he is "running scared" on the NHS in England, which is "going backwards".

    David Cameron repeats calls for an OECD inquiry and asks the Labour leader again: "Does he?" Ed Miliband says it is for the PM to answer questions.

  117. Welsh health service

    Conservative Andrew Griffiths calls for a full independent inquiry into the NHS in Wales and an apology from Ed Miliband for his party's record.

    David Cameron says doctors and nurses have been let down by Welsh politicians who have "cut the NHS". He says he supports a comparative study by the OECD - and asks if the Labour leader does too.

  118. PMQs beginning

    David Cameron has taken his seat on the front bench, and is having a last minute look through his notes.

  119. Busy chamber

    The green benches are filling up - and the noise levels are rising - ahead of prime minister's questions, which will be underway in just a few moments.

  120. Angry exchanges

    Labour former Welsh Secretary Peter Hain accuses Wales Office Minister Alun Cairns of "trying to do an impression of a jumped up Rottweiler", in angry exchanges over zero hours contracts.

    Peter Hain
  121. 'Waging war'

    Shadow Welsh secretary Owen Smith accuses the government of "waging a war" on Wales - where Labour is in power - and attacking the Welsh NHS. He calls on Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb to condemn it.

    Mr Crabb counters that health services is the number one issue facing people in Wales and attacks the Welsh Labour Party for trying to "shut down debate and scrutiny" of its performance in Cardiff.

    Morriston Hospital, Swansea
  122. More devolution?

    Wales Office Secretary Stephen Crabb says he does not detect much appetite for "home rule" in Wales, only for more devolution. He notes that support for independence is at an "all time low" of 3%.

  123. Minimum wage plan

    Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams attacks what he sees as a lack of ambition in Labour's minimum wage plans and claims the party is "stuck on the spin cycle".

    He calls for a living wage in Wales to ensure a "basic but decent" standard of life.

    Replying, Wales Minister Alun Cairns points to increases in the NMW under the coalition government. He says the government will encourage companies to pay the living wage "where possible", but adds that it is also trying to ensure the NMW is adhered to by firms.

  124. Post update

    @davidcornock

    BBC's David Cornock ‏tweets: @ScrabbMP tells MPs Britain has a "hopelessly lopsided devolution arrangement" #welshquestions

  125. Welsh questions

    Wales Office Secretary Stephen Crabb - who was appointed to the post in the July reshuffle - opens the session by paying tribute to his predecessor, David Jones.

  126. Ten minute rule bill

    Conservative MP Michael Fabricant will propose a bill on blood donation later this afternoon. He wants to overturn the law that bans the majority of homosexual men donating blood.

    Currently, a man who engages in sexual relations with other men can donate blood, provided he has not undertaken the act in the last 12 months This has been the law since November 2011, before then there was a total ban on gay men donating blood.

  127. Coming up

    Business will be underway in a little under five minutes. Conservative and Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies has the first question to the government, and will ask what steps it is taking to ensure the Welsh Government "remains fiscally accountable following the next stage of the devolution process".

  128. Later in the day

    The afternoon's business is dedicated to two opposition debates in the name of the Democratic Unionist Party: on the National Crime Agency, and the Military Covenant. The day will end with an adjournment debate on the government's inquiry into historic child abuse allegations, led by Alliance MP Naomi Long.

  129. Urgent question later

    Labour's home affairs spokesman Yvette Cooper has been granted an urgent question by the Speaker, to press the government on a National Audit Office report which criticises ministers for failing to deport more foreign criminals.

    A government minister - most likely from the Home Office - will have to come to the Commons to make a statement to MPs, at about 12.30 BST.

  130. Day's proceedings

    Before that, at 11.30 BST, MPs will be raising questions with ministers from the Wales Office. Among the topics to be raised include devolution of power to Wales, improving cross-border healthcare and the Welsh government's fiscal accountability.

  131. Good morning

    Hello and welcome to our live page coverage of Wednesday in Parliament. The highlight of today's business in the House of Commons is the weekly head-to-head between Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband. That'll be taking place at the usual time of noon.