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Live Reporting

Edited by Johanna Howitt

All times stated are UK

  1. That's all from us for today

    BBC Politics

    Chocolate Easter bunnies

    We'll end our coverage now on today's proceedings in the Commons.

    The team on board with you today were Hazel Shearing, Jennifer Scott, Richard Morris, and Sinead Wilson, with Johanna Howitt editing.

    Parliament goes in to recess for the Easter break after tomorrow's sitting. So we'll be back with our regular coverage of Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday 14 April.

    Thanks for following along with us.

  2. Liaison Committee - the key points

    Six images of Johnson at the liaison committee

    That was a wide-ranging 90 minutes in front of the committee for Boris Johnson.

    But here are some of the key points from the session:

    • The PM defended his plan for the armed forces, repeating his claim that the government are making the biggest investment in defence since the Cold War
    • He defended the cut to aid from 0.7%, promising a return to the figure "when the circumstances allow"
    • Mr Johnson rejected appeals for another referendum on Scottish independence, saying he "respected the ballot box" from the first vote
    • The PM says it is "highly likely" the government's long awaited social care plan will be part of the next Queen's Speech
    • On coronavirus, he claimed the government had worked closely with local authorities throughout the pandemic, despite criticisms of being late to link up
    • On the vaccines row with the EU, the PM said "we will do everything that is necessary" to make sure people get their vaccines
    • He also appeared to back mandatory vaccinations for care home staff, calling it "wholly responsible"
    • And he warned action may need to be taken "soon" over travel to France due to rises in cases on the continent
  3. Reality Check

    Biggest investment in the military since the Cold War?

    Boris Johnson faced lots of question today on defence spending - in PMQs and in his session with the Liaison Committee.

    The prime minister said recent spending pledges were “the biggest investment in defence since the Cold War.”

    Looking back at figures since 1990 - seen by many as the end of the Cold War, with the Berlin Wall coming down in November 1989 - it is clear military spending has fallen considerably.

    The proportion of the gross domestic product (GDP), which is the value of everything produced by the economy in any particular year, was 3.5% in 1990 . It was 2.1% in 2018/19.

    The boost announced in November means by 2024-25, defence spending will be £7bn a year higher than it would have been under previous plans.

    But with £7bn worth about 0.35% of GDP, this extra money is not enough to push defence spending above the 3.5% of GDP it represented in 1990.

    The government has previously phrased this claim differently, though, calling the boost that will see defence spending rise by £7bn a year by 2024-25, the "biggest sustained increase in 30 years".

    And as defence spending has not increased for more than three years in a row since 1990, this will probably turn out to be true.

    Read more here.

  4. 'Order, order' - it's over

    Liaison Committee

    Bernard Jenkin thanks the prime minister for the time he has given to the committee, and he closes the session in the tradition of parliamentary proceedings: "Order, order".

    And that's it.

    We'll bring you a quick summary of the key points next....

  5. Make the COP26 climate summit a priority - Jenkin

    Jenkin

    Before the chair of the Liaison Committee, Bernard Jenkin, brings the session to a close he returns to questions about the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November.

    He says he is concerned that "it doesn't look like the same consuming priority as other policies". Can the PM do more to secure the agreement of all those countries due to attend?

    Mr Johnson says he is "engaged in some kind of COP conversation virtually every day".

    He says it is a "big cross-government effort" to get ready for it. It is led by Alok Sharma, he says, but everyone is "gripping it across Whitehall".

    Mr Jenkin asks how often the Climate Action Strategy Committee is meeting in preparation?

    Mr Johnson says "to be frank" it has "not met a great deal" but that is because a lot is happening already on "an ad hoc level".

    Johnson
  6. How can women make more successful careers in Parliament?

    Ms Bradley asks if there are any procedural changes the prime minister would like to see to enable more women to make successful careers in Parliament.

    Mr Johnson says technology has "definitely been our friend" during the pandemic. He says it is not for him to dictate, but it is for MPs and the Speaker to see how things can be improved for work and family balances. "There are still very considerable barriers" he states, and there are some deterrents that female MPs face, such as "absolutely appalling" online trolling.

    Ms Bradley asks if there are any particular innovations which he'd like to see continue after the pandemic, such as virtual voting.

    Mr Johnson says he doesn't want to commit to any particular change, but he says he's open to different ideas. He says he "wants the chamber to be full again" and he wants the public to see where the "sentiment" is in Parliament by seeing and hearing how MPs are responding to a debate. He also wants to see MPs be able to "mingle again in the lobbies," "voting as a communal act, together, has immense benefits," he states.

    Ms Bradley asks her final question, she says the government has to provide time in Parliament to allow MPs to debate changes to how they work.

    Mr Johnson says this is a "necessity" and he has "no doubt" that this can be organised.

    Sir Bernard Jenkin says proxy voting has been beneficial for lots of women who often have caring responsibilities, he asks if the PM has an open mind on such things.

    Mr Johnson says he wants to see Parliament become more family friendly.

  7. Johnson questioned on Covid restrictions in Parliament

    Bradley

    Chair of the Commons Procedure Committee Conservative Karen Bradley asks the final set of questions, this time on lifting Covid-19 restrictions in Parliament.

    She says the House of Commons has been able to operate and sit throughout the whole pandemic, unlike many other parliaments in the world, she states. She asks how the PM thinks Parliament has operated over the past twelve months.

    Boris Johnson says some professions have been really badly hit by the disease, but he thanks the workers who have managed to make Parliament continue to sit. He says he thinks the public want to see MPs return to their place of work in person.

    Ms Bradley asks what his view is on social distancing in the Commons chamber.

    Mr Johnson says he wants to see an approach for the Commons which is adopted everywhere, as he wants Westminster to be like "every other part of the UK".

    Johnson
  8. 'Growing consensus' on vaccine passports for travel - Johnson

    Mr Merriman asks how discussions with other international leaders are going - such as talking to President Biden about travel between the UK and US restarting.

    The PM says leaders "around the world" are looking at "when can get things moving".

    But he says there is "no doubt a growing global consensus for the purposes of aviation that evidence of a vaccination or immunity, that you have had the disease, or have taken a negative test... will be valuable" for travel.

    Finally Mr Merriman asks when Brits will feel ready to travel again - and if the PM will be going abroad this summer.

    Mr Johnson says we should not "underestimate the natural wanderlust of spiritual inquiry" of the British people, adding: "As soon as people feel it is safe, you will see a miraculous change in the mood."

    He won't reveal his own holiday destination, but says: "I think whatever I do, I will be making sure to tell the British public what I think is safe."

  9. 'We have to see what the data is telling us' on international travel - Johnson

    Merriman

    Now Huw Merriman gets his turn - he had tried to join the committee earlier via Zoom but had issues with his mute button - something we are all too familiar with.

    But there is plenty space in the room for him to join in person at a safe distance, so after a suggestion from Boris Johnson he should run across Parliament, he now gets to his questions.

    The Tory MP asks about international travel and how detailed the announcement on 5 April will be.

    Boris Johnson says he will have to wait and see but adds: "We hope we can get people moving again by 17 May.... [but] we will just have to see where we get to, where other countries get to and what the data is telling us."

    Johnson
  10. Will the PM back "a summer of fun"?

    Mr Knight says it is not enough to say that talks are taking place with the EU on visa fees for performers. He wants ministers to get involved to "short circuit" discussions with countries that "seem to be the most recalcitrant" such as Italy, Spain and Greece.

    Mr Johnson says he agrees things "must get ironed out". He says it needs to be "a two way street" with the EU.

    On the issue of festivals taking place in the UK this summer, Mr Knight says organisers are nervous because of problems with Covid cancellation insurance.

    Will the PM get involved to "back a Covid secure summer of fun rather than condemning us to a summer of none" he asks?

    Mr Johnson says the Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, has done a "huge amount of work" to get the sector ready for reopening.

    He says he does not want to see people unwilling to take risks when putting on events this year because they are scarred by memories of last year.

  11. Could some festivals still go ahead this year?

    Glastonbury has already announced it will not go ahead this summer, but will other festivals?

    Lead singer of The Darkness, Justin Hawkins, told the BBC he "remains pessimistic", while some in the industry are calling for government-backed insurance to renew confidence and enable the sector to "get going again".

    Video content

    Video caption: Music festivals and Covid: Could some events still go ahead this year?
  12. Culture sector 'suffering' from Brexit

    Knight

    Julian Knight who chairs the Culture Committee jumps the queue because the chair of the Transport Committee is having technical problems.

    Mr Knight says the culture, media and sport sector is worth a quarter of the UK economy but visa fees to work in the EU mean musicians are performers are suffering. Why has no other sector been allowed to suffer from Brexit, he asks.

    Mr Johnson says he "shares the frustration" and agrees the sector is "massively important" and brings billions of tax revenue and employment to the UK.

    But he says EU restrictions are to blame and the situation is unlike that in "global Britain" which welcomes people from around the world.

    He adds that the government is working "flat out" with each individual government but "some are much better than others".

    Johnson
  13. Analysis: In a pandemic it isn't a case of health v wealth

    Faisal Islam

    BBC Economics Editor

    Twelve brutal months have supplied one lesson above all: economics cannot be disentangled from health.

    There was never a simple binary trade-off between the two factors: those countries with the biggest first wave of excess deaths, also had the biggest hits to the economy and the UK was the hardest hit of similar countries on both measures within the G7 group of industrialised countries.

    That economic picture remains, even after stripping out different methods of measuring the public sector, according to the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) assessment at this month's Budget.

    The shape of the recession we saw from the pandemic and lockdowns was extraordinary, historic, but also unique - a very sharp fall with a rapid rebound. Over 2020 the overall numbers saw the largest hit in three centuries. Larger than any single year of the Great Wars or the 1920s Depression.

    Read Faisal's full analysis here.

  14. Does Johnson feel 'queasy' at the level of government spending?

    Mr Stride says many economists think the spending forecasts in that OBR report are "unrealistic" and there are many more costs expected in the coming years which are not "baked in to the budget". There is, for instance, no additional spending outlined for the vaccine or test and trace beyond this summer. He asks if this leaves him feeling "queasy" over spending.

    Mr Johnson says he doesn't want to make predictions now about future spending reviews, but he says he there's no sign in the data that "at this stage" the UK will have to "deviate from our path to freedom" from lockdown.

    Mr Stride says there's no money in the forecast to fix and change social care. He asks if the tax burden can be expected not to rise.

    Mr Johnson says he "strongly believes in a low-tax government, and I'm a low tax Conservative". He says as the UK emerges from Covid-19, tax rates will keep the UK "competitive".

    Mr Stride says there will be a situation where tax benefits to corporations will end at the same time as corporation taxes will rise, he asks if this will damage such companies.

    Mr Johnson lists all of the help available to businesses during the pandemic, which he describes as a "huge package" over the past year.

  15. Are official forecasts on government spending realistic?

    Stride

    Chair of the Treasury committee Conservative MP Mel Stride asks if the spending assumptions from the Office for Budget Responsibility are "realistic".

    Mr Johnson says he thinks the OBR is "right to think that the public finances are under very considerable pressure as a result of Covid".

    Mr Stride asks if the forecast for the next five years from the OBR on government spending is correct.

    Mr Johnson says "things are very tough" and "spending has been necessarily very extensive" but the Chancellor's Budget is set to work in the medium term.

    Mr Stride asks if the PM is happy with the assumption of spending levels over the coming years.

    Mr Johnson says he wishes "we weren't in this position" and had to "firehose so much money" following Covid-19.

    Johnson
  16. Jabs before going to the pub?

    Onto vaccines, Mr Wragg asks whether certificates proving you have had your jab are "compatible with a free society such as ours".

    The PM seems to answer a different question after discussions yesterday about care homes making vaccines mandatory for their staff.

    He says the concept "should not be totally alien to us" as doctors already have to have Hepatitis B jabs, adding the idea "doesn't seem to me to be irresponsible at all, far from it, it is wholly responsible for care home companies to think about requiring vaccinations".

    But Mr Wragg asks, what about "ordinary citizens going to the pub?"

    Mr Johnson says "that's the kind of thing that may be up to individual publicans".

    Pushed further, the PM says other MPs want tougher restrictions, adding: "I find myself in this long national conversation thinking very deeply about it, and the public have been thinking very deeply.

    "They want us as their government and me as prime minister to take all the action I can to protect them."

  17. Will Brits be able to take holidays abroad? - Wragg

    Mr Wragg then asks about comments made by scientific advisers at the weekend that Brits won't be able to go abroad for their holidays - "is that the government's policy?"

    The PM says the government will get the findings of its global travel taskforce on 5 April and he will "set out what I see may be possible from 17 May".

    But he warns "things are looking difficult on the continent and we will have to look at the situation as it develops".

    Asked by Mr Wragg if he finds advisers "freelancing across the media before decisions have been made" helpful, the PM says: "It is one of those things we just have to get used to. It has been a feature of life for quite some time."

    But he assures his Tory colleague that advisers advise and ministers decide.

  18. Emergency powers needed to deal with backlogs - PM

    Wragg

    The next MP to question the prime minister is Tory William Wragg - who chairs the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee.

    He asks why the Coronavirus Act - which gives the government emergency powers amid the pandemic - is being extended for six months on Thursday, past the final roadmap step out of lockdown.

    Boris Johnson says they need the act "to deal with backlogs we have built up" - such as allowing remote court hearings or letting NHS volunteers continue to serve.

    He adds: "Be in no doubt after 21 June, all the restrictions we have, we hope, will be gone.

    "But remember this is a 'not before' date."

    Mr Wragg says some provisions in the law "still haven't been used" so questions why wont they be dropped.

    The PM says the government have "already weeded out quite a few", adding: "anything redundant will go."

    Johnson
  19. PM says action may have to be taken 'soon' on travel from France

    Yvette Cooper continues her questions and says 20,000 people are coming to the UK from France every week and two thirds of arrivals are exempt from restrictions. She says everyone understands the importance of hauliers being able to do their job but she wants to know why are they not being tested in the UK.

    Mr Johnson says the numbers coming in overall from France have "massively diminished". It "was colossal" the PM admits. He says he will "look at the situation in the Channel" and says he "can't rule out further measures" on people arriving from France.

    Ms Cooper says scientists and medics agree that the "biggest threat to keeping the roadmap on track" in the UK is the spread of new variants from South Africa and Brazil. Why is the PM not taking action now, she asks, when we know cases have been rising since February?

    Mr Johnson says that is because there is "a balance to be struck".

    He says it is not clear how the vaccines will work against the new variants and that the government has to balance taking action now against the "very serious disruption" that would occur to cross-channel trade.

    "We will take action if necessary to protect public health" he adds and "we may have to do it "very soon".

  20. When can I go on holiday abroad or in the UK?

    Beach on a sunny day

    Anyone in England who travels abroad without good reason could soon be fined £5,000, under the coronavirus regulations.

    It comes amidst growing uncertainty about whether people will be able to take foreign holidays this summer.

    Holiday travel is not currently allowed - either in the UK or abroad - under lockdown rules.

    So when can you go on holiday again? Read our guide here.