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Summary

  1. MPs started their day with questions to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ministerial team.
  2. The Leader of the House outlined future business in the Commons.
  3. MPs debated the role of faith organisations in the voluntary sector.
  4. Peers met at 11am for oral questions, and had a busy day of business before the end of parliamentary term.

Live Reporting

By Kate Whannel and Alex Partridge

All times stated are UK

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  1. Lords adjourn

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Baroness Evans concludes her speech and the debate comes to an end - as does the day in the House of Lords.

    Peers will return on Monday for a week dominated by "ping-ponging" legislation. 

    See you then.

    Clock
  2. Evans: System is confusing and lacking in quality

    Polytechnics debate

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Government spokeswoman Baroness Evans of Bowes Park tells peers that technical skills "do need to be improved".

    She says the system is sometimes confusing, lacking in quality and too often divorced from the reality of the workplace.

    She gives the House a brief preview into an, as yet unpublished, review by Lord Sainsbury into technical education. She reveals: "He has not been shy about the problems and has put forward specific clear proposals."

    Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
  3. Stevenson: Vocational courses are considered second class

    Polytechnics debate

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Labour spokesman Lord Stevenson tells peers that science and innovation is at the heart of growth.

    He believes that merely calling for a new class of institution "won't do it".

    He argues that the real issue lies in the society's attitude that vocational courses are "second class".

    Lord Stevenson
  4. Lord Pearson wary of another 'polytechnic experiment'

    Polytechnics debate

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    UKIP's Lord Pearson of Rannoch is wary of another "polytechnic experiment". 

    He favours technical colleges but warns against allowing such colleges to be compromised by "weak social sciences".

    Lord Pearson of Rannoch
  5. Haskel: Technical schools are the answer

    Polytechnics debate

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Labour's Lord Haskel beings by telling peers that he went to a polytechnic college.

    He is not sure technical colleges are the answer, but instead says technical schools could help to prepare young people earlier.

    He argues that such schools help prepare young people for the world of work by teaching skills such as problem solving. 

    He acknowledges that some technical schools fail but says that is the nature of innovation. "It is a process of trial and error."

    Lord Haskel
  6. 'An amazing failure'

    Polytechnics debate

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Lord Baker of Dorking

    Former Education Secretary Lord Baker of Dorking regrets the "amazing failure" that so few students in technical subjects reach level 4.

    He therefore supports recreating polytechnics to prepare people for high level technical jobs.

    However he hopes polytechnic training will extend beyond STEM (Science, technology, engineering and maths) to other subjects including digital skills, logistics and graphic design.

  7. Order, order

    House of Commons clock

    The House of Commons has adjourned for the day, giving MPs plenty of time to get back to their constituencies and help get out the vote before polls close at 10pm tonight.

  8. Burundi situation 'extremely fragile'

    Human rights in Burundi

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    James Duddridge

    Foreign Office Minister James Duddridge is outlining the action the UK has taken. He says the situation is "extremely fragile" and the Foreign Office is "extremely concerned". 

    He says there has been an "alarming increase in targeted assassinations" in recent months, and says that it indicates that the "cycle of violence" is getting worse.

    He says both the Burundian government and opposition groups are fuelling violence.

    He warns against seeing the conflict as an ethnic one, and he points out that the conflict began as a purely political one, but says it is a reason for the international community to worry "more than it would otherwise".

    He says the international community wants to achieve a peaceful solution and that Burundi "could be a great country again" and has the "attention of the UK government".

  9. Debate on polytechnics

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    It looks like an early bath in the Lords today, as peers come to the last item of business - a debate on how the new generation of polytechnics can address the technical skills gap.

    Thirty polytechnics were opened in 1960s aimed at ensuring working class communities benefited from higher education. Polytechnics tended to offer vocational rather than academic qualifications. 

    A report by the Employer Skills Study found that manufacturing employers are most likely to encounter skills shortages when recruiting.

    A wrench on a workbench
  10. Energy efficiency statutory instrument

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Thermogram

    Its a very bitty day in the Lords. The next item is a statutory instrument - Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England) and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2016.

    These regulations postpone the date of the establishment of the "private rented sector minimum standards exemption register".

    The government will require landlords to improve those properties which fall into the bottom two categories of energy efficiency.

    However, landlords will be exempt under certain circumstances, for example where they cannot acquire planning permission. 

    Such landlords would have to register their exemptions on a list.

    This statutory instrument seeks to delay the date at which the register will be established in order to give time for the register to be designed and tested.

    Labour spokeswoman Baroness Jones of Whichurch worries that the delay is symptomatic of the government's "lack of urgency" in dealing with energy efficiency.

    Nevertheless the instrument is not opposed. 

  11. Current circumstances in Burundi 'grave'

    Human rights in Burundi

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Fiona Bruce is asking for more action from the UK. "I do not wish to sound more alarmist than current circumstances indicate, but they are grave," she says. She says it's vital we help prevent events in Burundi spiraling out of control.

    Fellow Conservative Jeremy Lefroy says he "cares deeply" about Burundi, and says that despite the efforts of the international community "the terrible situation continues". He says he believes there is now an ethnic element to the strife in the country and that the UK must do all it can to help the country "pull back from the brink".

  12. Burundi crisis: timeline of events

    Burundi nationals from across the U.S. and Canada, along with supporters, demonstrate outside U.N. headquarters, calling for an end to political atrocities and human rights violations unfolding in Burundi

    Burundi has been hit by civil conflict since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to stand for a third term.  

    • April 2015: Protests erupt after President Pierre Nkurunziza announces he will seek a third term in office.
    • May 2015: Constitutional court rules in favour of Mr Nkurunziza, amid reports of judges being intimidated. Tens of thousands flee violence amid protests.
    • May 2015: Army officers launch a coup attempt, which fails.
    • July 2015: Elections are held, with Mr Nkurunziza re-elected. The polls are disputed, with opposition leader Agathon Rwasa describing them as "a joke"
    • November 2015: Burundi government gives those opposing President Nkurunziza's third term five days to surrender their weapons ahead of a promised crackdown.
    • November 2015: UN warns it is less equipped to deal with violence in Burundi than it was for the Rwandan genocide.
    • December 2015: 87 people killed on one day as soldiers respond to an attack on military sites in Bujumbura.
    • January 2016: Amnesty International publishes satellite images it says are believed to be mass graves close to where December's killings took place.

    You can find out more about the country here.

  13. Human rights in Burundi

    Adjournment debate

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Fiona Bruce, the MP for Congleton, stands for the adjournment debate - a busy afternoon for her.

    She is raising the human rights situation in Burundi.

    She is sharing the debate with Jeremy Lefroy, the MP for Stafford. 

  14. Peers approve longer pub hours for Queen's birthday

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Next item of business is the Licensing Act 2003 (Her Majesty The Queen’s Birthday Licensing Hours) Order 2016, which would allow pubs to extend their opening hours on the occasion of the Queen's official birthday.

    Labour's Lord Rosser insists that he does not want to be seen as a killjoy but does raise a few objections about additional police costs that would be occurred by extending licensing hours.

    Nevertheless Labour is happy to support the statutory instrument. 

    The Queen visits Eastenders studio
  15. 'Fleet of foot'

    Faith organisations in the voluntary sector

    James Wharton

    Communities and Local Government Minister James Wharton responds for the government. 

    He remembers a trip out with the street pastors in his constituency, teams of volunteers who help people on the streets late at night. He says a "tired and emotional" young woman recognised him as "that Tory", while the street pastors helped her with a bottle of water and sensible shoes. He tells the House that he told her "we're here to help", to laughter from his colleagues.

    He says the quick and practical response of faith organisation is often "unparalleled". He points out that they are "fleet of foot", in a way that government is not.

    "I recognise and the government recognises the important contribution faith makes to our society, the incredible value it adds to our country," he says.

    He finishes by saying the debate has shown the breadth and depth of the work that faith and charity organisations do.

  16. Armed Forces Bill

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Peers now move to the third reading of the Armed Forces Bill which essentially makes it legal for the army to continue to exist.

    This dates back to 1688 when Parliament demanded the right of MPs to consent to the keeping of standing army in peacetime.

    In addition, to keeping the Army legal, this bill also makes changes to recruitment and discipline practices.

    The bill is welcomed by peers, particularly by Lord Touhig. He tells peers that as a minister in Tony Blair's government he was working on an Armed Forces Bill but had to stop when the prime minister awarded him a DCM - "Don't come in Monday".

    He says he is delighted to see this bill to its conclusion. 

    Lord Touhig
  17. 'Energy, new ideas and passion'

    Faith organisations in the voluntary sector

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Anna Turley rises for Labour, saying the debate raises issues that may not make the national news every day, but which are important for the "fabric of our society".

    The shadow Cabinet Office minister says faith groups are there when the state, and when "we in this place" have failed, to pick up the pieces. Responding to speeches from other MPs in the debate, she adds that faith groups are able to respond and take risks, in a way that the state or other institutions cannot.

    "Faith organisations continue to be a source of energy, new ideas and passion in civic society today," she says, adding that volunteers are frequently councillors, school governors, and magistrates.

    She says that faith organisations should be able to provide solutions for local needs, and that means ensuring local associations can have confidence in commissioning services from them.

  18. Compensation for miscarriage of justice

    Criminal Cases Review Commission Bill

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Lord Beecham

    Labour's Lord Beecham uses the opportunity to bring up the case of two men who served a 24 year sentence between them for a crime they did not commit but were not considered entitled to compensation.

    He says the decision may reflect a flaw in the system and asks the minister to undertake a review on giving courts the power to award compensation.

    Minister Lord Faulks says his initial reaction is that such a review is "not the appropriate way forward". He says it is for the state not the courts to decide levels of compensation. 

  19. Motions and private members bills

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    The remaining statutory instruments are agreed to with little fanfare and peers move on to to considering private members' bills. 

    Similarly the Driving Instructors Bill, which seeks to simplify the process for registering as Approved Driving Instructors, receives no objection from peers and will now pass into law. 

    Crossbencher Lord Ramsbotham now rises to speak to his bill - the Criminal Cases Review Commission Bill, which seeks to extend the Criminal Cases Review Commission's powers to gather information.

    The Criminal Cases Review Commission is an independent organisation set up to investigate suspected miscarriages of justice.

    House of Lords
  20. Walker: Amendment could undermine committee's transparency

    High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Lord Walker

    Chair of the Committee Lord Walker of Gesingthorpe worries that appointing a technical special adviser would undermine the transparency of the committee's hearings, as the technical advice would be received in private. 

    He hopes to assure the peer however by promising to review the hybrid bill procedure.

    Hybrid bills have elements of both a public and a private bill - this means that the provisions affect the general public but also has a significant impact for specific individuals or groups. 

    Lord Bradshaw says he is not unhappy with his response, but does not push his amendment to a vote.