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Summary

  1. Education questions first item of day
  2. Urgent question on Supreme Court ruling on under-occupancy charge
  3. Statement on Croydon tram incident
  4. MPs examine Technical and Further Education Bill at second reading
  5. International Development Committee look at Syrian refugee crisis
  6. House of Lords not sitting

Live Reporting

By Kate Whannel and Patrick Cowling

All times stated are UK

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  1. Minister responds to Dartford Crossing debate

    Adjournment debate

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    John Hayes

    Transport Minister John Hayes responds for the government and begins by assuring MPs that he is not a "slave to the advice" he receives from his civil servants.

    He emphasises that the existing crossing is at capacity and is considered one of the least reliable parts of the road network with closures occurring frequently.

    He defends the role of Highways England who he says are "trying to get this right". He urges his MPs to adopt a "tough but appreciative" tone with the agency. 

    In the meantime he says the government is analysing the results of the consultation and will "say more in due course".

    And there the debate ends and the house adjourns. MPs will return tomorrow at 11:30am for questions to the Health Secretary.

  2. Background on the Lower Thames Crossing

    Adjournment debate

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    The Lower Thames Crossing is a proposed crossing aiming to help alleviate congestion. It would be the only Thames crossing east of the Dartford Crossing.

    There are three main plans for the changes:

    • Option A: build an additional deep bore tunnel underneath the existing Dartford Crossing
    • Option B: a new road crossing connecting the A2 road to the A1089 road north of Tilbury Docks - this was dropped in 2013 due to the proposed Paramount Park development
    • Option C: connect the M2/A2 in the south with the M25 in the north, linked via a new Thames flood barrier

    According to the Department for Transport, Option C would have "considerable environmental impacts".

    Advocates of the proposal say that the new crossing is necessary to alleviate congestion at the Dartford Crossing, where currently there is a ferry crossing which operates Monday to Friday from Gravesend to Tilbury. 

  3. Moving too fast?

    Adjournment debate

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    The programme and money motions of the Technical and Further Education Bill pass without incident and so the day's final business begins - an adjournment debate on options for the M25 Motorway at Dartford.

    MPs are moving through their business very quickly today, a point that is picked up by Conservative MP Adam Holloway, who says he is extremely sorry that the previous debate did not go on for a further three hours "as that would have given me an opportunity to write a speech".

    Adam Holloway
  4. Bill passes second reading

    Technical and Further Education Bill

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Robert Halfon

    Minister Robert Halfon says that the measures contained in the bill are vital to address "serious challenges" including a chronic shortage of high skilled technicians and "acute skill shortages in STEM subjects" - that is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

    The minister tells MPs that "we have to deal with these problems and we have to deal with the roots of these problems".

    "The reforms in this bill are fundamental for the government's vision of a country that works for everyone", Mr Halfon tells the chamber, and the bill passes second reading unopposed.  

  5. Out of time?

    Technical and Further Education Bill

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Education Minister Robert Halfon is now responding to the debate for the Government.

    During his remarks, he mentions the comments made by Labour MP Rob Marris, who then asks the minister to give way for him to respond. 

    The minister tells Mr Marris he will not give way as "we are running short on time" which prompts a point of order from Mr Marris.

    Rob Marris asks Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing if she is reading a different order paper to him, as his order paper indicated that this debate may continue until 10pm.

    Ms Laing rises to tell Mr Marris that "technically" he is "absolutely correct", but says it is for each member to judge the mood of the House and the pace of the debate on these matters and that a 10-15 minute speech for a minister summing up is usually appropriate and "welcomed by most member so the House". 

    Eleanor Laing
  6. Marsden: 'Less self-congratulation' needed from ministers

    Technical and Further Education Bill

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Gordon Marsden

    Gordon Marsden finishes his remarks by saying that the government needs to "think very hard" about some of the issues that have been raised in the debate.

    "We will give this bill a fair hearing. We want this bill to succeed", he says.

    Mr Marsden adds: "we need to hear detail and less self-congratulation from the frontbench opposite and more aspiration for those groups not mentioned on the face of the bill".

  7. A 'timely' but 'curious' bill - Labour MP

    Technical and Further Education Bill

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Shadow Education Minister Gordon Marsden is now responding to the debate from the Labour frontbench.

    He says it is "timely" to have this bill before Parliament today "even if the methodology of its appearance is curious".

    Mr Marsden says that technical education at levels four and five is on the verge of total collapse in terms of numbers, and says that the wider further education college system is facing funding problems.

    The shadow minister tells MPs that the "entire process" of the bill has been "mired in dither and uncertainty and an overall lack of connection".

  8. What's nexit?

    Technical and Further Education Bill

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Conservative David Rutley notes that there has been a lot of interesting developments since Brexit - "There has been trexit and now some might be wandering, what's nexit?"

    Continuing over the sound of groans, Mr Rutley considers what the lessons of Brexit might be. 

    He says that while people were worried about the impact of immigration, there were other underlying concerns of insecurity.

    He believes that government actions such as establishing an industrial strategy and reforming welfare will go some way to address these concerns.

    He also says the government needs to address the skills gap which has been prevalent "for too long" and that is why he welcomes this bill. 

    David Rutley
  9. Committee adjourns

    International Development Committee

    Select Committee

    Parliament

    Questions to the second panel of witnesses come to an end and the committee adjourns.

    More information on the work of the International Development Committee, including its publications, membership and current inquiries can be found here

  10. The Syrian Resettlement Programme

    International Development Committee

    Select Committee

    Parliament

    The Syrian Resettlement Programme is responsible for settling 20,000 vulnerable refugees in the UK by 2020.

    The National Audit Office (NAO) says 2,659 refugees have been resettled so far, with 49% being under 18.

    The Resettlement Programme applies to Syrian people registered in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt or Turkey, and applies to those refugees whose circumstances make them particularly vulnerable.

    55% of the people resettled so far are survivors of torture or other violence.

    Most of the costs of a person's first year in the UK are met by the UK's Official Development Assistance budget.

    The NAO has estimated that the cost of the programme could top £1.1bn by 2020 and that resettled Syrian people will require 4,930 homes and 10,664 school places.

    Participation by local authorities in the resettlement programme is voluntary. 

  11. Getting money into Syria

    International Development Committee

    Select Committee

    Parliament

    The SNP's Lisa Cameron asks the ministers what they can do about the issue of money for NGOs working on the ground in Syria being delayed by banks in reaching the people who need it.

    Mr Stewart responds that there are two kinds of problems facing NGOs in this matter in Syria - international sanctions in regime-held areas, and a largely cash-based system existing in Opposition areas.

    He tells MPs that the Government is seeking to make the situation easier on the ground, but says there are risks involved, including the risk of money being lost in cash-based transactions, but also the risk of money being used to finance terrorist groups. 

  12. Government should set target for apprenticeship completions, says Labour MP

    Technical and Further Education Bill

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Labour's Peter Kyle tells MPs that, due to the "acute skills shortage", further education should be the government's priority. 

    He says the new "Institute for Apprenticeships" should play a "strong role" in keeping standards high and urges the government to offer a clearer picture of the staffing resources that will be available to the body.

    He also calls on the government to set a target, not just for the number of people starting an apprenticeship, but also for the number completing apprenticeships.

  13. Minister: UK government faces 'significant challenges' in Syria

    International Development Committee

    Select Committee

    Parliament

    Rory Stewart

    International Development Minister Rory Stewart outlines the ways in which his department's aid is delivered within Syria, despite what he calls the "very, very significant challenges involved".

    Mr Stewart says that in opposition areas in Syria, it is "effectively impossible" for internationals to enter and even "very difficult" for Syrian staff. 

    Due to this, he says that the "normal things" the government would hope to do to help refugees and internally displaced people are "simply not possible" within Syria.

    He tells MPs that support within Syria is divided into two types: support provided within Syrian regime controlled areas is chiefly provided through UN agencies, whereas support in opposition areas can include things like education infrastructure support.

  14. Powell: Education funding needs to be more consistent

    Technical and Further Education Bill

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Another former shadow education secretary, Lucy Powell, says the bill being debated tonight is "much reduced" following the government's decision to drop proposals to "force all good and outstanding schools to become academies" - a fact she welcomes. 

    On funding, she notes that the UK falls behind its international competitors when it comes to post-16 education - and urges the government to offer "better and more consistent funding". 

    Lucy Powell
  15. Protecting Syrian refugees in the UK

    International Development Committee

    Select Committee

    Parliament

    Pauline Latham says that some public figures have been attacked in the press and on social media for speaking in support of Syrian refugees. 

    She asks what is being done to ensure that refugees are not attacked themselves when they arrive in the UK.

    Home Office Minister Robert Goodwill agrees that there has been some bad feeling from a minority that is not representative of the British people.

    He concedes that "maybe some of the press has fueled that a bit at times", but reiterates his opinion that he has "great confidence in the compassion of the British people". 

    Pauline Latham
  16. Minister: UK must not create 'pull factors'

    International Development Committee

    Select Committee

    Parliament

    Robert Goodwill

    Conservative MP Pauline Latham asks about the implementation of policies within the UK to help ease the arrival of Syrian refugees.

    Mr Goodwill tells MPs that he is "very proud" of the work being done in the UK by government agencies, but emphasises that the government's primary aim is to help people "in region" - those living in countries neighbouring Syria.

    "They really are up against it" in camps and cities in those areas, he says.

    The minister adds that the main aim of government policy both within the UK and abroad is "not to create pull factors" that will see refugees dying in the desert or drowning in the sea. 

  17. Dover MP: Local college 'ate principals'

    Technical and Further Education Bill

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Charlie Elphicke

    Conservative MP for Dover Charlie Elphicke welcomes the bill, telling MPs it will ensure technical education responds to employers' needs and introduces a new insolvency regime to protect students.

    "These things matter," he says, and goes on to describe the situation of one college in his constituency.

    He tells MPs that the college suffered from debt problems and failed to teach courses that employers wanted.

    This college, he says, "frankly ate principals".

    He says he believes the bill will go a long way to preventing other colleges getting into similar situation. 

  18. Minister pledges 'further progress' on child refugee target

    International Development Committee

    Select Committee

    Parliament

    The evidence session is now hearing from Home Office Minister Robert Goodwill and International Development Minister Rory Stewart.

    Speaking about the relocation of Syrian refugees who will be given asylum in the UK, Mr Goodwill says that he is confident the Government is on track to meet the target of 20,000 Syrian refugees accepted into the UK by the end of the current Parliament.

    On the figure of 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees covered by the Dubs amendment, Mr Goodwill says that "as this scheme started later - one would expect less progress to have been made".

    "We have started on that scheme and will be making further progress", he says. 

    Ministers
  19. Tristram Hunt calls for GCSE abolition by 2025

    Technical and Further Education Bill

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Tristram Hunt

    Labour's Tristram Hunt urges MPs to unite to get rid of GCSEs, a qualification he describes as "an anomaly".

    The former shadow education secretary argues that the GCSE has "served its time" but is now "no longer necessary". 

    What the country needs, he suggests, is an academic and technical baccalaureate for children aged 14-19. 

  20. Save the Children: Long-term integration 'critical'

    International Development Committee

    Select Committee

    Parliament

    Martha Mackenzie

    Labour MP Albert Owen asks the panel whether they believe the UK Government programme for accepting Syrian refugees is working as efficiently as it could be. 

    Martha Mackenzie from Save the Children responds that the system is "efficient in so far as it is great that we have found 20,000 places quite quickly".

    She goes on to say that the funding allowance for these refugees "is generous for the first year".

    Ms Mackenzie adds that integration through employment and education opportunities will be "critical" for the long-term success of the programme.