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Summary

  1. MPs debate private member's bill from SNP MP Mhairi Black
  2. Urgent question at 11am on Department for International Development's bilateral and multilateral aid reviews
  3. House of Lords hold debate on national values

Live Reporting

By Claire Gould

All times stated are UK

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Debate concludes

The Archbishop of Canterbury concludes the debate on shared values and thanks peers who have contributed.

And the House of Lords wraps up for the week, as does the Commons. We'll be back on Monday to cover what's going on in Westminster.

Have a good weekend, goodbye.

Compensation scheme is 'a good deal'

Civil Service Compensation Scheme

House of Commons

Parliament

Michael Ellis
BBC

Deputy Leader of the House of Commons Michael Ellis answers the debate on the Civil Service Compensation Scheme for the government.

Mr Ellis says that the government is moving to modernise civil service pay, pensions and compensation in the light of the need to cut costs across the public sector.  

"Six figure compensation packages are not appropriate" in the public sector, he says, and the government is moving to outlaw these.

Mr Ellis says the civil service unions were invited to meetings on the reforms, and five such unions joined in the negotiations. He says the decision not to participate was made by the PCS union, he denies any union was barred from negotiating.

Mr Ellis concludes by saying the process benefited from the involvement of those unions who "constructively participated" in the reforms negotiation.

The revised Civil Service Compensation Scheme is a "good deal" for civil servants, he says.

Call to urgently consult on redundancy scheme

Civil Service Compensation Scheme

House of Commons

Parliament

Chris Stephens
BBC

The SNP's Chris Stephens leads the adjournment debate this afternoon, on the Civil Service Compensation Scheme.

The government has announced changes to the scheme which covers redundancy payments for civil servants.

Mr Stephens says far from being "fat cats" many civil servants earn average wages and have already seen cuts to salaries and pension entitlements.

The government has capped the amount of redundancy that can be paid to a civil servant at a maximum of 18 months-worth of salary.

Mr Stephens says he and colleagues have called for debate on the matter and he now looks forward to the minister's response.

'We should be proud of our British values'

Debate on shared values

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Bourne sums up
BBC

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth sums up for the government. He praises and highlights individual contributions from the assembled peers.

Lord Bourne says the values spoken about should not just be designed as British values, but universal or core values. Rule of law, democracy, free speech, respect for minorities were all the values spoken of.

He says that at the heart of the values are the rights that allow people to live the lives they choose, and the rule of law. He also refers to the UK's private and public response to humanitarian causes.

A key part of our values is tolerance for others with different religious beliefs, Lord Bourne says. All are playing roles in inter-faith, he says.

"We should be very proud of our British values, we welcome the role of faith in helping deliver on many of these things. The government can put up housing, but it can't create communities," he says.

Sanctions work, says minister

Benefit Claimants Sanctions Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Damian Hinds
BBC

Work and Pensions Minister Damian Hinds is now answering the second reading debate on the Benefit Claimants Sanctions (Required Assessment) Bill.

Evidence does show that sanctions have a positive effect, he says.

The government ensures that claimants are made aware of the availability of hardship payments, and that these are made within three days, he says.

Mr Hinds says the existing legislation refers to "causes" rather than "reasonable causes" so that discretion can be used to assess whether a person has failed to comply with a condition of their benefits.

As he launches into a line by line response to the bill, the Deputy Speaker calls the debate to order.

Debate on the bill ceases at this point, and although Ms Black asks debate to resume in February, it is unlikely there will be any private members' time left to return to the bill.

Stories we tell as part of shared values - Sherlock

Debate on shared values

House of Lords

Parliament

Baroness Sherlock
BBC

Talking about shared values, Labour's Baroness Sherlock references the stories we tell and the songs we sing as part of our shared culture.

She remembers the opening of the Olympic Ceremony in 2012 as the story of who the British are. It referenced the Shipping Forecast, Wind in the Willows, James Bond, Mr Bean, Tim Berners-Lee and the NHS - among many others.

She moves on to talk about immigration. She says the 1930s "were not so long ago", and she warns about the rise of fascism again.

She says the biggest challenge post-Brexit is to continue to be an outward-looking country; and says that even at times of great trials, such as World War II, the country welcomed the Kindertransport, or in the 1970s, the Ugandan Asians.

MPs can help constituents with benefit problems

Benefit Claimants Sanctions Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Mims Davies
BBC

Conservative Mims Davies is not in favour of passing the bill, but she is at pains to express her sympathy with the intent behind it in her speech.

She says as an MP, and previously as a councillor, she has dealt with many cases of people having difficulties with the benefits system.  

She says with the right help cases can be resolved, and she does not believe that adding more assessments into the process will help reduce the stress and cost.

Ms Davies says she believes the government is listening and cites the research that has been done by the Oakley Review and others. 

Noisy debate not out of order

Benefit Claimants Sanctions Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Eleanor Laing
BBC
Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing rules on whether comments are out of order.

Proceedings are briefly paused for a point of order from Conservative Victoria Atkins.

Ms Atkins says passions are "running high" in the chamber, but that the SNP are accusing Conservative MPs of saying things which have not been said.

Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing says the point is not a proper point of order, as the chair cannot decide on what words MPs should use in their speeches.  

She says Ms McLaughlin might want to temper her speech to be clear she is talking about what may have been implied, rather than what was actually said, but that there is nothing out of order about her speech.

Chris Stephens of the SNP makes a related point of order, complaining that some MPs have been shouting across the chamber at each other while others are speaking.

Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing says that again, this is not really a point of order, but reminds MPs not to make sedentary interventions.  It is, however, a debate on an important subject, she says, and she does not expect people to sit in silence.

SNP MPs have been accusing some Conservative MPs of shouting across the chamber, on social media.

View more on twitter

People 'want to work'

Benefits Claimants Sanctions Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

The SNP's Anne McLaughlin argues that the sanctions regime does nothing to encourage more people to find work.

She's most people have aspirations and want to work.

Ms McLaughlin says she herself had to turn down an opportunity for starting her own business several years ago, because it clashed with the day she was required to sign on for her benefits.

She says the sanctions regime is "punishment".

Contrasting views on sanctions exposed in debate

Benefit Claimants Sanctions Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Anne McLaughlin
BBC

SNP MP Anne McLaughlin outlines a story about a constituent with a six-year-old girl, who was sanctioned after she tried to change an appointment.

Fellow SNP MP Hannah Bardell intervenes to mention a constituent with Parkinson's who was also sanctioned.

Many MPs who support Mhairi Black's bill and have spoken in the debate, have mentioned constituents' cases, and urged a change in the law as a result.

Conservative MP Helen Whately, who spoke earlier, said that it was important for MPs to follow up individual cases, to check where mistakes may have been made, but - along with many other MPs who oppose the bill - has defended sanctions as an important part of the system.

Helen Whately
BBC

New Westminster?

BBC Daily Politics tweets

'Limited evidence' for benefit sanctions, NAO says

Benefits Claimants Sanctions Bill

BBC Politics

Jobcentre
PA

Shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams and a number of other MPs have referred to a recent report by the National Audit Office (NAO).

The report says that benefit sanctions leading to "hardship, hunger and depression" are being imposed on people despite "limited evidence" on how well they work.

The public spending watchdog also said use of the sanctions "varies substantially" between jobcentres.

An estimated 400,000 sanctions were imposed against people on out-of-work benefits last year.

Read more about the NAO report here.

Sanctions regime 'punitive'

Benefits Claimants Sanctions Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Debbie Abrahams
BBC

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams speaks in support of the bill for Labour.

She warmly congratulates Mhairi Black on bringing forward the bill, and on the conciliatory tone she took in her speech.

Ms Abrahams describes the sanctions system as a "nonsense" and a "punitive regime".

Youngest peer outlines personal values

Debate on shared values

House of Lords

Parliament

Baroness Bertin
BBC

Baroness Bertin rises to her feet to give her maiden speech. She begins her speech by saying her "old boss" was "brave and honourable" - she was director of external relations for David Cameron and was created a peer in his resignation honours list. She is now the youngest member of the House of Lords.

"We live in turbulent times," she continues, and so it has never been more important that shared values are "sewn into" the fabric of public policy.

These values must be relevant and tangible, she goes on, showing that politicians understand what people go through in their daily lives, otherwise the connection between politics and people become ever more frayed.

She makes a central theme of her speech about children with learning difficulties, and their journey into adult life.

Continuous process of improvement

Benefit Claimants Sanctions Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Conor Burns
BBC

Conservative Conor Burns continues debate of the Benefit Claimants Sanctions (Required Assessment) Bill.

Mr Burns says that in recent years the government has accepted a number of recommendations from the Work and Pensions Committee, and from the Oakley Review into the system of benefits sanctions.

Responding to an intervention from SNP MP Alison Thewlis, Mr Burns agrees that all MPs will know of individual cases in their constituencies where people have been let down by the system.

"That is why there is a robust, independent appeals process" to correct things when they go wrong, and why there is a "continuous process of listening and improvement" on the part of government.

Aleppo airdrops raised again

Labour MP tweets

Welcome for newest MP

Aid reviews urgent question

House of Commons

Parliament

Tom Brake
BBC

Liberal Democrat Tom Brake takes the opportunity to welcome the election of new Lib Dem MP Sarah Olney in the Richmond by-election last night.

He goes on to ask whether the government will continue to work with EU development and trade organisations.

Mr Wharton says the government will continue to work with all agencies and partners who are doing important work in aid and development, wherever they are based.

No aid drops for Aleppo

Aid reviews urgent question

House of Commons

Parliament

Labour's Julie Cooper calls again for aid drops in Aleppo.

Mr Wharton says there are practical issues preventing aid drops, but that the government is committed to supporting humanitarian aid to Syria wherever it is "practical and possible" to deliver it.

Commitment to value for money

Aid reviews urgent question

House of Commons

Parliament

Conservative David Nuttall calls for a "laser-like focus" on value for money, and on encouraging "more trade and less aid".

Mr Wharton says "we want to help people support themselves out of poverty" and the Prosperity Fund is an example of the government's commitment to this.

Government committed to international aid

Aid reviews urgent question

House of Commons

Parliament

James Wharton
BBC

International Development minister James Wharton confirms the government's commitment to spending 0.7% of GDP on development aid, and on maintaining a separate department for international development.

Shadow international development secretary Kate Osamor asks why it has taken so long to publish the reviews.

Mr Wharton says the global political picture has changed rapidly and all new circumstances needed to be taken into account when compiling the aid reviews.

Questions on funding following aid reviews

Aid reviews urgent question

House of Commons

Parliament

Stephen Doughty
BBC

Stephen Doughty says he is disappointed a statement wasn't made when the reviews were published.

He asks for some detail on how funding may be changed by the process of Brexit, and how the shift of funds from DfID to the Commonwealth Development Corporation will affect sustainable projects.

He welcomes commitments to humanitarian aid delivery, and asks if there is any update on the government's position on air drops of aid to Aleppo.

Urgent question on aid

Aid reviews urgent question

House of Commons

Parliament

Labour MP Stephen Doughty has asked the Department for International Development (DfID) for a statement on the mulitlateral and bilateral aid reviews 2016, published yesterday.

International Development minister James Wharton is answering for the government.

The full review is available here.

Trying to build bridges

Benefit Claimants Sanctions Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Job centre staff wants this bill, says Mhairi Black, as she closes her speech, they want the discretion to treat people as individuals.

She argues her bill seeks to make a small change that she hopes all members can support.

"I tried to build a bridge over which all parties can cross," she says.

Call to take into account personal circumstances

Benefit Claimants Sanctions Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Ms Black describes some of the responses she has had to her consultation on the proposals in her bill.

She says organisations who support benefit claimants are in support of the bill, who report individuals being left "destitute and in crisis" by the sanctions regime.

Too little account is being taken of an individual's circumstances before a sanction is imposed, she says.

Compared to being fined by a court, Ms Black says benefit sanctions are more punitive and take less account of mitigating circumstances.

Maiden speech welcomes debate

Debate on shared values

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord McInnes of Kilwinning
BBC

Lord McInnes of Kilwinning is giving his maiden speech.

He was the director of the Scottish Conservative Party, and councillor in Edinburgh.

Like any new member, he says, he scanned the Speaker's List for a relevant subject and is grateful to the Archbishop of Canterbury for bringing forward this subject.

He says as a Scot, he believes the values of democracy and tolerance underpin public life. He tells assembled peers that the town where he grew up gave him the feeling he could do anything - but many people do not feel the same.

"Only with opportunity for every child to do as well as they can, can we be confident that the national values that underpin our national life can engender true affinity from those who at the moment can feel little connection with the values that we all hold so dear."

SNP MP writes for The Times

Red Box tweets

Living in 'fear and intimidation'

Benefits Claimants Sanctions Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Ms Black describes benefit claimants as living in "a state of fear and intimidation" as a result of the sanctions regime.

"If your bus was late, you won't be able to feed your kids for a week," she says.

Responding to an intervention from Conservative Victoria Atkins about hardship payments, Ms Black says people either aren't aware of hardship payments, or don't know how "to go about this paper trail" to apply for them.

Archbishop opens debate on values

Debate on shared values

House of Lords

Parliament

Justin Welby
BBC

The Archbishop of Canterbury is introducing his debate on the shared values underpinning our national life and their role in shaping public policy priorities.

We need a better, more beautiful narrative in our shared national life, Justin Welby says - enabling us to play a more powerful and hopeful role around the world, which will enable us to turn outwards and not inwards.

Such a vision "has a deep magic" he says, and has enabled us to be a country of hope and purpose; and will enable us to do so again.

Support from colleagues essential

Benefit Claimants Sanctions Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

SNP benches
BBC

The SNP have turned out in force to support their colleague Mhairi Black today.

As private members' bills don't tend to have government support, they need large backbench support across the house to progress, and even then only a handful become law.

What's Mhairi Black's bill trying to do?

Benefit Claimants Sanctions Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Mhairi Black's private member's bill applies to claimants of certain working-age benefits including Jobseekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance and Universal Credit.

These benefit payments are made with certain conditions, and if a claimant is judged to have broken those conditions (without good reason) they may be 'sanctioned'.

The bill would alter the current legislation to prevent a claimant having their benefits reduced or restricted unless their circumstances are assessed by job centre staff, and if they are then also assessed for hardship payments, should their benefit be withdrawn.

The bill says an individual's caring responsibilities or how long it takes them to travel for interviews or work should be considered before a sanction is applied.

As this is a private member's bill, the English votes for English laws procedure does not apply, and the bill covers England, Wales and Scotland

What's coming up?

Parliament tweets

MPs begin debate on benefit sanctions

Benefit Claimants Sanctions Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Mhairi Black
BBC

SNP MP Mhairi Black is now opening this second reading debate on her bill on benefit sanctions.

Ms Black's bill would require certain assessments to be made before sanctions are applied to a benefit claimant, resulting in their benefit being withdrawn or reduced.

The bill seeks to have the assessment for sanctions done by job centre staff, rather than by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Good morning

Welcome to the day at Westminster and private members' bill day.

We start with the Benefit Claimants Sanctions (Required Assessment) Bill from SNP MP Mhairi Black.