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Summary

  1. Home Office questions in Commons
  2. At 3:30pm Labour's Kevan Jones asks an urgent question on the test firing of a Trident missile
  3. Business Secretary Greg Clark will make a statement on the government's industrial strategy
  4. Second reading of Local Government Finance Bill is main business
  5. Peers open day with oral questions
  6. Peers will then move on to committee stage of Higher Education and Research Bill

Live Reporting

By Kate Whannel and Aiden James

All times stated are UK

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Unarmed Trident II (D5) ballistic missile fired by HMS Vigilant during a test launch in the Atlantic Ocean in October 2012

Defence secretary refuses to tell MPs whether a missile veered off course during a test in June.

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House of Commons adjourns

House of Commons

Parliament

Houses of Parliament at night
Getty Images

MPs follow the House of Lords' lead and also adjourn for the day.

They return tomorrow at 11:30am for questions to the justice secretary.

Government is 'considering options'

Adjournment debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Caroline Dinenage
BBC

Educaton Minister Caroline Dinenage responds for the government.

Labour's Luciana Berger intervenes to ask for confirmation that the government will be bringing forward measures to ensure that there is sex and relationship education in every school.

The minister says the government is considering all options.

The key thing is to get it right, she says, not to "satisfy loud voices on either side of the debate".

House of Lords adjourns

House of Lords

Parliament

After an epic consideration of amendments to the Higher Education and Research Bill, the House of Lords adjourns.

Peers are back tomorrow from 2:30pm for oral questions, followed by consideration of the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill.

They will also debate regulations bringing provisions of the Trade Union Act into force.

MPs debate role of parents in sex education

Adjournment debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Maria Miller
BBC

There are a number of interventions early on, in this busier-than-usual adjournment debate. 

Conservative Fiona Bruce says many parents would be "extremely concerned" if sex education was compulsory.

Maria Miller agrees that parents should have a voice but adds that eight out of ten adults want sex education to be introduced for children at school.

Sir Peter Bottomley, another Conservative, suggests that parents are often too embarrassed to talk about sex and relationships with their children.

Parents and teachers should work together, he says.

'There is undoubtedly a market' says higher education minister

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Responding for the government, Viscount Younger of Leckie says Lord Judd made a "thoughtful" contribution but argues: "There is undoubtedly a market... and we are in the business of attracting students."

He urges Lord Judd to be "realistic" and accept this.

Debate on sex education begins

Adjournment debate

House of Commons

Parliament

Maria Miller
BBC

Conservative MP Maria Miller, who chairs the Women and Equalities Committee, now begins her adjournment debate on sex education.

In November the chairs of five Commons select committees wrote to the Education Secretary, Justine Greening, urging her to make sex education a statutory subject in England’s schools.

Currently schools do not have to teach sex education, although the majority do.

Bill is a 'historic opportunity' - minister

Local Government Finance Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Gavin Barwell
BBC

Communities and Local Government Minister Gavin Barwell, whose birthday it is, now gets to his feet.

He expresses his delight at being able to respond to the debate: "What better way to numb the pain of turning 45?"

He tells the House that "for too long" councils have been forced to rely on Westminster and "their communities have suffered as a result".

This is an historic opportunity to change that forever, he says.

Labour peer feels like 'a collaborator in damage limitation'

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Judd
BBC

Labour peer Lord Judd makes a criticism of the bill that has featured in previous days of committee stage debate: that it brings about the "marketisation" of higher education.

He says he is concerned about "the commercialisation and the marketisation of the whole concept of universities and higher education".

He does not like "the language of markets... of students as consumers" that he has heard from the government.

"However, we're in the situation we're in," he says, "and we have to make it as acceptable as possible."

He ends by saying that, in doing so, he is "aware I may be becoming a collaborator in damage limitation".

Minister says regulator's powers 'likely to be rarely used'

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Minister Viscount Younger says the higher education regulator, the Office for Students, is "best placed to make an assessment" about institutions qualifying for the granting of powers to award degrees.

The OfS will have "better insight" than ministers in this area, he insists.

He tries to reassure peers that "these powers are not intended for everyday use" and safeguards mean that "removal of degree awarding powers or university titles is likely to be rarely used".

Shadow minister calls for re-evaluation of council tax

Local Government Finance Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Jim McMahon
BBC

Shadow local government and devolution minister Jim McMahon welcomes the move to devolution but says the "devil will be in the detail".

He regrets that council funding is not based on need but house values, based on house prices as they were in 1991.

He urges the government to "bite the bullet" and take forward re-evaluations.

Council tax valuation in England is currently based on the price a property would have reached on the open market in 1991. 

Rural vs urban funding

Local Government Finance Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Conservative James Heappey regrets that funding to rural constituencies is "predominantly lower" than urban areas.

"There is no rhyme or reason to this," he says. "That's just the way it's always been."

He notes that last year the government was able to find a "sticking plaster" to cover this rural-urban gap and hopes they will do so again this year.

However, he says local councils need more certainty and urges the government to accelerate their review of the local government funding formula.

The new formula should be transparent and fair, he argues.

Bishop says 'Lambeth degrees' need to be maintained

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Bishop of Durham
BBC

The Bishop of Durham speaks in support of an amendment on so-called "Lambeth degrees", which are conferred by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

These academic degrees are a great honour which students do not "take lightly", he says.

He refers to a student who is studying for a Lambeth PhD in Burundi, a country in which only 3% of people are in higher education, and argues: "The Lambeth degree process is thus serving the poorest and neediest nations. It is of real significance and needs to be maintained."

He calls on the minister to accept an amendment "saving" Lambeth degrees or introduce a government amendment to the same effect.

MPs argue over Labour election promises

Local Government Finance bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Kevin Foster
BBC

Conservative Kevin Foster notes that many Labour MPs have expressed concerns about cuts to local government.

He argues that Labour said it would not increase funding for local authorities during the 2015 general election campaign.

Shadow communities minister Gareth Thomas counters that, in its manifesto, Labour said it would transfer £30bn of funding to city and council funding.

Gareth Thomas
BBC

MP recounts public toilet tour

Local Government Finance Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Public toilet in Camden
BBC

Conservative MP Steve Double tells MPs that as a councillor with responsibility for public conveniences he spent "many months" touring the toilets of Cornwall.

"I have spent more hours than I would like to admit in toilets," he confesses.

He calls it "crazy" that public toilets are liable for business rates.

"They are not a business," he argues. "They are a public service."

He therefore welcomes councils being able to use "discretionary relief powers" to counter this.

Relief being the appropriate term, he adds.

The power to grant degrees and the 'reputation' of universities

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

We return to the Higher Education and Research Bill, as peers debate amendments on the Office for Students' powers to authorise institutions to grant degrees.

The bill sets up the Office for Students, a new non-departmental public body which will be the "market regulator" and replaces the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the Office for Fair Access (OFFA).

Some peers voice concerns about safeguarding standards in the exercise of powers to grant degrees.

Crossbencher Lord Kerslake thinks the government has "seriously underestimated" a risk to the reputation of universities, though he also says he is "strongly in favour of new market entry".

Cuts are 'starting to be felt' - Labour MP

Local Government Finance Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Melanie Onn
BBC

Labour's Melanie Onn reports the concerns of her constituents in Grimsby, which include closures of public conveniences and an increase in public fly tipping.

"These are the sorts of things that are noticed," she says.

She argues that the cuts to local councils have taken their time to impact on local communities but "are now really starting to be felt".

She seeks reassurance from the government that the bill will not make her constituency worse off.

Nuclear deal means the ability to 'hold Iran to account' - minister

Human rights in Iran

House of Lords

Parliament

Baroness Anelay of St Johns
BBC

Human rights in Iran are "of serious concern to the British government", says Foreign Office Minister Baroness Anelay of St Johns.

She tells the House that the UK has "pressed Iran to improve its human rights record" directly and through the UN and the EU.

The UK government believes Iran should end the use of the death penalty, the minister says, adding that women continue to face discrimination in the country.

But, she argues, the nuclear deal has given countries "the ability to hold Iran to account".

UK must 'challenge Iran's obligations on human rights' - Labour peer

Human rights in Iran

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour foreign affairs spokesman Lord Collins of Highbury says the UK and Iran have achieved closer relations since the reopening of the UK embassy in Tehran and the restoration of diplomatic ties, while the Foreign Office has designated Iran "one of its human rights priority countries".

He notes the government has said it is using its improved relationship "to urge respect for human rights" and argues that improved ties have enabled "a dialogue, not possible before, on tackling security concerns".

However, Lord Collins adds, this relationship "must not be at the expense of our responsibility to challenge Iran's obligations under international law on human rights".

Drax: Business rates retention will do nothing to address urgent need

Local Government Finance Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Conservative Richard Drax says there are "very serous concerns" about social care but worries that business rate retention "does nothing to address the urgent need".

He notes that the £240m saved from changes to the new homes bonus will go to social care in a one off grant.

Social care gets a one year resuscitation but councils will lose out, he says.

Mr Drax argues that losing this money would force councils to rethink discretionary services such as low level support to vulnerable groups. 

Lib Dem peer talks of 'uncertain times' under President Trump

Human rights in Iran

House of Lords

Parliament

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Baroness Haleh Afshar appeared on Desert Island Discs in 2009

Baroness Northover contributes to the debate for the Liberal Democrats and pays tribute to Iranian-born crossbench peer Baroness Afshar, who is not present at the debate.

Baroness Northover says Baroness Afshar, a critic of the Iranian regime, welcomed the lifting of sanctions on the country but said: "I fear that in my birthplace, I would be put in prison and I fear that the UK government would not be able to help."

Sanctions on Iran were lifted following an international deal over its nuclear programme.

However, Baroness Northover says "we are now in uncertain times" following the election of US President Trump, who has made his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal "very clear".

Iran country profile

Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei, left, and president Rouhani, right
Getty Images
Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei, left, and president Rouhani, right

Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979, when the monarchy was overthrown and clerics assumed political control under supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini.

The Iranian revolution put an end to the rule of the Shah, who had alienated powerful religious, political and popular forces with a programme of modernisation and Westernisation coupled with heavy repression of dissent.

Persia, as Iran was known before 1935, was one of the greatest empires of the ancient world, and the country has long maintained a distinct cultural identity within the Islamic world by retaining its own language and adhering to the Shia interpretation of Islam.

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Parliamentary reporter tweets

Tory peer: 'We must not forget the ordinary Iranians'

Human rights in Iran

House of Lords

Parliament

Conservative Lord McInnes of Kilwinning attacks the current Iranian regime.

He says Christians are "forced to keep a low profile" while ethnic minorities such as Arabs, Azeris and Kurds find it difficult to access higher education.

"We must not forget the ordinary Iranians whose only wish is to enjoy the same human rights as their ancestors," he tells the House.

The Tory peer urges the government to "use all avenues open to it to improve human rights" in Iran.

Government has 'passed the buck' - Labour MP

Local Government Finance Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Jim Cunningham
BBC

Labour's Jim Cunningham believes that the government's strategy on local government finance is clear: "They are shifting the burden away from central government to local government."

He says the government talks of "difficult choices" but has "passed the buck" to local councils.

Surrey Council's referendum is an admission of government policy failure, he argues. 

He seeks a promise from the government that "no area will be worse off" from the changes in the bill.

Peer accuses Iran of carrying out 'barbaric punishments'

Human rights in Iran

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Clarke of Hampstead
BBC

Peers take a break from debate on the Higher Education Bill to have their dinner or to take part in a short debate held during the dinner break.

Labour peer Lord Clarke of Hampstead has tabled a question asking the government for its assessment of the current human rights situation in Iran.

Lord Clarke says Iran has been "increasing the number of executions and public hangings" and since the election of President Rouhani in 2013, hopes "that things would improve were quickly dashed".

The peer claims: "Iran continues to execute more individuals per capita than any other country in the world." This includes the execution of "juveniles", he alleges.

What will the rates revaluation mean for UK business?

30 September 2016

BBC Business News

Shop
Getty Images

Thousands of firms in England and Wales are set to see dramatic changes to the amount they pay in business rates, after the government publishes the new "rateable values" of their properties on Friday.

Soaring property values in parts of London and the South East over the past few years mean that business rates there will be much higher. In areas where property prices have fallen, bills will be lower.

The way the changes will be introduced - with a cap on how much bills can rise or fall over the next few years - will help cushion the transition; so for many companies rates won't change as dramatically as they would have otherwise.

But it is still being described as "the largest changes to business rates ... in a generation" by John Webber of real estate firm Colliers International.  

Read more.

Business rates revaluation 'a looming nightmare' says MP

Local Government Finance Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Mark Field
BBC

Conservative Mark Field warns that the revaluation of business rates is "a looming nightmare" for small busienss in his constituency.

He welcomes the government's £3.4m relief scheme but appeals to the government to introduce a three tier business rate system to cater for small, medium and large businesses.

Amendments on degree awarding powers

Higher Education and Research Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Over in the Lords, debate continues on the Higher Education and Research Bill, with amendments on higher education institutions' powers to award degrees and other qualifications.

Responding to concerns raised by some peers, Higher Education Minister Viscount Younger of Leckie insists that the government is not trying to "divert" people from degree courses onto technical courses "or vice versa".

He claims that ministers "want everybody who can benefit from a tertiary education... to have the chance to do so".

Labour MP calls for 'independent review' of social care funding

Local Government Finance Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Clive Betts, who chairs the Communities and Local Government Committee, says council tax is "the only tax" requiring a referendum to increase it above a certain level.

He says that MPs face losing the ability to decide whether or not to approve a minister's decision to alter that level, calling it "another power taken away from MPs".

Mr Betts, a Labour MP, says that "social care demands are likely to go up faster than income from business rates" and cautions against considering business rate retention as an answer to a social care funding shortfall.

He calls for "an independent review of social care" and a new system for funding it.

However, he says he supports allowing the retention of business rates in principle, calling it "a small step in the right direction".

'Shadow minister's glass is half empty' says Tory MP

Local Government Finance Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Conservative MP Christopher Chope says he is "sorry the shadow minister's glass is half empty". He thinks the bill will create "a much better situation" but raises a concern about his local authority.

The MP for Christchurch in Dorset says neighbouring Poole and Bournemouth councils are considering forming a "unitary authority" with Christchurch.

Mr Chope says he is concerned that "the residents of Christchurch will be paying £200 more in council tax at band D" than people in the other authority areas.

He calls on ministers to confirm that council tax will be at the same level across the combined authority "from day one".

Shadow minister's 'sympathy' for Surrey

Local Government Finance Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Surrey County Hall
Google
The government said Surrey voters would have the final say about the proposed tax rise in a referendum

Labour's Gareth Thomas says he has "some sympathy" for Conservative-led Surrey County Council, which plans a 15% increase in council tax.

The council said it needed to meet demand for social care and central government had cut its annual grant by £170m since 2010.

Mr Thomas says the council took the decision "after not a single penny of new money was put into local government" to address the crisis in social care.

Ministers have taken 'an axe to local government spending' - Labour

Local Government Finance Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Gareth Thomas
BBC

"The people of England should have more power to shape their own destiny without waiting on the say so of ministers opposite," says local government minister Gareth Thomas.

He accuses Conservative governments of displaying "a hostile attitude in practice" to more powers for local government, to loud sounds of disagreement from the Conservative benches.

Persisting with his argument, Mr Thomas calls for assurances that there will be no regions "left behind" by inequalities in amounts raised in business rates.

And he accuses the government of taking "an axe to local government spending".

Combined authorities can raise 'small supplement' - minister

Local Government Finance Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Local Government Minister Marcus Jones tells MPs that "mayoral combined authorities" and the Greater London Authority will be allowed "to raise a small supplement on the business rate" above that levied by local councils.

A combined authority allows a group of authorities to work together, as has happened in Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, West Yorkshire and three other regions of England.

Bill briefing

Local Government Finance Bill

House of Commons

Parliament

The House of Commons Library has produced a briefing paper which provides background on the bill.

It can be found here.

Local authorities deserve a better deal - minister

Local Government Finance bill

House of Commons

Parliament

Marcus Jones
BBC

Communities and Local Government Minister Marcus Jones says the current system governing business rates is over-centralised and that taxpayers see no connection between the level of local taxation and services they receive.

"That is not good enough," he says, adding that local authorities "deserve a better deal".

Allowing local authorities to retain income from business rates will let local authorities move away from a dependency on local government grants, he argues. 

Debate on Local Government Finance Bill begins

House of Commons

Parliament

Kensington High Street
BBC

MPs now come to the second reading of the Local Government Finance Bill giving them the opportunity to debate the general principles of the bill.

The bill implements a government announcement that local authorities would be able to retain 100% of locally raised taxes.

The bill also provides flexibility to local authorities to shape the operation of business rates in their area.

The Greater London Authority and mayoral combined authorities will be able to raise a levy on business rates.

The rural rate of relief will be changed to ensure small rural business receive the same as those in urban areas.

Lacemaking and upholstery?

Industrial Strategy statement

House of Commons

Parliament

Conservative Maggie Throup seeks assurance that traditional industries such as lace-making and upholstery do not get left behind.

Greg Clark says that is important to participate in new industries but adds that the government wants to make sure that traditional industries "prosper too".

'Seize the moment'

Industrial Strategy statement

House of Commons

Parliament

Stephen Metcalfe
BBC

The Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, Stephen Metcalfe, urges the government to "seize the moment" and increase spending on science and technology to 3% of GDP.

Greg Clark says the government is "very clear sighted" about need to invest in science and research, not just public investment but in creating the conditions for the private sector investment. 

Why no mention of those with disabilities?

Industrial Strategy statement

House of Commons

Parliament

SNP MP Neil Gray says he has previously raised the disability employment gap - the gap in employment between disabled and non-disabled people. 

He asks why disability does not feature in this green paper.

Greg Clark replies that the green paper mentions that further measure on employment policies will be set out in the future.