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Summary

  1. MPs debating support for people with autism in the UK
  2. Earlier: minister announces legal funds for contaminated blood victims
  3. 'Reasonable expenses' for preparing for public inquiry will be met
  4. International Development Secretary: Islamic State group 'all but destroyed'
  5. Commons leader announces future parliamentary business
  6. House of Lords sits from 11am

Live Reporting

By Richard Morris and Esther Webber

All times stated are UK

  1. Summary: Thursday in Parliament

    The Cabinet Office Minister Chloe Smith has announced that there will be funding for the victims of the contaminated blood scandal to prepare for the forthcoming public inquiry.

    It follows a letter from the Cabinet Office suggesting that there would not be any money available, ahead of the inquiry.

    The minister made the announcement in response to an urgent question from the Labour MP Diana Johnson, who campaigns on behalf of the infected blood victims.

    Ms Johnson said: "I wish that decision had been made earlier."

    Parliament is now on its Easter break. It will return on Monday 16th April.

    And that's when BBC Parliament Online will be back too.

    Happy Easter from us all!

  2. All MPs want to make a difference in the communities they serve

    Adjournment debate

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Paul Maynard

    The stand-in deputy leader of the Commons Paul Maynard says sometimes MPs forget that they all come to the Commons with the same goal, "to make a difference in the communities which we serve".

    He says debates like this underline the fact that MPs have "far more in common" that what divides them.

    We are emerging into a late spring from a somewhat harsh winter, he says, but he wishes everyone a "happy and joyous Easter time".

    With that, Commons business closes.

  3. Children's early years are so critical - Labour MP

    Adjournment debate

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Vicky Voxcroft

    Labour's Vicky Voxcroft says that in her constituency of Lewisham Deptford there are a number of "fantastic" primary schools, but one of the headteachers of one of these schools has recently contacted her about concerns in funding. She states that the area is deprived, but is constantly rated as outstanding by Ofsted.

    A child's first years are critical in shaping their success in future schooling and career, she says.

    She urges the government to reverse the cuts.

  4. Tory MP says his Homelessness Reduction Act is about to come into force

    Adjournment debate

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Bob Blackman

    Conservative Bob Blackman says that from next Tuesday the Homelessness Reduction Act comes into force.

    The legislation was introduced by Mr Blackman as a private member's bill and was backed by the government.

    The act is designed to ensure that social services, local government and the NHS will work in a more joined-up way to make sure people are not left without homes.

    The UK currently spends £1.7bn on temporary accommodation and Mr Blackman hopes that his bill will start reducing those costs.

  5. Commons opens general adjournment debate

    Adjournment debate

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Ian Mearns

    MPs move on to "matters to be raised before the forthcoming adjournment". This is a customary general debate which take place on the day the Commons and the Lords are due to break for a holiday.

    MPs may raise any issue they wish to speak on. Some MPs use these speeches to speak of upcoming community events in their constituency. Others use it for more serious matters.

    Ian Mearns, chair of the Backbench Business Committee, opens the debate by criticising the government on the potential award of a contract to France for new passports being made for UK citizens.

    He says that his constituency is going to be negatively impacted by the decision, saying that in his constituency, employment among the over-50s is increasing while youth unemployment is rising.

    Mr Mearns also raises the issue of social care. There has been an estimated £400m shortfall in social care funding, which he says is threatening the viability of the care sector.

  6. Minister: 'Huge regional disparities' in treatment

    Autism debate

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Caroline Dinenage

    Health and Social Care Minister Caroline Dinenage says the 2010 autism strategy has "done much" to improve the lives of autistic people, but the government recognises that there is more to be done.

    She says the wide set of challenges faced by those with autism can cause "huge" regional disparities in access to treatment, advice and guidance.

    From the April this year, the NHS will for the first time include data on autistic patients on how they are being treated by the health service, she says.

    Later this year, the Department for Work and Pensions will publish an "ambitious" plan to help more people with disabilities into the workplace, she tells MPs.

    With that, MPs move on to the final debate, on matters to be raised before the Easter recess.

  7. Autism diagnoisis waiting times too long - Labour

    Autism debate

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Paula Sherriff

    Shadow mental health minister Paula Sherriff says autism is not a mental health problem, despite the fact it is seen that way by too many people.

    However she says that too many people with autism suffer from common mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression.

    She tells MPs that waiting times for diagnosis are often too long, with one local authority recently admitting delays of 125 weeks.

    Too many parents report a lack of support and all too often GPs do not work well with autistic people and may not even mark their autism on medical records, she says.

    She adds that in many cases, the government's new funding formula means schools are losing 1.5% in per pupil funding, meaning special needs schools will be badly affected.

  8. Call for easier access to diagnosis of autism

    Autism debate

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Cameron

    The SNP's Lisa Cameron highlights the barriers to diagnosis, saying "people feel they're having to battle the system at every stage".

    She calls for there to be at least one person on every local mental health team who can diagnose autism.

    She says there's also a "widespread variation" in the services offered across the UK, but people cannot even access those services unless they receive a diagnosis.

  9. MP highlights loneliness among autistic people

    Autism debate

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Debbonaire

    Labour's Thangam Debbonaire discusses efforts being made to make public spaces and businesses more autism-friendly.

    "People on the autistic spectrum should be able to participate fully," she says, before noting that too often this is not the case.

    Exclusion can lead to loneliness and social isolation, and fear of going out among the parents of autistic children, she tells MPs.

    This problem is exacerbated by "chronic underemployment" of autistic people, she adds.

  10. Committee chair calls for early intervention to help autistic children

    Autism debate

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Conservative MP Robert Halfon says the education committee - which he chairs - has heard evidence that exclusions are rising among autistic children and those with other special educational needs, which causes "stress and disruption".

    He says many "may have unrecognised or unmet needs" and what's needed is earlier intervention to identify those needs.

    In order for this to happen, teachers need to receive better training and awareness must be raised, he argues.

  11. MPs debate World Autism Awareness Week

    Autism debate

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Cheryl Gillan

    MPs are debating a backbench business motion to mark World Autism Awareness Week 2018.

    Conservative Dame Cheryl Gillan, chair of the all-party group on autism, is opening the debate.

    She tells MPs that in each constituency in the Commons, there are probably around 1,000 people who will have autism.

    She says that 79% of austistic people and 70% of families with a member with autism feel socially isolated, and 28% of autistic people have been asked to leave a public space because of issues associated with the condition.

    Autism is often associated with mental health, she continues, but it is a lifelong developmental problem.

    She states that her APPG on autism is "holding their feet to the fire" of ministers who are working in government departments which will deal with autistic people.

    People with autism are being disproportionately "not taken off the unemployment register," she adds, and people with autism are not achieving their full potential because of their condition.

  12. Social mobility to be eliminated in 120 years - report

    Education Committee statement

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Robert Halfon

    Conservative chair of the Education Committee, Robert Halfon, is making a statement on a report by his committee on the Social Mobility Commission (SMC).

    He says that under current rates of progress, social mobility will be eliminated in 120 years.

    He says that the "commissioners felt that the government wasn't listening" to the report's findings.

    He calls for the SMC to be given powers to publish reports on social mobility even when the government doesn't request them.

    Ministers should have a special unit, with a remit for tackling social injustice, he adds.

    He says if the prime minister and the Department for Education take social justice seriously, then the government must implement proposals for change.

  13. Can the ICRC get to Afrin?

    Counter terror update

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Tom Brake

    Liberal Demorat Tom Brake says he welcomes the update that has been given, and says it is essential for people to know what the military and aid effort is doing abroad.

    He asks if the International Committee of the Red Cross is able to access Afrin.

    Ms Mourdant says that the work of humanitarian volunteers is having an indirect impact on the fight against Islamic State group.

    ICRC doesn't have access due to improvised explosive devices in the area, she says.

    She adds that the UK owes an "enormous debt of gratitude" to Oxfam, even its work in the region is not directly funded by DfID.

  14. Has the 'head of the snake' been cut off?

    Counter terror update

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    The SNP's Patrick Grady asks whether, after the "liberation" of the Syrian city of Raqqa, the "head of the snake has finally been cut off".

    If that is the case, he wonders what further contribution the UK armed forces can make.

    Turning to Syrian refugees, he asks how many more the UK is willing to accept and points to an SNP private member's bill to ensure refugees can be reunited with relatives already given sanctuary in the UK.

    Ms Mordaunt confirms that Raqqa has been described as the "head of the snake", but tells Mr Grady the job is "not yet done".

    She tells him the UK armed forces are "making an enormous difference" in Syria.

    As for refugees, she says she is aware of the Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill but wants to establish or not whether existing rules are "not fit" for current cases.

  15. 'Why isn't the statement being given by a defence minister?'

    Counter terror update

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Julian Lewis

    Dr Julian Lewis, Conservative chair of the Defence Committee, says he is surprised that the statement is being given by the secretary of state for international development, rather than a defence minister.

    He asks if she recognises that the opposition in Syria, with the exception of the Kurds, has been dominated by Islamists.

    He asks for a realistic strategy in getting away from demanding a political solution in the region.

    Ms Mordaunt says that the departments involved in these efforts take it in turns to deliver this statement and no disrespect is meant to the House in not sending a defence minister.

    She adds that the government believes that a political settlement is the only way forward.

  16. Turkey 'has legitimate security concerns'

    Counter terror update

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Penny Mordaunt replies that the government does recognise "Turkey's legitimate security concerns" but "would support a de-escalation of the situation".

    She says it is "vitally important" to continue to defeat so-called Islamic State "so we can move to a political process".

    A political process, she says, is "the only way this horrendous war is going to end".

  17. Condemn Turkey for their actions in the area - Labour

    Counter terror update

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Dan Carden

    Shadow international development secretary Dan Carden says the whole House will welcome the announcement that 98% of the land previously captured by Islamic State group is now back in the control of recognised forces.

    He joins the secretary of state in condemning the attacks on humanitarian workers in the conflict zone.

    He says that the government has stood by as Turkey "and its band of rebel militias" have taken advantage of the situation in the area, before asking her to condemn Turkey's aggression.

    He asks if it is time for the government to seek a fresh mandate from Parliament for the government's new strategy on Syria.

  18. Islamic State group 'all but destroyed' - DfID Secretary

    Counter terror update

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    Penny Mourdant

    International Development Secretary Penny Mordant is giving a statement to MPs on counter terrorism.

    She says that Islamic State group "has been all but destroyed" in territorial terms in Iraq and Syria, with over 98% of the ground they used to occupy now taken back from their control.

    She pays tribute to the UK armed forces who have trained the Iraqi forces. She states that the IS group still holds "pockets of territory in Syria".

    But Islamic State group will still pose a threat as a director of terror, she says, even with its loss of land.

    Turning to humanitarian support for Syrian, she says the UK still sends aid for pregnant and new mothers, as well as food and water for those in need.

    She says that ongoing Russian intervention in some areas continues to violate UN Security Council resolution 2401.

    "2018 has seen little easing" of the situation faced by Syrians, she adds.

  19. 'People can have any colour passport they wish'

    Oral questions

    House of Lords

    Parliament

    Williams

    Lib Dem Lord Lee of Trafford asks when new UK passports will be introduced.

    He says we are swapping passports granting access to 28 countries for a document that grants access to one, which he describes as "one of the worst deals in history".

    If we could choose the colour for our passports, Lord Lee continues: "I would choose black as Brexit is a black day for this country and a black day for future generations."

    Home Office Minister Baroness Williams of Trafford replies that from Brexit day "current burgundy passports will be issued without reference to the EU and a new blue passport will be issued from late 2019".

    She notes "it's not in their [other countries'] interests to make it harder" to accept UK passports.

    She adds that "people can have any colour they wish" by buying a passport cover, and "there are some rather nice yellow ones including one with a picture of Spongebob Squarepants".