Page last updated at 12:11 GMT, Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Monday in Westminster

Today in Parliament & Yesterday in Parliament
By Rachel Byrne
Programme Editor

Photo of Big Ben and signpost
Radio 4 guides you around Westminster

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has backed the oil giant Total in the row over foreign workers - telling peers there was "no policy of discrimination or exclusion" against British nationals at the Lindsey Oil Refinery.

Anger over the use of Italian and Portuguese contractors has sparked an unofficial strike at the North Lincolnshire plant with sympathy action at industrial sites across the country.

In a statement to the Lords, Lord Mandelson said the dispute should be settled through the "strong and independent" ACAS process rather than unofficial industrial action.

The Conservatives blamed Gordon Brown's "irresponsible" comments over British jobs for British workers for the wave of wildcat strikes.

Early finish

The Commons and the Lords stopped work early because of the severe weather conditions.

Commons Speaker Michael Martin thanked Parliament's staff for coming to work in very difficult circumstances.

At question time, the minds of MPs turned to whether their constituents will be eligible for cold weather payments.

A Conservative, Geoffrey Cox told ministers that people living in upland areas were "being deprived" of the payments because local temperatures were taken in the nearest city.

The Liberal Democrats have chosen the topics for main debate in the Commons.

In the first debate, the Lib Dems are calling on the government immediately to bring forward funding for capital projects, to generate future income and counter the recession.

In the second debate, they are focusing on the issue of standards of conduct in Parliament.

At question time in the Lords, peers have been discussing recommended drinking levels for pregnant women.

Tune in to Today in Parliament on BBC Radio 4 tonight at 2330 and Yesterday in Parliament tomorrow morning at 0831 on Radio 4 Long Wave and digital radio.


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