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Page last updated at 14:05 GMT, Friday, 16 May 2008 15:05 UK

Friday in Westminster

Today in Parliament & Yesterday in Parliament
By David Wilby
Programme Editor

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

"If I'd known then what I know now, then I'd have done things differently."

The words that - according to the Labour MP Sharon Hodgson - parents of children with special educational needs are constantly saying about their efforts to get the best available education for their youngsters.

Now Sharon Hodgson hopes help is at hand.

She's sponsoring a bill to get the government to publish annual details about local authority SEN provision.

That way she hopes parents like her (she has a son with severe dyslexia) can make informed decisions; and councils can see what others are doing and raise their game.

You can hear how her Special Educational Needs (Information) Bill completed its passage through the House of Commons and now has every chance of becoming law.

Torture victims

Peers have been in action too.

They've been debating a proposal to let British nationals and residents tortured abroad sue the regimes responsible in the British courts.

Today in Parliament hears the experiences of two torture victims and top lawyers speak up in the Lords to support the proposal.

Never a frown?

Away from the chambers, Labour's Philis Starkey, the Lib Dem frontbencher David Heath and Conservative MP Richard Bacon discuss this week's announcement by Gordon Brown of his legislative plans for the next parliamentary year.

How important will they be in reviving Labour's flagging fortunes?

The MPs have mixed views, but all admit that as a parliamentary occasion, the "Pre-Queen's Speech" lacked the sense of occasion the real one brings.

Also on the programme:

  • Liberal Democrats explain why their tactics on the Lisbon EU treaty differ from those of their Commons colleagues;
  • And MP and award-winning author Chris Mullin prepares to retire. He reveals Tony Blair might have made him a Cabinet minister if he hadn't taken a stand against the Gulf War.

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


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