Page last updated at 11:18 GMT, Friday, 16 September 2011 12:18 UK
Pick of the Parliamentary week

Not been paying attention to Parliament? Well, never fear. Here are the big moments, best speeches, and a few lighter moments from Parliament's two-week September sitting.

Wise counsel?

Ms Dorries fielded numerous hostile interventions - and some supportive ones

Should abortion providers like Marie Stopes and BPAS also be offering counselling to women seeking terminations? Not according to Conservative backbencher Nadine Dorries.

Her bid to outlaw institutions with a "financial interest" in carrying out abortions providing such advice was roundly rejected in a Commons vote after a rowdy debate.

Labour dismissed her argument as a "shoddy, ill-conceived attempt to promote non-facts to make a non-case" and some of Ms Dorries' Conservative colleagues took issue with the evidence she cited.

However health minister Anne Milton told MPs that the government was "supportive of the spirit of these amendments".

Insurance 'merry-go-round'

Parts of Mr Straw's bill have been accepted by the government

Car insurance premiums are rising rapidly, and former Labour cabinet minister Jack Straw lays part of the blame on personal injury claims made after car accidents.

A "claims industry" had been created, he alleges, in which the personal information of people injured in traffic accidents "is traded like a commodity" between claims management companies, personal injury lawyers, credit hire companies and vehicle recovery firms.

Mr Straw called on the coalition to dismantle this "lucrative and self-serving merry-go-round", and drive motorists' bills back down.

The hardest word

The usually pugnacious shadow chancellor Ed Balls appeared to strike a conciliatory tone when he said he was "deeply sorry" for Labour's regulation of the banks in the run up to the 2008 financial crisis.

But his comments proved not to be barbless: shouldn't the Conservatives also display "a little humility" for their suggestion at the time that financial regulation was overly burdensome, he wondered.

Lord Trefgarne says sorry over stationery misuse

Meanwhile, Conservative peer and former trade minister Lord Trefgarne apologised for "errors" over his contact with Col Muammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam.

The peer had written to Saif al-Islam, now wanted for crimes against humanity, in 2007 in a bid to recover almost £1m in fees for providing advice on Scottish law as the Gaddafi regime made efforts to free Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi.

This was an "entirely proper arrangement", the peer has previously emphasised.

But he apologised to his colleagues for his "inappropriate" use of official House of Lords headed paper, and for the "premature" removal of relevant details from the register of peers' interests.

Monopoly money

Mr Carswell had ten minutes to set out his case

Sterling's stranglehold over British economic life should make way for the power of consumer choice, a Conservative MP has argued.

Douglas Carswell wants people in the UK to be free to use any currency to store their savings and carry out transactions.

Since consumers would be able to predict which currencies are most likely to hold their value, central bankers would be less likely to debase their currencies, Mr Carswell told MPs, and savers would benefit.

But Labour's John Mann spoke against Mr Carswell's plan.

"History demonstrates to us that given the opportunity in power, the Conservative Party will always attempt to undermine, whittle away and eventually destroy the great institutions of this country," he declared.

Tributes paid

Tributes to former Lord Speaker

Baroness Hayman, the first Lord Speaker, was succeeded by Baroness D'Souza on the first day of the September sitting.

Peers paid tribute to Lady Hayman's energy and conscientiousness in the role, and warmly welcomed her successor.

Meanwhile, MPs bade farewell to the outgoing Clerk of the House of Commons, Sir Malcolm Jack, on his final day's work in the chamber.

Quick on the draw

In an extremely rare occurrence, a vote in the Lords was tied, with 222 peers voting in favour of former Met police commissioner Lord Condon's bid to delay the introduction of new elected policing and crime commissioners, and 222 voting against.

Confusion reigned briefly, but after swift consultation with the clerk on duty the deputy Speaker pointed out that in such cases the status quo is maintained; the rules of the chamber dictate that a majority is needed before any change can be made.

Born fee

Northern Ireland Assembly

Students from Northern Ireland have learned that they will not face a comparable increase in university tuition fees to their English counterparts.

In a statement to Stormont, employment and learning minister Stephen Farry said it was "extremely good news" that the maximum fee will be £3,465 in 2012.

But he added that students from elsewhere in the UK would be charged higher fees to deter a "flood of applications".

Political forecasting

First minister's questions

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has defended a trip to a fortune teller at his first questions session of the new term of the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Salmond confirmed that he had visited Gypsy Amalia in 2006.

"She said the SNP would win the 2007 election," he confided. "And lo and behold, it came to pass."

...And the big moments you probably didn't miss

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Prime Minister's Questions

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European Parliament: Eurozone crisis debate

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Twitter, Facebook and Blackberry on riots

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Ex-News of the World execs on hacking

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David Cameron statement on Libya

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George Osborne: Banking reform

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Philip Hammond's evidence on high speed rail

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David Cameron at the liaison committee of MPs

Compiled by Democracy Live's Ed Lowther

democracylive@bbc.co.uk




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