Page last updated at 11:33 GMT, Wednesday, 21 December 2011
2011 in the House of Commons
If there was one story that dominated the parliamentary goings-on of 2011, then a key contender must be the phone-hacking scandal.
After months of rumbling around Westminster over allegations of the practice at the News of the World, the issue came to a head in the summer, when it was alleged that the voicemails of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler had been intercepted.
The scandal led to the arrest of former Downing Street communications chief Andy Coulson, the closure of the News of the World, and the setting-up of an inquiry led by Lord Justice Leveson into media ethics and the culture of the press.
Speaking during a debate on the scandal on 20 July 2011, Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs that "never again must we see this widespread law-breaking".
Meanwhile the leader of the opposition, Ed Miliband, said the issue went to "the fabric of our country".
MPs v Murdochs
The Murdochs were grilled by MPs
The phone-hacking scandal also led to one of the year's most dramatic sessions on the committee corridor, when media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his son James were summoned to give evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
The hearing was the first time Rupert Murdoch had faced direct parliamentary scrutiny by MPs in his 40-year UK media career, an event he described as "the most humbling day of my life".
His son James, the chairman of News International, apologised to victims of phone-hacking and their families.
"It is a matter of great regret of mine, my father and everyone at News Corporation," he told MPs.
Faced with a series of questions from Labour MP Tom Watson, Rupert Murdoch paused extensively, with his son making several attempts to intervene.
To add to the drama of the day, the session was suspended when a protester threw a custard pie at Mr Murdoch senior, only to be fought off by his wife, Wendi.
Euro rows - Part 1
MPs clash over EU referendum calls
One of the key developments of 2011 has been the growing focus of attention on debates initiated through the Backbench Business Committee.
A debate on 24 October focused on a call for a national referendum on the UK's relationship with the EU, opened by Conservative rebel David Nuttall.
Foreign Secretary William Hague admitted the issue came at "a critical time in European affairs", but told MPs: "Tonight's proposition is the wrong one at the wrong time."
As the debate continued, two ministerial aides publicly declared they would vote in favour of a referendum - against the wishes of the government.
In the end, the whips had their way as the motion was defeated, however a total of 111 MPs chose to rebel.
Euro rows - Part 2
Cameron defends use of the veto
There has rarely been a week in 2011 when the debt crisis in the eurozone has not been raised by MPs.
After months of talks and summits in attempt to prevent the crisis spreading and deepening, matters came to a head at the December meeting in Brussels where a final push was made for a change of the EU treaties.
However, these proposals were blocked by David Cameron, invoking the British veto due to a lack of a deal on exempting the City of London from any new tax on financial services.
Returning to the Commons a few days later, his statement to the House on 12 December was met with cheers from eurosceptic MPs, as he maintained the veto was the "right decision for this country".
Opposition leader Ed Miliband noted the absence from the frontbench of Deputy PM and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg - who described the outcome of the European summit as "bitterly disappointing".
Mr Miliband said the deal was a "bad deal for Britain", accusing Mr Cameron of walking away from the negotiating table and "sidelining" the UK with "long-lasting consequences".
Home Secretary leads an emergency debate
The normally quiet month of August was rocked by days of rioting.
Starting in north London, it spread across the capital and to other cities in England.
The events led to a rare recall of Parliament, at the request of the prime minister.
Home Secretary Theresa May used the emergency debate to express concerns that the riots were a symptom of "a wider malaise" including worklessness, illiteracy and drug abuse, emphasising the importance of personal responsibility.
David Lammy, the Labour MP whose Tottenham constituency was the first to be hit by the riots, demanded a public inquiry into the way in which the Metropolitan Police handled the events.
Justice for the 96
High emotion during Hillsborough debate
Mrs May played a key role in another debate later in the year, this time on the release of documents relating to the Hillsborough tragedy.
The debate on 17 October was triggered by an e-petition demanding the full release of documents on the 1989 disaster in which 96 people died.
The petition gathered support from more than 100,000 people - the threshold for consideration for debate in the Commons.
Theresa May said the government fully supported the release of all documents, including cabinet papers, which she said should be shown to the families first through the Hillsborough Independent Panel, and then to the public.
She added: "No government papers will be withheld from the panel, no attempts to suppress publication will be made, no stone left unturned."
However, centre-stage was taken by Labour's Steve Rotherham, a Liverpool MP.
As campaigners watched from the public gallery, Mr Rotherham read out the names of the dead. When he had finished, MPs applauded him - a rare occurrence in the chamber.
A Fox down
Liam Fox says his farewells
A Cabinet reshuffle was necessary in the autumn, following the resignation of Defence Secretary Liam Fox.
He was forced to stand down following publication of a report by Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell that found that Mr Fox had broken ministerial rules over his links with close friend and self-styled adviser Adam Werrity.
Sir Gus said there had been a "failure of government" for which Mr Fox took ultimate responsibility.
Giving a personal statement to the House on 19 October, Mr Fox accepted responsibility for his mistakes - but said it was "unacceptable" that family and friends were "hounded" by the media.
He wished luck to his successor Philip Hammond and said the government would continue to enjoy his "full support" from the backbenches.
HMRC official forced to swear an oath
One of the most assiduous and lively committees in 2011 has been the Public Accounts Committee, under its new chair Margaret Hodge.
It took a particular interest in reports that HM Revenue and Customs had engaged in deals with big business.
On 7 November, Ms Hodge took the highly unusual step of forcing Anthony Inglese, the most senior solicitor at HMRC, to give evidence under oath.
He had been accused of evasive behaviour after repeatedly telling the committee he was unable to answer numerous questions about the disclosure of information.
By the year's end the committee reported with a stinging attack on "cosy deals" between HMRC and big businesses, with a claim that there was £25bn of outstanding tax owed.
Libya and the Arab Spring
Violence in Libya takes centre-stage
Although much of the year's top debates focused on domestic issues, there was a constant eye on developments in the Middle East and North Africa.
Violence flared in Tunisia at the start of the year, spreading rapidly to Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt and Libya in what became known as the Arab Spring.
The most violent clashes took place in Libya, where the dictatorial regime of Colonel Gaddafi was eventually overthrown.
Following a decision by the UN Security Council (UNSC) to back a resolution authorising "all necessary measures" short of intervention to impose a no-fly zone to protect Libyan civilian, David Cameron came to the House on 18 March to confirm that the UK would "play its part".
Ten UNSC members backed the resolution, including France, Lebanon, the US and UK, while five, including Germany, abstained - nine votes were needed for it to pass.
Mr Cameron stressed that he was satisfied that his three tests for action - demonstrable need, regional support and a clear, unequivocal legal basis - had been met.
Border checks flare-up
Government under fire over border checks
The UK's protection of its borders became the focus of much heated discussion as the summer came to and end and Parliament returned from the party conferences.
It was revealed that certain checks at ports were relaxed, leading to the suspension of Brodie Clark, the chief of the UK Border Force.
Leading a lively debate on 9 November, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the public needed answers on the "fiasco".
Defending the pilot scheme, Mrs May offered initial statistics showing an increase in the detection of illegal immigrants and the number of fraudulent documents seized, as evidence of its success.
Chancellor announces gloomy forecast
As a turbulent year drew to a close, it ended on a gloomy economic forecast, as Chancellor George Osborne delivered his Autumn Statement to MPs.
He said the UK economy was now forecast to grow by 0.9% in 2011 - not the 1.7% initially forecast in March - and 0.7% in 2012, revised down from the 2.5%.
In a marathon question session lasting over 2 hours, he rejected accusations from shadow chancellor Ed Balls that the coalition's economic strategy was "in tatters".
Clegg mulls AV referendum defeat
As they entered the coalition in 2010, the Liberal Democrats hoped their time had come to persuade the public to vote in favour of changing the UK's electoral system.
After months of political wrangling in the Commons and the Lords, the public finally went to the polls in May 2011 to vote in the referendum on whether or not there should be a move from First Past the Post to the Alternative Vote.
However the result was clear - 67.9% of the people who voted rejected change.
Appearing in front of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee a week later, on 12 May, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg admitted the result was a "bitter blow".
However, he insisted that it would not affect relations within the coalition.
The reform agenda
Parliamentary reform under scrutiny
The notion of reform led to a lively and wide-ranging debate in the normally calm and consensual surroundings of Westminster Hall.
Opening a debate on parliamentary reform on 3 February, Green Party leader Caroline Lucas said the government should move to introducing procedures as wide-ranging as electronic voting, ending late-night sittings, and limits on speaking times.
However, some of these proposals were questioned by Sir Alan Haselhurst, a former Deputy Speaker who said he risked being branded a "reactionary old-fogey".
He said that while reform in itself was not a bad thing, any "rush to change" could threaten the "stability" of Parliament.
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