Motion to annul regulations to clarify when bailiffs can recover VAT on enforcement fees from debtors

Secondary legislation governing when VAT is recoverable on the fees of enforcement agents, formerly known as bailiffs, has recently changed. The Government says the changes clarify that in some circumstances enforcement agents can take control of goods worth the cash equivalent of the VAT on their enforcement fees from debtors. A Lords motion to stop the changes will be discussed on 13 January 2022.

Motion to annul regulations to clarify when bailiffs can recover VAT on enforcement fees from debtors

Freedom of speech in universities

Discussions regarding freedom of speech in universities have become increasingly prominent in recent years. A Government bill which seeks to “strengthen freedom of speech and academic freedom in higher education” is currently in the House of Commons. Critics of the bill have suggested that there is little evidence to suggest freedom of speech in universities is under threat; an opposition amendment seeking to prevent the bill’s passage was defeated at second reading.

Freedom of speech in universities

Rating (Coronavirus) and Directors Disqualification (Dissolved Companies) Bill

The bill aims to: clarify circumstances in which the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic can and cannot be considered when deciding on the rateable value of a property on the 2017 rating list; and make it easier to investigate the conduct of directors of companies that have been dissolved. The Government states that the bill will allow it to “plug the legal loophole that exists in the insolvency enforcement landscape”.

Rating (Coronavirus) and Directors Disqualification (Dissolved Companies) Bill
  • In Focus

    Mental health and universal credit claims

    Universal credit is a benefit paid to over five million households. The ‘digital by default’ system replaces six ‘legacy benefits’ and aims to simplify the benefits system and encourage claimants into work. Concerns have been raised about the complexity of the application process and how this impacts those with mental health needs. The Money and Mental Health Institute recently called for changes to make it simpler to nominate a third party to help claimants.

  • In Focus

    Education (Environment and Sustainable Citizenship) Bill [HL]

    Students are currently taught about climate change and the environment in several different subjects, for example science and geography. In September 2020, a report by the UK Climate Assembly included the recommendation that climate change should be made a compulsory subject in all schools. The Education (Environment and Sustainable Citizenship) Bill [HL] would make climate change and sustainable citizenship part of the national curriculum taught in maintained schools in England.

  • In Focus

    Arts education in secondary schools

    Recent Department of Education statistics show reductions in the number of hours spent teaching some arts subjects in secondary schools. The situation has worsened with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, with much arts teaching reduced or stopped during lockdown. The 2019 Conservative manifesto included commitments to an “arts premium” for the funding of the arts, music and sports. The Government recently reiterated its commitment to arts subjects, saying they are “vital parts of children and young people’s education”.

  • In Focus

    Queen’s Speech 2021: education

    Developments in the education sector have been dominated by mitigating the impacts of Covid-19, including school and university closures. In addition, the Government has announced proposals for legislative change to strengthen freedom of speech in universities and reviews covering a number of areas, such as the regulation of children’s social care, better provision for those with special educational needs and combatting sexual abuse in schools.

  • In Focus

    Draft Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Kyoto Protocol Registry) Regulations 2021

    The Kyoto Protocol sets limits for greenhouse gas emissions and includes requirements for countries signed up to it to maintain a record of their emissions, and trading of such emissions, in a registry. The House of Lords is considering regulations to allow the UK to operate a domestic Kyoto Protocol registry that is independent of the European Union registry system.

  • In Focus

    Raising election spending limits in line with inflation

    The Government recently announced plans to uprate the spending limits which apply to both candidates and national parties during elections, to reflect inflation. Initially the changes will apply to the local council elections in England, due to take place in May 2021. The Government has also indicated that it would consult on changes to other polls.

  • In Focus

    Bullying allegations, the Home Secretary and the ministerial code

    On 2 March 2020, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Gove, confirmed that his department would investigate alleged breaches of the ministerial code by the Home Secretary, Priti Patel. As at 29 October 2020, the results of that investigation are unclear. The issue of when a report may be published will be the subject of an oral question in the House of Lords on 2 November 2020.

  • In Focus

    Covid-19 regulations: Electric scooter trials

    The Government has laid regulations allowing trials of the use of electric scooters on roads to begin. Prior to the regulations, the use of both privately owned and rental e-scooters was prohibited on roads. The regulations use the ‘made negative’ procedure and came into force on 4 July 2020. This article examines what the regulations do, and explains concerns identified by the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee. 

  • Research Briefing

    Ministerial Code

    The Ministerial Code sets out the standards of conduct expected of ministers. It has garnered renewed media interest with recent allegations of potential breaches, with particular reference to alleged bullying of civil servants.