• In Focus

    The Commonwealth: Zimbabwe’s return?

    In 2003, Zimbabwe withdrew from the Commonwealth following a suspension for human rights violations. In 2018, the country began the process of rejoining the organisation. This process is ongoing. However, it has been argued that Zimbabwe should not be allowed to rejoin as it does not meet the required standards in respect of its human rights record, democratic processes and institutions and rule of law.

  • In Focus

    Oak National Academy: Impact on the publishing and educational technology sectors

    The government created the Oak National Academy during the Covid-19 pandemic to support remote learning. It has since been converted into an arms-length body that is focused on supporting teachers. Concerns have been raised that the creation of a body that provides free resources for teachers could negatively affect commercial suppliers. However, the government had argued that this impact would be lower than predicted by the market.

  • In Focus

    Targeting culture: The destruction of cultural heritage in conflict

    Armed conflict affects many aspects of life. As well as the humanitarian toll it takes, conflicts often involve damage to and the destruction of cultural heritage as well as the looting of artefacts. This article looks at how cultural heritage has been deliberately targeted in recent conflicts, considers what international protections exist and discusses if they are fit for purpose.

  • In Focus

    Revision of the Cabinet Manual: House of Lords Constitution Committee report

    The Cabinet Manual was first published in 2011. It was described as “a guide to laws, conventions and rules on the operation of government”. The House of Lords Constitution Committee ran an inquiry on the manual in 2021. Its recommendations included that a draft update be produced as soon as possible. Responding, the government agreed to produce a new draft by the end of the current parliament.

  • In Focus

    ‘Fit for the future? Rethinking the public services workforce’: Public Services Committee report

    In July 2022, the House of Lords Public Services Committee published a report on the future of the public services workforce. It argued that public sector staffing was “facing a crisis” due to a “vicious circle” of increasing demand, staff shortages, low morale and recruitment issues. The committee observed that these problems were not unsolvable, but said current efforts were at “far too small a scale”. It made recommendations which it argued, if implemented, would make a “substantial difference” and “secure a more sustainable public services workforce for the future”.

  • In Focus

    Review of the London Fire Brigade: Findings and reaction

    In November 2022, an independent cultural review of the London Fire Brigade raised several concerns about the service. This included the finding that it was “institutionally misogynist and racist”. Responding, London Fire Commissioner Andy Roe apologised for the harm caused and set out several measures aimed at addressing the core problems. This article gives an overview of the findings and sets out the reaction to the review from various groups and individuals.

  • In Focus

    Reform of the railways: Recent developments

    In 2021, the government announced plans to reform the railways in Great Britain, with many of the proposed changes set out in the ‘Williams-Shapps plan for rail’. In the 2022 Queen’s Speech, the government said that it would legislate for them. However, in October 2022 the government announced that it would delay this primary legislation until the next parliamentary session due to a lack of time but said that non-legislative reforms would go ahead.

  • In Focus

    Human rights in India

    International governments and non-governmental organisations have raised concerns about the human rights situation in India. Recent allegations have been disputed by the Indian government, which has reiterated its commitment to human rights. This article focuses on some of the concerns raised, including in relation to Kashmir, and outlines the UK government’s response.

  • In Focus

    Police and crime commissioners: Powers and functions

    Since 2012, directly elected politicians called police and crime commissioners (PCCs) have been responsible for the non-operational aspects of policing in most forces in England and Wales. In July 2020, the government announced a two-part review of the PCC model. This article provides background information on the responsibilities held by PCCs and summarises the findings of the government’s review.

  • In Focus

    Protests in Iran: Death of Mahsa Amini

    In recent weeks, Iran has seen widespread protests following allegations that the country’s morality police caused the death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini. This briefing looks at how the protests have developed and the reaction of the Iranian authorities. It also considers how the international community, including the UK, has responded.

  • Current Affairs Digest

    Current Affairs Digest: Home Affairs (October 2022)

    In November 2022, the focus of the sporting world will turn to Qatar and the upcoming football world cup. While many fans are looking forward to the tournament, some victims of domestic abuse will be concerned about being subjected to increased levels of violence. This article examines research which has shown a link between football and domestic abuse, with several studies specifically focusing on the impact of international tournaments.

  • In Focus

    Net zero and behaviour change

    The government has set a target for the UK to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Various groups and individuals have argued that behaviour change is essential to meeting this goal. The government has announced some policies aimed at progressing this; however, there has been criticism that its actions do not go far enough.

  • In Focus

    The UK’s horticultural sector

    In recent years, concerns have been raised about the horticultural sector’s workforce, including its dependence on foreign seasonal workers and the existence of a skills gap. The sector’s role in protecting the environment has also been discussed. This article considers both these issues and the government’s response.

  • In Focus

    Educational attainment gap: Regional disparities

    Following the release of this year’s GCSE and A-level results, some commentators have raised concerns that the educational attainment gap between the north and south of England has widened. This issue is the focus of an upcoming question for short debate in the House of Lords. In preparation for the debate, this briefing looks at recent commentary on the issue and provides an overview of this year’s results.

  • Research Briefing

    Ballot Secrecy Bill [HL]: HL Bill 15 of 2022–23

    On 15 July 2022, the Ballot Secrecy Bill [HL] is due to receive second reading in the House of Lords. This private member’s bill would amend section 60 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 to create new offences for individuals who accompany a voter to a polling booth or position themselves nearby with the intention of influencing a voter.