• In Focus

    From the Hansard archives: Flexible working in the nineties

    Almost half of workers worked from home during Covid lockdown restrictions in 2020. Three years on, 31 percent of workers worked from home during their working week, representing an ongoing change in working patterns. This briefing looks back 30 years to a debate in the House of Lords on the importance of flexible working, which saw speakers reflecting on the potential benefits of such emerging working practices in the economy.

  • Current Affairs Digest

    Current Affairs Digest: Law (February 2024)

    Sentences of imprisonment for public protection (IPPs) were abolished in 2012. However, this abolition did not apply retrospectively to prisoners already serving IPPs. Recent prison population data on IPPs has shown over 1,200 prisoners have never been released. This briefing examines concerns raised by campaign groups, professional bodies and international partners about the impact of IPPs on prisoners’ release prospects and mental health.

  • In Focus

    Humanitarian situation in Gaza

    The ongoing crisis in Gaza is having a critical impact on the civilian population. Casualty figures are rising on a daily basis, and hunger and disease are becoming increasingly prevalent as civilian infrastructure is destroyed and supplies of aid struggle to enter the territory. The UK government continues to call for an immediate pause to allow for the provision of more aid, and for all sides to work towards a lasting solution.

  • Research Briefing

    Conversion Therapy Prohibition (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) Bill [HL]: HL Bill 5 of 2023–24

    The Conversion Therapy Prohibition (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill sponsored by Baroness Burt of Solihull (Liberal Democrat). Conversion therapy is a range of practices which seek to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. If passed, this bill would criminalise offering or practicing conversion therapy, defined as practices where the practitioner demonstrates an assumption of a preferable outcome for a person’s orientation or identity.

  • In Focus

    The government’s strategy and policy statement for the Electoral Commission: Regret motion

    The Elections Act 2022 included provisions for the government to issue a strategy and policy statement for the Electoral Commission. The government has said the statement is necessary to improve public confidence in the commission. A range of organisations, including the Electoral Commission, have opposed the statement, calling it incompatible with the commission’s independence.

  • In Focus

    Windsor Framework: Command paper and regulations

    On 31 January 2024, the government published a command paper on ‘Safeguarding the union’ and accompanying draft secondary legislation, seeking to address concerns about Northern Ireland’s place in the union and arrangements for the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Following negotiations with the DUP, this is intended as a step towards restoring the Northern Ireland executive.

  • Research Briefing

    Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill: HL Bill 38 of 2023–24

    The Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill would prevent public authorities from participating in or expressing support for boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns. The bill would allow the government to exempt states and territories from its provisions by regulations, with the exception of Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the Occupied Golan Heights.

  • In Focus

    Digital exclusion in the UK: Communications and Digital Committee report

    In 2023, the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee published a report on digital exclusion in which it called for the government to devise a new strategy and create a dedicated unit to address the issue. The committee argued the government’s approach lacked ambition. The government has said the issue is a priority and has established a dedicated ministerial group.

  • In Focus

    Where have all the workers gone?: Economic Affairs Committee report

    In December 2022, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee published the outcome of its inquiry on the size of the UK labour market. The committee said that economic inactivity had increased during the coronavirus pandemic and that early retirement among 50 to 64-year-olds was a key driver of the increase. The government responded to the committee report in May 2023. It highlighted a range of measures announced in the 2023 spring budget to improve workforce participation.

  • In Focus

    Holocaust Memorial Day 2024

    On 27 January 2024, the UK will commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day. This year’s theme, as chosen by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, is ‘Fragility of freedom’. This year’s event takes place at the same time as a significant reported rise in the number of both antisemitic and anti-Muslim incidents in the UK, seemingly in response to the ongoing crisis in Gaza and the wider Middle East.

  • In Focus

    RAAC in school buildings: Concerns, risks and government response

    In the summer of 2023, shortly before the start of the autumn term, three UK schools experienced sudden roof collapses. The collapses have been attributed to reinforced autoclave aerated concrete (RAAC), a lightweight material used in their construction. The Department for Education advised all education settings to close areas with RAAC. The government has subsequently announced some support measures for affected schools, but education unions are calling for more.

  • In Focus

    Contribution of the arts to society and the economy

    The government estimates that creative industries generated £126bn in gross value added to the economy and employed 2.4 million people in 2022. A range of research is also examining the way in which creative industries and the arts can positively impact wellbeing, for example through public health interventions. In June 2023, the government published a ‘Creative industries sector vision’ which included a commitment to an additional £77mn in funding.

  • Research Briefing

    Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill: HL Bill 41 of 2023-24

    The Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill would confirm Rwanda as a safe country in UK domestic law. This would advance the government’s ‘Rwanda policy’, following a Supreme Court judgment that the policy was unlawful based on a risk that those removed to Rwanda under a UK-Rwanda asylum partnership could be returned to countries where they may face persecution or other inhumane treatment. The bill passed the House of Commons unamended.

  • In Focus

    Calls for a UK industrial strategy

    The UK last set out a formal industrial strategy in 2017. Since 2021, the government has instead pursued various plans for growth. This briefing provides details on the UK’s industrial policies, commentary on the benefits and use of industrial strategies, and brief statistics about UK industry.