• In Focus

    Financial education in schools

    Financial education forms part of the school curriculum across all UK nations. However, concerns have been raised that financial education is not being adequately provided in UK schools. Research has shown the positive impact that financial education can have on the financial literacy of children and young people. Some financial organisations and charities have called for more to be done to support schools to deliver financial education.

  • Research Briefing

    Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill: HL Bill 39 of 2023–24

    The Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Bill would end the export of certain animals for fattening and slaughter from and through England, Wales and Scotland. Campaigns have highlighted the suffering of animals on long journeys, and it is a government manifesto commitment to end the practice. The bill passed through the House of Commons unamended. The second reading of the bill in the House of Lords is scheduled to take place on 21 February 2024.

  • In Focus

    Closure of high street banks: Impact on local communities

    There has been a decline in the number of bank branches in operation in the UK over the last three decades. This has reportedly impacted many people, including those with disabilities, older people and those living in rural areas. In recent years, the government has sought to mitigate the impact of branch closures by introducing legislation containing provisions to protect access to cash services and publishing a policy statement outlining its minimum expectations to banks regarding services being removed or changed.

  • In Focus

    Performance of maternity services in England

    The government has described the NHS as one of the safest places in the world to give birth. However, multiple reports and independent investigations have highlighted ongoing problems in maternity care in England. This article summarises recent findings on the performance of NHS maternity services in England, as well as recent government and NHS policies aimed at improving the quality of maternity care.

  • In Focus

    Environmental land management: Recent changes to the sustainable farming incentive and countryside stewardship schemes

    The government is part way through the implementation of the environmental land management scheme in England. This replaces the system of financial support established during the UK’s membership of the EU common agricultural policy. This briefing considers how this scheme has been implemented, including recently announced changes. It also considers how support for biodiversity and the control of certain invasive species is provided through the environmental land management scheme.

  • In Focus

    Ukraine update: January 2024

    The war in Ukraine continues against a backdrop of escalating Russian strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure and population centres. Fighting remains intense on the front lines, though neither side has been able to achieve a strategically significant breakthrough. There are fears that Russia may be willing to sustain a long and protracted conflict, not least in the hope that international support for Ukraine will decline. The UK has remained one of Ukraine’s most prominent backers and has recently pledged further military aid.

  • In Focus

    International Agreements Committee report on the UK-Rwanda treaty

    The UK government signed a treaty with Rwanda in December 2023 in response to a Supreme Court judgment that its proposed Rwanda asylum policy was unlawful. The House of Lords International Agreements Committee has recommended that the government does not ratify the treaty until Parliament is satisfied that the protections it provides have been fully implemented, in the context of the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill asking Parliament to make a judgement that Rwanda is safe.

  • In Focus

    Integration of newly recognised refugees

    The UK grants successful asylum applicants refugee status, enabling them to stay in the UK, access the labour market and claim benefits. Some refugees also arrive in the UK through settlement schemes. However, not all of those who are offered protection in the UK are refugees. Concerns have been raised recently about difficulties faced by refugees in moving on from asylum accommodation once they receive their grant of refugee status.

  • In Focus

    The 1.5-degree celsius global warming threshold: Could it be breached in 2024?

    At the 2015 UN climate change conference, the international community agreed to make efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels. Since then, global temperatures have continued to rise, with record-breaking temperatures in 2023. The UK’s Met Office has projected that 2024 could be even warmer, with the 1.5-degree threshold temporarily exceeded. This briefing summarises the background to the 1.5-degree threshold, and what actions the UK government is taking to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

  • In Focus

    Operation Conifer: Calls for an independent inquiry

    Operation Conifer was the codename used for an investigation led by Wiltshire Police into historic accusations of sexual offences by former prime minister Sir Edward Heath. The investigation closed in 2017, leaving the accusations unproven and unresolved. A number of people, including members of the House of Lords, have criticised the investigation and those involved in running it. There have also been repeated calls for an independent inquiry to review the unresolved allegations.

  • In Focus

    Questions to the foreign secretary: 16 January 2024

    Members of the House of Lords will ask Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton a series of oral questions on 16 January 2024. These include what steps the UK government is taking to address the Rohingya refugee crisis; what progress has been made towards securing a ceasefire in Gaza; how the government is promoting implementation of the UN sustainable development goals; and how the UK is championing a rules-based international order.

  • In Focus

    Dementia care

    Growing numbers of people in the UK suffer from dementia. Because dementia costs are often associated with social care needs, as opposed to medical treatment, those with dementia are often required to fund the cost of their own care. This has led to calls for more parity between health and social care where dementia is concerned. The government has committed to significant reform of the funding thresholds for social care in England, but these are now not expected until 2025.

  • In Focus

    UK biosecurity: Infectious disease threats

    This briefing considers the impact of factors such as globalisation and climate change on the prevalence of various infectious diseases in the UK affecting humans, animals and plants. The briefing also summarises the government’s ‘Biological security strategy’ (June 2023), which provides the overarching framework for mitigating biological risks among other area-focused strategies. The government has also said that import controls are an important element of the UK’s biosecurity regime.

  • In Focus

    Intergovernmental relations within the UK

    Intergovernmental relations (IGR) within the UK refers to engagement between the UK government and the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In 2022, following a review, a new three-tier IGR structure was introduced. However, its full implementation has been impacted by the absence of a Northern Ireland executive since February 2022. The Scottish and Welsh governments have welcomed improvements brought about by the new structure but have also criticised the UK government’s attitude towards engagement with the devolved administrations at times.