The draft Flags (Northern Ireland) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 would make changes to regulations governing the flying of flags on government buildings in Northern Ireland. They would remove one building from the list of sites where the Union flag must be flown and add two others. They would also add the birthdays of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and of the Duchess of Cornwall, to the dates on which the Union flag must be flown.

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

    In August and September 2020, the Government made several changes to the planning system in England. It introduced secondary legislation creating new permitted development rights and making changes to use classes. Five of these statutory instruments are being debated in the House of Lords on 27 October 2020. This article provides a summary of these instruments and the scrutiny they have received so far in Parliament.

  • In Focus

    The United Kingdom Internal Market Bill seeks to ensure unfettered access to the UK internal market for “qualifying Northern Ireland goods”. On 7 October 2020, the Government published the draft Definition of Qualifying Northern Ireland Goods (EU Exit) Regulations 2020. They contain the definition of “qualifying Northern Ireland goods” that will apply to the bill. This article explains the background to the regulations, and why the Government also intends to introduce further legislation in this area.

  • In Focus

    On 12 October 2020, the Government announced a new system of local Covid-19 alert levels in England. Areas would be categorised as either ‘medium’, ‘high’ or ‘very high’. Different restrictions intended to combat the spread of Covid-19 would be in place based on the alert level in a local area. This article summarises the regulations establishing this new system and the reaction from the local areas affected.

  • Research Briefing

    The United Kingdom Internal Market Bill is a government bill that would make provision for the continuation of the UK’s single market when the transition period ends on 31 December 2020. As part of this it would provide for the ‘market access principles’ of mutual recognition and non-discrimination to apply to the sale of goods and the provision of services within the UK. It also seeks to provide unfettered access for qualifying Northern Ireland goods to the market in Great Britain. It contains provisions that seek to give ministers the power to unilaterally interpret, modify the application of or disapply parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol, notwithstanding their obligations under relevant international and domestic law.

  • In Focus

    During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government has introduced requirements to wear face coverings in specified locations. These have been updated several times, to broaden the scope of the rules and to increase the financial penalties for non-compliance. This article looks at the requirements imposed by three instruments that came into force on 23 and 24 September 2020 and are being debated in the House of Lords on 12 October 2020.

  • In Focus

    On 11 September 2020, the Government announced that it would be creating new ‘local lockdown’ restrictions in Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull. These regulations came into force on 15 September 2020. Under the regulations, those living within these areas are prohibited from meeting different households in private dwellings either within or outside the protected area (except for linked households). This article provides a summary of these regulations and their scrutiny in Parliament. It also considers how people in the areas affected have responded to the new restrictions.

  • In Focus

    The first televised US presidential debate between candidates took place on 26 September 1960. However, in 1954 a form of televised debate had taken place. Unlike the debate in 1960, this debate took place between two surrogates of the presidential candidates—Senator Margaret Chase Smith for Republican nominee Dwight Eisenhower and Eleanor Roosevelt for Democrat nominee Adlai Stevenson. But it was in 1960 that the candidates themselves took part in three rounds of debates for the first time. Each was broadcast directly to US citizens’ homes via television and over the radio.

  • In Focus

    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.