Catch up on the latest research on British political and constitutional issues with a selection of articles you may have missed. Articles this month take a look at the EU's role in shaping devolution in the UK, and proposals for reform of the Supreme Court.
The Government announced the West Yorkshire Devolution Deal in March 2020. This would provide for the establishment of a mayor of West Yorkshire and confer several other functions on the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. A draft order, if passed by both Houses of Parliament, would implement the devolution deal. This article considers the devolution deal, the draft order that has been introduced to implement the deal, and parliamentary scrutiny of the order that has taken place.
The Government of Ireland Act 1920 will be 100 years old in December 2020. The act created the institutions for home rule in Ireland, including two devolved parliaments: one in the north and one in the south. Historian and member of the House of Lords Lord Lexden argues the act was a “vital staging post on the road” to the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922. This article reviews the system of government created by the 1920 act.
In 2021, the UK will no longer be subject to EU state aid policy. The UK will follow World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules and the Government will consult on whether to go beyond them. The Government has laid draft regulations to disapply state aid provisions from retained EU law. This article looks at the background on state aid, including its relevance to the Northern Ireland Protocol and the future relationship negotiations with the EU.
The draft Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland (Democratic Consent Process) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 would implement the mechanism for obtaining democratic consent in Northern Ireland to the continued application of articles 5 to 10 of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland to the withdrawal agreement.
In the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill, the Government is seeking to ensure unfettered access to the UK internal market for “qualifying Northern Ireland goods”. On 30 November 2020, the House of Lords is due to debate 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.
The regulation of product safety, and weights and measures, is based on EU law. The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 brings this EU law into UK statute, so that it will continue to have effect after the end of the transition period. Amendments since have made to enable this framework to operate smoothly in the UK, and added provisions such as a UK conformity mark. This article looks at a further statutory instrument that amends retained EU law in the area, particularly in light of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
After the transition period, customs procedures for goods arriving from the EU will change. These regulations would amend earlier regulations by: delaying until 1 July 2021 the requirement for entry summary declarations for goods coming from the EU to Great Britain; introducing shorter deadlines for submitting exit and entry summary declarations for goods being moved to/from certain territories by short sea journeys; and correcting issues relating to economic operators registration and identification requirements.
The regulation of organic products, and of genetically modified organisms, is based on EU law. The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 brings this EU law into UK statute, so that it will continue to have effect after the end of the transition period. Amendments since have ensured that the retained law refers to the UK system, not the EU. However, under the Northern Ireland Protocol, Northern Ireland will remain subject to the EU’s laws. This article looks at two statutory instruments that further amend the 2019 regulations so that they refer only to Great Britain, enabling Northern Ireland to continue to meet EU law.
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.
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.
The next UK-wide census was due to take place in March 2021. However, the Scottish Government has recently announced that the census in Scotland will be delayed until 2022. This article, marking the centenary of the Census Act 1920, considers the implications of the Scottish announcement and also other policy developments relating to the forthcoming census.
The law on abortion in Northern Ireland changed on 22 October 2019 following the enactment of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019. The Act required the UK Government to introduce regulations that would provide lawful access to abortion services and repeal certain offences relating to abortion in Northern Ireland. This article discusses the Government’s statutory instrument that would introduce such regulations.
This House of Lords Library Briefing sets out how the police service in the UK is governed, including details of recent reforms. It also focuses on how the police are held accountable for their actions through systems of oversight and complaints.