Political opinion polls: Should there be greater oversight?

The House of Lords Liaison Committee has updated the findings of an earlier ad hoc Lords committee on the issues arising for UK politics from political opinion polling. The Liaison Committee welcomed recent advances in polling techniques and information prepared by the polling industry on how to interpret polls. However, it concluded that the case for greater oversight of polling remained a matter for debate.

Political opinion polls: Should there be greater oversight?

Impact of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland on recent political developments in Northern Ireland

Amid ongoing objections to the protocol from unionist parties, Northern Ireland’s First Minister recently resigned. This followed an attempt by the Minister for Agriculture, currently subject to legal challenge, to halt checks required by the protocol on goods arriving in Northern Ireland from Great Britain. This article considers the Government’s assessment of the protocol’s impact on recent political developments in Northern Ireland ahead of a debate in the House of Lords.

Impact of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland on recent political developments in Northern Ireland

UK support for democracy in Taiwan

The Government has described Taiwan as a stable and vibrant democracy, and an important economic partner. However, in the context of the complex relationship between Taiwan and mainland China, the UK does not formally recognise Taiwan as a sovereign state. The Government has called for a peaceful resolution to tensions between Taiwan and mainland China through constructive dialogue by both sides.

UK support for democracy in Taiwan
  • In Focus

    Democracy and Digital Committee Report: Digital Technology and the Resurrection of Trust

    In June 2020, the House of Lords Democracy and Digital Committee published its report into the effects of digital technology on democracy and trust. It made several recommendations to the Government, including calling for online harms legislation to be introduced within a year of the report’s publication. The House of Lords is scheduled to debate the report on 11 March 2022.

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    Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013: post-legislative scrutiny

    The House of Lords Committee on the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 released a post-legislative scrutiny report in July 2020. It found that, despite the act helping to improve the accuracy of the electoral register, millions of eligible voters may still be missing, risking disenfranchisement and damage to electoral integrity. Debate of the committee’s findings comes as the Elections Bill 2021–22 makes its way through Parliament, promising further changes to electoral laws.

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    Elections Bill

    The Elections Bill is a government bill which completed all its stages in the House of Commons on 17 January 2022. It would make changes to election laws, including to the rules for absentee voting and overseas voters. The bill would also introduce new voter ID requirements and make changes that will affect oversight of the Electoral Commission. The bill was introduced in the House of Lords on 18 January 2022. The bill is scheduled to have its second reading in the House of Lords on 23 February 2022.

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    Democracy under threat: a case for co-ordinated action?

    An ongoing decline in the global state of democracy has been identified by a number of recent reports, with restrictions introduced to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbating the issue. In December 2021, the United States held the ‘summit for democracy’ aimed at bolstering democracy. In the same month Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, called for democratic nations to form a “network of liberty” that spans the world.

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    Representation of the People (Young People’s Enfranchisement) Bill [HL]

    The Representation of the People (Young People’s Enfranchisement) Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill sponsored by Lord Adonis (Labour). The bill would reduce the voting age to 16 for UK parliamentary elections and all local elections in England. There have been several discussions in Parliament about extending the right to vote in UK Parliamentary elections and local elections to include 16 and 17 year-olds. In Scotland and Wales, 16 and 17 year-olds can vote in local and devolved elections, but not UK Parliamentary elections.

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    Integrity of the UK’s electoral processes

    The Electoral Commission recently reported the highest level of public confidence in the way elections are run in the UK. Since the Pickles report in 2016, the Government has committed to increasing the security of the UK’s elections. The Elections Bill, currently in committee stage in the House of Commons, contains a range of measures intended to fulfil this ambition. One proposal, to introduce voter ID, has been widely criticised.

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    Women in elected office in the UK

    Following the election in 2019, the highest number of female MPs were elected to Parliament. This In Focus looks at the current levels of women in politics in the UK, including in the devolved administrations and local government. It then outlines some potential barriers to increased female participation and details some developments that have been made in this area in the last couple of years.

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    Raising election spending limits in line with inflation

    The Government recently announced plans to uprate the spending limits which apply to both candidates and national parties during elections, to reflect inflation. Initially the changes will apply to the local council elections in England, due to take place in May 2021. The Government has also indicated that it would consult on changes to other polls.

  • In Focus

    Covid-19: Planning for the May 2021 elections to go ahead safely

    A number of elections are due to be held across Great Britain on 6 May 2021. This includes local council elections, mayoral elections and elections to the Scottish and Welsh parliaments. In light of concerns about whether these elections can go ahead due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Government recently published guidance on how they can be run safely and securely.

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