• In Focus

    King’s Speech 2023: Home affairs

    This briefing explores what home affairs related announcements the government could make in the King’s Speech on 7 November 2023. It includes information on potential new offences, new powers for the dismissal of police officers and possible changes to community safety partnerships. It also looks at potential legislation relating to modern slavery and a Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Draft Bill.

  • In Focus

    Sovereigns’ first state opening speeches

    For centuries it has been custom for the monarch to deliver a speech at the state opening of Parliament. It is formally known as the ‘speech from the throne’. King Charles III will deliver his first speech as sovereign on 7 November 2023. This briefing discusses how the custom developed and looks at some of the themes in previous first state opening speeches.

  • In Focus

    Fast-tracking legislation

    Fast-tracked bills are those which complete all their parliamentary stages in a shortened timescale. Reasons for using the process include correcting an error in legislation or responding to unforeseen circumstances. However, issues such as pressure on the procedural process and a lack of parliamentary scrutiny have been identified with fast-tracking. This article explores how and why bills are fast-tracked.

  • In Focus

    Roles of the lord chancellor and the law officers: Lords committee report

    In January 2023, the House of Lords Constitution Committee published a report on the roles of the lord chancellor and the law officers. It concluded the office holders must have the character, authority, intellect and independence to defend the rule of law. In response, the government said it had no plans to review the roles but would continue to reflect on the committee’s report. This article summarises the committee’s findings, as well as the government’s response.

  • In Focus

    Local government and local democracy in England

    The government has committed to continue the devolution of power from central government to local government in England. However, the process by which local devolution has been implemented has been criticised as complex and opaque. This briefing provides an overview of local government in England, the government’s policies on devolution and the criticisms made of the government’s approach ahead of a debate on local democracy in the House of Lords.

  • In Focus

    Science and Technology Committee report: ‘‘Science and technology superpower’: More than a slogan?’

    In 2022, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee conducted an inquiry into the government’s stated ambition to make the UK a “science and technology superpower” by 2030. This briefing provides a summary of the committee’s findings and the government’s response, ahead of a debate in the House of Lords on 7 June 2023.

  • In Focus

    Parliamentary democracy in the UK

    A range of groups have expressed concern in recent years about the overall strength of the UK’s democracy or about particular elements of the UK’s constitutional arrangements. Concerns range from observations that the relationship between Parliament and the executive has become increasingly unbalanced, to views on changes to certain rights, freedoms and norms seen as essential features in a democratic society.

  • In Focus

    Liaison Committee: Citizenship and civic engagement

    During the 2017–19 session, the House of Lords appointed a committee to examine citizenship and civic engagement in the UK. In 2022, the House of Lords Liaison Committee held a follow-up to this inquiry, considering issues including citizenship education in schools, the ‘life in the UK’ test, and whether the government’s policies in this area are coordinated effectively. The House of Lords is scheduled to debate its report on 17 April 2023.

  • Research Briefing

    Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Organ and Tissue Donation) Bill: HL Bill 105 of 2022–23

    The Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Organ and Tissue Donation) Bill would extend the deadline for forming a Northern Ireland executive to 18 January 2024. It would also allow the secretary of state to set an Assembly election date earlier than this if no executive had been formed. It would also allow regulations to be made about the rule for organ donation in Northern Ireland in the absence of a functioning Assembly.

  • In Focus

    Implementing the Dunlop review into the UK’s union capability

    The Dunlop review examined whether UK government structures were set up to “realise fully all the benefits of being a United Kingdom”. Its report, published in March 2021, made recommendations on reforms the UK government should make to the machinery of government and the civil service to strengthen the working of the union. This article looks at how its recommendations have been taken forward.

  • In Focus

    Central bank digital currencies: Lords Economic Affairs Committee report

    The Bank of England is considering whether to introduce a central bank digital currency (CBDC) in the UK. Unlike cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, CBDCs are digital forms of money issued and backed by a central bank. The House of Lords is due to debate a 2022 report by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee which concluded that it had “yet to hear a convincing case” for why the UK needs a CBDC.

  • In Focus

    Building a stronger union: House of Lords Constitution Committee

    In January 2022, the House of Lords Constitution Committee published a report calling for the UK government to set out a “clearer vision” for the future of the UK’s union. Although it welcomed the government’s commitment to the union, it argued that a more modern style of governance was needed, and that it was “imperative” that all executives and legislatures worked “constructively and in partnership”. The government has welcomed the report and said it would consider several of its recommendations.

  • In Focus

    Oak National Academy: Impact on the publishing and educational technology sectors

    The government created the Oak National Academy during the Covid-19 pandemic to support remote learning. It has since been converted into an arms-length body that is focused on supporting teachers. Concerns have been raised that the creation of a body that provides free resources for teachers could negatively affect commercial suppliers. However, the government had argued that this impact would be lower than predicted by the market.

  • In Focus

    Delegated powers and the impact on parliamentary scrutiny: Debate on two committee reports

    The House of Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee (DPRRC) and the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee (SLSC) published reports in November 2021 criticising the government’s use of delegated powers. The committees are concerned about the amount delegated powers are used and how they are being used, and say it is negatively impacting parliamentary scrutiny. The government has defended its use of delegated powers but has accepted some of the committees’ recommendations to improve the system.