• In Focus

    Human rights in India

    International governments and non-governmental organisations have raised concerns about the human rights situation in India. Recent allegations have been disputed by the Indian government, which has reiterated its commitment to human rights. This article focuses on some of the concerns raised, including in relation to Kashmir, and outlines the UK government’s response.

  • In Focus

    Police and crime commissioners: Powers and functions

    Since 2012, directly elected politicians called police and crime commissioners (PCCs) have been responsible for the non-operational aspects of policing in most forces in England and Wales. In July 2020, the government announced a two-part review of the PCC model. This article provides background information on the responsibilities held by PCCs and summarises the findings of the government’s review.

  • In Focus

    Protests in Iran: Death of Mahsa Amini

    In recent weeks, Iran has seen widespread protests following allegations that the country’s morality police caused the death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini. This briefing looks at how the protests have developed and the reaction of the Iranian authorities. It also considers how the international community, including the UK, has responded.

  • In Focus

    British passports, citizenship, and barriers for people born in the Republic of Ireland

    A person is eligible to apply for a British passport if they have British nationality. This includes a person who has British citizenship. Discussions have increased recently about how Irish citizens who were not born in Northern Ireland, but who are now resident there, can obtain British passports without cost. This article considers the eligibility criteria for a British passport, the citizenship process, and recent parliamentary scrutiny of the issue.

  • In Focus

    Effects of corruption in the UK

    Corruption can be defined as dishonest and illegal behaviour by people in positions of power. It threatens national security, reduces access to services, erodes public trust in institutions and impedes investment. Measures of corruption produced by organisations such as Transparency International indicate stability in the UK’s recent global corruption rank. However, anti-corruption experts have pointed to a number of recent scandals which are leading to the perception that corruption in the UK is worsening.

  • In Focus

    Educational attainment gap: Regional disparities

    Following the release of this year’s GCSE and A-level results, some commentators have raised concerns that the educational attainment gap between the north and south of England has widened. This issue is the focus of an upcoming question for short debate in the House of Lords. In preparation for the debate, this briefing looks at recent commentary on the issue and provides an overview of this year’s results.

  • In Focus

    UK Constitution: Proposals and ministerial responsibility

    The UK’s constitution comprises a host of diverse laws, practices and conventions that have evolved over time. Responsibility for the UK’s constitution lies with the Cabinet Office. In 2021, the Dunlop review recommended the creation of a secretary of state for intergovernmental and constitutional affairs; to date the government has not implemented this recommendation.

  • In Focus

    Standards in public life and the democratic process

    Members of both Houses of Parliament are expected to abide by the seven principles of public life, also known as the Nolan Principles, and to the principles and rules set out in each House’s code of conduct. In addition, ministers are expected to follow the ministerial code. Declines in public trust in government and politicians often follow episodes of perceived declines in standards, such as after the 2009 media coverage of politicians’ expenses.

  • In Focus

    Use and scrutiny of emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic: Constitution Committee report

    The House of Lords Constitution Committee published a report in 2021 raising concerns about the government’s approach to introducing emergency measures and laws during the coronavirus pandemic. In particular, the committee believed there was limited opportunity for Parliament to properly scrutinise the measures and there were issues of legal clarity. This article summarises the report and the government’s response, and links to other recent committee reports on parliamentary scrutiny.

  • In Focus

    International Agreements Committee report on improving the framework for the parliamentary scrutiny of treaties

    In September 2021, the House of Lords International Agreements Committee published a report on its experiences scrutinising agreements under the current statutory framework for treaty scrutiny. Among its recommendations, the committee called for government commitments on scrutiny working practices made since April 2020 to be consolidated in a formal concordat. The committee also asked the government to commit to giving it more notice of both treaties set to be laid before Parliament and significant other agreements.

  • In Focus

    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.

  • In Focus

    Queen’s Speech 2022: Devolved affairs

    The Government has argued that devolution has “empowered communities” and provided “huge benefits across the United Kingdom”. Its stated aim is to continue to collaborate with the devolved administrations, “work[ing] together to deliver for the British people”. This article discusses some of the key issues in devolved affairs that may be addressed in the forthcoming parliamentary session.