• In Focus

    Revision of the Cabinet Manual: House of Lords Constitution Committee report

    The Cabinet Manual was first published in 2011. It was described as “a guide to laws, conventions and rules on the operation of government”. The House of Lords Constitution Committee ran an inquiry on the manual in 2021. Its recommendations included that a draft update be produced as soon as possible. Responding, the government agreed to produce a new draft by the end of the current parliament.

  • In Focus

    ‘Fit for the future? Rethinking the public services workforce’: Public Services Committee report

    In July 2022, the House of Lords Public Services Committee published a report on the future of the public services workforce. It argued that public sector staffing was “facing a crisis” due to a “vicious circle” of increasing demand, staff shortages, low morale and recruitment issues. The committee observed that these problems were not unsolvable, but said current efforts were at “far too small a scale”. It made recommendations which it argued, if implemented, would make a “substantial difference” and “secure a more sustainable public services workforce for the future”.

  • In Focus

    Future funding of the BBC: Lords committee report

    The BBC is principally funded through a licence fee paid by UK households; the amount is set by the government in a periodic ‘licence fee settlement’. In January 2022, the government announced a licence fee settlement that would apply from April 2022 until March 2028. It also stated that it was considering how the BBC should be funded after this period. In July 2022, the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee published a report examining the future of BBC funding.

  • In Focus

    Review of the London Fire Brigade: Findings and reaction

    In November 2022, an independent cultural review of the London Fire Brigade raised several concerns about the service. This included the finding that it was “institutionally misogynist and racist”. Responding, London Fire Commissioner Andy Roe apologised for the harm caused and set out several measures aimed at addressing the core problems. This article gives an overview of the findings and sets out the reaction to the review from various groups and individuals.

  • In Focus

    Reform of the railways: Recent developments

    In 2021, the government announced plans to reform the railways in Great Britain, with many of the proposed changes set out in the ‘Williams-Shapps plan for rail’. In the 2022 Queen’s Speech, the government said that it would legislate for them. However, in October 2022 the government announced that it would delay this primary legislation until the next parliamentary session due to a lack of time but said that non-legislative reforms would go ahead.

  • 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.