• 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

    Draft environmental principles policy statement

    The Environment Act 2021 requires the government to publish an environmental principles policy statement outlining how environmental principles should be interpreted and applied by ministers when making policy. A draft of the first statement to be made under the act was laid before Parliament on 11 May 2022 and is due to be discussed by the Lords on 30 June 2022.

  • 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

    Co-location of the Houses of Parliament

    In January 2020, the government suggested that the House of Lords could be moved out of London, possibly to the city of York. In May 2022, Michael Gove wrote to the Lord Speaker saying he would not support the QEII Centre as a decant location for the Lords during restoration and renewal, suggesting Stoke among other places as alternatives. The government has framed the proposal of moving the Lords as part of its levelling up agenda, but some commentators have expressed concern about the practical implications of the Commons and Lords being located in different cities. This article highlights commentary on these viewpoints.

  • 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

    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.

  • In Focus

    Queen’s Speech 2022: Constitution

    The Queen’s Speech is taking place on 10 May 2022. This will set out the Government’s legislative and policy programme for the new parliamentary session. This briefing provides a summary of legislative proposals concerning the constitution and other announcements that may be included in the speech.

  • In Focus

    Queen’s Speech 2022: Health and social care

    The next Queen’s Speech, in which the Government will set out its legislative programme for the new parliamentary session, will be delivered on 10 May 2022. The speech and accompanying briefing notes are expected to detail some health and social care-related initiatives. These could include a draft bill to reform the Mental Health Act 1983 and measures to ban conversion therapy in respect of a person’s sexual orientation.

  • In Focus

    Vetting appointments to the House of Lords

    Appointments to the House of Lords are currently vetted for propriety by the House of Lords Appointments Commission. It is able to advise the prime minister on these appointments. However, the prime minister can disregard its advice. On 3 March 2022, the House of Lords will debate the powers of the House of Lords Appointments Commission to vet nominations to the House of Lords.

  • Research Briefing

    The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee: A Brief Parliamentary History of Her Reign

    On 6 February 2022, Queen Elizabeth II became the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years of service to the people of the United Kingdom, the Realms and the Commonwealth. Events and initiatives will take place throughout the year to celebrate this milestone, culminating in a four-day UK bank holiday weekend in early June.

  • In Focus

    Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Bill

    The Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Bill is a private member’s bill introduced in the House of Commons by Peter Bone (Conservative MP for Wellingborough). It aims to reverse a 2014 decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union that expanded the types of vehicles required to have compulsory third-party motor insurance. The bill received Government support in the Commons and the Labour Party did not oppose it. Its second reading in the House of Lords is scheduled to take place on 18 March 2022.

  • In Focus

    Finance (No. 2) Bill

    The Finance (No. 2) Bill is a government bill intended to give lasting statutory effect to tax measures announced both in the October 2021 budget and more recently. The bill underwent a series of changes during its passage through the House of Commons. This briefing summarises these developments and also some of the criticism of the bill’s objectives from the House of Lords Economic Affairs Finance Bill Sub-Committee.

  • In Focus

    Peerages: can they be removed?

    In February 2022, Lord Ahmed received a prison sentence following a criminal conviction. He resigned from the House of Lords in November 2020. Despite the conviction, sentencing and resignation, his title remains. A victim has now called on the Government to remove Lord Ahmed’s life peerage. This article looks at what peerages are, and how they can be removed.