In response to the coronavirus lockdown the Government temporarily amended the procedure for women to obtain drugs to have early medical abortions at home, rather than at a clinic or hospital. The article summarises the legislative changes and the debate surrounding early medical abortion.
This article considers the role of the banking sector in the UK’s response to coronavirus. It describes key policy announcements in relation to the banks, many of which are intended to support the wider economy. It also reports some ways in which the banks themselves have responded, including on overdrafts and branch opening hours. Finally, it summarises some criticisms of the sector’s activities in relation to the pandemic.
In 2009–10, the UK faced an outbreak of H1N1 swine flu. This article summarises the measures introduced by the then Labour Government which were intended to mitigate the potential impact of swine flu, including the establishment of a public awareness campaign and attempts to increase intensive-care capacity in hospitals. It also looks at the role of the House of Lords in scrutinising the then Government’s handling of the outbreak.
This article summarises the scrutiny of the Coronavirus Act 2020 in the House of Lords. The Act was emergency legislation passed by Parliament in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The Act provided the Government with a range of powers to tackle the disease, including: the closure of schools and nurseries; powers to detain those suspected of having the virus; and restrictions on public gatherings.
This article looks at the Government’s role as ‘insurer of last resort’. Over time, the areas where it takes this role have expanded from basic military, health and welfare provision to include, for example, elements of flood, terrorism and travel risks. Coronavirus has widened this scope further. The article also considers the costs of providing cover, and whether the private sector might cover more of the risks arising from pandemics.
In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the Government introduced the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 which gave it emergency powers to reduce transmission of the virus. The article summarises the powers in the regulations and speculation about what might be contained in a future Coronavirus Bill. The article also considers other powers the Government has to deal with emergencies, such as those in the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered the first budget since the 2019 election on 11 March 2020. It contained a series of measures to counteract threats from the coronavirus (COVID-19). The Chancellor also announced changes to taxation policy and an increase in public spending.
Hong Kong has had 118 confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease and three deaths as at 10 March 2020. Hong Kong’s government has sought to contain the virus through strict quarantine and travel restrictions and by closing some public services, including schools. However, concerns have been raised about the social and economic impact of the measures taken.
Spending reviews set out the Government’s plan for much of its expenditure over the following few years. This article summarises the current position in the spending review cycle. It also describes how reviews relate to budgets, which take place more frequently, and to fiscal rules, which set targets for overall government debt and deficit. Finally, it considers the possible impact of coronavirus on these three elements of fiscal policy.
The coronavirus was declared a public health emergency on 30 January 2020 by the World Health Organisation (WHO), only the sixth such emergency since 2009. The declaration followed reports on 31 December 2019 of an unknown virus causing a number of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, a city in eastern China. The virus was later identified as a new strain of coronavirus (Cov). This House of Lords Library briefing provides information about: the virus, including its spread and impact; what action the WHO and UK Government have taken; and the problem of disinformation in relation to the disease.