Employment and Trade Union Rights (Dismissal and Re-engagement) Bill [HL]: HL Bill 8 of 2023–24

The Employment and Trade Union Rights (Dismissal and Re-engagement) Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill introduced by Lord Woodley (Labour). It aims to tighten the rules around the use of fire and rehire practices by employers, including by providing affected workers with additional protections. The second reading of the bill in the House of Lords is due on 1 March 2024.

Employment and Trade Union Rights (Dismissal and Re-engagement) Bill [HL]: HL Bill 8 of 2023–24

River pollution and the regulation of private water companies

Only 14% of rivers in England have a good ecological status and none have a good chemical status. Agriculture, wastewater and diffuse urban pollution are the main sources of pollution affecting water bodies in England. In recent years, the failure of water companies to prevent sewage discharges has attracted attention, and questions have been asked about whether the government and bodies such as Ofwat and the Environment Agency are doing enough to regulate water companies and enforce environmental law.

River pollution and the regulation of private water companies
  • In Focus

    The UK economy in the 1960s

    This briefing is the second of a series on the post-war history of the UK economy focusing on the 1960s. GDP growth remained high and fluctuating, as it was in the 1950s, but over the course of the decade household income growth slowed and the profitability of UK industry declined.

  • In Focus

    Poverty in the UK: Government policy

    There were approximately 11 million people in the UK in relative poverty (before housing costs) in 2021/22. Many people on low incomes receive cash benefits, such as universal credit, and other benefits such as free school meals. In its levelling up strategy the government set out measures to address poverty; these include increasing the number of high-paying jobs and improving access to good quality education and skills training.

  • In Focus

    From the Hansard archives: Flexible working in the nineties

    Almost half of workers worked from home during Covid lockdown restrictions in 2020. Three years on, 31 percent of workers worked from home during their working week, representing an ongoing change in working patterns. This briefing looks back 30 years to a debate in the House of Lords on the importance of flexible working, which saw speakers reflecting on the potential benefits of such emerging working practices in the economy.

  • In Focus

    Where have all the workers gone?: Economic Affairs Committee report

    In December 2022, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee published the outcome of its inquiry on the size of the UK labour market. The committee said that economic inactivity had increased during the coronavirus pandemic and that early retirement among 50 to 64-year-olds was a key driver of the increase. The government responded to the committee report in May 2023. It highlighted a range of measures announced in the 2023 spring budget to improve workforce participation.

  • In Focus

    Contribution of the arts to society and the economy

    The government estimates that creative industries generated £126bn in gross value added to the economy and employed 2.4 million people in 2022. A range of research is also examining the way in which creative industries and the arts can positively impact wellbeing, for example through public health interventions. In June 2023, the government published a ‘Creative industries sector vision’ which included a commitment to an additional £77mn in funding.

  • In Focus

    Calls for a UK industrial strategy

    The UK last set out a formal industrial strategy in 2017. Since 2021, the government has instead pursued various plans for growth. This briefing provides details on the UK’s industrial policies, commentary on the benefits and use of industrial strategies, and brief statistics about UK industry.

  • In Focus

    Closure of high street banks: Impact on local communities

    There has been a decline in the number of bank branches in operation in the UK over the last three decades. This has reportedly impacted many people, including those with disabilities, older people and those living in rural areas. In recent years, the government has sought to mitigate the impact of branch closures by introducing legislation containing provisions to protect access to cash services and publishing a policy statement outlining its minimum expectations to banks regarding services being removed or changed.

  • In Focus

    UK biosecurity: Infectious disease threats

    This briefing considers the impact of factors such as globalisation and climate change on the prevalence of various infectious diseases in the UK affecting humans, animals and plants. The briefing also summarises the government’s ‘Biological security strategy’ (June 2023), which provides the overarching framework for mitigating biological risks among other area-focused strategies. The government has also said that import controls are an important element of the UK’s biosecurity regime.

  • Research Briefing

    Post Office (Horizon System) Compensation Bill: HL Bill 37 of 2023–24

    The Post Office (Horizon System) Compensation Bill is a government bill which provides the secretary of state for business and trade with the financial authority to make compensation payments to those individuals who were the victims of the Horizon system scandal. It would mean that compensation could continue to be paid under one of the schemes, known as the Group litigation order (GLO) scheme. Currently, the power to pay compensation under this scheme ceases in August 2024. The bill would also allow the secretary of state to pay compensation to individuals in other compensation schemes and arrangements and in respect of other matters identified in High Court judgments given in proceedings relating to the Horizon system, such as the failure by the Post Office to pay suspension pay to postmasters. The second reading of the bill in the House of Lords is due on 16 January 2024. The bill would extend and apply to England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It would commence at royal assent.

  • Research Briefing

    Data Protection and Digital Information Bill: HL Bill 30 of 2023–24

    The Data Protection and Digital Information Bill would amend existing data protection legislation and introduce new provisions in areas such as digital verification services and smart data. The bill was carried over from the last session and is due to have its second reading in the House of Lords on 19 December 2023.

  • Current Affairs Digest

    Current Affairs Digest: Economics (December 2023)

    Economic growth has long been assumed to be a desirable objective, for governments of all political persuasions. However, a variety of commentators are making the argument that we need to refresh or even rethink our understanding of growth. This briefing considers three arguments from the contemporary debate around growth. First, the case for a renewed drive for market-led growth. Second, the case for a more state-led and mission-oriented form of growth. And third, the case against growth altogether (degrowth).

  • In Focus

    The UK economy in the 1950s

    This briefing is the first of a series on the post-war history of the UK economy. The series will go decade-by-decade from the 1950s onwards, providing an overview of the key macroeconomic developments of each decade. This first briefing looks at the 1950s. The economy expanded significantly over the course of this decade, fluctuating between periods of high and low growth, generating broad-based real-terms income growth across the country.

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