Smoke-free legislation: The UK and New Zealand

During the 2023–24 session, the UK government introduced legislation to raise the age each year at which someone can legally buy tobacco products. This was similar to measures introduced in New Zealand which were recently reversed. This briefing looks at developments in New Zealand and how they have informed the debate on the UK government’s proposals.

Smoke-free legislation: The UK and New Zealand

Infected blood scandal: Background, impacts, interim compensation and inquiry outcomes

Between 1970 and the early 1990s, more than 30,000 NHS patients were given blood transfusions, or treatments which used blood products, contaminated with hepatitis C or HIV. Over 3,000 people have died as a result, and thousands live with ongoing health conditions. The infected blood inquiry has reported, calling for a range of measures, including immediate compensation, public memorials, and for lessons to be learned in medicine, government and the civil service.

Infected blood scandal: Background, impacts, interim compensation and inquiry outcomes

Eating less sugar: Reformulating food and drink products and government policy

Too much sugar in diets can contribute to health issues. Reformulating products, or changing how much sugar is in what people normally eat and drink, means the public do not have to change their habits to eat more healthily. Recent governments have introduced measures to decrease the public’s consumption of sugar, as well as salt and fat. However, some organisations have encouraged the government to go further by creating more mandatory schemes and levies for industry.

Eating less sugar: Reformulating food and drink products and government policy
  • In Focus

    Independent schools: Proposed VAT changes

    The Labour Party has stated that if it were to win the next general election it would remove the current exemption from VAT and business rates for independent schools. The impact of this measure has been debated, with some estimating a net benefit to the government of £1.3bn–£1.5bn while others argue it could result in a net cost.

  • In Focus

    Office for Students: Lords Industry and Regulators Committee report

    In 2023, the House of Lords Industry and Regulators Committee published a report which criticised the Office for Students’ (OfS) approach to regulation. It said the regulator had a poor relationship with both students and providers, and that it lacked independence from the government. While the government and the regulator acknowledged some reforms were needed, they argued that the OfS’ actions were not driven by political pressures.

  • In Focus

    Challenges faced by people with disabilities

    People with disabilities can face additional barriers when trying to access services. The World Health Organisation has stated disability comes from these barriers rather the related impairment. Barriers can include online services that are not accessible, infrastructure that can be physically inaccessible and attitudinal barriers. The government has introduced policies to help address these barriers but disability charities have argued these have not been sufficient.

  • In Focus

    Contribution of sport to society and the economy

    This briefing considers the benefits of sport and physical activity ahead of a House of Lords debate on the subject on 16 May 2024. The government and sports sector stakeholders agree that sport has many benefits for individuals and communities, as well as for the economy more broadly. The government published a new strategy for the sports sector in August 2023. The ambition of the strategy was commended; however, sports charities and the opposition suggested that more was required from the government to deliver on it.

  • Research Briefing

    Renters (Reform) Bill: HL Bill 74 of 2023–24

    The Renters (Reform) Bill is a government bill which would implement a significant package of reforms to the private rental sector in England. Ministers argue that it will ensure private renters have access to a secure and decent home and give confidence to landlords to continue to invest. However, concern has been raised over delays to key elements of the reforms, particularly the abolition of so-called ‘no fault’ or section 21 evictions.

  • In Focus

    House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report: Impact of noise and light pollution on human health

    In July 2023 the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee published a report into the impact of noise and light pollution on human health. It found that while there is some evidence that both noise and light pollution are harmful to humans, there are significant gaps in research and understanding. This briefing looks at the definitions of noise and light pollution, current legislation and guidelines, and the committee’s report and subsequent government response.

  • In Focus

    Integration of Primary and Community Care Committee report: ‘Patients at the centre: Integrating primary and community care’

    Integrating primary and community care services has been identified as necessary in order to address increased demand and the rise in the number of people with complex health issues. In 2023, the House of Lords Integration of Primary and Community Care Committee considered how successfully these services were being integrated. This briefing summarises the committee’s conclusions and recommendations and the government’s response.

  • In Focus

    Child poverty: Statistics, causes and the UK’s policy response

    The government has estimated that 4.3 million children, or 30% of all children in the UK, were living in relative low-income households after housing costs in 2022/23. This represents an increase on the previous year. The government has said unexpectedly high inflation, driven by the war in Ukraine and supply chain challenges, contributed to the rise. It argues that falling inflation, rising real wages and uprated benefits will help low-income households in the year ahead.

  • In Focus

    The impact of gambling marketing

    The gambling industry has expanded over recent years and increased attention is being paid to the issue of gambling-related harms and the role that the marketing of gambling services plays in exacerbating them. The House of Lords is due to debate these issues on 25 April 2024.

  • In Focus

    House of Lords Public Services Committee report: Homecare medicines services

    An estimated half a million NHS patients are receiving hospital-prescribed medication and equipment at home through private sector homecare medicines services. Responding to reports of patient harm and distress caused by delays, errors and mis-deliveries, the Public Services Committee investigated. The committee called for an independent review, as well as improvements to regulation, data and accountability. The government has said that NHS England is conducting a desktop review.

  • In Focus

    Importance of skills: Economic and social benefits

    The importance of skills is recognised across the main political parties in the UK. Evidence suggests that greater skill levels benefit the economy as a whole but also provide significant economic and social benefits for the individuals who possess them. The House of Lords is due to debate these issues on 9 May 2024.

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