• In Focus

    Pig farming industry in England

    Pig farmers have faced a number of pressures in recent months, including labour shortages and rising costs of production. The National Pig Association has described the situation as a “crisis”. This article summarises the findings of a recent House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee report on labour shortages in the farming sector. In addition, it explores reaction to the government’s package of support measures for the pig industry.

  • In Focus

    Net zero: The global energy sector

    In May 2021, the International Energy Agency (IEA) published its energy roadmap which examined how the world can transition to a net zero energy system by 2050. It argued that although current climate pledges fall short of what is needed to meet this target, a viable pathway is still available. This article provides a summary of the IEA’s report and the UK government’s policy on net zero. It also considers the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the global energy sector.

  • In Focus

    Ash dieback and the health of English trees

    Threats to UK trees have risen due to factors such as globalisation and climate change. The government has responded with a tree health resilience strategy, an England trees action plan and an updated plant biosecurity strategy. However, certain pests and diseases remain high-risk, including ash dieback. Several organisations are seeking to breed ash trees that are resilient to the disease and the government has published a strategy for preserving ashes.

  • In Focus

    Health care services for neurological conditions

    Neurology organisations have reported a “neurology workforce crisis” in recent years. The UK has fewer neurology consultants when compared to other high-income countries, recent data has shown. This has led to concerns about the impact on people with neurological conditions receiving timely access to health and care services. This briefing considers the latest neurology workforce and waiting times data, in addition to recent action taken to improve neurological care.

  • In Focus

    Artificial intelligence policy in the UK: Liaison Committee report

    The government states artificial intelligence (AI) has “huge potential to rewrite the rules of entire industries, drive substantial economic growth and transform all areas of life”. Its ambition is to be a “AI superpower” that leads the world in innovation and development. On 25 May 2022, the House of Lords will debate a Liaison Committee report which examined the government’s implementation of AI policy.

  • In Focus

    House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report: Catapults

    In November 2020, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee published the ‘Catapults: Bridging the gap between research and industry’ report. This considered the role technology and innovation catapults have played in encouraging investment and collaborations in UK innovation. The committee made several recommendations, including making certain changes to the catapult funding framework. The House of Lords is scheduled to consider the report and recent developments on 19 May 2022.

  • In Focus

    Queen’s Speech 2022: Energy and climate change

    The Government has committed to reduce UK carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 and improve the security of the UK’s energy supply. It has said it intends to improve strategic planning in the UK’s electricity and gas infrastructure through the establishment of an independent future system operator. It has also said it will introduce measures intended to increase the use of hydrogen gas and carbon capture technology in the UK energy sector.

  • In Focus

    Queen’s Speech 2022: Agriculture, the natural environment and animal welfare

    The 2019 Conservative Party manifesto included commitments to protect the natural environment and improve animal welfare. However, the Government has yet to fulfil its manifesto commitment to introduce legislation banning imports of hunting trophies. The Government has proposed changes to the ways in which natural landscapes are managed following the 2019 landscapes review. It has also said it is considering measures to permit greater use of some gene-edited organisms in agriculture.

  • In Focus

    The UK’s horticultural sector

    In recent years, concerns have been raised about the horticultural sector’s workforce, including its dependence on foreign seasonal workers and the existence of a skills gap. The sector’s role in protecting the environment has also been discussed. This article considers both these issues and the Government’s response.

  • In Focus

    Game Birds (Cage Breeding) Bill [HL]

    The Game Birds (Cage Breeding) Bill [HL] would make it an offence to keep pheasants or partridges in raised laying cages or battery cages for the purpose of producing eggs. Currently, the statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes recommends that barren raised cages for breeding pheasants and small barren cages for breeding partridges should not be used, and any system should be appropriately enriched.

  • In Focus

    Changing the regulation of certain genetically modified plants: motion not to approve new laws

    New regulations would ease the regulatory process for the environmental release of certain genetically modified plants, for the purposes of their research and development. The Government believes the changes would make it easier for scientists to research possible innovations to improve agricultural crops. However, the regulations have attracted a lot of criticism and concerns. This article sets out some of the issues that have been raised ahead of a Lords debate on 14 March 2022 about whether the regulations should become law.

  • In Focus

    Ukraine sanctions and the Swift system

    There has been extended debate on whether Russia should be banned from the international Swift system as part of the package of economic sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine. On 26 February 2022, the international community announced that selected Russian banks would be barred. This article looks at what Swift is, why it is significant and whether a ban would be likely to achieve its intended effect of restricting the Russian economy.

  • In Focus

    Glue Traps (Offences) Bill

    The Glue Traps (Offences) Bill is a private member’s bill that would make it an offence to use glue traps in England. Many groups consider the devices to be inhumane as they can cause trapped rodents and other animals to suffer. A licensing regime would permit exceptions for licenced pest controllers to use glue traps in exceptional circumstances.