• In Focus

    Size of the army: Numbers, tech and the latest on the integrated review

    In 2021, the government announced it would reduce the size of the army from 82,000 to 73,000 trained regulars. It also said the army would be modernised to take advantage of new technologies. This article looks at the current size of the army, the government’s 2021 integrated review and the findings of a recent inquiry on UK defence policy by the House of Lords International Relations and Defence Committee.

  • Research Briefing

    Illegal Migration Bill: HL Bill 133 of 2022–23

    The Illegal Migration Bill seeks to fulfil the commitments made by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on 4 January 2023 to “stop the boats and tackle the unfairness of illegal migration”. Provisions in the Illegal Migration Bill would introduce a duty on the home secretary to remove all adults entering the UK illegally (as defined in clause 2) after 7 March 2023. It would also introduce powers to detain those individuals prior to removal. The bill provides the secretary of state with greater powers to decide the place and duration of an individual’s detention. In addition to the duty to remove adults, the bill contains a power to remove those under 18 years of age; this would become a duty upon the child reaching 18. It would disapply aspects of modern slavery protections and provide that asylum and human rights claims by those subject to clause 2 were inadmissible. Immigration is a reserved matter, most of the bill’s provisions would apply in all four parts of the UK.

  • In Focus

    UK’s role in the world: Implications for foreign policy

    In March 2023, the government published a ‘refresh’ of the 2021 integrated review of defence, security and foreign policy. This reaffirmed the broad direction of the earlier review but set out an updated strategic framework to inform future policy and resource decisions. This article summarises the refresh and selected reaction to it, ahead of a House of Lords debate on the UK’s role in the world and foreign policy.

  • In Focus

    Impact of climate change on Commonwealth countries

    Developing countries have been identified as some of those most at risk from the effects of climate change. This includes many of the member states of the Commonwealth. The UK government has made a series of commitments to provide support to developing countries in order to mitigate these risks, including through aid spending and international climate finance. The House of Lords is scheduled to debate these policies on 30 March 2023.

  • In Focus

    Israel-Palestine conflict: Recent developments and statements

    The Israel-Palestine conflict has seen increased violence in 2023. Despite a joint Israeli-Palestinian commitment announced on 26 February 2023 to work towards ending the violence, concerns have been raised about the feasibility of the commitment. This article looks at recent developments in the region and statements, including from the UK and international community, focused on ending the conflict.

  • In Focus

    UK–Iran relations

    The UK and Iran have long had a complex and difficult relationship. There have been long-standing tensions over Iran’s nuclear activity, its destabilising activities in the Middle East and the arbitrary detention of dual nationals. But these have been exacerbated in recent months by widespread human rights abuses as the regime in Tehran looks to quell unrest at home, supplies drones to Russia for use in Ukraine and plans extraterritorial abductions and killings abroad, including within the UK.

  • In Focus

    The situation in Ukraine

    24 February 2023 will mark the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This article considers the current state of the conflict and its impact on Ukraine, the role of the UK and other allies supporting Ukraine, and how the situation might develop.

  • Research Briefing

    Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill: HL Bill 89 of 2022–23

    The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill is due to have its second reading in the House of Lords on 6 February 2023. The bill would automatically revoke, or ‘sunset’, most retained EU law at the end of 2023. However it would also give ministers powers to exempt some retained EU law from the sunset and to restate, reproduce, replace or update retained EU law by statutory instrument.

  • In Focus

    UK-Rwanda asylum agreement: Why is it a memorandum of understanding and not a treaty?

    The UK government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government of Rwanda to establish an asylum transfer scheme. Unlike treaties, MoUs are not required to be laid before Parliament prior to being ratified. In October 2022, the House of Lords International Agreements Committee published a report which criticised the government for using an MoU for the agreement. The subject is due to be debated in the House of Lords on 6 February 2023.

  • In Focus

    Resilience of the UK armed forces

    The government published both its integrated review of foreign, defence, security and international development policy and a defence command paper in March 2021. Alongside a list of new capabilities set to be introduced and existing equipment due to be retired, the second document set a target of reducing the size of the regular army. The government maintains that capabilities, rather than troop numbers, are of primary importance in confronting the defence and security challenges facing the UK.

  • In Focus

    Horn of Africa: Projections of a famine in 2023

    The Horn of Africa is experiencing its longest drought in 40 years. Compounded by high food prices and political instability, this has led to 36.4 million people suffering from hunger across the region, and 21.7 million requiring food assistance. Although a famine has yet to be officially declared, it is projected to occur in 2023. Humanitarian aid, including from the UK, has already been provided but there are appeals for increased support.

  • In Focus

    UK and India collaboration: Roadmap to 2030

    The UK government’s foreign and defence policies include a ‘tilt’ to the Indo-Pacific region. This includes developing closer collaboration with India across a range of areas. UK and India relations are framed by a mutually agreed roadmap to deepen bilateral ties by 2030 with the aim of developing a comprehensive strategic partnership.