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.

  • In Focus

    The Senate of Canada has moved to a former train station, where it will sit during the Ottawa Parliament’s own restoration and renewal programme. But this is not the only change that has affected Canada’s second chamber in recent years. The architecture of its appointments process has also been undergoing an overhaul.

  • In Focus

    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.

  • In Focus

    The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) provides a list of rights that signatory member states have committed to respect. Only member states of the Council of Europe are permitted sign up to the ECHR. There are currently 47 member states signed up, including the UK. The Human Rights Act 1998 enables UK nationals to rely on ECHR rights before UK courts. This article discusses what the ECHR is and the future relationship between the UK and the ECHR following the UK’s departure from the European Union.

  • In Focus

    New developments in nuclear weapons technology, particularly in the field of low-yield or ‘tactical’ weapons, have recently been deployed by international actors including the United States and Russia. This article examines the impact of these developments and whether they have increased the risk of a nuclear confrontation.

  • In Focus

    Fiscal rules aim to keep public spending and the national debt sustainable by setting limits on, for example, the budget deficit. This article considers the history of fiscal rules in the UK, and criticisms of them. It also looks at the new Government’s possible approach, given statements in election manifesto and the December 2019 Queen’s Speech. The budget, on 11 March 2020, may set out the new fiscal rules.

  • In Focus

    This article provides a summary of statistics on the UK rural economy, including: how many people live rural communities; what types of business operate in rural areas and how much does the rural economy contribute to UK economic output overall.

  • In Focus

    The Bank of England operates monetary policy in the UK. This article describes how, for much of its history, this involving maintaining the convertibility of the currency into bullion—the gold standard. More recently, the aims of policy have shifted, with the current target being to control inflation. However, debates continue about the appropriate targets of monetary policy, its links with fiscal policy and other aspects of the Bank’s operations.

  • In Focus

    Cooking on open fires releases dangerous particles into the air. These particulars harm human health and contribute to global warming. This article looks at the problem of cooking-related air pollution and potential solutions.

  • In Focus

    How can the House of Commons pass laws the Lords disagrees with? The answer lies in two key pieces of legislation. The Parliament Act 1911 provided that any public bill rejected by the House of Lords could still be passed as long as three sessions over a two-year period had elapsed from its original second reading to its final third reading in the House of Commons. The Parliament Act 1949, passed 70 years ago, reduced that time period to one year and two sessions.