On 14 October 2021, the House of Lords is due to consider the free trade agreement between the UK and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. This article examines the details of the agreement, as well as the parliamentary scrutiny it has received to date.
In November 2020, the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee published a report on the future of UK journalism. It made several recommendations, including that the Government should improve regulation of the online advertising market. The House of Lords is scheduled to debate the report on 13 October 2021.
Covert human intelligence sources (CHIS) have been used for decades to prevent or secure prosecutions for serious crimes, such as terrorism and human trafficking. The Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Act 2021 provided statutory powers to organisations, such as the intelligence agencies and law enforcement bodies, to authorise criminal activity by CHIS. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Criminal Conduct Authorisations) (Amendment) Order 2021 makes some necessary changes to existing legislation.
Following the UK’s departure from the EU, the UK now has power to make decisions which used to be made at EU level. Several of these powers relate to policy areas that the devolved nations are individually responsible for. The UK and devolved governments have been developing common frameworks to ensure regulatory consistency in these policy areas.
Unlike the gender pay gap, there is no legal requirement for companies to publish their ethnicity pay gap. A recent report by the Commission for Race and Ethnic Disparities recommended that the practice remain voluntary due to a lack of diversity in some parts of the country. A coalition of workers’ groups have called for ethnicity pay gap reporting to be made mandatory so employers can better address pay disparities.
On 7 September 2021, the Government announced plans to increase the funding of health and social care through a new tax: the health and social care levy. The levy will be based on a rise in national insurance and will raise £12 billion a year on average over the next three years. Many commentators have raised concerns that this approach is unfair on younger people and low earners.
The UK Government has announced substantial reforms of the armed services as part of the recent integrated review of defence and security policy, and an associated defence command paper, both published earlier this year. The reforms have significant implications across the services, including for the Royal Marines and the ongoing development of the Future Commando Force.
The UK’s relationship with Iran has been under pressure from several significant issues, including trying to restore the Iran nuclear deal and Iran’s detention of British-Iranian dual nationals. The Iran nuclear deal was designed to limit Iran’s non-civilian nuclear development in return for sanctions relief. The agreement has been strained since the US withdrew in 2018 and Iran started to breach it. This briefing looks at the UK Government’s policy on these two issues.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, in March 2020 the Government announced an uplift to universal credit and working tax credits worth £20 a week. Initially planned to last for a year, the policy was extended by six months in the March 2021 budget. In July 2021, the Government confirmed that it would not be extended further. This announcement has been met with widespread criticism.
This private member’s bill would seek to improve the provision for leave to enter or remain in the UK granted to family members of refugees and of people granted humanitarian protection; and to provide for legal aid to be made available in such cases. The bill is scheduled to have its second reading on 10 September 2021.
Since freedom of movement ended, EU and EEA citizens coming to the UK since 1 January 2021 are subject to immigration controls and the UK’s new points-based immigration system. EU and EEA citizens who were living in the UK before that date were eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to enable them to remain here. This article looks at key features of both schemes and the impact of the changes.
Allegations of bribery and corruption have occurred globally for many years. UK and international governments have created legislation and made policy developments to try to prevent such offences taking place. The House of Lords is expected to hold a future debate on recent government developments and whether the Government has any plans to update UK legislation.
The Status of Workers Bill is a private member’s bill that seeks to amend employment rights and trade union legislation to give statutory employment rights to all workers other than the genuinely self-employed. The current legal framework distinguishes between employees and workers, with the latter having fewer rights. There are also concerns that people may miss out on employment rights if they are in false self-employment or working through a personal service company.
A number of vaccines have been produced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, currently high-income countries are dominating the purchasing and administration of these vaccines. This has led to low vaccination rates in the ‘Global South’: only 1.4% of people in low-income countries had received a dose as of 23 August 2021. This article explores the scale of the vaccine divide, its causes, and what is being done to address it.
The House of Lords Appointments Commission vets nominations to the House and recommends non-party political members. However, it is not a statutory body and the Prime Minister can disregard its advice. Recently, its advice about the appointment of Lord Cruddas was not followed by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. On 6 September 2021, the House of Lords will debate whether the commission should be reformed and placed on a statutory basis.