• In Focus

    Co-location of the Houses of Parliament

    In January 2020, the government suggested that the House of Lords could be moved out of London, possibly to the city of York. In May 2022, Michael Gove wrote to the Lord Speaker saying he would not support the QEII Centre as a decant location for the Lords during restoration and renewal, suggesting Stoke among other places as alternatives. The government has framed the proposal of moving the Lords as part of its levelling up agenda, but some commentators have expressed concern about the practical implications of the Commons and Lords being located in different cities. This article highlights commentary on these viewpoints.

  • 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

    Respiratory syncytial virus and its impact on the NHS

    Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common virus that causes mostly mild respiratory symptoms. However, for higher-risk groups such as very young children and older adults with chronic diseases RSV infection can be serious or even fatal. Measures introduced to prevent the spread of coronavirus also changed the typical seasonal pattern of RSV infection in 2020 and 2021, leading the NHS to adapt its response.

  • 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

    Travel disruption: Airports and ferry ports

    UK airports and ferry ports have faced widespread disruption in recent months, including mass cancellations of flights and long delays. Airline operators, unions and the government have spoken of various causes for this travel disruption. This article looks at recent examples of disruption and what has been said about the potential reasons behind it.

  • In Focus

    Cost of living, economic resilience and government policy

    The cost of living has been increasing for households across the UK since early 2021. This is due to a variety of factors, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine affecting food and energy prices. At the same time, tax and benefit changes have added pressure to the capacity of household incomes to absorb rising prices. The government has announced successive packages of measures aimed at supporting households as they face rising living costs.

  • 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

    Impact of the conflict in Ukraine: UK defence and the integrated review

    Since the beginning of the 2022 Russian attack on Ukraine, there have been calls for the government to reconsider the policies outlined in its 2021 integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy. On 9 June 2022, the House of Lords will debate the impact of the conflict in Ukraine, including its effect on the UK’s defence and foreign policy. This briefing looks at what the implications of the conflict might be on the UK’s strategic priorities as set out in the integrated review.

  • In Focus

    Calls for a UK-wide constitutional commission

    Since devolution in the UK in the late 1990s, intergovernmental relations (IGR) have been necessary for joint decision-making on areas of shared responsibility and for dispute resolution. The political and institutional structures that support IGR have been evolving since this time. However, there have been calls for a UK-wide constitutional commission to examine the relationships and arrangements between the four nations of the UK.

  • 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

    Liaison Committee follow-up report: Tackling financial exclusion

    On 25 May 2022, the grand committee of the House of Lords is due to debate the House of Lords Liaison Committee’s report ‘Tackling financial exclusion: A country that works for everyone? Follow-up report’. This report examines the progress made by the government and key stakeholders in implementing the recommendations made in the original 2017 select committee report on financial exclusion. It found that “four years on, financial exclusion is still highly prevalent in the UK”.

  • In Focus

    International Agreements Committee report on improving the framework for the parliamentary scrutiny of treaties

    In September 2021, the House of Lords International Agreements Committee published a report on its experiences scrutinising agreements under the current statutory framework for treaty scrutiny. Among its recommendations, the committee called for government commitments on scrutiny working practices made since April 2020 to be consolidated in a formal concordat. The committee also asked the government to commit to giving it more notice of both treaties set to be laid before Parliament and significant other agreements.

  • 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.