• In Focus

    Early years and childcare fees regulations: regret motion

    The Early Years Foundation Stage (Miscellaneous Amendments) and Childcare Fees (Amendment) Regulations 2021 come into force on 1 September 2021. They introduce a reception baseline assessment (RBA) for children entering reception class; update the statutory framework that early years providers in England must follow; and continue certain annual registration fee arrangements. The House of Lords is set to debate a motion to regret the changes on the basis that introduction of the RBA should be delayed.

  • In Focus

    Merchant shipping: bilge water alarms

    The Government has introduced new regulations on the installation of bilge water alarms to merchant vessels of a certain size, to provide warning when the accumulation of bilge water threatens their buoyancy or safety. The regulations follow the sinking of the vessel ‘Abigail H’ in the Port of Heysham in 2008. The gap between that incident and the introduction of these measures has led to criticism that ministers have been too slow to act to prevent similar accidents happening again.

  • In Focus

    Education (Environment and Sustainable Citizenship) Bill [HL]

    Students are currently taught about climate change and the environment in several different subjects, for example science and geography. In September 2020, a report by the UK Climate Assembly included the recommendation that climate change should be made a compulsory subject in all schools. The Education (Environment and Sustainable Citizenship) Bill [HL] would make climate change and sustainable citizenship part of the national curriculum taught in maintained schools in England.

  • In Focus

    Elective home education: time for a compulsory register?

    Instances of parents choosing to educate their children at home, known as elective home education, are increasing. These increases have led to concern about the nature of education some children are receiving outside of school. Some groups have called for the Government to establish a mandatory register of all home educated children. This article will look at the issue of elective home education in England in more detail, and explain the Government’s current position on a compulsory register.

  • In Focus

    Renewing the UK’s trading relationship with Commonwealth countries

    The Commonwealth comprises 54 countries who share a voluntary association. Member states have a combined population of 2.4 billion people and a gross domestic product estimated to have reached US$13 trillion in 2020. Commonwealth heads of government have set an ambition to increase intra-Commonwealth trade to US$2 trillion by 2030. Post-Brexit, the UK Government is pursuing free trade agreements with Commonwealth partners as part of its independent trade policy.

  • In Focus

    Women’s health outcomes: Is there a gender gap?

    On 8 July 2021, the House of Lords is due to debate the steps taken to improve women’s health outcomes. Research has found a gender health gap in the UK where many women receive poorer healthcare than men. This article examines some of the healthcare challenges women face, why they exist and what action the Government is taking to tackle the issue.

  • In Focus

    Organ Tourism and Cadavers on Display Bill [HL]

    This private member’s bill seeks to introduce penalties for UK citizens and residents travelling abroad for organ transplants when it is not clear that donors have given appropriate consent. It would also impose the same consent requirements for imported cadavers used in exhibitions as exist for UK-sourced cadavers. This is in the context of previous exhibitions having featured real human bodies that may have been the remains of non-consenting individuals.

  • In Focus

    Elderly Social Care (Insurance) Bill [HL]

    The Elderly Social Care (Insurance) Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill sponsored by Lord Lilley (Conservative). The bill would establish a government-owned company to provide insurance against the risk of the policyholder needing elderly social care. The premium would be recouped via a charge on the person’s home at the time of their death or when the home was sold.

  • In Focus

    Interim trade partnership agreement with Ghana

    The UK has signed a new interim trade partnership agreement with Ghana, replacing the trade arrangements that were in place when the UK was a member of the European Union. The terms of the interim agreement largely replicate those previous arrangements but with some notable differences. Concerns have been raised over the timing of the interim agreement, the level of scrutiny it has received to date, and other issues including the potential impact on trade with and between other west African nations.

  • In Focus

    UK-Cameroon Economic Partnership Agreement

    On 29 June 2021, the House of Lords is due to debate a regret motion on the Economic Partnership Agreement between the UK and Cameroon. The regret motion raises concerns over human rights abuses in Cameroon and a lack of parliamentary scrutiny of the agreement. This article examines the agreement, in addition to the parliamentary scrutiny it has received to date.

  • In Focus

    Importance of foreign aid programme

    Aid spending is targeted at improving the lives of people around the world. This includes tackling global diseases, humanitarian assistance, eliminating poverty, reducing the impact of climate change and making progress towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. In addition, many believe aid spending improves the global standing of the UK and builds better trade links. The Government has recently been criticised for announcing a reduction in aid spending.

  • In Focus

    Devolution and government relations

    Two reports published in March 2021 concern UK ‘intergovernmental relations’ (IGR), the mechanisms through which the UK and devolved governments interact. First, the Dunlop Review made recommendations on how the UK Government should restructure to enhance its capabilities on matters affecting the union. Second, an update on a review of IGR being undertaken jointly by the four governments described progress in negotiations. The reports are being debated together on 1 July 2021.

  • In Focus

    Housing developments on functional flood plains

    Around 5.2 million properties in England are at risk from flooding. The Environment Agency has said that if current planning outcomes continue, this number could double in the next 50 years. The Government has recently consulted on proposals to change England’s planning policies to better respond to flood risks. The House of Commons environment committee and the Royal Institute of British Architects have raised concerns over the Government’s current planning framework.