• In Focus

    Queen’s Speech 2021: devolved affairs

    The Government has pledged to introduce reforms to foster a “culture of collaboration and cooperation” between the UK Government and the devolved administrations. It has stated its “steadfast commitment” to the union and to shaping its “common future”. This article discusses some of the key issues in devolved affairs that may be addressed in the forthcoming parliamentary session.

  • In Focus

    Queen’s Speech 2021: constitution

    The Government has stated its intention to introduce several measures relating to the constitution. These include a review of the constitution, repeal of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 and legislation to improve the integrity of elections.

  • In Focus

    UK-Turkey Free Trade Agreement

    On 27 April 2021, the House of Lords is due to take note of the UK-Turkey free trade agreement. The agreement sets out the future trading relationship between the UK and Turkey. This article considers the details of the agreement, as well as scrutiny it has received from the House of Lords International Agreements Committee.

  • In Focus

    Regret motion: pharmaceutical services

    On 26 April 2021, the House of Lords is due to debate a regret motion by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on the National Health Service (Charges and Pharmaceutical and Local Pharmaceutical Services) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2021. The purpose of the regulations is to make it easier for pharmacies to distribute specific medicines during a pandemic. However, there are concerns about the financial pressures on pharmacies in England.

  • In Focus

    Forensic science and the criminal justice system

    In May 2019, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee published a report warning the quality and delivery of forensic science services in England and Wales was inadequate. It recommended several reforms intended to halt the damage this was causing to public trust in the criminal justice system. The House of Lords is scheduled to debate this report on 26 April 2021. This article summarises the committee’s recommendation, the Government’s response and subsequent developments.

  • In Focus

    UK development aid and the Integrated Review

    In the 2020 spending review, the Government cut aid spending from a target of 0.7% of GNI to 0.5%. The Government said in its recent integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy it would use aid spending “more strategically” to increase the UK’s impact as a force for good. On 28 April 2021, the House of Lords is due to debate the reduction in aid spending and its impact on achieving the integrated review’s objectives.

  • In Focus

    Covid-19: housing evictions

    The ban on housing evictions, introduced in March 2020, is due to end on 31 May 2021. A think tank has estimated that around 756,000 households are currently behind on their housing payments. They have called on the Government to provide financial help to clear rent arrears as well as reforms to the welfare system. The Government has said it has provided unprecedented financial support for renters during the pandemic.

  • In Focus

    Biodiversity

    Declines in biodiversity could lead to economic and political instability and potentially threaten the survival of life on earth. The Government has taken a range of steps to counter biodiversity loss, although measures of success are mixed. The independent Dasgupta review has recommended placing monetary values on natural capital. Two forthcoming international conferences provide opportunities for further global initiatives on biodiversity.

  • In Focus

    Commission on Alcohol Harm: ‘It’s Everywhere’—Alcohol’s Public Face and Private Harm

    A recent report by the Commission on Alcohol Harm highlighted the damage caused by alcohol abuse. Setting out a number of recommendations, it called for the Government to publish a new comprehensive alcohol strategy. This article provides a brief overview of the report and the Government’s current policy on alcohol.

  • In Focus

    Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy

    The Government published the outcome of its year-long integrated review (IR) of foreign policy, defence, security and international development in March 2021. The IR sets out a strategic framework for achieving the UK’s national security and international policy objectives between now and 2025. The House of Lords is due to debate the IR on 22 April 2021.

  • In Focus

    Body Mass Index as a medical guideline

    Body Mass Index is a measurement used globally to assess a person’s body size. Health professionals have said it is a quick and cheap way to make estimations about an individual’s potential risk of disease or poor health, but that it is more effective when used alongside other measurements. Concerns have recently been raised about the use of BMI as a barrier to treatment for eating disorders.

  • In Focus

    Net zero and integrated policymaking

    In June 2019, the UK legislated to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which advises government on emissions targets, stated that the target “requires extensive changes across the economy”. To achieve this, the CCC and others have called for better coordination of net zero policies within central government, with local and devolved governments and with other public bodies.

  • In Focus

    Building an inclusive society in the post-pandemic world

    Attendees at a United Nations (UN) summit more than 25 years ago defined an inclusive society as a “society for all”. Policy responses have been introduced in the years since, though questions remain about how progress can be measured. The Covid-19 pandemic has represented a setback towards realising the goal in many areas, but some have identified an opportunity to redouble efforts towards achieving ambitions in the pandemic’s wake.