• In Focus

    Voting in the House of Lords: A short history

    Voting practices in the House of Lords remained largely unchanged for over 150 years, until the Covid-19 pandemic prompted a dramatic switch to remote voting. The House has now returned to seeing members vote in division lobbies located either side of the chamber, but now pass readers rather than officials record voting members’ names and some members may continue to vote remotely. What is the background to these changes?

  • In Focus

    Vaping among teens: A growing trend?

    E-cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular among teenagers who are not former or current smokers. Young people who use e-cigarettes, or ‘vape’, often use small disposable devices that can contain the maximum permitted nicotine concentration. This article looks at research on the possible adverse health effects of vaping for young people and how the government has said it wants to prevent non-smokers and the young from using e-cigarettes.

  • In Focus

    Digital regulation

    The regulatory landscape is evolving to try to keep pace with the emergence of new technologies and online activities. The House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee advocates the creation of a statutory body to coordinate digital regulation and prevent gaps between the responsibilities of different regulators. The government rejects this suggestion but is legislating to give some existing regulators new duties on digital regulation and cooperation with each other.

  • In Focus

    Rwanda policy: Unaccompanied children and age assessments

    In April 2022, the UK government announced a scheme to relocate certain asylum seekers to Rwanda for asylum claims processing and potential resettlement. Concerns have since been raised about the risk of unaccompanied children being mistaken for adults and subsequently removed from the UK to Rwanda. This article considers this issue and also what the government is doing to improve age assessment procedures in the UK’s immigration system.

  • In Focus

    Regulation and practices of private equity

    Private equity takeovers play a significant role in the UK economy. Some have argued that businesses that have been bought by private equity funds have suffered, and that there have been negative impacts on employment and pension schemes. The tax treatment of some elements of private equity has also been criticised. This article provides an overview of private equity, its regulation, and evidence of its impacts.

  • In Focus

    Impact of Ukrainian port blockade on food supply to developing countries

    Russian forces continue to blockade Ukrainian ports, preventing the export of grain and other foodstuffs. Food supplies from Ukraine and Russia are vital to many developing countries including many in the Horn and East of Africa, which are at significant risk of famine because of the blockade and other global pressures. The UK has joined other international actors in calling for the blockade to end and safe exports routes established.

  • In Focus

    China: Security challenges to the UK

    On 6 July 2022, the British and US intelligence services jointly said China would pose the biggest security threat facing the West over the next decade. Relations between China and the UK have deteriorated in recent years and experts have expressed concern over Chinese ambitions in several areas. This article provides a brief overview of recent UK-China relations and those security threats.

  • In Focus

    Human Rights Act 1998: Does it need replacing?

    The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) provides the statutory basis in UK law for the protection of human rights and freedoms. The government recently published plans to replace the act with a UK bill of rights. This article looks at what the HRA does, why the government wants to reform it, and what the reaction has been to the proposed bill of rights and other reform plans.

  • In Focus

    Status of women and girls in the UK since 2010

    This article examines the status of women and girls in the UK since 2010. This includes a focus on their economic wellbeing, such as employment rates, earnings and the gender pay gap. It also considers the welfare and safety of women and girls, as well as examining opportunities in higher education.

  • In Focus

    Public Services Committee report: Role of public services in supporting vulnerable children

    In November 2021, the House of Lords Public Services Committee published a report entitled ‘Children in crisis: the role of public services in overcoming child vulnerability’. The report made several recommendations, including that the government ringfence the funding available for early intervention services provided by local authorities. The House of Lords is scheduled to debate this report on 11 July 2022.

  • In Focus

    Energy (Oil and Gas) Profits Levy Bill

    The Energy (Oil and Gas) Profits Levy Bill would introduce a new temporary levy on North Sea oil and gas production. It follows a government announcement in late May 2022 that ministers would seek to impose a levy on companies operating in the North Sea to help fund support measures for households facing higher living costs. The House of Lords is expected to consider the bill at second reading and all remaining stages on 13 July 2022.

  • In Focus

    A new mandate for the restoration and renewal programme

    The restoration and renewal programme was created to deliver the substantial repairs and modernisation the Palace of Westminster requires. Legislation enacted in 2019 provided for an independent sponsor body and a delivery authority to manage and oversee the works. However, the Commissions of both Houses have jointly proposed the abolition of the sponsor body and the creation of a new joint department to carry out its functions as part of a new mandate for the programme.

  • In Focus

    UK-Australia free trade agreement

    The UK-Australia free trade agreement is the first trade agreement that the UK has negotiated from scratch since leaving the EU. Whilst the government’s impact assessment suggests the economic benefit to the UK’s GDP is likely to be modest, the government has described the agreement as “historic”. The House of Lords International Agreements Committee has welcomed the agreement but has suggested that its scope had been traded off for achieving an agreement quickly.

  • In Focus

    Ukrainian refugees in the UK: Access to public services and employment

    This article sets out information on the support available to Ukrainian refugees in the UK, particularly regarding access to employment, education, healthcare and other public services. It has been prepared ahead of debate on the needs of Ukrainian mothers and children arriving in the UK. It also provides further reading on some of the challenges they face.

  • In Focus

    UK Constitution: Proposals and ministerial responsibility

    The UK’s constitution comprises a host of diverse laws, practices and conventions that have evolved over time. Responsibility for the UK’s constitution lies with the Cabinet Office. In 2021, the Dunlop review recommended the creation of a secretary of state for intergovernmental and constitutional affairs; to date the government has not implemented this recommendation.