• In Focus

    Education (Assemblies) Bill [HL]

    This private member’s bill would repeal the requirement for schools in England without a designated religious character to provide daily acts of collective religious worship. In its place, the bill would establish a new duty to provide non-religious assemblies which develop the spiritual, moral, social, and cultural education of pupils. It is due to have its second reading in the House of Lords on 10 September 2021.

  • In Focus

    Behaviour change and reaching net zero

    The net zero target requires the UK to achieve a 100% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (from 1990 levels). The Climate Change Committee’s 2021 progress report to Parliament highlighted the impact of behaviour change on reaching this target. It called upon the Government to produce a public engagement strategy for delivering net zero. The Government said its approach to public engagement will be included in a comprehensive net zero strategy scheduled to be published before the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 2021.

  • In Focus

    Timeline of Taliban offensive in Afghanistan

    Following the recent withdrawal of US and coalition forces, the Taliban has taken control of Afghanistan. It now holds all the key cities including the capital, Kabul. Some parts of the country were taken by force, whilst others saw the Afghan National Army withdraw. The Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, has reportedly fled the country.

  • In Focus

    Mental health and universal credit claims

    Universal credit is a benefit paid to over five million households. The ‘digital by default’ system replaces six ‘legacy benefits’ and aims to simplify the benefits system and encourage claimants into work. Concerns have been raised about the complexity of the application process and how this impacts those with mental health needs. The Money and Mental Health Institute recently called for changes to make it simpler to nominate a third party to help claimants.

  • In Focus

    Human rights of LGBT+ people worldwide

    Equality in human rights for LGBT+ people varies globally. Many are vulnerable to violations, including violent attacks and social isolation. The United Nations (UN) has repeatedly confirmed that discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics is contrary to international human rights law. Despite this, over 70 countries worldwide criminalise adult same-sex relationships. The UK Government commits funds to targeted international LGBT+ rights programmes. However, it has recently faced criticism for its New Plan for Immigration.

  • In Focus

    Leadership training for ministers and senior civil servants

    The Government has outlined an ambition to improve the professional skills held by both ministers and senior civil servants. This follows numerous reports and programmes aimed at improving government performance and effectiveness generally, most recently leading to the creation of a National Leadership Centre. This article provides an overview of developments relating to the training of government leaders ahead of a forthcoming debate on the subject.

  • In Focus

    The UK’s relationship with sub-Saharan Africa

    In a report published in July 2020, the House of Lords International Relations and Defence Committee argued that the UK should seek a stronger partnership with sub-Saharan Africa. It made a number of recommendations, including that the UK should set out a list of clear priorities for engagement with the region. Since the publication of the report and the Government’s response, there have been developments across several policy areas.

  • In Focus

    Overseas aid: the 0.7% target

    Between 2013 and 2020, the UK met an international target to spend 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) on overseas aid. A 2015 act enshrined this in legislation. In response to the economic impact of coronavirus, the Government has said that aid spending will temporarily reduce to 0.5% of GNI from 2021. Some commentators have argued this requires further primary legislation. The Government has announced the tests that must be met to restore spending to 0.7%.

  • In Focus

    Belarus presidential elections

    The Belarusian presidential elections on 9 August 2020 saw President Lukashenko re-elected based on official results. However, media organisations have widely reported that the elections were not free or fair. The UK Government has described Mr Lukashenko’s subsequent inauguration as fraudulent. The election result has led to protests and allegations of human rights abuses in the country.

  • In Focus

    Human rights concerns in India

    For several years, concerns have been raised by international governments and human rights organisations about alleged human rights violations in India. Concerns include the protection of religious minorities in the country. India has disputed the allegations, reiterating its commitment to human rights. This article looks at some of those incidences, as well as concerns raised by human rights organisations.

  • In Focus

    Cadet forces: funding and social impact

    The cadet forces are voluntary youth organisations that are based on the traditions of the armed forces but are not part of them. The Government says they offer “challenging and enjoyable activities”. They receive some government funding. Independent analysis suggests that they provide benefits both for participants and wider society. An ongoing government scheme aims to increase the number of cadet units in state schools.

  • In Focus

    Educational and cultural exchange programmes

    Educational and cultural exchange programmes have existed for many years. They provide individuals, such as students, with the opportunity to learn and experience cultures outside of their home country. This article discusses exchange programmes such as the Government’s new Turing Scheme and the impact that programmes can have on participants.

  • In Focus

    Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021

    The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 would make it a requirement for workers in care homes to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus. The Government has said this is important to protect vulnerable residents. The House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee has been critical of a lack of detail on the implementation of the policy. The Lords is due to debate the regulations on 20 July 2021.

  • In Focus

    Public services: impact of the Covid-19 pandemic

    In March 2020, the House of Lords Public Services Committee set up an inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on public services which reported in November 2020. Among its findings, the committee identified five weaknesses highlighted by the pandemic that should be addressed to make public services resilient enough to withstand future crises. The committee’s recommendations also aimed to ‘lock-in’ innovations developed during the pandemic to reform public services over the longer-term.

  • In Focus

    EU Committee Report: future UK–EU relationship on professional and business services

    In October 2020, the House of Lords European Union Committee published a report into the future of the UK-EU relationship on professional and business services. It argued the UK’s professional and business services sector potentially could be damaged by the establishment of new barriers to trade at the end of the transition period on 1 January 2021. The report recommended the Government needed to do more to support the sector.