• In Focus

    Queen’s Speech 2022: Health and social care

    The next Queen’s Speech, in which the Government will set out its legislative programme for the new parliamentary session, will be delivered on 10 May 2022. The speech and accompanying briefing notes are expected to detail some health and social care-related initiatives. These could include a draft bill to reform the Mental Health Act 1983 and measures to ban conversion therapy in respect of a person’s sexual orientation.

  • In Focus

    Queen’s Speech 2022: Levelling up, housing and communities

    Ahead of the Queen’s Speech on 10 May 2022, this article examines the Government’s policy commitments on levelling up, housing and communities. This includes the measures found in the levelling up white paper, which aimed to reduce geographical inequalities across the UK. It also discusses the Government’s plans to bring forward legislation on social housing, the rental market and leaseholds.

  • In Focus

    Queen’s Speech 2022: Education

    Education measures in the 2022 Queen’s Speech are likely to be dominated by provisions outlined in the schools white paper, published in March 2022. In addition, proposals for new national standards on provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and legislation on school funding and the lifelong loan entitlement (LLE) are expected. A carry-over motion, agreed in April 2022, will also see the continuation of the passage of the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill.

  • In Focus

    How should gambling regulation change to reduce gambling harm?

    A House of Lords committee on the gambling industry has called for a series of regulatory reforms to reduce the harm caused by ‘problem gambling’. Since the committee’s report, the Government has launched a wide-ranging review of gambling oversight and is due to publish its conclusions shortly. In the meantime, aspects of gambling regulation continue to evolve.

  • In Focus

    Finance Bill Sub-Committee report: off-payroll working

    In April 2020, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Finance Bill Sub-Committee published the ‘Off-Payroll Working: Treating People Fairly’ report. This made several recommendations to the Government, including considering alternative options to the off-payroll working rules. The House of Lords is scheduled to consider the report and recent developments on 27 April 2022.

  • In Focus

    The use of Napier Barracks to house asylum seekers: regret motion

    Napier Barracks in Kent has been used since 2020 as contingency or temporary accommodation for those seeking asylum. In September 2021, an order was laid before Parliament extending the use of the site for such purposes for another five years. This move came despite significant criticism of facilities at the site, including a judgment from the High Court declaring them inadequate and the Home Office guilty of employing unlawful practices.

  • In Focus

    The Union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland: UK Government policy

    The UK Government has said it is committed to strengthening the Union between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. However, strong concerns have been raised about how the Union is affected by the Northern Ireland Protocol. Differences have also emerged between the UK Government and the devolved institutions over matters such as abortion and legacy issues. The House of Lords is scheduled to debate the strengthening of the Union between Northern Ireland and Great Britain on 7 April 2022.

  • In Focus

    Levelling up: plans for the South West of England

    Research has shown that the UK is one of the most geographically unequal countries in the developed world. Addressing these inequalities by ‘levelling up’ is a priority for the Government. This article examines inequalities in the south-west of England, the Government’s strategy to address them and the reaction to these plans.

  • In Focus

    Iran, negotiations on its nuclear capabilities, and its wider regional influence

    Negotiators are reportedly close to agreeing a new deal to prevent the further development of Iran’s nuclear capabilities. However, questions remain over how to address Iran’s destabilising regional activities, including its support for armed militant groups, leading many to question whether any deal should be broader in scope or seek to pave the way for addressing these concerns.

  • In Focus

    Changes to the Highway Code on using a mobile phone while driving: regret motion

    The Government has recently broadened the scope of Highway Code rule 149, which now makes it an offence to use a hand-held mobile device for almost any purpose while driving, not just to make and receive calls and texts. The House of Lords is due to debate a regret motion on the changes. The motion raises concerns about their scope and the “piecemeal” way the Highway Code was being amended.

  • In Focus

    Unpaid taxes: the ‘tax gap’

    HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) produces estimates of the tax gap—the tax revenue HMRC should receive but does not. Its most recent estimate for 2019/20 is £35 billion, or approximately 5% of total tax liabilities. As a percentage of total taxes, the gap has been declining in recent years. The Government’s tax strategy includes measures to reduce it further. However, some commentators have argued these need more careful consideration.

  • In Focus

    Education: multi-academy trusts

    An education white paper published on 28 March 2022 set out the Government’s ambition for all schools to be part of a multi-academy trust by 2030. This policy has been criticised by some, who argue that multi-academy trusts are not more effective or efficient than other types of school structure.

  • In Focus

    Ukrainian refugees

    Over 4 million refugees have left Ukraine since 24 February 2022, when Russia launched its current invasion of the country. At least a further 6.5 million people are displaced within Ukraine. The UK Government has launched family and sponsorship schemes to allow Ukrainians to seek refuge in the UK. However, critics have alleged that the processes involved are slow and causing frustration for both Ukrainian refugees and their sponsors.

  • In Focus

    Zimbabwe: conduct ahead of 26 March 2022 elections

    Elections for some parliamentary and local government seats in Zimbabwe took place on 26 March 2022. Journalists and members of the Citizens Coalition for Change opposition party accused members of the ruling party of political violence before the poll. Activists and the opposition also said that there were irregularities with the voting register.