• In Focus

    Finance Bill

    The Finance Bill is a government bill intended to give lasting statutory effect to the tax measures announced in the March 2021 budget. The bill underwent a series of changes in its passage through the House of Commons. The House of Lords Economic Affairs Finance Bill Sub-Committee criticised a draft of the bill in some specific areas. The Government accepted some of the committee’s recommendations but rejected others.

  • In Focus

    Motions on recent changes to planning rules

    The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development etc.) (England) (Amendment) Order 2021 introduces several changes to the local planning framework. It makes it easier to convert a wider range of commercial buildings to residential use; allows further development of schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, prisons and ports; and implements a ‘retain and explain’ policy for certain statues, memorials and monuments. The House of Lords is set to debate motions to reject or ‘regret’ the changes.

  • In Focus

    Arts education in secondary schools

    Recent Department of Education statistics show reductions in the number of hours spent teaching some arts subjects in secondary schools. The situation has worsened with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, with much arts teaching reduced or stopped during lockdown. The 2019 Conservative manifesto included commitments to an “arts premium” for the funding of the arts, music and sports. The Government recently reiterated its commitment to arts subjects, saying they are “vital parts of children and young people’s education”.

  • In Focus

    New powers for HMRC

    The Government has proposed new powers for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to address tax avoidance, enhance information gathering, and improve tax compliance. These measures were the subject of a report from the House of Lords Economic Affairs Finance Bill subcommittee, which found that some of these powers were both disproportionate and poorly targeted.

  • In Focus

    Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill [HL]

    The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill [HL] would enshrine the recognition of the sentience of vertebrate animals in domestic law. It would also establish an animal sentience committee that would report on whether government policymaking considers that animals are sentient beings capable of feeling emotions and experiencing pain.

  • In Focus

    Climate change targets: the road to net zero?

    In 2019 the Government amended the Climate Change Act to commit the UK to achieving net zero by 2050, compared to the previous target of an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050. The Government has introduced some policy initiatives to meet net zero, but the Climate Change Committee has said the UK is currently not on track to meet its carbon budget targets in 2025 and 2030.

  • In Focus

    Public engagement with the Government’s net zero target

    The Government passed legislation in 2019 legislating for the UK to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Commentators and the Government have highlighted the need for public engagement to help achieve the target. This article looks at what has been said about the issue and what the public’s attitude and awareness is.

  • In Focus

    Neurological conditions and Covid-19

    Health and care services for those with neurological conditions have been significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, with many of these patients also facing an increased risk from the virus. This briefing examines the diverse nature of these conditions and how the NHS has sought to adjust to the challenges caused by Covid-19.

  • In Focus

    Ethnicity and child poverty

    Recent research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has suggested that poverty can have a serious impact on a child’s life chances, and that this burden is felt disproportionately by those from certain ethnic groups. This article examines those findings, as well as recent campaigns to tackle the related issue of child food poverty.

  • In Focus

    Public service broadcasting: Communications and Digital Committee report

    The House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee published its report on the future of public service broadcasting (PSB) in November 2019. The committee concluded that PSB was important to UK media, but made a range of recommendations in light of increased competition from streaming services. Recently, Ofcom has completed a five-year review into PSB. The Government has also launched its own strategic review into PSB.

  • In Focus

    To sign or not to sign? Sign language in law, parliament and Covid-19 briefings

    Following Deaf Awareness Week this month, this article looks at British sign language and a campaign for the Government to provide an on-set BSL interpreter at the live televised Covid-19 briefings. It also looks at the introduction of BSL interpretation to certain parliamentary proceedings, most notably for prime minister’s questions.

  • In Focus

    Meeting the demand for nurses: looking abroad?

    The UK has significant unmet demand for nurses. This country has a history of recruiting nurses from overseas, and the Government aims to encourage more nurses trained abroad to come to work in the UK. However, the Government also takes into account ethical considerations relating to the recruitment of nurses from countries which themselves have a shortage of healthcare staff.

  • In Focus

    Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine: where are we now?

    Around one billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered around the world. In the UK, more than 35 million people have received at least one dose. The vaccine developed at the University of Oxford, in partnership with AstraZeneca, is one of the major vaccines currently in circulation. This article covers the debate over supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe, as well as the rare blood clotting side-effect reported after a small number of first doses.