• In Focus

    The UK’s horticultural sector

    In recent years, concerns have been raised about the horticultural sector’s workforce, including its dependence on foreign seasonal workers and the existence of a skills gap. The sector’s role in protecting the environment has also been discussed. This article considers both these issues and the Government’s response.

  • In Focus

    National Insurance Contributions (Increase of Thresholds) Bill

    The National Insurance Contributions (Increase of Thresholds) Bill is being fast tracked through Parliament to implement increases to national insurance thresholds announced in the March 2022 spring statement. There was broad cross-party support for the bill when it completed all its House of Commons stages on 24 March 2022. However, opposition MPs criticised the spring statement for not providing enough targeted support to those on low incomes affected by the rising cost of living.

  • In Focus

    Spring statement 2022: key announcements and analysis

    The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, presented the 2022 spring statement to the House of Commons on 23 March 2022. He said the measures in the statement would support the British people in dealing with rising costs of living. He announced some changes to the tax system and new spending commitments. Alongside the statement, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) published revised forecasts for the economy and the public finances.

  • In Focus

    Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill

    On 1 April 2022, the House of Lords is due to debate the second reading of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill. The private member’s bill would raise the minimum age of marriage and civil partnership in England and Wales to 18. It would also expand the scope of legislation dealing with forced marriage to include any conduct to facilitate the marriage of someone under the age of 18.

  • In Focus

    Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Disabled Persons) Bill

    The Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Disabled Persons) Bill would amend sections of the Equality Act 2010 relating to disabled people’s use of taxis and private hire vehicles. It aims to reduce discrimination against disabled people and address the barriers they face when accessing taxi and private hire vehicle services by creating new offences aimed at drivers and operators of such vehicles in Great Britain.

  • In Focus

    British Sign Language Bill

    British sign language (BSL) is the most commonly used sign language in the UK and is considered culturally important by the Deaf community. Although it is recognised as a language by the Government, this is not set out in law. This bill would give BSL full legal recognition as a language in England, Wales and Scotland and contains provisions to promote its use. The measures have cross-party support.

  • In Focus

    New code of practice for private parking facilities

    The Private Parking Code of Practice is intended to improve drivers’ experience of private parking facilities. It includes guidance on a number of matters, for example caps to penalty charges and how they can be appealed, signage and professional standards. Although welcomed by many for its potential impact on drivers, concerns have been raised about whether the Government has adequately assessed the impact on the operators of private parking facilities.

  • In Focus

    Game Birds (Cage Breeding) Bill [HL]

    The Game Birds (Cage Breeding) Bill [HL] would make it an offence to keep pheasants or partridges in raised laying cages or battery cages for the purpose of producing eggs. Currently, the statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes recommends that barren raised cages for breeding pheasants and small barren cages for breeding partridges should not be used, and any system should be appropriately enriched.

  • In Focus

    Pension Schemes (Conversion of Guaranteed Minimum Pensions) Bill

    The Pension Schemes (Conversion of Guaranteed Minimum Pensions) Bill is a private member’s bill introduced into the House of Commons by Margaret Ferrier (Independent MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West). It aims to clarify how occupational pension schemes can convert historic rights to certain pension entitlements into current scheme benefits. In the House of Commons stages both the Government and the Opposition supported the bill.

  • In Focus

    Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order 2022: regret motion

    The House of Lords will soon consider a regret motion on the draft Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order 2022. The order would increase some welfare benefits by around 3% from April 2022. At a time when inflation has increased significantly, the uprating has been criticised for not meeting the rising cost of living.

  • In Focus

    Removal of coronavirus restrictions

    The Government has ended the legal requirements around self-isolation for people who test positive for coronavirus. It has also removed the pandemic-related power for local authorities to restrict certain gatherings. The regulations to effect these changes are scheduled to be debated in the House of Lords on 14 March 2022. The Liberal Democrats have tabled a regret motion that is due to be debated on 17 March 2022.

  • In Focus

    Economic Affairs Committee report on universal credit

    In July 2020, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee published a report on universal credit. It concluded that although the original aims and objectives of the benefit remained broadly correct, the system required substantial reform as its current design was causing harm to many claimants. The Government subsequently rejected most of the committee’s recommendations. The House of Lords will soon debate the committee’s report.

  • In Focus

    Changing the regulation of certain genetically modified plants: motion not to approve new laws

    New regulations would ease the regulatory process for the environmental release of certain genetically modified plants, for the purposes of their research and development. The Government believes the changes would make it easier for scientists to research possible innovations to improve agricultural crops. However, the regulations have attracted a lot of criticism and concerns. This article sets out some of the issues that have been raised ahead of a Lords debate on 14 March 2022 about whether the regulations should become law.

  • In Focus

    International Women’s Day 2022: gender gaps across the world

    Despite years of international attention on the issue, global gender gaps remain. Data published by the World Economic Forum in 2021 showed that global gender gaps remained in education, health, economics and politics. This article looks at findings from the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021, as well as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on women and girls.