In response to the coronavirus lockdown the Government temporarily amended the procedure for women to obtain drugs to have early medical abortions at home, rather than at a clinic or hospital. The article summarises the legislative changes and the debate surrounding early medical abortion.

This article considers the role of the banking sector in the UK’s response to coronavirus. It describes key policy announcements in relation to the banks, many of which are intended to support the wider economy. It also reports some ways in which the banks themselves have responded, including on overdrafts and branch opening hours. Finally, it summarises some criticisms of the sector’s activities in relation to the pandemic.

  • In Focus

    In 2009–10, the UK faced an outbreak of H1N1 swine flu. This article summarises the measures introduced by the then Labour Government which were intended to mitigate the potential impact of swine flu, including the establishment of a public awareness campaign and attempts to increase intensive-care capacity in hospitals. It also looks at the role of the House of Lords in scrutinising the then Government’s handling of the outbreak.

  • In Focus

    This article summarises the scrutiny of the Coronavirus Act 2020 in the House of Lords. The Act was emergency legislation passed by Parliament in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The Act provided the Government with a range of powers to tackle the disease, including: the closure of schools and nurseries; powers to detain those suspected of having the virus; and restrictions on public gatherings.

  • In Focus

    This article looks at the Government’s role as ‘insurer of last resort’. Over time, the areas where it takes this role have expanded from basic military, health and welfare provision to include, for example, elements of flood, terrorism and travel risks. Coronavirus has widened this scope further. The article also considers the costs of providing cover, and whether the private sector might cover more of the risks arising from pandemics.

  • In Focus

    In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the Government introduced the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 which gave it emergency powers to reduce transmission of the virus. The article summarises the powers in the regulations and speculation about what might be contained in a future Coronavirus Bill. The article also considers other powers the Government has to deal with emergencies, such as those in the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.

  • In Focus

    The Senate of Canada has moved to a former train station, where it will sit during the Ottawa Parliament’s own restoration and renewal programme. But this is not the only change that has affected Canada’s second chamber in recent years. The architecture of its appointments process has also been undergoing an overhaul.

  • In Focus

    Spending reviews set out the Government’s plan for much of its expenditure over the following few years. This article summarises the current position in the spending review cycle. It also describes how reviews relate to budgets, which take place more frequently, and to fiscal rules, which set targets for overall government debt and deficit. Finally, it considers the possible impact of coronavirus on these three elements of fiscal policy.

  • In Focus

    The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) provides a list of rights that signatory member states have committed to respect. Only member states of the Council of Europe are permitted sign up to the ECHR. There are currently 47 member states signed up, including the UK. The Human Rights Act 1998 enables UK nationals to rely on ECHR rights before UK courts. This article discusses what the ECHR is and the future relationship between the UK and the ECHR following the UK’s departure from the European Union.

  • In Focus

    New developments in nuclear weapons technology, particularly in the field of low-yield or ‘tactical’ weapons, have recently been deployed by international actors including the United States and Russia. This article examines the impact of these developments and whether they have increased the risk of a nuclear confrontation.