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The SNP’s waiting game

The SNP’s hope is that Brexit can swing public opinion towards independence. Scottish politics since the 2014 referendum can be defined as a stalemate over the central constitutional question, but the SNP is hoping that Brexit can break this pattern.For those living and working south of the border, it is easy to forget the extent to which Scottish politics is linked to the independence question. The SNP, despite having spent 11 years in power, poll at an impressive 43 per cent, just shy of the 44 per cent who voted for independence in 2014. Meanwhile, unionist votes are shared primarily between Labour and the Conservatives....

Government publishes £1 billion AI sector deal

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have published the artificial intelligence (AI) sector deal as part of the national Industrial Strategy[1].The sector deal, worth over £1 billion, is the collaborative work of the Government and industry. It has the support of fifty leading technology companies at the forefront of innovation in artificial intelligence. It also comes with nearly £300 million of private investment.AI and data were listed in the Industrial Strategy white paper as one of the four ‘Grand Challenges’ – areas in which the UK can lead the world for years to come....

Government announces Creative Industries Sector Deal

On 28 March, Digital and Culture Secretary Matt Hancock MP, and Business Secretary Greg Clark MP announced the details of a brand new Creative Industries Sector Deal, agreed with the Creative Industries Council. The Sector Deal, featuring joint investment from government and industry, includes the following commitments: ▪£72 million from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund with £39 million for the Arts and Humanities Research Council to support 8 creative research and development partnerships across Britain and £33 million to invest in immersive technology roducts, services and experiences. This will support new uses of virtual reality in areas like video games, interactive art shows and augmented reality...

Government publishes guidance for public consultations

The Government has published a revised set of government consultation principles. These principles give clear guidance to government departments on conducting consultations.These principles have been amended in the light of comments from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee and demonstrate the Government’s desire to engage more effectively with the public.Consultations provide an invaluable opportunity for organisations and campaigns to directly influence government policy. Departments will only consult when they have been directed to act, and so ignoring a consultation could mean stepping down from the table when policy is being drafted. A well-drafted consultation response will be clear, concise and valuable as both a line-in-the-sand and...

Four ad hoc select committees recommended by the Lords Liason Committee

On 20 March 2018, the House of Lords Liaison Committee published its recommendations for four new Ad Hoc Select Committees to be created in the 2017 – 19 session.The four proposals are: ▪Bribery Act 2010 (post-legislative scrutiny) ▪Intergenerational Fairness and Provision ▪Regenerating Seaside Towns and Communities ▪The Rural Economy These recommendations will be debated by Peers in the House before Easter Recess. Based on past Lords Liaison Committee reports, they are likely to be accepted. Bribery Act 2010 (post-legislative scrutiny) Post-legislative scrutiny of the Bribery Act 2010 would allow a Committee to assess the impact of the legislation. A principal issue for a Committee to consider would be whether the Act has,...

Spring Statement 2018

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond MP today delivered the first Spring Statement to Parliament which laid the groundwork for increased spending at the Budget in Autumn.The Chancellor announced with a flourish in 2016 that he would not deliver two major statements on tax and spending every year to ensure that the Treasury had time to properly consult on initiatives, and to align announcements with the start of the tax year. Instead, today’s statement saw the Chancellor deliver a statutory update on the state of the economy.The Spring Statement allows the Chancellor to present the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) forecasts to Parliament, alongside...

Corbyn’s Customs Union

Labour’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn MP, has confirmed that his party will now back remaining in the Customs Union. What Labour is now proposing is unlikely to be accepted by the EU, but is an astute piece of political positioning.Corbyn said a Labour government would seek and ‘negotiate a new comprehensive UK-EU customs union to ensure that there are no tariffs with Europe.’ A Labour government, he explained, would want to have a say on future EU trade deals while ending freedom of movement. Labour would also seek to negotiate ‘protections, clarifications or exemptions where necessary in relation to privatisation and public service competition directives, state...

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New plastics for a new era?

On 11 January 2018, the British Government committed itself to a crackdown on plastics. Its policy paper ‘A Green Future: Our 25 year Plan to Improve the Environment’ contained several measures to cut down on plastic use. These included extending the 5p plastic bag charge to small retailers, removing consumer single use plastics from the government estate, supporting the water industry to significantly increase water fountains and working with retailers on introducing plastic-free supermarket aisles.[1] At first glance the Government’s policies would seem to present a significant challenge to the plastic industry. However, the Government’s strategy may also provide an opportunity. Particularly if the plastics...

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Proposals for 2018–19 ad hoc committees sought

Lords Liaison Committee Chairman Lord McFall has this week invited members of the House of Lords to put forward their proposals for ad hoc committees in 2018-19.Ad hoc committees are appointed to undertake a particular inquiry and cease to exist once they have reported to the House. They have the same powers and format as Select Committees. Topics are selected based on the knowledge and experience of Members of the House, whether they complement the work of Commons departmental select committees and whether they cut across various Departments’ remits. On the latter, traditional Select Committees struggle to address issues that fall between departments.Last year, ad...

challenges-for-chancellor

Challenges for the Chancellor in the 2017 Autumn Budget

The Chancellor faces several challenges in the Budget. On the one hand, Hammond faces downgraded forecasts and worsening public finances. On the other, he must deal with calls for greater public spending.Hammond is likely to face bad news from the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR). The OBR has warned that it is likely to ‘revise down productivity growth significantly’[1] ahead of the Budget. A significant downward revision would reduce the OBR’s forecast for tax receipts and push up projections for government borrowing. Treasury officials have signalled this will create a ‘bloodbath’ in the UK’s public finances.[2] The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) estimates that if...