MIL-OSI UK: Equality and Human Rights Commission’s policies examined

Source: British Parliament News

15 January 2019
The Women and Equalities Committee continues its inquiry examining the enforcement of the Equality Act. The Committee has heard, over several inquiries, that individuals have difficulties in enforcing their rights under the Act.

Purpose of the session
This session will examine the role and effectiveness of the EHRC in the use of its enforcement powers. In particular:
The legal and policy framework for EHRC enforcement action
The EHRC’s policies on enforcement
The EHRC’s use of its powers in practice.
Witnesses
Wednesday 16 January 2018, Grimond room, Portcullis House. At 9.50am:
Niall Crowley, Independent equality and human rights expert
Barbara Cohen, Independent discrimination law consultant
Mike Smith, CEO of REAL
Nick Webster, Solicitor at Leigh Day
Further information
Image: PC

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MIL-OSI UK: EU assurances on Brexit: Prime Minister makes statement

Source: British Parliament News

14 January 2019
Speaking to the House of Commons ahead of day four of the ‘meaningful vote’ debate, the Prime Minister gave a statement about letters from the European Union offering assurances relating to the proposed Northern Irish backstop.

In the opening to her statement, the Prime Minister laid out the assurances she has received from the European Union. She stated that she has secured a UK-wide temporary customs arrangement, avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland, and a customs border down the Irish sea.
Additionally, the Government has negotiated substantial commitments in the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration to do everything possible to ensure the backstop will never be needed. In the event that the backstop was ever triggered, the Prime Minister assured the House it would only apply temporarily. 
The Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, responded to the statement, referring to the Prime Minister’s deferral of the vote on her deal in December 2018 as “shameful”. He went on to say that the Prime Minister was representing “exactly the same position” as the one that was deferred a month ago.
Transcripts of proceedings in the House of Commons Chamber are available in Hansard online three hours after they happen.
Image: PC
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MIL-OSI UK: Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill: Lords third reading

Source: British Parliament News

14 January 2019
The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill has its third reading, a chance to ‘tidy up’ the bill and make changes, in the Lords on Tuesday 15 January.

Members are expected to discuss the definition of a terminally ill person and the government designation of areas outside the UK by way of regulations to be laid before parliament.
Lords report stage day two: Monday 17 December
Members discussed a range of topics including a review of proscribed organisations, the case for national identity numbers and the responsibility of the government to produce reports on individuals detained under new port and border controls.
There was one division (vote) on a proposed amendment (change) to the bill.
The vote concerned the insertion of  new provision which would require the Secretary of State to make arrangements, within six month’s of the Act’s passing, for an independent review on the government’s strategy to prevent vulnerable people being drawn into terrorism.
The provision would require any such report to:
be laid before both Houses of Parliament within 18 months of the Act’s passing
include a statement from the Secretary of State in response to all recommendations made within the review
214 members of Lords voted in favour of the amendment and 196 voted against, and so the change was made.
Third reading, a chance to ‘tidy up’ the bill and make changes, is yet to be scheduled.
Lords report stage day one: Monday 3 December
Members discussed a range of subjects including expression of support for proscribed organisations, reasons for entering or remaining in designated areas and publication of images.
There were two divisions (votes) on proposed changes (amendments) to the bill.
Members considered a change which would make it an offence for a person to express an opinion or belief that ‘supports’ a proscribed organisation, rather than using the broader meaning of  ‘is supportive of’, which could be applied to people beyond those who actually intend any wrong or harm.
93 Members were in favour of this amendment, with 198 against, and so the change was not made.
The next vote was on the addition of a number of situations in which an individual, who goes into or remains in a designated area, would not be committing an offence by that act. Such situations would include providing humanitarian aid, carrying out the work for the United Nations and working as a journalist.
220 members voted in favour of this addition and 191 voted against, and so the change was made.
Lords committee stage day four: Wednesday 14 November
Members discussed retention and protection of journalistic and legally privileged material, declaration of dual passports and access to a solicitor.
Lords committee stage day three: Monday 12 November
Members discussed a range of subjects, including the introduction of national identity numbers, continued participation in the European Arrest Warrant and biometric data.
Lords committee stage day two: Wednesday 31 October
Members discussed subjects including the act of treason in aiding a hostile state or organisation, extended sentences for terrorism offences and notification requirements.
Lords committee stage day one: Monday 29 October
Members discussed subjects including expressions of support for proscribed organisations, publication of images and seizure of articles and the movement of UK citizens in areas designated as having a risk of terrorism.
Lords second reading: Tuesday 9 October
Members discussed the pattern of radicalisation, new offences regarding expressing support for terrorist organisations and overseas travel.
Baroness Williams of Trafford (Conservative), minister of state in the Home Office, responded on behalf of the government.
Counter-Terrorism  and Border Security Bill summary
This bill aims to:
Amend certain terrorism offences for the digital age and to reflect contemporary patterns of radicalisation
Increase the maximum penalty for certain offences, ensuring the punishment better reflects the crime and better prevents re-offending
Manage offenders following their release from custody
Strengthen powers of the police to prevent and investigate terrorist offences
Harden the UK’s defences at the border against hostile state activity
Further information
Image: PA

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MIL-OSI UK: Tenant Fees Bill: Lords third reading

Source: British Parliament News

14 January 2019
The Tenant Fees Bill has its third reading, a chance to ‘tidy up’ the bill and make changes, in the Lords on Tuesday 15 January.

Members are expected to discuss two amendments relating to interest payments owed by landlords or letting agents to enforcement authorities.
Lords report stage: Tuesday 11 December
Members discussed the acceptance of multiple holding deposits for the same property, the approval and designation of client money protection schemes and the requirement to belong to such a scheme.
Lords committee stage day two: Tuesday 20 November
Members discussed the early termination of tenancies and payments in respect of identity and immigration status checks.
Report stage, a further chance to examine the bill and make changes, is scheduled for 5 December.
Lords committee stage day one: Monday 5 November
The first day of committee stage of this bill took place in Grand Committee, a room outside the Lords chamber. In Grand Committee, any member can take part and decisions on amendments can be made, but no votes can take place.
Members discussed a range of subjects, including:
the government’s duty to provide tenants with guidance on the effects of this bill
the reimbursement of costs incurred by enforcement agencies in the exercise of their duties
the requirement of tenants to make payments to cover a landlord or agent’s loss due to a breach of the tenancy contract
Lords second reading: Wednesday 10 October
Members discussed unfair letting fees, compensation payments to tenants and home share schemes.
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Conservative), parliamentary under-secretary in the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government, responded on behalf of the government.
Tenant Fees Bill summary
This bill will aim to:
make renting fairer and more affordable for tenants by reducing the costs at the outset of a tenancy
improve transparency and competition in the private rental market
ban letting fees paid by tenants in England
improve fairness, competition and affordability in the lettings sector
Further information
Image: iStockphoto

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MIL-OSI UK: Voyeurism (Offences) (No. 2) Bill: Lords third reading

Source: British Parliament News

14 January 2019
The Voyeurism (Offences) (No.2) Bill has its third reading, a chance to ‘tidy up’ the bill and make changes, in the Lords on Tuesday 15 January.

No changes have yet been suggested to the bill ahead of third reading. Members may discuss the progress of the bill at the conclusion of its Lords stages.
If no changes are made, then both Houses will have agreed on the text of the bill and it will await Royal Assent, when it will become an Act of Parliament (law).
Lords report stage: Tuesday 18 December
No changes were suggested to the bill ahead of report stage.
Third reading, a chance to ‘tidy up’ the bill and make changes, is yet to be scheduled.
Lords committee stage: Monday 26 November
Members discussed the recording of images which invade the privacy of persons and disclosure of images for the purposes of preventing or detecting crime.
Lords second reading: Tuesday 23 October
Members discussed a number of issues raised by the bill, including the online sharing of non-consensual intimate images, the targeting of vulnerable victims and the current Law Commission review into the classification of misogyny and misandry as hate crimes.
Lord Keen of Elie (Conservative), Lords spokesperson in the Ministry of Justice, responded on behalf of the government.
Voyeurism (Offences) (No. 2) Bill summary
This bill will aim to insert two new offences in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 to cover the practice known colloquially as ‘upskirting’.
The new offences would apply in instances when:
without consent, an individual operates equipment or records an image beneath a person’s clothing to observe their genitalia or buttocks, whether covered or uncovered by underwear garments
the offender has a motive of either obtaining sexual gratification or causing humiliation, distress or alarm to the victim.
The bill would also ensure that the most serious offenders, where the purpose of the offence is for sexual gratification, are made subject to notification requirements (often referred to as being placed on the ‘sex offenders register’).
Further information
Image: iStockphoto

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MIL-OSI UK: Lords debate report on possibility of post-Brexit UK-EU security treaty

Source: British Parliament News

14 January 2019
On Wednesday 16 January 2019, the House of Lords will debate the EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee’s report on Brexit: the proposed UK-EU security treaty.

Background
The Committee’s report, published on 11 July 2018, examines the feasibility of the Government’s ambition to negotiate a single, comprehensive security treaty with the EU. The Committee called on the Government and the EU to make pragmatic compromises on security matters to achieve the over-riding objective of protecting the safety of UK and EU citizens after Brexit. Among other things, the report concluded that insufficient progress has been made in negotiating a comprehensive security treaty, an abrupt end to cooperation in March 2019 would seriously undermine the security of the UK and EU, and that serious difficulties are posed by the constitutional restrictions of some Member States on the extradition of their own nationals.
The Government’s response was received in September 2018. Although the Government gave full consideration to the majority of the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations, there were still outstanding areas of concern. The Committee wrote to Rt Hon Nick Hurd MP, Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service, in November 2018 seeking clarification on the Government’s ambition to reach a single security agreement relatively quickly and on its preparations for what could be an operational cliff-edge at the end of the transition period.
Speakers
The debate is being moved by Lord Jay of Ewelme and Baroness Williams of Trafford will respond on behalf of the Government. Speakers will include Lord Browne of Ladyton, Baroness Ludford and Lord Ricketts.
Other Members of the House of Lords who are due to speak in the debate can be viewed on the Government Whips’ Office Speakers’ Lists.
Further information
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MIL-OSI UK: Committee looks to Canada and Belgium for devolution direction

Source: British Parliament News

14 January 2019
The Scottish Affairs Committee continues its inquiry into the relationship between the Scottish and UK Governments, with an evidence session looking at how other countries manage intergovernmental relations.

Purpose of the session
The Scottish Affairs Committee is holding an inquiry into how cooperation between the UK and Scottish Governments can be improved. In this session the Committee will look at international comparators to find out if lessons can be learnt from how devolution works elsewhere.
The Committee will question the Deputy Head of the Belgian Embassy and a former Canadian Permanent Secretary of Intergovernmental Affairs on what the UK can learn from their approaches to intergovernmental relations. The Committee will also hear about devolution arrangements in other countries from academics specialising in constitutional affairs and federalism.
Witnesses
Tuesday 15 January 2019, Grimond Room, Portcullis House
At 10.15am – Academics
Dr Bettina Petersohn, Lecturer in Politics (specialising in Intergovernmental relations), Swansea University
Professor César Colino, Professor of Political Science (specialising in Spanish and comparative federalism), University of Distance Education (UNED) (Madrid)  
Dr Sandra León, Senior Lecturer (specialising in comparative government and decentralisation of public finance), York University
At 11.15am – Case Study: Belgium
Mr Jan Bayart, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Belgium in the UK
At 12.15pm – Case Study: Canada
George Anderson, former Deputy Minister (Permanent Secretary) of Intergovernmental Affairs, Privy Council Office, Canadian Government (via video link)
Further information
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MIL-OSI UK:  Transport Committee visits Liverpool to hear about health of bus services

Source: British Parliament News

14 January 2019
In a public evidence session, MPs will question representatives from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and two bus companies, Arriva and Stagecoach, on how services are developed and run in the city through the Liverpool City Region Bus Alliance.

The Committee will also use their visit to Liverpool to ask about fares and funding, workforce conditions and what is being done to increase bus use.
The trip will inform the cross-party committee’s inquiry into the health of the bus market, which is examining how services are run in England outside London amid a sharp decline in usage over the past 25 years. Bus travel accounts for almost eight out of ten public transport journeys in Merseyside. Passenger numbers have fallen since the start of the decade although they are now coming back up from a downward trend. Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram launched a consultation on how to improve services in October and responses to the Big Bus Debate are currently being analysed.
Witnesses
Monday 14 January 2019, Merseytravel HQ, 1 Mann Island, Liverpool, L3 1BP
At 1pm:  
Matthew Goggins, Head of bus, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Merseytravel
Howard Farrall, Regional Managing Director, Arriva Merseyside
Rob Jones, Regional Managing Director, Stagecoach Merseyside
Question and answer session
At 4pm, the evidence session will be followed by a question and answer session offering members of the public the opportunity to ask about the Transport Committee’s work and the role of Parliament. The meeting is the fourth evidence session in the buses inquiry. The Committee has previously visited Leicester and Bristol to hear the views of passengers and local authorities.
Further information
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MIL-OSI UK: Committee hears from Law Commission, lenders and legal experts in leasehold inquiry

Source: British Parliament News

14 January 2019
The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee continue their inquiry into leasehold reform on Monday 14 January with evidence session featuring the Law Commission, lenders and legal experts.

The first panel, featuring UK Finance, will investigate issues around leasehold from the perspective of mortgage lenders. It will examine issues including the increased risks related to lending on leasehold properties compared to freehold and the impact of onerous ground rents on mortgage applications.
The panel with the Law Commission and legal experts will consider the case for reform of the leasehold system. This will include the potential for legislation to prevent unfair ground rents, service charges and other terms, as well as more serious cases of mis-selling. It will also look at the potential for commonhold to be used more widely and what steps could be taken to facilitate this.
Witnesses
Monday 14 January, Thatcher Room, Portcullis House
From 3.45pm
Panel 1
Matthew Jupp, UK Finance
Panel 2
Guy Featherstonhaugh QC, Falcon Chambers
Amanda Gourlay, Barrister, Tanfield Chambers
Giles Peaker, Partner, Anthony Gold Solicitors
Panel 3
Professor Nicholas Hopkins, Commissioner, Law Commission
Further information
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MIL-OSI UK: What is the approach to forensic science in other jurisdictions?

Source: British Parliament News

11 January 2019
The House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee continues to hear evidence about the use of forensic science in courts in England and Wales and its contribution to the delivery of justice.

Purpose of session
The Committee will question Dr Sheila Willis, former Director-General of Forensic Science Ireland, the national forensic laboratory of the Republic of Ireland. Dr Willis is currently a guest researcher at the United States of America’s National Institute of Standards Technology.
The Committee will ask what structures are in place in the Republic of Ireland, the U.S. and other countries that enable the most needed research in forensic science. The Committee will also explore approaches that successfully provide a current source of responsive, independent, balanced and accessible analysis of emerging science and technology to those involved in criminal investigations.
Witness
Tuesday 15 January in Committee Room 4A, Palace of Westminster
At 3.25pm
Dr Sheila Willis, Guest Researcher, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Possible questions
Where are the gaps in forensic science research and in the understanding of forensic science evidence given your experiences in various jurisdictions?
The Committee has heard in written and oral evidence about the value of a ‘sterile corridor’ between investigators and the delivery of forensic science. To what degree is this achieved in other jurisdictions and in your view what challenges does having a separation of this nature create, and address?
Are there any lessons from the way the forensic science market operates in other jurisdictions that can learned for England and Wales?
Further information
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