Research briefings

This page provides access to research briefings produced by the Libraries of the House of Commons and House of Lords and the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST). You can find research briefings by sorting by date, type, or one of 350 topics. Pick your options from the dropdown menus.

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    • Commons Library Research Papers: in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other major topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
    • Commons Library Standard Notes: 3,000 briefings on topical issues or frequently asked questions.
    • Lords Library Notes: Written by the research section of the House of Lords Library to provide information on topics of current interest to members
    • POSTnotes: Short briefings produced by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology analysing policy issues that have a basis in science and technology.
    • POST Reports: Occasional major reports produced by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.

Displaying 21-40 out of 53

  • The Act of Settlement and the Protestant Succession Published 24 January 2011 | Standard notes SN00683 This note sets out the legal background to the rules surrounding the succession and then considers the historical background and context for the limitations on religious beliefs of the monarch and their spouse before looking at how the legislative restrictions could be removed. Lastly, it sets out recent attempts to change the laws of succession. Topic: Constitution, Crown
  • Fixed-term Parliaments Bill: Commons Stages [Bill No 64 of 2010-11] Published 20 January 2011 | Research papers RP11/09 This Research Paper summarises all the Commons stages of the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill. It complements Research Paper 10/54 which was prepared for the Commons Second Reading. No major amendments were made to the Bill during its Committee stage and no amendments were made during Report. Topic: Parliament, Elections, Electoral systems, Constitution
  • Debate on 20 January: Constitutional and Parliamentary Effect of Coalition Government Published 17 January 2011 | Library notes LLN 2011/002 Amended 01 November 2011 This Library Note aims to provide background reading for the debate on 20 January 2011: "To call attention to the constitutional and parliamentary effect of Coalition Government". Topic: Central government, Civil Service, Constitution, Ministers, Parliament, Parliamentary procedure
  • Fixed-term Parliaments Bill 2010-11: Commons stages Published 20 December 2010 | Standard notes SN05688 Amended 05 July 2011 The Fixed-term Parliaments Bill [Bill No 64 of 2010-11] was introduced to the House of Commons on 22 July 2010 and had its Second Reading on 13 September 2010. This Note details the progress of the Bill, including developments between First and Second Reading and the Second Reading debate itself. Topic: Constitution, Elections, Parliament
  • Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill 2010-11: Commons Stages Published 11 November 2010 | Research papers RP10/72 This Paper summarises all Commons stages of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill 2010-11. It supplements Research Paper 10/55 which was produced for the Bill’s Second Reading and replaces Standard Note 5697 'Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill: Progress of the Bill'. No major changes were made during the passage of the Bill in the Commons, but the text of the referendum question was altered and legislative provision was made for the combination of polls on 5 May 2011. Topic: Elections, General elections, Parliament, Electoral systems, House of Commons, Constitution
  • The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill [Bill 63 of 2010-11] Published 01 September 2010 | Research papers RP10/55 This Paper has been prepared for the Second Reading debate in the House of Commons. The Bill seeks to enable the next general election to be fought under the Alternative Vote system, provided this change is endorsed in a referendum on 5 May 2011 and boundary changes have been made to reduce the size of the House of Commons to 600. New rules for the redistribution of seats are designed to give primacy to numerical equality in constituencies and regular redistributions would take place every five years. Topic: Elections, General elections, Parliament, Electoral systems, House of Commons, Constitution
  • Fixed-term Parliaments Bill [Bill 64 of 2010-11] Published 26 August 2010 | Research papers RP10/54 The Fixed-term Parliaments Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 22 July 2010. The proposals are part of the Coalition Agreement between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, agreed after the May 2010 General Election. The Bill fixes the date of the next General Election at 7 May 2015, and provides five year fixed-terms. There are provisions to allow the Prime Minister to alter the date by Order by up to two months. There are also two ways in which an election could be triggered before the five year term: if a motion of no confidence is passed and no alternative government is found within 14 days; or a motion for an early General Election is agreed either by at least two-thirds of the House or without division. Topic: Parliament, Elections, Electoral systems, Constitution
  • Remaining stages of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill 2009-10 Published 14 April 2010 | Standard notes SN05379 This Note outlines the changes made to the Bill during report stage and third reading in the House of Commons, seconf reading in the Lords and during wash up. Topic: Civil Service, Constitution, Electoral systems, House of Commons, House of Lords, Parliament
  • Political and security arrangements in the Pakistan border areas with Afghanistan Published 22 March 2010 | Standard notes SN05413 This note outlines the current political and security arrangements in the ethnic Pashtun-dominated areas on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA). Topic: Afghanistan, Asia, Constitution, Defence policy, International politics and government
  • Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill: Committee stage report Published 25 February 2010 | Research papers RP10/18 There were some significant amendments during the Committee Stage of this Bill. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority was given control over setting Members' pay and pensions by amendments to the Parliamentary Standard Act 2009. There is to be a new Compliance Officer to investigate alleged misuse of Members' allowances; amendments would ensure that all MPs and peers would be liable to UK taxes; there would be a referendum on whether to adopt the Alternative Vote by 31 October 2011; and a new requirement on Returning Officers to begin election counts four hours after a general election poll closes. Topic: Constitution, Parliament, Civil Service, House of Lords, Electoral systems, House of Commons
  • Clarification of the Act of Settlement 1701 Published 24 February 2010 | Standard notes SN05357 This note explains the background to the introduction of Clause 83 into the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill 2009-10. The clause was introduced after it was suggested that Section 18 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 has introduced some difficulties of interpretation into the provisions of Section 3 of the Act of Settlement 1701.This affected the eligibility of Commonwealth and Republic of Ireland citizens to sit in the House of Lords. Topic: Constitution, Parliament
  • Citizens' Assemblies Published 25 November 2009 | Standard notes SN04482 This paper sets out the proposals for citizen engagement in constitutional reform made by the Government in the Governance of Britain Green Paper and subsequent announcements. Topic: Constitution
  • Governance of Britain: An update Published 16 October 2009 | Standard notes SN04703 This note provides an update on the proposals made by the Government in their July 2007 Green Paper on constitutional reform, The Governance of Britain. The note sets out each proposal and progress made since the publication of the Green Paper, including the contents of the Constitutional Renewal White Paper and draft Bill published in March 2008, and the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill introduced in July 2009. Topic: Constitution, Parliament
  • Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill. Bill 142 2008-09. Published 06 October 2009 | Research papers RP09/73 This Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 20 July 2009. It followed the publication in July 2007 of the Governance of Britain Green Paper which set out a broad programme of constitutional reform. In March 2008 the Government published the Draft Constitutional Renewal Bill and Constitutional Renewal White Paper. The draft Bill was scrutinised by a Joint Committee, with other committees reporting on aspects of the proposals. The content of the Bill is different from that of the draft Bill in some significant ways. As well as clauses on the civil service, the ratification of treaties, judicial appointments and protest around Parliament which were contained in the draft Bill, the Bill includes new provisions on the House of Lords, the Comptroller and Auditor General and the National Audit Office, Human Rights claims against the devolved administrations and the transparency of financial reporting to Parliament. Clauses on the Attorney General, which had been in the draft Bill, are not in the Bill as introduced. Topic: Parliament, Constitution
  • Bill of Rights 1689 Published 05 October 2009 | Standard notes SN00293 This Note sets out the historical background to the Bill of Rights 1688-89 and examines how its provisions have altered in the intervening centuries. Its role as part of the uncodified constitution of the United Kingdom is also discussed. Topic: Constitution
  • Power2010 Published 30 September 2009 | Standard notes SN05179 This note provides an overview of the Power inquiry in addition to the Power2010 campaign launched by Baroness Kennedy QC on 15 September 2009. Topic: Constitution
  • Judicial appointments Published 03 September 2009 | Standard notes SN04717 This note provides background to the recent changes to the judicial appointments system in England and Wales, starting with the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, which established the Judicial Appointments Commission. Further changes to eligibility for appointment were made under the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, which changed the criteria for appointment to a number of judicial offices. The Governance of Britain Green Paper suggested that there would be additional changes to the system of judicial appointments. In March 2008, the Government published a White Paper and a Draft Bill setting out the proposed amendments. Topic: Administration of justice, Constitution
  • Royal Marriages and Succession to the Crown (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill Published 17 March 2009 | Research papers RP09/24 Topic: Crown, Constitution
  • Background to Proposals for a British Bill of Rights Published 03 February 2009 | Standard notes SN04559 The three major political parties have all recently proposed that the UK should adopt a 'British Bill of Rights' of some kind. This paper outlines these proposals and sets them in context. Topic: Constitution, Human rights
  • Royal marriages-constitutional issues Published 02 December 2008 | Standard notes SN03417 This note sets out the legal and historical background to the restrictions on royal marriages, and considers their application in the case of the marriage of Prince Charles to Camilla Parker Bowles. Topic: Constitution, Crown

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