Parliament was dissolved on 3 May prior to the General Election on 8 June. A number of Bills received Royal Assent before dissolution, including the Criminal Finances Bill and the Digital Economy Bill.
The JCHR has published an interim report calling on the Government to bring forward legislation in the next Parliament to address the rise in self-harm and suicide in prisons. The Committee recommended that mechanisms should be introduced to ensure the Secretary of State’s accountability for issues such as staffing levels and overcrowding, and that further support be available for young offenders and those with mental health problems.
Another JCHR report, Human Rights and Business 2017, recommended that the Government should reduce the fees payable by claimants bringing cases to the employment tribunal, noting that they have had a significant impact on the ability of victims of modern slavery to access remedies. The Committee also highlighted legal aid cuts as an obstacle to justice for victims.
The Procedure Committee has published a report recommending that its successor committee carries out further investigations into the impact of the scrutiny of delegated legislation of any Great Repeal Bill. The Committee also recommended that chairs and members of the relevant Commons select committees – Procedure, European Scrutiny, Exiting the EU, and Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments – should be in place before any Great Repeal Bill is introduced.
The Work and Pensions Committee has published a report on victims of modern slavery. The Committee recommended that the Government should monitor the re-trafficking of victims, and that victims should be given one year’s leave to remain in the UK with the same recourse to benefits and services as asylum seekers.
Lord Judge has warned that a large quantity of Brexit-related legislation risks being passed into law without proper parliamentary scrutiny. Giving the annual Bingham Lecture, he suggested that there was already insufficient scrutiny as a result of the large volume of legislation, some of which leaves important details to regulation, and some of which constitutes political propaganda.
The High Court has rejected an application by the government for an extension to the deadline for publication of the UK’s draft air quality plans and ordered the Government to publish them following the local elections on 4 May. Rejecting the Government’s argument that publication should be delayed until after the General Election, the court concluded that purdah guidelines are not a principle of law but a convention that may be overridden.
The Supreme Court has held that the duties imposed on local authorities to house the homeless do not give rise to civil rights under the ECHR and therefore do not engage Article 6. In doing so the SC declined to follow a recent ECtHR decision, in which the Strasbourg court had found that Article 6 did apply to such decisions.
The Court of Appeal has held that prisoners should have access to legal aid to pay for representation for a number of important hearings, including pre-tariff reviews by the Parole Board, category A reviews, and decisions on placements within close supervision centres.
Disability and welfare benefits
The Scottish Government has announced a package of measures to support disabled people in accessing employment opportunities in the public sector. The measures include a new internship programme and a campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of hiring disabled people.
The Scottish Government has also confirmed that its new social security agency will not use private firms to carry out benefit assessments. The agency will administer a number of newly devolved benefits, including disability living allowance and personal independence payment.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has published annual performance statistics for 2016/17, showing that the ICO has received more reported data protection breaches and fined more companies for unlawful activities than ever before.
Reports and publications
The Institute for Government has published an analysis of the impact of implementing Brexit on immigration. The paper is the first in a series that will look at the impact of Brexit on different areas of Government policy. It concludes that the scale of the task makes successful implementation of a new immigration regime by April 2019 unfeasible, and that an implementation phase will be required during which free-movement will continue. It also highlights the importance of clarifying the rights and entitlements of EU nationals living in the UK, and the need for additional resources to deal with the administrative burden that this will entail.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published a report into life for disabled people across Great Britain.