• Research Briefing

    Parliamentary privilege and qualified privilege

    This Note examines the concept of privilege as it applies to Members, staff, and publications of the House, press reports of Parliament, and members of public authorities. It compares qualified privilege with the absolute nature of parliamentary privilege, by examining a number of areas where privilege may be applicable. Apart from quoting the statutory authorities, it does not seek to deal with the wider question of media publications on matters of public interest, which may involve a different kind of qualified privilege

  • Research Briefing

    The Draft Defamation Bill

    On the 15th of March 2011, the Government published the Draft Defamation Bill and a consultation paper (which included questions on a number of issues which were not included in the Bill itself). The consultation will remain open until 10 June 2011 and a Government response is promised by autumn 2011. The draft Bill was the Government's response to a number of complaints that had been raised around the defamation laws in England and Wales. The consultation paper noted that "there has been mounting concern over the past few years that our defamation laws are not striking the right balance, but rather having a chilling effect on freedom of speech". It also acknowledged worries that the threat of libel proceedings might be used to frustrate robust scientific and academic debate or to impede responsible investigative journalism.

  • Research Briefing

    The Counter Terrorism Review

    This note provides background information about the Government's review of key counter-terrorism and security powers, which was announced by the Government on 13 July 2010.

  • Research Briefing

    Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill. Bill 142 2008-09.

    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.

  • Research Briefing

    Judicial appointments

    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.

  • Research Briefing

    The Law Commission Bill

    The Bill is a Private Members Bill. It was introduced in the House of Lords by Lord Lloyd of Berwick, a former Law Lord. The Bill had all party support and completed all its stages in the House of Lords. It is expected to have its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 12 June 2009. This note briefly looks at the Bill so far.

  • Research Briefing

    Photographing the police

    There have recently been a number of concerns expressed about the ability of the public and press to take photographs of the police. The issue has been highlighted by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and British Press Photographers' Association (BPPA), following the introduction of certain provisions contained in the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008.

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