Flags, national and other, have an ongoing cultural significance. The Union Flag, commonly known as the Union Jack, is the national flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Flying of flags is not the subject of statute law in England, Wales or Scotland. Advice is issued by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on flying of flags on government buildings, apart from those which are the responsibility of a devolved administration. In Northern Ireland there is legislation on flag flying, which was recently updated due to the UK’s exit from the EU.

  • Research Briefing

    Ministerial directions are a potential part of the process of approving expenditure of public money. Use of ministerial directions is rare, but preparations for Brexit have included an instruction to Accounting Officers to include them in planning for approval of spending in advance of Royal Assent to relevant legislation.

  • Research Briefing

    The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 provides Ministers with the power to establish new public authorities to carry out functions currently undertaken by EU-wide bodies. This could result in a range of new regulatory bodies. The classification of public bodies in the United Kingdom in the recent past has been the subject of reform policies set out by central Government, with a focus on reduction of overall numbers and guidance on the justification for the creation of new bodies. Both trends are considered in this briefing.

  • Research Briefing

    Honours awarded today are mostly part of the Order of the British Empire, which was established in 1917. Almost from the beginning there was controversy about who should receive honours and suggestions of impropriety, particularly in the award of honours for political service. This briefing provides an introduction to the various types of honours. It sets out the recent revival of the award of honours for parliamentary and political service. It also explains how an honour may be removed and summarises reviews of the system.

  • Research Briefing

    The Northern Ireland (Welfare Reform) Bill is part of a process to stabilise the political institutions in Northern Ireland. It stems from a package agreed between the UK and Irish Governments and the largest Northern Ireland parties: the Fresh Start agreement. This paper gives a guide to the Bill, and to the agreement.

  • Research Briefing

    This Note examines the arguments for and against legislation to require voters to cast their votes and whether it is a citizen's duty, as well as a right, to vote.

  • Research Briefing

    During the Scottish independence referendum campaign the three main UK parties committed to further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament. This note traces the commitment to a “timetable”, and summarises substantive new powers proposed by each party.

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