• Research Briefing

    This note was last published on 26 August 2009 and will not be updated. In the early stages of the financial crisis there were hopes that it would be largely contained within developed economies, with developing economies having 'decoupled' from them. These early hopes proved unfounded, with developing countries struck by declining trade, a loss of investor confidence and withdrawal of investment, a fall in the value of vital remittances, and much reduced growth and contraction in some cases. There are also fears that aid flows may suffer in the aftermath of the crisis. This note summarises key reports and statistics, with links to further resources.

  • Research Briefing

    This is a report on the Committee Stage of the Bill. It complements Research Paper 10/17, prepared for the Commons Second Reading of the Bill. The Bill seeks to limit the amount that can be recovered by any commercial creditor of those countries designated as having unsustainable external debts. It would restrict the activities of so-called 'vulture funds', which buy developing countries' sovereign debt at discounted prices, then seek to recover its value in full through the courts. It would limit successful claims to an internationally agreed level and apply equally to all commercial creditors. At Committee Stage, a new 'sunset clause' was added. The proposed legislation would now expire after one year unless renewed for a further year or made permanent by order.

  • Research Briefing

    The Bill seeks to limit the amount that can be recovered by any commercial creditor of those countries designated as having unsustainable external debts. The legislation would restrict the activities of so-called 'vulture funds', which buy developing countries' sovereign debt at discounted prices, then seek to recover its value in full through the courts. It would limit successful claims to an internationally agreed level and apply equally to all commercial creditors. It would cover the 40 countries in the IMF/World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. Debts incurred after the Bill's entry into force would be excluded.

  • Research Briefing

    This paper provides an introduction to the Islamic Republic of Iran; its politics, economy, foreign and defence policies, and nuclear programme. It examines the governmental structure of the theocratic state, analyses the key personalities and forums of decision-making and assesses Iran’s policies at home and abroad.

  • Research Briefing

    The Bill fulfils the Government’s commitment made in September 2008 to enshrine the 2020 child poverty target in legislation. It establishes four separate child poverty targets to be met by 2020/21, requires the UK Government to publish a regular UK child poverty strategy, requires the Scottish and Northern Irish Ministers to publish child poverty strategies, establishes a Child Poverty Commission to provide advice, requires the UK Government to publish annual progress reports, and places new duties on local authorities and other “delivery partners”’ in England to work together to tackle child poverty.

  • Research Briefing

    The Government set targets to reduce child poverty by a quarter between 1998/99 and 2004/05, as a step towards halving it by 2010/11 and a goal of 'eradicating' it by 2020. A Bill to enhsrine the 2020 target has been published. A Library research paper on the bil is aviailable at http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/rp2009/RP09-062.pdf The 2004/05 target was missed (see SN/EP/4759 for details). A new composite measure of three indicators was then adopted, one of which constitutes the national target of halving child poverty by 2010/11.

  • Research Briefing

    This paper provides a brief historical and social survey of Sri Lanka, including the origins of the conflict between the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE. It then gives an account of developments since 2002, when a ceasefire was agreed and hopes were raised – rapidly to be dashed – that there might be a peaceful negotiated resolution of the conflict. The paper also surveys the stance taken by the international community on the conflict, the military capabilities of the Sri Lankan military, and aid and development issues. It concludes by considering Sri Lanka’s future prospects, including assessing how real the Government’s military victory is and whether genuine political and constitutional reforms are likely to be introduced.

  • Research Briefing

    This note explains why constituency-level poverty data are not available (apart from in Northern Ireland). It gives region/country level data (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and the English regions) for poverty among the whole population, children, working-age adults and pensioners (with times series back to 1994/95 in a supplementary spreadsheet).

  • Research Briefing

    The global financial crisis has been tumultuous for Iceland. Until recently considered a rich, successful and competitive nation, Iceland suffered a dramatic collapse of its economy and currency following the collapse of its banking sector in October 2008. It was forced to negotiate a loan from the IMF and further financial support from a number of countries, and saw the fall of its government. The crisis has led to renewed suggestions that Iceland may apply to join the EU and adopt the euro. Following the Government's fall in January 2009, a caretaker Government took over in February and elections are expected on 25 April 2009. The major partner in the caretaker left-wing coalition, the Social Democratic Alliance, was a member of the previous administration and is strongly pro-EU, but its new partner, the Left Green Movement, has said it will continue to oppose EU membership.