Following the Coalition agreement to review employment law, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced the “Employment Law Review” in January 2011, the first strand of which was a consultation on workplace disputes. This Note considers that consultation and the background to it, and the Government’s intentions as set out in its response to the consultation published in November 2011
The Welfare Reform Bill provides for the introduction of a 'Universal Credit' to replace a range of existing means-tested benefits and tax credits for people of working age, starting from 2013. The Bill follows the November 2010 White Paper, Universal Credit: welfare that works, which set out the Government’s proposals for reforming welfare to improve work incentives, simplify the benefits system and tackle administrative complexity.
This paper has been prepared for the Second Reading debate in the House of Commons. For information on the provision in the Bill relating to the introduction of Universal Credit, please see the complementary Library Research Paper, 11/24. Besides Universal Credit, the Bill proposes a number of other significant welfare reforms, including replacement of the current Disability Living Allowance, restriction of Housing Benefit entitlement to social housing tenants whose accommodation is larger than they need, time-limiting the payment of contributory Employment and Support Allowance to twelve months, and capping the total amount of benefit that can be claimed.
Keydata Investment Services was placed into administration by the Financial Services Authority in June 2009. The administrators, PricewaterhouseCoopers, found a number of serious issues at the company, one of which was that many products sold as ISAs were in fact ineligible for tax-free saving status. More seriously, they subsequently found that income on certain investment products had not been paid in recent months, and, in the case of one type of investment, they had been unable to satisfy themselves as to the safe custody of the underlying assets", and suggested that "the assets have been liquidated and may have been misappropriated".
This Standard Note considers the Government's interventions ("direct support") in four major UK banks, namely Northern Rock, Bradford and Bingley, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Lloyds Banking Group (formerly Lloyds TSB and Halifax/Bank of Scotland).
It considers the background of the "direct support" in the four banks, the role of the Government-owned UK Financial Investments Ltd in managing the taxpayers stakes in these banks, and the current valuation of these interventions. It also considers when the taxpayers' shareholdings in Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group might be sold, and the possible privatisation of Northern Rock, and Bradford and Bingley.
All firms undertaking sale and rent back agreements now have to be authorised by the FSA, so giving consumers greater protection. A key feature of the full regime will be that all consumers who undertake a sale and rent back agreement will have a guaranteed minimum tenancy of five years.
BAE Systems was accused of corruption, specifically making bribes, in regard to the Al Yamamah arms agreement with the Saudi Arabian Government. This was investigated by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) following the leaking of a letter from the then Director of the SFO to the former Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence.
The SFO discontinued its inquiry in December 2006, citing the need to safeguard national and international security, a move which was supported by the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair. A legal challenge that the SFO's decision was unlawful was not successful.
In addition to the allegations surrounding Al Yamamah, parallel SFO investigations were also conducted into a number of other BAE defence contracts in South Africa, Chile, the Czech Republic, Romania, Tanzania and Qatar.
In February 2010, BAE Systems reached a settlement with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) to plead guilty of conspiring to make false statements to the US Government in connection with certain regulatory filings and undertakings, including the Al Yamamah agreement as well as contracts with the Hungarian and Czech governments.
In March 2010, BAE Systems pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States by impairing and impeding its lawful functions, to make false statements about its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act compliance program, and to violate the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations. It was given a $400 million fine and agreed to take measures in order to stay within US and foreign laws concerning corruption and the exports of arms. The company also agreed to retain an independent compliance monitor for three years to assess its compliance program and to make a series of reports to the company and the DoJ.
This Standard Note is referred to in the Research Paper, The Bribery Bill (RP 10/19).