Why are people economically inactive?

The latest Labour Market Statistics released today show that unemployment in the UK is falling and the employment level and rate is now the highest it has been since comparable records began in 1971.

However, another good indicator of the performance of the Labour Market is the level of economic inactivity. Economically inactive people are those without a job who are not seeking work and/or are not available to start work in the next two weeks. The main economically inactive groups are students, people looking after family and home, long term sick and disabled, temporarily sick and disabled, retired people and discouraged workers.

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Celebrating National Libraries Day

The annual National Libraries Day takes place on Saturday 7th February, encouraging people to use, love and join their local library.

Members of Parliament do not need to join the House of Commons Library; it is there for them, providing all the services of any modern library, and much more in the way of support, briefing and analysis. We held an event in the Reference Room of the Members’ Library on Monday 2 February where Members had the chance to take a #shelfie, speak to Library staff, and show their support for libraries generally. This is the third year we have organised an evening event to mark National Libraries Day but the first time we have used the Members’ Library rooms to host it.

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Smoking: standardised packaging and smoking rates in England

The Government announced on 21 January 2015 that they will bring forward legislation on standardised packaging on tobacco products.  The intention, subject to the agreement of Parliament, is that the Regulations be made before Parliament dissolves for the election. This follows a 2012 public consultation, an independent public health review and a further consultation on draft regulations.  The regulation-making powers also require that consent is sought from Ministers in the Devolved Administrations for regulations to extend across the UK.

The proposed regulations would introduce new requirements for the retail packaging of cigarettes and loose tobacco.  Packets would be a prescribed shape and would be a drab brown colour.  Names of brands would be in a fixed typeface and with a maximum font size.


A general guide to how a standardised packet may look; may not be comprehensive or final.
Consultation on introduction of regulations

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Evidence under oath, perjury and parliamentary privilege

The issue of select committee powers has received renewed interest during the 2010-15 Parliament, culminating in a report from Liaison Committee on Select committee effectiveness, resources and powers (in October 2012); and, subsequently, a report by the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege in July 2013 (and a Government response later that year).

Although parliamentary select committees are frequently described as being powerful and influential, questions have arisen about their ability both to summon witnesses and punish those who are guilty of contempt or perjury. Continue reading

Regulation of candidates’ campaign expenditure: the long and the short of it…

There are two regulated periods for candidates contesting the UK Parliamentary general election, known as the long campaign and the short campaign. Separate spending limits apply in each of these periods.

The long campaign period (technically the period during which the pre-candidacy election expenses are regulated) began on 19 December 2014 and ends on the day before a person officially becomes a candidate.

The short campaign period (the period when the candidates’ election expenses are regulated during the election campaign) begins on the day a person officially becomes a candidate (generally this will be at the dissolution of Parliament on 30 March 2015) and ends on polling day, 7 May 2015.

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Voter Trends in 2014 and lessons for the 2015 General Election

Since 1964, the British Election Study (BES) has been surveying voters at each General Election in an attempt to establish who votes for who and why. The study has evolved over time, yet the central focus on political preferences and values, attitudes towards political engagement, and the socio-demographic characteristics of voters has remained.

The BES released the third wave of their 2014-17 internet panel study in late 2014, with Wave 1 taking place between February and March 2014, Wave 2 between May and June, and Wave 3 between September and October. A panel study is a type of survey that collects information on the same individuals at multiple points in time, which allows us to follow the same respondents from wave to wave, tracking the evolution of respondents’ attitudes towards election-related issues over time.

This post analyses three trends emerging from the latest data, each of which may play an important role in deciding the result of May’s General Election.

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Sex and relationships education in schools

What children should be taught about sex and relationships, by whom and when, is a matter of persistent political debate.  There are currently two Private Member’s Bills before Parliament on the subject, as well as an Education Committee inquiry in progress.  The matter was raised during the passage of the recent Children and Families Act and has been discussed by the Youth Parliament – and this is only the debate in Westminster.

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