Research briefings

This page provides access to research briefings produced by the House of Commons Library, the House of Lords Library and the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST). You can filter the research briefings by date, type, or one of 350 topics. Pick your options from the dropdown menus.

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    • Commons Briefing papers: Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
    • Lords Library Notes: Authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
    • POSTbriefs: Responsive policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on mini-literature reviews and peer review, typically commissioned by select committees and library research services.
    • POSTnotes: Proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board.
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    Topics: Research material can be filtered by subject using the topic terms. The topics are arranged in a taxonomy (a hierarchical classification) and can be further filtered using sub-topics.

Displaying 1-20 out of 609

Access to Critical Materials
Published Friday, September 13, 2019 | POSTnotes POST-PN-0609
Critical materials (CMs) are key to UK manufacturing, including for the aerospace, automotive, energy and chemical sectors, which rely on materials typically extracted and processed abroad. CMs are vital components of several emerging technologies, including electric vehicles, renewable energy infrastructure such as wind turbines, and digital technologies such as computers and smartphones. The UK imports most of its CMs and faces international competition for key resources. This POSTnote looks at the demand and supply of CMs in the UK and ways of improving supply security.
Online Safety Education
Published Friday, July 26, 2019 | POSTnotes POST-PN-0608
Online technologies are an integral part of many children’s lives. In 2017, the Children’s Commissioner for England identified shortcomings in online safety education and a number of stakeholders have called for action to increase ‘digital literacy’ in the UK. Upcoming changes to the curriculum mean that aspects of online safety will be taught in all schools from 2020. This POSTnote gives an overview of how children use the internet and the opportunities and risks it presents. It provides an overview of current online safety teaching in schools and elsewhere and how this will be affected by changes in the curriculum. It also looks at the role of content filtering and age verification technologies to improve online safety.
Improving Witness Testimony
Published Thursday, July 18, 2019 | POSTnotes POST-PN-0607
Witness testimony is a written or oral statement given by an individual who has experienced an incident. It is collected during criminal investigations (including through investigative interviews, facial composites and identity parades). However, inaccurate witness testimony (such as the incorrect identification of a suspect) can lead to innocent people being wrongfully convicted. Wrongfully accused or convicted individuals are at risk of discrimination, relationship damage and poor mental health. Wrongful convictions are also costly, with a miscarriage of justice costing up to £1 million in compensation, and cause reputational damage to the police and legal system. Furthermore, the real perpetrators are not caught and may continue to harm society by committing further crime.
Compostable Food Packaging
Published Tuesday, July 2, 2019 | POSTnotes POST-PN-0606
 This brief describes policy options to enable greater use of compostable packaging
Plastic Food Packaging Waste
Published Tuesday, July 2, 2019 | POSTnotes POST-PN-0605
This POSTnote outlines the main options for reducing packaging waste (removing, reusing, replacing and recycling plastics) and examines the potential to combine them into a coordinated waste strategy.
Climate Change and Fisheries
Published Thursday, June 27, 2019 | POSTnotes POST-PN-0604
Fishing is dependent on marine food webs that are sensitive to overexploitation and climate change. This POSTnote focuses on marine fisheries, including wild capture and farming (aquaculture) of fin- and shellfish, and their processing. It summarises impacts on oceans and fisheries of changes including ocean warming, acidification, deoxygenation and storms, and explores how fisheries may adapt.
Climate Change and UK Wildfire
Published Thursday, June 27, 2019 | POSTnotes POST-PN-0603
Wildfire is any uncontrolled vegetation fire that requires a decision, or action, to suppress it. This POSTnote summarises management of wildfires in the UK, how projected climate changes may affect UK wildfire behaviour, and the environmental, economic, and health impacts of this. It also outlines policy options for increasing the UK’s resilience to wildfires.
Developments in Wind Power
Published Thursday, May 23, 2019 | POSTnotes POST-PN-0602
UK power generation from wind has increased in recent years due to sharp reductions in the costs of constructing and operating wind power facilities. Onshore wind power provides the cheapest electricity of any form of new generation built, and offshore is expected to continue to reduce in cost. Generating wind power does not emit greenhouse gases, hence future growth will help the UK meet its GHG emissions reduction targets. This POSTnote examines the innovations that have enabled wind power cost reductions, associated policy considerations and challenges for future deployment.
Sustaining the Soil Microbiome
Published Tuesday, May 21, 2019 | POSTnotes POST-PN-0601
The soil microbiome, communities of microorganisms in soils, underpin natural processes in soil habitats and are affected by environmental and land use change. This POSTnote gives an overview of the benefits provided by the soil microbiome, ways of assessing the soil microbiome, and measures to improve its condition.
Climate Change and Agriculture
Published Tuesday, May 7, 2019 | POSTnotes POST-PN-0600
Agriculture is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts, which has implications for food security. This POSTnote examines measures to reduce the impacts of food production and agricultural land use on climate change (mitigation) and to adapt agricultural land use to that change (adaptation).
Early Interventions to Reduce Violent Crime
Published Tuesday, April 16, 2019 | POSTnotes POST-PN-0599
Violent crime includes a range of offences, from assault to murder. It can be any action that intentionally inflicts (or threatens) physical or psychological damage. Over the past decade overall crime has decreased, and violent crime is down by 69% since 1995. However, homicides and crimes involving knives or sharp instruments have risen since 2014. This has been reflected in an increase in hospital admissions for assaults with knives or sharp instruments. Violent offences are disproportionately concentrated in metropolitan areas, such as London and cities in West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands. This POSTnote outlines types and prevalence of violent crime. It describes risk factors associated with involvement as a victim or perpetrator of violent crime. It then presents evidence on the effectiveness of early interventions to counter these risk factors and prevent violent crime.
Advances in Cancer Treatment
Published Thursday, April 11, 2019 | POSTnotes POST-PN-0598
A POSTnote that gives an overview of recent advances in cancer treatment, the potential benefits and risks, and considers the opportunities and challenges to using new technologies in the NHS.
Climate Change and Vector-Borne Disease in Humans in the UK
Published Wednesday, April 10, 2019 | POSTnotes POST-PN-0597
A POSTnote that summarises the latest data on vector-borne disease in the UK, explores how climate may influence the geographical distribution of species, examines the consequences for public health, and highlights potential adaptation and mitigation strategies.
Chemical Weapons
Published Monday, March 11, 2019 | POSTnotes POST-PN-0596
Chemical weapons are prohibited, however recent chemical weapons attacks in Malaysia, Syria, Iraq and the UK have raised concerns about their use. In the UK in 2018, four people were taken seriously ill and one person died following exposure to a Novichok, a type of nerve agent. The UK Government recently announced £11m to strengthen the UK’s chemical defences and highlighted chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats as an area of focus in the recent Modernising Defence Programme. This briefing provides an overview of chemical weapons including types of chemical weapons and modes of delivery, chemical weapons control and disarmament, investigations of alleged attacks and chemical weapons defence in the UK.
Reservoirs of Antimicrobial Resistance
Published Tuesday, February 19, 2019 | POSTnotes POST-PN-0595
The widespread use of antimicrobials, particularly antibiotics, has accelerated the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in microbes. A recent report by the Health and Social Care Committee called for AMR to be a ‘top five policy priority’. This POSTnote evaluates the main reservoirs of AMR microbes arising from the use of antimicrobials in both humans and animals.
Limiting Global Warming to 1.5°C
Published Monday, February 11, 2019 | POSTnotes POST-PN-0594
Under the Paris Agreement, almost all governments worldwide have agreed to collectively limit global warming to 'well below' 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures, and to 'pursue efforts' to limit this warming to 1.5°C. However, there has been 1°C of warming to date, and current international pledges could result in 3°C or more. A 2018 UN Special Report examined how peak global warming could be limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures, and the implications of doing so. This POSTnote outlines key messages from the UN Special Report, and UK responses to preventing and adapting to climate change.
Cyber Security of Consumer Devices
Published Thursday, February 7, 2019 | POSTnotes POST-PN-0593
Weaknesses in the cyber security of internet-connected consumer devices can undermine the privacy and safety of individual users and can be used for large-scale cyber-attacks. This briefing looks at the cyber threats associated with consumer devices and their causes, as well as initiatives to improve device security, and the related challenges.
Stalking and Harassment
Published Monday, December 17, 2018 | POSTnotes POST-PN-0592
Stalking and harassment both involve any repeated behaviour that would cause alarm, distress or fear of violence in a victim. Common stalking or harassment behaviours include unwanted contact online or in person, following a victim, and interfering with property. Stalking is characterised by a perpetrator’s fixation or obsession and can have long-term psychological and social effects on a victim. Stalking also has the potential to escalate to other crimes, such as sexual assault or murder. This POSTnote describes stalking and harassment before presenting evidence on the effectiveness of approaches to identifying, preventing and prosecuting these crimes.
Robotics in Social Care
Published Wednesday, December 12, 2018 | POSTnotes POST-PN-0591
This POSTnote introduces robotic technology and the main ways it has been developed for use in social care. It reviews evidence on the impact of robotics on the costs and quality of social care and its workforce, and explores the main ethical, social and regulatory challenges to its use in social care.
EU Environmental Principles
Published Wednesday, November 28, 2018 | POSTnotes POST-PN-0590
Environmental principles inform legal and political frameworks that aim to minimise the ill-effects of human activity on the environment. In the EU (Withdrawal Act) 2018, the UK has committed to incorporating a set of environmental principles into UK legislation. This POSTnote summarises these principles and considers potential opportunities and challenges surrounding their implementation post-Brexit.

Displaying 1-20 out of 609

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The House of Commons Library provides research, analysis and information services for MPs and their staff.

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The House of Lords Library delivers research and information services to Members and staff of the House in support of parliamentary business.


The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology produces independent, balanced and accessible briefings on public policy issues related to science and technology.

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