a. Identity Documents Bill

The Identity Documents Bill will go through the Report Stage and also have its third reading in the House of Commons on 15 September 2010.

b. Review of Counter-terrorism legislation

The Home Office is consulting on the Coalition's review of the operation of counter-terrorism legislation. The review covers the following powers:

Control orders Stop and search powers and the use of terrorism legislation in relation to photography The use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) by local authorities and access to communications data more generally Extending the use of 'Deportation with Assurances' Measures to deal with organisations that promote hatred or violence The detention of terrorist suspects before charge, including how we can reduce the period of detention below 28 days

Liberty and other civil liberty organisations were invited to make representations as part of the review and Lord Macdonald of River Glaven QC has been asked to provide independent oversight.

c. Immigration Cap

The Migration Advisory Committee has launched a consultation on the annual limit of the number of non-EU migrants admitted to work in the UK. The limit will only apply to skilled workers (under Tiers 1 and 2 of the points based system).

The consultation will be open for submissions until 7 September 2010. The Coalition intends to implement the cap from April 2011.

d. Equalities Consultation

While the Equalities Act 2010 was enacted by the previous government as one of its final pieces of business in April 2010, there is no indication that the Coalition is planning to dilute it. The Government Equalities Office has opened a consultation on the public sector 'equality duty', which is enshrined in the Act and is due to come into force in April 2011. In the consultation, the Coalition is asking for views on proposed draft regulations which will impose specific duties on certain public bodies to help them meet their obligations under the general equality duty.

The consultation will be open for submissions until 10 November 2010.

Our Comment

The Coalition's work on human rights and civil liberties continues throughout the summer recess. The Coalition's overall review of counter-terrorism legislation is necessary and desirable; and it deserves to be commended for consulting with human rights groups and incorporating independent oversight into the process.

While this and other changes are likely to be widely welcomed, the proposed immigration cap has already begun to attract criticism from business groups concerned that it will limit their ability to recruit well-qualified staff and therefore to drive their businesses out of recession. Indeed, some say that the temporary cap currently put in place to prevent pre-emptive avoidance of the proposed new rules is already having that effect. There is an obvious area of tension here, not only within the constituent parts of the Coalition, but between the societal and pro-business policies of its largest member.