Two important bills have been enacted this week. The Fixed Term Parliament Bill received Royal Assent on Thursday. The Bill finally cleared the House of Lords on Wednesday when peers, who had twice blocked the plan, accepted a compromise proposal. They wanted the law to be renewed after each election but ministers said that meant allowing fixed terms to be switched on “like a light switch”. Peers voted by 188 to 173 to accept a plan for a review in 2020. The Bill fixes the date of the next General Election at 7 May 2015, and provides for five-year fixed terms.

The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill also received Royal Assent on Thursday. The Act moves the decision-making on policing away from government to communities by giving them the power to elect Police and Crime Commissioners.  Communities will now have a greater say in licensing decisions, with tougher powers for local authorities to restrict problem premises selling alcohol at night. The passage of the Act has not been smooth, Lib Dem peers attempted to delay the Act due to concerns over the power that individual commissioners would have. The Act also changes the laws of universal jurisdiction, as of Thursday anyone can initiate war crimes proceedings, but the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions will be required before an arrest warrant is issued.

Bernard Hogan Howe has been appointed the new Metropolitan Police commissioner. He has said that he plans to reset the boundaries between police and media following the phone hacking inquiry and new guidelines will be issued for police officers associating with journalists. Hogan Howe has also said that he wants a strategy of ‘total policing’ in the ‘war against crime’, “Where new techniques or new technology can help us in that war, I want us to maximise our use of it. I want us to focus on crime prevention – taking the initiative back from the criminal, taking them on and putting them on the back foot.”

Ken Clarke has told the Commons that there is “not the faintest chance” of the Government withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights. However, as Joshua Rozenberg points out, this does not mean that the Justice Secretary is happy with the way in which the Strasbourg Court enforces the convention. Clarke told the EU Scrutiny Committee last week that the Court was in need of reform, largely due to its massive backlog of cases. Clarke’s comments echo those of the Commission on a UK Bill of Rights, which has released its interim advice, and also the comments of Lord Macdonald in The Times, where he said that said he was happy for Strasbourg to deal with the big questions: the right to life, the ban on torture, fair trials and free speech. “But a right to privacy, the conditions of work or the insistence that governments give expression to one social value over another? Well, let the national courts adjudicate these questions so that if change is needed it is not falsely delivered from a provincial French town.”

Finally, it has been a good week for Somerset Cider Brandy, which has gained protected status after a four year tussle with EU regulations and brandy rivals. The Guardian reports that though written records of Somerset cider brandy date back to 1678, the tipple was removed from a European commission order defining which products could be described as brandy. Brandy is typically made by distilling wine and hence grapes are its raw ingredient. Cider brandy is made by distilling cider – so apples are the raw ingredient. Spanish producers argued that the absence of grapes from cider brandy meant it should be kept off the approved list. After their victory it is to be presumed that Somerset Cider Brandy will be throwing a pretty good party.