Tag Archives: federal policy committee

Federal Policy Committee Report – 6 September 2016

After a hiatus in meetings over the summer, the Federal Policy Committee met for the first time on 6th September 2016.

This was a very lengthy meeting.  It commenced at 14:30 and went on well into the evening.  There were only two items on the agenda.

Snap General Election Manifesto

The Federal Policy Committee is responsible for the preparation of the General Election manifestoes for the party.  Earlier in the year, following the turmoil surrounding the Brexit vote, the change in party leadership in the Tories and the extreme instability in Labour, it looked like there might be a snap General Election this Autumn.   Under those circumstances, the committee wanted to have a manifesto draft available in the event that one was called.  It would have taken far too long to prepare a document at that stage and we would have started on the back foot.

As regular readers of this report will know, a Working Group was set up to actually write the document.  That group was chaired by Dick Newby.  It worked very hard throughout the summer to prepare the first draft.  There was also a consultation exercise in which 8,000 members of the party responded.  Those responses were considered and many of them were incorporated.

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Report of Federal Policy Committee meeting – 13 July 2016

The Federal Policy Committee is traditionally very busy in the immediate run-up to the summer holiday. That is because of conference deadlines and the need to get everything concluded before August when a lot of people are away.

The most recent meeting of the committee, which came hot on the heels of the last one, was on 13th July 2016. It also happened to be the day that Labour plunged further into disarray following the revelation that Jeremy Corbyn will appear on the ballot paper in their leadership election and, of course, the country had a new Prime Minister foisted upon it.

As we were going through the meeting, government announcements were being about new Cabinet members. We paused several time for a collective intake of breath.

There was a lot to discuss. We did not finish until some time after 9pm.

Membership of the committee

Gareth Epps has resigned from the committee because he has taken a job that is politically restricted. Gareth has been a very active member of FPC for a long time and he will certainly be missed from the committee. We were, however, delighted to welcome Antony Hook as his replacement.

Education Working Group

The committee agreed the chairs, membership, and remits of three new working groups. Each of those groups was recommended by the Agenda 2020 exercise.

The first of these was education. The remit requires the group to identify proposals for new policy in Education in England. The group is particularly to be directed to identify policies which could be strong campaigning issues within education, reinforcing our overall liberal vision of creating opportunity for everyone regardless of background. The group is also expected to consider and address Liberal Democrat principles on diversity and equalities in developing their proposals. It will deal with the overall principles of education, Early Years, funding, structures, academies, governors, standards and inspections, quality, teacher recruitment, closing the attainment gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students, school and the world of work, Further Education and adult education. It will not deal with Higher Education.

The chair is to be Lucy Nethsingha. The membership of the group was appointed. It is fair to say that there was very strong competition for places. In fact, we had over 830 applications for the working groups.

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Federal Policy Committee Report – 11 May 2016

The Federal Policy Committee had its most recent meeting on 11th May 2016. The agenda was a fairly light one with two major substantive items.

Further Discussion on Liberty and Security Working Group Paper

Brian Paddick attended the committee again to discuss the progress of this working group. It is nearing its closing stages now and will report to conference in the Autumn.

The group has consulted very widely throughout the party; firstly at a consultation session at Spring Conference which was extremely well attended, secondly, through an online survey that was promoted on Twitter and Facebook, thereby doubling the number of responses, and finally through actively soliciting submissions from various groups within the party.

There was a short paper presented to the committee setting out various provisional conclusions that had been reached and that formed a basis for discussion.

The areas that are to be addressed in the paper will follow the remit that was set. Those areas include the range and severity of the threats to the country arising from terrorism, extremism and cross-border crime, the necessary powers of the police and security services in order to deal with those threats, online surveillance by the authorities, the regulation and accountability of the police, the encroachment on individual liberty by entities other than government such as private companies and news media and, finally, the steps that government can take to reduce threats to public safety other than through the police and security services.

It would not be right for me to go into the conclusions of the group now and before the release of the final paper. That said, the paper will cover issues such as the current threat level facing the United Kingdom and the sources from which that threat is derived, the Investigatory Powers Bill and its predecessors, secret courts, the PREVENT strategy and potential changes to it, data collection by private companies, the stripping of citizenship and the potential for someone to be left stateless, covert human surveillance, the Digital Bill of Rights, data protection, trust in the police and the effect of government foreign policy on community relations and perception.

There was a range of comments from members of the committee. There was an extremely interesting discussion about bulk data collection, dark areas of the net and social media and the ability of the security services to access that material and those areas. There were also comments about PREVENT and CHANNEL, Secret Courts and a new requirement to prove nationality if a person is stopped that the government has imposed.

The final paper will return to the Federal Policy Committee on 8th June 2016.

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Federal Policy Committee meeting report

This report concerns the meeting of the FPC that took place on 23rd March 2016. This was not the best-attended meeting of the cycle but there were some very interesting discussions nonetheless.

Consultation Session on Liberty and Security Working Group Paper

Brian Paddick attended to offer the committee an opportunity to comment on the consultation paper that was taken to Spring Conference by his working group. The consultation session at Spring Conference was standing room only and there were a number of views expressed in that meeting.

Brian explained that the Investigatory Powers Bill is starting its committee session in the Commons shortly. The committee was delighted to hear that the chair is to be Nadine Dorries MP.

Members of the committee made a number of points in response to the consultation. There were comments surrounding the rushed nature of the legislation, the need to keep the rhetoric on the proposed powers proportionate to the threat, the issues in relation to bulk retention and the privacy implications thereof. There were also comments about the need to ensure that legal professional privilege is inviolable,that there should be proper judicial oversight with submissions potentially being made by special advocates for the other side and the need to ensure that there are no hidden ‘back doors’ into encrypted data. Others made comments about identifying those things that we disagree with and those things where there is a debate to be had about the detail, for example judges versus minsters issuing authorisations. Others queried the effectiveness of the measures and made the point that the provisions may have a disproportionate effect on minority communities.

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Reminder: How to contribute to the Federal Policy’s Agenda 2020

The Federal Policy Committee (FPC) is presently in the process of a major review exercise called ‘Agenda 2020’ to consider,

  • The challenges that the United Kingdom will face over the coming years, (economic, social, environmental, political), and, in the light of it, to prepare,
  • A statement of the distinctively Liberal Democrat approach and,
  • A map of the policy development that the FPC needs to carry out in order to achieve it.

Given what happened to the party in May, it is now more important than ever that we assert our own identity and project to the electorate what it means to be a Liberal Democrat and why the country needs Liberal Democrats.

The Agenda 2020 group (of which I am a member) has put together a paper for discussion.  It was the subject of two very lively sessions at conference and now it is out for wider consultation from members of the party.  We really want to hear your views.

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Conference Countdown 2015: Agenda 2020 at conference: your chance to have your say

We’ve written here before about the Federal Policy Committee’s ‘Agenda 2020’ exercise – a major consultation within the party on Liberal Democrats’ basic beliefs, values and approaches. Our political philosophy is the backbone around which we build our policies on specific issues, and a vital part of our fightback.

A short consultation paper, Agenda 2020, and an accompanying set of essays setting out the personal opinions of a range of individuals within the party are both available on the party website.

The paper sets out a brief description of the Liberal Democrat philosophy and outlines the policy challenges the country, and the party, will face over the next five years. Responses to the paper can be submitted via the website, but we are also discussing it at two consultative sessions during the Bournemouth conference. Each of them will give you an opportunity to give us your thoughts on what’s in the paper, what you like, what you don’t like, and what’s missing.

It’s not terribly obvious from the conference agenda how the sessions will be run, so we thought it would be useful to outline them here.

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A chance to help shape Liberal Democrat policy on social security, privacy and sex work

The party’s Federal Policy Committee is looking for party members to take part in policy working groups to develop policy in three particular areas:

  • Social security
  • Security and privacy
  • Sex work

From an email sent to party members today:

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid Evershed 26th Oct - 10:17am
    May 2015 should read May 2015. :(
  • User AvatarAndrew McCaig 26th Oct - 10:16am
    David, Neither the Sarah Olney twitter feed nor the Richmond Lib Dems website are behaving like there is a by-election on with a candidate in...
  • User AvatarDavid Evershed 26th Oct - 10:08am
    Lib Dems have a candidate in place in Richmond for a snap general election, who I understand has only been a member since May 2105....
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    In my experience those that talk most about 'Patriotism' are those who go to extreme lengths to avoid their 'moral' tax burden and pay instead...
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    I hope the campaign will not focus on personal attacks on Zac Goldsmith. I would prefer to see a positive campaign, focusing on putting across...
  • User AvatarSimon Shaw 26th Oct - 10:03am
    I think we have every prospect of significantly reducing Goldsmith's majority. Those who expect more than that need to get real.