Federal Conference Committee Report – amendments and emergency motions for Bournemouth

Federal Conference Committee (FCC) met on Saturday to discuss amendments and other issues for debate in Bournemouth this weekend.

As a quick recap, and for those who haven’t been to conference before, three things can happen to an amendment: They can be accepted for debate and voted on my conference, they can be drafted in as if they were part of the original motion or they can be rejected. Drafted in amendments should not be controversial or ambiguous in any way, and typically they will update a motion to reflect recent events, or correct or clarify wording.

The time for each motion is listed, as this can be a factor when deciding to select an amendment for debate. One amendment is the realistic limit for a 45 minute debate, and longer debates allow us to fit more in.

Some disclaimers needed: The titles are my own brief summaries to give a flavour of the types of things people seek to amend, as the submitters of amendments do not need to include them. Errors or lack of clarity are my own fault. As with motions, non-selection does not mean that the topic is not worthy as amendments may contain technical errors, a lack of clarity, are too insubstantial or not sufficiently within scope of the original motion.


F4 Learning to Communicate in English (45 minutes)

  • A Multiple Topics – “Fleshes out” motion (38 members) – selected for debate
  • B LA funding (Greater Reading) – accepted as drafting amendment
  • C Clarify Funding (Stockton) – accepted as drafting amendment

F6 The Paris Agreement and UK Climate Change Policy (50 minutes)

  • A Nuclear Power (Young Liberals) – Not taken
  • B Renewables in public buildings (Rushcliffe) – Not taken
  • C Building insultation and electric vechicle charting (NE Cambridgeshire and SE Cambridgeshire) – parts drafted in
  • D Energy Storage (Greater Reading) – not taken
  • Separate Vote request on lines 54-56 – not taken

F8 The Impact of Brexit on Public Services (75 minutes)

  • A Customs Union (Greater Reading) – accepted as drafting amendment
  • B Local Government Role (ALDC) – accepted for debate
  • C Employment Rights, Customs Union (Twickenham and Richmond Liberal Democrats) – accepted as drafting amendment
  • D NHS Levy for non-EEA citizens (11 members) – Not taken
  • (E was a duplicate submission)
  • F Article 50 revocability (16 members) – Not taken
  • G Continued membership of the EU (Canterbury and Coastal) – Not taken
  • H Research into the impact of Brexit (Rushcliffe) – accepted as drafting amendment
  • I Multiple Topics – motion-length amendment (Suffolk Coastal Liberal Democrats) – Not taken

F10 Natural Environment Policy (75 minutes)

  • A Multiple Topics (Wokingham) – parts drafted in
  • B Green Belt (Young Liberals) – Not taken
  • C Clean Air (ALDC) – accepted as drafting amendment
  • D NGOs contribution (NE Cambridgeshire and SE Cambridgeshire) – Not taken
  • E Affordable food, animal welfare (Sheffield) – Not taken
  • F Humane Treatment of livestock (Greater Reading) – accepted for debate
  • G Environmental safeguarding in UK law post-Brexit (Rushcliffe) – Not taken
  • H EU Action Plan Against Tackling Wildlife Trade (10 members) – Not taken

F13 Subscription and Levy (10 minutes)

  • A Liberal Youth name change (Young Liberals) – referred to Federal Board

F16 Armed Forces Personnel: Recruitment, Retention and Welfare (45 minutes)

  • A Mental Health (Beaconsfield and Young Liberals) – Not taken
  • B Reservists, Pastoral Services (Greater Reading) – Not taken

F17A Opposing Brexit (105 minutes)
This item will only be debated if the suspension of standing orders request on Saturday Morning is successful. Details can be found in the Agenda Addendum.

  • A Referendum on Brexit (Canterbury and Coastal) – Not taken
  • B Referendum on Brexit (Runnymede and Weybridge) – Not taken
  • C Referendum on Brexit (Sheffield) – Not taken
  • D Irish border (Southwark) – accepted as drafting amendment
  • E Referendum on Brexit (Greater Reading) – Not taken
  • F Referendum on Brexit (Copeland and Workington) – Not taken
  • G Referendum on Brexit (Sevenoaks, Dartford and Gravesham, 28 members) – Not taken
  • H Coalition conditions (11 members) – Not taken
  • I Referendum on Brexit (East Kent) – Not taken
  • J Additional Wording (12 members) – Not taken
  • K Referendum on Brexit (Federal Policy Committee) – accepted for debate

F21 Safe Building Standards for all Homes (75 minutes)

  • A Multiple Topics (Wokingham) – parts accepted for debate, parts drafted in
  • B Wording change (15 members) – Not taken
  • C Wording change (NE Cambridgeshire & SE Cambridgeshire) – Not taken
  • D Public tax and spend policies (St Ives Lib Dems) – Not taken
  • E Wording change, funding (Kingston Borough) – Not taken
  • F Lakanal recommendations (Southwark) – parts accepted for debate
  • G Sprinklers, solar PV (Rushcliffe Liberal Democrats) – Not taken
  • H Wording change (Canterbury and Coastal) – Not taken
  • I Housing Standards Regulator (10 Members) – Not taken

F22 Centenary of Balfour Declaration (75 minutes)

  • A Gaza Strip (13 members) – Not taken
  • B Land swaps, historical land (Greater Reading) – Not taken
  • C Responsibility for conflict (51 members) – Not taken
  • D Replace conference believes (10 members) – Not taken
  • E IHRA antisemitism definition (Beaconsfield and Young Liberals) – Not taken

F24 Defeating Terrorism, Protecting Liberties (60 minutes)

  • A Daesh (11 members) – Not taken

F26 Employment in the 21st Century (60 minutes)

  • A Anxiety, Tribunal Fees, Profit levy (Wokingham) – Not taken
  • B Tribunal Fees (Greater Reading) – parts drafted in
  • C Taylor Review, Minimum wage (Young Liberals) – accepted for debate
  • D Further Education, Exclusive Employment contracts (Canterbury and Coastal) – Not taken

F28 Encourage Companies to be Responsible Corporate Citizens (60 minutes)

  • A Wording change (14 members) – accepted as drafting amendment
  • B Employee representatives on boards (11 members) – accepted for debate

F32 Protecting Small Businesses (40 minutes)

  • A Balanced SVR for local traders (Rushcliffe Liberal Democrats) – Not taken
  • B Pilot rates based on turnover (Kingston Borough) – Not taken

F34 Gun and Knife Crime (40 minutes)

  • A Lines 29-31 Wording change (Southwark) – accepted as drafting amendment
  • B Lines 29-31 Wording change (Canterbury and Coastal) – Not taken
  • C Lines 29-31 Wording change (43 members) – Not taken
  • D Acid attacks (Fareham Liberal Democrats) – accepted for debate

Emergency Motions
FCC does not select emergency motions for debate, merely decides if they meet the definition of an emergency motion. Most emergency motions that are ruled out of order do not concern events that did not arise since the motions deadline.

  • International Students (Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire) – In order
  • Recruitment and Retention of Teachers (10 members) – TBC
  • Fixing the Electricity Market (Lincoln, Sleaford and North Hykeham) – Not in order
  • Leasehold Scandal (Eddisbury and Weaver Vale) – In order
  • Deterioration of Human Rights in Venezuela (11 members) – In order
  • Preventing the Venezuelan calamity in the UK (12 members) – Not in order
  • Opposing UK participation in Trump’s re-escalation of the war in Afghanistan, and focusing on peace negotiations (14 members) – In Order
  • Genocide in Burma (10 members) – Not in order
  • MPs conduct and responsibility: No more lies – fighting misrepresentation (11 members) – Not in order
  • Freeze Fares (10 members) – Not in order
  • Implementation of Universal Credit (10 members) – In order
  • UK Government treatment of disabled people (29 members) – In order
  • Targetting and Allocation of Campaign Resources (Hammersmith and Fulham and 10 members) – Not in order

Topical issues
FCC can choose to select a topical issue to be included in the Emergency Motion ballot.

  • Allocation of campaign resources – Not taken
  • Campaign Resources Targeting, Raising the Party Presence – Not taken
  • Integrated Transport and Energy Policy – Not taken
  • The Importance of the Human Rights Act 1998 – Not taken

Two appeals were considered.

  • Mental Health Reform Act – Upheld. Motion will be put into the Emergency Motions ballot.
  • Opposing Brexit – Rejected. (This was considered in an earlier FCC meeting and will be subject to a vote to suspend standing orders, as detailed under F17A above)

9 questions were received for various party bodies. FCC merely checks that all questions are to the right body.

* Zoe O'Connell is Vice Chair of Federal Conference Committee and Vice Chair of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats.

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  • Laurence Cox 11th Sep '17 - 6:45pm


    Would it be possible for rejected motions and amendments to be published in a suitable place, for example within the members’ area of the Party web site. Motions and amendments with technical or drafting errors may still contain useful ideas that would otherwise be lost.

  • paul barker 11th Sep '17 - 6:56pm

    As always, we owe members of Party Commitees our gratitude. As someone who wasted far too much of my life sitting in meetings, My Thanks that its you not me.

  • Mike MacSween 11th Sep '17 - 9:56pm

    I would take your expressions of democratic concern seriously if a member of the FPC had taken the time, or at least had the courtesy to acknowledge, my letter to them asking about the omission of faith schools from the GE manifesto.

    Instead I relied on vague feedback from our local party who talked to ‘someone he knows’ on the FPC.

  • Martin Walker 12th Sep '17 - 8:13am

    Unfortunately, it feels like a very uninspiring agenda overall made up of a large number of motions which either add little value, would be impossible to disagree with, or reaffirm what is already our policy. This is, of course, not a criticism of the people who have taken their time to sift through the motions and amendments received. Hopefully, and in line with Paddy Ashdown’s comments, in future years Conference can debate some much more radical policy ideas.

  • Lawrence Fullick 12th Sep '17 - 8:47am

    Publishing the FPC amendment to the Opposing Brexit motion would help people decide whether to vote for holding the debate when the decision is taken on Saturday morning.

  • I’m very sorry, but after reading this article one comes to the conclusion that Bournemouth is a long way to go for not a lot. Not much sign of a radical clarion call to again enthuse the nation/s with the need for a Liberal revival. It’s thin gruel.

    Why on earth the party wants to spend 75 minutes on the centenary of the Balfour Declaration – which was about British Imperialism in WW1 – on 2nd November beggars belief at a time when we have a huge rise in demand for the services of food banks in an increasingly divided and unequal society. Half a nod to universal benefit is all this gets.

    If we must commemorate a WW1 centenary in November, why not the end of the Passchendaele offensive when Britain (and Allies) and Germany suffered half a million casualtiesfor seven miles of mud ?

    Let’s just hope that Dr Cable has something interesting to say.

  • David Raw 12th Sep ’17 – 9:52am…………..I’m very sorry, but after reading this article one comes to the conclusion that Bournemouth is a long way to go for not a lot. Not much sign of a radical clarion call to again enthuse the nation/s with the need for a Liberal revival. It’s thin gruel………… we have a huge rise in demand for the services of food banks in an increasingly divided and unequal society. Half a nod to universal benefit is all this gets…………

    I know you are involved in food banks…I volunteer my time/money in helping/feeding homeless/rough sleepers and have watched, with growing alarm, the steep rise in, especially, young men and women in need of such help….

    A radical party would be addressing the ‘future’ in such matters instead of ‘past glories’…

  • Denis Loretto 12th Sep '17 - 10:14am

    @ Lawrence Fullick

    Perhaps it will help a bit if I tell you the wording of the amendment I put forward from Southwark and which I see has been accepted as a drafting amendment –

    “Insert the following after line 16 with appropriate renumbering of lines –
    ‘ g) Secures the unique relationship between Ireland and the United Kingdom including free movement of people and goods across the Irish border.’

    The almost impossible situation which will be created in Ireland by brexit is to me one of the main reasons why the Liberal Democrats must continue to fight brexit itself (with a referendum on whatever deal can be secured as the means) as distinct from seeking a “soft” rather than “hard” brexit.

    I also would like to see the wording of the FPC amendment but do not see this as affecting the decision on suspending standing orders to allow debate on Saturday morning. For the Liberal Democrats, who unquestionably are the leaders of those who are desperate to find a way to stop the greatest act of self harm this country has ever faced in my long lifetime, to settle merely for a consultative session on the EU at our conference seems highly unsatisfactory. I would encourage delegates to get to the conference centre by 9am on Saturday morning to ensure we do at least get a motion to vote on.

  • @ expats I agree.

    I was in Vince’s home city of York yesterday. When I walked from Waterstones in Lendal to the railway station (half a mile ?) I saw no less eight rough sleepers of both genders huddled up in different doorways and alleys. It’s shameful…………… but not much talked about in ‘polite society’.

    According to the latest official figures, the number of people sleeping rough in England has risen for the sixth year in a row. An estimated 4,134 people bedded down outside in 2016, according to the snapshot survey, an increase of 16% on the previous year’s figure of 3,569, and more than double the 2010 figure.

    It’s fuelled by insecure tenancies, rising rents, benefit cuts and shortages of affordable housing in many parts of the country as well as a reduction in mental healthand addiction facilities.

  • Why ?

  • Andrew McCaig 12th Sep '17 - 4:00pm

    I was a bit shocked to see that an emergency motion I signed condemning government actions against the Rohindas in Myanmar/Burma was disallowed on the grounds that “the situation has not changed significantly since 28th June”.

    I would accept that the motion could have been better drafted – it was very much a last minute thing from my friend Zulfiqar Ali, whose first language is not English. But surely the correct approach would have been to help with the drafting rather than dismiss it on such clearly spurious grounds.

  • Andrew, sadly, the definition of “emergency motion” used by federal conference committee means that many motions on worthwhile topics get rejected for not fitting the definition – the events referred to must be novel or unpredictable events that have happened after the deadline for submission of regular motions.

    I am among many that think this is an unnecessarily technocratic and weaselly definition of emergency. I haven’t got around to submitting the necessary amendments to get it changed yet. Perhaps someone else could do it, though?

  • Andrew McCaig 13th Sep '17 - 7:32pm

    Do you honestly think that the situation in Myanmar has not significantly changed since June 28th?? Surely 250,000 refugees are enough to be considered an emergency??? I would love to know who exactly on the FPC predicted that in June….

  • Andrew McCaig 13th Sep '17 - 7:32pm

    Sorry, FCC

  • Mike MacSween 14th Sep '17 - 12:17pm

    Thanks for the advice Zoe, but joining yet another Lib Dem Facebook group isn’t something that interests me. I’ve had enough of being told that I’m ‘illiberal’ and that the Lib Dems are ‘inclusive’ and that I shouldn’t be asking the party to actually put into practice the things the party members voted for.

    This issue has revealed exactly what the Lib Dems are like. A top heavy party where those with seniority, and salaries/house of Lords allowances to protect, will do whatever it takes to protect their own positions and £20,000 a night speaking fees. Those people are scared (and they are right to be) of the backlash from the religious power mongers who will scream about intolerance because I don’t think my taxes should be used to support their particular brand of ‘faith’.

    Heaven forbid that we should actually propose something as radical as doing what we say, and pushing forward with a policy which is now 101 years old.

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