Author Archives: Zoe OConnell

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.

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Federal Conference Committee report on selection of motions for Bournemouth

 

Federal Conference Committee met again last weekend to select motions that will be debated when we meet in Bournemouth. 41 motions were submitted, and usually selection proceeds in rounds. Motions are first eliminated on the basis of drafting, debatability and other such issues before subsequent rounds trim the agenda further based on time constraints.

However, due to the snap general election we received slightly fewer motions than usual for an Autumn Conference so only one round of debate was required. In most cases, the discussion gave a clear consensus and no vote was needed, but I have noted below where there was a vote that was particularly close.

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Federal Conference Committee Report

Federal Conference Committee (FCC) met this afternoon to go through the amendments, emergency motions and topic issues submitted for spring conference. Thank you to all those who submitted items for consideration – unfortunately, the deadlines for spring conference are very tight compared to autumn, so we do not have time to give everyone the individual feedback on amendments and motions we usually would. The full text of selected amendments and emergency motions will appear in Conference Daily.

Emergency motions are selected by ballot and papers should be returned to the ballot box in the auditorium on Saturday morning. Full details will appear in Saturday’s Conference Daily.

In all, 16 amendments, 13 emergency motions/topic issues and 5 questions to committees were considered by FCC. With the exception of the titles of emergency motions, the summaries are my own so apologies if any errors have crept in. The amount of time for debating each motion is listed, as this is a good indication to the number of amendments we can debate. A 45 minute motion can realistically only have one debated amendment, whereas a 90 minute motion might have up to three.

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Federal Conference Committee Motions Report

Avid readers of Liberal Democrat Voice will already have seen Geoff Payne’s report on the results of this weekend’s Federal Conference Committee meeting. All those whose motions were not selected should now have received feedback, so we’re able to release the list of motions to be debated in March when the party gathers in York.

Although I have covered this before, a quick reminder of how FCC selects motions is probably helpful particularly as this is the first time I have included information on voting. Selection runs in rounds, with the first round consisting of an FCC member responsible for a particular policy area briefly introducing the motion and making a recommendation on inclusion on the agenda. After this, committee members discuss it and decide if it should be accepted or not. This usually involves a show of hands, although the decision is often clear following the debate and a lack of any objection to the recommendation. Even being very tough in round one, we always end up with more excellent motions left than can fit in the agenda, so the process is then repeated in subsequent rounds as necessary.

It is important to note that non-selection of a motion usually does not mean that FCC believes the topic unworthy of debate, although we are always wary of repeatedly debating the same few items over and over. Most motions end up not making it to conference due to lack of time, because of technical or drafting issues or because Federal Policy Committee already working on a policy paper in that area. Those who submitted motions will have been given more detailed feedback. The committee also can only select from motions that have been submitted to us!

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Amendments and emergency motions for Brighton

Saturday was the final pre-Brighton meeting of Federal Conference Committee, (FCC) in which we selected the motion for the reserved Europe slot, amendments to be debated on all motions and emergency/topical issues for the all-member ballot. We also discussed:

  • One appeal against selection of a motion, which was rejected.
  • A request for an external (non-party) speaker to be allowed to put in a card to speak in the Europe debate, which was accepted.
  • 10 questions to party bodies, all in order.

For those less familiar with the process, here’s a short reminder of what can happen with an amendment, or part of an amendment: They can be accepted for debate and vote with a proposer and summator, they can be drafted in as if they were part of the original motion or they can be rejected. “Drafted in” amendments should be entirely non-controversial – updating a motion to reflect recent events, correcting or clarifying wording and so on.

For debated amendments, time is usually the biggest factor FCC has to contend with as we only have time to debate one amendment in a 45 minute slot – longer debates will allow for more amendments, although more than three amendments may be confusing no matter how long the debate is.

68 amendments were submitted, and we selected (either drafted in or for debate) 35 of them.

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Motions selected for debate at Federal Conference in Brighton

 

Whilst UK politics is in barely-controlled chaos, the Liberal Democrat policy-making process rumbles quietly on – with Federal Conference Committee (FCC) meeting in London on Saturday to select motions for Autumn Conference. I have described the decision-making process in previous posts so I will not go on at length, except to repeat my usual caveat that non-selection of a motion does not mean FCC does not think the topic is suitable for debate. Many motions are dropped in round one because of drafting problems, constitutional issues, timing in the electoral/policy making cycle or because the issue is covered by another motion or working group.

More detailed feedback has been given to those who submitted motions, often including suggestions for improving motions. This is not something I will try to repeat here as I only have my own notes of the meeting to go on, and errors would be inevitable. The task of rapidly providing feedback requires a lot of effort and is split amongst a dozen members of FCC.

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Federal Conference Committee report – Spring Conference amendments edition

Federal Conference Committee (FCC) met late yesterday afternoon to discuss the Amendments and Emergency Motions for York – the full text of accepted amendments will appear in Conference Daily. The usual caveat regarding descriptions of amendments applies. Amendments don’t have titles with them, so these are my own entirely unofficial summaries which may not be entirely accurate or complete. The list of accepted/rejected amendments is also based on my own notes as Spring conference is very intense and moves quickly – so I apologise in advance for any errors.
There are a few more options open to FCC compared to full motions – in particular, we can often “draft in” uncontroversial amendments so that they can be accepted without needing to spend time moving and voting on them. Conversely, we can be quite restricted in that it makes no sense to accept two overlapping amendments
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