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Conference Countdown 2015: Cutting VAT for tourism would be a costly mistake

In the run-up to Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, we’ll be looking ahead to examine the highlights in the debating hall, the fringe and training rooms. You can find the papers here. You can find all the posts in the series here.

One of the motions at conference is for reducing VAT on tourism as far as possible. Here’s why that’s a bad idea.

The idea is to reduce VAT on hotels and selected attractions from the standard rate of 20% to 5% – the minimum allowed by the EU. This is something the British Hospitality Association has been lobbying the Treasury on for years. The motion refers to the importance of tourism more generally, with figures that include all restaurants, pubs and outbound flights, amongst other things, but I assume its VAT proposal is (mercifully) more limited.

The government’s response to this lobbying (under both Labour and the Coalition of which we were a part) has been to point to the substantial price tag. The cost of cutting VAT for accommodation alone would be £2 billion a year, with amusement parks and similar adding another £200 million. This is serious money. A comparable total would be the cost of the Pupil Premium that Lib Dems fought so hard to introduce.

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Conference Countdown 2015: The first policy debate on creating safe and legal routes for refugees.

In the run-up to Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, we’ll be looking ahead to examine the highlights in the debating hall, the fringe and training rooms. You can find the papers here. You can find all the posts in the series here.

The first policy debate of tho year’s Conference is on Creating safe and legal routes for refugees. It will be proposed by Suzanne Fletcher who is one of the founder members of Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary.

The motion is unlikely to be controversial and is particularly relevant at the moment. It is very consistent with the sorts of things that Tim Farron has been saying, especially since he visited the refugees in Calais himself.

However, if there are any developments, amendments can be submitted until 7th September. 

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Conference Countdown 2015: How do Conference debates work?

In the run-up to Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, we’ll be looking ahead to examine the highlights in the debating hall, the fringe and training rooms. You can find the papers here. You can find all the posts in the series here.

For those of you who haven’t been to Conference before, I thought it might be useful to run through how Conference debates work.

Local parties, groups of Conference representatives and organisations (SAOs) like Liberal Youth and Lib Dem Women can submit motions to Conference. They are then circulated and are open to amendment. This year’s deadline for amendments is 1pm on Monday 7th September, so if you want to amend any of the motions, persuade 10 Conference representatives, or persuade your local party or an SAO to submit it for you. You can submit amendments online here and until next Tuesday at 1pm, you can even get drafting advice from expert motion writers here.

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David Steel’s Golden Jubilee

David Steel at Malcolm Bruce's anniversary dinnerI’m sure that there will be many LDV readers wanting to see the film Selma (as a well-earned break from campaigning!) which is released this week. It depicts Martin Luther King’s leadership of thousands on the march from Selma to Montgomery in search of equal voting rights for African Americans who were largely excluded from voting rolls. The five day fifty-four mile march arrived at the State Capitol on the 25th March 1965.

It was on the day before that the young David Steel was elected in a by-election for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles, thus beginning a long political career in which he has been a notable campaigner against racial injustice at home and abroad.

The various aspects of Lord Steel’s political life will be celebrated at this year’s Orpington Dinner at the National Liberal Club on Tuesday, 10th March with an impressive list of speakers including Baroness Shirley Williams. The Orpington Circle is one of the Party’s best kept secrets. Founded in 2008 during my time as Chairman of the National Liberal Club, it raises money to support Liberal Democrats at Westminster by-elections. The Orpington Fund has covered every by-election deposit since its foundation with larger sums going to selected seats.

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Ed Davey: Non-nuclear energy approach is “negligent” and “risky” #slfconf

Ed Davey - photo by Paul WalterOn Monday, I summarised the appearances of Ed Davey at last weekend’s Social Liberal Forum conference in London. Here, I outline some of the views expressed and initiatives described by Ed on the day, including during a bloggers’ interview:

Using less energy

Fuel poverty is a serious issue. Energy inefficient building stock is a key cause.

The Green deal, Ed said, had not originally gone as well as it had been hoped. In Phase 1, there were just 250,000 assessments. Phase 2 is going better, and is on track to improve two million homes.

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ALDE to select candidate for president of the European Commission

The ALDE Party has called an extraordinary Electoral Congress to advise the ALDE Party Bureau to choose a candidate for the President of the European Commission. This congress will take place in the afternoon of the 1st February 2014, in Brussels. Liberal Democrats are the biggest delegation with the total of sixty-two votes.

There are only two declared candidates so far, Guy Verhofstadt, Leader of the ALDE Group in the European Parliament, and former Prime Minister of Belgium, and Olli Rehn, Vice President of the European Commission, and Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, a key portfolio over the past …

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Vince and the Chinese Lib Dems: “West meets East at the Roux”

Chinese Liberal Democrats Vice Chair Merlene Toh Emerson invited Vicky Wong, a freelance journalist, to attend the Chinese Liberal Democrats recent business networking event, attended by Vince Cable. Here’s Vicky’s account of the evening…

Dr Vince Cable MP, Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills was keynote speaker at an “East-West Business networking event” organised by Merlene Emerson of the Chinese Liberal Democrats at the Roux at Parliament Square last week.

Dr Cable praised the work of Chinese Liberal Democrats and their role in promoting closer relations between the party and the Chinese and South East Asian community …

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRoland 19th Mar - 11:25pm
    I see this agreement more in terms of "simply inevitable". It is only a win for the EU in the sense that the UK has...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 19th Mar - 10:54pm
    Reuters Tonight : "Brexit transition deal which failed to deliver full control over fishing rights, with Conservatives suggesting they could not support a final agreement...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 19th Mar - 9:43pm
    @ Arnold Kiel "A complete win for the EU". No need to seem so pleased about it, Mr. Kiel.
  • User AvatarGraham Evans 19th Mar - 9:20pm
    Conservative Home is currently a joy to read. Even JRM has been accused of being a traitor to the Brexit cause😀.
  • User AvatarArnold Kiel 19th Mar - 9:10pm
    A complete win for the EU (and, unwillingly, the UK). Most importantly: Fox can start failing right away for everybody to see, hopefully in time....
  • User AvatarSimon Banks 19th Mar - 8:52pm
    Was "Tory" one of the profanities?