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!

An outline agenda with timings should be available later this week, and the full agenda including the text of motions will follow towards the end of the month. Those arranging local party policy meetings might want to keep an eye on the official conference Facebook group, where I or one of the other FCC officers will announce the publication date as soon as we know it.

And now on to the list. For each item, I have indicated the Local Party/Organisation submitting the motion or the number of members who signed it followed by how the voting, if any, went at each round.

Motions not selected for debate

  • Business, Skills, and Higher Education: Creating a Globalisation Redistribution Fund (Beaconsfield, Derby, Wycombe)
    • Round 1: Clear majority against
  • Business, Skills, and Higher Education: Regional research and development (East Midlands)
    • Round 1: Clear majority against
  • Business, Skills, and Higher Education: Technology for the Common Good (17 members)
    • Round 1: 8-4 in favour
    • Round 2: Clear majority against
  • Communities and Local Government: Local Authority Parking (Newton Abbot)
    • Round 1: Clear majority against
  • Communities and Local Government: Local Councils (Barrow and Furness)
    • Round 1: Clear majority against
  • Communities and Local Government: Special Status for England’s Off Shore Islands (Isle of Wight)
    • Round 1: Clear majority against
  • Crime, Justice, Equalities, and Civil Liberties: Liberalising Britain’s Immigration Policy (Harrow)
    • Round 1: 8-5 in favour
    • Round 2: 4-8 against
  • Crime, Justice, Equalities, and Civil Liberties: Protecting the Human Rights Act (Elmbridge)
    • Round 1: 5-8 against
  • Economy and tax: Treating earned and unearned income differently within the tax system! (Camden)
    • Round 1: Clear majority against
  • Education and families: The creation of a Strategy for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) in England (12 members)
    • Round 1: Clear majority in favour
    • Round 2: 7-7 tied
    • Round 3: Clear majority against
  • Europe: Brexit: the Reverse Greenland Option (Newbury & West Berkshire)
    • Round 1: Clear majority against
  • Health and social care: Moratorium on NHS ‘fines’ (10 members)
    • Round 1: Clear majority against
  • Health and social care: Preventing drug-related deaths (13 members)
    • Round 1: Clear majority against
  • International and defence: Israel and Palestine (25 members)
    International and defence: Recognition of and Justice for Palestine (76 members)

    • Voted on together and defered for now to allow time for more work, by a vote of 11 to 4.
  • International and defence: Standing up against Rohingya Genocide (13 members)
    • Round 1: Clear majority against
  • International and defence: Supporting NATO (35 members)
    • Round 1: 8-4 in favour
    • Round 2: Clear majority against
  • Political and Constitutional Reform: Add Meritocracy at the heart of each department (10 members)
    • Round 1: Clear majority against
  • Political and Constitutional Reform: Moving Parliament to Northern England (10 members)
    • Round 1: Clear majority against
  • Transport: Government neglect of our rail industry (ALDC)
    • Round 1: 4-9 against
  • Work, social security and pensions: Fair Transitional Arrangements for Women’s State Pension Age Provision (Liberal Democrat Women)
    • Round 1: Clear majority against

Motions selected for debate

  • Crime, Justice, Equalities, and Civil Liberties: A rational approach to harm reduction – Sex Work policy paper (Federal Policy Committee)
  • International and defence: Towards a World Free of Nuclear Weapons – Policy paper (Federal Policy Committee)
    • By convention, FPC Policy papers automatically appear on the agenda and are not usually voted on by FCC
  • Crime, Justice, Equalities, and Civil Liberties: Tackling overcrowding in our prison system (17 members)
    • Round 1: Clear majority in favour
    • Round 2: Clear majority in favour
  • Education and families: Admissions to state-funded schools with a religious character (Federal Policy Committee)
    There is no policy paper attached to this motion, so despite originating from FPC it was voted on along with other motions.

    • Round 1: Clear majority in favour
    • Round 2: Clear majority in favour
  • Europe: Associate Citizenship of the European Union (Beaconsfield, Derby, Wycombe)
    • Round 1: Clear majority in favour
    • Round 2: Clear majority in favour
  • Health and social care: The Crisis in Health and Social Care (10 members)
    • Round 1: Clear majority in favour
    • Round 2: Clear majority in favour
  • A topical debate on Brexit
  • Plus the usual emergency motions slot, selected by members in a ballot on Saturday Morning

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

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • suzanne fletcher 1st Feb '17 - 1:14pm

    it is really useful and helpful to have this information, thanks.
    Obviously sorry the learning English one didn’t quite get through, but at least it nearly did!
    disappointed in a way that the moving parliament to the north is not on the agenda, as it would have been fun and interesting and some real debate.

  • Tony Collings 1st Feb '17 - 1:43pm


  • Nick Collins 1st Feb '17 - 2:21pm

    There’s no need to shout, Tony.

  • Simon McGrath 1st Feb '17 - 3:21pm

    @Zoe – thanks for this. Can you explain why the FCC needs to see the names of people putting forward motions when they consider them ?

  • Zoe O'connell 1st Feb '17 - 3:45pm

    Simon – we don’t get the list of members who have signed the motion, all we see is exactly what is reported here, i.e. something like “35 members”. There is a contact name on each motion so we can get in touch with queries and feedback after a motion is selected/rejected, but that’s not necessarily someone who has been involved in drafting it. (e.g. in the case of a motion from a Local Party or SAO, it’s one of the officers who is authorised to submit motions on behalf of that body)

  • Thanks for this.

    I see that none of the (presumably somewhat similar) motions covering “Business, Skills, and Higher Education” were selected.

    What was the reason for that? Is it intended that an improved version be selected later or what?

  • Zoe O'connell 1st Feb '17 - 5:44pm

    Colin – Yes, it’s in March! That’s what happens when someone interrupts writing to talk to you about elections in May. 🙂 As for Facebook, I’ll certainly post it elsewhere too (eg my Twitter feed) but we don’t currently have any other central conference-specific location I can point people at that’s suitable for one-line updates. One of the groups that come out of this weekend’s meeting will be looking at conference comms though, so now is the time to suggest alternatives!

    Gordon – there’s a “21st Century Economy” paper currently being worked on that covers much of the Business, Skills, and Higher Education portfolio. We’ll have a consultation on it at this conference and a full policy paper in Autumn.

  • Zoe O'connell 1st Feb '17 - 5:46pm

    P.S. People might also want to head over to Jennie Rigg’s blog, as she’s posted about her experiences as a first time FCC member – including a little more on how the motions selection went. You can find it at http://miss-s-b.dreamwidth.org/1808617.html

  • Colin: a question I often ask of party bodies myself. I never seem to get a satisfactory answer, though, even from those bodies I am a member of.

    Gordon: if you want to see a motion in that area selected, submit one. I would suggest that you use the drafting advice service to avoid the pitfalls that some of the motions not-selected fell into. I would further suggest that if you really want to ensure your motion is selected you nobble every other party member who might be considering submitting a motion to give yourself a clear run.

    Less flippantly, there is no intention for the selection of future motions beyond “we’ll see what’s submitted, and pick the best ones”. If someone submits a brilliant motion that fits in with the rest of the agenda, it’ll be selected. If they don’t, then it won’t.

  • suzanne fletcher 1st Feb '17 - 7:45pm

    just a note on training for chairs. I found it so refeshing when coming to conference in the early days of being on the council where labour chairs and mayors made up the rules, had no idea what the constitution said and the main thing was to shut me up and not let me do anything. Having a structure that was clear, and good chairs just kept me going till the next conference ! when I was mayor, I had a very good idea how to run a debate. It got messy of course as the labour lot just didn’t understand.
    so well done all the training that has worked over the years,

  • Nonconformistradical 1st Feb '17 - 8:09pm

    @Zoe O’Connell
    “we don’t currently have any other central conference-specific location I can point people at that’s suitable for one-line updates”

    How about the federal party website?

  • Simon mcgrath 1st Feb '17 - 8:24pm

    Zoe – thanks for answering

  • Sigh, is this really how we run the party ?

  • Zoe – Thanks for the feedback. I’ll keep a look out for the “21st Century Economy” paper.

    Jennie – Re drafting a motion – I’ll have to think about that.

    For the rest then, if I understand you correctly, the motions selected are the best that happen to turn up and also fit the agenda. Okaaaay … but how does that work with any strategic direction set by the Federal Board? Or does strategy exist in another dimension?

  • Zoe O'connell 3rd Feb '17 - 11:55am

    Nonconformistradical – The federal party web site doesn’t really lend itself to advertising very short updates, unfortunately. It’s more geared to fixed pages of information and if I asked for it to be put it on there, I doubt anyone would notice – unless I advertised it via Twitter/Facebook!

    Gordon – Federal Policy Committee decides which policy papers need writing and when, so they’re the ones setting the strategic policy direction rather than the Federal Board.

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