Federal Conference Committee Report: Amendments and emergency motions selected

Federal Conference Committee (FCC) has now selected the amendments and emergency motions for spring conference. The full text of selected amendments and emergency motions will appear in Conference Extra and Conference Daily, which may well have been published by the time you read this.

Emergency motions that are in order (I.e. genuine emergencies) are selected by all-member ballot on Saturday morning, via the ballot box at the front of the auditorium. Full details on the process and content will appear in Saturday’s Conference Daily.

Some authors of amendments have included titles, but this is not mandatory so a number are my own summaries. As ever, apologies in advance if any errors have crept in as this is based off personal notes rather than official FCC paperwork. The amount of time for debating each motion is listed, as this affects amendment selection – a 45 minute motion can managed one debated amendment, whereas a 90 minute motion might have three.

  • F4 – Local Government and Housing (45 minutes)
    • Selected for Debate:
      • Legislation against “poor doors” (London Borough of Haringey, London Borough of Southwark)
    • Drafting amendments:
      • Use of section 106 money to help rough sleepers (Manchester Central Gorton and Blackley)
    • Not taken:
      • EDMO to apply after 6 months (Southwark Liberal Democrats)
      • Measures to increase scale of house building (29 members)
      • Development on Green Belt land (Young Liberals)
      • Enforcement of s160 of the Housing Act 1985 (10 members)
      • Regulation of the Mortgage Market by the Bank of England (Calderdale)
      • Funding redevelopment of brownfield sites (Stockton and Pendle)
  • F5 – Exit from Brexit (45 minutes)
    • Drafting amendments:
      • Update to reflect recent events from motion submitter
    • Not taken:
      • Co-operation with other pro-European groups (Cambridge)
      • Voting for foreign citizens (23 members)
      • Clarification on current impossible situation (East Cambridgeshire)
      • Debates between MPs and MEPs (Coventry Liberal Democrats)
      • Independent commission on accuracy; voting rights in referendum; minimum turnout (Calderdale)
  • F7 – Education Policy Paper (90 minutes)
    • Selected for Debate:
      • Do not support biannual home education visits (14 members)
      • Gender Neutral School Uniforms (LGBT+ Liberal Democrats)
      • FE Funding (17 members)
    • Composited into one amendment and selected for debate:
      • Move responsibility to principal local authorities (ALDC)
      • Local Accountability (13 members)
    • Drafting amendments:
      • Duty of Candour (East Cambridgeshire)
      • Drafting amendment on National Curriculum (15 members)
      • Endorse rather than support policy paper (Submitted separately by Calderdale; 22 members; Chiltern and as a separate vote on relevant words)
    • Not selected:
      • Exclude section 9, add right to home schooling (10 members)
      • Remove references to Home Education (12 members)
      • Exclude section 9 (12 members)
      • Inspection, particularly of unregistered schools; Creative and performing arts (Cambridge)
      • Gender Neutral School Uniforms and Toilets (Young Liberals)
      • Calls for FPC report on bullying (11 members)
      • “Lighter touch testing” at KS2 (17 members)
      • Delete replacement of Ofsted clause (15 members)
      • Local Accountability (13 members)
      • Factors outside school (11 members)
      • Purpose of Education (20 members)
      • Indirect control over examinations (Young Liberals)
      • Extra-curricular activities (13 members)
      • Improved local youth services (14 members)
      • Reverse the trend to larger schools (Calderdale)
  • F8 – Rural Policy Paper (85 minutes)
    • Drafting amendments:
      • Replace or reform the Common Agricultural Policy (Cambridge)
      • Endorse rather than support policy paper (22 members)
    • Not selected:
      • House building on green belt land (Young Liberals)
      • Endorse rather than support policy paper; Bank of England regulation of Mortgage market (Calderdale)
  • F13/F14 Party Disciplinary processes (55 minutes)
    • Selected for debate:
      • Separate panels of investigators and panels (12 members)
      • Separate vote request on lines 36-41
    • Drafting amendments:
      • Updates from Federal Board
      • Include gender identity (LGBT+ Liberal Democrats)
    • Not selected:
      • Review group to validate charges and timing; transparency (Southwark)
      • Appointment vs random selection of adjudicator and investigator; reports to conference (12 members)
      • One year limit on complaints (12 members)
      • Separate Cote request from ‘In’ in line 248 to the end of line 251.
  • F15 – Party Strategy (55 minutes)
    • Selected for debate:
      • Working with those on all sides of politics (52 members)
    • Drafted in:
      • Add “social justice” to lines 39/40 (14 members)
    • Not selected:
      • Youth engagement; Digitization (Young Liberals)
  • F18 – NHS at 70 (45 minutes)
    • Drafted in:
      • Reverse local council Public Health Services cuts (ALDC)
    • Parts drafted in:
      • Extend bursaries to students of allied health professions; refugee health workers (Sheffield Liberal Democrats)
    • Not selected for debate:
      • Link between socio-economic factors and obesity etc (15 members)
      • Popularity of NHS; NHS Recruitment; Clarification on waiting times (East Cambridgeshire)
      • Inter-dependence of the NHS and Social Care (Lancaster and Morecambe)
      • Creation of a cross-party Commission (Chippenham)
    • There was a query over an amendment relating to free prescription charges, as it may not be in order. If it is, it will be accepted.
  • Emergency Motions:
    • In order, will appear in ballot:
      • Small business and public procurement (10 members)
      • Escalation of conflict in Syria (20 members)
      • Fixing Rail Franchising (13 members)
    • Not in order:
      • Stop the Slaughter in Syria (Covered by other motion)
      • Defending against Russian Government Attacks on UK Democracy (12 members)

An appeal was also heard on non-selection of a Trident-related motion, but the appeal was rejected. Finally, a number of questions were submitted to reports and all were in order and will appear in Conference Extra/Daily.

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

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  • Catherine Jane Crosland 10th Mar '18 - 8:22am

    Zoe, could mention that I was very disappointed that the committee rejected the appeal about the motion that you describe as a “Trident related motion”, which was actually a motion calling on the party to support the recent UN Treaty about banning the use of nuclear weapons.
    Could I possibly ask, please, what your reasons were for rejecting the appeal? It seems to me that there were strong grounds for appeal, as the reasons originally given for not including the motion, were not valid. I understand that the motion was originally rejected on the grounds that nuclear weapons had been debated by Conference recently. It is true that there was a debate about the issue of nuclear weapons in general, at Spring Conference 2017. But Conference has never debated the specific issue of the UN Treaty, which occurred since the last time Conference debated nuclear weapons. And anyway it does seem that the rule of not debating issues that have been debated recently, is not applied consistently. There is to be a debate about Brexit this Spring Conference, although there have been debates about Brexit at every Conference since the referendum – Autumn Conference 2016, Spring Conference 2017, Autumn Conference 2017, and now again in Spring 2018! And the Brexit motion that was selected for debate does not really change party policy on this issue, or make a new policy – it just seems to repeat the policy made by the other recent motions. So why was the Brexit motion selected for debate, when the motion on the UN Nuclear Weapon Ban was not?
    The Preamble to the Lib Dem Constitution says that we must work with international organisations to bring about disarmament – which surely means that the party should support the UN Treaty – or at the very least should allow the issue to be debated at Conference.

  • Zoe O'connell 10th Mar '18 - 11:29am

    I had to leave the FCC meeting early as I was needed for a rehearsal – I was not present for the appeal so I can’t give any specific details, unfortunately.

    What I can say is that it’s very rare for appeals to succeed unless there is new information to put in front of FCC.

  • Antony Hook Antony Hook 11th Mar '18 - 4:26pm

    It is very good that this information is here and surprising that it is not on the part website. Conference Daily used to go up on the website but appears not to at this one.

  • Zoe O'connell 12th Mar '18 - 9:25am

    I’ve toyed with the idea of putting something on the party web site, but the good folk at LibDemVoice are able to get things up more quickly and with a wider audience than overworked HQ staff. It also helps to keep a slight level of informality about these, as particularly for spring it’s very time pressured and errors may slip in as this is based on personal notes taken in the meeting.

    An official announcement with errors in could cause all sorts of media or other problems for the party whereas they can distance themselves from something on LDV if I mess it up.

    Conference Daily was put on the web site but it’s hidden away a little and wasn’t tweeted from the conference Twitter account this time which made it hard to find. I have a note to bring that up for our debrief session, and I’m already planning on meeting the head of conferences to go through the comms plan for Autumn.

  • Catherine: I was there for the appeal, and while it was very eloquently worded it did not put any information in front of FCC that was not in front of us at the time of the original rejection, so Zoe’s surmise as to why it fell is correct.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 13th Mar '18 - 10:16am

    Thank you for your reply to my comment, Jennie. I think I would argue that an appeal should not necessarily need to give new information. It should sometimes be enough just to show that the original reasons for the rejection were invalid. The original reasons given for rejection in this case clearly were invalid, for the reasons I mentioned above. the only reason given seemed to be that Conference had debated nuclear weapons recently. But Conference had never debated the specific issue of the UN Treaty, which had occurred since the last time Conference debated nuclear weapons. Also, the “rule” about an issue only being debated once every two years, clearly is not an absolute rule, as there have been debates about Brexit at every Conference since the Referendum – Autumn 2016, Spring 2017, Autumn 2017 and Spring 2018.

  • Of course there are further routes which can be taken after FCC rejects an appeal. Perhaps the authors of this motion would like to go down one of those routes?

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 14th Mar '18 - 12:34pm

    Which routes did you have in mind, Jennie?

  • Well, constitutionally you can request a suspension of standing orders at conference (article 11.6 of the conference standing orders in the constitution https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/libdems/pages/376/attachments/original/1497530828/LD_Federal_Constitution.pdf?1497530828 ), go before the federal appeals panel (article 21 of the main constitution), or even go all the way to a Special Conference, although I feel constrained to point out that this might not make those attending the Special Conference feel especially well-disposed to the motion…

    Honestly, though, any or all of those options burns through a lot of good will, and you need to be sure that the motion (note: not the idea, or the topic of the motion, but the specific motion itself) is worth doing it for.

    If it were me I would take soundings, redraft, and resubmit for next time.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 14th Mar '18 - 1:33pm

    Thanks for your reply, Jennie. It would probably be good if the results of appeals were made known earlier. With the current timing, there would be very little time for the submitter of a motion to take any of these actions in time for the Conference that the motion had been submitted for.

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