Federal Conference Committee Report – setting the preliminary agenda for Autumn Conference

Federal Conference Committee met via Zoom call on Saturday, 10 July for the agenda selection for our Autumn Conference 2021. The meeting was a lengthy one, which was in part due to the large selection of motions received. 

A few announcements before the report; as you may be aware Geoff Payne, departed the FCC in early May, and I am delighted to have been elected the new Chair of FCC. All of us wish Geoff the very best for the future. A recount was held for the vacant place on the Committee, and I am delighted that Keith Melton has joined as our new member of the Federal Conference Committee. Chris Adams has also been elected in the vacant Vice-Chair position and will take responsibility for the General Purposes Sub Committee. 

This Autumn conference will be held online, via our third-party provider, Hopin. You will be able to find more information about the virtual conference. If you are planning to attend conference, we highly recommend taking part in the interactive exhibitions and the fringes.

If you haven’t yet registered for Conference, I would recommend to do so here.

The FCC wants to pay its thanks to the continued amazing efforts of the Conference Office team and members who have worked so incredibly hard. You will see from the timings of Conference that it is slightly different to the usual format, and we hope that this will give more people an opportunity to attend virtually, but also it has meant that we have been able to increase the number of motions selected, we have allowed short breaks between sessions but have also worked hard to include as many of the motions submitted as possible. The agenda for Conference will be published very shortly.

A total of 18 policy motions, plus two emergency motion slots were selected at Saturday’s meeting. Additionally, eight business motions, four constitutional amendments and one standing order amendments were taken for debate at Conference. We had several business motions, a constitutional and standing order amendment all relating to Party Body Reforms; FCC decided to take these as one item (with a series of votes). 

The agenda will include Committee and Parliamentary reports, the Leaders Q&A, some set-speeches (details to be released later), and the Leaders speech. The full agenda, including text of motions, will be published towards the end of this month. 

On the topic of motions selected; we received 38 policy motions, 11 business motions, five constitutional amendments and two standing order amendments. Unfortunately, we cannot always select all the motions submitted to Conference and have tried to include as many as possible within the time available. 

Below I have included the list of motions, and whether they have been selected or not selected, please note that the naming of motions may vary between now and the publication of the agenda. With regards to proposed constitutional or standing order amendments these are automatically selected; however, ruled either in order or out of order. 

Please note that the next set of deadlines for Conference are:

Drafting Advice deadline for amendments and emergency motions: 13:00 23rd August 2021

Amendments and Emergency motions deadline: 13:00 6th September 2021

Business and Industrial Strategy

Future of Work (Liberal Democrat Christian Forum) – Not Selected

Equality of Opportunity for SMEs (10 or more party members) – Not Selected

Boosting Small Businesses and Jobs in the post-Pandemic Economy (12 party members) – Selected

Communities and Local Government

21st Century Community Housing Act (10 or more party members) – Not Selected

Building homes, protecting Communities (10 or more party members) – Not Selected

Building Communities (44 party members) – Selected

Crime and Justice Motions

Towards a Just Society (18 party members) – Not Selected

Strengthening Our Opposition to Capital Punishment (12 party members) – Not Selected

Police Reform (Young Liberals) – Not Selected

Keeping people safe from fraud and scams (14 party members) – Selected

Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (Lib Dem Women) – Selected

Sexual Violence in Schools (10 party members) – Not Selected

Culture, Media and Sport

Democracy and Public Debate (Federal Policy Committee) – Selected

Economy and Tax

Towards a Fair Global Corporation Tax System (12 party members) – Selected

Wellbeing at Work, Wellbeing in the Economy (12 party members) – Not Selected

International Trade and DIT (14 party members) – Selected

Energy and Environment Motions

Water Management (East Cambridgeshire) – Not Selected

Making the Fight Against Climate Change Accessible to Everyone (11 party members) – Not Selected

The Climate Conference and the UK Government (18 party members) – Accepted

Tackling the Climate Emergency: Liberal Democrat Proposals on Carbon Pricing (Federal Policy Committee) – Selected

Equalities and Civil Liberties

Ban Conversion Therapy (12 party members) – Selected

Dignity, care and choice at the end of life (11 party members) – Selected

Trans Children (Young Liberals) – Not Selected

Upholding Academic Freedom: a bedrock Liberal Value (14 members) – Not Selected

Europe

Rebuilding our Cultural, Artistic and Educational ties with Europe (Federal Policy Committee) – Selected

Health and Social Care

Children in Care and Care Leavers (Young Liberals) – Selected

Protection Patients’ Health Data (15 party members) – Selected

International and Defence

Towards a Lasting Peace in Israel and Palestine (13 party members) – Selected

Palestine and Israel – There Is Another Way (24 party members) – Not Selected

Nuclear Weapons Free UK (123 party members) – Not Selected

Nuclear Weapons: Deciding on the Principle (15 members) – Not Selected at second round of voting due to lack of time

The Uyghur Genocide (Young Liberals) – Selected

Miscellaneous

A Fairer, Greener, More Caring Society (Themes Paper) (Federal Policy Committee) – Selected

Principles and Values (Federal Policy Committee) – Selected

Political and Constitutional Reform

A Framework for England in a Federal United Kingdom (Federal Policy Committee) – Selected

Rural Affairs

Reducing Farmed Animal Suffering and Pandemic Risks (40 party members) – Not Selected

Back British Farmers (10 party members) – Not Selected

Transport

Demanding Better Transport in Our North (Young Liberals) – Not Selected

Business Motions

Vice President Election Regulations (Federal Board) – Selected

Party Body Reforms Created under 9.6 (Federal Board)  – Selected

Membership Subscriptions and Federal Levy (Federal Board)  – Selected

Federal Board Strategy Motion to Conference (Federal Board)  – Selected

Party Body Reform – Leadership election regulations (Federal Board)  – Selected

Party Body Reform – Presidential election regulations (Federal Board)  – Selected

Party Body Reform – Committee election regulations (Federal Board)  – Selected

Board governance reform planning (Federal Board)  – Not Selected

Name Blind Submission of Motions and Amendments for Conference (10 party members) – Not Selected

Implementation of the Thornhill Review (LDCRE) – Not selected

Electoral Policy (Amber Valley) – Not Selected

Constitutional Amendments

Party Body Reform  (Federal Board)  – In Order

Young Liberals Age Limit Change (Federal Board)  – In Order

Completing One Member One Vote (12 party members) – Not In Order

Empowering Lib Dem Values: for people and planet (215 party members) – In Order

Updating the Constitution’s Language on Equality and Inclusion (17 party members) – In Order

Standing Order Amendments

Party Body Reforms (Federal Board)  – In Order

Federal Conference Standing Orders Amendment in the selection of policy motions for debate (Basingstoke and Deane) – Not In Order. 

 

* Nick Da Costa is Chair of the Federal Conference Committee

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23 Comments

  • Kevin White 14th Jul '21 - 2:13pm

    I think it is about time to take the power away from the FCC to choose motions and place it in the hands of party members. Both the Greens and Labour have more democratic methods of choosing motions than LibDems have.

  • When will see the texts of the selected Motions so we can see is we want to submit amendments?

  • Nick da Costa 14th Jul '21 - 3:03pm

    @Leon – we are just finalising the running order and hope that we will be publishing agenda at the end of the month.

  • Andrew MacGregor 14th Jul '21 - 3:11pm

    I would hope that transparency in the process of selecting (or not) of motions would be key to a Democratic Party. As a signatory to one of the motions rejected (in favour of another similar but not the same – also rejected at a shortlisting) on a subject I know lost the party votes in the GE in 2019, I’d quite like to know why the party is apparently not keen to debate on the UKs nuclear weaponry.

  • Kevin White 14th Jul '21 - 3:31pm

    Is it true that the Party President intervened to block a constitutional amendment which would have resulted in members fully electing the membership of party committees ?

  • Paul Barker 14th Jul '21 - 5:06pm

    @ Kevin White
    We Elect The FCC, putting control of Conference Agenda in the hands of the Membership actually means handing it over to Activist Factions. The idea that Labour Conference is Democratic is sheer Fantasy, it has influence but not power.

    @Andrew MacGregor, I cant speak for The Party but I can tell you why I am not keen for us to spend time debating Nuclear Weapons – among Voters in general they are not contraversial, keeping them (but never using them) is seen as common sense. We are a Third Party, currently averaging 9% in The Polls, with both Major Parties utterly committed to keeping Nuclear Weapons it doesnt matter what we think on this issue.

  • Brad Barrows 14th Jul '21 - 5:27pm

    @Paul Barker
    I totally disagree with your logic. The two main parties are pro-nuclear weapons… which party in England is willing to take a stand and attract the support of voters who are against nuclear weapons? Even if such a policy was only supported by 20% of voters, that would still be twice as many as currently vote Liberal Democrat.

  • Duncan Brack 14th Jul '21 - 5:31pm

    As a member of FCC, I can answer Kevin’s question whether the president intervened to block the constitutional amendment: no, he didn’t, and he doesn’t have the power to do this anyway. FCC did not accept the amendment for debate because of flaws in the drafting which rendered it incoherent.

  • I agree with Paul Barker but for slightly different reasons: we’ve debated nuclear weapons so many times at conference and really nothing has changed to merit revisiting this yet again. I think there are more pressing issues to consider, many of which have been shortlisted for debate, per the above.

  • I agree with Paul Barker too and 20% is very much a minority against keeping nuclear weapons as a deterrent. There are other more important issues and other parties people against can vote for.

  • Of the two motions submitted on the subject of nuclear weapons, one got through to the second round of voting, and was only dropped due to time. This was because nuclear weapons are necessarily a divisive topic and would therefore need a reasonably long time to debate; the time this motion would have taken would have necessitated dropping two other motions from the agenda; as it was this was the only motion that had to be dropped.

    I will certainly be resubmitting it for Spring.

  • Laurence Cox 14th Jul '21 - 6:54pm

    Just under a week ago, before the FCC meeting, Michael Berwick-Gooding had an article published here: https://www.libdemvoice.org/questionable-reasons-that-federal-conference-committee-give-for-rejecting-motions-68120.html but it seems that the FCC have taken no notice of it, or indeed of the comments it drew from members. There is still no mechanism for Party members to learn the content of rejected motions or the reasons for rejection. If they do not wish to do so in a public forum, like this one, they still have the power to do so privately, such as in the Members’ area on the Party web site. Without action from the FCC, this democratic deficit will remain at the heart of our Party.

  • Andrew Toye 15th Jul '21 - 2:04am

    It’s a shame not to actually meet. Both Conservatives an Labour are currently planning ‘physical’ conferences this year (with caveats). With so many mass participation events cancelled (including much-loved music festivals) due lack of insurance, I wonder how they have the confidence to go ahead?

  • Kevin White,

    I haven’t given up on the idea of some motions being selected by those attending conference or by the whole membership. Hopefully, members of FCC will engage with me in an email correspondence. However, sometimes they do give the impression they don’t wish too, or there are rules which stop them from answering some questions.

    Duncan Brack,

    Please can you ask the person who submitted the constitutional amendment if you can publish here the details of why FCC decided the amendment had flaws in it?

    Laurence Cox,

    FCC decided my motion was not in order (see article). They have informed me that it is self-contradictory, but I disagree. This was after I received some drafting advice from Nick Da Costa and he didn’t point out it was self-contradictory, but we disagreed when ballots of conference attendees should happen and I tried to keep both options open, but he didn’t come back to me. Perhaps two weeks or less for drafting advice is not long enough for a detailed discussion. (Hopefully the member of FCC who informed me the motion was not select will engage in an email correspondence with me to convince me the reasons are justified.)

    When you are told your motion has not been selected you are told you can only appeal if you provide a new argument or fact. Not if you think they have made an error in their decision.

  • Following from Michael BG’s comments.
    How about putting the idea of all members being invited to vote for the motions that they want to see debated at Conference to the membership. If they were allowed this vote we might take the first steps in introducing participatory democracy into the party.

  • Rob Harrison 15th Jul '21 - 10:13am

    Several of the comments clearly relate to whether we should as a party debate once again nuclear weapons. We last did this in Spring 2017 and I for one thought that this had struck a good balance and a realistic approach.
    The challenges for the defense of the UK have increased in other ways which we have not even started to address – state-sponsored cyberattacks on critical infrastructure being probably the most obvious.

  • Suzanne Fletcher 15th Jul '21 - 10:28am

    Dare I suggest that the movers of the Trident Motion ( and I was a signatory) get together with @Jennie Rigg for a motion that could meet the crtiteria, get drafting advice ( not suggesting anyone cannot put a coherent motion together, but surely a good thing to take up offer of drafting advice from the body making the decisions), and submit for spring conference.
    If a motion is to get onto the agenda, compromise is going to have to be made to be able to move forward on this issue. But also we want to be able to get a policy that is actually agreed – and then get the party to promote.
    one more ask – that it is done in the spirit of peaceful resolution. I want a world that lives in peace, not one in perpetual war. A controversial view of mine – yes, but i stick to it.

  • David Warren 15th Jul '21 - 10:32am

    I agree with Kevin White. The conference procedures of the Labour Party and the trade unions are in my experience far more democratic than ours.

    The claim to be a democratic party rings a bit hollow when the Lib Dem conference looks like a stage managed event. Give those in attendance at conference the right to determine the agenda and decide which motions are debated.

  • Sorry to post again but I dont think I made myself clear before.

    On the idea of the Membership Voting to prioritise Motions for Conference.
    While this sounds Democratic in theory, the actual result will be to Factions to mobilise support from Members who dont take part in Conference & who have a “Bee in their bonnet” about individual issues. In effect, Conference would be sidelined by “Direct Democracy” in the way Parliament was sidelined by The 2014 & 2016 Referendums.

    On discussing Nuclear Weapons Now.
    My point is that we are currently a Fringe Party, trying to climb back to our Pre-2010 position as The Third Party – its vital that we talk about things that most Voters want to hear about & for most Voters Nuclear Weapons are not a a live issue. The current Orthodoxy – Multilateralism, No First Use, No New Weapons – has widespread support & only a Minority are interested in talking about Unilateral Disarmament.

    The Unilateralist Minority already vote Green, SNP, PC or Labour (Corbynite). Since Nuclear Weapons are such an emotional issue we would use up a lot of Time & Political Energy talking about them & waste a small opportunity to be heard by The Voters on topics they care about.
    It would be a diversion that We cant afford.

  • Suzanne Fletcher 15th Jul '21 - 10:45am

    re membership going to conference deciding on motions to debate – many do not/cannot know if they can attend till much nearer the time. it would exclude those who cannot go to conference because of cost/time.
    ALL membership vote for FCC, or can.
    Re nuclear weapons being a niche issue – maybe it is, but it is extremely important to some of us, and without passion where are we. My main issue is asylum and refugees. that can be called “niche” too, but don’t anyone dare to say it isn’t important for us to take a stand on it as a party.

  • Tim Emptage 15th Jul '21 - 3:45pm

    @rob Harrison can you please explain how we would use nuclear to counter state sponsored cyber attacks ?

  • Suzanne Fletcher

    As originally drafted the standing order amendment had a ballot of conference attendees which was envisioned as taking place after conference had started. To allocate agenda time for one or two motions that were rejected by FCC for reasons not set out in the amended standing orders. Nick Da Costa wanted the ballot to be held after FCC had selected motions and I think before the preliminary agenda is published. He did recognise that this would exclude those conference attendees who had not registered, but I think he felt that was better than allowing all motions in the ballot to have to have FCC select which amendments to discuss before the ballot. The way round this is an all member ballot but this is likely to need much more staff time to implement. I hope I will be able to discuss these issues with FCC before resubmitting the motion.

    Paul Barker,

    Your view on all member ballots in not a liberal view. The more members who take part the less likely it would be for a well organised minority within the party to go against the majority view.

  • The topics selected for conference appear relevant to current issues and cover a broad range of policies and members areas of interest:
    Business and Industrial Strategy – Boosting Small Businesses and Jobs in the post-Pandemic Economy
    Communities and Local Government- Building Communities (
    Crime and Justice – Keeping people safe from fraud and scams & Ending Violence Against Women and Girls
    Culture, Media and Sport – Democracy and Public Debate
    Economy and Tax – Towards a Fair Global Corporation Tax System & International Trade and DIT
    Energy and Environment- The Climate Conference and the UK Government & Tackling the Climate Emergency: Liberal Democrat Proposals on Carbon Pricing
    Equalities and Civil Liberties – Ban Conversion Therapy & Dignity, care and choice at the end of life
    Europe – Rebuilding our Cultural, Artistic and Educational ties with Europe
    Health and Social Care – Children in Care and Care Leavers & Protection Patients’ Health Data
    International and Defence – Towards a Lasting Peace in Israel and Palestine & The Uyghur Genocide
    Political and Constitutional Reform – A Framework for England in a Federal United Kingdom

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