Tag Archives: committee reports

Federal People Development Committee report – 28th June 2017

This was a rather unusual meeting, in that it was dominated by one very large agenda item, discussing the idea of a registered supporters scheme. In fact, for the first time, we applied our 9pm meeting guillotine and postponed some other discussions to our July meeting.

We started in the normal way with staff reports. The committee was enormously impressed by the retention rates the Membership team have achieved this quarter, currently standing at 94.5%. That’s a fantastic achievement, and a credit to the team’s hard work. The Membership team have also started tracking Exit data – reasons why people have decided to leave. This is a really helpful innovation. It will be shared with State Parties but not beyond that for now, as it is obviously quite sensitive data. The team agreed to consider whether there was a way to share the data with local parties, but we need to find a reliable, secure system to do that and this is a brand new metric we are monitoring. I’ll let you know if that starts to be filed somewhere that local parties can view it. 

We did also note the changes to the Membership Incentive scheme – essentially this model gives a percentage of each member’s joining subscription back to the local party they live in. The system is being changed to reward renewal as well as recruitment, with a portion of subscription fees being paid to local parties in the second and third year of a person’s membership.

The Training team are doing great work too. The Autumn Conference training schedule is in the last stages of being finalised. They have slightly changed the process for allocating training sessions this year. All providers were asked to bid for courses, and given themes that the training should focus upon. Then everyone’s ideas were collated and where more than one provider wanted to run a course, they were asked to join forces, collaborate and present a joint course. We are also welcoming some new providers, to expand the training offer that members can enjoy at conference. It’s exciting to see this coming together so well and we will be monitoring feedback closely after conference to see if participants enjoy these co-presented sessions.

The Diversity and Candidates team are currently without a “Head”, as the recruitment of a replacement for Arfan Bhatti is not yet concluded. However they still submitted a report, and we were delighted to hear of some very pro-active ideas for measures that could improve diversity among our approved candidates. We look forward to more concrete suggestions once the team leader is in place.

Then we came to the largest agenda item, the idea of a registered supporters scheme.

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Federal People Development Committee Report – 20 March 2018

The Federal People Development Committee met on 20th March for our Spring meeting.

We started with the usual staff reports from the Heads of Training, Diversity and Membership. We were delighted to welcome Greg Foster to the meeting in his new role of Head of Membership and Engagement. Despite only starting that week he had a full and fascinating report for us about the new innovations the Department is trialling with member communications, like the recent survey and chatbot pilots.

We congratulated Greg, and Rachel Palma-Randle as Director, for the membership retention rate this quarter reaching 93%. That’s down to a lot of hard work across the team, and deserves applause.

The committee was also very pleased to see the report from Dan Purchese as Head of Training, outlining the anticipated training provision over the next 18 months. It was particularly good to see that he is planning to reinvigorate the network of volunteer trainers, working in close co-ordination with Sarah Green and the Training Subcommittee. We are all very hopeful that this renewal of the partnership between staff and volunteers in the training field will bring a lot more training into life.

Arfan Bhatti as Head of Diversity in HQ reported on the drop in the number of women applying for PPC approval compared to 2017, and agreed that he would look into this more to see if trends can be identified and remedies proposed. He also reported on the proposal of creating candidate diversity targets for regions, that feeds into some of the other diversity work being developed in the Party. 

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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 …

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Federal People Development Committee Report – 30 January 2018

The Party’s Federal People Development Committee have had our first meeting of 2018. There was a lot to discuss – here is a quick summary of what we talked about and agreed.

First up we made a couple of important amendments to our Standing Orders. The first amendment was to create the role of Committee Clerk. This is a volunteer role, to assist the Secretary. The Clerk is not a voting member of our committee, they are purely there to help supply administrative support for the Chair and Secretary. The Committee felt this was a good way to “live our values” as the cliché goes, of using volunteers more widely to increase capacity. We later appointed a member called Nicola from Somerset to be the first post-holder of this role. In future if this vacancy arises again, it will be advertised as a potential volunteer opportunity.

The other amendments to our Standing Orders were to help the Membership and Training SubCommittees function properly. The membership of these groups was previously limited to two representatives from each State Party. That remains true today, but the Subcommittees can now co-opt more people, to help get more work done.

Then we moved on to Staff Reports. These are a routine part of our meetings. We currently receive reports from the Director for People, Rachel Palma Randle, who also reports on Membership figures while we await the appointment of the new Head of Membership and Engagement (if you would like to apply, the advert is still open until 19th Feb here )

We also received reports from Dan Purchese, Head of Training and Arfan Bhatti, Head of Candidates and Diversity. We are working with all the staff to try to expand the engagement, training and membership work that they provide. Expect to read more about those projects here on LDV as they come to fruition.

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Report of Federal Policy Committee meeting – 13 December 2017

FPC met on Wednesday evening for its last meeting of the year. Taking place in the House of Commons, we were regularly interrupted by the results of votes on amendments to the Brexit bill – including the one the government lost!

Tuition fees

Vince Cable – who is chair of the FPC as well as party leader – pledged in his leadership election manifesto to look at party policy on the tuition fees system: ‘We need a solution that keeps the benefits of the current system – relating contributions to income and protecting university funding – but is fairer across the board, including for the 60 per cent who never go to university, many of whom pursue vocational options instead.’ As he reported to conference in September, he asked David Howarth (Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge 2005–10) to consider options for reforming or replacing the current system and present them to FPC as a basis for consultation within the party.

David’s paper, which he outlined to FPC, sets out the benefits and drawbacks of five options. FPC members raised a series of fairly minor issues, but overall were happy with the paper. I won’t attempt to summarise it here, as the options deserve to be read in detail, and it’s not completely finalised yet. We will publish it as a consultation paper in late January or early February and hold a consultative session around it at the Southport conference, on the afternoon of Friday 9 March. Local and regional parties might like to consider organising discussions on the issue in the spring and summer. Based on the feedback we receive, FPC will aim to put a policy motion for debate to the autumn conference.

Education policy paper

Lucy Netsingha, chair of the Education policy working group, presented a near-final draft of the paper, following our discussion on its outline proposals at our previous meeting. FPC members raised a few new issues and resolved a number of others. We left the remaining major issue, on the future of the schools inspection regime and Ofsted, for discussion at our January meeting, when Layla Moran, the party’s education spokesperson, should be able to join us. The paper will then be published and submitted for debate at the spring conference in Southport.

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Federal Policy Committee discusses the General Election Manifesto

This report relates to the meeting of the Federal Policy Committee which took place on 2nd May 2017, some 20 years to the day since the Labour landslide General Election victory in 1997.

This meeting commenced at 2pm and went on well past 10pm. The reason for the length of that meeting was that the only item on its agenda was to agree our manifesto for the 2017 General Election.

I am afraid that there is very little that I can say about the contents of the manifesto or the work that underpinned it for reasons that I am sure people will understand.

Comments from the Leader

Tim Farron MP made some introductory remarks about the importance of our manifesto, and the vigour with which we are fighting this campaign.

He stated that we are going to need a very distinctive manifesto in order to differentiate ourselves from the other parties. He said that the message that will come through in the introduction will be different from that in previous manifestos but it is one that has solid evidence behind it. You will see what I mean when you read it.

Campaign Update

Shaun Roberts, the Director of Campaigns, went through the campaign as it stands.

He indicated that we are facing a number of battlegrounds and set out in detail the challenges that we are facing in each one. He said that our present election message is working where it is heard. The challenge is to ensure that it is heard as widely as it can be. The message from us has to be that we are a strong opposition.

Shaun went though some of the groups of voters that we would want to get back. We used to get significant numbers of voters from public sector workers because our policies, underpinned by our strong beliefs, were to stand up for our public services. Our policies as they stand should go a long way towards attracting that group of voters back.

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Federal Conference Committee Report – 11 April 2017

The Federal Conference Committee met on 11th April 2017 to review Spring Conference 2017 and to consider the feedback received.

Spring Conference 2018 – York

Spring Conference in York was a success overall. The feedback that we considered came from a number of sources. We received a document containing the comments of committee members, party staff and the stewards. We also considered a summary of the online feedback and an analysis of the speakers cards submitted as against those called. Most of the feedback was very positive.

We had a record number of attendees. We were 19% up on the numbers from 2016. 26% of attendees were first timers. On any view, that is a fantastic set of figures.

In terms of those responding to the survey, there was a 4% increase in those between 40 and 59 and an equivalent decrease in those aged 60-74. 6% of those responding considered themselves to have a disability or access issue.

Over 80% of respondees thought that York was good or excellent as a venue, reinforcing what we are often told – Lib Dems really like going to York. The vast majority thought that security was at excellent. There were a number of grumbles about the catering but it fared better than in previous years. The Novotel also fared better in terms of satisfaction than before.

There was praise for the agenda; it was varied and interesting for the most part. 8% of people thought that there should have been more debates; 2% thought there were too many. 90% thought the balance was about right. As ever, the main motivation for attending conference was said to be debating policy with the next most popular choice being networking.

Most people attended 2-3 fringes. 81% of those responding rated the fringe programme as good or excellent. Over 90% had the same view about the training programme.

The majority of respondees attended conference on the train. A sizeable number attended in a car share. The majority stayed in a privately booked B&B. The price range into which most accommodation fell was the £50-£75 per night category but almost 30% of people managed to find accommodation of under £50. 80% of those responding rated their accommodation as good or excellent value.

The satisfaction with the conference publications was largely the same as last year, namely positive. The app came out with an increased satisfaction level, as did Conference Daily. The website came out as slightly worse.

There were some recommendations for the future. Some people thought that we had outgrown the York Barbican. Others were concerned that the fringe rooms were too small (sadly there is not a lot we can do about that save for note it). There was a general view that we need to reinstate projection in the auditorium – that is the large screen that can be seen behind the chair’s table.

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Federal Policy Committee Report – 29 March 2017

FPC’s meetings tend to be dominated by two things: consideration of consultation and policy papers, which are ultimately put to conference for discussion and debate; and trying to find ways to improve the process of policy-making and policy discussion within the party. Last Wednesday’s meeting featured both.

For the first hour or so of the meeting we discussed our responses to two of the consultation papers we published in February, on the 21st Century Economy, and on Education. The working groups which wrote the papers for us will take our comments, along with the many received from party members and made at the consultative sessions at York, into consideration when they write their policy papers for the FPC to consider in June or July. The final papers will then be submitted to the Bournemouth conference in September for debate.

The rest of the meeting was mainly devoted to process issues. FPC is keen to improve the opportunities for debating policy within the party. While plenty of policy debates take place at federal and state conferences, at the local party level it’s quite variable. Many local parties run popular and effective pizza and politics events (or their culinary equivalents), but in others their efforts may be entirely taken up with campaigning and fund-raising. We believe policy debate is good in itself: it improves members’ experience of involvement in the party (after all, it’s the reason many members joined) and their knowledge of what we stand for, and it improves input into the formal policy-making process which FPC oversees.

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Committee Reports: Federal People Development Committee – 21 February 2017

Tuesday night saw the inaugural meeting of the Party’s new Federal People Development Committee. This group oversees the Party’s work in the areas of Diversity, Membership and Training.

The committee was established by the Party’s Governance Review, with the idea being that the work in these three areas has a lot of overlap and would benefit from co-ordination.

This first meeting was mostly about us getting set up as a committee, electing our various Officers and representatives. To that end:

  • I was elected as Chair of the committee
  • Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett was elected as the Chair of the Diversity Sub-Committee
  • Sarah Green was elected as Chair of the Training Sub-Committee
  • Claire Halliwell was elected as Chair of the Membership Sub-Committee
  • Prue Bray was elected to serve as our Committee Secretary
  • Steve Jolly was elected as our Committee’s representative on the Federal Conference Committee

We discussed our future meeting dates and agreed that the four meetings the constitution sets as the minimum did not feel enough for a new committee with such a large remit.

We decided to hold an extra meeting before May, focusing on the committee’s strategic purpose, to explore how we could work as a committee, scope the different projects and ideas that committee members have and explore possible avenues of work. We felt it was important to add in this earlier meeting, since waiting until May to decide what to do felt too late to us. We were very conscious that the big membership surges happened in the summer months, meaning that those members will come up for renewal (or lapse) this summer, so we need to have engaged and activated them before that time arrives.

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Federal Policy Committee Report – 15 February 2017

Federal Policy Committee met on Wednesday 15th February. The meeting was slightly in advance of our normal cycle (it having been obviously felt that having a long FPC meeting on the evening before the Stoke-On-Trent and Copeland by-elections was a bad idea).

Sadly the combined effect of a Parliamentary recess and half term in some areas of the country led to a lower turnout than at the previous meeting with neither Tim Farron MP nor the regular compiler of these reports Geoff Payne being able to attend. In Tim’s absence the meeting was chaired by the committee vice-chair Duncan Brack.

The meeting as a whole was driven much more by discussion over future process than the previous meeting’s focus on policy matters for Spring Conference. In some ways Federal Policy Committee regards our pre-conference work as “done with”; we are now awaiting the input from conference on the policy papers, motions and consultation papers to shape how FPC will proceed. As such, much of our work this time was on preparation for post-conference work.

The shape of some of our subcommittees and working groups due to report back for Autumn Conference was fleshed out. Belinda Brooks-Gordon was elected as the Chair of the Policy Equalities Impact Assessment Group (of which I am also a member) which will review Policy proposals with an intersectional view of the impact of policies upon all diversity strands.

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Federal Policy Committee Report – 18 January 2017

Happy new Year!  The most recent meeting of the Federal Policy Committee took place on 18th January 2016 in Portcullis House, Westminster.  This was a very well attended meeting indeed, it being the first of a new cycle of Federal Policy Committee meetings.  This committee has a three-year term.

We welcomed a large number of new members the committee.  There had been a substantial change in committee membership following the elections.  They included Elizabeth Jewkes, Alisdair McGregor, Chris White, Paul Tilsley, Qurban Hussain, Christine Chueng, Jim Williams, Sally Burnell, Catherine Royce, David Weston, Susan Juned, Jonny Oates, Tony Greaves, Kamran Hussain and Heather Kidd.  Andrew Wiseman attended to represent the Federal Conference Committee and Richard Cole represent the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors.

Composition of Federal Policy Committee and Committee Elections

Tim Farron MP remains as the chair of the committee.

There were elections for the post of Vice-Chair.  There were three vacancies; one of them was reserved for a Parliamentarian (the old M.P. Vice-Chair).  The contenders were Duncan Brack, Jeremy Hargreaves and Sarah Ludford and they were all elected without opposition.

Lizzy Jewkes and Alisdair McGregor were appointed to the Policy Equalities Impact Assessment Group.  That group conducts an audit of each policy paper to ensure that the authors have thought through and considered the equalities aspect of their work.

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Federal Policy Committee Report – 7th December 2016

The most recent meeting of the Federal Policy Committee took place on 7th December 2016 in Westminster. It was relatively sparsely attended but there were two good discussions nonetheless.

Composition of Federal Policy Committee

This was the last meeting of the committee as presently constituted. To say that the last two years of the Federal Policy Committee have been a journey would be an understatement! We started in the closing years of the last Parliament, when the Liberal Democrats were still in government, still had Ministers and at a time when we used to have a whole supporting cast of Special Advisors accompany them to meetings. We wrote the 2015 General Election Manifesto when the world was very different. We then, of course, suffered the cataclysm of the election itself. The chair of the committee changed. The party elected a new Leader. We re-built and fought back. We wrote another General Manifesto in the event that a snap election was called. It still may be. We have discussed policy papers, Brexit and our policy development plans looking forward. We ran the Agenda 2020 exercise and for the new policy working groups, we received over 800 applications from party members. Although the landscape is certainly not what it was in January 2014, we are building again and we have laid out a very good policy platform for the future.

There are several members of the committee who are not standing again. We will miss them. Whatever the outcome of the Federal Elections, the committee will be very different in just a few weeks from now.

This final meeting was spent dealing with two of the outstanding Policy Working Groups that are nearing their conclusion. It was relatively short, reflective of the fact that our work programme was coming to an end for now.

Nuclear Weapons Working Group

Neil Stockley attended the meeting to present the preliminary report of the Nuclear Weapons Working Group. This group has had to deal with one of the most thorny and difficult issues at the present time.

The remit of the group noted that the world had changed profoundly since the United Kingdom became one of the five declared nuclear powers in the 1950s. Britain’s nuclear posture has, however, not kept up. Following the Cold War position of mutually assured destruction, the post-Cold War era led to improved security but Britain nonetheless retained its nuclear deterrent. Many questioned the need but successive governments rejected the idea of giving up nuclear weapons. In this changed landscape, the group was charged with looking again at the case for Britain being a nuclear power.

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Federal Policy Committee Report – 22 November 2016

This is a report of the Federal Policy Committee meeting of 23rd November. This was a fairly sparsely attended meeting. The elections are in full swing and, for that reason, it is not particularly surprising that this was the case.

Brexit Update

Sarah Ludford took the committee through the latest position on Brexit. The Supreme Court case is listed for the early part of December. One of the key issues is whether Article 50 can be revoked. The parties agreed on that question in the High Court and it may be that the Supreme Court has to re-visit that question. There may be a reference to the European Court of Justice, if not from the United Kingdom then from elsewhere. That would delay matters. The stance that we have adopted is that there must be a Parliamentary vote on involving Article 50 regardless of the court proceedings. It would be odd, in an argument about sovereignty, if that were not the case. We have also said that there should be a referendum on the terms of the deal that ends up being on the table. We have said that we will vote against the triggering of Article 50 in the Commons unless there is a commitment from the government to have that referendum.

The committee had a general discussion about this question but there were no formal decisions to be taken.

Sex Work Preliminary Report

The committee went on to consider the preliminary report from the Sex Work Group, chaired by Belinda Brooks-Gordon. That report set out a number of issues that the group was to consider including violence against sex workers, coercion, police investigations or the lack thereof, the legislative framework, criminalisation, stigma and issues that sex work can cause in the local community.

The paper went on to deal with what the aims of a Liberal Democrat policy should be and what changes to the law were required. They were set out in some detail and they will be in the motion and paper that will mark the end of the process.

This is an area of great sensitivity and there were members of the committee who took slightly different views on some of the issues raised. Others raised the question of the effect that sex work can have on local communities. There was a debate over the differences in principle between criminalisation and legalisation. Nothing is finalised yet: a formal paper will be presented to the final meeting of the committee in December. The whole issue will then be debated at Federal Conference in the Spring.

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Federal Policy Committee Report – 6 September 2016

After a hiatus in meetings over the summer, the Federal Policy Committee met for the first time on 6th September 2016.

This was a very lengthy meeting.  It commenced at 14:30 and went on well into the evening.  There were only two items on the agenda.

Snap General Election Manifesto

The Federal Policy Committee is responsible for the preparation of the General Election manifestoes for the party.  Earlier in the year, following the turmoil surrounding the Brexit vote, the change in party leadership in the Tories and the extreme instability in Labour, it looked like there might be a snap General Election this Autumn.   Under those circumstances, the committee wanted to have a manifesto draft available in the event that one was called.  It would have taken far too long to prepare a document at that stage and we would have started on the back foot.

As regular readers of this report will know, a Working Group was set up to actually write the document.  That group was chaired by Dick Newby.  It worked very hard throughout the summer to prepare the first draft.  There was also a consultation exercise in which 8,000 members of the party responded.  Those responses were considered and many of them were incorporated.

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Report of Federal Policy Committee meeting – 13 July 2016

The Federal Policy Committee is traditionally very busy in the immediate run-up to the summer holiday. That is because of conference deadlines and the need to get everything concluded before August when a lot of people are away.

The most recent meeting of the committee, which came hot on the heels of the last one, was on 13th July 2016. It also happened to be the day that Labour plunged further into disarray following the revelation that Jeremy Corbyn will appear on the ballot paper in their leadership election and, of course, the country had a new Prime Minister foisted upon it.

As we were going through the meeting, government announcements were being about new Cabinet members. We paused several time for a collective intake of breath.

There was a lot to discuss. We did not finish until some time after 9pm.

Membership of the committee

Gareth Epps has resigned from the committee because he has taken a job that is politically restricted. Gareth has been a very active member of FPC for a long time and he will certainly be missed from the committee. We were, however, delighted to welcome Antony Hook as his replacement.

Education Working Group

The committee agreed the chairs, membership, and remits of three new working groups. Each of those groups was recommended by the Agenda 2020 exercise.

The first of these was education. The remit requires the group to identify proposals for new policy in Education in England. The group is particularly to be directed to identify policies which could be strong campaigning issues within education, reinforcing our overall liberal vision of creating opportunity for everyone regardless of background. The group is also expected to consider and address Liberal Democrat principles on diversity and equalities in developing their proposals. It will deal with the overall principles of education, Early Years, funding, structures, academies, governors, standards and inspections, quality, teacher recruitment, closing the attainment gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students, school and the world of work, Further Education and adult education. It will not deal with Higher Education.

The chair is to be Lucy Nethsingha. The membership of the group was appointed. It is fair to say that there was very strong competition for places. In fact, we had over 830 applications for the working groups.

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Federal Policy Committee meeting report

This report concerns the meeting of the FPC that took place on 23rd March 2016. This was not the best-attended meeting of the cycle but there were some very interesting discussions nonetheless.

Consultation Session on Liberty and Security Working Group Paper

Brian Paddick attended to offer the committee an opportunity to comment on the consultation paper that was taken to Spring Conference by his working group. The consultation session at Spring Conference was standing room only and there were a number of views expressed in that meeting.

Brian explained that the Investigatory Powers Bill is starting its committee session in the Commons shortly. The committee was delighted to hear that the chair is to be Nadine Dorries MP.

Members of the committee made a number of points in response to the consultation. There were comments surrounding the rushed nature of the legislation, the need to keep the rhetoric on the proposed powers proportionate to the threat, the issues in relation to bulk retention and the privacy implications thereof. There were also comments about the need to ensure that legal professional privilege is inviolable,that there should be proper judicial oversight with submissions potentially being made by special advocates for the other side and the need to ensure that there are no hidden ‘back doors’ into encrypted data. Others made comments about identifying those things that we disagree with and those things where there is a debate to be had about the detail, for example judges versus minsters issuing authorisations. Others queried the effectiveness of the measures and made the point that the provisions may have a disproportionate effect on minority communities.

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Zoe O’Connell’s Federal Conference Committee report

Federal Conference Committee met at Liberal Democrat HQ on Saturday 14th November for a meeting that had, despite press reports suggesting it was called purely to discuss special conference, been in the diary for some time.

Many topics were discussed, as the November meeting is one of the few where members get to kick about ideas and discuss new developments rather than focusing on motion and amendment selection. Even after a relatively short time on the committee, these feel to me as if they are standing agenda items – many FCC members are keen to keep up work on better use of funds to improve conference accessibility and financial inclusion, investigate remote voting, use of new technology, timing of conferences and so on. FCC rarely decides anything concrete at this point, but members are often tasked to go and consult with other groups such as, for example, talking to DEG and LDDA about some aspect of accessibility or funding that has arisen.

I generally refrain from reporting discussions-in-progress on these topics, as I feel it right that groups representing members who have most to gain (or lose) from changes should get the first say. There are three areas that deserve special mention, however:

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 17th Jul - 11:20pm
    Teresa it has been party policy since the autumn of 2016, and what could possibly be the point of trying to alter it this autumn?...
  • User AvatarJoe Otten 17th Jul - 11:11pm
    Update: https://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/labour-mp-dame-margaret-hodge-jeremy-corbyn-1.467296
  • User AvatarFraser Coppin 17th Jul - 10:59pm
    @Katharine Pindar - Freedom of movement CAN be controlled while still in the single market, as I said in the article, Liechtenstein already do it....
  • User AvatarRoland 17th Jul - 10:56pm
    @Dav - Surely the issue is whether it is 51% of the electorate or 51% of those who voted. As far as I'm concerned at...
  • User Avatarfrankie 17th Jul - 10:56pm
    Just in case anyone asks why Jo Swinson didn't vote Jo Swinson ‏Verified account @joswinson 3h3 hours ago Just how low will your govt stoop...
  • User Avatartpfk 17th Jul - 10:41pm
    I hope that the Lords might decide there's enough doubt about the vote to send it back. We'll see. Proxy votes / maternity cover is...