Tag Archives: federal policy committee

Last chance to develop Lib Dem policy on food and farming, international security and training

The Federal Policy Committee is in the process of setting up 3 policy working groups, to report to Autumn Conference in 2023. Any party member can apply to join them. But you need to hurry – the deadline is tomorrow.

The groups will update policy on Food and Farming, Opportunity, Skills and Training and International Security.

In an email to party members, FPC Vice Chair Lucy Nethsingha said:

Below you can see the aims of each working group:

  • Food and Farming
    This group will consider how we can improve our approach to food and farming, including looking at the future of farming and fishing, food security and supply chains, food poverty, nutrition and healthy eating, food production and animal welfare.
  • Opportunity, Skills and Training
    This group will look at giving people the skills to be successful in their lives. This will include vocational education from ages 14-19, careers advice, further education, tackling the Post-Brexit skills crisis, adult education and lifelong learning.
  • International Security
    This group will look at how the UK can strengthen its international security, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This group will address the International Security Institutional Architecture, UK Defence Policy, European Security and Defence Cooperation, Environment and Security (inc Energy Security), Economic security (eg vulnerabilities of supply chains), Combatting International terrorism, Novel threats e.g. Cyber Warfare and Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution.

The groups will start work as soon as possible, with a view to producing consultation papers for discussion at Spring Conference 2023 and final papers for debate at Autumn Conference 2023.

As a member of a working group you’ll work with other members to take evidence, identify the main challenges and develop distinctively Liberal Democrat policy that will appeal to voters and that would be effective in solving the identified problems.

You’re expected to attend regular meetings, contribute to discussion and help write papers (either through drafting or through commenting on drafts). The meetings are currently mostly taking place online, with some meetings in person in London (but with opportunity for online participation). The role is voluntary and the time commitment averages around two hours per week.

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New policy working groups – apply by 27th April

The Federal Policy Committee is in the process of setting up 3 policy working groups, to report to Autumn Conference in 2023. Any party member can apply to join them.

The groups will update policy on Food and Farming, Opportunity, Skills and Training and International Security.

In an email to party members, FPC Vice Chair Lucy Nethsingha said:

Below you can see the aims of each working group:

  • Food and Farming
    This group will consider how we can improve our approach to food and farming, including looking at the future of farming and fishing, food security and supply chains, food poverty, nutrition and healthy eating, food production and animal welfare.
  • Opportunity, Skills and Training
    This group will look at giving people the skills to be successful in their lives. This will include vocational education from ages 14-19, careers advice, further education, tackling the Post-Brexit skills crisis, adult education and lifelong learning.
  • International Security
    This group will look at how the UK can strengthen its international security, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This group will address the International Security Institutional Architecture, UK Defence Policy, European Security and Defence Cooperation, Environment and Security (inc Energy Security), Economic security (eg vulnerabilities of supply chains), Combatting International terrorism, Novel threats e.g. Cyber Warfare and Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution.

The groups will start work as soon as possible, with a view to producing consultation papers for discussion at Spring Conference 2023 and final papers for debate at Autumn Conference 2023.

As a member of a working group you’ll work with other members to take evidence, identify the main challenges and develop distinctively Liberal Democrat policy that will appeal to voters and that would be effective in solving the identified problems.

You’re expected to attend regular meetings, contribute to discussion and help write papers (either through drafting or through commenting on drafts). The meetings are currently mostly taking place online, with some meetings in person in London (but with opportunity for online participation). The role is voluntary and the time commitment averages around two hours per week.

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Help tackle the housing crisis

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England’s housing market is fundamentally unfair; it has left millions of people in insecure, unaffordable and low quality housing, whilst many others have seen their wealth increase dramatically. For many people, especially the young, the prospect of a secure home is a pipedream. The Federal Policy Committee’s working group on Homes and Planning wants your help to fix the English housing market and deliver the homes the country needs.

Although housing and planning is a devolved matter, we would welcome contributions from members outside of England about how their approach works and if there are any lessons we can learn from them.

There have been a wide range of estimates of how many homes England needs to build, ranging from 380,000 to around 200,000 a year. We believe that with a shortage of labour, skills, materials, available sites for development means that we should prioritise building social homes first and foremost – since the sector is currently struggling to build its current number of homes. These meet those in the greatest need, and can help bring down rents more generally.

We also want to ensure that homes are built to the highest standards. At the last election, we had robust and ambitious proposals for making homes fit for a carbon-neutral future, but we’d welcome any ideas you have to improve on those proposals.

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Saving our Natural Environment

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The climate and ecological emergencies are among the greatest challenges of our time.

The Federal Policy Committee’s Natural Environment Working Group is developing new policy proposals to help make sure that the Liberal Democrat plan for protecting and restoring nature is agenda-setting and ambitious. We would love to hear your ideas.

First of all, we want to hear what our long term vision for nature should be. We have a policy to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, but what is the equivalent for nature? What is the most ambitious pathway possible for reducing our impact on nature internationally, restoring the natural environment in England, and ensuring that individuals and communities can benefit from a healthy environment?

Farming and land management will be key to delivery. Now that we have left the EU, we will need to develop a nature-friendly replacement for the Common Agricultural Policy that recognises the huge changes and challenges that farmers are facing, and genuinely supports a fast and effective transition to sustainable farming. We want a scheme that gives our hard-pressed farmers and rural communities the support and prosperity they deserve, whilst also making farming work for nature.

We also want to put our fishing communities on a sustainable financial and environmental footing. Like farming, we have the opportunity to replace the Common Fisheries Policy with a new approach which benefits coastal communities and our seas, not just the big trawlers with the deepest pockets.

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Fixing the crisis in Social Care

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Social care, along with climate change, is perhaps the greatest challenge facing us as a country and a party – and we want your help to tackle it. Last year, the Federal Policy Committee commissioned a new working group to look at all aspects of adult social care, covering not just the elderly but the disabled too, who have been completely ignored by this government’s proposals.

The question that is asked by most is how do we fund social care – how much money is needed to deliver a quality social care service, what contributions should the receivers of care make, and what taxes should fund the gap? We know the government’s proposals just aren’t good enough – we must come up with something better.

We are also interested in how we can integrate health and social care into a seamless service. We don’t want to nationalise the social care sector into the NHS, but the two services must work together with each other.

At the moment, social care is primarily in the ambit of county councils and unitary authorities. We want to review the role that should be played by local, regional and national government as well as the wider community in delivering social care. We believe that local government should be in the driving seat of social care, but regional and national governments have a role to play too.

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Campaigning on Europe – members’ views

Please note that the title of this piece has been amended to reflect the content of the article.

You may remember, last November, taking part in a survey on members’ views on Brexit and the party’s campaigning on the future of UK–EU relations. Thanks to everyone who participated – 6,500 members, more than any previous survey of this type – and thanks to Greg Foster and Dan Schmeising at party HQ who organised it on behalf of the Federal Policy Committee. This article gives you the results.

The first question asked how you voted in the 2016 referendum. Completely unsurprisingly, over 91 per cent voted to Remain. Most of the rest couldn’t vote (for example because they were too young); just 2.5 per cent voted to Leave. No less than 95 per cent would describe themselves now as Remainers (more than four-fifths of whom chose the option ‘Yes, I am a Remainer and I am proud of it’) and just 1.3 per cent described themselves as Leavers (a third of whom – 25 people – were proud of it).

In response to the question, ‘Do you think people in your life who aren’t Liberal Democrats associate the current problems the country is experiencing – shortages of truck drivers, farmworkers, care workers and goods in shops – with Brexit?’, on a 0–6 scale, the average answer was 3.7: in other words, they do, but not all that strongly. Of course, the pandemic and the government’s feeble response have complicated the picture substantially, but this will change over time, as the impacts of Brexit become ever clearer. Indeed, if we’d asked the question now rather than two months ago, I suspect the response would have been stronger.

We next asked which EU-related policy areas the party ought to treat as a priority, given that the impact of Brexit is being felt across so many; people could choose three out of a list of fourteen. Trade came top, listed by more than half of respondents. The others, in order, were: climate change and energy; freedom of movement and immigration; rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU; standards for environment and labour issues; scientific collaboration; cultural, artistic and educational links; environment and biodiversity; defence and security; health policy; justice and police cooperation; foreign policy (countries outside the EU); international development; and crime.

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Federal Policy Committee seeks members for working groups

Over the summer the party’s Federal Policy Committee has been thinking hard about our programme of future policy development, with a firm eye on attracting voters to support us, and the FPC has now approved the creation of three policy working groups. One will look at affordable housing, sustainable communities and development. A second will focus on social care and disability and the third on early years education and childcare in England.

The FPC is seeking applications from members to join the groups. You should apply by 5 October.

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Report from Federal Policy Committee, 14th July

We held the last of our summer meetings this week and now that the deadlines for motions for autumn conference have passed, we were able to focus squarely on thinking about our future plans. So there were fewer decisions, and mindful of FPC Meetings Reports Fatigue, I’ll try and be briefer than usual!

We’ve carried out Equalities Impact Assessments on all our recent policy papers. We now want to develop and strengthen this approach further and agreed a plan for doing this. Many thanks to Helen Cross, Lizzie Jewkes, Mohsin Khan and Tara Copeland for driving this forward.

We have started our programme of work developing policies on strengthening the UK’s relationship with the EU, with the long term goal of membership. Our first motion on this territory is coming to this conference and this week we discussed our longer term plans for this work. We plan to develop proposals on joining the EU’s free trade area, the Single Market, to bring to spring conference, with more to follow. Thanks to Duncan Brack who is working closely with staff in bringing this forward.

Finally we discussed our plans for future policy working groups. We kicked around various ideas on this, prior to taking some firm decisions in the autumn. Early priority areas here are likely to include prominently work on creating a fairer and more caring society (linking up to the party’s commitment to UBI, which we will be consulting party members about further at this autumn conference). This is likely to be a mixture of drawing together existing policy to present it in the right way, and developing new policy, with a firm focus on appealing to target voters. Supporting child development in the early years and housing and planning policy are also areas we are currently thinking a lot about. There will be further discussions on this, and work on others, in the autumn, which we’ll report about then.

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Federal Policy Committee meetings report late June 2021

FPC has had an unusual burst of work to finish up June, with three meetings within a week, one of them a full-day awayday.

I’ll start with our plans for future policy development work, which we discussed at our in-person awayday in the last Sunday in June. It was fantastic to be back all together, with the great majority of members coming. We all really enjoyed the energy of being able to work together in person rather than sitting individually at home on Zoom, which like everyone else we’ve done exhaustively over the last sixteen months.

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Federal Policy Committee: Regional powers, Universal Basic Income, natural environment and voters

We held the second in our current programme of meetings focussed on finishing off policy papers for autumn conference, on 9 June 2021. We discussed the future of power structures at regional level within England, Universal Basic Income, the natural environment and how to influence voters. Work continues to finalise motions for the autumn conference.

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Report of the Federal Policy Committee – 26 May 2021

We hope this autumn federal party conference, our third online one, will have plenty of interesting topics to debate, and FPC is certainly planning to play its part in that by bringing what we hope will be some interesting and important policy papers and motions.

What this means practically for us now is that over the next month or so, before the motions deadline on 30 June, we have an intense burst of meetings to discuss all the work on our proposals, and finalise them. Towards the end of this period, after the hoped-for lifting of restrictions, we hope to have an in-person awayday meeting, our first physical meeting since February last year.

This week saw the first of these meetings. We started by remembering two long-standing servants of Liberal Democracy, Tony Greaves and Jonathan Fryer, both of whom had been active members of FPC at the times of their deaths in March and April. In their very different ways they contributed a huge amount to our work, and we hope to continue to remember their perspectives in our future work.

We welcomed Phil Bennion, the new chair of the Federal International Relations Committee (FIRC) back to FPC, and also Martin Dickson, the chair of the working group on the “Nature of Public Debate”. Since re-starting work in February, and drawing on their previous consultation at conference, this group has developed some really strong, and powerfully Liberal Democrat, responses to some of the quite inchoate challenges here. We had a good and full discussion of their analysis and proposals to promote good and effective public discourse, on aspects such as tackling ‘fake news’, the competitive and regulatory perspective on social media, supporting journalism, and information during elections. We will come back to this again to finalise the paper and motion.

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Federal Policy Committee report November 2020

This week FPC met with an unusually light-looking agenda but we still managed to talk for two and half hours! We received an excellent presentation from Mimi Turner, Director of Strategy, Messaging and Research. Mimi talked us through the scale of the task ahead of us in terms of understanding how the Party fares when voters are asked whether we share their values; whether we’ll do what we say; whether we’re perceived as wanting to help ordinary people get on in life; and whether they see us as competent and capable.

Mimi explained that by segmenting voters and targeting certain groups, we are missing the opportunity to speak to millions of voters. From a policy perspective, our role is to develop distinctive policies on the issues that matter most in terms of improving people’s lives and that resonate in our target seats. Easy, right?! Well I don’t think any of us underestimates the scale of the task head but we’re certainly up for it.

FPC work programme

FPC members found the presentation very useful as we went on to discuss our current and future work programme in the context of Mimi’s analysis and thoughts on future strategy. We have a number of pieces of work underway at the moment – a mixture of pieces looking at the bigger picture, some high profile issues that we’ve been tasked with looking at, and some specifics where we hope to bring forward some appealing policy proposals:

  • Nature of Public Debate – planned for Spring 2021
  • Making Utilities Work Better for the Public – planned for Spring 2021
  • Federal England – aiming for Spring 2021, with the group working fast since autumn conference
  • Natural Resources and the Natural Environment – planned for Autumn 2021
  • Liberal Democrat Principles and Values – planned for Autumn 2021
  • Universal Basic Income – planned for Autumn 2021
  • Carbon Pricing (a sub-group of the former climate change working group) – planned for Autumn 2021
  • Themes Paper (building on the World After Coronavirus consultation) – planned for Autumn 2021
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Report from the Federal Policy Committee meeting on 24th June

We met again on Wednesday 24th June, with a focus this time on motions we plan to submit for the virtual autumn conference. As previously reported, for a combination of reasons we don’t have any full policy papers this year, but are putting forward stand-alone motions in a few areas we’d like to raise.

It is of course up to the Federal Conference Committee which, if any, of these they select for debate, and if they do then of course they will be published in the normal way in due course, so I’m not going to lay out here their detailed content, but will give a general report.

First up was a motion written by our working group already looking at the “Nature of Public Debate” about information and how it has been used and misused during this crisis, and claims made by the government. We discussed the right way to get more accurate information, and also to hold the government to account. This also includes the role of the press, its regulation and how we can support good quality journalism.

Second was a motion that some Federal Policy Committee members have drafted in discussion with Liberal Democrat Campaign for Racial Equality and some other BAME representatives in the party, entitled ‘Racial Justice Cannot Wait’.  This makes a wide range of distinctively liberal and urgent proposals in response to the current debate, for ways in which Britain can really confront and make a difference on race equality.

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Federal Policy Committee report February 2020

Our latest meeting covered a range of policy issue discussions and future planning items.

One of our main discussion items was on potential topics for future policy motions and spokespersons’ papers beyond the scheduled policy papers being developed through our working groups. The Federal Policy Committee is keen to support and encourage other parts of the party to develop policy motions to enable a range of current issues to be taken to conference. Recently we’ve worked in collaboration with spokespeople to take forward motions on tourism, rehabilitation of offenders, and rail. We considered a range of policy topics including modern slavery & trafficking, international development, childhood, planning policy and housing, specific areas of transport policy, small business, tech/AI, and arts/culture.

We discussed these options and others considering what could be worked up in time for Autumn conference and what would provide strong messages to support us in the elections in May 2021. Based on the feedback we’ll engage with spokespeople and relevant SAOs/AOs and other party bodies to progress the ideas. We also looked ahead to start thinking about some future topics for working groups and this is a discussion that will continue.

We had an initial discussion about an idea tabled by Tony Greaves on a piece of work to address the so-called left behind areas of the country, taking a bottom up approach led by our councillors and campaigners in these communities. There was a lot of support for such an initiative but some questions around timing and resourcing that will need to be considered further.

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Federal Policy Committee report January 2020

Our meeting this week covered a number of areas.

We had firstly a very useful chat with Neil Stockley, chair of the working group on utilities, which is still at an early stage and whose timetable has been heavily disrupted by the excitements of the autumn. We reviewed the use or, if you like I suppose the utility, of this exercise in the rather changed political circumstances since we decided to set it up last year. We agreed that it remains a helpful area for us to focus on, not least as it has a clear direct impact on people’s everyday experiences – and costs – in a way which some policy areas do not. A full discussion concluded that it was helpful to retain its planned focus on utilities, not to expand it into consumer affairs more generally, and that while it shouldn’t exclude consideration of rail as a utility, it would not aim to be a full rail or transport paper, which there is a good case for but which we will come back to for further consideration.

We reviewed a draft motion on constitutional reform we are submitting for spring conference, in discussion with Wendy Chamberlain MP, the party’s new spokesperson on constitutional affairs. We felt this was a useful area to focus on following the constitutional issues arising from the autumn’s shenanigans, and one where as Liberal Democrats we generally have a clear and strong view. A full discussion took the view that it would be most useful to narrow the initially planned quite broad scope of this to focus specifically on the electoral reform aspects. The intention of this motion is to highlight clear Liberal Democrat answers to the issues here, rather than to develop major new policy. We have submitted this motion for spring conference and it will be up to FCC whether they select it for debate. This discussion also threw up a useful early review of how we might approach some of the important and tricky challenges around UK and English federalism and devolution, which we will come back to.

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Federal Policy Committee report 16th October: Finalising the manifesto

The Federal Policy Committee is now on the final straight in to completing our manifesto for the expected General Election, and we cleared the agenda for our planned meeting on 16 October to focus on some key aspects of the document.

Our close collaboration with the Campaigns and Communications teams continues, and we started with a review of current research information about how messages are going down with voters, which was very helpful for our discussions which followed. Because of the way that we as a party make policy through conference, our policy on almost every area is already very well established.  So the challenge of writing a manifesto is not so much writing the policy as working with others so that we present it in the way which is most useful and appealing, especially to our target voters.

This is particularly visible in the area we discussed next, the few key headline policy commitments which will be most high profile. We want these, as well of course being the right policy, to make specific commitments which help to tell the wider story about areas that Liberal Democrats prioritise and the approach we take to them. Clearly Brexit will be central here, but there is plenty more we have to say about what we will do to help people in their everyday challenges.

One thing we are rightly proud of is that our manifesto is always accompanied by a robust set of costings which set out what our proposals will cost and how we will find the money to pay for these. This is something other parties tend not to do very properly, or not at all. We spent some time with Ed Davey, the shadow chancellor, going through these plans, and are now very well down the track of developing a strong plan for committing resources to our priority areas, funded in ways which make Britain fairer.

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Constitutional Amendments at Bournemouth conference

As vice chair of the Federal Policy Committee, I’m proud of the substantial policy papers that FPC is bringing for debate at this conference. The future of the NHS and care system (including the many threats to them from Brexit), making a serious effort to support the least well off in society, tackling knife crime and other crime, and a real actual plan for tackling climate change, are all major issues where our answers can really help us in communicating Liberal Democrat values to voters. They, and the many other motions, are the real work of conference and I hope they succeed in getting us lots of positive attention in September.

At the other end of the spectrum of political importance, conference will also spend an hour late on Sunday afternoon, doing one of its other jobs, some internal organisational housekeeping (F23 and F24). Back in 2016, the party carried out a substantial review of the party’s constitution and how the party is organised, and made a number of quite important changes. Following that, we committed to reviewing how the new systems were working, and to bringing back any further smaller adjustments needed. This set of constitutional amendments is just that: the bulk of it (what’s called Part 5 in the agenda) is really small changes, which will no doubt invite lots of amused satirical responses (putting in one committee which got accidentally missed out of a list of all committees, removing stray apostrophes, that kind of thing). But some are a bit more significant so I thought it might be helpful to explain the thinking behind them, especially as unless you know what they are about, it’s not always very clear!

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Federal Policy Committee report – 6 February 2019

FPC met on Wednesday 6 February. We started with a good discussion with Ed Davey, home affairs spokesperson, and Vicki Cardwell, chair of the working group developing new policy on crime and policing. Ed talked through the issues he is focussing on, including responses to the increase in violent crime and the Immigration Bill. It is clear that crime is an important and increasingly important issue to voters. We then discussed in more detail the consultation paper written by the crime and policing group (which will be available shortly here). This included a review of the current picture of …

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Know about crime and policing or how to share benefits of economic growth?

The Federal Policy Committee is looking for volunteers to serve on two working groups which will bring forward new policy on crime and policing and on sharing the benefits of economic growth:

The FPC is looking to appoint members of these groups to develop policy in each of these areas.

Both working groups will take evidence in the second half of 2018, run consultation sessions at Spring Conference 2019 and prepare their final drafts over March-June 2019. These will be presented to FPC for amendments and approval. Subject to this approval, the final papers will be published in July 2019, and debated

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Federal Policy Committee report, 21 March 2018

FPC met for three hours on the evening of 21 March. The first item on the agenda was a discussion with the Leader; Vince is chair of the FPC, but inevitably his parliamentary and party duties mean he can’t attend every meeting, so we were pleased to have this opportunity. He updated us on three separate pieces of work under way on aspects of tax policy: on business tax, on the prospects for land value tax, and on options for a wealth tax. He hopes to be able to publish short ‘spokesperson’s papers’ on all of these and submit motions …

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Inaugural meeting of the Race Equality Policy Working Group

On 13 February, eve of Valentine’s Day, members of the Race Equality Policy Working Group met for the first time at LDHQ. I mention Valentine’s Day because this is very much a labour of love for those of us who have volunteered to assist the Party in its policy making on this important subject.

The first meeting was also timely for another reason: it follows the issue last week of Lord Alderdice’s report on Race, Ethnic Minorities and the culture of the Liberal Democrats and an email from our leader, Vince Cable MP, calling on each and every member to …

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Federal Policy Committee report – 10 January 2018

The Federal Policy Committee met on Wednesday night, with an agenda mostly of finalising items for debate at spring conference.

First up was reviewing the policy paper produced by the working group on education, and finalising it for proposal to spring conference. This is an impressive paper covering a wide range of aspects of education, especially funding, supporting and promoting teachers and good teaching, and inspection and improvement arrangements. It also covers the curriculum, schools structures, Further Education, Early Years, SEND and health (including mental health) in education. FPC has discussed this twice through the autumn and last night had a further good discussion on it, especially around arrangements for inspection, testing and league tables. The motion and paper will of course be published and launched publicly once the agenda for spring conference is decided and published.

The second policy paper item was on rural affairs. The discussion of this last night focussed in particular the section on agriculture following the important speech by the secretary of state last Friday on the planned post-EU future for agriculture and land. We have also discussed fully on previous occasions its sections on supporting local rural economies more broadly, tackling the housing problems, supporting greater communications, both physical and electronic, and flood protection. Other areas such as animal welfare were also discussed in some more detail. This will also be published in due course.

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Post-Christmas musings on the R word

The Queen has in her Christmas speech welcomed new members into the royal family in 2018.

Prince Harry will soon have a mother-in-law who is African American and the young couple’s future children will be of mixed race heritage. The society pages lap up the fairy-tale love story and we all cheer ourselves on how liberal we have become as a nation.

Vogue Magazine has a new editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful, and we can’t help but notice the change in the complexion of many of the supermodels that grace the glossy pages. Sir Mo Farrah has not only been knighted but has also …

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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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New Policy Working Group on Race Equality: Chair Needed

Readers of Geoff Payne’s report on the last FPC meeting, on 18 October, may remember that we took the decision to establish a new policy working group on Race Equality.

The first stage in the process is for the FPC to appoint a chair of the working group, and we’re advertising for applicants now.

The chair will lead a group of around 15–20 members to produce policy proposals setting out the party’s plans for improving race equality and helping us reach out to BAME communities, while exemplifying the party’s values.

The working group will take evidence in the first half of 2018 …

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The Federal Policy Committee Report

The Federal Policy Committee met again on 18th October 2017. This was a fairly heavy agenda this time and decisions were taken that will reach some distance into the future.

Association of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE)
Peter Price presented a report on the work of ALDE. The organisation has a total of 59 member parties throughout the EU and members of the Liberal Democrats have traditionally played a significant role within it. It is governed by a Bureau, a Council and a Congress, the latter meeting annually. Motions and papers can be submitted and there are usually quite a lot of them, often on what are …

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Federal Policy Committee Report 13 September 2017

This report relates to the meeting of the Federal Policy Committee which took place on 13th September 2017. The committee had not met for a few months. Its last meeting, which was scheduled for 12th July 2017, had been cancelled. There was therefore quite a lot to catch up on.

Vince Cable Update on Priorities

It hardly needs saying but, since the last meeting, a new Leader has taken over. Vince Cable attended the meeting to update the committee on his priorities.

Vince said that he had been to eighteen meetings around the country as a substitute for leadership hustings. He had also …

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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 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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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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