The spring conference motions explained

Over on the party website, Conference committee chair, Geoff Payne has provided a helpful rundown of the motions to be debated at the spring conference in York in the weekend of March 13th-15th.

Here are his summaries of the motions, which party members can access in full via this page on the party website:

F4 – Hong Kong
This motion introduces new party policy on the human rights situation in Hong Kong. It calls for:

-Extending of the right to abode to all British National (Overseas) citizens
-The government to use its relationship with China to persuade Beijing to not end the protests through military force
-An indefinite suspension of export licenses for crowd control equipment to Hong Kong.

F6 – Children’s Social Care
(England only)

This motion updates party policy on children’s social care. It calls for:

-Extra funding for children’s social care
-Higher priority for looked-after children in the education system
-More care places for children who need it
-A new scheme to help older looked-after children find accommodation to transfer into when they are ready to live independently
-The government to review allowances and pay for foster carers
-An exploration into whether an allowance scheme for kinship carers (who look after children of their relatives) should be set up
-A national workforce strategy for social workers and children’s home managers

F8 – Electoral Reform
This motion updates party policy on electoral reform. It calls for:

-The use of Single Transferable Vote as the voting system for all Parliamentary elections and English local elections
-The voting age to be lowered to 16
-The rights of EU citizens to stand and vote in local elections to be protected, and extended to general elections when they’ve lived here for 5+ years
-The use of Alternative Vote for elections to single positions like directly-elected mayors in England
-The scrapping of voter ID law plans
-A legal requirement for local authorities to inform citizens of the steps required to be successfully registered to vote. This includes a far greater effort to register under-represented groups

F13 – Supporting The Trans and Non-Binary Communities within the Liberal Democrats
This is a business motion (one that deals with how the party works internally). It seeks to improve accessibility to Liberal Democrat events for trans and non-binary people and protect their rights by:

-Requiring Lib Dem HQ and all conference venues (Federal and Regional) to have at least one gender-neutral bathroom
-The option to have your preferred pronouns on your conference pass
-The option to include your preferred pronouns on speaker’s cards
-Training for presenters at party events on how to avoid unnecessarily gendered language

F16 – Welcoming Child Refugees
This motion calls on the Government to fulfil its existing obligations to provide sanctuary to child refugees, as well as to:

-Extend family reunion rights so child refugees in the UK can sponsor family members to join them
-Provide specialist legal advice for all child asylum seekers
-Resettle 10,000 unaccompanied child refugees from elsewhere in Europe over the next 10 years

F17 – Student Mental Health Charter
(England only)

This motion calls on the Government to legislate for universities to ensure a strong provision of mental health support for students by:

-Developing a Student Mental Health Charter for universities in consultation with students, universities and mental health charities
-Including in the Charter guaranteed access to quality mental health support and the recording and reporting of waiting times
-Ensuring all universities have the aim to reach zero suicide

The full conference agenda and directory is available here.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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This entry was posted in Party policy and internal matters.


  • It’s good that the self-destructive motions originally earmarked for this spring conference have now been ditched.

    Yet we still appear to have little to say on the key issues that face most people’s lives: health, education, housing, employment and transport.

    I sincerely hope that Swinson uses her dedicated speaking slot to set out where, based on her recent experience, the party has gone wrong and how things need to change.

  • David Becket 17th Feb '20 - 3:37pm

    I would rather see debates from our new MPs showing how they see the way forward rather than a keynote speech from an ex leader.

  • Paul Ankers 17th Feb '20 - 4:08pm

    Ian makes a very good point.
    I am no fan of conference, but this slate of motions really reads like a list set to appease interest groups within the party rather than actually talk about anything that matters outside of the conference hall to people who aren’t party members.
    There is good stuff in the Children Social Care motion & the student mental health charter, but it will prove really necessary for the party to start winning arguments on health care and housing etc if we are ever to grow at national level again.

  • With respect to Paul, the “gaps” in our electoral reform policy – one of our longest standing and most often debated – are hardly so gaping that we couldn’t instead have found time for a debate on a subject that is high on public concern right now.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 18th Feb '20 - 8:26am

    I’ve only read through the electoral reform motion very quickly, but is there really anything in it that was not already Lib Dem policy?

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 18th Feb '20 - 9:14am

    The motion on Student Mental Health is good as far as it goes. But I am disappointed that it does not go further. It focuses entirely on the provision of professional counselling.
    It is of course vital that students should have access to counselling, and that it should be available immediately. But I would have liked to see a more holistic policy, ensuring that Universities improve the pastoral care available to all students, and especially looking at ways that the transition to University could be made less stressful. Many students are away from home for the first time, and feel overwhelmed by both social and academic pressures, often with financial worries as well. If universities focused on creating a more supportive, less stressful environment, then fewer students would get to the stage of needing professional counselling.

  • This is all very well. But what is this week’s news? And will it soon be stale news? In remote Wales, in the glossy comfy Midlands, in the rugged tough West Riding, and here in august York, all the talk is of floods — and nothing to hear from Downing Street. Can it be nothing from us?

    It will not soon be stale news — we must see to that. And we shall not be alone. Flooding and the Climate Change that brings it are not going away, and every party will be pressing for Action. Do we imagine the nation will stay silent until Isis and the Cam and Parliament itself are flooded? How can we possibly, conferring in York, stay silent on the countless small personal and communal disasters which almost everyone has seen coming, year by year more obviously. Now it IS here and everywhere in the land, and a political Conference in York must make a noise about it: sensible noise, and loud.

    There are other matters becoming audible. One is the elusive, the mysterious UBI. Labour got themselves a good Report on it for the Shadow Chancellor last summer, but funked it and stayed mum — presumably on the say-so of their decisive Leader. The Greens bravely included it in their recent Manifesto. Properly presented to the public it will be heard of more and more, and we cannot afford any longer to say nothing, like Mr Corbyn. Unlike most of the timid predictability of the subjects offered here, UBI is radical and humane, and some party soon is going to grab it and run with it and score a try. I hope that will be the Lib Dems, but it don’t look likely.

  • Peter Hirst 18th Feb '20 - 3:37pm

    Will attempts to improve electoral registration numbers work, what is our desired rate and how might this be best achieved? Assuming FPC accepts it, there will be an amendment to move to automatic electoral registration. This will be cheaper, more effective and convenient.

  • Peter Hirst 18th Feb '20 - 3:38pm

    or rather FCC.

  • Flooding in York raised by the appropriately named Mr. Lake.

    If it’s raised (and it should be) whoever leads should get properly briefed and liaise with the local party to ensure no clangers are dropped. York Council is currently Lib Dem led – and it’s recordis bound to come under national scrutiny. Seats as follows :

    Lib Dem 21 Labour 17 Green 4 Conservative 2 York Independent Group 2 Independent 1

    There are currently at least four Food Banks in this Lib Dem run city and I believe the official figures on homelessness in and around York underestimate the issue.

    Given the historical connection with the Liberal Seebohm Rowntree’s three surveys of poverty in York, (1899, 1935, and 1951) what better opportunity for the party to rediscover it’s soul and to refocus on the issue of inequality and poverty in the modern UK. The UN Report by Professor Alston published last year should be compulsory reading for every delegate.

    Note : Benjamin Seebohm Rowntree, CH (1871-1954) was a Liberal. An English sociological researcher, social reformer, industrialist, a Quaker and a member of the chocolate family. He is known in particular for his three York studies of poverty conducted in 1899, 1935, and 1951. Full details and references in Wikipedia

  • marcstevens 18th Feb '20 - 9:58pm

    There is very little help for the victims of floods. There people now have to re-build their lives. Conference should really reflect what’s affecting people’s everyday lives right now. How can aid be diverted to flood areas and what is going to replace the £125 EU flood fund aid we are going to lose? The party could quite easily come up with proposals here.

  • John Barrett 20th Feb '20 - 8:27am

    Members will no doubt wonder why Floods and Climate Change are not being discussed.

    The media, on the other hand, will no doubt give our only conference coverage to the fact that we are discussing Transgender Toilets.

    Surely this is something that could have been discussed and agreed by one of the many committees that exist in the party, rather than making this piece of internal party business organisation an agenda item for those who have travelled far to attend a national event. I wont be surprised if the numbers in the hall during that debate reflect this.

    As we have found in the past, it only takes one agenda item, like this, to wipe out all other coverage of all other issues being discussed.

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