Motion as passed by conference
Scottish Liberal Democrats, Welsh Liberal Democrats, Rutherglen & Hamilton West.
Mover: Wendy Chamberlain MP (Spokesperson for Political & Constitutional Reform, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).
Summation: Cllr Robert Brown.
Conference notes that:
- The future cohesion and existence of the United Kingdom is threatened by a sense of alienation and powerlessness amongst many of our citizens which has fuelled Brexit and the growth of nationalism.
- The COVID-19 crisis and Brexit have demonstrated both the value of the United Kingdom and the damaging inadequacies of its current constitutional arrangements.
- Most people across the United Kingdom have multiple identities which they recognise to varying degrees and which should be reflected in the institutions of government.
- There is growing support for constitutional reform across the nations and regions of the United Kingdom.
Conference believes that:
- The constitution of the United Kingdom is not fit for the needs of a 21st century liberal democracy.
- The best way to ensure the continued union between Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland is to create a truly federal United Kingdom, as long advocated by Liberal Democrats.
Conference calls for:
- A Declaration that the United Kingdom is a federal union that exists by the consent of the people of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland where the founding principles of the Union are:
- Democratic government based on liberal values in compliance with the European Convention of Human Rights and which fully respect the diverse identities of our people.
- An equitable distribution of resources between different parts of the United Kingdom based on their respective needs.
- A duty of co-operation on both the Federal and State governments to work for equality of opportunity, guarantee the essentials of a decent life for our citizens, tackle climate change and meet the challenges of a global economy.
- Subsidiarity so that the Federal Parliament does not have the power to legislate in areas of competence of the parliaments of the nations and regions of the Union without their consent and that the exercise of public responsibilities is decentralised as much as reasonably practicable.
- Early measures to implement the Federal Declaration including:
- Creating a Declaration of Rights as a foundation document of a Federal United Kingdom which includes a new, modern, inclusive definition of citizenship.
- The enactment and endorsement of the Federal Declaration by Westminster and the Parliaments and Assemblies of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- The creation of a United Kingdom Constitutional Convention to lead the creation, on a wide civic and popular basis, of a codified written constitution for Britain.
- The election of the House of Commons by Single Transferable Vote and replacement of the House of Lords by an Upper House with a proper democratic mandate on a basis that represents the nations and regions of the United Kingdom.
- The creation of powerful institutions to encourage and enable co-operation between the governments and parliaments of the various parts of the United Kingdom that would include:
- Creating a United Kingdom Federal Council of Ministers to enable the governments and parliaments of the various parts of the Union to work better, building on the work of the joint Ministerial Committees.
- A power for one government to request formally that another take specific necessary action to facilitate policy objectives in an area where the other government has the policy lead.
- A duty on the Federal Government to consult with the governments of the particular parts of the Union on federal policies that would impact on their statutory responsibilities.
- Reform of United Kingdom-wide institutions to enable them to serve all governments and parliaments within the United Kingdom.
- The transfer of additional powers to the Senedd Cymru (Welsh Parliament) to create broad parity with the powers of the Scottish Parliament including the creation of Wales as a distinct legal jurisdiction.
- Liberal Democrats in positions of power or influence in the Scottish Parliament, Senedd Cymru and in local and regional government to collaborate in campaigning and using their influence to build a federal United Kingdom.
Mover: 7 minutes; summation of motion and movers and summation of any amendments: 4 minutes; all other speakers: 3 minutes.
For eligibility and procedure for speaking in this debate, see page 6.
The deadline for amendments to this motion is 13.00, Monday 14 September; see page 8. Amendments selected for debate will be printed in Conference Extra and Saturday's Conference Daily. The deadline for requests for separate votes is 10.00, Friday 25 September; see page 5.