Liberal Democrats

F27: Expanding Opportunity, Unlocking Potential

Watch the whole debate below or click 'Playlist' on the left of the video to select individual speeches.

This motion and the accompanying policy paper consolidate, update and develop policy on equalities, based on the Liberal Democrat principle of the promotion of human rights to empower individuals to reach their full potential and have more control over their own lives. In particular they develop policies on increasing representation of women on boards, promoting apprenticeships for groups who are under-represented in the labour market, establishing a statutory code of practice to support the implementation of the Public Sector Equality Duty and advocating equalities internationally, including promoting same sex marriage abroad and developing a strategy to end FGM within a generation.

Existing policies are set out in policy motions A New Liberal Democrat Approach to Race Equality (2013), Preventing Sexual and Domestic Violence (2013) and Equal Marriage in the UK (2010) and policy paper 91 Real Women (2009). Many other policy motions and policy papers also address equalities issues, in particular policy paper 108, A Balanced Working Life (2013), sets out policies on flexible working and parenting. 

F27: Expanding Opportunity, Unlocking Potential (Equalities Policy Paper)

(Passed with Amendments 1, 2, 3 & 4, with a separate vote to remove lines 2-6 from Amendment 3)

Conference notes that:

I. Liberal Democrats are rightly proud of a commitment to equality that goes back decades, and the vision for a fair, free and open society is enshrined in our constitution.

II. In government Liberal Democrats have championed equality, working for a fairer society.
Conference believes that:

A. There is still much more to be done to reduce inequalities, poverty, and disadvantage for those with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 - Liberal Democrats want to expand opportunity and unlock potential by promoting equality in education and employment, in health and wellbeing and in an inclusive society.

B. Liberal Democrats want Britain to take the lead in tackling inequalities abroad.

C. At the heart of our approach is the promotion of human rights to empower individuals to reach their full potential and have more control over their own life, to live in the way that is right for them and free from discrimination.
Conference therefore endorses policy paper 120, Expanding Opportunity, Unlocking Potential, and particularly welcomes its proposals to:

1. Create opportunity in education and employment for all through:
a) Ensuring all young carers receive the pupil premium.

b) Extending the free early years childcare entitlement of 15 hours to all 2 year olds.

c) Ending the opt-out from employment and equalities legislation for staff in faith schools, except those responsible for religious instruction.

d) Repealing the existing legal requirement for all state-funded schools to hold acts of collective worship, and for non-religious schools to hold acts of worship of a broadly Christian character.

e) Promoting apprenticeships for groups underrepresented in the labour market. 

f) Encouraging the private sector to promote diversity and requiring private companies in receipt of public funds to monitor and publish equality data.

g) Bringing into force the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 that require private employers to publish data on gender pay gaps.

h) Introducing name-blank applications in the public sector and encouraging their use in the voluntary and private sectors

i) Reviewing the level of employment tribunal fees to ensure they do not deter genuine claims.

j) Establishing a statutory code of practice to support the implementation of the Public Sector Equality Duty.

k) Addressing the management gender gap by recruiting diverse talent.

2. Address inequalities in health and wellbeing through:
a) Extending disabled bus concessions to peak hours.

b) Bringing Equality Act provisions into force which ensure fair access to taxis for people with disabilities.

c) Introducing better regulation for cosmetic surgery to ensure patient safety and closure of fiscal loopholes for those providing purely cosmetic procedures.

d) Introducing compulsory training for front line staff in FGM issues in high risk areas.

e) Making legal provision for the full recognition of hate crimes against LGBT+ people and people with disabilities asaggravated offences allowing appropriate sentences for perpetrators. 3. Build an inclusive society that celebrates diversity through: 

a) Accelerating the recognition of caste as an aspect of race under the Equality Act.

b) Amending marriage certificate rules to allow both parents' name and occupation to be listed.

c) Asking the Advisory Committee on Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs to review rules around men who have sex with men donating blood.

d) Reviewing the Gender Recognition Act to allow married couples consensually to reinstate their marriage when one party to the marriage has reassigned their gender.

e) Allowing X gender markers on passports.

f) Including positive images of transgender individuals in central government publications.

4. Work for our vision for equality of opportunity including the promotion of fairness and equality between the citizen and the state, both at home and abroad, through:
a) Making the Equality and Human Rights Commission directly accountable to Parliament to strengthen its ability to hold the government to account.

b) Changing the title and responsibilities of the Minister for Faith and Communities to Minister for Faith, Belief and Communities, with responsibility for working with community leaders to promote religious tolerance and stronger communities within the UK.

c) Moving the Government Equalities Office into Cabinet Office and bring ministerial responsibilities for equalities into one place.

d) Review anti-discrimination law, guidelines and standards on access to digital goods and services to ensure they are fit for the modern age and to ensure fair access to digital public services, the digital economy and the workplace

e) Developing an ambitious international gender equality strategy with a clear aim to end female genital mutilation within a generation.

f) Ratifying the Istanbul Convention on violence against women in the UK and EU and give effect to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2122, on health care for war rape victims.

g) Leading the way in forming a clear international strategy to improve LGBT+ rights worldwide.

h) Continuing to promote same-sex marriage abroad and encourage British embassies overseas to offer same sex marriages.

i) Upholding freedom of religious belief and the right to choose and change religion or belief, as enshrined in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, especially in dialogue with countries that persecute religious minorities.


Applicability: Federal, except 1 a), b) and c) (lines 22-26) which are England only.

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