Liberal Democrats

F29-F34: Amendments and Party Business: Party Bodies Reform

All of items F29 to F34 will be moved and debated together, and there will be a series of votes on all of them at the end of the debate.

Constitutional amendments and standing order amendments require a two-thirds majority to pass.

The current Federal Party Constitution can be found on the party website at: www.libdems.org.uk/constitution

The text of the current standing orders is on page 121 of the agenda.

Mover: 5 minutes; all other speakers: 3 minutes.

For eligibility and procedure for speaking in this debate, see page 7 of the agenda. To submit a speaker's card go to: libdems.org.uk/speakers-card.

F29 and F30 are a constitutional amendment and a standing order amendment respectively. They are therefore open to amendment and separate vote.

The deadline for amendments to the motions - see page 9-10 of the agenda - is 13.00 on 6 September. Amendments selected for debate will be published in the Conference Extra and Sunday's Conference Daily updates to the Conference Agenda.

The deadline for requests for separate votes is 09.00 Saturday 19 September; see page 7 of the agenda.

F31 to F34 are regulations made by the Federal Board under Article 9.6 of the Federal Constitution and are therefore subject to ratification by conference but cannot be amended.


F29: Party Bodies Reform: constitutional amendment

Submitted by: Federal Board

Mover: Flo Clucas.

Summation: Lee Dargue.


Conference notes that:

  1. Following the Party Bodies Review Group report into the Specified Associated Organisations (SAOs) and Associated Organisations (AOs), and how both bodies interact and work together with the wider Party, a consultation process has taken place to determine what changes ought to be made.
  2. That consultation has arrived at a set of constitutional recommendations to replace SAOs and AOs with a new category of 'Affiliated Organisations'.
  3. The Federal Party should support any SAO/AO that wishes to become an 'Affiliated Organisation' and ought to make all best efforts to ensure a successful transition.

Conference resolves to amend the Constitution as follows:

  1. Remove the current Article 21 and insert a new Article 21:

    Article 21: Affiliated Organisations

    21.1 Any organisation of persons having a common interest which satisfies the following criteria:

    (a) It has a membership policy which conforms to the principles in Article 3.1 of the Federal Constitution;

    (b) Its objects are consistent with the fundamental values and objectives of the Party;

    (c) Its internal procedures conform with the democratic principles in Article 4.6 (c), (d) and (e); and

    (d) Its internal procedures conform to any rules created under Article 9.6 (b);

    may apply to the Federal Board or a State Party by the internal procedures of that State Party to become an Affiliated Organisation. The Federal Board, or relevant State Party, may confer such status by their procedures. A list of Affiliated Organisations currently recognised by the Federal Party will be maintained by the Federal People and Development Committee and published on the party's website. State Parties may make similar arrangements.

    21.2 The Federal Board shall from time to time review the operation of Affiliated Organisations in the light of the principles and practices established by and pursuant to this Constitution and shall report to the Conference on such reviews.

    21.3 Affiliated Organisations shall have the rights granted to them under the Constitution, and relevant rules made thereunder, of the body responsible for the granting of their Affiliated Organisation status. The rights of an Affiliated Organisation under this, or relevant State Party's, Constitution may be suspended by the Federal Board, or relevant State Party, in accordance with internal procedures, if:

    (a) It is not compliant with any statutory or regulatory provisions that are relevant to the party's activities, including the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act and the relevant data protection legislation;

    (b) It is not compliant with this, or its own, Constitution or the rules made thereunder; or

    (c) if events have taken place or are about to take place which are or may be seriously detrimental to the Affiliated Organisation or to the Party as a whole.

    21.4 Before suspending the rights of an Affiliated Organisation, the Federal Board, or relevant State Party, shall draw the attention of the Affiliated Organisation to the grounds on which it is proposed to take this action, and shall give the Affiliated Organisation a reasonable time to answer any allegations and/or take any necessary corrective action. An Affiliated Organisation which is suspended under Article 21.3 may appeal from that decision as provided by Article 22 or, if an Affiliated Organisation of a State Party, via that State Party's appeals procedures.

    21.5 The suspension of an Affiliated Organisation may be lifted if the Federal Board, or relevant State Party, is satisfied that corrective action has been taken. During the period of its suspension the powers and functions of the Affiliated Organisation and its organs shall be exercised subject to and in accordance with the directions of the Federal Board, or relevant State Party.

    21.6 An Affiliated Organisation will have its status as an Affiliated Organisation revoked if one of the following sets of conditions are met:

    i. Removal

    (a) The Federal Board, or the relevant State Party, has suspended the Affiliated Organisation; and

    (b) The Federal Board's intended removal of Affiliated Organisation status has been reported in the Federal Board's written report to Conference under Article 8.7 or the State Party's intention has been reported to its members by their own procedures;

    or

    ii. Resignation

    (a) The Affiliated Organisation, through its own procedures and notifying the Federal Board, or relevant State Party, has resigned its Affiliated status.

    21.7 For the purposes of exercising the rights conferred on Affiliated Organisations by this Constitution and rules made under it:

    (a) The Affiliated Organisation representing youth and students shall have the same rights as a Local Party;

    (b) ALDC shall have the same rights as an Affiliated Organisation; and

    (c) An organisation listed in the Annexe to this Constitution shall until 31st December 2022 continue to exercise the rights it previously enjoyed as a Specified Associated Organisation or an Associated Organisation, and be subject to the duties and obligations including but not limited to suspension and removal, as applied on August 1st 2021. This article shall not apply to any organisation that becomes an Affiliated Organisation.

    21.8 The recognition by the Party of Affiliated Organisations shall not prejudice the independence of such organisations.

  2. Delete the Annexe and insert a new Annexe:
    1. Specified Associated Organisations

      Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors and Campaigners (ALDC)
      Association of Liberal Democrat Engineers and Scientists (ALDES)
      Liberal Democrat Campaign for Race Equality (LDCRE)
      LGBT+ Liberal Democrats
      Liberal Democrat Lawyers' Association (LDLA)
      Liberal Democrat Women
      Young Liberals
      Parliamentary Candidates' Association (PCA)
      Liberal Democrat Christian Forum (LDCF)

    2. Associated Organisations

      Association of Liberal Democrat Trades Unionists
      Chinese Liberal Democrats
      Green Liberal Democrats
      Humanist & Secularist Liberal Democrats
      Liberal Democrat Action for Land Taxation & Economic Reform
      Liberal Democrat Campaign for Racial Equality
      Liberal Democrat Disability Association
      Liberal Democrat Education Association
      Liberal Democrat European Group
      Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel
      Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine
      Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform
      Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary
      Liberal International British Group

Consequently, conference resolves to further amend the Constitution as follows:

  1. In Article 3.2 (b), delete 'a Specified Associated Organisation' and insert 'an Affiliated Organisation'.
  2. In Article 3.2 (d), delete 'Specified Associated Organisation or Associated Organisation' and insert 'Affiliated Organisation'.
  3. In Article 5.2, delete 'Specified Associated Organisations' and insert 'Affiliated Organisations'.
  4. In Article 7.5 (a), delete 'Associated Organisations, Specified Associated Organisations' and insert 'Affiliated Organisations'.
  5. In Article 7.5 (b), delete 'Associated Organisations' and insert 'Affiliated Organisations'.
  6. In Article 7.6, delete 'Specified Associated Organisations' and insert 'Affiliated Organisations'.
  7. In Article 9.2 (i) (g), delete 'Specified Associated Organisation' and insert 'Affiliated Organisation'.
  8. In Article 9.2 (ii) (e), delete 'ALDC' and insert 'the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors (ALDC)'.
  9. In Article 9.6 (b), delete 'Associated Organisation and Specified Associated Organisation' and insert 'Affiliated Organisation'.
  10. In Article 12.5, delete 'SAOs' and insert 'As appropriate, Affiliated Organisations'.
  11. In Article 13.2 (i) (f), delete 'SAO representing councillors' and insert 'Affiliated Organisation representing Councillors'.
  12. In Article 14.2 (d), delete 'AOs and SAOs as set out in Article 21' and insert 'Affiliated Organisations'.
  13. In Article 14.3 (c), delete 'AOs and SAOs as set out in Article 21 and the Annexe to this Constitution' and insert 'Affiliated Organisations' and delete 'SAO which represents youth and/or students' and insert 'Affiliated Organisation which represents youth and/or students'.
  14. In Article 15.2 (d), delete 'SAO' and insert 'Affiliated Organisation'.
  15. In Article 18.2 (f), delete 'Specified Associated Organisation or Organisations' and insert 'Affiliated Organisation or Organisations'.
  16. In Article 18.5, delete 'Specified Associated' and insert 'Affiliated'.
  17. In Article 20.1, delete 'Specified Associated Organisations' and insert 'Affiliated Organisation or Organisations'.
  18. In Article 22.3 (b), delete 'AO or SAO' and insert 'Affiliated Organisation'.

F30: Party Bodies Reform: standing order amendment

Submitted by: Federal Board

Mover: Flo Clucas.

Summation: Lee Dargue.


Conference notes that, subject to the acceptance of the Party Bodies Reform constitutional amendment (F29), the conference standing orders will require updating in order to properly take account of the new status of Affiliated Organisation.

Conference resolves to amend the conference standing orders as follows:

  1. In standing order 1.3 (b) delete 'Specified Associated Organisations' and insert 'Affiliated Organisations'.
  2. In standing order 1.3 (d) delete 'Specified Associated Organisations' and insert 'Affiliated Organisations'.

F31: Party Bodies Reform: rules made under Article 9.6 of the Federal Constitution

Submitted by: Federal Board

Mover: Flo Clucas.

Summation: Lee Dargue.


Conference notes that, subject to the acceptance of the Party Bodies Reform constitutional amendment (F29), rules will need to be made under Article 9.6 of the Federal Constitution in order to properly take account of the new status of Affiliated Organisation.

Conference resolves to adopt new rules as follows:

    1. Each application for Affiliated Organisation status must:
      1. Fulfil the conditions of the Party Constitution in Article 21.1 and those defined for local parties in Article 4.6 (C), (D) and (E);
      2. Have a membership of not less than 30 members of the Liberal Democrats from no fewer than two local parties;
      3. Have a membership policy which:
        1. Unless specifically agreed by the Federal Board ("the Board"), is organised such that only party members and party members of sister parties 1 may:
          1. hold the role of officer, including Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and Membership Officer;
          2. sit on Federal Party Committees;
          3. access party data;
          4. receive financial information, or sensitive political information; or
          5. vote within the Affiliated Organisation.
        2. Has, if the Affiliated Organisation chooses to admit non-party members, a specified separate status for those members which makes them subject to the Party Disciplinary Process 2 and eligible to be removed as a member of the Affiliated Organisation by that process. Non-party members of Affiliated Organisations shall otherwise be treated as if they were registered supporters of the party; and
        3. Requires all Affiliated Organisation members to act in accordance with the Members' Code of Conduct.

          [1 Sister parties for this purpose shall be defined as the members of ALDE (Alliance of Liberal and Democrats for Europe) and / or the Renew Europe Group and / or the members and associate organisations of Liberal International. The Federal Board reserves the right to exclude parties from this definition if it concludes doing so is in the interests of protecting the party's reputation.]

          [2 Refusal to take part in the process will be deemed sufficient basis for someone being removed as a member of an Affiliated Organisation. An Affiliated Organisation which does not suspend such a member, or refuses to comply with the requirements of the Complaints Process, will itself be subject to suspension or removal.]

      4. Be able to demonstrate a commitment to equality of opportunity, including relevant party standards or codes, including the Members' Code of Conduct and any recommended membership standards approved by the Federal People and Development Committee (FPDC);
      5. Maintain full and accurate records of its transactions, including financial reports. Have in place the appropriate administrative procedures and records to ensure compliance with the provisions of any relevant party finance and data protection legislation and take all steps necessary to become/be a compliant accounting unit of the party. The Federal Party and State Parties reserve the right to deny access to services in cases of non-compliance and to impose the financial escalation policy as if the Affiliated Organisation were a local party;
      6. Provide annual reports on their activities to the Board, or relevant State Party, and comply with any reasonable requests for further reporting;
      7. Agree to be subject to the standard review procedure in Appendix II and the procedure for investigating Affiliated Organisation behaviour as set out in Appendix III; and
      8. Provide an explanation that satisfies the FPDC, or relevant State Party, as to why becoming an Affiliated Organisation, with all the attending regulatory and administrative burden, is in the best interests of the applicant and the party. This requirement shall not apply to the Young Liberals or the ALDC.

 

    1. In addition to the rights conferred by the Federal Constitution, an approved Affiliated Organisation will be entitled to:
      1. Nominate a representative, who must be a party member, to policy working groups in circumstances where the remit of such a working group enters into the areas of interest of the organisation, subject to the final decision on composition of working groups remaining a matter for the FPC;
      2. A page on the Federal Party's website and/or a link to its own website (the precise format to be determined by the Chief Executive in consultation with appropriate staff). The Chief Executive must be satisfied that the content is in keeping with the party's aims and objectives, is factually accurate and does not defame or libel any individuals or organisations;
      3. Inclusion in any "new members pack" (the precise format to be determined by the Chief Executive in consultation with appropriate staff and with the organisation concerned);
      4. The ability to use the party's logo, subject to regulations, in its materials; and
      5. Be invited to take part in the Party Body Forum meeting and associated activities.

 

  1. Process of Application to become a Federal Affiliated Organisation
    1. Applications for Affiliated Organisation status at Federal level must be made in writing to the Federal Chief Executive 3.

      Applications to State Parties shall be made using their own procedures. Applications will be expected to include the following documentation:
      1. A copy of the organisation's constitution 4;
      2. Evidence that it meets the relevant membership requirement set out in A and, including a membership list 5;
      3. Written information detailing the applicant organisation's current capabilities in relation to A 5; and
      4. A formal request to HQ for the required assistance to help the applicant become fully compliant with A 4 and A 5 and for further instruction as to how, in practice, to comply with A 6, A 7 and A 8.

        [3 Or, to the Federal Chief Executive via the Clerk to the Board.] [4 A model constitution shall be published and from time to time updated by the FPDC, or relevant State Party per their internal procedures.] [5 Groups of members are at liberty to form and create their own membership lists before becoming Affiliated Organisations, but will not have the rights, privileges or responsibilities of an Affiliated Organisation until they complete this process.]
    2. If the Chief Executive, personally or via a delegated body, is satisfied with an application made per C 1, they shall direct Federal staff to work with the applicant to support it in meeting the requirements under A.
    3. Subject to the Chief Executive being satisfied that the application is in order and on the advice of expert staff with respect to all requirements being met or being on course to be met, they shall ensure that the application is placed on an agenda for consideration by the FPDC at the earliest practical opportunity.
    4. Once an application is provisionally accepted by the FPDC it shall gain the status of Candidate Affiliate (see Appendix I - Candidate Affiliates). If a Candidate Affiliate is an existing SAO or AO, it shall at this stage automatically become an Affiliated Organisation as long as it is able to meet the criteria set out in section A. Otherwise it shall automatically become an Affiliated Organisation as soon it does meet the criteria set out in section A.
    5. The FPDC shall report, via the Board, on Candidate Affiliates in its report to the next following conference per Article 8.7 of the Federal Constitution. The report shall include the following details for each Candidate Affiliates:
      1. The name of the Candidate Affiliate;
      2. A single point of contact for those interested in learning more;
      3. A one-page summary, written by the Candidate Affiliate with wording approved by FPDC, setting out the reason for the Candidate Affiliate becoming an Affiliated Organisation.
    6. Subject to the approval of conference, the Board shall confirm whether it wishes to grant the Candidate Affiliate (see Appendix I) the status of Affiliated Organisation at its next suitable meeting. The Board may decide to postpone this decision if the Candidate Affiliate is still in the process of making itself compliant with its legal, regulatory, and constitutional obligations.

      Appendix I - Candidate Affiliates

      Candidate Affiliates are organisations wishing to become Affiliated Organisations of the Liberal Democrats who have been considered and provisionally approved by the Board or relevant State Party.

      Candidate Affiliate status ensures the party has sufficient time to engage with members, such as via conference, before confirming an applicant as an Affiliated Organisation. It also provides time for the applicant to ensure that any work required to become fully compliant with A 1-8 is completed before transition.

      Candidate Affiliate status does not apply to any existing SAOs or AOs who fulfil the conditions set out in section A.

      Appendix II - Review procedure

      In addition to the annual reports of their activity, Affiliated Organisations will be required, at least once every five years, to take part in a formal review.

      In conducting the review, the Board will establish a working group who will:
      1. Request a written report from the current Executives of the Affiliated Organisations, proving continued compliance with the base requirements for being an Affiliated Organisation set out in section A;
      2. Request an additional report from current Executives of Affiliated Organisations which shall include any feedback those Executives wish to provide the Board for the purposes of reviewing the current Affiliated Organisation arrangements.
      3. Request a report from the Federal Staff responsible for regulatory and financial compliance summarising issues experienced by the Affiliated Organisations since the last review;
      4. Interview Affiliated Organisation Chairs and other members of Affiliated Organisations as the working group deems appropriate, and meet with the Party Bodies Forum.

      The working group shall allow Affiliated Organisations at least six weeks to respond to the review. The working group shall report back to the Board on its findings and make recommendations as to how improvements might be made, to the benefit of Affiliated Organisations and the Party. This report shall be publicised to the party membership.

      Any Affiliated Organisation which does not take part in this review process will be considered to have resigned per Article 21.6 of the Federal Constitution.

      Appendix III - Investigation procedure

      When an investigation may be launched

      The Board, or relevant State Party Executive, may resolve to investigate an Affiliated Organisation if a voting majority believe there is reasonable grounds to believe the Affiliated Organisation:
      1. Is not or has not been compliant with any statutory or regulatory provisions that are relevant to the party's activities, including the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act and the relevant data protection legislation;
      2. Is not or has not been compliant with this, or its own, Constitution or the rules made thereunder; or
      3. Is or is about to be responsible for events which are or may be seriously detrimental to the Affiliated Organisation or to the Party as a whole.

      Non-compliance or obstruction with an investigation will be deemed to be a resignation of Affiliate Organisations status. The Board, and State Parties, reserve the right to launch an investigation without suspending the Affiliated Organisation.

      Wherever possible, the Board or State Parties will aim to resolve any matter which may lead to, or require, an investigation informally before launching an investigation.

      Anyone wishing to bring grounds for an investigation to the attention of the Board, or relevant State Party, should contact the Party Standards team ([email protected]) or relevant state standards team. Specific complaints against a member of the Party shall be addressed via Article 23 of the Federal Constitution.

      Conduct of an investigation

      Once the Board, or State Party, has resolved to conduct an investigation it shall appoint an investigator.

      The investigator must not be a member of the Affiliated Organisation under investigation and will, unless it is not practical, generally be a member of the Board, or State Party Executive. The investigator:
      1. Must not vote in any decision-making process resulting from their investigation;
      2. Must be granted access to see any documents they request from the Affiliated Organisation;
      3. Must give the Affiliated Organisation an opportunity to mount a defence to any allegations that are made against it - except where doing so runs counter to the Party safeguarding policy or the principles of confidentiality laid out in the Party's disciplinary system.

      The Board, or State Party, will agree, in writing, a remit for the investigator on appointment. This remit need not be made available to the Affiliated Organisation, unless the Affiliated Organisation has been suspended. The remit shall include a timescale for the investigation but this may be extended. The investigator shall address all the points set in the remit but is not precluded from addressing additional points should they arise.

      Interviews

      In conducting any interviews, the investigator will take notes and give the interviewee the opportunity to agree the accuracy of those notes. Where there are points of disagreement, these should be supplied with the report, but the investigator should not change their notes unless they believe them to be inaccurate. All interviewees should be treated fairly and be given the opportunity to put the points they wish to make.

      Report

      The investigator shall deliver a report to the Board, or State Party, setting out what they have found, a response to each point in their remit and a recommendation for further action. The further action could be, but is not limited to:
      1. Proposing no further action;
      2. Requesting the Board, or State Party, work with the Affiliated Organisation to improve its workings;
      3. Suspension until corrective action is completed by the Affiliated Organisation;
      4. Removal of Affiliated Organisation status; or
      5. Referral of the Affiliated Organisation, or specific members of the Affiliated Organisation, to the Complaints Process, or if they are not members of the party, to the FPDC.

      On receipt of the report, the Board, or State Party, shall determine what action to take. It is not obliged to accept the recommendations and can take other actions.

      There is no obligation to make the full report available to the Affiliated Organisation. Content which might later form part of a disciplinary complaint, or any personal information not already in the public domain shall be kept confidential.

      The Affiliated Organisation Executive shall, subject to the caveats above, receive notice of the recommendations in the report, the basis for those recommendations and, if the Affiliated Organisation specific direction of what action to take as necessary. The Affiliated Organisation may be required to report, at the Board or State Party's discretion, on progress on directed actions and, if the reporting or reported progress is deemed unsatisfactory, the Affiliated Organisation may face further sanctions.

      Nothing in this process shall conflict with Article 21 of the Federal Constitution. Where criminal behaviour is suspected it must be reported to the police.

      Appeals

      An Affiliated Organisation which is suspended under Article 21.1 of the Federal Constitution or has its status as an Affiliated Organisation revoked under Article 21.6 may appeal from that decision as provided by Article 22 or, if an Affiliated Organisation of a State Party, via that State Party's appeals procedures.

      Postscript

      Affiliated Organisations are reminded that suspension of Affiliated Organisation status refers to the removal of their rights, privileges and responsibilities as affiliates of the Liberal Democrats. Affiliated Organisations wishing to continue their work, separately to the party, may do so as non-affiliated groups.

F32: Party Bodies Reform: Leadership Election Regulations

Submitted by: Federal Board

Mover: Flo Clucas.

Summation: Lee Dargue.


Conference notes that, subject to the acceptance of the Party Bodies Reform constitutional amendment (F29), the Leadership Election Regulations will require updating in order to properly take account of the new status of Affiliated Organisation.

Conference resolves to amend the Leadership Election Regulations as follows:

  1. In Regulation 6 (a) delete 'Specified Associated Organisations' and insert 'Affiliated Organisation or Organisations'.
  2. In Regulation 7 delete 'SAOs, AOs' and insert 'Affiliated Organisations'.

F33: Party Bodies Reform: Presidential Election Regulations

Submitted by: Federal Board

Mover: Flo Clucas.

Summation: Lee Dargue.


Conference notes that subject to the acceptance of the Party Bodies Reform constitutional amendment (F29), the Presidential Election Regulations will require updating in order to properly take account of the new status of Affiliated Organisation.

Conference resolves to amend the Presidential Election Regulations as follows:

  1. In Regulation 6 (a) delete 'Specified Associated Organisations' and insert 'Affiliated Organisation or Organisations' .
  2. In Regulation 7 delete 'SAOs, AOs' and insert 'Affiliated Organisations'.

F34: Party Bodies Reform: Committee Election Regulations

Submitted by: Federal Board

Mover: Flo Clucas.

Summation: Lee Dargue.


Conference notes that, subject to the acceptance of the Party Bodies Review constitutional amendment, the Committee Election Regulations will require updating in order to properly take account of the new status of Affiliated Organisation.

Conference resolves to amend the Committee Election Regulations as follows:

  1. In Regulation 3 (d) delete 'Specified Associated Organisations' and insert 'Affiliated Organisations'.