Emergency motion 5: Standing up for parliamentary democracy
Conference notes that:
- The Westminster model of government and the ‘Mother of All Parliaments’ are held in high esteem around the world and are considered to be the basis of modern parliamentary democracy.
- On 27 August 2019, the Prime Minister announced that he would prorogue Parliament between 9 and 11 September, preventing Parliament from sitting until 14 October and stopping MPs from being able to vote on whether to hold a Conference recess.
- Liberal Democrats are working on a cross-party basis in Parliament and in the courts to stop our democracy being silenced and restore parliamentary sovereignty.
Conference believes that:
- The Prime Minister and the Government are the servants of Parliament, are accountable to Parliament, and only continue in post because they command the confidence of the House of Commons.
- Shutting down parliamentary democracy for so long during the most significant political crisis in recent memory is an authoritarian power grab by the Prime Minister, significantly reducing the number of days that Parliament can sit before 31 October 2019.
- The decision silences democracy, preventing MPs from scrutinising Government policy decisions and the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit in the days leading up to 31 October.
- The Prime Minister’s purely politically motivated decision undermines faith in the fairness of the British political system and strengthens the case for constitutional reform.
- Liberal Democrats in Parliament will stand up for the people’s right to have their say on the final Brexit deal by ensuring that the United Kingdom does not leave the European Union without a deal on 31 October 2019 and by leading the campaign for a People’s Vote in order to stop Brexit altogether.
Conference calls on the Government to:
- Rescind the Order-in-Council proroguing Parliament immediately, enabling Parliament to fulfil its democratic purpose and sit throughout the remainder of the Conference Recess in order to ensure that the UK does not leave the European Union on 31 October 2019 without a deal.
- Enable Parliament, rather than the Queen-in-Council, to approve when Parliament is prorogued and for how long, just as the House of Commons approves its own recess dates.
- Set up an independent commission made up of parliamentarians, academics, the judiciary and others, to consider each power that the executive is able to exercise under the Royal Prerogative and make recommendations on how to curtail the illiberal centralisation of power into the executive and in particular the use of the Royal Prerogative.
Conference reaffirms its commitments, as set out in Policy Paper 117, Power to the People, to make government more accountable both Parliament and to the people by:
- Creating a House Business Committee to enable backbench MPs and MPs from opposition parties to influence the parliamentary timetable.
- Providing that a new Prime Minister and their administration can only take office formally once the House of Commons has voted for them to do so.
- Electing MPs by Single Transferable Vote in multi-member constituencies and electing the House of Lords.
- Establishing a Constitutional Convention to draw up a comprehensive written constitution for the UK.