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Liberal Democrats

F35: Constitutional Caretaking

Motion passed by conference

Proposed by: Federal Board

Mover: Jeremy Hargreaves (Vice Chair, Federal Board).

Summation: Elaine Bagshaw (Vice Chair, Federal Board).


Conference notes that the Constitution does not give directly elected Mayors and Police Crime Commissioners the rights enjoyed by Principal Authority Councillors in terms of electing representatives to federal committees.

Conference therefore resolves to amend the Constitution as follows:

  • In Article 9.2F, after ‘elected by principal local authority councillors’ insert ‘, Police and Crime Commissioners and directly elected Mayors’.
  • In Article 10.2E, after ‘own number’ insert ‘(including, for both purposes, Police and Crime Commissioners and directly elected Mayors)’.
  • In the Committee election regulation 15b, after ‘Principal Councillor’ insert ‘, Police and Crime Commissioner and directly elected Mayor’, and after ‘Principal Councillors’ insert ‘, Police and Crime Commissioners and directly elected Mayors’.

Conference notes that the Constitution makes provision for by-elections to the Federal Audit and Scrutiny Committee, but that its members are appointed rather than elected.

Conference therefore resolves to amend the Constitution as follows:

  • In Article 16.3A, delete ‘Casual vacancies amongst this group shall be filled in accordance with the election regulations’ and insert ‘Casual vacancies amongst this group shall be filled in the same way’.

Conference notes that the Constitution requires Federal Committees to operate their own declaration of interest rules and registers, and that this generates extra bureaucratic overheads compared with having one system which they all participate in.

Conference therefore resolves to amend the Constitution as follows:

  • Delete Article 8.8C and insert:
    8.8C a requirement for its members to fulfil obligations in relation to a Conflicts of Interest policy agreed, and from time to time altered, by the Federal Board and administered as one central register for all Federal Committees by the Chief Executive. That policy shall require any member and any other person attending a meeting to declare any interest which might affect or be seen to affect their contribution to the work of that body, and in particular to declare any actual or potential conflict of interest or loyalty.

Conference notes that:

  1. The Constitution only gives the Federal Board the power to indemnify directors of Liberal Democrats Limited for risks they may face in the legitimate execution of their roles on behalf of the party.
  2. This does not extend to party staff or other party volunteers, and so leaves people at potential risk of personal liability for carrying out roles on behalf of the party.
  3. Suitable wording for resolving this issue already exists in the Scottish Constitution and the Federal Party should adopt best practice from the States and others wherever possible.

Conference therefore resolves to amend the Constitution as follows:

  • In Article 9.5, delete ‘The Federal Board may by resolution indemnify the directors from any liability arising from decisions by the Party’.
  • Insert new Article 9.6:
    9.6 The Federal Board shall have the power to grant indemnities for the general purposes of the Party and to secure grants of indemnity given, in such a manner as it thinks fit upon the assets of the Party; provided always that the total amount of the terms of the indemnities, shall not exceed such amount as may from time to time be determined by the Federal Board and approved by the Federal Conference.

Conference further resolves that the initial indemnities limit shall be set at £100,000.

Conference notes that in order to simplify the administration of Liberal Democrats Limited and reduce the party’s compliance overheads the Federal Board has appointed specific party post holders as directors.

Conference therefore resolves to amend the Constitution as follows:

  • In Article 9.5, delete ‘The Federal Board shall have power from time to time to appoint and remove the directors of such a company, who will otherwise be appointed for a period of five years, provided always that the Federal Board shall not so appoint any person holding any public office or office in the Party which may be incompatible therewith’ and insert ‘The Directors of any such Company shall be the President, the Vice President responsible for working with ethnic minority communities, and the Chair of the FFRC’.
  • In Article 16.3, delete ‘Any company established under Article 9.5 shall also be entitled to make nominations for membership of the Committee’.

Conference notes that there is an inconsistency between the Preamble and Article 3.1 in the grounds of discrimination prohibited.

Conference therefore resolves to amend the Constitution as follows:

  • In the Preamble after ‘gender’ insert ‘identity’.
  • In Article 3.1, after ‘discrimination as to’, delete the rest of the line and insert ‘race, ethnicity, caste, heritage, class, religion or belief, age, disability, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation’.

In addition, conference resolves to amend the Constitution as follows:

  • In Article 4.6D (on both occasions), 4.6E, 4.9, 9.6D, 20.3, 20.6 and 21.3A, after ‘Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000’ insert ‘and as later amended’
  • In Article 20.1, delete ‘not less than’ and insert ‘not fewer than’ on both occasions.

For the text of the existing Federal Constitution, see www.libdems.org.uk/constitution.


Applicability: Federal.


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

For eligibility and procedure for speaking in this debate, see page 9. To submit a speaker’s card go to: www.libdems.org.uk/speakers-card.

The deadline for amendments to this motion is 13.00, Monday 28 February; see page 12. Amendments selected for debate will be published in the Conference Extra and Sunday Conference Daily updates to the Conference Agenda.

The deadline for requests for separate votes is 09.00 Saturday 12 March; see page 9.