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Liberal Democrats

F7: Political Reform to Tackle Sleaze

Motion passed as amended

Proposed by: 10 members

Mover: Wendy Chamberlain MP (Chief Whip of the Commons Parliamentary Party).

Summation: To be announced.

Conference notes with concern:

  1. The Conservative sleaze scandal in Autumn 2021, precipitated by the egregious Government decision to overturn Owen Paterson’s 30-day suspension from the House of Commons.
  2. The subsequent revelations of parties in Downing Street and the accusations that Number 10 officials and the Prime Minister have potentially breached lockdown rules.
  3. That the Conservative Government has consistently refused to properly investigate allegations of sleaze, failed to declare relevant meetings, and tried to change the system to sweep issues under the carpet.
  4. That polling in December 2021 has demonstrated that just 5% of the public believe politicians work for the good of the country.

Conference believes that:

  1. The Conservatives’ actions have created a sense of ‘one rule for them, another rule for us’.
  2. The Government is accountable to the public, who have the right to a transparent Government that does not act above the law.
  3. An end to corruption in politics is necessary for a well-functioning democracy with a high standard of public debate and rules which are upheld robustly and quickly.
  4. This crisis has highlighted the imbalance of power between the executive and the legislature including:
    1. The Government’s evasion of scrutiny during Parliamentary recess, as only ministers can recall Parliament.
    2. The Government’s control of the Parliamentary timetable, limiting the issues which can be discussed by MPs.

Conference reaffirms the commitment to introduce fair votes via proportional representation to ensure that every voter’s voice is heard.

Conference calls upon the UK Government to:

  1. Launch an immediate, independent public inquiry with the powers and resources to uncover the truth around the Conservative sleaze scandal, including the ability to compel witnesses and demand the disclosure of any relevant official documents and communications.
  2. Enshrine the Ministerial Code in legislation, making its governance independent of the Prime Minister and accordingly removing the power of the executive to override decisions on breaches of the code.
  3. Detail a range of sanctions which may be issued within the Ministerial Code, including, but not limited to, apologies, fines, and asking for a minister’s resignation in line with the November 2021 Committee for Standards of Public Life Report.
  4. Empower the Independent Adviser to initiate investigations into breaches of the Ministerial Code, determine these breaches and publish their report no later than eight weeks after its submission to the Prime Minister.
  5. Implement the outstanding recommendations of the Wright Reforms, giving Parliament greater control over its own business.

Applicability: Federal.

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 9. To submit a speaker’s card go to: www.libdems.org.uk/speakers-card.

The deadline for amendments to this motion – see page 12 – and for requests for separate votes – see page 9 – is 13.00, Monday 28 February. Those selected for debate will be published in the Conference Extra and Friday Conference Daily updates to the Conference Agenda.

Amendment One (passed)

Proposed by: 11 members

Mover: Alistair Carmichael.

Summation: Andrew Emmerson.

After II (line 8), insert:

III. The Metropolitan Police is investigating alleged breaches of Covid-19 regulations in relation to 12 such gatherings on eight different days.

IV. Both Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have been sent questionnaires by the police as part of the investigation, becoming the first Prime Minister and the first Chancellor of the Exchequer to be interviewed under caution.

V. The Prime Minister has repeatedly misled Parliament in relation to the parties in Number 10.

After 5. (line 48), add:

6. Publish, as soon as the Met’s investigation is complete, the report of Sue Gray’s investigation in full, all accompanying evidence including photographs, and a full list of the names of any elected officials, senior civil servants, and political appointees given Fixed Penalty Notices for breaches of Covid-19 laws in Downing Street or Whitehall.

Conference further calls on the Prime Minister to resign.

If the Prime Minister does not resign, Conference calls on Conservative MPs to remove him from office through a motion of no confidence.