Federal Policy Committee - June 2023 Report

12 Jun 2023
Lib Dem Conference voting card on a Lib Dem membership card

The Federal Policy Committee (FPC), has now held the first two of our four meetings to finalise our papers to submit to Autumn Conference in Bournemouth. Discussions on these five papers have dominated these two meetings. However we have also done two other important things which I’ll cover first. 

The first is something we are frequently asked about, which is how party members can access our existing policies. I’m very pleased to say that thanks to some excellent work at Lib Dem HQ, https://www.libdems.org.uk/members/make-policy now gives an excellent overview of how policy is made; working groups currently under way; FPC; and all party policy papers ever. Alongside this, https://www.libdems.org.uk/conference/papers contains all motions and papers for conferences for more than the last fifteen years – for the final version of motions voted through, look for the Conference Report paper at each conference. Lastly, in conjunction with policy staff, we are looking ahead to a further stage of work on this which draws together all relevant policy in major areas into one place. This is a significant collational task and our hope is for it to be rolled out over the next few months. 

Secondly, we have received applications for two new working groups, on the Future of Work, and Science, Innovation and AI. We were again very pleased by the quantity and calibre of applications, with one group receiving around 150 applications and the other about 100. We expect to finalise the Future of Work group by the end of the month, and we appointed the Science group this week. Applicants to it should have a response to their applications over the next few days. We are pleased to have appointed Dr Jonathan Everett, who has significant professional background in the field as well as in the Party, to chair the Science group.

Of our papers for Bournemouth, further work has been done on our pre-manifesto, including especially on its narrative and how it all fits together, as well of course on specific policies. This is in effect a distillation of existing policies into a draft manifesto for the General Election, for Conference to see and comment on. Separately, several consultation mechanisms have been under way to gather input from party members into our manifesto. These have been led by Dick Newby, Chair of the Manifesto writing group.

We have had good discussions about the draft paper on Food and Farming, including a wide range of aspects including food costs in the current cost of living crisis, land management and land planning, and support for rural areas and farming. The parts of this group’s remit relating to animal welfare will be dealt with separately at a motion we intend to submit to Spring Conference next year. As with the other papers, these have also picked up the points made in response to the consultation draft which the working group published earlier this year and which was discussed in York and elsewhere. 

Following wide consultation across the Party, we have decided to propose an updated version of the paper developed last year by FPC’s working group chaired by Cllr Peter Thornton, on Homes and Planning. This will obviously cover our response to recent government announcements on areas such as the rented sector, housing standards (including environmental standards) and much more. In response to the huge unfairness in today’s housing sector, it will have at its heart, proposals to build more homes, in particular, social housing.

The policy paper on the Natural Environment which we proposed to last autumn’s cancelled conference has been updated and revised to take into account new developments. Our discussions about this paper, which has been in preparation for quite a while now, have emphasised the importance of our policies in this area for tackling the nature emergency and the planet’s future sustainability, as well as the Party’s own green credentials.

Lastly, we have been discussing the proposals of the group on childcare, not least in the light of the new-found interest of the Conservatives and Labour in this area. This will strengthen our own proposals for increasing the childcare support available to parents, providing much-needed support to the sector, and also helping parents to spend as much time as possible with their children.

All of these papers have yet to be finalised and will of course be announced in due course, but I hope this gives some flavour of the work the Committee has been doing and what we plan to submit for Conference in Bournemouth.




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