Spring Conference Motions - Explained
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats
Our first ever online conference in September was a huge success - so we'll be back online for our Spring Conference from 19th to 21st March. You can find out more and register for it here.
As usual, we'll be debating and deciding party policy on a whole range of hot topics, from creating jobs as we recover from the Covid pandemic to providing sanctuary for vulnerable refugees. Here's a quick rundown of all the policy motions:
Supporting Business, Workers and the Self-Employed during the COVID-19 Pandemic
This pandemic is causing enormous hardship for families and businesses across the UK. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs; many small businesses have had to take on huge debts; and three million people - mostly self-employed - have been excluded from government support altogether. This motion puts forward a response to the economic crisis that focuses on supporting small businesses to protect and create jobs, and reskilling workers so they can participate in a green recovery.
Lifting Barriers to Work for Disabled People
25 years after the Disability Discrimination Act was passed, disabled people still face too many barriers to employment, with many employers still hesistant to employ them. With its disproportionate impact on disabled people, the Covid crisis has made things even worse. This motion calls for new rights and support to improve opportunities for disabled people and change the way employers view disability.
Giving Consumers a Fairer Deal
This motion - and the accompanying policy paper written by the Federal Policy Committee's Utilities working group - proposes sweeping reforms to the regulation of energy, water, telecommunications and rail. It aims to give consumers a fairer deal, with a particular focus on vulnerable consumers. At the same time, it seeks to ensure that these utilities contribute to our broader goals of building a stronger, greener and more regionally-balanced economy.
Standing Up for Unpaid Carers
Since becoming Leader of the party, Ed Davey has promised to be the voice of the millions of carers across the UK. He will propose this motion, which highlights the invaluable work that unpaid carers do and the challenges they face - challenges that've been made even harder by Covid. It sets out a range of policies to support unpaid carers financially, to make sure they can take breaks, and to help them juggle work with their caring responsibilities.
The COVID-19 Pandemic
This slot has been held for a motion on the health response to the pandemic, which will be selected by the Federal Conference Committee closer to the time. You can still submit your own motion for this debate - see here for details on how to do that. The deadline is 13:00 on Monday 8th March.
The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement and the Future of the UK-EU Relationship
When Boris Johnson's deal with the EU was rammed through Parliament in a single day, Liberal Democrat MPs voted against it, arguing that it is bad for jobs, business, security and the environment. This motion endorses that position, reiterates the party's support for a longer-term objective of UK membership of the EU, and calls on the party to expose the damage caused by Johnson's deal and to demonstrate the benefits of a much closer relationship with the EU.
Acting on the Russia Report
After months of being blocked by Boris Johnson, Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee finally published its report on the threat Russia poses to our national security last summer. Its findings are dramatic, yet the Government is still failing to take this threat seriously enough. This motion calls for action to strengthen national security and safeguard our democracy - and to prevent the Prime Minister from delaying crucial reports like this in the future.
There are an estimated 700,000 autistic people in the UK - and, despite the 2009 Autism Act, far too many do not receive the rights, services or support they deserve. This motion asserts that every individual should be able to achieve their potential and aims to ensure that autistic people are treated and supported much better throughout society: whether in education, employment, healthcare or the criminal justice system.
Last year, the Conservative Government abolished the Department for International Development, merging it into what is now the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. And in November, Rishi Sunak announced that the Government will break the UK's commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on foreign aid. This motion opposes both of these decisions, and sets out a vision for the UK as an open, generous, globally-engaged nation that supports developing countries.
A Better Response to the Impact of COVID-19 on Education
Children and young people have had their education severely disrupted by the pandemic and there has been a disproportionate impact on pupils from low-income families. This motion calls for the Government to do more to ensure students who are taking exams in this context can be assessed fairly and for funding to be allocated to local authorities in order for them to provide education recovery programmes and apprenticeship schemes.
Accessibility in Education
With most education moving online during lockdown, students who do not have a reliable internet connection or up to date technology are at a serious disadvantage. This motion calls on the Government to do more to tackle digital exclusion among students, including working with universities to establish bursaries and requiring internet service providers to offer a social tariff for broadband.
Safe and Legal Routes to Save Lives
The UK's refugee resettlement schemes have been closed since the start of the pandemic. The lack of safe, legal routes to sanctuary leaves vulnerable people in precarious situations, hands power to people smugglers and human traffickers, and leads to more dangerous attempts to cross the Channel or the Mediterranean. This motion condemns the Tories' cruel response to people seeking asylum and calls on the Government to continue the UK's proud history of providing sanctuary to those in need.
There is also a slot reserved for the discussion of two emergency motions or topical issues discussions, which members will choose through a ballot at the start of conference. You can submit an emergency motion or suggested topic for debate here. The deadline is 13:00 on Monday 8th March.