Party business sessions are usually fairly thinly attended at party conference, except back in the days of disaster and near bankrupcy immiediately after the merger which formed the Liberal Democrats.
They can however play an important role, particularly where well chosen questions tease out information or get commitments on the record. James Graham’s question this morning about the Digital Economy Bill was a good example of this (and would have been even more cruicial has the emergency motions ballot not decided to debate the topic on Sunday morning).
And so, here I am back in the conference hall for part two of today’s business blogging hatrick: the reports of the Parliamentary Parties (Commons, Lords and Europe).
Paul Burstow (Chief Whip) repeatedly emphasised the party’s achievements in Parliament at stopping or chipping away at authoritarianism and prompoting liberalism. (A welcome echo of the comments I made last night at The Voice’s conference fringe meeting where I emphasised the importance of these issues, not just in their own right but also to appeal particularly to poential future activists.)
Paul Burstow said:
We stand on a proud record of liberal action … We have two authoritarian parties in our Parliament and one liberal, progressive party.
Chris Davies neatly encapsulated the European Parliament’s role – not the mother of Parliaments, but more like the mother-in-law of Parliaments whilst for the Lords, Lord Shutt emphasises the group’s record at getting legislation altered week in, week out – a task which their colleagues in the Commons can only achieve much less frequently.
Next up: check back later for what has now become a Lib Dem Voice tradition – live blogging the Federal Finance and Administration Committee report. Will there be another one-person standing ovation? Time will tell…