Despite a resurgence in recent years, the tabling of questions to party committee reports at Liberal Democrat conference is still very much a minority sport. So much so that 100% of questions to the Federal Policy Committee came from a certain North London Doctor with an penchant for chocolate…
The questions do however provide a good opportunity to ferret out information or push for a decision where you know the door is half-open. In my case this morning at Gateshead that resulted in questions to both the Federal Conference Committee and the Federal Policy Committee asking them to start publishing reports after each full meeting of their committees. (This was a follow-up to my conference motion that did not make it on to the agenda for lack of time.)
Andrew Wiseman on behalf of FCC said, “I’m more than happy to do this” and Jeremy Hargreaves for the FPC said, “Yes”. As I wrote about the putative motion:
One issue which comes up regularly in different ways is party members feeling they do not know what the party’s federal committees are up to in their name. Without getting too lost into the rights and wrongs of each individual case, I think we have a problem from both ends – committee members do not communicate enough and also members do not get in touch with them enough.
The way to break that is to improve the basic flow of information, so more information comes out from committees, prompting members in turn to ask and lobby more, prompting committee members in turn to respond and discuss more.
That’s two committee down, the Federal Executive to go (question this afternoon).
Aside from sharing the good news, my other reason for blogging this is to encourage more people to submit questions to committee reports in the future. When used in the right way, questions can be a very effective tool, just as they are in elected bodies, and provide a good half-way house between an email “to someone in the party” and a fully-fledged conference motion.