Made Easy – Labour’s Policy-Making Process 2001 / 2004
National Policy Forum (NPF) has 180 members (55 elected by constituency
delegates at Annual Conference; 22 elected by Regional
Boards/Conferences; 30 from the unions; 9 MPs; 6 MEPs; 8 ministers; 3
from socialist societies; 2 from the Co-op Party; 4 from the Black
Socialist Society; 9 from local government; and the 32 members of the
National Executive Committee). It
usually meets twice a year.
meetings, detailed work is carried out by eight policy commissions,
listed below. Those marked
* have 15 members (four ministers, four from the NEC and seven from the
NPF); the others have 10 members (three ministers, three from the NEC
and four from the NPF).
Britain in the World
Crime, Justice, Citizenship & Equalities
Quality of Life (rural
environment, media, sport)
* Economy, Welfare & Work
Education & Skills
Trade & Industry
Local Government & Regions
Joint Policy Committee decides procedures for the NPF and signs off
final documents. Its
membership is drawn from government, the NEC and the NPF.
Currently Charles Clarke MP is Chair of the NPF, and Ian
McCartney MP, Anne Snelgrove and Margaret Wall are Vice-Chairs.
policy areas are reviewed during a parliament, and should form the basis
for the next manifesto. The
rolling programme takes three years, with two overlapping sets of
documents each discussed for two years.
Initial drafts are drawn up by ministers and party staff, agreed
by the policy commissions, considered by the NPF, revised by the
commissions, and distributed for discussion at local forums,
constituencies and branches. Community
organisations and other external bodies may also be involved at this
stage. Feedback goes to the
commissions. At the end of
the first year, Annual Conference is asked to give general approval.
No amendments are permitted and documents must be accepted or
rejected in their entirety.
then go round the cycle again: from commissions to the NPF, back to the
commissions and out to the party. In
the second year consultation is restricted to party members, and
constituencies, forums, branches, unions and individuals may suggest
changes. Ideally these
would be passed on to NPF representatives, who are the only people able
to propose formal amendments. These
amendments are discussed at the final NPF meeting, which decides whether
to offer any choices when the papers are presented at Conference.
This is the only way that options can be debated; constituencies
and unions cannot directly shape the Conference agenda.
Thirty-six votes are needed for an alternative to go forward, and
in the first three years, just seven relatively trivial choices reached
time the first five topics are
welfare reform; health; industry, Britain in the world; and democracy,
political engagement and citizenship, with initial drafts discussed
through to Conference 2002, and final drafts completing their journey at
Conference 2003. The second
set starts late in 2003, covering crime and justice; education and
skills; economy and employment; quality of life; and transport, housing,
local government and the regions. Initial
drafts will be approved at Conference 2003 and final drafts in 2004.
policy commissions are also responsible for day-to-day dialogue with the
party, and should deal with correspondence, including resolutions and
submissions from constituencies. You
can write to them at the Policy Unit, Labour Party, Millbank Tower,
Millbank, London, SW1P 4GT. They
provide summaries to Conference. NPF
representatives only know what you think if you send copies to them
and NEC papers and policy commission reports are published late in
summer. Constituencies can
submit resolutions to Conference only on policy subjects or rule changes
not covered in any of these.