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London Region & CLPs

National Policy Forum Representatives

To: All London CLPs August 2007

Dear Colleague


The latest National Policy Forum was held in Hayes, West London on 14-15 July – rather
hastily put together and squeezed in between the Government reshuffle and the
parliamentary recess. The location allowed reps to help out campaigning in the Ealing
Southall by-election at the end of each session.

It was Gordon Brown’s first NPF as Prime Minister and he gave an inspiring speech about
Labour’s priorities for the future. As London CLP reps, we were pleased to hear more about
the priority given to housing – particularly council housing, and the challenges of making our
current stock fit for tenants, as well as building new stock.

The NPF also elected a new Chair with Pat McFadden MP taking over from Ian McCartney.

The NPF marked the start of the second year in the policy-making cycle, so there were a
series of seminars to discuss the proposed consultation documents for each of the six Policy
Commissions. In addition, you may be aware that the Leader and Deputy Leader have
launched a review of the whole policy development process – ‘Extending and renewing party
democracy’ - which was also discussed over the weekend.

Prosperity & work

This Commission covers a huge area of policy and discussion of the consultation document
tends to end up a bit of pick and mix. Your reps felt it was important that skills and
vocational education wasn’t left solely to the education document, given their importance to
the economy. Also, Mike argued for a greater profile on the output of the Women and Work
Commission, particularly on promoting equal pay in both private and public sector
employers. The link between life expectancy and pension provision in deprived areas was
discussed, as was the importance of stressing that future economic development must be
environmentally sustainable.
Minister(s) attending: Angela Eagle (Treasury); Mike O’Brien (DWP)

Britain and the world

Representatives were concerned that in the draft document there was a tendency to lump
the current problems in Afghanistan and Iraq together, whereas for many members (and
voters) there was more support for the former than the latter; and operationally the two
contexts are quite difference. There was also discussion around the tension between free
trade and fair trade; which was underlined by MEPs’ perspective that promotion of free trade
could undermined efforts to support more deprived countries, for instance banana-growers in
the Caribbean.
Minister(s) attending: Derek Twigg (MoD)

A theme running through discussion of the whole document was the emphasis on acute
services, at the expense of public/preventative health, and especially social care services.
There was also a substantial debate about expectations of patients and families of NHS
services and the rationale behind the ‘choice’ agenda in acute services – how it should drive
improvement, not be an end in itself.
Minister(s) attending: Ann Keen (DoH)

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Education and skills
In the seminars attended by your reps, discussion of academies was surprisingly limited,
although there was a desire to see more about the Building Schools for the Future
programme. We pointed out that document (or indeed other Policy Commission reports)
neglected to say anything about youth services, whereas these had an important part to play
in helping address a number of voter concerns, from under-achievement at school to crime
and anti-social behaviour, especially in light of the governments announcement about a 10 –
year National Youth Strategy. We also called for recognition of the difficulties facing BME
parents and families for whom English was not a first language in accessing services, which
was lacking from the document
Minister(s) attending: Lord Adonis (Department for Children, Schools and Families)

Sustainable Communities
This document includes such a wide range of issues it is difficult to comment on everything,
but points made related very much to housing and the Governments commitment to build
much more. Many representatives were concerned about the infrastructure required to go
with large communities of new homes, particularly public transport. Lisa raised the issue of
what can be classified as “affordable housing” in some areas of the country particular
London where shared ownership was also beyond the reach of many in housing need.
Colleagues from the South West and Eastern Region were quite rightly concerned that
“Rural Affairs” appear to have been almost overlooked in the document.
Ministers attending: Margaret Hodge (Culture Media & Sport)

Crime, justice, citizenship & equalities

Discussion in this session mainly focused on the issue of justice and sentencing, and
immigration. These are issues that have made recent headlines and the influence the media
have on influencing people’s perceptions was a concern everyone raised. There was a view
that we are still not selling the benefits of immigration enough.
Ministers attending: Meg Hillier (Home Office) Lord Hunt (Justice)

Extending and renewing party democracy

There was wide support for these party reforms at the plenary discussion on Sunday. From
our perspective as NPF reps, we would welcome greater support for CLPs to run policy
forums and more frequent NPF meetings, to help us discuss complex policy areas in more
detail. However the vexed question of resourcing this extra effort needs to properly
addressed too.

What happens next?

Your CLP should receive the finalised versions of all six Policy Commission consultation
documents over the summer. You can use these to help shape and inform your own policy
forums and discussions.

Please don’t hesitate to contact one of us if you want advice our support in running a policy
forum. We are more than happy to help facilitate or help out at your event.

Also don’t forget that your CLP (and individual branches and members) can respond to the
consultation on party democracy (available here: – the deadline for
responses is noon, Friday 14 September.

Lisa Homan Mike Katz Maggie Cosin
07930 523211 07956 925969 07779 135708
London CLPs Rep London CLPs Rep London Regional Rep

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