Motions and Mini Motions: A Guide


When and how do I submit my motion?

You will need to submit your motion around 8 weeks before Conference starts. Emergency motions and can be submitted up to a few days before Conference. 

Who can write a motion?

Any member can write a motion. However, you will need to get at least 10 party members or your local party to back your motion if you want to submit it for debate at Conference.

Party organisations can also submit motions for debate. 

Click here for a glossary of terms and rules for in-person Conference debates (known as Standing Orders).

What types of motion are there?

There are several different types of motion, amendment and debate requests that members can submit:

  • Policy motion: a proposal for a particular policy
  • Business motion: a proposal about how the Party works internally
  • Emergency motion: a proposal that relates to a specific development after the deadline for submitting normal policy or business motions 
  • Topical motion: instead of a motion, members can submit a request to have a discussion on a policy issue of significant and topical relevance, conducted without a vote
  • Amendments: a proposal to change a business or policy motion. Emergency motions cannot be amended
  • Separate vote: a vote on a specific word, line or section of a motion 

What happens after that?

All the submitted motions are discussed by Scottish Conference Committee, who then select which motions are going to be debated. You will be emailed by a member of SCC to tell you if your motion has been selected.

All selected motions will then be published in the Conference Agenda.

What if my motion isn't selected?

You will be told by a member of SCC why your motion was not selected. 

What makes a good motion?


There are no official word limits but it's important to make sure your motion is not overly long. The Scottish Conference Committee generally looks less favourably on an emergency motion that is more than 250 words or a policy motion that is over 500 words.


Motions should be written as concisely as possible. Facts and figures are important but should be kept to a minimum. If quotations are included then they should be kept short. References to reports, White Papers, draft bills etc. should be written on the assumption the audience hasn’t read them and some basic explanation is needed.

Check that any factual points are accurate - motions that have inaccuracies are less likely to be selected. You should also not rely on a single source, especially if it is a newspaper article or a campaign. A good source of information on many topical political issues is the set of House of Commons Library Research Papers available online here.

The policy recommendations are the most important part of the motion and what you should give most thought to. A common reason for motions not being selected is that they contain a lot of criticisms and a detailed description of the problem but are thin, unclear or entirely negative in their conclusions.

When writing your policy recommendations it is better to stick to a few substantial points which make for a coherent plan, rather than a long list of small changes.

You should refrain from personal attacks – the law of defamation applies to Party Conference.

In general a motion is more likely to be selected if it:

  • Contains genuinely new and interesting proposals
  • Is on a subject where we don’t have much policy and which hasn’t been debated at conference recently
  • Is on a subject of high political salience
  • Is likely to lead to an interesting debate, with amendments and speakers both for and against

It is less likely to be selected by the Conference Committee if it is:

  • A repeat of old policies with nothing really new
  • On a subject which has been debated recently
  • On a subject where we expect an official policy paper at the next couple of conferences
  • Unlikely to lead to a good debate, for example if it is so uncontroversial that no one will want to disagree with anything in the motion


The best motions are structured as follows:

1. Description of the issue or problem which the motion seeks to address

2. The Liberal Democrat principle(s) which underlie the solution

3. Highlighting existing Liberal Democrat policies which will contribute to the solution

4. The further policy proposals which normally conclude the motion and are its most important element

It is normal to break down each section of the motion into a series points. This makes it clearer, and also easier to deal with amendments later.

The first section should describe the issue being addressed by the motion, usually using words such as Conference “notes”, “is concerned by” or “regrets”.

The motion can then “believe”, “reaffirm”, “recognise”, “declare” or just list the principles that apply.

Policy recommendations are usually introduced by “calls for”, “calls on the Government to” or even “calls on Liberal Democrat Parliamentarians to press for”, but could also follow from “recommends”, “proposes”, “urges”, “demands”, “insists”, or “resolves”.

Please note that under the party constitution elected representatives cannot be mandated. You should therefore avoid language like “Conference requires Liberal Democrat MPs to...”. Something like “Conference calls on Liberal Democrats in Parliament to work for...” would be better drafting.

The final set of proposals should be listed 1.,2.,3. etc. Previous sections should alternate between different styles of letters and numbers. For example:

Conference notes with concern:




Conference reaffirms the Liberal Democrat commitment to:




Conference calls for:





Mini Motions

The conference has introduced an exciting new format for policy discussion known as 'Mini Motions' which was a huge success at Autumn Conference 2023. This involves members submitting concise policy ideas of fewer than 150 words for inclusion in a series of brief, thematic debates. Each set of debates will feature different policy suggestions, touching upon a wide array of topics, such as education, health, the environment, energy, and more.

Designed to be fast-paced and engaging, these debates are anticipated to last around 15 minutes each. A member can introduce their policy idea, after which other members can respond through brief speeches or succinct interventions.

An indicative vote taken at the end of these debates is a crucial feature. While the result does not directly form party policy, it serves as an indication of the idea's popularity among members. Proposals that receive favourable votes are referred to the policy committee for further examination and potential inclusion in future policy development.

Here are some examples of how to write a Mini Motion (in terms of formatting):

Please note, that these are example mini motions to illustrate the formatting of a mini motion submission.

1. Title: Transitioning to European Driving Standards: Right-Handed Driving in Scotland

Policy Suggestion:
We recommend the adoption of European driving standards, transitioning from left-handed to right-handed driving in Scotland.

Policy Benefits:
Improved Road Safety: Right-hand driving reduces the likelihood of head-on collisions, enhancing overall road safety for both drivers and pedestrians.
Compatibility with European Neighbours: Alignment with neighboring countries simplifies cross-border travel and trade, promoting economic growth.
Tourism and Business: Attracting European tourists and businesses by eliminating the need for left-hand drive vehicles, stimulating tourism and foreign investment.
Global Consistency: Moving in line with international road standards fosters global consistency, facilitating the export of Scottish vehicles.
Public Awareness and Infrastructure: Launching comprehensive public awareness campaigns and upgrading road signage will ensure a smooth transition.

Transitioning to right-handed driving underscores our commitment to safety, economic development, and international integration, positioning Scotland for a brighter, more connected future.


2. Title: Elevating Scottish Housing: Implementing Scandinavian Building Standards

Policy Suggestion:
We propose adopting Scandinavian building standards in Scottish housing to enhance sustainability, energy efficiency, and overall quality.

Policy Benefits:
Passive House Principles: Promote passive design techniques to reduce energy consumption and improve indoor comfort.
Renewable Energy Integration: Mandate renewable energy sources for heating and electricity, reducing carbon emissions.
High-Quality Insulation: Enforce rigorous insulation standards to minimize heat loss and lower heating costs.
Sustainable Materials: Encourage the use of eco-friendly construction materials, reducing environmental impact.
Smart Technology: Promote the integration of smart home technology for efficient energy management.

Implementing these standards will result in healthier, more sustainable, and cost-effective Scottish housing.


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