THE CONSTITUTIONAL RULES OF THE LABOUR PARTY (Clauses 1-10)
- 1. Organise and maintain a political Labour Party in parliament and the country
2. Combine constituencies, unions and other affiliated organisations, and agree to the party programme
3. Arrange sound financial structures based on revenues from members and affiliates.
4. Pursue social justice through community, co-operation and freedom of endeavour.
5. Determine party policy through the NEC and the PLP, under the guidance of party conference.
6. Recognise party conference as the supreme authority of the party.
7. Elect the Leader and Deputy leader by the party membership
8. Allow the National Executive Committee to organise and administer all aspects of party operation
Permit the National Constitutional Committee to investigate all cases of disciplinary action.
10. Agree that these party rules are binding and may only be amended by the NEC
Clause1 – Name and Objects
1 This organisation shall be known as ‘The Labour Party’ (hereinafter referred to as ‘the party’). Its purpose is to organise and maintain in Parliament and in the country a political Labour Party.
2 The party shall give effect, as far as may be practicable, to the principles from time to time approved by party conference.
Clause 2 – Party Structure and Affiliated Organisations
1 There shall be a National Executive Committee of the party (the ‘NEC’) which shall, subject to the control and directions of party conference, be the administrative authority of the party.
2 The party shall be organised on the following basis:
(a) In every Westminster parliamentary constituency there shall be established a unit of the party, to be known as a ‘constituency labour party’ or ‘CLP’
(b) Within each CLP, members shall be organised in branches, the number and area covered by such branches to be agreed by the CLP and the NEC
(c) A women’s forum may be established in each CLP, consisting of all individual women members within that CLP
(d) In Scotland, Wales and each of the English regions there shall be established: a Scottish Labour, Wales Labour or regional party office; a Scottish executive, Welsh executive or regional board; and a European constituency labour party. There may also be established a Scottish, Welsh or regional women’s committee.
(e) Subject to the approval of the appropriate NEC representative, local government committees may be established within areas of directly elected local government above that of parish/ community council
(f) Members on local authorities shall be organised locally in Labour groups and nationally in the Association of Labour Councillors
(g) All individual members of the party aged between 15 and 26 years inclusive shall be members of Young Labour and may establish local Young Labour groups throughout England, Scotland and Wales
(h) Student members of the party shall be organised nationally in the National Organisation of Labour Students
(i) A National Trade Union and Labour Party Liaison Organisation shall be established to involve affiliated unions in party organisation, which shall include a National Trade Union and Labour Party Liaison Committee and Regional Liaison Committees in Scotland, Wales and each of the English regions
(j) Labour Party Properties Limited and Labour Party Nominees Limited shall be maintained as companies holding party assets, either outright or on trust for the benefit of the party.
3 Organisations may, subject to the decision of the NEC, which shall be final and binding, affiliate to the party if they fall within the following categories:
(a) trade unions affiliated to the Trades Union Congress or are considered by the NEC to be bona fide trade unions
(b) co-operative societies
(c) socialist societies
(d) other organisations which, in the opinion of the NEC, have interests consistent with those of the Labour Party.
4 Each affiliated organisation must:
(a) accept the programme, policy and principles of the party
(b) agree to conform to the constitution and standing orders of the party
(c) submit its political rules to the NEC.
5 Political organisations not affiliated or associated under a national agreement with the party, having their own programme, principles and policy for distinctive and separate propaganda, or possessing branches in the constituencies, or engaged in the promotion of parliamentary or local government candidates, or having allegiance to any political organisation situated abroad, shall be ineligible for affiliation to the party.
6 (a) (i) Each affiliated trade union shall pay an affiliation fee per member of £2.25.
(ii) After consultation with affiliated organisations, the NEC will determine affiliation fees as and when necessary for Annual Conference to approve.
(b) Of that affiliation fee, a proportion shall be allocated to the party’s national election fund as provided by clause VIII.3(k) of these rules.
(c) Affiliation fees shall be payable on a quarterly basis on the first days of January, April, July and October each year and must have been paid in full not later than 31 December of the relevant year.
7 (a) Each affiliated socialist society or other organisation shall pay an affiliation fee per member of £1.25.
(b) Of that affiliation fee, 10p shall be allocated to the party’s national election fund as provided by clause VIII.3(k) of these rules.
(c) All affiliation fees shall be paid not later than 31 December of the relevant year.
8 Affiliation fees and the allocation thereof may be varied by party conference and sub-clauses 6(a) to (c) and 7(a) to (c) above modified accordingly.
9 (a) Membership fees for each individual member shall be collected by, or on behalf of, the party’s head office and shall be divided between head office, the relevant regional office, or Scottish/ Welsh office as the case may be, and the relevant CLP, as laid down in the membership rules (2C.2).
(b) The NEC shall arrange on behalf of all CLPs an insurance scheme to cover a by-election premium, public liability, and such other legal risks as the NEC considers appropriate. The estimated cost of such insurance for the following year shall be advised to the annual session of party conference and each CLP shall be notified of its share of the cost which must be paid by 15 April of the following year; wherever possible this shall be deducted from a CLP’s share of membership subscriptions during the first quarter of each year.
Clause 3 – The Party’s Financial Scheme
1 The party has adopted and registered with the Electoral Commission a financial scheme, whereby the party consists of a central organisation and separate accounting units.
2 The following shall be accounting units under the financial scheme:
(b) the Scottish Labour Party
(c) Wales Labour
(d) the National Organisation of Labour Students (‘NOLS’)
(e) the Association of Labour Councillors (‘ALC’)
(f) the Trade Union and Labour Party Liaison Committee and the Regional Liaison Committees
(g) the Parliamentary Labour Party (‘PLP’).
3 The following may, subject to the approval of the NEC, become registered as accounting units under the party’s financial scheme:
(a) local government committees (‘LGCs’)
(b) such other party units as shall from time to time be agreed by the NEC to be eligible for registration.
Clause 4 – Aims and Values
1 The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many not the few; where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe and where we live together freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.
2 To these ends we work for:
(a) a dynamic economy, serving the public interest, in which the enterprise of the market and the rigour of competition are joined with the forces of partnership and co-operation to produce the wealth the nation needs and the opportunity for all to work and prosper with a thriving private sector and high-quality public services where those undertakings essential to the common good are either owned by the public or accountable to them
(b) a just society, which judges its strength by the condition of the weak as much as the strong, provides security against fear, and justice at work; which nurtures families, promotes equality of opportunity, and delivers people from the tyranny of poverty, prejudice and the abuse of power
(c) an open democracy, in which government is held to account by the people, decisions are taken as far as practicable by the communities they affect and where fundamental human rights are guaranteed
(d) a healthy environment, which we protect, enhance and hold in trust for future generations.
3 Labour is committed to the defence and security of the British people and to co-operating in European institutions, the United Nations, the Commonwealth and other international bodies to secure peace, freedom, democracy, economic security and environmental protection for all.
4 Labour shall work in pursuit of these aims with trade unions and co-operative societies and also with voluntary organisations, consumer groups and other representative bodies.
5 On the basis of these principles, Labour seeks the trust of the people to govern.
Clause 5 – Party Programme
1 Party conference shall decide from time to time what specific proposals of legislative, financial or administrative reform shall be included in the party programme. This shall be based on the rolling programme presented to conference by the National Policy Forum as approved by conference. No proposal shall be included in the party programme unless it has been adopted by conference by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the votes recorded on a card vote.
2 The NEC and the Parliamentary Committee of the Parliamentary Labour Party (‘PLP’) shall decide which items from the party programme shall be included in the manifesto which shall be issued by the NEC prior to every general election. The joint meeting of those two committees shall also define the attitude of the party to the principal issues raised by the election which are not covered by the manifesto.
3 The NEC shall decide which items from the programme shall be included in the election manifesto for the European Parliament after consultation with the European Parliamentary Labour Party (‘EPLP’) and with sister parties in the Party of European Socialists.
Clause 6 – Labour Party Conference
1 The work of the party shall be under the direction and control of party conference, which shall itself be subject to the constitution and standing orders of the party. Party conference shall meet regularly once in every year and also at such other times as it may be convened by the NEC.
2 The rules for the convening and operation of party conference are contained in chapter 3 of these rules which may be amended by decision of the NEC, subject to ratification by party conference. Party conference and special sessions of party conference in these rules are referred to as ‘party conference’ and these rules (except where the context otherwise requires) shall apply thereto.
Clause 7 – Party Officers and Statutory Officers
1 Party officers
1A Leader and deputy leader
(a) There shall be a leader and deputy leader of the party who shall, ex-officio, be leader and deputy leader of the PLP.
(b) The leader and deputy leader of the party shall be elected or re-elected from among Commons members of the PLP in accordance with procedural rule 4B.2, at a party conference convened in accordance with clause VI of these rules. In respect to the election of the leader and deputy leader, the standing orders of the PLP shall always automatically be brought into line with these rules.
1B Chair and vice-chair
There shall be a chair and vice-chair of the party elected by the NEC from among its own members in accordance with the provisions set out in procedural rule 4B.3.
1C General Secretary
(a) There shall be a General Secretary of the party who shall be appointed in accordance with the provisions set out in procedural rule 4B.4. The General Secretary shall act as secretary to the NEC.
(b) For the avoidance of doubt, wherever in this rule book or upon instruction or delegation by the NEC, or a committee or sub-committee thereof, the General Secretary has a function to discharge, she or he may delegate the discharge of such function to such appropriate officer or designated representative of the party as she or he shall see fit. Further, the General Secretary shall be deemed always to have had the power so to delegate.
1D Party Treasurer
There shall be a treasurer of the party who shall be elected by party conference at its regular annual meeting in accordance with the provisions set out in rule 4B.5.
Two conference delegates shall be elected in accordance with rule 4B.6 to act as auditors of the party accounts to be submitted to the annual session of party conference in the year following that in which they were elected.
2 Statutory officers
2A In order to comply with statutory requirements:
(i) The party shall notify the Electoral Commission of:
(a) a person to be registered as the party’s leader
(b) a person to be registered as the party’s nominating officer
(c) a person to be registered as the party’s treasurer.
(ii) The party may also notify the Electoral Commission of:
(a) a person or persons to be registered as the party’s deputy treasurer(s)
(b) a person to be registered as the party’s campaigns officer.
(iii) Each accounting unit shall notify the party of the following appointments, to be notified by the party to the Electoral Commission:
(a) a person to be registered as the accounting unit’s treasurer
(b) a person to be registered as the accounting unit’s deputy treasurer
2B In the case of 2A(i) (b) and (c), and 2A(ii) (a) and (b) above, the registration of a person or persons as statutory officers shall be subject to the approval of the NEC.
Clause 8 – The National Executive Committee
1 The NEC shall comprise:
(a) 24 members elected in such proportion and under such conditions as may be set out in rules 3C and 4C.
(b) the leader and deputy leader of the party
(c) the leader of the EPLP
(d) the treasurer of the party
(e) three frontbench Members of Parliament, at least one of whom must be a woman, nominated by the Cabinet (or Shadow Cabinet in opposition)
(f) one youth member elected at the national Young Labour Conference
(g) one member elected by the Labour Party Black Socialist Society at its conference as laid down in the rules of the socialist society. This member to be elected once the individual membership of the socialist society has reached 2,500 and at least one third of eligible trade unions have also affiliated to the socialist society.
2 The primary purpose of the NEC shall be to provide a strategic direction for the party as a whole and to maintain and develop an active party in the country, working in partnership with the party’s representatives in Parliament, the European Parliament, devolved administrations and local government to secure the party’s objectives.
The key functions of the NEC are to:
(a) contribute to policy development
(b) win elections and maintain the support of voters
(c) maintain a healthy party at all levels, engaged in the community upholding the highest standards in public life
(d) ensure a high quality of service through a contract with party members
(e) fulfil its operational and constitutional responsibilities as defined in this clause
(f) maintain a balanced partnership between all party stakeholders
(g) ensure the party meets its legal and financial responsibilities in compliance with the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 and all other legislative requirements.
3 In furtherance of its primary purpose and key functions, the duties and powers of the NEC shall include:
(a) to uphold and enforce the constitution, rules and standing orders of the party and to take any action it deems necessary for such purpose, including disaffiliation, disbanding, suspending or otherwise disciplining any affiliated organisation or party unit; in furtherance of such duties it shall have the power to suspend or take other administrative action against individual members of the party subject to the provisions of the disciplinary rules set out in chapter 6 of these rules
(b) subject to the preceding sub-clause (a) and through its national and regional officers, to ensure the establishment of and to keep in active operation in accordance with the rules laid down by party conference
– a regional board in each region designated by the NEC and, in the case of Scotland and Wales, a Scottish and Welsh executive
– CLPs in each Westminster parliamentary and European parliamentary constituency area
– an LGC for each elected level of local authority above parish or community
– a Labour group of councillors on local authorities having Labour representation
(c) to establish and promote Young Labour by encouraging the formation of local Young Labour groups, holding a regular Young Labour Conference and establishing a national committee in accordance with the rules laid down by party conference
(d) to establish and promote a women’s organisation throughout the country by encouraging the formation of women’s forums and by holding a regular national women’s conference in accordance with the rules laid down by party conference
(e) to ensure that party meetings and events shall be conducted in a friendly and orderly manner and organised in such a way as to maximise participation from members and that no member shall be precluded from attendance because they cannot gain access to the meeting place for any reason. Harassment or intimidation of any member is unacceptable as is any form of discrimination on the basis of gender, sexuality, disability or race. The NEC shall from time to time, issue guidance and instructions on the conduct of meetings and guidance and instructions on the implementation of quotas for women’s representation
(f) to confer with the PLP at the opening of each parliamentary session and to convene at any other time when it or the PLP may desire a conference on any matters relating to the work and progress of the party. When a Labour government is in office, to confer with its representatives prior to the formulation of legislative proposals for the next parliamentary session
(g) to present to the regular annual meeting of party conference a report covering the work and progress of the party during its period of office, together with a report on the work of the NEC committees, a financial statement and duly audited accounts. This report, financial statement and accounts shall be sent to CLPs and affiliated organisations at least two clear weeks before the opening of party conference
(h) to propose to party conference such amendments to the constitution, rules and standing orders as may be deemed desirable; also, in accordance with the rules, to submit to the party conference such resolutions and declarations affecting the programme, principles and policies of the party as in its view may be necessitated by political circumstances
(i) to establish and oversee a National Policy Forum, Policy Commissions and a Joint Policy Committee to produce a rolling programme for submission to party conference. The NEC shall also produce guidelines for the establishment and operation of local policy forums
(j) to require CLPs to hold ballots of individual members on such matters as they deem to be appropriate; such ballots, where considered necessary by the NEC or where provided for in these rules, shall be conducted by means of a one-member-one-vote ballot on ballot papers provided by, and to a timetable and procedure laid down by, the NEC
(k) to organise and maintain such fund or funds as may be thought necessary for any or all of the objects for which the party exists, including a fund to finance parliamentary by-elections and a fund established for the purpose of insuring against the forfeiture of returning officers’ deposits at any general election. Also to establish a special fund with trustees appointed by the NEC from affiliated trade unions to provide solely for the preparation, organisation and campaigning necessary in a national election, this fund to be known as the Labour Party national election fund
- to secure advances from time to time, or to raise loans either by mortgage or otherwise and on such terms as it may deem expedient; to employ any part of the funds at its disposal in the purchase of any freehold or leasehold building or site and/ or in the building, leasing, holding or rental of any premises, and in the fitting up and maintenance thereof; and to invest any moneys not immediately required in such securities as it may deem proper and to realise or to vary such investments from time to time and to appoint trustees and/ or form a society, association, company or companies in accordance with the provisions of the Friendly Societies Acts or the Companies Acts for any or all of the above purposes and to define the powers of such trustees, society, association, company or companies and the manner in which such powers shall be exercised.
(m) to issue guidance, give rulings and bring forward rule changes to party conference to ensure continued compliance with the party’s legal and financial responsibilities, and to take action on the advice of the General Secretary to protect the party from actions by organisations and individuals who fail to comply with, or fail to co-operate with the party in meeting, such legislative requirements.
4 The NEC shall have the power to adjudicate in disputes that may arise at any level of the party, including between CLPs, affiliated organisations and other party units, and between CLPs, other party units and individuals in those units and in disputes which occur between individual members or within the party organisation. Where the rules do not meet the particular circumstances, the NEC may have regard to national or local custom and practice as the case may require. The NEC’s decisions shall be final and binding on all organisations, units and individuals concerned.
5 All powers of the NEC may be exercised as the NEC deems appropriate through its elected officers, committees, sub-committees, the General Secretary and other national and regional officials and designated representatives appointed by the NEC or the General Secretary.
For the avoidance of doubt, it is hereby declared that the NEC shall have the power to delegate its powers to such officers and committees and sub-committees of the NEC and upon such terms as from time to time it shall see fit. Further, it shall be deemed always to have had such power.
Clause 9 – The National Constitutional Committee
1 There shall be a National Constitutional Committee of the party (‘the NCC’) to be elected at party conference in accordance with the procedural rules (rule 4C.4 ). The NCC shall consist of 11 members of the party each of whom has been a member of the party for a continuous period of not less than five years immediately prior to their election.
2 The duties and powers of the NCC shall be:
(a) to determine by hearing or otherwise such disciplinary matters as are presented to it by CLPs in accordance with the provisions contained in the disciplinary rules (chapter 6)
(b) to determine by hearing or otherwise such disciplinary matters as are presented to it by the officers of the party on the instructions of the NEC
(c) where a determination has been made as a result of a case brought under (a) or (b) above, to impose such disciplinary measures as it thinks fit whether by way of reprimand or suspension from holding office in the party, or being a delegate to any party body, or withholding or withdrawing endorsement as a candidate or prospective candidate of the party at any level, or expulsion from membership of the party or other penalty. The decisions of the NCC in determining such disciplinary matters brought before it and imposing such disciplinary measures as it sees fit, shall be final.
3 (a) The NCC shall elect its chair each year from among its members at its first meeting to be held as soon after each annual session of party conference as practicable.
(b) The quorum for full meetings of the NCC or hearings in front of the full NCC shall be not less than four members, who shall be present for the entirety of a hearing involving any individual.
(c) The NCC may, for the better ordering of its business from time to time and as it thinks fit, divide into panels of not less than three members who shall have the full powers of the NCC. Each such panel shall elect a chair as occasion requires it. Each such panel shall include at least one member from each of divisions I and III as provided for in procedural rule 4C.4. If a member of such a panel is unable to attend a hearing, the chair of the NCC may appoint another member of the NCC to that panel as a replacement.
(d) The NCC or any panel thereof shall meet at such time and at such place as it thinks fit having regard to the convenience of the individual concerned, the members of the NCC or panel, any witnesses and the effective and proper conduct of any hearing.
4 The NCC or any panel thereof in hearing and determining charges against an individual shall have regard to procedural guidelines as determined by the NCC. The NCC shall have the power to supplement such guidelines from time to time and to modify its procedures in order to meet the circumstances of any particular case to ensure fairness to both the individual and the party.
5 The NCC shall have the right to dismiss without full hearing or at any point any case presented to it which it or the panel appointed to hear the case considers by a majority vote to be frivolous, vexatious, an abuse of the processes of the NCC, or where it considers that no case to answer has been established.
Clause 10 – Scope of Rules
1 The general provisions of these rules shall apply to all units of the party and the model rules and standing orders appended to these constitutional rules shall apply to:
(b) member branches organised within CLPs
(c) European Constituency Labour Parties
(d) women’s forums
(e) Young Labour and Young Labour groups
(g) local government Labour groups
(h) the Scottish executive, Welsh executive and English regional boards.
2 The NEC shall have the authority to sanction, where the NEC considers local circumstances render it necessary, modifications in the rules laid down by party conference for the various party units. Such modifications shall comply with the spirit and intention of the rules adopted by party conference and may not alter the party objects, the basis or conditions of affiliated and individual membership, vary the procedure for the selection of parliamentary or local government candidates (except as provided for in the rules) or effect a change in the relationship between CLPs and the party.
3 Party units may adopt additional rules which shall not contravene the provisions contained in the rules adopted by party conference and must be submitted to the NEC for endorsement prior to final adoption and implementation; pending such endorsement or rejection no such additional rule may be invoked.
4 The existing constitution and rules, or any part thereof, may be amended, altered or additions made thereto by resolutions carried on a card vote at party conference in the manner provided for in the procedural rules for party conference which are appended hereto. Notice of resolution embodying any such proposal must be sent to the General Secretary at the head office of the party also in the manner provided for in the procedural rules.
5 For the avoidance of any doubt, any dispute as to the meaning, interpretation or general application of the constitution, standing orders and rules of the party or any unit of the party shall be referred to the NEC for determination, and the decision of the NEC thereupon shall be final and conclusive for all purposes. The decision of the NEC subject to any modification by party conference as to the meaning and effect of any rule or any part of this constitution and rules shall be final.