DELEGATES attending the annual Co-operative Party conference at the Holiday Inn, Newcastle upon Tyne, (September 12-14th) face a busy weekend of political debate and discussion.
The final agenda for the conference published last week includes almost 90 motions and amendments and while the debate on foundation hospitals promises to be the most contentious of the weekend, many other issues will also provoke intense debate and talking points for co-operators.
While most motions on NHS Trusts are broadly supportive of the Government's plans, concerns are raised by the Co-operative Group's North Eastern & Cumbrian Party in relation to "unacceptable competition between hospitals" and the possibility of the emergence of a two-tier Health Service.
A motion from Co-op Group South London Party calls for the application of "true co-operative principles" in relation to the Trusts, while Midlands Western Region Party says the legislation should have greater powers than those set out in the Guide to NHS Foundation Trusts.
Meanwhile a motion submitted by Chelmsford Star Party calls for compulsory voting in elections, with polling day absentees being subject to fines and there will also be debates on the desirability of delegations being formed to support Middle Eastern co-operatives and the need for ethnic minorities to have guaranteed representation on the Co-op Party NEC.
A motion tabled by Plymouth and South West Party calls for greater female representation on the NEC, while in the wake of the war in Iraq, Midlands Leicestershire Party requests the government to refrain from pre-emptive strikes in future. Co-op Group South London Party says Britain should only take military action which has been authorised by the United Nations.
Two motions on the issue of world development seek to encourage stronger links with countries in the Middle East. The CG North Eastern and Cumbrian Party urges the Party to help produce a humanitarian aid plan which will aid those who are innocent victims of war, while Norfolk and Suffolk Voluntary Party calls on the NEC to support Israeli and Palestinian co-operatives by campaigning for EU duty on Palestinian imports to be the same as on Israeli goods; to ask Party Councils to consider sending donations and letters of support; and to consider supporting or sending a delegation to Israeli and Palestinian co-operatives.