Conservative Party Conference 2016 – Summary

The Conservative Party held its 2016 Party Conference in Birmingham, from 2-5 October. It was Theresa May’s first conference as Prime Minister, and she used it as an opportunity to set out her plans for the triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and the beginning of Brexit negotiations.

This, she said, would happen before the end of March 2017, with a Great Repeal Act – removing the European Communities Act 1972 and converting the body of existing EU law into British law – to be announced in next year’s Queen’s Speech.

A number of key speeches have been published, including:

  • Prime Minister, Theresa May – in which she focused her attention on the political centre ground, saying her new Conservatism would “always act in the interests of ordinary, working class people” and vowing to stand up to the “rich and powerful” and tackle tax avoidance and evasion
  • Chancellor, Philip Hammond – in which he promised that projects meeting UK priorities and value for money criteria, which have received multi-year EU funding, would have the funding guaranteed after the country leaves the EU
  • Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid – in which he promised a £3bn Home Builders’ Fund and £2bn of new investment for accelerated construction on public land, to tackle the country’s housing shortage
  • Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, Karen Bradley – in which she highlighted the valuable work of the cultural sector, and the Government’s ongoing support

A number of events of potential interest also took place at the Fringe including sessions with ACEVO on trust and confidence in the charity sector and with the Institute for Fiscal Studies on the role of the tax system in tackling inequality. Common Vision hosted an event discussing the future of charities, with panelists questioning the accordance of charity status to organisations run in any way non-voluntarily.

Action Aid, Christian Aid, Oxfam and the ICAEW also collaborated on an event discussing how businesses, charities and government can work together to fight tax. Panelists, including Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jane Ellison, highlighted the “extraordinary success” of the ongoing charity campaign for fairer tax around the world. They acknowledged, however, that there was still a long way to go. While 100 countries were due to sign up to a new tax framework in January 2017 that would effectively govern how information was exchanged through tax authorities and the amount of transparency, among other factors, this was still only 100 countries.