Page last updated at 18:17 GMT, Tuesday, 29 September 2009 19:17 UK

Brown speech: Policy clapometer

Labour delegates
Labour members are at their final conference before a general election

Gordon Brown's big conference speech contained a string of new - and not so new - policy announcements as Labour gears up for the looming general election battle. The BBC's Emma Griffiths was in the hall to gauge how they went down with Labour delegates.

POLITICAL REFORM
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Mr Brown promised a referendum on electoral reform if Labour wins the general election. Voters will be asked if they want to scrap the first-past-the-post system for Westminster elections in favour of alternative vote (AV) where candidates are selected in order of preference and the winner must gain more than 50% of the votes. He also announced plans to allow voters to sack MPs guilty of financial misconduct. If more than 25% of voters in their constituency demand a recall there will be a by-election, he told delegates. He also said the party's manifesto would include a pledge to make the House of Lords "an accountable and democratic chamber for the first time". And he said Labour would abolish hereditary peers in the next year.

PARTY REACTION: There was perhaps the loudest applause of the afternoon for the commitment to hold a referendum on the voting system - party members shouted their approval as Mr Brown said it would happen "early in the next Parliament". And as he moved on to say he would end hereditary peers some at the back of the hall got to their feet.

ID CARDS
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Mr Brown said he would "reduce the information British citizens have to give for the new biometric passport to no more than that required for today's passports" and said there would be "no compulsory ID cards in the next Parliament". Aides told the BBC afterwards that this did not mean the fingerprinting of passport applicants would stop. All Mr Brown was saying was that there would be no additional information, such as medical or banking records, on ID cards, so in effect it is not a change of policy. Home Secretary Alan Johnson had already said ID cards would not be compulsory in the next Parliament because there would not be enough people with cards for it to be practical. Mr Brown was simply confirming it was party policy.

PARTY REACTION: Although it was not new policy, there was a huge round of applause at the mention of ID cards - although some in the hall said later they thought it meant he had scrapped them altogether.

TEENAGE MOTHERS
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Mr Brown said it was not right to put pregnant 16 and 17-year-olds into council flats and leave them on their own. Instead those who were supported by the taxpayer would be "placed in a network of supervised homes", shared with others, to give them "a new start in life where they learn responsibility and how to raise their children properly".

PARTY REACTION: This policy - which is a new announcement although some local councils already do it - got a big round of applause from the conference hall.

SOCIAL CARE
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Gordon Brown announced plans to scrap the means test for about 300,000 elderly Alzheimer's sufferers and other elderly people with the highest needs. At present help with things like dressing, washing and using the toilet is usually means-tested for those with assets of about £22,250 - depending on the local authority. However it only affects those in the most severe category who are cared for in their own homes and while campaigners welcome the idea they are worried about how it is to be paid for. They fear that if councils are not funded, people with high needs could be forced into residential care where they would not be entitled to free personal care. Mr Brown also talked about a National Care Service to pay for long term social care but he did not pre-empt the current consultation which began after the publication of a Green Paper.

PARTY REACTION: The line about helping old people stay in their homes as long as possible got some solid applause in the conference hall but the mention of the National Care Service got one of the loudest claps of the speech, drowning out Mr Brown before he reached the end of his sentence.

SPENDING PRIORITIES
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The prime minister set out Labour's spending priorities. He said he would invest more in schools but not the education budget overall and promised to continue annual increases in the minimum wage, child tax credits and child benefits. He also said he would enshrine in law a commitment to spend 0.7% of GDP - national income - on international development.

PARTY REACTION: A big reaction to the commitment to international aid in the hall - loud and prolonged applause as Mr Brown said "others may break their promises to the poorest, with Labour, Britain never will." But the hall listened quietly as Mr Brown said he had to "talk bluntly" about public spending,. Mentions of annual rises in child tax credit, minimum wage and child benefits were well received, although the applause was dwarfed by a reference to Tony Blair - name-checked just seconds before by the PM.



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