During the 1980s, the NEC had a major role in policy-making and was often at the heart of disputes over party policy. In the Tony Blair era, the committee's role declined and its membership was reformed, but it remains the administrative authority of the party. Its former policy development function is now largely carried out by the National Policy Forum. One of its committees has disciplinary powers including the ability to expel members of the party who have brought it into disrepute or to readmit previously expelled members.
Up until 1997, Members of Parliament could stand for CLP section seats on the NEC, but thereafter MPs and MEPs could not stand in this section.
The 2017 Conference saw the creation of four additional NEC seats: one in the trade union section and three in the CLP section. Although the additional union seat was elected at Conference, the extra CLP seats were not elected until January 2018.
The Joint Policy Committee is a joint committee and is the steering group of the National Policy Forum. The JPC has strategic oversight of the party's policy development through the rolling Partnership in Power programme.
The Audit, Risk Management and Compliance Committee has responsibility for audit and compliance oversight, and is accountable for internal audit procedures providing a systematic approach to risk management in all of the Party’s activities. The Committee ensures that the Labour Party’s financial activities are within the law, and that an effective system of internal control is maintained.
The Organisation Committee is responsible for party rules and constitution; ensuring parties are operating effectively throughout the country to the highest standards and has overall responsibility for membership, investigations, selections, Conferences, electoral law, boundaries strategy and internal elections.
Chair: Jim Kennedy (Unite)
The NEC Disputes Panel is a panel of the NEC Organisation Committee which hears membership appeals; re-admission applications; party disputes and conciliation; minor investigations and local government appeals where referred to the NEC. It operates in a quasi-judicial fashion, conducting hearings and interviews around the country where necessary.
The chair of the party is elected by the NEC from among its own members, and holds office for a calendar year, chairing both NEC meetings and national party conferences.
The name of this post has become confused since 2001 when Labour Party leader Tony Blair appointed Charles Clarke to the courtesy position of "Party Chair" without the NEC or the national conference authorising such a position. The office's name remains "chair of the party" in the Labour Party Constitution, but elsewhere the party presents the position as "Chair of the NEC". Prior to 2001 the position was called "Chair of the Labour Party", and before that "Chairman of the Labour Party".
List of Chairs of the Labour Party
(Information taken from British Political Facts 1900–1994, Butler & Butler 1994, pp. 144–5, the period down to 1993)
Chairmen of the Annual Conference of the Labour Representation Committee