Abolition of the monarchy on agenda for Lib Dems

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The abolition of the monarchy and the replacement of the Queen with an elected head of state is to be voted on by the Liberal Democrats at their annual conference next week.

The party will debate a motion which proposes that "no person be born into a position of authority over others" and calls for a referendum on the establishment of a democratic head of state.

The motion, proposed by the youth and student wing of the party, is likely to attract much support among delegates despite misgivings by the leadership, who fear it may distract attention from other items on the agenda.

The Brighton conference will be the launch-pad for Simon Hughes's bid to become Mayor of London and the scene of a question and answer session with Charles Kennedy, the party leader. Delegates will also debate the treatment of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay by the US military.

The party will also debate proposals to make 11-year-olds study sex education, including information about sexually transmitted diseases. The curriculum would include information about people who have sex changes. The proposals say that "every child should be taught the problems and practicalities of sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy." Sex education classes should provide "non- judgemental information" about gay sex and contraception, the motion says. But it is likely to be opposed by some Christian Liberal Democrats, who believe sex education should not be compulsory.

A motion, expected to be passed, banning parents from smacking children, was rejected by Downing Street this year. There will also be a proposal to abolish council tax and replace it with a local income tax.

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