1922 Committee


1922 Committee

In British politics, the 1922 Committee is a committee of Conservative Members of Parliament. Voting membership is limited to backbench MPs although frontbench Conservative MPs have an open invitation to attend meetings. While the party was in opposition, frontbench MPs other than the party leader could also attend its meetings. The Committee meets every week while Parliament is in session, and provides a way for Conservative backbenchers to determine their views independently of frontbenchers, as well as playing an important role in the choosing of the party leader.

Contents

Committee constitutional matters

The 1922 Committee has an 18-member executive committee, the chairman of which must oversee any election of a new party leader, or any vote of confidence in respect of the current one; such a vote can be triggered by 15 percent of Conservative MPs writing a letter to the chairman asking for such a vote. This process was invoked most recently on 28 October 2003, when 25 MPs requested a vote of confidence in party leader Iain Duncan Smith by writing to the chairman, Sir Michael Spicer. Duncan Smith lost the vote the next day.

Origins

The committee was formed in 1923, but takes its name from the 1922 general election. Contrary to popular belief, it does not stem from the famous 1922 meeting in which Conservative MPs successfully demanded that the party withdraw from the coalition government of David Lloyd George.[1] The resolution passed at the meeting triggered a general election which the Conservative Party won; the many new Conservative MPs who were elected for the first time formed the 'Conservative Private Members' Committee' to discuss and influence political events. Hence the MPs who founded the Committee were not the ones who had taken the decision to break up the Coalition government. After the 1923 and 1924 elections the membership expanded as more new Conservative MPs were elected, and in 1926 all backbench members were invited to become members.[2]

Under David Cameron

On 19 May 2010, shortly after the formation of a coalition government between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, the party leader and newly-appointed Prime Minister, David Cameron, suggested altering the 1922 Committee to include ministers (frontbenchers) in the decision making process, angering some backbench MPs.[3] On 20 May 2010, the 1922 Committee members voted to approve the change, with 168 votes in favour and 118 against. Many backbench party members did criticise the move and voted against it, whilst Ministers had deemed it necessary to continue operating the party during its membership of a coalition government.[4] However, it was revealed shortly after the vote that whilst frontbenchers would be able to attend meetings of the Committee, it would continue that only backbenchers would be able to vote for its officers and executive committee.[5]

With both backbenchers and frontbenchers able to attend meetings, the 1922 Committee now encompasses all sitting Conservative members of the House of Commons, although frontbench members attend by invitation and cannot participate in elections and is similar to the Parliamentary Labour Party.

In July, 2011, after addressing the House of Commons in the wake of James and Rupert Murdoch's parliamentary testimony in the News International phone hacking scandal, Cameron was reported to have been received enthusiastically by the Committee, later that night.[6] Another report on that show of support, however, noted that "reporters ... outside" were a probably intended audience for the show and that Cameron's support amongst Tories was still at least to some degree shaken by the News International-related events. "Many [party members in Commons] complain," according to the reporter without naming names, "that they cannot use the 1922 Committee ... without being briefed against for doing so."[7]

Current members

The full 1922 committee membership (February 2011).[8] comprises:

Former members

Chairmen

Secretaries

References

External links


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