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The Conservative Research Department

The Conservative Research Department was established in November 1929 and rapidly assumed a position of considerable importance in the Party's policy-making process. It advises Party leaders on the formulation of policy, undertakes detailed, long-term research on a wide range of issues, services Party committees from the Leader's Consultative Committee (Shadow Cabinet) downwards, provides authoritative briefs to MPs in preparation for Parliamentary debates, plays a major role in the writing of Party publications and the vetting of Party publicity, and analyses public opinion trends in order to advise the leadership on electoral strategy. Although its importance fluctuates according to the particular concerns of the Party Leader, it has always been, and remains, one of the central departments in Party organisation. Since 1979 the Conservative Research Department has been contained, organisationally and physically, within Central Office. Before that, however, it was a separate body, housed separately and, for much of its life, organisationally independent also, with its own chairman and director. For this reason its papers have been catalogued separately from those of Central Office.

The papers of the Conservative Research Department have been catalogued in broad chronological sweeps and within those according to the policy areas that they covered. Letter books of the respective Desk Officers and Subject Specialists, which make up the bulk of CRD papers, have been catalogued under their names, with a summary given where possible of the policy areas that they covered. Similarly, the papers of the various directors of the Conservative Research Department have been catalogued separately. Briefs - the detailed reports prepared for ministers/shadow ministers prior to parliamentary debates - have also been catalogued separately.

The following series of Conservative Research Department papers are available:

Papers, c1929-1940 [CRD 1]
Papers, c1941-1964 [CRD 2]
Papers, c1965-1973 [CRD 3]
Papers, c1974-1983 [CRD 4]
CRD Directors' Papers, c1929-1983 [CRD/D]
CRD Desk Officers'/Subject Specialists' Letter Books, c1929-1982 [CRD/L]
CRD Briefs, c1946-1983 [CRD/B]

Conservative Party Archive

Last updated: 07 January 2014, Jeremy McIlwaine