The parliamentary party is the longest-established element of the Conservative Party with a history dating back to the 17th century. However, the lack of any organisational infrastructure before the 1920s is reflected in the surviving documentary record in the Conservative Party Archive. It is represented through the records of the following bodies:
Shadow Cabinet (or Leader's Consultative Committee) [LCC]
Also known as the Leader's Consultative Committee, this is the most central of policy organs and determines policy when the Party is in opposition. It developed from an informal body summoned by Conservative leaders in opposition since the nineteenth century, and formalised by Baldwin in 1924.
Records held: Minutes and papers, 1945-2005
Steering Committee [SC and CRD 2/53: CRD and Miscellaneous Committees,1945-67]
This was, in effect, an inner cabinet of Ministers meeting together, without their civil servants, to look ahead politically. (In Opposition, this body was an inner Shadow Cabinet). The Steering Committee was first formally constituted in 1957. Its meetings, and records relate to periods of Conservative government as well as opposition.
Records held: Minutes and papers, 1957-1979
The Whips' Office [WHIP]
The CPA contains only a limited amount of Whips' Office papers, mainly memoranda written on a wide range of contemporary political issues. No papers have been transferred relating to the disciplining of MPs or the use of the ultimate sanction - withdrawal of the Party whip.
Records held: Papers, 1923-1982.
1922 Committee [1922 & CRD 2/31]
The Conservative Private Members' Committee, commonly called the '1922 Committee', provides a sounding board of Conservative opinion in the House of Commons, and allows MPs to put forward ideas, views and concerns through a process of dialogue, rather than through confrontation with the leadership.
Records held: Minutes and correspondence, 1923-2010
Association of Conservative Peers [Uncatalogued]
Formed as the Association of Opposition Peers in 1912, it changed its name to the Association of Independent Unionist Peers in the 1920s to show that its views would not be dictated by the Party line, and finally became the Association of Conservative Peers in 1982. This is 'the Lords equivalent of the 1922 Committee', with formal relations between frontbench and backbench Peers corresponding to those of Conservative MPs and their front bench.
Records held: Minutes & annual reports, 1997-2008
Meetings concerning the leadership of the Conservative Party
Combined meetings of Conservative Party Peers, Members of Parliament, Prospective Parliamentary Candidates, and member of the Executive Committee of the National Union have occasionally been held to approve the election of a new Party Leader or for other purposes, such as the decision to end the Lloyd George coalition in 1922.
Records held: Transcript of proceedings of meetings, 1916-1957
Committees of the Parliamentary Party:
No direct deposit of records has been made by these committees to date (with the exception of the Scottish Unionist Members' Committee (SUMC), but some incomplete series have come to the CPA by virtue of the fact that these committees were serviced by staff of the Conservative Research Department or in some cases, departments of Conservative Central Office. Reports of committee proceedings were also made either verbally or in writing to the 1922 Committee and occasionally, as with the Agriculture Committee, official statements of proceedings were issued and published in The Times
Records held: Minutes and papers, c1931-1980s
Papers of individual Conservative MPs [Not held]
With few exceptions, the Archive does not contain the private papers of individual Conservative politicians, although inevitably material relating to a large number of MPs, ministers, shadow ministers and party leaders has found its way into the Archive.
Records held: c1922-1993
Candidates' election addresses, 1922-1983 [PUB 229]
Standing Advisory Committee on Candidates, 1935-1993 [NUA 8]
Prospective Parliamentary Candidates' application forms, c1940-1980 [Uncatalogued]
Papers of Conservative MEP Groupings
Between 1973 and 1979, British and Danish MEPs formed the European Conservative Group in the European Parliament, which changed its name to the European Democratic Group on 17th July 1979. Between 1992-2009 Conservative MEPs, together with Ulster Unionist and Czech Civic Democratic MEPs, were associated with the European People's Party (re-branded as the European People's Party/European Democrats (EPP-ED) in an attempt to distance Conservative MEPs from the more Europhile EPP while still having influence in the largest parliamentary grouping. Since 2009, Conservative MEPs have belonged to the European Conservatives and Reformists Group. Within its European Parliament grouping, Conservatives in the European Parliament has its own infrastructure including whips, and a secretariat based in Conservative Central Office.
European Conservative Group [CCO 508/1-2]
Records held: minutes and papers, 1973-1979
European Democratic Group [CCO 508/1-2]
Records held: minutes and papers, 1979-1992
European People's Party/European Democrats (EPP-ED)
No records held
European Conservatives and Reformists Group
No records held
Conservative in the European Parliament [CCO 508/10-14]
Records held: publications, 1973-1994
Party Chairman's correspondence with Conservative MEPs [CCO 20/32]
Records held: 1984-1995
Conservative Party Archive
Last updated: 15 March 2011, Jeremy McIlwaine