A few of you have made enquiries concerning the future of this august body. I have not been making public statements about it, as it is an internal party matter. I prefer to use my media appearances to talk about things that matter to many people, and have a direct impact on the daily lives of my constituents. Politicians talking about their own internal arrangements is not very exciting. Given some of the strange briefing from both sides in recent days, let me seek to clarify a few of the issues. I have no wish to give media interviews on any of this.
Throughout the Opposition years front bench Conservative MPs were allowed to come to the 1922 weekly general meetings, held when Parliament is in session. None joined the Executive of the Committee, which has seperate meetings. Traditionally in government Ministers only come by invitation, when we wish them to explain their policies or answer our queries or hear our disagreements. We have now decided that all Ministers should be free to come to any regular general meeting of the 1922 they wish. As far as I am concerned they are most welcome, and we may be able to hammer things out with them in private before opinions become too entrenched or misunderstandings too widespread.
There is then the question of the Executive of the 1922 Committee, which has always been backbench elected members only and meets in confidence weekly when Parliament is in session. It is my understanding of the new system that there will still be a weekly private meeting of the 1922 backbench Executive. I doubt whether Ministers are now eligibile to stand for the 1922 Executive, but I think it extremely unlikely any Minister would seek to do so. They would understand that the Executive has to be backbenchers only, and see they would be unlikely to be elected if they were allowed to stand and decided to stand. The Executive will continue to raise issues with the Prime Minister and other senior Ministers that are of concern to backbenchers, and continue to handle issues arising on behalf of backbench Conservative MPs generally in the conduct of their duties.