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How quickly should new MPs become ministers?

Michael Brown has written a thought-provoking piece for The Independent.

One of his most interesting observations is this:

"Assuming a Tory victory with an overall working majority, Mr Cameron will be faced with a parliamentary party numbering 350, or thereabouts, of whom only just over 100 will be previously sitting MPs. By comparison, when Margaret Thatcher formed her first government in 1979 her party gained 62 seats from other parties, but she was able to choose widely, from over 250 re-elected MPs from the previous parliament, the 100 or so cabinet and junior ministers."

ConHome has already speculated about the return of the likes of Michael Howard, Peter Lilley, Malcolm Rifkind and John Redwood to the frontbench to give an inexperienced incoming government some weight.  Michael Brown implies that this might not be enough and he suggests that some new MPs might become ministers immediately.  He mentions Nick Boles as a candidate for instant promotion and cites the preecedent of one Harold Wilson:

"Attlee was faced with a similar situation when forming his 1945 government. He had no hesitation in asking the newly elected MP for Ormskirk, Harold Wilson, to become Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Works.

Wilson made his maiden speech from the Treasury bench speaking for the government, as a minister, on the amenities and facilities for MPs. Within two years he had joined the cabinet at President of the Board of Trade. So who might be destined to repeat Wilson's achievement? Step forward Nicholas Boles, soon to be Tory MP for Grantham and Stamford, and who is now currently working for Mr Cameron's implementation team, preparing for government, in Tory HQ. Mr Boles may already be dreaming of the arrival of a ministerial limousine before he even makes his maiden speech."

My inclination is to believe that every new MP should be given some time getting used to the Commons before such elevation but Cameron may feel he does not have much choice.

Tim Montgomerie


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