« Jeremy Hunt celebrates six year freeze in BBC licence fee | Main | Nine new Conservative select committee appointments »

22 Tory MPs support reduction in number of Government ministers

By Tim Montgomerie

WalkerCharles In the Commons yesterday Government Whips successfully defeated an effort by Charles Walker MP to reduce the number of ministers, in line with overall plans to reduce the number of MPs. Mr Walker recently wrote for ConservativeHome, explaining why fewer MPs should also mean fewer ministers. His amendment stated:

"If the number of constituencies in the United Kingdom decreases below 650, the limit on the number of holders of Ministerial offices entitled to sit and vote in the House of Commons referred to in section 2(1) must be decreased by at least a proportionate amount."

A few extracts from Mr Walker's contribution:

There is widespread support for reducing the number of ministers: "Rafts of leading academics and political commentators have recognised for a long time that there are far too many Ministers in this place. Sir John Major, the former Prime Minister, has argued that we could easily do as well with a reduction of 25 to 30%. Lord Turnbull, the former Cabinet Secretary, told the Select Committee on Public Administration earlier this year that the number of Ministers could be cut by 50%. Professor Anthony King has argued the same, as has Lord Norton of Louth. Of course, those academics and political commentators are in good company. Our own Deputy Prime Minister argued in January that the number of Ministers should be reduced."

There have been historical concerns about ministerial/ constituency conflicts: "Many people here have argued privately in the corridors that there is no link between the size of the House of Commons and the number of Ministers. That is total nonsense. We know that as far back as the Bill of Rights of 1689 this House expressed concerns about the Crown having a presence here in the form of Ministers. The 1701 Act of Settlement tried extremely hard to remove Ministers from this place, because the politicians of that time wondered how one could serve the Crown as well as one's constituents."

David Cameron has fourteen more ministers than Margaret Thatcher: "Margaret Thatcher-we all remember her, that great lady-had 81 Ministers to run this country in 1983. We now require 95. Is the world so much more complex? I say to those who argue that it is that since 1983 we have privatised a large number of previously Government-owned industries and we have allowed Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to have their own devolved Assemblies. The number of Ministers has still risen inexorably."

When other tiers of management are being cut, why not ministers?: " We are removing chief executives of councils and their directors. We are attacking senior and middle management across the country, yet there is one group of senior management that is completely immune to these cuts and that is the ministerial corps. Yes, we are all in it together, but not quite if one is a Minister. I do not think that any good argument could be presented from the Front Bench for not reducing the ministerial head count."

21 Conservative MPs rebelled, supporting the reduction in the number of government ministers:

  1. Baker, Steve
  2. Bone, Mr Peter
  3. Brady, Mr Graham
  4. Carswell, Mr Douglas
  5. Chope, Mr Christopher
  6. Davies, Philip
  7. Ellis, Michael
  8. Field, Mr Mark
  9. Goldsmith, Zac
  10. Gray, Mr James
  11. Hollobone, Mr Philip
  12. Jenkin, Mr Bernard
  13. Main, Mrs Anne
  14. McCartney, Jason
  15. Nuttall, Mr David
  16. Percy, Andrew
  17. Reckless, Mark
  18. Tapsell, Sir Peter
  19. Turner, Mr Andrew
  20. Tyrie, Mr Andrew
  21. Walker, Mr Charles
  22. Whittaker, Craig

> On Parliament yesterday, Jonathan Isaby noted the most and least rebellious Tory MPs.


You must be logged in using Intense Debate, Wordpress, Twitter or Facebook to comment.