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David Cameron seeks effectively to abolish the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers

The meeting which has just taken place in Committee Room 14 was not about agreeing the coalition deal.

David Cameron addressed the ranks of Conservative MPs to announce that he wants the 1922 Committee to be comprised of the entire parliamentary party, rather than just backbenchers, as has always been the case during peacetime when the party has been in government.

Voting to change these rules will take place by secret ballot between 5.30pm and 7pm in Committee Room 6 tonight and tomorrow between 9am and 11am, when the ballot will close.

Before the general election, when it was rumoured that there were moves afoot to change the constitution of the 1922 in this way, the 1922 Executive unanimously affirmed that the traditional practice should continue whereby ministers would not be entitled to vote in 1922 Committee elections.

I have always thought that in government it is right that backbenchers should have their own voice, distinct from that of the government payroll. The feeling of many backbenchers I spoke to after the meeting was that this was an effort to bounce them into changing the rules, without any notice whatsoever, as a way of diluting potential future criticism of the government.

It is all the more ironic that this comes on the day when the Deputy Prime Minister talked in terms of giving the legislature more power to hold the executive to account.

This hasty attempt to change these long-standing rules in this way is a centralisation too far and I hope that MPs will reject it.

> PoliticsHome has reproduced the letter Christopher Chope has been circulating

> James Forsyth blogs on the massive significance of the change

> Iain Dale interprets the move as a power grab by the leadership

Jonathan Isaby

James Forsyth at the Spectator broke the news that Conservative MPs have all been summoned to a meeting at 4.30pm.

I gather it will take place in one of the Committee Rooms and Laura Kuenssberg has tweeted that the gathering will be asked to agree the final terms of the Coalition agreement with Liberal Democrats.

James points out that the creating a threshold of 55% of the Commons to dissolve Parliament - with David Davis leading the campaign against the move - has been a particular sticking point and that there may now be a compromise on the table...

Jonathan Isaby


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