1922 Committee

The 1922 Committee, formally known as the Conservative Private Members' Committee,[2] is the parliamentary group of the Conservative Party in the UK House of Commons. The committee, consisting of all Conservative backbencher MPs, meets weekly while parliament is in session and provides a way for backbenchers to co-ordinate and discuss their views independently of frontbenchers. Its executive membership and officers are by consensus limited to backbench MPs, although since 2010 frontbench Conservative MPs have an open invitation to attend meetings. The committee can also play an important role in choosing the party leader. The group was formed in 1923[3] but became important after 1940. The committee, collectively, represents the frank and unabridged views of the Conservative Party parliamentary rank and file to the party leader, usually also the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom or Leader of the Opposition. Whips are present but their role is limited to announcing future business and reporting questions and complaints to the chief whip.

1922 Committee
Formation1923; 98 years ago (1923)
Sir Graham Brady[1]

Committee constitutional matters

The 1922 Committee has an 18-member executive committee, the chairman of which oversees the election of party leaders, or any Conservative party-led vote of no confidence in a current leader. Such a vote can be triggered by 15 per cent of Conservative MPs (currently 55) writing a letter to the chairman asking for such a vote. This process was used most recently on 12 December 2018, against Theresa May, who won the vote. The last time a leader lost such a vote was on 29 October 2003, when Iain Duncan Smith was defeated by 90 to 75.[4]


The name does not, as is sometimes wrongly supposed, stem from the 19 October 1922 Carlton Club meeting, in which Conservative MPs successfully demanded that the party withdraw from the coalition government of David Lloyd George, and which triggered the 1922 general election. The committee was formed after the election, in April 1923.[5][6]

The MPs who founded the committee were not the same as those who had taken the decision to end the 1916–22 coalition government. It began as a small dining group of new members elected in 1922. The committee soon developed into a ginger group of active backbenchers.[7] After the 1923 and 1924 elections, the membership expanded as more new Conservative MPs were elected, and in 1926 all backbench MPs were invited to become members. It became known as the Conservative Private Members' Committee. Consequently, it became a platform for the majority rather than a focus for discontent.[8]

The term "men in suits" or "men in grey suits", meaning a delegation of Conservative MPs who tell a party leader that it is time for them to step down without forcing an open challenge, is often used in reference to members of the 1922 Committee.[9][10] It became popular after the resignation of Margaret Thatcher.[11][12]

2010 changes

On 19 May 2010, shortly after the Conservatives had formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, Prime Minister David Cameron suggested altering the committee to involve frontbench ministers in the recommendation forming process, angering some backbench MPs.[13] On 20 May 2010, Committee members voted to approve the change, with 168 votes in favour and 118 against. Many backbench party members criticised the move and voted against it, while ministers had argued such a change would be necessary to continue operating coherently as a party during its membership of a coalition government.[14]

However, under its most recent chairman Graham Brady, it was clarified shortly after that vote that although frontbenchers are now able to attend meetings of the committee, only backbenchers would be able to vote for its officers and executive committee,[15] similar to the Parliamentary Labour Party.

2021 chair election

Brady was challenged by Heather Wheeler and Robert Goodwill. Goodwill dropped out of the running.[16]

Current executive committee

As of 20 January 2020, the executive committee comprised:

Former chairmen



  1. Phibbs, Harry (20 January 2020). "Brady re-elected Chairman of the 1922 Committee". Conservative Home. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  2. Chaplain, Chloe (8 April 2019). "What is the 1922 Committee, who's its chairman Sir Graham Brady and how is it involved in the no confidence vote?". inews.co.uk. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  3. "The 1922 Committee". Parliament.uk. 12 December 2018. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  4. "Tory leader ousted". BBC. 29 October 2003. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  5. Johnston, Neil (24 May 2019). "Leadership elections: Conservative Party" (PDF). Briefing Paper Number 01366. House of Commons Library. p. 16. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  6. Harris 2013, p.265
  7. John Ramsden (1998) An Appetite for Power – A History of the Conservative Party since 1830 ISBN 0 00 255686 3 p287
  8. "1922 Committee","Political Notes", The Times, 22 December 1926, p. 12.
  9. Shell, Donald (2015). "Prime Ministers and their Parties". In Shell, Donald; Hodder-Williams, Richard (eds.). Churchill to Major: The British Prime Ministership since 1945. Routledge. pp. 154–5. ISBN 978-1-315-48151-7.
  10. Brogan, Benedict; Sylvester, Rachel; Jones, George (17 October 2003). "Duncan Smith loses backing of the 'men in grey suits'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  11. Brant, Robin (12 March 2015). "1922 committee and Tory MPs' contact details". BBC News Online. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  12. Rawnsley, Andrew (12 October 2003). "Dead man talking". The Observer. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
  13. "Cameron angers MPs with bid to change 1922 Committee". BBC News. 19 May 2010. Retrieved 19 May 2010.
  14. "1922 Committee: David Cameron wins vote on rule change". BBC News. 20 May 2010. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
  15. Brady elected as Tories' 1922 Committee chairman BBC News 26 May 2010
  16. "Race to be backbench Tory MPs' champion hots up". BBC News. 17 June 2021. Retrieved 17 June 2021.

Further reading