The chairmen of the five policy bodies set up by the 1922 Committee earlier in this Parliament have acquired, as I wrote recently, a new importance now that they are playing a more central role in writing the next Conservative manifesto. Each chairman will sit on a policy commission with the relevant Cabinet Minister and a member of the Policy Board. There will be five of these, covering the economy, foreign affairs, the public services, the environment with local government, and home affairs,
John Redwood, Edward Leigh, Steve Baker and Neil Parrish, who chair the first four of those ’22 policy committees respectively, will be able to push hard for policies they and their colleagues want. Eleanor Laing, who chaired the Home Affairs committee, was of course elected as a Deputy Speaker recently, and has been replaced by Robert Buckland. There was no by-election. Buckland served previously on the committee, and has simply stepped up to the chair.
I gather that these incumbents have no guarantee of staying in place until 2015. Backbench interest in the committees to date has been rather limited. But given the formal say that their chairmen will have in the policy process, this may change. There will apparently be fresh elections for the chairmen posts if there is sufficient demand for it. I should add that there doesn’t seem to be at the moment, but that may change in the New Year.