Michael Howard Appoints David Ruffley to Her Majesty's Opposition Whips' Office

Tuesday, 16 March, 2004

David Ruffley has been appointed a Whip in Her Majesty's Opposition Whips' Office by the Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition. This has widely been seen as a vote of confidence in David Ruffley's performance as a parliamentarian because appointment to the Whips' Office has to have the unanimous consent and approval of all the existing Whips.

David said: 'It is a great honour to be asked to serve as a Whip. I have previously been offered three shadow ministerial jobs on the front bench since becoming an MP in 1997. I am now delighted to take this post which is generally rated as one of the most interesting in the House of Commons. A large part of my job will be ensuring Government detailed legislation is scrutinised and probed in as thorough a manner as possible. As a Whip I will have more day to day contact with the Speaker and the Clerks of the House of Commons than other front benchers and I am looking forward to taking on this responsibility. I am following a long tradition of distinguished former Whips.

Most importantly, whilst it means even more work in the House of Commons on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I am delighted to reassure my constituents that it will in no way affect the constituency visits and surgeries that I undertake for the other half of the week in Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket, Needham Market and the villages. My constituency work is very dear to me and happily my additional role as a whip will not affect that in any shape or form.'

Conservative Whips are members of the Conservative Front Bench in the House of Commons. In the Parliamentary Conservative Party membership of the Whips' Office is traditionally followed by a ministerial role in Government. Since the 1960s commentators and historians have described the Conservative Whips' Office as a 'nursery of talent'. Former Conservative Whips include Ted Heath, John Major, Nigel Lawson, Ken Clarke and Michael Portillo.