Conservative Commonwealth Council/Conservative Commonwealth and Overseas Council, 1952-1983
- Creation: 1952-1983
Language of Materials
Biographical / Historical
The Conservative Commonwealth Council was formed in 1953 as the initiative of Mr A.D. Dodds-Parker MP, Chairman of the Conservative Parliamentary Commonwealth Affairs Committee, and with the approval of Conservative Central Office. It was designed to be a largely voluntary and non-Parliamentary body whose purpose was 'to contribute to the spread of detailed knowledge on problems of the Commonwealth and of remaining Dependencies.' It was intended that the Council would take over the Conservative Overseas Bureau's secondary function of stimulating study and activity within the Party on Commonwealth matters, allowing the Bureau to concentrate on its primary function as the Central Office 'desk' dealing with informal overseas contacts.
Sir Angus Gillan was appointed Chairman of the Council, with Molly Huggins as Vice-Chairman. Robert Milne, Secretary of the Conservative Overseas Bureau, took on the dual role of Secretary to the Council as well, a position he held until 1975. Membership of the Council was to be broad-based, and include ex-officials and non-officials with overseas experience, as well as parliamentarians, with a membership subscription to cover the cost of the A Monthly Survey of Commonwealth and Colonial Affairs and other expenses.
Various working groups of the Council were formed to mirror the sub-committees of the Parliamentary Commonwealth Affairs Committee with a specific regional focus, namely:
- The Dominions;
- Commonwealth Development;
- East and Central Africa;
- The Far East and Pacific;
- The Mediterranean, Middle East and South Atlantic;
- West Africa.
The formation of the West Africa Group was considered to be the most urgent, and in addition, a West Indies Group already in existence and affiliated to the Conservative Overseas Bureau was brought within the CCC's ambit. Further Groups were subsequently created for the following:
- India, Pakistan and Ceylon;
- South East Asia;
- Southern Africa.
In many cases the Groups created further Sub-Groups (eg, the Far East and Pacific Group set up the Malaya Sub-group). The various regional-focussed Groups would be based in London, but additional provincial Groups would follow once these had been established.
The Executive Committee [initially the Launching Committee for the first three meetings and thereafter the General Committee until 1962], held its first meeting on 27th March 1953. An annual conference was held each spring which was based around a yearly theme.
The Council changed its name to the Conservative Commonwealth & Overseas Council in 1966. In 1984, it merged with the Conservative Overseas Committee and was reconstituted as the Conservative Foreign & Commonwealth Council.