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Progress Trust, 1944-1945


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  • Creation: 1944-1945

Language of Materials

  • English

Full range of shelfmarks:

PUB 682/1-13

Biographical / Historical

The Progress Trust was a Conservative think tank founded in 1943. One of the main reasons for the Trust's formation was the concern that left-wing politics was becoming increasingly popular during the War. Through undertaking research and cultivating debate, the Progress Trust aimed to combat this shift in political opinion by better educating Conservative MPs. It was the Trust's belief that 'Education of Members of Parliament is no less necessary than education of the Public. It is essential that when Members speak in the House they should be accurate, well informed, and have a thorough understanding of their subject' [Objects of the Trust, CTT/PT 7/2]. Another key objective of the Trust was to promote free enterprise and to foster closer relationships between members of industry and Parliament.

Management of the Trust was overseen by its Council, headed by a Chairman and Vice-Chairman. It was well-funded by businesses which enabled the employment of several permanent members of staff, including a secretary and research officer. Membership was acquired through invitation only and there was a strict no-leaks policy. For most of its existence, membership of the Trust was limited to backbench MPs, meaning that its members had to forgo their membership when they became ministers. These rules were later amended to allow former ministers to renew their membership once they had left the front bench.

The Trust initially functioned primarily as a research facility for its members but also became well-known as a dining club. It met once a week to dine, discuss topical issues, and to hear from guest speakers. Prior to each meeting, a research note would be circulated amongst members which was prepared by the Trust's research officer with the purpose of stimulating discussion on a particular subject at the meeting. The Trust continued to operate on this weekly basis until the early 2000s when attendance began to fall and meetings consequently became increasingly infrequent. The Trust met for the final time on 14 December 2005.

Related Materials

See 'Conservative Party Archive: Think tanks: Progress Trust' (CTT/PT) for papers of the Progress Trust, 1943-2012.

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom