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Conservative Party Archive: Advisory Committee on Policy (and Political Education)


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  1. Correspondence, 1946-1979
  2. Minutes, 1950-1981
  3. Papers presented, 1950-1979


  • Creation: 1946-1981, n.d.


53.0 shelfmarks

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries, Conservative Party Archive [followed by shelfmark, e.g. ACP 1/1].

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Full range of shelfmarks:

ACP 1-3/21B

Collection ID (for staff)



Records of the Advisory Committee on Policy, 1946-1981, including correspondence, minutes and papers.

Biographical / Historical

The Advisory Committee on Policy (ACP) lay at the heart of the Conservative Party until it was wound up on the instructions of Mrs Thatcher after the 1987 general election. It developed from the work of the Post-War Problems Central Committee (PWPCC), which was set up by the National Union’s Executive Committee on 14th May 1941, under the chairmanship of R A Butler. It was re-named the Advisory Committee on Policy and Political Education by the National Union’s Central Council in November 1945, shortened to Advisory Committee on Policy from 1949. From the end of the War until the mid-1970s it was the central forum for considering policy, and its deliberations provided an important and revealing insight into the inner workings of Conservative Politics.

Butler was one of the most important figures in the post-war revival and the governments of 1951-1964. He remained its chairman until 1965, and under his patronage and influence the ACP became the Party's clearing house for ideas and policies. The Committee comprised representatives from the different sections of the party (backbench MPs, peers, National Union, Party Chairman, Conservative Research Department (CRD) and Conservative Political Centre (CPC) directors and others) and existed to advise the leader on policy matters. It commonly delegated the detailed consideration of particular issues to a number of policy groups which, like the main committee, were serviced by the Research Department.

It proved to be a useful sounding board against which policy ideas could be tested before publication. As John Ramsden put it, 'At the very least, the existence of the ACP in this form ensured that representatives of the National Union, of the Young Conservatives, the Conservative Trades Unionists and Conservative women would all feel that they were involved in the making of policy; and its most negative, this made it unlikely that policies would be disowned by any of these sections of the Party after adoption. The ACP was precisely what its name implied, an advisory committee (and hence not to be compared with its nearest equivalents in the Labour Party, the policy sub-committees of the National Executive); it did not claim to take away from the leadership the right to "make" policy, but it guaranteed that policy would not be made without its broad lines being discussed with the Party in advance' (J. Ramsden, The Making of Conservative Party Policy: The Conservative Research Department since 1929, p. 132).

Custodial History

The archive of the Conservative Party was established as a source for academic study at the Bodleian Library in 1978 by an agreement made between the University of Oxford and the Conservative Party, and brought together surviving historic papers of the Party previously held in various locations including Newcastle University Library and the former Conservative Central Office in Smith Square, London. Since 1996, ownership of the archive has been vested in the Conservative Party Archive Trust. The archive includes records from all three areas of Party organisation: parliamentary, voluntary and professional.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Conservative Party.

Existence and Location of Copies

The ACP papers are available on microform up until 1964.

Conservative Party Archive: Advisory Committee on Policy (and Political Education)
Finding aid prepared by Emily Tarrant
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom