Whips and the origins of Parliamentary Whipping

Reformation to Referendum: Writing a New History of Parliament

Earlier this year an Early Day Motion sponsored by a number of former chief whips and signed by a long cast of others who have served as whips marked what is being treated as the centenary of the Government Whips’ office, though it was as much to congratulate the current private secretary to the Government Chief Whip, Sir Roy Stone, for a knighthood that acknowledges his achievement in keeping the show on the road over an exceptionally torrid period. The anniversary is of the appointment in June 1919 of Charles (later Sir Charles) Harris (1901-86) as private secretary to the Conservative Chief Whip, paid out of Treasury funds. There was in fact little sense at the time that Harris’s appointment was an innovation – in some ways it was a reversion to previous practice – but Harris’s long continuity and indispensability in the office (he finally retired in 1961), serving…

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