Early-Twentieth Century Parliamentary Private Secretaries to the Prime Minister: A Niche Detective Story, Still Partly Unsolved

16 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2023

See all articles by Matthew Bailey

Matthew Bailey

Independent

Philip Cowley

Queen Mary University of London

Date Written: March 7, 2023

Abstract

A parliamentary private secretary (or PPS) is a British MP who serves, unpaid, as an aide to a government minister, or occasionally, in the case of the official opposition, a senior frontbencher. This paper focuses on a specific type of PPS: those who served as PPS to the Prime Minister, especially those who did so in the first half of the twentieth century. Even by academic standards, this is a fairly niche topic, but in doing so we reveal something about the development of the role and more generally also something about the problems of relying on published secondary sources and about trying to be definitive about historical events. We show that most existing sources contain at best questionable claims, or, at worst, are wrong on multiple points of detail. The paper also shows how, even after considerable research, we are still unclear about some details, and welcome feedback.

Keywords: British, Parliament, PPS, PM

Suggested Citation

Bailey, Matthew and Cowley, Philip, Early-Twentieth Century Parliamentary Private Secretaries to the Prime Minister: A Niche Detective Story, Still Partly Unsolved (March 7, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4381485 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4381485

Matthew Bailey

Independent

Philip Cowley (Contact Author)

Queen Mary University of London ( email )

Mile End Road
London, London E1 4NS
United Kingdom

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