The House

How to be a PPS

- Baroness Stuart of Edgbaston

So you have just been asked to become a Parliament­ary Private Secretary. The unpaid bag carrier. The eyes and ears of the minister. The first rung on the ladder which leads you to ever giddier heights of power and influence.

I hope you didn’t hesitate to accept when you were asked. The whips will keep an even closer eye on you. Without their approval this wouldn’t have happened.

Congratula­tions, you are a member of the payroll vote. Your local party will be proud of you. Your family will be delighted.

If you have a halfway decent local newspaper, they will give you a write up. To the rest of the world your appointmen­t will go largely unnoticed.

You will get a pass to your minister’s department. If you are PPS to the secretary of state you are top dog, but don’t let that go to your head.

This is about you learning what happens inside government. Not many get a ring side seat. Make the most of it.

You are there when they decide who answers which questions in the House.

You get a sense of how officials interact with ministers; the advice they give, the issues they raise. You sit behind your minister during debates.

You are allowed to approach the box where officials sit, usually clutching a piece of paper, because something has come up which is not covered in the briefing notes.

When votes are tight, you are in the tea room listening. You pick up gossip, set up your WhatsApp group. You feedback what backbenche­rs are thinking. Above all, you show that you are a team player.

Make sure you have a good relationsh­ip with your minister and their private as well as constituen­cy office. This is about listening and learning.

Enjoy, it’s enormous fun!

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