Sir George has written to William Hague, standing down as Shadow Leader of the House. The text of his letter was as follows.
The Rt Hon William Hague MP
Leader of the Opposition
House of Commons
22nd September 2000
After much thought, I have decided to allow my name to go forward as a candidate for Speaker.
After Madam Speaker announced her retirement, I took soundings first from our own colleagues and subsequently from other members to see what support there might be for my own candidacy. While I recognise that other candidates do have support, I have been sufficiently encouraged by the response.
I do not believe I can be a candidate whilst remaining a member of your Shadow Cabinet, so with some sadness I have decided to stand down. I have much enjoyed being a member of your team, helping to rebuild and reunite the Party. You have achieved so much over the past 3 years. I have relished my role as Shadow Leader of the House, working on the arrangement of Parliamentary Business, and serving as your nominee on the House of Commons Commission. It has also been a great privilege, to work on constitutional issues, culminating in the publication of the Norton Report. Above all, my membership of the Modernisation Select Committee has given me an even greater insight into the challenges that confront the House today.
I am particularly grateful to you for allowing me to be involved in these areas, not least because they are very relevant to the task of strengthening Parliament. I believe that the House of Commons needs to hold the executive to account more effectively; to remain the forum for debating national issues; and to enhance the role of backbenchers.
If, as may well be the case – because strong candidates are already in the field – I end up on the benches at the back of the House rather than on the chair in the middle, I will of course play my part in securing the return of a Conservative Government.
With all good wishes and many thanks.
Sir George Young MP
Shadow Leader of the House.
William Hague replied as follows.
Thank you for your letter of 22nd September. It is with much regret that I accept your resignation from the Shadow Cabinet, although, of course, I fully respect and understand your reasons for doing so.
It would be wrong for me to indicate at this stage my preference as to who should become Speaker, which is a matter entirely for the House of Commons. However, I do very sincerely hope that the tremendous talent and integrity which you have brought to the Shadow Cabinet over the last three years, and the Cabinet before that, will continue to make a powerful contribution to the political life of our country.
I believe you have done our Party, and indeed the whole of Parliament, a great service during your time as Shadow Leader of the House. Not only have you played an instrumental role in rebuilding the Conservative Party after our election defeat, you have also been enormously influential in developing thinking across all political parties about how the powers and relevance of the House of Commons can be strengthened. I particularly applaud the work you have done on the House of Commons Commission and on the Modernisation Select Committee, where you have been a strong voice for the rights of opposition parties, government backbenchers and select committee members in equal measure.
On a personal note, I would also like to add my appreciation for the loyalty, friendship and candid advice you have given me over the last three years.
With warmest good wishes to both you and Aurelia.