The Conservative Party chairman has appeared to slap down a suggestion by women's minister Nicky Morgan to consider all-women short lists to increase the number of female MPs, branding the idea "draconian".

Grant Shapps said he was "very confident" the party was "making great progress", adding: "I don't think we'll need to do things which are draconian like that."

Financial Secretary to the Treasury Ms Morgan was reported in a recent Mumsnet chat to have suggested that no option is off the table in considering how to boost the number of females in the party in the future.

Loading article content

But Mr Shapps said ­yesterday: "We're massively increasing the number of women. I don't think we'll need to do things which are draconian like that. It's better if you can attract people because they want to join the party, because they want to be part of it.

"We made dramatic progress at the last election, getting far more women elected on the Conservative side than ever before. Of course the Conservative Party was the first party to have a female MP, a female Prime Minister and we gave women the vote, so we've got a good track record."