The Quandary of the Manor of Northstead

The crowned portcullis
Image via Wikipedia

If you’ve been reading my blog from almost the beginning, you’ll remember that in January I wrote this blog post about Iris Robinson. It explained just what an MP has to do to resign their seat mid-Parliament. What happened with Iris was that the Chancellor appointed her to the post of Crown Steward and Bailiff of the three Hundreds of Chiltern.

The reason for this appointment was because Parliament in 1620 made it illegal to resign as an MP to stop people buggering off to earn a living instead of doing service as a citizen. Even though we now pay our MPs handsomely, this law still stands.

The Act of Settlement of 1701 said that one of the reasons that disqualifies a person from being an MP is being appointed to an office of profit under the Crown. So if an MP wishes to resign from Parliament, they arrange with the Chancellor to be appointed to serve the Crown and thereby are no longer able to serve as an MP.

And that’s what Iris Robinson did. She is still the Crown Steward and Bailiff of the three Hundreds of Chiltern and will be for a while. That’s because the next MP to resign is automatically appointed to be Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead. The two posts existing in case two MPs wish to resign at the same time.

Now that all worked great for Iris Robinson and I’m sure she is thoroughly enjoying working for the Queen as her Chief Steward in the Chiltern Hundreds. It’s not as if Iris has to turn up in Buckinghamshire or anything. She just has to accept the role to serve the monarch as conferred via the Chancellor, then get on with the rest of her life.

Yes, Iris will be enjoying that no doubt. The next MP wishing to resign now only  has to do the same thing. They have to accept the formal role of an Office of Profit under the Crown, serving Queen Elizabeth, monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Trouble is, that MP is Gerry Adams……


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