Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds

As I mentioned earlier, being very much an anglophile, I enjoy some of the quaint aspects of the British political system.

Along those lines, I was not fully correct, when I wrote here that Ian Gibson resigned his seat in the U.K. House of Commons. It is against the rules for a member of Parliament (MP) to resign. But the holder of an office of the Crown is disqualified from being an MP. So, as explained here by the BBC, an MP who wants to leave Parliament arranges for an appointment to such an office.

Gibson left Parliament, not because he resigned, but rather because he was appointed Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds. Sounds like a line from a Monty Python sketch but, in this case, truth is stranger than fiction.

Apparently, that grandly-described office carriers neither duties nor compensation.

The category "office of the Crown" does not include any of the truly important jobs in British politics, such as foreign secretary, chancellor of the Exchequer, etc. The holders of those office all have seats in Parliament, usually in the House of Commons, but in some cases in the House of Lords.

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