2005-05-31

Weird ways of bailing out

The Chiltern Hundreds are small area in England that used to have their own local administration (a "hundred" is a collection of villages). The Stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds has been a do-nothing job for centuries, but is carefully preserved for this reason:

Nobody can resign from Parliament as such. However, no M.P. can hold an "office of profit or trust", an obvious anti-corruption measure. Therefore, to resign from Parliament, one applies for the Stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds, an office of profit (it pays a salary), is forthwith no longer an M.P., and then resigns the Stewardship.

3 comments:

fatbear said...

a few thoughts -

Trollope used the Hundreds lots - read either of the two great cycles (Palliser, Barsetshire), and I bet there's a dozen or so mentions. When I read them, it drove me to investigate the Chiltern Hundreds.

Hundreds orginally meant (or so they say) the land area necessary to support 100 households. (sub-divided into tithes, or 10 households).

The reason for this strange law regarding resignation (and it is a law) goes back to very olden days and the habit of MPs not wanting to serve at their own whim - so, once selected, MPs cannot resign. (It was uncomfortable from time-to-time to serve as an MP under certain sovereigns - very uncomfortable under a few.)

Chiltern was an area of great banditry, so there was a need prior to 17th century to have a Royal Officer organize and police the area. In return, he got the income from the area. After it was no longer necessary to police as avidly, the income was no longer attached to the Office. The income was therefore reduced to 20 S, so that it was still an "office of profit."

fatbear

Anonymous said...

There's one other non-job that MPs can apply for, in order to leave the Commons: stewardship of the Manor of Northstead. This makes it possible for two MPs to 'resign' simultaneously. Other offices were used in the past -- Wikipedia has the details.

Anton said...

To an American, the oddest part is that a Ministry does not count as an "office".