Wednesday, September 08, 2004

And they're off

The by-election for Mandy's Hartlepool seat has kicked off, with Peter being appointed to the Crown Stewardship of the Manor of Northstead.

Way back in history, serving as an MP was not an honour that many sought - remember that several Speakers of the House were executed. Since 1623, it has been impossible for an MP to resign - they have to die, Parliament has to be dissolved (as it is at election-time), be disqualified, expelled from the House or elevated to the Lords.

However, if an MP applies for a paid office of the Crown, they cannot continue to serve - as it is impossible to scrutinise your own master. The full details are on the Parliament website. The two main escape routes are the Chiltern Hundreds (in Buckinghamshire) and the Manor of Northstead (Yorkshire), although appointment as a judge would also remove an MP.

The MP has to apply to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for one of these posts (they are usually granted in rotation) and a new appointment revokes that of the previous holder.

Anyone care to bet if Gordon had a smile on his face as he granted the warrant?

Anyway, after that bit of anachronistic flummery, Peter is off to Brussels as an ex-MP and the writ has been moved for the 30 September - rounding off the Labour conference. Cue much flying back and forth between Brighton and Hartlepool, lots of positive press and a bloody nose for the Tories whose conference is the next week.

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