Gerard Adams, Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead – Updated

The UK Treasury confirms what the Prime Minister, David Cameron, told the Commons today.  From the Treasury’s press notice

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has this day appointed Gerard Adams to be Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead.

And, while Adams’ spokesman may be suggesting otherwise to the BBC and to UTV, here’s the significant section of the House of Commons Disqualification Act – which I linked to previously.

8 — (1) No person being a member of the House of Commons, or for the time being nominated as a candidate for election to that House, shall be required to accept any office or place by virtue of which he would be disqualified by this Act for membership of that House, or for membership of that House for the constituency for which he is sitting or is a candidate. [added emphasis]

And that means that the Sinn Féin president, Gerard Adams, or any other MP, cannot be appointed to an “office of profit under the Crown” against his will.

Update  Just when they thought you were out, you pull yourself back in…

Responding later, Mr Adams said in a statement: “The only contact I have had with the British Parliament is a letter I posted to them last Thursday.

That letter said: “A chara, I hereby resign as MP for the constituency of west Belfast. Go raibh maith agat. Gerry Adams.

“When I was told of the British prime minister’s remarks today this was the first I heard of this development. I understand Mr Cameron has claimed that ‘the Honourable Member for West Belfast has accepted an office for profit under the Crown’.

“This is untrue. I simply resigned. I was not consulted nor was I asked to accept such an office. I am an Irish republican. I have had no truck whatsoever with these antiquated and quite bizarre aspects of the British parliamentary system,” Mr Adams said.

Which, since he cannot be required to accept the “office of profit under the Crown”, should mean that he is not, yet, disqualified as an MP…

Adds  Or maybe not…  From the updated BBC report

A Treasury spokesman said on Wednesday: “Gerry Adams has said publicly that he is resigning from Parliament.

Consistent with long-standing precedent, the Chancellor has taken this as a request to be appointed the Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead and granted the office.”  [added emphasis]

So the denials are too late?  Gerard Adams is the Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead?

Perhaps that resignation letter should have been more specific…

Final Update From a BBC report which includes Gerry Adams’ claim that the Prime Minister’s private secretary had apologised for today’s events.

Following a point of order from Labour’s Thomas Docherty in the House of Commons on Wednesday night, Mr Bercow said: “I can inform the House that I have received formal notification from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that Gerard Adams has been appointed to be Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead.”

He said that under the Disqualification Act 1975, Mr Adams was “therefore disqualified from membership of the House”.

Final Final Update From Hansard (permanent link)

Thomas Docherty (Dunfermline and West Fife) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will recall that at lunchtime the Prime Minister informed the House that the Member for Belfast West (Mr Adams) had resigned his seat. After checking my copy of “Erskine May”, I have discovered that it states on page 57 that

“a Member…cannot relinquish his seat”

and must therefore accept

“office under the Crown, which legally vacates his seat and obliges the House to order a new writ.”

It continues:

“These offices are…purely nominal and are ordinarily given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to any Member who applies for them.”

It is my understanding from press releases by Mr Adams that he neither applied for nor has accepted either of those two offices of the Crown. Can you confirm therefore that no such resignation is in order and that the Prime Minister has—inadvertently, I am sure—misled the House?

Mr Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me advance notice of his point of order.

I can inform the House that I have received formal notification from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that Gerard Adams has been appointed to be steward and bailiff of the Manor of Northstead. Under the terms of section 4 of the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975, for the purposes of the provisions of this Act relating to the vacation of the seat of a Member of the House of Commons who becomes disqualified by that Act from membership of that House, the office of steward or bailiff of Her Majesty’s three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham, or of the Manor of Northstead, shall be treated as included among the offices described in part III of schedule 1 to the Act.

The hon. Member for Belfast West is therefore disqualified from membership of the House by virtue of section 1 of that Act. The hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife, in referring to pages 57 and 58 of “Erskine May”, causes me to comment on the matter to which he referred. “Erskine May” describes the course of events in cases in the past, but as I have ruled, the law is clear. Appointment to one of the two offices to which I have referred, under section 4 of the Act, results in disqualification. With reference to the observation that the hon. Gentleman made about the comments of the Prime Minister, I am sure that the Prime Minister would never intentionally mislead the House, but the point has been heard on the Treasury Bench and perhaps the Leader of the House will wish to reply.

The Leader of the House of Commons (Sir George Young): May I reiterate what you have just said, Mr Speaker? Of course my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister would never intentionally mislead the House. The House will be aware that the only way to enact a resignation is to appoint the person to one of the relevant positions. The Prime Minister was aware of the process to appoint Gerry Adams to be steward and bailiff of the Manor of Northstead. It might have been better for my right hon. Friend to have said “is being appointed” instead of “has accepted”, and I am happy to make that clarification for the record.

Mr Speaker: I am extremely grateful to the Leader of the House.

Mr Nigel Dodds (Belfast North) (DUP): Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. No doubt the fact that Gerry Adams has now departed this place will be greatly welcomed, given that he will no longer be able to claim the large amounts of money that the Government said he would not be allowed to claim, but that he nevertheless went on claiming as a result of being in office here.

A Treasury statement today says that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has taken the public statement by Gerry Adams that he is resigning from Parliament as a request to be appointed as steward and bailiff of the Manor of Northstead and granted him that office. As a result, there arises a question about in what circumstances the Chancellor may take a statement or other indication of resignation as an excuse or reason to make such an appointment—[ Interruption. ] These are serious matters, because the normal procedures have not been followed, in that Mr Adams did not apply in the normal way and did not accept in the normal way. Can you, Mr Speaker, investigate the role of the Northern Ireland Office and other agencies in this matter?

Mr Speaker: I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his point of order. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has exercised his responsibilities, and I do not think that it is either necessary or seemly to dilate upon how he has done so. He has done so in an entirely orderly way. I would simply say to the right hon. Gentleman that I think that the House will want to rest content with the thrust of what has been said to it. It is not necessary to get ahead of ourselves and engage in hypothetical scenarios. We do not need to do that. However, I have listened to the right hon. Gentleman with the care and respect with which I always listen to him.

Thomas Docherty: Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. On the specific issue of whether Mr Adams has accepted an office of the Crown, can you confirm that this is the case? As of late this afternoon, Mr Adams was still claiming that he had not accepted the office, which was so graciously offered to him by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr Speaker: I have ruled on the matter. The appointment has been made; the disqualification is a fact. Beyond that, I do not think that I can realistically or reasonably be expected to elaborate.

Hilary Benn (Leeds Central) (Lab): Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. There is quite an important issue here about the nature of an application, because if, for the sake of argument, a Member were to express the view that they might feel like resigning from the House, the Chancellor might then appoint them and they would find themselves disqualified. Surely there must be a clear procedure for making it transparent that the Member in question has applied for the Chiltern Hundreds. The question that is being asked—a question to which the House would like an answer—is: was an application made in this case specifically for the Chiltern Hundreds which then led the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make the appointment, and was it accepted?

Mr Speaker: I am grateful to the shadow Leader of the House for his point of order, but the matter to which he has just referred—whether an application for the Chiltern Hundreds has been made—is, I am afraid, not a matter for me. The matter has been addressed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the execution of his responsibilities, and this is one of those occasions on which it is right for me to communicate the facts of the situation, but not to wallow in the realms of metaphysical abstraction, if I can put it that way.

Sammy Wilson (East Antrim) (DUP): Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. “Erskine May” makes it quite clear that someone should apply for an office under the Crown. Should I, as the Member for East Antrim, in a fit of despair when I see who will replace Gerry Adams, express publicly the view that I wished that I was not a Member of a House that contained such a person, would the Chancellor take that as an indication that I should no longer be a Member of this House and therefore appoint me to an office of the Crown? That seems to be the implication of the ruling that you have made.

Mr Speaker: Once again—I fear that I am being repetitive, but it is necessary for me to be so—let me say that I have made the factual and legal position clear. The hon. Gentleman has raised a point of order, and it seems to me that the matter that he has raised—a matter relating to what could or could not now ensue—is essentially a hypothetical matter upon which it is neither necessary nor possible for a ruling to be made this evening. I believe that the position is clear: the disqualification has happened. If there are Members who are dissatisfied with the procedure—a very senior Member and others have indicated some level of dissatisfaction—it is perfectly open to them further to pursue the matter through other quarters, on other occasions, but I do not think that there is profit in dwelling further on them this evening.

Mr David Winnick (Walsall North) (Lab): Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. Much has been said in the past 12 months and more about modernising the House of Commons. You made great reference to this yourself in your campaign speech. I hope that this will not seem too revolutionary, but would it not be appropriate for the Procedure Committee to look into these matters? Why should it be necessary, in the 21st century, to apply for an office of profit under the Crown? Why should not it be possible for an hon. Member to resign his seat? I suggest that there is a case for this matter to be looked at. People watching this might consider it rather farcical.

Mr Speaker: I note what the hon. Gentleman has said, and I hope that he will understand that I respect what he has said, but that it is not for me to speculate from the Chair on what the future position might be. It is absolutely open to the hon. Gentleman and to any other hon. Member to request that the Procedure Committee study this issue and make recommendations. I am not in any sense dying in the ditch as a matter of principle in favour of the status quo; nor am I arguing for a change to it. I am exercising my rather limited responsibility to report to the House what has happened and the facts of the situation. I hope that that is helpful.

Mr Winnick rose—

Mr Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, who is indicating that he wishes further to pursue the matter; I respect that.

Mr Winnick: I shall write to the Procedure Committee.

Mr Speaker: I note what the hon. Gentleman has said from a sedentary position.

Sammy Wilson: Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. You are absolutely correct to say that, whatever the future might be, things could be different. Can you confirm to the House now, given the shabby way in which this has been handled in order to avoid the embarrassment of Sinn Fein, that it is now no longer necessary for a Member to apply for an office under the Crown if they wish to resign?

Mr Speaker: The short answer is no, I am not confirming that at all. What I have done, and what I am doing again, is reporting the facts of the situation and the appointment that has been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, of which I was, perfectly courteously, notified.

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. It appears that a major constitutional change is taking place, and I feel sure that the House would welcome a statement tomorrow from a Minister, so that we can question them about this matter.

Mr Speaker: I note the point of order. It will have been heard by those on the Treasury Bench and it is a matter for any Minister to make a statement if he or she so wishes.

Mr Richard Bacon (South Norfolk) (Con): Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. The House will have heard with respect everything that you have said, and will have been interested to hear your view that you are neither defending the status quo nor advocating a change from it. I know that people, including my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone), will say that a constitutional change has occurred to the point at which people will roll their eyes and smile, but this is a very serious matter. The eminent father of the shadow Leader of the House, the right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn), used to say that people thought procedure was boring but that it is not; it is our safeguard. If what appears to have happened today is confirmed as being an acceptable way forward, that would mean that the Chancellor of the Exchequer could decide whether someone should be a Member of Parliament or not, without their say-so. That is not acceptable.

Mr Speaker: I do not think that I should make any further comment beyond what I have said about the appointment that has been made, the communication of it by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to me, and my communication of the reality of the matters to the House of Commons. The hon. Gentleman is as articulate a spokesman for his point of view as can be found, and he has given further evidence of that this evening. We are grateful to him for that, and he might even wish to join in making representations to the Procedure Committee. That is a matter for him. I really do feel that these matters have been exhausted this evening—[Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] I am grateful for that sedentary assent to that proposition.

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  • From here:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jan/25/gerry-adams-mp-parliament-rules

    A Sinn Féin spokesman in Belfast said: “We couldn’t give a toss [about these rules]. He’s not going to apply for these offices. He has sent in a resignation letter like any ordinary person. We want a byelection in West Belfast. There’s no written constitution; they just make it up anyway. It’s strange men who parade around in tights. Republicans are not losing any sleep over this.”

    It’s a fair point y’know….

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    …it was also believed to be the case that Grizzly has been exchanging currency and posting and receiving mail which cleary displayed the Queen’s head and that he may, as we speak, have some of the offending notes about his personage.

    Other serious breaches of Republican principle are under investigation(no doubt).

  • Pete, can you provide Adams’ written acceptance of this position?

  • “cannot be appointed to an “office of profit under the Crown” against his will.”

    Not quite, it means he cannot be “required to accept” against his will. He can still be appointed, as what seems to have happened. It’s down to Adams whether he wants to accept their appointment or not. Given his antipathy to their pantomimes he’ll probably just ignore them and let them appoint him to whatever they want. I’m pretty sure they appointed him British citizenship when he was born. To my knowledge I don’t think he ever accepted that.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I recall a civil disobedience campaign in which I was involved which involved sticking six halfpenny stamps on to a letter instead of a single 3p stamp or whatever.
    Apparently by doing this the Whiterock Post Office would run out of stampa and the British Empire would collapse.

    My late father being a much more practical man than me….pointed out that I was still licking Mrs Windsors backside…..six times rather than once.

  • Fionn

    Nevin no he can’t but he can confirm it was corned beef on brown today.

    We seemed to have slipped comfortably from ‘applying’ to ‘accepting’

    I believe Sluggers ‘Gerry Watch’ told us he had applied (although up to yesterday the Speaker said he hadn’t)

    Wild guess is HMG accepted his resignation letter as an application, and processed it as such, arguing that he knew what the resignation process was when resigning, but there’s nothing GA can do about that

  • Neil

    but there’s nothing GA can do about that

    Ignore it most likely. What they do is up to them, all Adams has to do is say he’s done, resigned and that’s the end of it. Will deprive the usual suspects of their fantasies about forcing the main Republican to bow to British tradition/the crown etc., but that’s about it. If they notice that is, looking at the title above.

  • Fionn

    I’m sure garden centre unionists will have a change of heart about voting after seeing all their politicans in the Commons today for that question, important stuff!!

  • Mark McGregor

    Ha. Speaker not inclined to accept Treasury view if Adams didn’t apply in person – he didn’t.

    Stick that in your pipes and smoke it, gun jumpers.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m hearing similar to you Mark. So what’s the Treasury and the PM playing at?

  • Pete Baker

    Update Just when they thought you were out, you pull yourself back in…

    Responding later, Mr Adams said in a statement: “The only contact I have had with the British Parliament is a letter I posted to them last Thursday.

    That letter said: “A chara, I hereby resign as MP for the constituency of west Belfast. Go raibh maith agat. Gerry Adams.

    “When I was told of the British prime minister’s remarks today this was the first I heard of this development. I understand Mr Cameron has claimed that ‘the Honourable Member for West Belfast has accepted an office for profit under the Crown’.

    “This is untrue. I simply resigned. I was not consulted nor was I asked to accept such an office. I am an Irish republican. I have had no truck whatsoever with these antiquated and quite bizarre aspects of the British parliamentary system,” Mr Adams said.

    Which, since he cannot be required to accept the “office of profit under the Crown”, should mean that he is not, yet, disqualified as an MP…

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Surely they are just trying to get off a hook ….without actually doing anything.

  • George

    Here’s the Adams statement on Cameron’s claim that has accepted this post. That’s one brief resignation letter:

    http://www.sinnfein.ie/contents/19972

    “The only contact I have had with the British Parliament is a letter I posted to them last Thursday.

    That letter said:

    “A chara, I hereby resign as MP for the constituency of west Belfast. Go raibh maith agat. Gerry Adams”

    When I was told of the British Prime Minister’s remarks today this was the first I heard of this development. I understand Mr. Cameron has claimed that ‘ the Honourable Member for West Belfast has accepted an office for profit under the Crown.”

    This is untrue. I simply resigned. I was not consulted nor was I asked to accept such an office. I am an Irish republican. I have had no truck whatsoever with these antiquated and quite bizarre aspects of the British parliamentary system.

    I am proud to have represented the people of west Belfast for almost three decades and to have done so without pledging allegiance to the English Queen or accepting British parliamentary claims to jurisdiction in my country.

    It was a wrench for me to give up the West Belfast seat. I am very grateful to all those citizens who worked and voted for Sinn Fein through good times and bad times in defiance of the British government and its allies in Ireland. But I gave a commitment that when the election to the Dáil was called I would resign the West Belfast seat to stand for the Louth and East Meath constituency and I have.

    Mr. Cameron’s announcement that I have become Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead, wherever that is, is a bizarre development . I am sure the burghers of that Manor are as bemused as me. I have spoken to the Prime Ministers Private Secretary today and he has apologised for today’s events.

    While I respect the right of British parliamentarians to have their own protocols and systems, no matter how odd these may appear to the rest of the world in general and Irish people in particular, the Prime Minister should not make claims which are untrue and inaccurate. The onus is on the Westminster parties to call a bi-election as soon as possible in the West Belfast constituency. In the meantime let me assure the people of West Belfast that the Sinn Fein party will continue to provide our first class constituency service and representation.”

  • pippakin

    the Prime Minister should not make claims which are untrue and inaccurate. Said Gerry Adams.

    Pot, kettle, black….

  • Drumlins Rock

    So he remains an absentee MP. the saga continues….

  • pippakin

    DR

    So he may have to wait a while, perhaps its a ‘plot’ and he really does want to be MP and TD at the same time, think of the money!

  • Love the ambiguity of the British Constitution, the wriggle room, the convention. Seems that Gerry is now in the position of ‘ignoring’ the Office of the Crown, but tacitly accepting that this is what it takes to resign. So he is accepting while ignoring, while resigning from something he never recognised or attended anyway. This could go on and on and on… oh wait, it has already. Ball is in Gerry’s (republican) court…

  • Neil

    Disagree. Gerry’s plans to stand in Louth and resign at Westminster have not been thwarted. Gerry can continue on his chosen course without doing another thing, it’s up to Westminster to either assign him the role and just hope the whole problem goes away, or to insist that he plays ball, in which case expect Gerry to ignore them.

    The ball’s firmly in the British Parliament’s court. They can try to come up with a fix, or they can ignore the problem. either way Gerry gets to walk away and do exactly what he planned in the first place. Game, set and match to Adams.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’ve been giving this some thought, and I think @FJH is closest to the truth. Unless there is an objection to Mr Adams’ new entitlement, there will be a bye election and said former MP will remain Steward of Blah, Blah, Blah.

    Now, I would say the Treasury has some latitude not to accept a public press release ‘asking what the post is’ as an objection, we are getting close to the end of this non trivial, trivial saga.

    And whilst I sympathise with those, like Paul above, who believe there is no British Constitution worth a cuss until it is codified, Erskine May is an actual codified part of that so called ‘unwritten Constitution’.

    Despite perceptions to the contrary the Speaker of the House of Commons is not in a position of overide that constitution.

  • pippakin

    Neil

    But is it that simple? Surely it would mean a change in the rules, not a bad thing but it would take some time. In the meantime with an obvious alternative he becomes the one obstructing a by election, not the other way round.

    Its really getting beyond a joke and imo making him look childish. Men don’t need to wear a pair of tights to look silly some manage with no props at all.

  • Mick Fealty

    Neil,

    Surely you mean to the “Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead”? By my back of a fag packet calculations he gets to keep/ignore the title until the next but on MP ‘resigns’.

  • Mick Fealty

    Alan, just keep that up and you’ll be back out sooner than you think!!

  • Neil

    Pip,

    maybe, I would be lying if I said I had any particular understanding of the rules governing the House of Commons, over and above what’s on wikipedia.

    Its really getting beyond a joke and imo making him look childish.

    But in the end, he’s elected by the people of WB on an abstentionist ticket, for him to take any office under the crown would be a betrayal to his constituents. For the most part the people of WB would (IMO) rather him ignore the situation until the British sort it out than take an office under the Queen of England.

  • Neil

    Surely you mean to the “Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead”? By my back of a fag packet calculations he gets to keep/ignore the title until the next but on MP ‘resigns’.

    Can he be forced to take the role? Some people here seem to think not, and Adams has been clear enough, he hasn;t accepted it.

    If they assign it to him as a quick fix, then yes he gets to ignore the title the British have given him, but that’s fine. We can ignore the Brits just the best, plenty of practise.

    Some people were called criminals by the British government once upon a time, but they ignored it long enough it turned out not to be true.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    This ‘non trivial trival’ issue has become non trivial becuase of the potential for Grizzly to somehow lose face by being forced into some obscure British office and because of the potential for Unionists (in Westminster and elsewhere) who have invested time and energy in it to look silly by trying unsucessfuly to embarass him. If Grizzly has to assume some arcane office I’m sure he can turn this to his advantage by highlighting how much in need of reform the British state is.

    But… although, interesting and very amusing it is neverthelsss trivial as will loudly trumpeted by whichever side ‘loses’.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Thank you Mr Fealty.
    Certainly the coverage here is completely out of line with the actual seriousness of it all.
    Its like one of those “you cant resign…I am firing you” scenes in a 1970s British situation comedy.
    Theres been plenty of opportunity for Adams watchers to attack him over serious issues……his brother, Jean McConville……and even scope for mischief making over “Gerry and Jesus”. A lot of threads. A lot of comments.

    But surely and amusingly for the neutral….this series of threads have totally misfired and done more damage to the credibility of others rather than Mr Adams.

  • JimRoche

    A Treasury spokesman said on Wednesday: “Gerry Adams has said publicly that he is resigning from Parliament.

    “Consistent with long-standing precedent, the Chancellor has taken this as a request to be appointed the Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead and granted the office.”

    Adams told the truth. The British PM lied.

  • @Jim Roche: Dead on. The only interesting issue here is just how ludicrous British constitutional norms are. Adams was elected as an MP. He should be able to resign as an MP at any point if he chooses to. Choosing to stand for election in another country is a perfectly good reason for doing so. End. Of.

    These are minor farces, but then we have the unelected second chamber, “The Queen in Parliament” and piles of other useless ancient flummery getting in the way while we have a hugely centralised state with a tiny number of elected representatives, all cowed by over-powerful political parties (who will become more powerful if AV is adopted).

    You don’t have to be some fanatical Irish Republican to laugh at that. It’s an open farce and Adams is right to ridicule it.

  • Mick Fealty

    Paul it’s not the first time we have had conflicting versions of reality in Northern Ireland.

    All I know is that when you start dicking about with a constitution (even an antiquated, crap one), you withdraw the axiomatic pin. My only advice then is “duck”!

    Davy Adams once said (I’m sure we have it on Slugger somewhere) that when we accept an ‘agreed truth’ the real truth becomes a lie.

    Cameron’s only ‘lie’ was the attribution of the term ‘Baron’ rather than ‘Steward’ to Adams. I’d have that in the weak humour category, rather than an out and out attempt to mislead.

    And I think we both know very well that a Labour adminstration would have come to the same answer.

    There’s a level of bullsh!t around this issue that’s utterly distracting, not to mention unnecessary.

    My only concern here (and despite the number of spontaneous blog posts that’s appeared on Slugger, it is not a big one) revolves around the question of whether we can reliably report what’s happening in the world without some semantic notion of truth?

    See my 2005 post on this in a more abstract sense: http://url.ie/8zgu. Everything else is fair game politics.

  • Seamus Clarke

    Treasury just confirmed Cameron’s version of events is lies. Lulz at the Adams stalkers on this site though. Maybe make more lies up about him to pass the time.

    Votail Adams #1

  • DidleeDOSquat

    It must be a fair few years since the Irish peasantry of County Louth has had a feudal vassal of the British crown as their overlord. Good luck to them with Crown Steward Adams after February.

    To be serious it is fun to read the visceral hatred of everything British by the 1st Internet Batt of the Ra deployed to defend Jarry’s Irish Republican ‘honour’.

    Good to see the Shinner’s ‘parity of esteem’ project is going sooooo well.

  • Mick Fealty

    Seamus,

    The original presser that Pete links to is still up there. Can you give us the telling detail?

  • George

    Mick,
    Cameron said Adams accepted the post, which is also untrue. The first about the “Baron” may be a slip of the tongue but misrepresenting Adams’ position on this is much more serious.

    Here’s the Treasury statement:

    Consistent with longstanding precedent, the chancellor has taken Mr Adams’ resignation as a request to be appointed the Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead and granted the office.

    Here’s what Cameron said:

    You may not have caught up with this yet but the member for West Belfast has just accepted an office of profit under the Crown. I’m not sure he will be delighted to become a baron of the manor of Northstead.

    Or are you arguing that Cameron was not trying to deliberately mislead with that comment? It certainly seems so to me.

  • Fionn

    If Cameron was wrong, than Gerry was still an MP when Cameron referred to him as “Gerry Adams” in the Commons, ergo Davey also owes him an apology for referring to him in that manner.

    “he gets to keep/ignore the title until the next but on MP ‘resigns’.”
    Mick possibly he also needs the Irish Govts permission to keep/ignore the title as well.

    Are you a heavy smoker BTW Mick, ie do you have a spare packet to keep count of these makey-uppy blogs by Pete ‘ham & mustard on white today’ Baker.

    Apart from that, I wonder if anyone else see’s the irony of several DUP MLAs/MPs getting on a plane and flying to the Commons to ask a humourous question about the abuse of expenses,

  • Mick Fealty

    George/Fionn,

    Read Erskine May. There is only one way to resign as an MP. That is to take the Stewardship of blah, blah, blah.

    The rest is spin.

  • Fionn

    George, interesting point regarding Camerons statement, also interesting that the DUP obviously knew the answer when they asked the questionvand the collective ‘oohs’ of everyone else shows that no-one else knew, did Papa Doc as a Privy Concillsor know something which he passed on.

    WTF do normal unionists reeling under budget cuts make of the fact that the DUP can only get excited over stuff like this!!!!

  • George

    Mick,
    The issue I am referring to whether Cameron was deliberately misleading when he said Adams accepted the position when it is clear he didn’t and the Treasury knew he didn’t.

    It seems clear to me he was deliberately misleading. The procedure surrounding the resignation is another issue entirely.

  • Fionn

    Yes Mick it seems that’s how you resign, however if Gerry is an Irish citizen he can only accept a title with Irish Govt approval, otherwise it can only be an honourary title, can you get paid for having an honourary title?

    Anyway Mick, the makey-uppy blog titles have morphed from ‘applying’ to ‘accepting’ Pete ‘Ham & Cheese Bagette’ Baker is half forgiven cos he’s just repeating Daves language, but I think Red Erskine (or whatever) claims you must ‘apply’ not ‘accept’

  • The other yarn, the one about SF’s Pat Doherty signing 3 EDMs, still has legs. According to Crick’s website Docherty has denied signing them too.

    I would have provided the link but there seems to be a URL problem.

  • pippakin

    Meanwhile Guido Fawkes has been having fun:

    http://bit.ly/eX3ldX

  • JimRoche

    Mick

    Gerry Adams has shown that you can resign as an MP by writing to the speaker. The decision to pretend that he had done something else is nothing to do with him.

    If you decided that nobody could leave Slugger unless they requested you put on a blue hat that would be entirely up to you and if everyone went along with it all the better fun. But if someone later simply told you they were leaving and you just interpreted it as a request to put on a blue hat then it would be a bit sad. The tradition would be dead and we’d all know it.

    You don’t have to apply for anything now to resign as an MP. But the British will pretend you did. We’ll leave them to it.

  • tacapall

    Who even gives a fk whether Adams is lord of the manor or sheriff of nottingham or still an MP, it wont stop him becoming a TD in fact it will just give him good publicty and make him even more famous than he already is. All this jumping through hoops lark to resign reinforces the view that British MPs are raking in money left right and centre I mean who wouldn’t love to resign from their job and still get paid for doing nothing.

  • joeCanuck

    I am bemused that people are taking this trivial (as Mick called it) story seriously. Shurely it should be a silly season filler?

  • Fionn

    several makey-uppy blogs about Gerry Adams and I get a yellow card, is that for inserting a sandwich in Pete’s name?

    Mick, can I nominate Pete for a yellow, he blogged a few days ago that Gerry had applied for a crown job and he hadn’t. Thats a lie.

    mmmmmhhh yellow, reminds me of mustard, ham and mustard, what are you having today Gerry

  • Cynic2

    “The only interesting issue here is just how ludicrous British constitutional norms are.”

    So what. Rules are rules. Either he plays by them or he’s not out. Hes been willing enough top play by the rules to make sure he got his expenses

  • Pete Baker

    Adds Or maybe not… From the updated BBC report

    A Treasury spokesman said on Wednesday: “Gerry Adams has said publicly that he is resigning from Parliament.

    Consistent with long-standing precedent, the Chancellor has taken this as a request to be appointed the Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead and granted the office.” [added emphasis]

    So the denials are too late? Gerard Adams is the Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead?

    Perhaps that resignation letter should have been more specific…

  • tacapall

    Pete so what difference is that going to make to Gerry Adams being a TD.

  • Pete Baker

    tacapall

    None.

    And I never said it would.

  • Drumlins Rock

    We seem to be in a very unclear position atm. and I think any move to declare a by-election in West Belfast could be open to a legal challenge by a constituent, as it would appear Gerry has been “forced” to take the Stewardship.

  • joeCanuck

    Hehehe,
    Normally if you don’t play by the rules of the game, you get thrown out. In this case, ignore the rules and you can’t be thrown out. What a hoot.

  • joeCanuck

    He could use precedent and claim that he never was a member of the PIRA House of Commons.

  • Seamus Clarke

    I would usually call for such an idiotic untrue story to be taken down, but maybe it should stay up to merely show how pathetic and desperate the anti-Sinn Féin brigade are on this website.

    Votail Adams #1

  • Fionn

    ” A Treasury spokesman said on Wednesday: “Gerry Adams has said publicly that he is resigning from Parliament.

    “Consistent with long-standing precedent, the Chancellor has 2
    taken this as a request to be appointed the Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead and granted the office.” [added emphasis]

    So the denials are too late? Gerard Adams is the Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead?

    Perhaps that resignation letter should have been more specific…”

    Perhaps you could be more specific Pete, you said Adams had ‘applied’ any chance you’d give yerself one of those yellow cards yer so fond of handing out to others or can you show a bit of evidence

    Quite frankly Mick, its a shambles as your bloggers try to cover their arses, ham and mustard …………….

  • Fionn

    Ah Seamus, to state should a sensible idea will result in a mustard coloured card such as I’ve received, Pete (?) Baker is floundering at the moment trying to rescue his several non-sense posts, Mick seems to have deserted him (obviously he has the full support of the management on his no-sandwich relate stalking of Gerry)

  • vanhelsing

    The dogs in the street must be getting a laugh from seeing Grizzly wriggling!!

    Ps does anyone know what his formal title is, I mean is he Lord Adams of Ardoyne or anything?

    Funniest thing I’ve read for a while…

  • Frame

    If he refused to resign from being the Steward of the Manor of Northstead he could mess up the Commons resignation procedures for his lifetime.

    If he says he has not asked to be appointed and has not been he can’t resign and will therefore remain the Steward for ever.

  • Pete Baker

    Frame

    As noted previously here.

    From the House of Commons factsheet [pdf file]

    Every new warrant issued [appointment] revokes the previous holder.

    But he can resign at any time.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Pete,

    is it your opinion that Adams has received an apology from the Prime Minister for his misleading statement(s) in the House of Commons as he (Adams) is claiming?

  • Pete Baker

    Sammy Mac

    Adams has claimed that the “Prime Minister’s private secretary” has “apologised for today’s events”.

    That claim, despite the BBC headline, is the extent of it to my knowledge.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Pete,

    It will be a bit embarassing for Mr Cameron if he has misled parliament.

    Do you think he will have to actually apologise to the house if Adam’s claims are true?

  • Pete Baker

    If he has misled parliament then I’d expect the opposition to insist he apologise.

    In the meantime, Adams has been appointed the Crown Steward and Bailiff for the Manor of Northstead.

    As announced by the Treasury.

    See above.

  • Ulsterman

    Are we back to the Adams denials that he was ever a member of ……

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Pete,

    “If he has misled parliament then I’d expect the opposition to insist he apologise.”

    It will be a shame for Davey, as he seemed to be enjoying himself, egged on by somewhat over excited Unionists, if he has actually made a pigs Mickey out of it today.

  • It’s now a row over semantics – whether he “accepted” the Crown position or whether he was “appointed” by the British. Either way, the Speaker effectively brought the matter to a conclusion earlier tonight. And Downing St won’t confirm or deny any apology.

  • Pete Baker

    Gonzo

    As I pointed out in the original post, he cannot be required to accept the position. That would mean his disqualification as an MP was illegal.

    But he has been appointed as Crown Steward and Bailiff for the Manor of Northstead.

  • Ulsterman

    We are all becoming as confused as Adams is on the economy here.

    Put simply, constitutionally, as Adams is an MP (which he personally applied and accepted), then under those rules he must accept that his resignation from Westminster can only happen by his becoming a Crown Steward and Bailiff. He should have read up on the details before jumping.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Belfast Gonzo,

    The story may perhaps be moving on from the trivial (as mentioned above) to the substantive – where the PM misled the house – perhaps in order to gain favour with the one of the Ulster tribes.

    In these circumstances I’m not sure his private apology(if indeed he did make one) would be sufficient and of course he would now like to suggest it “It’s now a row over semantics “.

  • He has, and I can’t get terribly worked up about it, but it has some novel curiousity value. You may be interested in tonight’s Hansard:

    Thomas Docherty (Dunfermline and West Fife) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will recall that at lunchtime the Prime Minister informed the House that the Member for Belfast West (Mr Adams) had resigned his seat. After checking my copy of “Erskine May”, I have discovered that it states on page 57 that

    “a Member…cannot relinquish his seat”

    and must therefore accept

    “office under the Crown, which legally vacates his seat and obliges the House to order a new writ.”

    It continues:

    “These offices are…purely nominal and are ordinarily given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to any Member who applies for them.”

    It is my understanding from press releases by Mr Adams that he neither applied for nor has accepted either of those two offices of the Crown. Can you confirm therefore that no such resignation is in order and that the Prime Minister has—inadvertently, I am sure—misled the House?

    Mr Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me advance notice of his point of order.

    I can inform the House that I have received formal notification from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that Gerard Adams has been appointed to be steward and bailiff of the Manor of Northstead. Under the terms of section 4 of the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975, for the purposes of the provisions of this Act relating to the vacation of the seat of a Member of the House of Commons who becomes disqualified by that Act from membership of that House, the office of steward or bailiff of Her Majesty’s three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham, or of the Manor of Northstead, shall be treated as included among the offices described in part III of schedule 1 to the Act.

    The hon. Member for Belfast West is therefore disqualified from membership of the House by virtue of section 1 of that Act. The hon. Member for Dunfermline and West Fife, in referring to pages 57 and 58 of “Erskine May”, causes me to comment on the matter to which he referred. “Erskine May” describes the course of events in cases in the past, but as I have ruled, the law is clear. Appointment to one of the two offices to which I have referred, under section 4 of the Act, results in disqualification. With reference to the observation that the hon. Gentleman made about the comments of the Prime Minister, I am sure that the Prime Minister would never intentionally mislead the House, but the point has been heard on the Treasury Bench and perhaps the Leader of the House will wish to reply.

    The Leader of the House of Commons (Sir George Young): May I reiterate what you have just said, Mr Speaker? Of course my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister would never intentionally mislead the House. The House will be aware that the only way to enact a resignation is to appoint the person to one of the relevant positions. The Prime Minister was aware of the process to appoint Gerry Adams to be steward and bailiff of the Manor of Northstead. It might have been better for my right hon. Friend to have said “is being appointed” instead of “has accepted”, and I am happy to make that clarification for the record.

    Mr Speaker: I am extremely grateful to the Leader of the House.

    Mr Nigel Dodds (Belfast North) (DUP): Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. No doubt the fact that Gerry Adams has now departed this place will be greatly welcomed, given that he will no longer be able to claim the large amounts of money that the Government said he would not be allowed to claim, but that he nevertheless went on claiming as a result of being in office here.

    A Treasury statement today says that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has taken the public statement by Gerry Adams that he is resigning from Parliament as a request to be appointed as steward and bailiff of the Manor of Northstead and granted him that office. As a result, there arises a question about in what circumstances the Chancellor may take a statement or other indication of resignation as an excuse or reason to make such an appointment—[ Interruption. ] These are serious matters, because the normal procedures have not been followed, in that Mr Adams did not apply in the normal way and did not accept in the normal way. Can you, Mr Speaker, investigate the role of the Northern Ireland Office and other agencies in this matter?

    Mr Speaker: I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his point of order. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has exercised his responsibilities, and I do not think that it is either necessary or seemly to dilate upon how he has done so. He has done so in an entirely orderly way. I would simply say to the right hon. Gentleman that I think that the House will want to rest content with the thrust of what has been said to it. It is not necessary to get ahead of ourselves and engage in hypothetical scenarios. We do not need to do that. However, I have listened to the right hon. Gentleman with the care and respect with which I always listen to him.

    Thomas Docherty: Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. On the specific issue of whether Mr Adams has accepted an office of the Crown, can you confirm that this is the case? As of late this afternoon, Mr Adams was still claiming that he had not accepted the office, which was so graciously offered to him by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

    Mr Speaker: I have ruled on the matter. The appointment has been made; the disqualification is a fact. Beyond that, I do not think that I can realistically or reasonably be expected to elaborate.

    Hilary Benn (Leeds Central) (Lab): Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. There is quite an important issue here about the nature of an application, because if, for the sake of argument, a Member were to express the view that they might feel like resigning from the House, the Chancellor might then appoint them and they would find themselves disqualified. Surely there must be a clear procedure for making it transparent that the Member in question has applied for the Chiltern Hundreds. The question that is being asked—a question to which the House would like an answer—is: was an application made in this case specifically for the Chiltern Hundreds which then led the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make the appointment, and was it accepted?

    Mr Speaker: I am grateful to the shadow Leader of the House for his point of order, but the matter to which he has just referred—whether an application for the Chiltern Hundreds has been made—is, I am afraid, not a matter for me. The matter has been addressed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the execution of his responsibilities, and this is one of those occasions on which it is right for me to communicate the facts of the situation, but not to wallow in the realms of metaphysical abstraction, if I can put it that way.

    Sammy Wilson (East Antrim) (DUP): Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. “Erskine May” makes it quite clear that someone should apply for an office under the Crown. Should I, as the Member for East Antrim, in a fit of despair when I see who will replace Gerry Adams, express publicly the view that I wished that I was not a Member of a House that contained such a person, would the Chancellor take that as an indication that I should no longer be a Member of this House and therefore appoint me to an office of the Crown? That seems to be the implication of the ruling that you have made.

    Mr Speaker: Once again—I fear that I am being repetitive, but it is necessary for me to be so—let me say that I have made the factual and legal position clear. The hon. Gentleman has raised a point of order, and it seems to me that the matter that he has raised—a matter relating to what could or could not now ensue—is essentially a hypothetical matter upon which it is neither necessary nor possible for a ruling to be made this evening. I believe that the position is clear: the disqualification has happened. If there are Members who are dissatisfied with the procedure—a very senior Member and others have indicated some level of dissatisfaction—it is perfectly open to them further to pursue the matter through other quarters, on other occasions, but I do not think that there is profit in dwelling further on them this evening.

    Mr David Winnick (Walsall North) (Lab): Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. Much has been said in the past 12 months and more about modernising the House of Commons. You made great reference to this yourself in your campaign speech. I hope that this will not seem too revolutionary, but would it not be appropriate for the Procedure Committee to look into these matters? Why should it be necessary, in the 21st century, to apply for an office of profit under the Crown? Why should not it be possible for an hon. Member to resign his seat? I suggest that there is a case for this matter to be looked at. People watching this might consider it rather farcical.

    Mr Speaker: I note what the hon. Gentleman has said, and I hope that he will understand that I respect what he has said, but that it is not for me to speculate from the Chair on what the future position might be. It is absolutely open to the hon. Gentleman and to any other hon. Member to request that the Procedure Committee study this issue and make recommendations. I am not in any sense dying in the ditch as a matter of principle in favour of the status quo; nor am I arguing for a change to it. I am exercising my rather limited responsibility to report to the House what has happened and the facts of the situation. I hope that that is helpful.

    Mr Winnick rose—

    Mr Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, who is indicating that he wishes further to pursue the matter; I respect that.

    Mr Winnick: I shall write to the Procedure Committee.

    Mr Speaker: I note what the hon. Gentleman has said from a sedentary position.

    Sammy Wilson: Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. You are absolutely correct to say that, whatever the future might be, things could be different. Can you confirm to the House now, given the shabby way in which this has been handled in order to avoid the embarrassment of Sinn Fein, that it is now no longer necessary for a Member to apply for an office under the Crown if they wish to resign?

    Mr Speaker: The short answer is no, I am not confirming that at all. What I have done, and what I am doing again, is reporting the facts of the situation and the appointment that has been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, of which I was, perfectly courteously, notified.

    Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. It appears that a major constitutional change is taking place, and I feel sure that the House would welcome a statement tomorrow from a Minister, so that we can question them about this matter.

    Mr Speaker: I note the point of order. It will have been heard by those on the Treasury Bench and it is a matter for any Minister to make a statement if he or she so wishes.

    Mr Richard Bacon (South Norfolk) (Con): Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. The House will have heard with respect everything that you have said, and will have been interested to hear your view that you are neither defending the status quo nor advocating a change from it. I know that people, including my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone), will say that a constitutional change has occurred to the point at which people will roll their eyes and smile, but this is a very serious matter. The eminent father of the shadow Leader of the House, the right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn), used to say that people thought procedure was boring but that it is not; it is our safeguard. If what appears to have happened today is confirmed as being an acceptable way forward, that would mean that the Chancellor of the Exchequer could decide whether someone should be a Member of Parliament or not, without their say-so. That is not acceptable.

    Mr Speaker: I do not think that I should make any further comment beyond what I have said about the appointment that has been made, the communication of it by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to me, and my communication of the reality of the matters to the House of Commons. The hon. Gentleman is as articulate a spokesman for his point of view as can be found, and he has given further evidence of that this evening. We are grateful to him for that, and he might even wish to join in making representations to the Procedure Committee. That is a matter for him. I really do feel that these matters have been exhausted this evening—[Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] I am grateful for that sedentary assent to that proposition.

  • Pete Baker

    Final Update From a BBC report which includes Gerry Adams’ claim that the Prime Minister’s private secretary had apologised for today’s events.

    Following a point of order from Labour’s Thomas Docherty in the House of Commons on Wednesday night, Mr Bercow said: “I can inform the House that I have received formal notification from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that Gerard Adams has been appointed to be Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead.”

    He said that under the Disqualification Act 1975, Mr Adams was “therefore disqualified from membership of the House”.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Gonzo,

    Thanks for that.

    It would seem that Unionists good day out has turned into a bit of mare – instead of some perceived humiliation for Grizzly we now have irate Unionists berating the Tories for subverting the process wherby a resignation takes place -and we appear to have the PM trying to obscure this – if we take the unfortunate Unioinsts at their word.

    Questions remain foir the PM and the Chancellor whilst the boul Grizzly concentrates on matters which concern the Irish people.

  • Pete Baker

    Here’s the [temporary] link for Gonzo’s extract

    From Hansard (temporary link)

  • Ulsterman

    This whole saga should be in line for an award at the upcoming Oscars – Farce of the Year, although recent economy interviews by Grizzly Adams might knock the resignation saga into 2nd place in the prizes

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    A very disappointing week for Slugger O’Toole and those who feel it makes a contribution to understanding.

  • Pete Baker

    “A very disappointing week for Slugger O’Toole and those who feel it makes a contribution to understanding.”

    Only if you haven’t been paying attention, Fitzy.

    Permanent Hansard link added.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    fjh,

    re. “A very disappointing week for Slugger O’Toole and those who feel it makes a contribution to understanding.”

    You have to ask where else would you get this depth of coverage of an issue that some (including me) may well argue is ‘trivial’ but is nevertheless interesting, entertaining and has now ascended into near farce, e.g. possibly an apology to the House by the PM.

    lol

  • Pete Baker

    Clarification in the Irish Times on that ‘apology’

    A Downing Street spokesman said last night Mr Cameron was standing by remarks he made during prime minister’s questions yesterday regarding Mr Adams’s status.

    But he said Mr Cameron’s private secretary had apologised to Mr Adams for the fact that news of the appointment had been made public without his foreknowledge.

  • IanR

    It gets even funnier.

    Gerard Adams has officially joined Iris Robinson, the current Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds, on this official list:

    http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons/lib/research/briefings/snpc-04731.pdf

    What esteemed company he keeps (other alumni of the post include Rev. Ian Paisley, Enoch Powell, Robert Kilroy Silk and Boris Johnson).

    I wonder if Adams’ Dail election opponents in Louth will mention his office under the Crown on their election leaflets?

    And what if Adams were to write to the Speaker clarifying that he has NOT accepted the post, then leave the authorities to stew?

    In the meantime, the imminent resignation of the Barnsley Central MP over the expenses scandal* will leave the Commons authorities in a quandary as they won’t know whether to appoint him to the Chiltern Hundreds or the Manor of Northstead, pending clarification of Adams’ position. Cue hours more pointless waffle in the chamber…

    * http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/lentingle/2011/01/eric_illsley-_joins_an_elite_f.html

  • Behold the Lord High Executioner
    A personage of noble rank and title —
    A dignified and potent officer,
    Whose functions are particularly vital!
    Defer, defer,
    To the Lord High Executioner!
    Defer, defer,
    To the noble Lord, to the noble Lord,
    To the Lord High Executioner

    or

    I grew so rich that I was sent
    By a pocket borough into Parliament
    I always voted at my Party’s call
    And I never thought of thinking for myself at all
    I thought so little, they rewarded me
    By making me the Ruler of the Queen’s Navy

    Now, landsmen all, whoever you may be
    If you want to rise to the top of the tree
    If your soul isn’t fettered to an office stool
    Be careful to be guided by this golden rule
    Stick close to your desks and never go to sea
    And you all may be Rulers of the Queen’s Navy
    :::::::::::::::::

    Have Sinn Fein a policy on G&S?