Martin McGuinness applies to become paid officer of the Crown…

Or as the BBC faithfully report

Martin McGuinness has confirmed that he has formally resigned as the MP for Mid-Ulster.

“I have served formal notice of my resignation from the position of MP for Mid-Ulster with immediate effect. This is in line with my party’s commitment to end double jobbing,” he said.

[Just in time, eh? – Ed]  Sadly, he’ll have to wait until he’s actually disqualified from holding his seat.  Just like his party leader was…

And as we discovered then

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]

To quote the Speaker of the House of Commons at the time

…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.

After all, whether you or I like it or not…

Constitutionally an MP has no power of voluntary resignation. Death, elevation to the peerage, dissolution or expulsion are the only causes (apart from legal disqualification) by which an MP’s seat can be vacated. Therefore an MP wishing to resign must disqualify him or herself. One cause for disqualification is holding a paid office of the Crown. There are two that the MPs use. The first office is the Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds (Stoke, Desborough and Burnham) and the second office is the Manor of Northstead. An MP wishing to retire applies to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for one of the Offices that he or she retains. [added emphasis]

As it happens, the next available paid office of the Crown is the Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead [pdf file].

Which Martin McGuinness will be appointed to in due course.

Following in the footsteps of his party leader…

Sir George Young said the office had been granted by the chancellor in line with “long-standing precedent”.

So Mr Speaker, we have delivered Mr Adams to the required destination, though we may have chosen a vehicle and a route that was not one of his choosing,” he added. [added emphasis]

[Arise, Baron Northstead! – Ed]  Indeed.

Update  BBC NI’s follow-up report is worth noting for its evident absence of understanding of the issue at hand.

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness has been given an English aristocratic title following his formal resignation as member of the UK parliament.

He has been appointed Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead by the chancellor, George Osborne.

The appointment is one of two titles traditionally conferred on resigning MPs, as under the constitution, an MP has no power of voluntary resignation.

*shakes head*

The appointment to a nominal office of the Crown is made to disqualify those concerned from holding their seats in Parliament as, constitutionally, there is no power of voluntary resignation.

It’s not conferred after they’ve ‘resigned’ – “formally” or otherwise.

And no MP can be forced to disqualify themselves.  So, despite the bluster, there was/will be no challenge from Sinn Féin to the appointment of their two senior members as officers of the British Crown.

Otherwise, no disqualification, and no by-election.

Adds  And the official HM Treasury announcement

Manor of Northstead

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has this day appointed James Martin Pacelli McGuinness to be Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead.

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