Chancellor and South West Surrey MP Jeremy Hunt appointed Nadine Dorries to be ‘Steward and Bailiff of the Three Hundreds of Chiltern’ on Tuesday in an archaic procedure that allowed his former Tory Party adversary to resign as an MP.
The Steward and Bailiff of the Three Hundreds of Chiltern in Buckinghamshire is a historical position dating back to the 17th century, which in modern times has been used to facilitate the resignations of MPs.
Elected MPs are unable to resign and must become disqualified if they wish to leave the Commons before the end of the current term of parliament. One way to do this is to be appointed to a paid office of the Crown, which automatically disqualifies them from holding a seat in the Commons.
The Steward and Bailiff of the Three Hundreds of Chiltern, along with another post – in Yorkshire’s Manor of Northstead – is today used as a sort of political halfway house.
Neither post comes with any payment or responsibilities, but is a tool at the disposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer offering MPs an 'elegant' way of departing their posts.
Ms Dorries, who clashed with Mr Hunt after he called for Boris Johnson’s resignation last year, follows in the footsteps of her old boss Mr Johnson in momentarily being made the Steward and Bailiff of the Three Hundreds of Chiltern after leaving the Commons.