Monday, 24 January 2011

Is fear the reason why SinnFein/IRA MPs can do what they like?

Allow Sinn Fein MPs to receive money for being an MP without taking the oath, contrary to ... - No problem.

Actually I feel sick when I write about Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness so I am not going to produce a long list of such examples, I will just relate that Michael Crick is reporting that Gerry Adams has 'managed to resign as a Westminster MP... without going through the traditional procedures.' Rather than applying for an office of profit under the Crown as is traditional and indeed required, it seems that Gerry Adams simply notified the House that he was resigning.

I was always lead to believe that an MP wishing to resign their seat had to apply for one of two paid offices of the Crown: Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds or of the Manor of Northstead. Failing that a sitting MP could only resign their Commons seat by death, disqualification or expulsion.

As Michael Crick writes:
'A Sinn Fein spokesman told Newsnight that Adams "wrote to the Speaker's office on Friday and informed him of his resignation. It's a non-issue from our perspective. He submitted his resignation and that's it. He's stepped down from that position. He certainly didn't apply for the Stewardship of the Manor of Northstead."'

Now rules and tradition serve a purpose and if Gerry Adams wants to resign his seat then he can damn well apply for a paid office of the British state (whether he supports that state or not) or choose one of the other options - disqualification, expulsion or death. Let's be honest that's more of a choice than the 1,800 or so people murdered by the IRA during 'The Troubles' were ever given.

Michael Crick has posted an update so I suppose I have to too:
'I've just asked a senior Parliamentary official whether Gerry Adams is still an MP.

"At the last count, yes he is," he told me.

It's all governed by the Parliamentary bible Erskine May, it seems, and the following section:

"It is a settled principle of parliamentary law that a Member, after he is duly chosen, cannot relinquish his seat; and, in order to evade this restriction, a Member who wishes to retire accepts office under the Crown, which legally vacates his seat and obliges the House to order a new writ."

So in British law, Gerry Adams is still an MP, whether he wants to be or not. Until he applies for one of the two stewardships.

I was also advised that one way Adams might get round this without expressing allegiance to the British Crown in any form would be to turn up at the House of Commons and try to sit in the Chamber.

He would then be automatically disqualified from the House on the grounds that he hasn't sworn the oath, and a writ would then be moved for a by-election in West Belfast.

"The seat is vacated as if they were dead," I'm told.'
So that is still an option!

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