By Lewis Denison, Westminster Producer

The procedure against Nadine Dorries to leave Parliament is finally underway, 80 days after she announced she would step down with immediate effect.

Some people may be wondering why Chancellor Jeremy Hunt specifically appointed her to the prestigious role of Administrator and Bailiff of the Three Hundreds of Chiltern.

Well, that’s because of a rule dating back to 1624 that says MPs are technically not allowed to resign outright, with death, disqualification or expulsion being the only ways to vacate a seat during a parliamentary term.

This means MPs wishing to resign must run for a Crown office, which automatically disqualifies the Member from a seat in the House of Commons.

These two offices are the Chiltern Hundreds and the Manor of Northstead.

These were both salaried offices previously appointed by the monarch and it was accepted that a Member of the House of Commons could not properly scrutinize the Crown Offices when they received a salary from one.

Both positions are now unpaid posts, the purpose of which is to allow early retirement from Parliament, and appointment to such posts carries no duties or responsibilities.

Since 1850 these have been registered and kept in the Treasury, which is why Chancellor Jeremy Hunt appointed Mrs Dorries to the position.

An appointment can be made during the parliamentary recess, but a by-election cannot be officially announced until after the House of Representatives returns. Offices are filled alternately, so that two by-elections can take place at the same time.

Party leaders can request a by-election immediately after a former MP has been appointed to a post, and this is usually done within three months of the vacancy.

The by-election schedule is between 21 and 27 working days after a party leader issues a ballot for the new contest.

Until 1919, ministers were expelled from office upon taking office and had to be re-elected.

Three hundred Chilterns

Hundred is an archaic term that used to denote an administrative area administered on behalf of the Crown to collect taxes. These were replaced by local government districts in the 19th century.

The office of steward of hundreds of Chilterns was severed from all previous proper duties in the 17th century and could no longer generate revenue from the region.

It was first used in 1751 as a means of exit from the House of Commons.

Its official name is Three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham.

Northstead Mansion

The Manor of Northstead was a series of fields and farms in the North Riding of Yorkshire. The manor house of the former estate no longer exists and the land has since been redeveloped as part of what is now Scarborough.

It was first used in 1844 as a mechanism to allow resignation.

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