Writs moved for three by-elections

23 October 2012

Government Chief Whip, Sir George Young, moved the Writ for the Corby by-election. Shadow Chief Whip, Rosie Winterton, has also moved the Writs for the Cardiff South and Penarth and Manchester Central by-elections on Tuesday 23 October

Moving of Writs

The by-election for Corby will take place on Thursday 15 November. The dates for the other by-elections will be announced by the Labour Party.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer appointed Rt Hon Alun Michael, Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, and Tony Lloyd, Labour MP for Manchester Central to the Chiltern Hundreds. Both MPs disqualified themselves so that they could stand as candidates in the election of police and crime commissioners to be held on 15 November 2012.

Rt Hon Alun Michael was appointed to the office of Steward and Bailiff of the Three Hundreds of Chiltern. Tony Lloyd was appointed to the office Steward and Bailiff of Her Majesty's Manor of Northstead on 22 October 2012. By-elections will take place in the consituencies of Cardiff South and Penarth and Manchester Central.

A by-election occurs when a seat in the House of Commons becomes vacant during the lifetime of a Parliament (i.e. between general elections), because the sitting MP dies, resigns (by applying for the Chiltern Hundreds), is elevated to the peerage, or becomes ineligible to sit for some other reason.

How an MP vacates their seat

A resolution passed by the House of Commons on 2 March 1624 prohibits MPs directly from resigning their seats. Death, disqualification and expulsion are the only means by which a Member’s seat may be vacated during the lifetime of a Parliament.

An MP who wishes to resign has to go through the process of applying for a paid office of the Crown, which automatically disqualifies the MP from holding a seat in the House of Commons. There are two offices which MPs can apply for, Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chilterns Hundreds and of the Manor of Northstead.

An MP wishing to resign applies to the Chancellor of the Exchequer for one of the offices, which he or she retains until the Chancellor appoints another applicant or until the holder applies for release from it. (Every new warrant issued revokes the previous holder). It is usual to grant the offices alternately; as this enables two Members to retire at precisely the same time.

Further information

The House of Commons Library briefing paper on resignation from the House of Commons and provides more information on the history of the Chiltern Hundreds Manor of Northstead. A Parliamentary Information List provides information on who has been appointed to the Chiltern Hundreds and Manor of Northstead since 1850.

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