Why can’t a Member resign their seat?

Under a Resolution of the House of 2 March 1623, Members of Parliament cannot directly resign their seats. Deaths, disqualification, elevation to Peerage, dissolution or expulsion are the only causes by which a Member’s seat can be vacated. Therefore, a Member wishing to resign has to be appointed to a paid office of the Crown, which automatically disqualifies the Member from holding a seat in the House of Commons.

There are currently two nominal offices of profit under the Crown:

  • Crown Steward and Bailiff of the three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham
  • Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead

Further information on the current procedure and its historical context can be found in the Commons briefing: Resignation from the House of Commons.

Parliament: facts and figures

This series of publications contains data on various subjects relating to Parliament and Government. Topics include legislation, MPs, select committees, debates, divisions and Parliamentary procedure.

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