Reckless "takes the Three Hundreds of Chiltern" after Ukip defection

Catherine Neilan
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Mark Reckless: His resignation from the Conservative Party is complete now that he has "taken the Three Hundreds of Chiltern" (Source: Getty)

Here at City AM, we are great believers in tradition, particularly when it comes to our elected leaders, who seem to indulge in the level of historical customs and practices normally reserved for those attending Hogwarts.

So the news that Mark Reckless MP has been appointed to the office of crown steward and bailiff of the Three Hundreds of Chiltern has just made our day.
Reckless, who at the weekend announced his defection from the Conservatives to Ukip, has effectively just received the political equivalent of being sent to Coventry – that punishment favoured by Enid Blyton and other novelists of the 1940s and 1950s.
MPs cannnot directly resign their seats. In fact according to the government's website, “death, disqualification and explusion are the only means by which a member's seat may be vacated during the lifetime of a parliament”.
Taking the Chiltern Hundreds is the legal procedure that enables this to happen because of the lack of responsibility involved in officiating over the ancient Buckinghamshire administrative area.
The practice dates back to the 1700s - the first MP to tap out using this office was John Pitt in 1751.
It is a paid office, granted by the Chancellor of the Exchequor, and one which will automatically disqualify Reckless from holding a seat in the House of Commons.
The former MP for Rochester and Strood is planning to stand as a Ukip candidate in a by-election, but to do this he will have to apply for release from the Three Hundreds.
We wonder whether George Osborne will let him...

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