Why It’s Illegal to Resign from the British House of Commons

Why It’s Illegal to Resign from the British House of Commons

This video was made possible by Squarespace. Build your beautiful website for 10% off at
http://squarespace.com/hai. The UK, of course, is a country made up of
four distinct countries—the one everyone forgets about, Pret territory, Buckfast territory,
and that one that no matter what you say will stir up drama in the YouTube comments. Now, this wonderful country of countries has
a pretty weird political system. For example, the Queen for some reason owns
all the dolphins in Britain and is also able to fire the entirety of the Australian government
and also doesn’t need a drivers license or passport since they’re both issued in
her name but the weirdest of the weird is in this place—the Palace of Westminster. This building is, of course, known for being
blown up in V for Vendetta, crushed in Independence Day: Resurgence, and blown up again in G.I. Joe: Retaliation but interestingly, it’s
also believed to be where the Parliament of the United Kingdom meets. Now, the British Parliament has some unique
rules. For example, MP’s are not actually allowed
to speak directly to one another—only to the speaker of the house. They’re also not allowed to use each other’s
names. They therefore only refer to each other in
the third person when talking to the speaker saying something like, “Mr Speaker, the
Honourable Member for Tewkesbury smells like beef and cheese.” There’s also one law saying it’s illegal
to wear a suit of armor into Parliament. That law was made in 1313 and remains super
inconvenient since MP’s have to change in and out of their armor before and after going
into Parliament. Lastly, MP’s aren’t allowed to clap in
Parliament which is part of the reason they do all their hooting and hollering during
debate. Now, this parliament, of course, is made up
of two bodies—the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The House of Lords is made up of, at least
currently, 792 unelected members who are appointed by the Queen mostly off of the advice of the
Prime Minister. Despite being the upper house with the flashier
looking room the House of Lords is nowadays less powerful than the House of Commons since
aristocracy fell out of fashion. The House of Commons is the more democratic
house with elected officials and they’re the ones really running the show. The members of the House of Commons usually
serve a term of five years between elections but the big oddity of the House of Commons
is that the MP’s are not allowed to resign—it is illegal to resign from the British House
of Commons. Now it’s worth pointing out, despite being
illegal there’s no punishment for resigning because you just can’t do it. This anti-resignation rule was put in place
back in 1624. What you have to consider about being an MP
in 1624 is that the job wasn’t quite as cushy. In fact, it wasn’t even really a job. It was sort of like a part-time gig where
MP’s would just travel down to London for a short periods to vote. Of course it wasn’t like today where you
could just pop down to London on the train—it would take days to travel to and from London
and for all this work you were paid nothing. There was no salary. Therefore being an MP was viewed as a chore
rather than some great honor and so, once an MP was appointed, Parliament wanted to
make sure they stuck around. Things have, however, changed since 1624. MP’s are now paid around $100,000 per year
and the position is treated as a full-time, somewhat respected job. The other big thing was that, at some point,
the idea of involuntary unpaid labor became pretty unpopular. So, instead of doing something reasonable
like changing the rules Parliament started using this crazy procedure to free MP’s
that wanted to quit. So, how it works is that the departing MP
sends in an application to the official known as the Chancellor of the Exchequer for one
of two jobs—Crown Steward and Bailiff of the three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough,
and Burnham or the Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead. This is all because in the rules of Parliament
it is prohibited to hold either of these jobs and the position of MP at the same time. These jobs are both essentially overseers
of ancient administrative divisions that no longer exist meaning that there are no obligations
anymore but the jobs still exist. The second an MP is appointed to either of
these positions they are no longer MP’s and they stay Crown Steward and Bailiff of
these areas until they either apply to be removed from the position or until another
MP is appointed to the position when they ask to resign. Now, one important thing to point out is that
the Chancellor of the Exchequer can choose not to appoint an MP to one of these positions
which means that, in theory, someone could be stuck as an MP against their will. They could, of course, just not show up to
their job and they’d still get paid which doesn’t sound bad. It just probably wouldn’t be great for their
political careers. If your UK political career just ended you
should launch a business with a Squarespace website. You could start a cafe, for example, serving
Uncle Johnson’s Tricky Tea with Auntie May’s Naughty Whole Grain Wheat Biscuits, but for
any business, whether it be a brick and mortar one like this cafe of an online one like running
a podcast, a YouTube channel, being a freelancer, or anything else you absolutely need a website
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10% off and help support the show by going to http://squarespace.com/hai.


  1. Living in Canada, with a nearly identical parliamentary system I was unfortunate enough to take part in, I'm glad the British monarch is reduced to a purely traditional role with barely any power at all, and who is represented rather than present in Parliamentary proceedings. We're like Britain-lite, we still don't like witchcraft or dueling, but we aren't about to tell our politicians they can't step down because some king 400 years ago made up some stupid rule.

  2. Welp, I guess the Australian government better ready those emu's incase queen elizabeth II decides "fuck da australia government"

  3. Did you know it’s also illegal to hinder an MP on their way to Parliament… so if the rozzers rock up to arrest an MP all they need to do is start walking towards parliament and the police have to help them get their where they can hide till they’re recalled

  4. You should try to find a copy of 'Laws and Flaws: Lapses of the Legislators', by Edward F. Iwi. It's full of hilarious stuff like this!

  5. Shame that a lot of these seemingly educational videos undermine everything that is said by basically being an advert.
    Anything that is an advert cannot be taken as face value and is therefore questionable at best or considered complete lies at worst.

  6. I love how you can't put your hands in your pockets in the house of commons, but you can lie down on a bench like its a bed.

  7. 3:17 I can't believe I never noticed that until now…

    Dear Chancellor of the Exchequer,

    Good riddance to this fetid cesspit of incompetence. I should hope that I need never spend another moment in the presence of this wretched parliament.

    Anyway guys, thanks fo reading my letter. If you enjoyed reading this letter, just go ahead and subscribe and make sure to kick that notification pigeon. If you didn't enjoy reading this letter, make sure to leave a like and let me know why in the comments.

    I just also want to go ahead and thank my patrons:

    John Webster

    John Creemer Clarke

    Joseph Firth

    Hon. Wilbraham Tollemache

    Sir Philip Grey Egerton, Bt

    Richard Fort

    Arthur John Moore

    Charles Stewart Parnell

    Sir Richard <usgrave, Bt

    Lord Arthur Hill

    Oh and before I forget, catch my political livestream on Twitch every Tuesday night.

  8. Can she still fire people employees by Australia, guess we know now how The Rock, started speaking in third person.. Ah!!, The Rock says to know your role and shut your mouth..

  9. I'm going to walk into Parliament wearing a suit of armor, and call everyone by their first name, and then resign.

  10. The Palace of wastminster isn't believed to be were the government meet it is were the government meet
    Mabye you should have done your research

  11. Unless the citizenry vote for a Referendum that the Commons itself called for, at which point they become highly undemocratic.

  12. “The one everyone forgets about” I would say fuck you, but everyone does forget Wales. We do have the coolest flag though 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿.

  13. 0:17 I guess I was the only one sad enough (and not watching on my phone) to be able to scan the QR code which links to

  14. You can resign as an mp. And you trigger a by-election by doing so. Therefore you can resign from the house of commons.


  16. You used a photo of the wrong queen at 1:40. That's the portrait of the Queen of New Zealand, not the Queen of the UK. It's just a really weird freaky coincidence that the same person has both jobs.

  17. Gerry Adams did create a tiny scandal by sending a resignation letter to the Speaker. By some archaic rule, he wasn't allowed to quit, so the Chancellor appointed him to one of those fake jobs. Adams wasn't officially informed, let alone asked. Adams denounced the entire thing as ridiculous.

  18. Technically, you can resign but there is a long way round, basically you have to be appointed to an "office of profit under the crown" such as Crown Steward and Bailiff of the three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham, there is another which escapes me, so you can have as many as 2 MPs at a time using this and therefore disqualifies them as MPs under the House of Commons Disqualifications Act 1975.

    Mental, I know, but then again they still refer to each other as honorable member for such and such… 🙂

  19. Alternatively, you could mess up (e.g. pervert the course of justice like the former MP for Peterborough, or procure male prostitutes like the current MP for Leicester East) which would allow for the triggering of a recall petition where, if 10% of your constituents sign it then a by-election is triggered and you can, if you want, not stand for re-election, thus meaning you stop being MP.

  20. When I read this headline "Why It's Illegal to Resign from the British House of Commons" I knew straight away that the "Stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds" was in fact a way to do it.

    So in actual fact the headline is false.

  21. The Chiltern Hundreds is what I was taught in school . Today they appear to only teach that children can choose their own sex and that the world is going to end next year .

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