Neil Parish: Tory MP who watched porn in Commons chamber formally quits

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Neil Parish  (BBC Breakfast/PA)
Neil Parish (BBC Breakfast/PA)

Senior Tory Neil Parish, who admitted watching pornography in the Commons Chamber, formally quit as an MP on Wednesday.

Under an antiquated system, he was appointed to be Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead.

MPs are not able to directly resign their seat under a 1624 Resolution of the House.

So, if they want to quit during the lifetime of a Parliament they have to apply for a paid office of the Crown, which automatically disqualifies them from holding a seat in the House of Commons.

Two such appointments have been retained as nominal offices of profit solely to enable MPs to resign from the Commons: the Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Three Hundreds of Chiltern and the Manor of Northstead.

These offices are granted alternately, allowing more than one MP to resign at the same time.

Tiverton and Honiton MP Mr Parish, who was chairman of the Commons environment, food and rural affairs committee, announced he was stepping down shortly after he was named as the individual who had viewed pornography in the House of Commons chamber.

A by-election will be held in the Devonshire constituency to replace Mr Parish, who admitted to twice watching pornography in Parliament, saying he first accidentally viewed it after looking at tractors online before then acting deliberately.

The incident sparked fresh calls for a change in the culture at Westminster amid accusations of sexism, sexual harassment and bullying by MPs.

Another by-election will also be held in Wakefield after former Tory MP Imran Ahmad Khan formally quit Parliament on Tuesday after being convicted of sexually assaulting a boy.

Khan announced his intention to resign on April 14 but did not complete the formalities until last week, meaning he received his full taxpayer-funded salary for last month.

He has now been appointed Steward and Bailiff of the Three Hundreds of Chiltern by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, one of the formal mechanisms for an MP to quit the Commons.

The Wakefield MP was found guilty of sexually assaulting the 15-year-old at Southwark Crown Court on April 11.

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