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Ministers and ParliamentAccountability in Theory and Practice$
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Diana Woodhouse

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198278924

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198278924.001.0001

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Resignations, for Personal Fault; Private Indiscretion

Resignations, for Personal Fault; Private Indiscretion

(p.72) 5 Resignations, for Personal Fault; Private Indiscretion
Ministers and Parliament


Oxford University Press

There is not a constitutional requirement for a minister to resign for committing adultery, or for fathering a child out of wedlock, and there may not always be a political requirement for resignation either. Much depends on the attendant publicity and the political situation at the time. Publicity about the private misdemeanours of a senior minister could be particularly damaging during Party Conference time. Constitutionally, resignations are described in terms of duty or obligation rather than punishment. A minister has the duty to resign if he makes a mistake or misjudgment that Parliament, or more appropriately today, the party, considers sufficiently serious. The duty of a minister in such a case is therefore to punish himself by relinquishing office through resignation. Cases involving Cecil Parkinson and David Mellor are discussed.

Keywords:   publicity, resignation, personal fault, private indiscretion, misdemeanours, ministers, Cecil Parkinson, David Mellor

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