In the United Kingdom, Queen's Consent (not to be confused with Royal Assent) is required before either House of Parliament can debate a Bill affecting the prerogative of the Crown or the interests (hereditary revenues, personal property or other interests) of the Crown, the Duchy of Lancaster or the Duchy of Cornwall. In the case of the Duchy of Cornwall, "Prince's Consent" must also be obtained.
By contrast, Royal Assent is the Sovereign formally approving a Bill that has been debated and passed by both Houses of Parliament, leading to the Bill being enacted into law as an Act of Parliament.
Cases where consent has not been given
In 1999, Queen Elizabeth II, acting on the advice of the Government, refused to signify her consent to Parliament debating the Military Action Against Iraq (Parliamentary Approval) Bill, which sought to transfer from the Sovereign to Parliament the power to authorize military strikes against Iraq. Due to the Crown's refusal to consent to the Bill's debate, it was automatically dropped. This Bill would have removed from the Prime Minister the power to declare war by the use of the Sovereign's prerogative power, and so Prime Minister Tony Blair advised the Queen to refuse consent.
In 1998, the Palace of Westminster (Removal of Crown Immunity) Bill could not be debated because Queen's consent had not been given.
In 1990, the Reform of the House of Lords Bill could not be debated because Queen's consent had not been given.
These cases show that Queen's Consent is a valuable tool for the Government of the day where backbench Members of Parliament (including members of the same party as the Government) have sought to have Private Members' Bills debated and voted on in Parliament that the Prime Minister and the Cabinet feel would be awkward or embarrassing for the Government, or might lead to a significant number of backbench Members belonging to the same party as the Government voting against the Cabinet's views, undermining the Government's authority. In such a situation, the Government can advise the Queen to refuse consent to debate a Bill that affects her prerogatives.
In certain circumstances, such as for the House of Lords Act 1999, the consent of the Prince of Wales, in his capacity of Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester, or Prince and Great Steward of Scotland or as Duke of Cornwall, must also be obtained where a Bill affects his interests. This is known as Prince's Consent.
Erskine May states that:
- "The Prince’s consent is required for a bill which affects the rights of the principality of Wales and earldom of Chester, or which makes specific reference to, or special provision for, the Duchy of Cornwall; and the Prince’s consent may (depending on the circumstances) be required for a bill which amends an Act which does any of those things."
In the Scottish Parliament where a Bill requires the consent of the Prince and Steward of Scotland or the Duke of Rothesay, the Parliament cannot debate any question whether the Bill be passed or approved unless such consent to those provisions has been signified by a member of the Scottish Executive.
Freedom of information request
|This article is outdated. (February 2013)|
As of August 2012[update], the Information Commissioner has ordered that previously secret internal government documents regarding the procedures relating to the operation of the Queen's and Prince's Consent must be made public. This led to speculation in the press, particularly The Guardian newspaper, that a hitherto secret royal power had been uncovered, and this led to accusations of scandal. However, as the references in this article show,[which?] Queen's and Prince's Consent are legal, conventional and longstanding parts of the workings of Parliament and they are fully publicised when consent is either given or not given, through explicit announcements in the UK and Scottish Parliaments in relation to the Bills that they apply to.
- "Iraq attack bill fails". BBC News, 16 April 1999. Retrieved on 12 April 2007.
- discussion of Military Action Against Iraq (Parliamentary Approval) Bill, TheyWorkForYou
- "1988-07-08". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) (House of Commons). col. 1370–. 1988-07-08
- "1990-01-26". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) (House of Commons). col. 1241–. 1990-01-26
- House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 30 Apr 1996 (pt 1)
- Prince's Consent asked on 12 bills, Oxford Times
- Rule 9.11 of the Standing Oders of the Scottish Parliament
- I hope that I need detain the House...: 29 Oct 1993: House of Commons debates - TheyWorkForYou
- Robert Booth (2012-08-31). "Secret royal veto powers over new laws to be exposed". Retrieved 2012-08-31.