Royal Assent refusal under scrutiny in the UK

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,345
Las Vegas, NV USA
#1
Brexit has brought up issues regarding the withholding of Royal Assent when it's done with the advice of Ministers. This is to avoid backbenchers from passing legislation without the approval of the Government. Indeed this would have the effect of a no confidence vote. I don't fully understand the process. The Idea is that the Monarch MUST withhold consent when advised to do so by the Government.

Robert Craig: Could the Government Advise the Queen to Refuse Royal Assent to a Backbench Bill?
 
Last edited:

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
34,607
T'Republic of Yorkshire
#2
That article is some months old now.

I'm not sure what happened to the second part of his bill, but backbench MPs did control Parliamentary business for a day and failed to come up with a solution.
 
Jul 2016
1,256
Dengie Peninsula
#4
As far as I recall, the Monarch has 3 rights.
The right to know.
The right to encourage.
The right to warn.

Refusing to give assent to a Bill Passed by Parliament, could bring the Monarchy into disrepute, and there are a lot of people around who would support abolition of that institution!
 

GogLais

Ad Honorem
Sep 2013
5,409
Wirral
#5
Over my head really but anyway. The problem with Brexit is, well one of the many problems, is that it doesn’t divide the country and Parliament neatly on party lines. So we have a situation where the HoC does not have a majority for any form of Brexit but at the moment anyway, the Government still has the confidence of the House. There are demands for another General Election but we might well end up in the same situation.
 

GogLais

Ad Honorem
Sep 2013
5,409
Wirral
#6
As far as I recall, the Monarch has 3 rights.
The right to know.
The right to encourage.
The right to warn.

Refusing to give assent to a Bill Passed by Parliament, could bring the Monarchy into disrepute, and there are a lot of people around who would support abolition of that institution!
We must have done abolition of the monarchy before. Thing is, when HMTQ dies, it’ll immediately be “God Save the King” and it’s highly unlikely that Charles would then repudiate the throne on behalf of himself and his successors. Unless maybe there was clear evidence that the British public strongly and consistently opposed the monarchy, which at the moment seems very unlikely.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,345
Las Vegas, NV USA
#7
Do you have a question about the process? Maybe we can answer it.
If we have a two party situation, the only way a government can be voted out is in regular scheduled elections or if backbenchers in the party in power rebel leading to a no confidence vote. The article seems to connect this with the idea that the government could "advise" the Queen to not to give assent to non government legislation passed only by the backbenchers. But in the no confidence situation the government fails to pass legislation so it doesn't involve royal assent.

Other posts here regarding royal assent are missing the point. The Queen is advised by the Government NOT to give royal assent to bills originated and passed by backbenchers. The argument is that only the executive (the cabinet ) can originate legislation. Therefore only government bills can be voted on by the Parliament. The point is the Queen must follow the advice of the government ministers and withhold royal assent if advised to do so. It's not whether the Queen does or does not give royal assent but whether the Queen takes advice and who is qualified to give that advice.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,084
Dispargum
#8
Certainly if the Queen were to act against advice it might endanger the long-term survival of the monarchy, but I'm not convinced it would have in this case. The crown is supposed to protect the rights of the people. In a situation where a PM is trying to hold onto power despite the fact that they no longer have the loyalty or support of Parliament or apparently of the voters, then it's the PM who has to go, not the Queen. If the Queen gave her assent against the advice of the PM but in line with the wishes of the people, then there's an argument that the Queen is only doing her job in protecting the people's rights.

This question of assent came up because there was a weak prime minister who could not control her parliament. The problem was ultimately resolved through the PM's resignation. Which is the way these things are supposed to work. The issue of royal assent was a non-starter.

A similar issue of an unpopular PM trying to hold onto power happened in Australia in 1975. There, the Queen's representative, the Governor-General, dismissed the PM and called for new elections which the opposition won easily thereby proving how unpopular the PM was. The Governor-General acted against his PM, but he acted in the best interests of democracy and brought about the people's will.
1975 Australian constitutional crisis - Wikipedia
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
34,607
T'Republic of Yorkshire
#9
The argument is that only the executive (the cabinet ) can originate legislation. Therefore only government bills can be voted on by the Parliament.
That's not entirely true. Any member of either house can introduce a private member's bill and attempt to get it passed.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,345
Las Vegas, NV USA
#10
That's not entirely true. Any member of either house can introduce a private member's bill and attempt to get it passed.
That's interesting. In the US a private bill is a privilege of members of Congress and such bills only apply to one or a few people; in other words, a favor. It can easily be abused. However members (both houses) don't complain too much because they all like this privilege. Of course the President can veto any bill. Members are mainly charged with writing legislation and all members can submit public bills.

My understanding is that backbenchers can submit public bills but the tradition is that the government must take ownership of such bills if they are to become law. It seems that this tradition can be challenged and to protect the authority of the Cabinet the government can use the "Royal Veto" by advising the Monarch to not to give assent. The Irish Home Rule bill of 1915 was passed by a narrow majority of Liberals and strongly opposed by Conservatives and the King (George V). He was asked to withhold consent by members of the opposition. The King, despite his strong feelings on the issue, gave assent but he likely could gotten away with not doing so. A switch by few backbenchers would have killed the bill and likely brought down the Liberal Government.
 

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