Queen’s Consent – what does it mean?

3 July 2014

Article by Christopher Warner, Policy and Legislation Service

At the end of Plenary on 1 July 2014, after the Stage 3 proceedings on the Housing (Wales) Bill had been completed, the Minister for Housing and Regeneration made the following statement: “Presiding Officer, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the Assembly that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Housing (Wales) Bill, has given her consent to this Bill.”

This was to fulfil a requirement under Section 111 of the Government of Wales Act and Standing Order 26.67. These provide that:

·         the consent of Her Majesty the Queen and/or the Duke of Cornwall is required when a Bill, a provision of a Bill or an amendment to a Bill would affect the prerogative of the Crown or significantly affect the interests of the Crown, Duchy of Lancaster or Duchy of Cornwall; and

·         the Assembly must not debate whether a Bill be passed (ie must not start a Stage 4 debate) until the Government has, during a meeting of the Assembly, signified that consent has been given.

“Prerogative of the Crown” – or more commonly “the royal prerogative” –  refers to those powers belonging to the sovereign alone (and are unlikely to be affected by Assembly Bills). The other “interests” covered are hereditary revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster or the Duchy or Cornwall, as well as the personal property and other personal interests of the monarch.

This process is separate from Royal Assent, which is the means by which the monarch in her constitutional role agrees that a Bill becomes an Act. This happens after Stage 4 and (as appropriate) any Supreme Court proceedings.

The process applies in the UK and Scottish Parliaments too. It was the subject of a Commons Select Committee report earlier this year, and attracts media attention from time to time.