Nick Barber: Can Royal Assent Be Refused on the Advice of the Prime Minister? – UK Constitutional Law Group

Posted September 26th, 2013 in bills, constitutional law, ministers' powers and duties, news by sally

“There is a very good article in the most recent edition of the Law Quarterly Review. It is by Rodney Brazier, and is concerned with the nature and mechanics of royal assent. It is a fascinating read, and, as with all Brazier’s work, characterised by a dry wit. There is, however, one claim, made almost in passing, that I think is mistaken. Brazier addresses the question of when, if ever, a monarch could properly refuse to give assent to legislation. He rightly concludes that it is almost impossible to imagine situations in which assent should be refused, but leaves open the possibility that it might be appropriate for the Monarch to refuse assent if advised to do so by her Ministers. In suggesting that royal assent could be refused on ministerial advice Brazier is not alone. The assertion has also been made by Geoffrey Marshall in Constitutional Conventions, and Adam Tomkins in Public Law – and may, for all I know, have been made by others, too. On the other hand, Anne Twomey (in an article in Public Law in 2006) argued that the issue remains open, and gives a number of examples, mostly from Australia, which suggest the Monarch need not accept the advice of her Ministers to refuse assent. So which position is correct? If the Prime Minister (or the Cabinet, collectively) advised the Queen to refuse to give her assent to legislation, what, constitutionally, should she do?”

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UK Constitutional Law Group, 25th September 2013