Royal Assent

Bill becomes an Act of Parliament

When a Bill has completed all its parliamentary stages in both Houses, it must have Royal Assent before it can become an Act of Parliament (law).

Royal Assent is the Monarch's agreement to make the Bill into an Act and is a formality.

There is no set time period between the consideration of amendments to the Bill and Royal Assent – it can even be a matter of minutes after Ping Pong is complete.

What happens at Royal Assent?

When Royal Assent has been given to a Bill, the announcement is usually made in both Houses - at a suitable break in each House’s proceedings – by the Lord Speaker in the Lords and the Speaker in the Commons.

At prorogation (the formal end to a parliamentary year), Black Rod interrupts the proceedings of the Commons and summons MPs to the Lords Chamber to hear the Lords Commissioners announce Royal Assent for each Bill.

After Royal Assent

The legislation within the Bill may commence immediately, after a set period or only after a commencement order by a Government minister.

A commencement order is designed to bring into force the whole or part of an Act of Parliament at a date later than the date of the Royal Assent.

If there is no commencement order, the Act will come into force from midnight at the start of the day of the Royal Assent.

The practical implementation of an Act is the responsibility of the appropriate government department, not Parliament.

Related Information

Does the Queen give Royal Assent in person?

The Queen can give Royal Assent in person but this has not happened since 1854. The Queen's agreement to give her assent to a Bill is a formality.

Glossary

Ping Pong: when a Bill passes back and forth between the two Houses debating amendments to the Bill.

Lords Commissioners: are also Privy Counsellors - appointed to advise the Queen in carrying out her duties.

They perform certain functions on behalf of the Queen, including announcing Royal Assent during prorogation.

The acting Lords Commissioners are known as the Royal Commission.

Key roles in Parliament

Find out more about the responsibilities of key roles in the Lords and Commons:

Acts of Parliament

Read more about Acts and browse the full text of Acts of Parliament from 1988 onwards: