The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee published its Eleventh Report of Session 2013-14: The impact of Queen’s consent on the legislative process (HC 784) at 00.01 hours on Wednesday 26 March 2014.
The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee today publishes its report on The impact of Queen’s and Prince’s Consent on the legislative process.
- Consent is a matter of parliamentary procedure. If the two Houses of Parliament were minded to abolish Consent, they could do so by means of addresses to the Crown, followed by a resolution of each House. Legislation would not be needed.
- If the House authorities decide that Consent is needed for a Private Member’s Bill, the Government should as a matter of course seek Consent. This would remove any suggestion that the Government is using the Consent process as a form of veto on Bills it does not support.
- When the Queen or the Prince of Wales grant their Consent to Bills, they do so on the advice of the Government. The Committee has no evidence to suggest that legislation is ever altered as part of the Consent process. However, the process of Consent is complex and arcane and its existence, and the way in which the process operates, undoubtedly do fuel speculation that the monarchy has an undue influence on the legislative process.
- Consent serves as a reminder that Parliament has three elements: the House of Commons, the House of Lords, and the Queen-in-Parliament, and its existence could be regarded as a matter of courtesy between the three parts of Parliament. Whether this is a compelling justification for its continuance is a matter of opinion.
- The process of Consent could be simplified. The Committee recommends that Consent should no longer be signified personally by a Privy Counsellor, that the requirement for Consent is published as soon as the Bill is printed, and that Consent be signified at Third Reading in both Houses, in all instances. The latter change would make it more difficult for the Government ever to use the process of Consent as a way of curtailing debate on Private Members’ Bills it did not like.