Royal Assent – The Business of Parliament or the Executive?

Australasian Parliamentary Review, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 31-47, 2015

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 16/12

16 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2016

See all articles by Anne Twomey

Anne Twomey

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: 2015

Abstract

In countries with Westminster-type parliamentary systems, royal assent to bills is normally given as a matter of course. In unusual circumstances, however, Ministers may advise the delay or refusal of royal assent. In such a case, should the Queen or her vice-regal representative act upon the advice of Ministers in delaying or refusing assent or on the advice of the two Houses of Parliament that have passed the bill? What if Ministers have ceased to be responsible to Parliament? Are they entitled to override the will of the Houses? A clash arises between the principles of responsible government and representative government. This article considers judicial authority, convention, textual indications, practice and the views of participants in the grant of royal assent in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. It contends that rather than relying reflexively on the proposition that the Queen acts on ministerial advice, consideration must be given to all relevant constitutional principles and an effort must be made to reconcile conflicts in accordance with the underlying purposes of these principles.

Keywords: Assent to legislation, executive power, representative government, responsible government, parliamentary procedure, reserve powers, prerogative powers, Queen, minority government, errors in bills

JEL Classification: K10, K30

Suggested Citation

Twomey, Anne, Royal Assent – The Business of Parliament or the Executive? (2015). Australasian Parliamentary Review, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 31-47, 2015; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 16/12. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2730347

Anne Twomey (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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