Royal Assent – The Business of Parliament or the Executive?
Australasian Parliamentary Review, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 31-47, 2015
16 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2016
Date Written: 2015
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: Suggested Citation