Royal Assent

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This is the final stage of the Legislative process, in which a Bill is formally approved by the Monarch, and becomes a Statute. Royal Assent has been merely a formality for many years. In theory, the Monarch could refuse to assent to a Bill, and may therefore be seen to have a power of veto over new legislation. In reality, the last time that the Royal Assent was refused was in 1708, when Queen Anne refused Assent to a Bill for settling a Militia in Scotland. It is unclear what would happen if this notional power was exercised today. The last time it was seriously considered was in the period 1912-14, during the crisis concerning the partition of Ireland. The opponents of Prime Minister Asquith urged King George V to refuse Royal Assent to the Government of Ireland Bill, or to force a general election. In the end, the King said that he might be prepared to intervene in this way to avoid a national catastrophe, but otherwise it was not the job of the Monarch to get involved in politics.

When the formal Royal Assent has been given, the fact is declared in both Houses of Parliament, and recorded in Hansard.

Public Law