Enacting formula

26.9The enacting formula is a short paragraph which precedes the clauses of the bill. This formula, which was developed in the fifteenth century, runs as follows:

‘Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows'.

In Supply and Appropriation and Finance Bills, the usual formula is preceded by certain words which define the sole responsibility of the Commons for the grant of money or duties:1

‘[In a Supply and Appropriation Bill ] Whereas the Commons of the United Kingdom in Parliament assembled have resolved to authorise the use of resources and the issue of sums out of the Consolidated Fund towards making good the supply which they have granted to Her Majesty in this Session of Parliament: —Be it therefore enacted, etc.2 [In a Finance Bill ] Most Gracious Sovereign, We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom in Parliament assembled, towards raising the necessary supplies to defray Your Majesty's public expenses, and making an addition to the public revenue, have freely and voluntarily resolved to give and to grant unto Your Majesty the several duties hereinafter mentioned; and do therefore most humbly beseech Your Majesty that it may be enacted, and be it enacted, etc.’

In bills other than Finance Bills which are founded on Ways and Means resolutions, a modified version of that wording is generally used, such as:

‘Most Gracious Sovereign, We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom in Parliament assembled, towards providing such sums as may be required for the national health service in England, in Wales and in Scotland, and for the health service in Northern Ireland, have freely and voluntarily resolved to give and to grant unto Your Majesty the increases in national insurance contributions hereinafter mentioned; and do therefore most humbly beseech Your Majesty that it may be enacted, and be it enacted, etc’.3

For bills presented for Royal Assent under the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 (see para 30.54 ), the Acts prescribe the formula:

‘Be it enacted by the [Queen's] most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, in accordance with the provisions of the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949, and by the authority of the same, as follows …’

Footnotes

  1. On which, see para 33.2 and F W Maitland Constitutional History of England (1926 edn), p 185; Sir W Anson Law and Custom of the Constitution (5th edn, 1922) i, p 298.
  2. The enacting formula for what were then Consolidated Fund Bills was changed following the introduction of resource-based Supply with effect from 2001–02 and remained unchanged when the short title of such bills changed to Supply and Appropriation Bills from 2011–12.
  3. National Insurance Contributions Bill 2002. See also the enacting formula in the Abnormal Importations (Customs Duties) Bill 1931; Import Duties Bill and Ottawa Agreements Bill 1932; Armed Forces (Housing Loans) Bill 1949; National Insurance Surcharge Bill 1976–77; Petroleum Revenue Tax Bill 1979–80; Gas Levy Bill 1980–81; Oil Taxation Bill 1983–84; Stamp Duty Land Tax Bill 2014–15; Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill 2017–19. The HGV Road User Levy Bill 2012–13 used the same enacting formula as a Finance Bill.