Communications by messages under the sign manual
9.2On certain important occasions, communication from the Crown is by a written message under the royal sign manual (the Crown's personal signature), to either House singly, or to both Houses separately. These messages are usually communications relating to important public events which require the attention of Parliament;1 the declaration of a state of emergency2 or revocation of a previous declaration of a state of emergency;3 the making of provisions for the exercise of the royal authority;4 the prerogatives, or property of the Crown;5 provision for the royal family, and other occasions which compel the executive to seek pecuniary aid from Parliament. On 29 June 2011, the Queen sent a message to the House of Commons asking that it consider provision to be made by Parliament for the financial support of Her Majesty and other members of the royal household and to allow for the continuation of support in the reigns of her successors.6 The Queen sent a message on the same day to the Lords, asking that House to concur with any measures proposed by the Commons.7
The message is brought by a Member of the House who is a Minister of the Crown or one of the royal household. In the House of Commons, the Member who is charged with the message appears at the Bar, where they inform the Speaker that they have a message from the Queen to this House signed by Her Majesty. They bring the message up to the Table, where they read it before handing it to the Clerk of the House. The same procedure is followed in respect of a message signed on Her Majesty's behalf by the Counsellors of State.8 In the House of Lords, the Lords Member who is charged with the message, who is either a Minister or a member of the royal household, acquaints the House that they have a message under the royal sign manual, which Her Majesty has commanded them to deliver to their lordships. They then read it and hand it to the Lord Speaker.
Messages under the sign manual are generally sent to both Houses; but when they are accompanied by original papers, they have occasionally been sent to one House only. The more proper and regular course is to deliver messages on the same day; but in circumstances when the two Houses were not sitting on the same day, or for other particular reasons, it has happened that messages have in the past been delivered on different days.9
- 1. LJ (1794–96) 186; ibid (1802–04) 74; CJ (1826–28) 111.
- 2. LJ (1921) 95, 174; ibid (1973–74) 119; CJ (1921) 77, 164; ibid (1926) 151, etc; ibid (1966–67) 76, 109; ibid (1970–71) 51.
- 3. CJ (1970–71) 180.
- 4. LJ (1953–54) 6; CJ (1830) 466; ibid (1840) 520; ibid (1910) 171; ibid (1942–43) 169; ibid (1953–54) 7.
- 5. CJ (1834) 189, 574.
- 6. CJ (2010–12) 744; see para 34.24.
- 7. LJ (2010–12) 1264.
- 8. CJ (1971–72) 145; ibid (1973–74) 155.
- 9. 2 Hatsell 366; LJ (1834) 958; CJ (1834) 574; LJ (1850) 368; CJ (1850) 539; LJ (1951–52) 191; CJ (1951–52) 236.