Queen's consent not signified or withheld

9.7If the Queen's consent has not been obtained, the question on the third reading of a bill for which consent is required cannot be proposed.1 On occasions when consent had been obtained but a bill had been allowed, through inadvertence, to be read the third time and passed without the Queen's consent being signified, the proceedings were formerly declared null and void.2 Under more recent practice, a failure to signify consent, if it had been duly obtained, has not been allowed to impede the progress of a bill when an opportunity remained to signify consent to the bill during its passage through Parliament.3

The Government's usual practice is to advise the granting of consent even to bills of which it disapproves.4 The understanding is that the grant of consent does not imply approval by the Crown or its advisers, but only that the Crown does not intend that, for lack of its consent, Parliament should be debarred from debating such provisions.5 Thus Ministers could not be charged with inconsistency for speaking and voting against a bill in respect of which they had signified the Queen's consent.6


  1. CJ (1866) 423; HC Deb (1987–88) 136, c 1366; ibid (1998–99) 329, c 541.
  2. CJ (1852) 157; ibid (1911) 388; ibid (1948–49) 323.
  3. On 19 November 1987, where the Queen's Consent had been properly obtained in respect of the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Bill but had not been notified to the House, the Bill was allowed to proceed, HC Deb (1987-88) 122, c 1233. Queen's consent to the Local Government Bill was not signified on third reading in the Commons but was signified in the Lords and subsequently in the Commons on consideration of Lords amendments, CJ (2002–03) 596.
  4. For examples of occasions in the past when the Government has declined to advise the Sovereign to give consent to bills to which it was opposed, see Erskine May (22nd edn, 1997), p 605.
  5. HC Deb (1966–67) 743, c 891.
  6. See Lord Hailsham's statement on Life Peerages Bill [Lords] 1935, HL Deb (1935) 96, c 34; see also ibid (1911) 7, c 773, and Erskine May (21st edn, 1989), p 563, fn 4.