Michael Detmold: The Proper Denial of Royal Assent

UK Constitutional Law Association

Twenty-one eminent constitutional lawyers expressed this view in a letter to the Times (3 4 19): ‘Any attempt to advise refusal of Royal Assent to a Bill passed by Parliament would stand constitutional principle on its head. It would presume a governmental power to override Parliament, yet it is in Parliament, not the Executive, that sovereignty resides’.

But it is the eminent-21 who stand constitutional principle on its head.  The true principle is: it is in Parliament (not the Executive, and not the Legislature) that sovereignty resides.

The name Parliament, or parliamentum, came (from the Old French: parlement, parler) into use in England in the 14th century (the Modus Tenendi Parliamentum, probably 1321), but by the 15th century it had come to mean a legislature (OED 3rd edition, 2005); and, indeed, that’s what it was.  The movement from an absolute monarch to a legislative Parliament…

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