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Royal Assent

bill, clerk, bills, parliament, king, person, house and crown

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ASSENT, ROYAL. When a bill has through all its stages in both passed houses of parliament, if it is a money bill, it is sent back to the charge of the officers of the House of Commons, in which it had of course originated; but if not a bill of supply, it remains in the custody of the clerk of the enrolments in the House of Lords. The royal assent is always given in the House of Lords, the Commons, however, being also present at the bar, to which they are summoned by the Black Rod. The king may either be present in person, or may signify his assent by letters patent under the great seal, signed with his band, and commu nicated to the two houses by commis sioners. Power to do this is given by 33 Henry VIII. chap. 21. The commis sioners are usually three or four of the great officers of state. They take their seats, attired in a peculiar costume, on a bench placed between the woolsack and the throne. When the king comes in person, the clerk assistant of the parlia ment waits upon his Majesty in the robing.room before he enters the house, reads a list of the bills, and receives his commands upon them. During the pro gress of a session, the royal assent is usually given by a commission under the great seal issued for that purpose. In strict compliance with 33 Henry VIII.

c. 21, the commission is "by the king himself signed with his own hand," and at tested by the clerk of the crown in Chan cery. During the last illness of George IV. an act was passed to appoint one or More person or persons, or any one of them, to affix in the king's presence, and by his Majesty's command given by word of mouth, his Majesty's signature by means of a stamp. When the king comes down in person, he is seated on the throne, robed and crowned. The royal assent is rarely given in person, except at the end of a session ; but bills for making pro vision for the honour and dignity of the crown, sucfi as settling the bills for the `civil lists, haYe generally been assented to by the king in person immediately after they have passed both houses. When the bill for supporting the dignity of Queen Adelaide received the royal assent in the usual form, in August, 1836, she was pre sent, attended by one of the ladies of the bed-chamber and her maids of honour, and sat in a chair placed on a platform raised for that purpose. After the royal assent was pronounced, the queen stood up and made three curtesies, one to the king, one to the lords, and one to the commons. The bills that have been left in the House of Lords lie on the table; the bills of supply are brought up from the Commons by the Speaker, who, in presenting them, especially at the end of a session, is ac customed to accompany the act with a short speech. In these addresses it is

usual to recommend that the money which has been so liberally supplied by his Majesty's faithful Commons should be judiciously and economically expended ; and a considerable sensation has been sometimes made by the emphasis and solemnity with which this advice has been enforced upon the royal ear. The royal assent to each bill is announced by the clerk of the parliaments. "When her Majesty gives her assent to bills in per son, the clerk of the crown reads the titles, and the clerk of the parliament makes an obeisance to the throne, and then signifies her Majesty's assent. A gentle inclination, indicative of assent, is given by her Majesty, who has already given her commands to the clerk assist ant." (May's Law, to. of Parliamenr) After the title of the bills is read by the clerk of the crown, the clerk of the parliament says, if it is a bill of supply, which receives the royal assent before all other bills, "Le roi (or la reyne) re 'heroic sea bons sujets, accepte leer bene volence, et ainsi le vault;" if any other public bill, "Le roi le vault;' if a private bill, fait comma it est desiree." In an act of grace or pardon, which has the royal assent before it is laid before parliament, where it is only read once 111 each house, and where, although it may be rejected, it cannot be amended, there is no ftrrther expression of the royal assent, but, having read its title, the clerk of the parliament says, "Lea Prelats, Seigneurs, at Communes, en ce present parliament assemblees, au nom de touts vos autres sujets, remercient tres humblement vostre majeste, et prient Dieu vows donner en sante bonne vie at lonoue." When the royal assent is refused to a bill, the form of announcement is Le roi s'avisera. It is probable that in for mer times these words were intended to mean what they express, namely, that the king would take the matter into con sideration, and merely postponed his de cision for the present; but the necessity of refusing a bill is removed by the con stitutional principle that the crown has no will except that of its ministers, who only retain their situations so long as they enjoy the confidence of parliament. There has been no instance of the rejec tion by the crown of any bill, certainly not of any public bill, which had passed through parliament, for many years. It is commonly stated, even in books of good authority (for instance, in Chittys edition of Blackstone), that the last in stance was the rejection of the bill for triennial parliaments by William III.

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