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Form of commis

Regency
Bill, 18U.

Form of royal assent by coramission.

In strict compliance with the words of this statute, the commission is always, "by the King himBelf, signed with xn his own hand," and attested by the Clerk of the Crown in chancery. But on the 7th March, 1702, William HI. signed, with a stamp, the commission assenting to the Abjuration Act.1 And towards the latter end of the reign of George IV., it became painful to him to sign any instrument with his own hand, and he was enabled, by statute, to appoint one or more person or persons, with full power and authority to each of them to affix, in his Majesty's presence, and by his Majesty's command, given by word of mouth, his Majesty's royal signature, by means of a stamp to be prepared for that purpose;2 and the commission for giving the royal assent to bills on the 17th June, 1880, bears the stamp of the king, attested according to the provisions of that Act.3

On the 5th February, 1811, the Regency Bill received the royal assent by commission, under peculiar circumstances. The king was incapable of exercising any personal authority: but the great seal was nevertheless affixed to a commission for giving the royal assent to that bill. When the Commons had been summoned to the bar of the House of Lords by the lords commissioners, the lord chancellor said, "My lords and gentlemen, by the commands, and by virtue of the powers and authority to us given by the said commission, we do declare and notify his Majesty's royal assent to the Act in the said commission mentioned, and the clerks are required to pass the same in the usual form and words ;" after which the royal assent was signified by the Clerk in the usual words, "Le roy le veuli."4

The form in which the royal assent is signified by commission is as follows. Three or more of the lords commissioners, seated on a form between the throne and the wool-sack in the House of Lords, command the usher of the Black Bod to signify to the Commons that their attendance For">3 °f

mtssagt,

is desired in the house of peers to hear the commission read, see pp.

172, 173.

'5 Macaulay, Hist. 308. also Debates, 27th Feb. 1804 (Com

» 11 Geo. IV. c. 28. mons); 1st and 9th March, 1804

2 62 L. J. 782. (Lords); 1 Twiss, Life of Eldon,

< 48 ib. 70; 18 H. D. 1124; see 2nd edit. 416. 418.

Chapter upon which the Commons, with the Speaker, immediately

come to the bar. The commission is then read at length,

and the titles of the bills being afterwards read by the Clerk
of the Crown, the royal assent to each is signified by the
Clerk of the Parliaments, in Norman French; and is so
entered in the Lords' Journal. A supply bill (see p. 596)
being carried up by the Clerk of the House of Commons, is
handed to the Clerk of the Parliaments by the Speaker,
and receives the royal assent before all other bills. The
assent is pronounced in the words, "Le roy remercie ses
bons sujets, accepte leur benevolence, et ainsi le veulV For a
public bill the form of expression is, "Le roy le veult,-"
for a private bill, "Soit fait comme il est desire; " upon a
petition demanding a right, whether public or private,
"Soit droit fait comme il est desire'." In an act of grace or
pardon which has the royal assent before it is agreed to by
the two houses, the ancient form of assent was, " Lesprelats,
seigneurs, et communes, en ce present parlment assemblies, au
nom de touts vos autres sujets, remercient tres humblement
vostre majeste, et prient d Dieu vous donner en sante bonne vie
et longue; "1 but according to more modern practice, the
royal assent has been signified in the usual form, as to a Royal
public bill.2 The form of words used to express a denial of fUBe(j.
the royal assent would be, "Le roy s'avisera."8 The
necessity of refusing the royal assent is removed by the
strict observance of the constitutional principle, that the
Crown has no will but that of its ministers, who only con-
tinue to serve in that capacity so long as they retain the
confidence of Parliament. This power was last exercised
in 1707, when Queen Anne refused her assent to a bill for
settling the militia in Scotland.4

During the Commonwealth, the lord protector gave his Use of the
assent to bills in English: but on the Restoration, the old French?
form of words was reverted to; and only one attempt has
since been made to abolish it. In 1706, the Lords passed

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Given by the King in person.

a bill "for abolishing the use of the French tongue in all
proceedings in Parliament and courts of justice." This bill
dropped in the House of Commons; and although an Act
passed in 1781 for conducting all proceedings in courts of
justice in English, no alteration was made in the old forms
used in Parliament. Until the latter part of the reign of
Edward III., all parliamentary proceedings were conducted
in French, and the use of English was exceedingly rare until
the reign of Henry VI. All the statutes were then enrolled
in French or Latin, but the royal assent was occasionally
given in English. Since the reign of Henry VII., all other
proceedings have been in the English language, but the old
form of royal assent has been retained.1

The royal assent is rarely given in person, except at the
close of a session, when the King attends to prorogue the
Parliament, and then he signifies his assent to such bills as
may have passed since the last commission was issued : but
bills for making provision for the honour and dignity of the
Crown, such as bills for settling the civil lists, have generally
been assented to by the sovereign in person, immediately
after they have passed both houses.2 When the King gives
his royal assent to bills in person, the Clerk of the Crown
reads the titles, and the Clerk of the Parliaments makes an
obeisance to the throne, and then signifies his Majesty's
aBsent, in the manner already described. A gentle inclina-
tion, indicative of assent, is given by his Majesty, who has,

Prorogation by the King in person, see p. 207.

Titles of bills su>>mitted to the King. see p. 511.

1 See Pref. to Statutes of the Realm, and Rep. of Stat. Law Oommrs. 1835 (406), p. 16.

• See Civil List Bills, 1820, 75 C. J. 258; 1831, 86 ib. 517; 1838,98 ib. 227. In 1901 the royal assent to the Civil List Bill was given by commission, 156 ib. 282. On the 2nd Aug. 1831, the Speaker, after a short speech in relation to the bill for supporting the royal dignity of her Majesty Queen Adelaide, delivered it to the Clerk, when it received the royal assent in the usual form: but the Queen, attended by one of the ladies of her bedchamber,

and her maids of honour, was pre-
sent, and sat in a chair placed on a
platform raised for that purpose be-
tween the archbishops' bench and
the bishops' door, and after the
royal assent was pronounced, her
Majesty stood up and made three
courtesies, one to the king, one to
the Lords, and one to the Com-
mons. 63 L. J. 885, and Index
to that volume, p. 1157. The pre-
cedent here followed was that of
George III. and Queen Charlotte;
Earl Grey's Corr. with Will. TV., i.
314.

however, already given his commands to the Clerk of the Parliaments, as already stated.

During the year 1876, her Majesty being about to visit Given in the continent during the session, it became a question ^reign's whether her Majesty could give her royal assent to bills, by frb08^Dtne commission, during her absence from the realm. No case realn>could be found in which the royal assent had been so given: but in the 2nd William and Mary, " for the exercise of the Government by his Majesty during his Majesty's absence" (in Ireland), there was a proviso that "nothing should be taken to exclude or debar his Majesty, during his absence from the realm, from the exercise of any act of royal power, but that every such act should be as good and effectual as if his Majesty was within this realm; " and it had been stated by the lord chancellor (Lyndhurst), 7th August, 1845, that any act which her Majesty "could do as sovereign would have as much validity and effect, if done on the continent of Europe, as if done in her own dominions."1 The lord chancellor (Cairns) also, in 1876, gave it as his opinion (privately) that her Majesty would be able to give the royal assent to bills while absent from the realm; and this course has been followed whenever the necessity arose.

When Acts are passed, the original ingrossment rolls (or, ingr0M_ since 1849, the authenticated vellum prints) are preserved ment ro11'in the House of Lords; and all public and local and personal Acts, and nearly all private Acts, are printed by the King's printer;a and printed copies are referred to as evidence in courts of law. The original rolls or prints may also be seen when necessary, and copies taken, on the payment of certain fees.

All Acts of Parliament, of which the commencement was commencenot specifically enacted, were formerly held, in law, to take of effect from the first day of the session: but the Clerk or clerk assistant of the Parliaments is now required by Act 83 Geo. III. c. 18, to indorse, in English, on every Act of

1 82 H. D. 8 s. 1515. 1891, 18th Feb. 1892, 1 Pari. Deb.

* See debate on printer's error in i s. 687. See also p. 816. the Elementary Education Aot,

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Forms not binding in the progress of bills.

Bills passed with unusual expedition.

Parliament, immediately after the title, the day, month, and
year when the same shall have passed and received the
royal assent, which indorsement is to be a part of the Act,
and to be the date of its commencement, when no other
commencement is provided in the Act itself.

The forms commonly observed by both houses, in the
passing of bills, having been explained, it must be under-
stood that they are not absolutely binding. Though founded
upon long parliamentary usage, either house may vary its
own peculiar forms, without question elsewhere, and without
affecting the validity of any act which has received, in proper
form, the ultimate sanction of the three branches of the
legislature. If an informality be discovered during the
progress of a bill, the house in which it originated will
either order the bill to be withdrawn, or will annul the in-
formal proceeding itself, and all subsequent proceedings:1
but if irregularities escape detection until the bill has
passed, no subsequent notice can be taken of them, as it
is the business of each house to enforce compliance with
its own orders and practice.

In the ordinary progress of a bill, the proceedings either BOit wi follow from day to day, or some days are allowed to inter- "forthvitK vene between each stage subsequent to the first reading; yets" p"M1" when a pressing emergency arises, bills are passed through all

their stages in the same day, and even by both houses,3 and mty Mis, the royal assent has also been signified on the same day.8 5ee p'

• 106 0. 3. 82. 209; 108 ib. 412. 678; 109 ib. 96 ; 114 ib. 138; 134 ib. 300.

« 58 C. J. 645. 646 ; 98 ib. 491; 103 ib. 770; 107 ib. 77. 863. 878; 108 ib. 21; 110 ib. 294; 121 ib. 239.

'Bill for recruiting the land forces, 3rd April, 1744, 24 ib. 636639; Seamen's Additional Pay Bill, 9th May, 1797, 52 ib. 555. 557. 558. Habeas Corpus Suspension (Ireland) Bill, 17th Feb. 1866, 121 ib. 88. In this latter case, the bill was passed by both houses on a Saturday, and the Queen being at Osborne, the commission, with the bill annexed,

was forwarded to her Majesty in the
morning, and the agreement of both
houses having been communicated
later in the day by telegraph, her
Majesty signed the commission and
despatched it to Westminster. In
1871, the Queen being at Balmoral,
and again, in 1876, while the Queen
was in Germany, the telegraph was
used in like manner. On the 9th
April, 1888 (138 ib. 127.128), the Ex-
plosive Substances Bill was passed
through all its stages, in both
houses, and received the royal
assent on the following day at
twelve o'clock.

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