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Royal Assent is the Monarch’s agreement that a bill which has completed all its stages of consideration in the UK Parliament or in one of the devolved legislatures should become a legally binding Act. By convention, this is a formality granted under the Royal Prerogative.

History of Royal Assent

The practice of a monarch signifying Royal Assent to bills passed by Parliament began during the 15th century. This was always done in person in the House of Lords, although after 1542 legislation allowed for the king to signify assent by Letters Patent which would then be communicated to Parliament. The last time a monarch granted assent in person was in 1854. After that point, it was always granted by Commission, until further legislation in 1967 allowed for a simpler procedure of notification in each House of Parliament. Royal Assent was last withheld by a monarch in 1708. Formally, Assent is provided upon advice from ministers, but also from both Houses or, if the Parliament Acts have been applied, from the Commons alone.

Procedure for Royal Assent

At Westminster, Royal Assent is granted via Commissions which, unlike other documents which pass under the Great Seal, are signed by the Monarch. This includes a Schedule with a list of bills which are, or will be, ready to receive assent. For legislation passed by the legislatures of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, assent is signified by Letters Patent under the appropriate local seal. They are also signed by the Monarch.

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