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Bills and Laws

Crown consent

Some Bills need "Crown consent" before they can become law.

What is Crown consent?

Crown consent is a process which requires Scottish Government ministers to seek the consent of the Crown in relation to certain Bills.

Who gives Crown consent? 

Consent may be required from the King, the Prince and Steward of Scotland, or the Duke of Cornwall. At the moment, the Prince and Steward of Scotland and the Duke of Cornwall are the same person: Prince William. Who has to consent will depend on what the Bill is about.

When is Crown consent required?

The King’s consent is required if a Bill would affect the King’s:

  • prerogative (certain powers and rights that the Crown has, including, for example, the power to appoint Ministers or to give Royal Assent to Bills)
  • hereditary revenues (revenue from land owned by the Crown), or
  • private interests (anything that affects the King personally).

The consent of the Prince and Steward is only needed in very rare cases when the Bill makes provisions specific to the Prince and Steward. Since feudal tenure was abolished in Scotland it is now even less likely to be needed in the future. 

Where does the rule come from?

This rule comes from the Scotland Act 1998 (schedule 3, paragraph 7). It says:

"The standing orders shall include provision for ensuring that a Bill containing provisions which would, if the Bill were a Bill for an Act of Parliament, require the consent of Her Majesty, the Prince and Steward of Scotland or the Duke of Cornwall shall not pass unless such consent has been signified to the Parliament."

The Parliament’s Standing Orders did what was required by the Scotland Act in Rules 9.11, 9A.13 and 9C.15.  These Rules say that a member of the Scottish Government must state that consent has been given before the Parliament debates whether or not to pass the Bill. They state:

"Where a Bill contains provisions, or is amended so as to include provisions, which would, if the Bill were a Bill for an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament, require the consent of Her Majesty, the Prince and Steward of Scotland or the Duke of Cornwall, the Parliament shall not debate any question whether the Bill be passed or approved unless such consent to those provisions has been signified by a member of the Scottish Government during proceedings on the Bill at a meeting of the Parliament."

Read Standing Orders rule 9.11 (in Public Bill Procedures)

Read Standing Orders 9A.13 (in Private Bill Procedures)

Read Standing Orders 9C.15 (in Hybrid Bills Procedures)

When is consent ‘signified’?

In most cases consent will be signified at Stage 3 of a Bill so that account can be taken of any amendments that might affect whether consent is required. This means that a member of the Scottish Government will state in the Chamber, before the start of the Stage 3 debate, that Crown consent has been received.

However, sometimes consent will be signified at Stage 1 instead. This is in cases where the parts of the Bill that need Crown consent are central to the Bill as a whole. In these cases, there would be no point in continuing with the Bill if consent was not received. It is therefore better to know early in the process that consent has been granted. For example, in relation to the Scottish Crown Estate Bill in 2018 consent was signified at Stage 1 because the whole Bill related to Crown interests.

Examples of Crown consent

In Session 5, the Queen’s consent was (or would have been) required in relation to 16 Bills. These were:

Further information

Read more detailed information on this page on King's and Prince's consent

(While the page relates to Westminster, the rules for the Scottish Parliament are tied to these.)

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