As I understand it, prorogation is a power which can be exercised only by the monarch who must act on whatever advice they receive from the prime minister.

With this in mind, is prorogation something Parliament could legislate on? Could parliament for instance pass a law limiting the amount of time a prorogation could be called for, or is prorogation completely outside of the scope of parliamentary power?


It's certainly not "completely outside of the scope of parliamentary power", given that the constitutional convention in the UK is based on parliamentary supremacy, but it's also the case that prorogation being formally a prerogative of the Queen, her consent would have to be obtained to discuss any legislation, which in practice means the consent of the government. Of course, in usual circumstances, the government [also] commands a majority in parliament...

What this means in the current circumstances is that BoJo has a (de facto) veto on such a law.

For some example when such a change to a royal prerogative did happen, the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011 abolished the monarch's (effectively, the government's) power to dissolve Parliament at will, which until then was also a royal prerogative. But this Act left prorogation untouched.

As an example when the government exercised its (de facto) veto over a royal prerogative

In 1999, Queen Elizabeth II, acting on the advice of her British Cabinet, refused to signify her consent to the Parliament of the United Kingdom debating the Military Action Against Iraq (Parliamentary Approval) Bill, which sought to transfer from the sovereign to parliament the power to authorize military strikes against Iraq.

As Jotia points out in a comment below, the official language is that the monarch "signifies" (gives) or doesn't give her consent "on the advice of" minsters. In practice, that means the government has this power. I think last time a monarch's representative refused to follow such "advice" was the King–Byng affair in Canada, in the 1920s.

  • I'm wondering if some of the content of the links should be pulled into quotes? Particularly the link between the Queen's consent and Government Consent. I know the link doesn't say much more than "on the advice of her ministers", but even so. – Jontia Sep 18 '19 at 8:03

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .