Friday, 30 December 2016

Brexit Appeal: Did the Queen put the Royal Prerogative in the hands of Parliament in 1972?

In this post I want to draw attention to a key question relating to the Brexit Appeal before the United Kingdom Supreme Court which, so far as I can find, has not been considered by the Supreme Court.

The key information which underlies the question which I ask in this post is to be found in the statement of the then Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster during the Second Reading of the European Communities Bill on 15th February 1972.

The Hansard account of the Second Reading is to be found here:

Sir Geoffrey Rippon's statement begins at Column 269.

The key part of Sir Geoffrey's statement is the following:

I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Bill, has consented to place Her interest and prerogative, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.
I am aware of no other occasion on which the Sovereign has "placed at the disposal of Parliament" the Sovereign's "interest and prerogative".

Am I correct in thinking that Sir Geoffrey Rippon's statement means that Parliament (i.e. the House of Commons and the House of Lords) has control of all aspects of the Royal Prerogative as it applies to matters which relate to the European Union (as it now is)?

If so, it seems to me that Theresa May's plan to use the Royal Prerogative to notify a decision of the kind expressed in Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union is dead in the water.

If the Queen has placed "at the disposal of Parliament" her "interest and prerogative" it seems to me that Parliament has full control of any use of what might in other circumstances be available to the Government by means of the Royal Prerogative.

It seems to me that the Supreme Court must consider this important new information before it hands down its judgement in the Brexit Appeal.

How can this new information be placed before the Supreme Court?

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