Royal Succession Bills and Acts

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Royal Succession Bills and Acts are pieces of (proposed) legislation to determine the legal line of succession to the Monarchy of the United Kingdom.

A Succession to the Crown Bill is a proposed piece of legislation in the United Kingdom, presented as a Private Members Bill or Government Bill, in either the House of Commons or House of Lords, which aims to alter the laws of succession to the UK Monarchy.

The Crown is a corporation sole that represents the legal embodiment of executive, legislative, or judicial governance. It evolved as a separation of the literal crown and property of the nation state from the person and personal property of the monarch. In this context it should not be confused with any physical crown.

A bill is a proposed law under consideration by a legislature.[1] A bill is not law until passed by the legislature and, in most cases, approved by the executive, Privy Council and monarch by Royal Assent. Once a bill is enacted into law it is called an "act" or "statute".

Background to succession laws[edit]

Numerous Bills and Acts of succession were used to determine heirs and potential heirs to the throne, during the reign of the incumbent monarch, and especially before, during and after the changeovers between the Tudors, Stuarts, Hanoverians, and Sax-Coburg and Gotha to the present Windsors, all of which necessitated changes and amendments to prior succession legislation to accommodate circumstances of the day. Historically and presently, legislation to amend laws of succession generally argue for amendments to several historic acts, adjudged relevant to succession issues of the day. The Bill of Rights 1688 and the Coronation Oath Act 1688, the Act of Settlement 1700, the Union with Scotland Act 1706, the Sophia Naturalization Act 1705 and Princess Sophia's Precedence Act 1711, the Royal Marriages Act 1772, the Union with Ireland Act 1800, the Accession Declaration Act 1910 and the Regency Act 1937. The 1937 Regency Act came into legislative existence as a consequence of the abdication of King Edward VIII, as such passing succession to his brother Albert Duke of York (King George VI) in 1937, who was succeeded by his daughter Queen Elizabeth II in 1952.

Legislative procedures of bills[edit]

A representation of the legislative procedure.

Pre-legislative Scrutiny: Joint committee of both houses review bill and vote on amendments that government can accept or reject. Reports are influential in later stages as rejected committee recommendations are revived to be voted on.

Number-1 (dark green).pngFirst Reading: No vote occurs. Bill is presented, printed, and in private members' bills, a Second Reading date is set.

Number-2 (dark green).pngSecond Reading: A debate on the general principles of the bill is followed by a vote.

Committee Stage: A committee considers each clause of the bill, and may make amendments.

Report Stage: An opportunity to amend the bill. The House consider clauses to which amendments have been tabled.

Number-3 (dark green).pngThird Reading: A debate on final text as amended. In the Lords, further amendments may be tabled at this stage.

Passage: The bill is then sent to the other House which may amend it.

 NYCS-bull-trans-1.svg First Reading: Same procedures

 NYCS-bull-trans-2.svg Second Reading: Same procedures

Committee Stage: Same procedures

Report Stage: Same procedures

 NYCS-bull-trans-3.svg Third Reading: Same procedures

Passage: The bill is then returned to the original House.

Pre-legislative Scrutiny to consider all amendments.

The bill is then processed for Royal Assent, if accepted, the bill becomes an Act.

BBC Parliament Logo.svg Making new law   Types of bill   Bill procedure   First reading   Second reading   Commons committee stage   Lords committee stage   Report stage   Third reading  Passage through the other House   Royal assent  Delegated legislation BBC Parliament Logo.svg

Modern bills and acts of succession[edit]

Elizabeth II[edit]

The Succession to the Crown Act 2013 is a piece of legislation in the United Kingdom, which alters the laws of succession to the British throne.[2] It was published on 13 December 2012 and received Royal Assent on 25 April 2013.[3] Known as the Perth Agreement, on 28 October 2011, at a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in Perth, Western Australia, heads of government of 16 Commonwealth realms, which share Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, announced that they would introduce legislation to end the primacy of male children over female in the succession to the Crown.[4] The Succession to the Crown Bill is to give effect in the United Kingdom to the agreement between heads of government.

The argument for changing the law on succession can be stated simply: the law as it stands is considered to discriminate against women and Catholics. The Government has said that it opposes discrimination in all forms, including against Catholics. However, numerous attempts to alter the succession to remove such clauses through Private Members’ bills have not been successful, and the Government has now brought forward its own legislation on the matter. Consequently to change the law, the government have sought consent of the fifteen Commonwealth countries that have the Queen as their head of state, under the preamble to the Statute of Westminster 1931. Amending old legislation fundamental to the British constitution, have raised further questions about the nature of the established church and the Union between England and Scotland.

Private Members' bills

Member Bill Readings Summary of Bill
Michael English MP

Labour
Succession to the Crown Bill 1981-82 [5]

Presented in the House of Commons during the Conservative Government of PM Margaret Thatcher
First Reading: 2-12-1981 To amend the law with respect to the succession to the Crown.
Simon Hughes MP

Liberal Democrats
Constitutional Reform Bill 1990-91 [6]

Presented in the Commons during the Conservative Government of PM Margaret Thatcher.
First Reading: 3-07-1991 To amend the law relating to the succession, rights and responsibilities of the Crown.
Lord Archer

( Conservative )
Succession to the Crown Bill 1996-97 [7]

Presented in the House of Lords during the Conservative Government of PM John Major.
First Reading: 18-02-1997 To remove any distinction between sexes in determining the succession to the Crown.
Lord Archer

( Conservative )
Succession to the Crown Bill 1997-98 [8][9]

Presented in the Lords during the Labour Government of PM Tony Blair.
First Reading: 31-07-1997Second Reading: 27-02-1998
Withdrawn
To remove any distinction between sexes in determining the succession to the Crown.
Kevin McNamara MP

Labour
Treason Felony, Act of Settlement and Parliamentary Oath Bill 2001-02 [10]

Presented in the Commons during the Labour Government of PM Tony Blair.
First Reading: 19-12-2001 To provide that persons in communion with the Roman Catholic church are able to succeed to the Crown.
Lord Dubs

( Labour )
Succession to the Crown Bill 2004-05 [11]

Presented in the Lords during the Labour Government of PM Tony Blair.
First Reading: 8-12-2004Second Reading: 14-01-2005
Withdrawn
To make provision about succession to the Crown and about Royal marriages.
Rt Hon
Ann Taylor MP

Labour
Succession to the Crown ( No. 2 ) Bill 2004-05 [12]

Presented in the Commons during the Labour Government of PM Tony Blair.
First Reading: 12-01-2005 To make provision about succession to the Crown and about Royal marriages.
Jonathan Sayeed MP

Conservative
Succession to the Crown and Retirement of the Sovereign Bill 2004-05 [13]

Presented in the Commons during the Labour Government of PM Tony Blair.
First Reading: 25-01-2005
Negatived
To provide for Sovereigns to be chosen by House of Commons from the family of the preceding Sovereign; to provide that all such Sovereigns shall cease to be Sovereign at the age of 75.
Rt Hon
Edward Leigh MP

Conservative
Royal Marriages ( Freedom of Religion ) Bill 2005 [14]

Presented in the Commons during the Labour Government of PM Tony Blair.
First Reading: 8-03-2005 To allow any member of the Royal Family to marry a person of any religion or none.
Rt Hon
John Gummer MP

Conservative
Catholics ( Prevention of Discrimination ) Bill 2006-07 [15]

Presented in the Commons during the Labour Government of PM Tony Blair.
First Reading: 20-02-2007 To remove remaining legislative discrimination against Catholics.
Evan Harris MP

Liberal Democrats
Royal Marriages and Succession to the Crown ( Prevention of Discrimination ) Bill 2008-09 [16]

Presented in the Commons during the Labour Government of PM Gordon Brown.
First Reading: 27-03-2009Second Reading: 27-03-2009
Adjourned
To remove primogeniture from the line of succession and to enable the Monarch to marry a Catholic
Keith Vaz MP

Labour
Succession to the Crown Bill 2010-11 [17]

Presented in the Commons during the Conservative (Coalition) Government of PM David Cameron.
First Reading: 18-01-2011Second Reading: 18-01-2011
Adjourned
To amend the Act of Settlement 1700 to remove distinction between sexes in determining succession to the Crown.
Government bill
Rt Hon [18][19]
Nick Clegg MP
Liberal Democrats
Cabinet Office [20]
Succession to the Crown Act 2013 [12]

Presented in the Commons during the Conservative (Coalition) Government of PM David Cameron.
First Reading: 13-12-2012Second Reading: 22-01-2013. Inc Committee Stage. Report Stage.Third Reading: 28-01-2013
First Reading: 29-01-2013 Second Reading: 14-02-2013 Second Reading: 22-04-2013
Royal Assent
on 25-04-2013
To make provision about
succession to the Crown
and about Royal marriages.

Historical bills and acts of succession[edit]

Henry VIII[edit]

Main article: Henry VIII of England

The First, Second and Third Succession Acts were created to determine successors of Henry VIII, in consequence of his several wives. These circumstances evoked more legislation. In response to his excommunication; that Henry's imperial crown had been diminished by "the unreasonable and uncharitable usurpations and exactions" of the Pope, the Act of Supremacy in 1534 declared that the King was "the only Supreme Head in Earth of the Church of England" and the Treasons Act 1534 made it high treason, punishable by death, to refuse to acknowledge the King as such.

Henry8England.jpg
Henry VIII
Anneboleyn2.jpg
Anne Boleyn
Jane Seymour. Workshop of Hans Holbein the Younger.jpg
Jane Seymour
The First Act of Succession (1534) [21]

On 23 March 1534, Parliament passed this Act, to vest the succession of the English Crown in the children of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. This effectively set Princess Elizabeth (later Elizabeth I) first in line for the throne, declaring Princess Mary (later Mary I) a bastard. It was also proclaimed that if commanded, subjects were to swear an oath to recognizing this Act as well as the King's supremacy. People who refused to take the oath, including Sir Thomas More, were charged with treason.[22]


The Second Act of Succession (1536)
Succession to the Crown: Marriage Act 1536.[23]

The Second Succession Act of Henry VIII's reign was passed in June 1536, removing both Mary and Elizabeth from the line of the succession. This Act followed the execution of Anne Boleyn, and superseded the First Succession Act. This new Act now declared Elizabeth to be a bastard also. As a result, Henry was left without any legitimate child to inherit the throne until his son Prince Edward was born in October 1537.


The Third Act of Succession (1544).[24]

In July 1543, Parliament passed the third Act of Succession. This act overrode the first Act of 1534, and the second Act of 1536. This third act, which gained Royal Assent at the close of Parliament in February 1544, established the new line of succession from his marriage to Jane Seymour as; Prince Edward (later Edward VI), then any children he were to have; then a son Henry VIII might have with Katherine Parr; that potential son's possible children; then children from marriages after Queen Katherine, if any; then Mary; Mary's children, if any; then Elizabeth.[25]

Elizabeth I when a Princess.jpg
Elizabeth I
Mary I by Master John.png
Mary I
Edward VI of England c. 1546.jpg
Edward VI

William and Mary[edit]

Main article: Bill of Rights 1688

Historical precedence of prior succession acts usually determines later succession issues. There are several events in the history of royal successions showing why succession acts were necessary at the time of their creation. The Bill of Rights 1688 [26] came about as a consequence of the circumstances after the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, and the successions of William III and Mary II, who became regents in return for accepting this Bill of Rights, and a new Coronation Oath Act 1688, from the Convention Parliament.[27]

The Bill of Rights limited royal power and established the supremacy of Parliament. This rights bill also established the frequency of parliaments, freedom of speech in parliament, debates or proceedings not to be questioned out of parliament. This Bill also especially established that; "without parliamentary consent the king could not"; suspend or create laws, raise taxes by prerogative, or raise a standing army in peace time.

The Oath Act reiterated precedent that "By the Law and Ancient Usage of this Realm" monarchs of England took a solemn coronation oath to maintain the statute laws and customs of the country and of its inhabitants. This established a new coronation oath to be taken by future monarchs. This oath was different from the traditional coronation oath which recognized laws as being the grant of the King, whereas the Act's new oath sought the King to rule according to the law agreed in parliament.[28]

Edward VIII[edit]

Bundesarchiv Bild 102-13538, Edward Herzog von Windsor.jpg

His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936 (1 Edw. 8 & 1 Geo. 6 c. 3), was the Act of the British Parliament that recognized and ratified the abdication of King Edward VIII from the throne of the United Kingdom and the dominions of the British Commonwealth, and passed succession to his brother Prince Albert, Duke of York (who became King George VI). The Act also excluded any possible future descendants of Edward from the line of succession. Edward VIII abdicated in order to marry his lover, Wallis Simpson, after facing opposition from the governments of the United Kingdom and the British dominions. Although Edward VIII had signed a declaration of abdication the previous day (10 December 1936), he was still King until he gave royal assent to this Act, which occurred on 11 December.[29] The Act was passed through the Houses of Parliament in one day, with no amendments.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ;definition of "bill": "A proposed law presented to a legislative body for consideration."
  2. ^ http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2012-13/successiontothecrown.html
  3. ^ Succession to the Crown Bill, clause 5(4) (as introduced).
  4. ^ "Girls equal in British throne succession". BBC. 28 October 2011. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  5. ^ Hansard: 14 c270
  6. ^ Hansard: 194 c340-2
  7. ^ Hansard: 578 c555
  8. ^ Hansard: 582 c313
  9. ^ Hansard: 586 c909-18
  10. ^ Hansard: 377 c319-25
  11. ^ Hansard: 667 c903 and Hansard: 668 c495-515
  12. ^ a b Hansard: 429 c314
  13. ^ Hansard: 430 c161-3
  14. ^ Hansard: 431 c1392-4
  15. ^ Hansard: c154-6
  16. ^ Hansard: 490 c556-629
  17. ^ Hansard: 521 c704-06
  18. ^ Privy Council: http://www.parliament.uk/site-information/glossary/privy-council/
  19. ^ Nick Clegg. Privy Council Office: http://privycouncil.independent.gov.uk/
  20. ^ Cabinet Office: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/content/about-cabinet-office
  21. ^ 25 HENRY VIII, CAP. 22.[Transcr. Statutes of the Realm, iii. 471.]
  22. ^ Jokinen, Anniina. “The Act of Succession, 1534.” Luminarium. 11 June 2002. [Date accessed: 18 January 2013].
    <http://www.luminarium.org/encyclopedia/firstsuccession.htm>
  23. ^ 28 Henry VIII c.7)
  24. ^ 35 HENRY VIII, CAP. 1. 3 S. R. 955. Act Fixing the Succession
  25. ^ Jokinen, Anniina. “The Third Act of Succession, 1544.” Luminarium. 16 June 2011. [Date accessed: 18 January 2013]. <http://www.luminarium.org/encyclopedia/thirdsuccession.htm>
  26. ^ Bill of Rights, 1689. Parliamentary Archives HL/PO/PU/1/1688/1W
  27. ^ 1688 c. 6 (Regnal. 1_Will_and_Mar)
  28. ^ Harris, Tim Revolution: The Great Crisis of the British Monarchy 1685 - 1720 Allen Lane (2006) p349
  29. ^ Text of the Royal Succession Bills and Acts as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from the UK Statute Law Database