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article imageUK: Secret papers show extent of senior royals' veto over bills

By Eileen Kersey     Jan 15, 2013 in Politics
The appointment of a UK Information Commissioner, and introduction of the Freedom of Information Act, have resulted in many 'secrets' being made public. The latest revelations relate to Prince Charles and the Queen, with regard to the royal veto.
Early in September it was announced that a request, regarding the 'royal veto' had been made, under the British Freedom of Information Act. The Independent reported that, dependent on a decision by the Information Commissioner, details of royal powers over government could be released.
The request for royal veto details stemmed from concerns over Prince Charles. Campaigners believed that he was using the 'royal veto' to interfere in government. The veto allows the Queen and, or, Prince Charles to intervene and, in doing so, halt government legislation. Prince Charles was known to have intervened on 'issues ranging from architecture to nanotechnology'.
The government cabinet office was told to hand over previously 'secret' papers but instead it launched an appeal. Today as the Guardian reports, 'Downing Street' has lost this appeal.
Prince Charles derives a £17 million private income, annually, from the Duchy of Cornwall. The Prince has been asked to consent on draft bills involving his role as head of the Duchy of Cornwall.
Whitehall papers prepared by the Cabinet Office legal team are available online in a pamphlet. This document was only released following a court order ordering this action. It shows that senior British royals have used their power of veto on 39 bills. The legislation that was thrown out is not 'minor'. Decisions as to the UK going to war, for example.
The release of the Whitehall papers makes it clear that senior royals are consulted much more frequently than was previously believed. The issues range from 'higher education and paternity pay to identity cards and child maintenance'.
Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives said, "This is opening the eyes of those who believe the Queen only has a ceremonial role. "It shows the royals are playing an active role in the democratic process and we need greater transparency in parliament so we can be fully appraised of whether these powers of influence and veto are really appropriate. At any stage this issue could come up and surprise us and we could find parliament is less powerful than we thought it was."
John Kirkhope, who fought for the publication of this information said, "There has been an implication that these prerogative powers are quaint and sweet but actually there is real influence and real power, albeit unaccountable."
What may concern British citizens is the extent of powers senior royals have over 'laws affecting their sources of private income.' This includes revenue from lands and estates which help fund private homes of the Royals.
Andrew George has now listed questions, regrading the matter, for government ministers to answer. Importantly his request will include what bills have been vetoed or amended, after royal intervention.
More about United Kingdom, Great britain, UK politics, David Cameron, Prince charles
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