Lib Dem researcher discovers proof that the Queen lobbied ministers to change climate change law

Lily Humphries is one of the Lib Dem team in the Scottish Parliament and the brains behind many of our scoops with her freedom of information requests.

She features in in today’s Guardian which reports that Lily discovered that the Queen had successfully lobbied Scottish Government ministers to get an exemption from a new law which “requires landowners to facilitate the construction of pipelines to heat buildings using renewable energy.”

That’s not bad for someone who owns as much land as Her Majesty does. As the Guardian reports:

Her lawyers secured the dispensation from Scotland’s government five months ago by exploiting an obscure parliamentary procedure known as Queen’s consent, which gives the monarch advance sight of legislation.

The arcane parliamentary mechanism has been borrowed from Westminster, where it has existed as a custom since the 1700s.

The article explains:

The new documents, uncovered by Lily Humphreys, a researcher for the Scottish Liberal Democrats using freedom of information laws, disclose how the monarch used her special access to Scottish legislation to intervene in the parliamentary process as recently as February.

Not only that, but the Government didn’t tell Parliament about this as Willie Rennie pointed out:

Willie Rennie, who stood down recently as leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said the documents raised concerns about “secret doors” made available to the monarch to change laws. “Others who lobby for changes have to declare it,” he said. “That should be true for everyone.”

Rennie added: “The Queen rightly does not express her views publicly and does so privately with the prime minister and first minister. However, this is different. It’s about the interests of the head of state’s assets and direct interests. Any of these communications should be notified publicly and openly so we can judge for ourselves.”

It’s worth pointing out that Freedom of Information laws were introduced in Scotland in the first term of the Scottish Parliament on the insistence of the Liberal Democrats who were then in coalition with Labour. It is a core Lib Dem value to make Government more transparent and accountable and this episode is a good example of why this legislation is needed. We would otherwise probably never have known.

Lily is a brilliant researcher who writes the best briefings. I did a lot of national hustings during the recent Scottish Parliament election and I felt well prepared and briefed going into them because of her careful and detailed work. I am pleased that her talents are being recognised in the national press.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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10 Comments

  • Yes, indeed, it’s all over the Guardian. Definitely needs resisting and sorting ou, and surprised Nicola let it go through (if she did ?) – especially given the importance of climate change. And, well done to, Lily.

    The only word of caution to Caron’s article is to guess that H.M. herself probably had very little to do with it…… more likely to be one of the faceless hangers on who surround the Ruritanian Monarchical system we’re stuck with. I can’t suppose Charles will be over thrilled with it, although I understand the Duchy of Cornwall and the Duchy of Lancaster practised the same techniques Down South.

    It could be said…….. it more than takes the Duchy Original biscuit.

  • Having re-read the Guardian article, I note that the Scottish Government has issued a statement to the effect, ““Scottish government policy is that the crown should be subject to regulatory requirements on the same basis as everyone else, unless there is a legitimate reason for an exemption or variation. However, crown consent is required by law if a bill impacts the private property or interests of the sovereign – and that is what happened in this case.”

    One wonders whether ‘Queen’s Consent’ is a Reserved Matter for Westminster regardless of whatever Holyrood may or may not think……. ?

  • Christine Headley 28th Jul '21 - 11:06pm

    The story has even made the Austrian media. https://orf.at/stories/3222782/ (No mention of the LibDems, though.)

  • Steve Trevethan 29th Jul '21 - 11:08am

    « And What Do You Do—What the Royal Family Don’t Want You to Know » by Norman Baker is similarly interesting and informative.

  • The clarity of the article is focused on procedural aspects, the details of actual scheme are a bit sketchy.

    Is there a good source that sets out arguments for and against the scheme as it applies to everyone else?

  • @FSPeople – Just from the information in the Guardian article, I would oppose it, because of the compulsory purchase provisions in the bill. The amendment seems to simply put the Queen’s estates on the same footing as Government and Crown land, namely, they can not be compulsorily purchased.

    However, I suspect the complaint isn’t about this specific bill, but about the behind the scenes relationship between HM Government and HM. Which goes all the way back to the English Civil War settlement.

  • John Marriott 29th Jul '21 - 7:15pm

    What do you expect? Come on your Majesty, play the game!

  • Good interview on Channel 4 News tonight with Andy Wightman, the former Scottish Green MSP who first raised the matter in Holyrood of Queens Consent in relation to Balmoral. Clarifies a lot of the issues people are asking about. Should be on iplayer.

  • It seems to be just a technicality. Apparently the Sovereign was not allowed to own any private property until about 150 years ago and Balmoral was owned by Albert the Prince Consort but a problem arose when he died prematurely and the law was changed to allow the Monarch to own private property. I would not think from its situation that the Sovereign’s private residence would be much affected by the Scottish Government’s proposals.

    Maybe this is a smokescreen to cover up the shocking death toll from drugs in Scotland. That nation had the misfortune to have the Christian equivalent of the Taliban impose an extreme form of Calvinism and opposition to the monarchy since 1560 . These people seemed to oppose any form of pleasure so people turned to excessive drinking of alcohol and then drug taking but just as the position of the Church of Scotland was weakening they had the Scottish Nationalists impose their will. Anyone who has had any dealings with that group will know what an oppressive force it is. No doubt those English people who like that sort of thing will be happy there and the scenery is nice but it does offer an explanation of the Scottish character.

  • John Littler 31st Jul '21 - 8:56am

    Whether Her Maj or a bureaucrat instigated this this is not the issue. Those bureaucrats do not so much as shiver without express permission.

    This is not a good look for Royals. Anti Green as well as pulling strings for cost saving exceptionalism.

    Oh well, they can always afford to end their days in a luxury secret bunker under a farm in N.Z provisioned by Harrods for the next 100 years, neighbouring other Billionaires, their location of choice.

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