Report: Queen Elizabeth secured personal exemption from Scottish climate law

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Attorneys for Queen Elizabeth successfully lobbied Scottish politicians to amend climate change-fighting legislation so as not to require her to assist in an initiative to create pipelines that would use renewable energy to heat commercial and residential spaces, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.

A parliamentary process known as queen’s consent, or in Scotland as crown consent, allows the monarch the ability to look at drafted legislation that could affect her interests, property or powers. Critics point out it gives the queen the ability to lobby for changes that would be included in the final version of a bill. 

The Guardian identified at least 67 incidents where the monarch had early access to look at legislation in the works. The news outlet cited documents from Scottish Liberal Democrats researcher Lily Humphreys, which she received through a freedom of information law, that showed how Queen Elizabeth’s lawyers became involved in the green energy bill in February.

According to The Guardian, the queen is the only one who has received an exemption in this bill. 

The newspaper, citing the documents, said it appears that the queen’s lobbying was not disclosed after a politician in Scotland questioned why she was vying for an exemption for the bill.

In a statement, Buckingham Palace said the monarch’s involvement in the bills was to ensure “technical accuracy and consistency.”

“The royal household can be consulted on bills in order to ensure the technical accuracy and consistency of the application of the bill to the crown, a complex legal principle governed by statute and common law. This process does not change the nature of any such bill,” the spokesperson told The Guardian.

Scotland’s government said in a statement 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.” 

“In this instance, the Scottish Government considered it appropriate to limit the exercise of compulsory purchase powers in relation to the Queen’s private estates,” the spokesperson added.

The spokesperson also said that Paul Wheelhouse, the former energy minister who proposed an amendment in response to concerns raised by the Queen’s lawyers at the time, had adequately argued why the amendment was valid.

“The minister explained in detail to parliament the reasons why it was appropriate to amend the bill in this way – with specific reference to the Queen’s private estates – and parliament agreed,” the spokesperson said.

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