The Meeting of Parliament Act 1797 starts with:

Whenever his Majesty, his heirs or successors, shall be pleased,

The Prorogation Act 1867 starts with:

Whenever (save as herein-after excepted) Her Majesty shall be pleased,

The former explicitly mentions heirs and successors, whereas the latter doesn't. Is there a difference, legally, between the phrasings? To me, the latter would seem only to apply to the reigning monarch at the time of the act's passing (or, perhaps, any female monarch in the future). Practically, though, this doesn't seem the case, bringing me to question why the phrasing is different at all, when such detail seems to be put into the way these are worded.

1 Answer 1


Section 30 of the Interpretation Act 1889 (PDF only) says

In this Act and every other Act, whether passed before or after the commencement of this Act, references to the Sovereign reigning at the time of the passing of the Act or to the Crown shall, unless the contrary intention appears, be construed as references to the Sovereign for the time being, and this Act shall be binding on the Crown.

The words "for the time being" mean that any mention of Queen Victoria (or indeed any other monarch) is to be taken as a mention of whoever the reigning sovereign is at the time. By referring to prior Acts, this Act explicitly makes any reference where "heirs and successors" were not mentioned into a reference which includes them.

This Act was repealed in its entirety by the Interpretation Act 1978, which says basically the same thing at Section 10:

In any Act a reference to the Sovereign reigning at the time of the passing of the Act is to be construed, unless the contrary intention appears, as a reference to the Sovereign for the time being.

The 1978 Act merely says "Any Act", which includes Acts prior to its commencement (this is defined at Paragraph 1 of Schedule 2). It also omits reference to "the Crown" which may or may not be significant; the Crown is a bit of a nebulous concept.

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