The Queen on a visit to Scotland (2018): Controversial special rule
Photo: Jane Barlow / AFP
For the energy transition in Scotland, property owners have to cut back - this is provided for by a new Scottish law, the "Heat Energy Bill".
But of all things for a prominent landowner there is an exception in the set of rules: Elizabeth II, the Queen of England.
Your lawyers are said to have taken care of the special rule in a secret lobbying action, reports the British newspaper "The Guardian".
Scottish landowners can be forced to sell their land to make way for new heat pipelines. The technology should enable climate-friendly heating networks and thus fewer greenhouse gas emissions. But Buckingham Palace lawyers are said to have insisted that royal land ownership be exempted from the rule, according to the Guardian. A corresponding amendment specifically mentions land owned by the Queen.
In doing so, Buckingham Palace apparently took advantage of a controversial formality in Scottish law - a royal consent clause called "Queen's Consent." According to this rule, the lawyers of the royal family must be informed if a new law could affect the powers or private interests of the monarch. Actually a formality - which, according to critics, is often used by the royal family to influence legislation in their own right. The spicy thing: According to the Guardian, the members of parliament were not informed of the intervention of the royal lawyers.
Andy Wightman, a member of parliament, wondered about the exemption in February during the legislative debate. This was necessary in order to achieve the "smooth adoption", was the statement made by Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse at the time. According to the Guardian, Wheelhouse should not have disclosed that the lawyers at Buckingham Palace had insisted on the exception. The MP Wightman is "shocked" by the royal intervention: "That should have been said in the debate," the Guardian quotes him. In the past few months, the newspaper had reported several times on how the British royal family influenced the legislative process.
The royal family rejects the impression that the law has been changed in favor of the queen: "The royal family can be consulted on laws to ensure technical correctness and consistency in the application of the laws to the crown," the Guardian quotes one Speaker.
"This process does not change the nature of such a law."
The royal family is one of the largest landowners in the United Kingdom - a historical holdover that pays off: By leasing the crown lands, the monarchs bolstered their coffers for centuries.