A SCOTTISH Government memo has revealed that “it is almost certain” proposed laws have secretly been changed to secure approval from the Queen.

Through a constitutional mechanism called “Queen’s Consent”, the monarch is given an opportunity to look over prospective laws that could affect her property and public powers.

This is not the same as Royal Assent, which is given to bills to make them acts of Parliament, as it occurs before legislation is approved by either the UK or Holyrood parliaments.

Previous reports have revealed that there had been 67 instances where the procedure had allowed the Queen to vet draft laws in Holyrood.

Representatives for the Queen had previously refused to say how many times the process had been used to request alterations to legislation. Buckingham Palace has said that Queen does not use Crown Consent, which is what it is called in Scotland, to change the nature of bills.

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However, a memo obtained by The Guardian has revealed the first explicit admission that Crown Consent can be used to alter legislation to assuage concerns of the Queen.

The memo also confirmed that the monarch’s lawyers can discuss the substance of bills with the Scottish Government and admits “it is almost certain some bills were changed before introduction to address concerns about crown consent”.

This means that MSPs in Holyrood would not have any knowledge of bills being amended through this procedure.

It has previously been revealed that the Queen used her access to the UK Government to influence ministers to change UK legislation to benefit her own interests between the late 1960s and 2021.

Versions of Crown Consent operate in the UK, Scottish and Welsh parliaments and stipulate that laws cannot be enacted without the Queen’s approval if a bill could affect her public powers or private interests, such as her estate at Balmoral.

And critics have said that the shadowy mechanism allows the unelected head of state to secure her private interests without any scrutiny from the public.

In 2021, the Queen’s lawyers lobbied the Scottish Government in secret to change a draft law to exclude her private property from a carbon-cutting initiative. The exception meant the Queen was the only landowner in Scotland who didn’t have to facilitate the construction of pipelines that would use renewable energy to heat buildings.

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Last year, evidence was published that showed that the Queen has vetted at least 67 Scottish laws after the Scottish LibDems uncovered correspondence revealing the use of Crown Consent in Scotland.

Some weeks later, then leader of the Scottish Libdems, Willie Rennie, asked the Scottish Government for a list of laws that had been altered due to exchanges with representatives of the Queen. Rennie also asked for the publication of concerns raised by the monarch about draft laws and of the Scottish government’s responses.

The Government refused this request.

A memo has now been revealed, which was prepared by civil servants for George Adam, an SNP minister who replied to Rennie, that details how the Queen can use Crown Consent to influence Scottish laws.

The official memo, which can be seen in full here, states: “It is also almost certain that some bills were changed before introduction in order to address concerns about crown consent, however these will not have been ‘amended’ in parliamentary terms and so would not be included in such a list.”

The note confirmed that government lawyers liaised with the Queen’s solicitor when it was thought her consent was required “to discuss the implications of the relevant provision”.

“There may also be policy discussions with representatives of the Queen,” the memo says.

The mechanism has been used at least 67 times by the Queen to vet Scottish draft laws

It also says that the Scottish Government decided it would be too expensive to make a list of bills that had been altered through the procedure. The Government also refused to publish any letters from the Queen’s lawyers, saying that they had to remain secret to protect her constitutional and legal privileges.

This means there is no public scrutiny of alterations made to proposed laws in order to get approval from the Queen.

Leader of the Scottish LibDems, Alex Cole-Hamilton, said he would write to Alison Johnston, Holyrood’s presiding officer, and Nicola Sturgeon to request an urgent statement on the memo’s publication.

“These documents suggest that there has been meddling in the process even before government legislation was first shown to parliament,” he said.

“It appears as if, with the willing compliance of Scottish ministers, the crown has maintained a back channel to sneak amendments into legislation in such a way as to leave no way for the public or their parliamentary representatives to ever know that changes had been requested or made.

“This is an astonishing overturning of the widely held principle that the monarch does not legislate for her own benefit.”

The Government has said that it was legally obliged to acquiesce to Crown Consent and that MSPs could enquire about the mechanism when it was used. It also said that secrecy surrounding the substance and outcome of its talks with the Queen’s representatives was justified.

“While the Scottish government welcomes transparency in relation to this process, it is important that the government protects the necessary private space ministers and officials require to explore issues and develop policy,” it said.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the memo when contacted by The Guardian.