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The aspect of monarchy is a subject of contention everywhere, especially with regard to the centuries-old rules associated with the Royal Prerogative and Conventions. The Royal Prerogative refers to the customary privilege and immunity granted to the Crown that is recognized under the common law and civil law jurisdictions. Royal Prerogative is used in view of the remaining discretionary power that is vested in the Crown at any moment. The scope of applicability of the Royal Prerogative is complex to ascertain. A fact is that the existence and the extent of the Royal Prerogative is a matter of common law, implying that the law courts have the final say in determining whether a given Royal Prerogative can be enforced. With regard to the provisions of the Royal Prerogative, the authority to declare war is vested on the sovereign, although it has been vested in the Prime Minister, implying that the PM does not have an obligation to seek the consent of the Parliament. Irrespective of this view, the Coalition government and the Blair government sought Parliamentary approval for war; this makes it difficult to argue the proposition that there exists a convention requiring any government to seek the assent of the Parliament. This paper critically evaluates whether a convention does exist restraining the Royal Prerogative power to go to war.
Constitutional conventions are defined as the rules that are used for determining the manner in which the discretionary authority associated with the Crown have to be exercised. Conventions are examples of constitutional rules that are adopted with the primary aim of controlling and monitoring the use of discretionary power by the Crown. The use of constitutional conventions can be argued to have transformed the British monarchical system towards a parliamentary system. Therefore, conventions have to be judged depending on their capacity to fulfill their intended objectives. This implies that conventions serve to guarantee the supremacy of the electorate as a true political sovereign of the state. As a result, the conventions impose some restraints regarding the use of the discretionary Royal Prerogative powers. Because ministers hold some level of accountability to the Parliament, then it can be argued that the absence if legal control associated with conventions offers restraining roles on the use of the Royal Prerogative powers by the executive.
It is a fact that the Parliament has the capacity to override and displace the Royal Prerogative using statutes. In cases where the Crown has been empowered using the statute to make a decision that it could initially do using the provisions of the prerogative. However, the Royal Prerogative to go to war can be preserved expressively using the statute. It is not precise in relation to what happens in cases whereby the Royal Prerogative has been surpasses the statute. In practical scenarios, it is almost impossible, for the government would aim at enforcing a Royal Prerogative instead of an Act of Parliament, with the exception being during emergency situations. In addition, the limitation of the Royal Prerogative is that it can be used in amending the common law. This is of ultimate interest in the context of international treaties. Even though the executive can commit the UK to the obligations under the international law, changes in the domestic law requires the Parliament to enact the appropriate legislation. The Parliament also regulates the use of the Royal Prerogative to go to war via its control of its supply. The Crown and Executive lacks the capacity to act unless it has the capacity to fund the activities. This is stated expressively in the Ram doctrine that states that a Minister of the Crown may use any power vested in the Crown, with the exception that the Minister is barred by the statute. However, the capacity of the Minister to incur the expenditures associated with the exercising of the Royal Prerogative is determined by Parliamentary voting to fund the powers being exercised. The restraining conventions when exercising Royal Prerogative Powers is increased by the fact that the Ministers of the Crown are accountable to the Parliament. Such an approach to accountability indicates the control of the Parliament over the Crown and Executive.
In order to determine whether a convention that restrains the Royal Prerogative to go to war exists or not, it is essential to have a comprehensive overview of the context of war in relation to foreign affairs. Foreign affairs are a differentiated field of execution action that is not easy to control and scrutinize using the available legal and non-legal frameworks. In the context of the United States, it is arguably evident that Congress has the power to exercise any form of control on the presidential decisions and actions when going to war. This implies that restraining the powers of the Prerogative is only attainable using the available constitutional conventions. This is because there is no any other practical mechanism that can be used in controlling actions undertaken by the executive except through the use of constitutional conventions.
In conclusion, it is arguably evident that there are no other feasible legal and non-legal frameworks that can be used to limit the executive use of Royal Prerogative except for parliamentary controls because foreign affairs and war declarations are matters that cannot be decided upon by the electorate. The aspect of personal accountability of the members of Executive serves to impose significant constraints regarding the exercising of the Royal Prerogative.