The term ‘veto’ today means the power or right vested in one branch of a government to cancel or postpone the decisions of another branch. It is frequently found in the right of the executive (e.g. a president, governor, monarch etc.) to reject bills passed by the legislature.
It has one of the simplest etymological explanations, deriving directly from the Latin “I forbid”. The process was common in the Roman Republic, when it was known as the intercessio. The intercessio was a power that enabled tribunes to protect the interests of the plebs, and would be invoked by the tribune uttering veto. In the United Kingdom, the House of Lords once held the power to veto legislation passed by the House of Commons, but the Parliament Act 1911 reduced this to a power of delay.
The monarch has the power to veto by withholding the Royal Assent. This was last exercised in 1707 when Queen Anne withheld consent to the Scottish Militia Bill. The technical process of refusing consent was to write La Reyne s’avisera – the Queen will take advice – at the head of the Bill. Since then, all Bills have been granted Royal Assent using the following formulae:
· La Reyne remercie ses bons sujets, accepte leur benevolence, et ainsi le vault (The Queen thanks her good subjects, accepts their bounty, and wills it so) – for a supply bill;
· La Reyne le vault (the Queen wills it) – all other public or private bills;
· Soit fait comme il est desire (let it be as it is desired) – for personal bills.