Question to the Cabinet Office:
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Accession Council on the death of the Sovereign could be held in Westminster Hall; and if not, why not.
The decision not to summons all Privy Counsellors to the next Accession Council, and to hold a ballot of Privy Counsellors not eligible to attend on an ex officio basis, was taken with the collective agreement of the Lord President of the Council and Number 10. The Royal Household was also consulted on the basis of this collective advice. This decision-making process is consistent with the decision-making process for previous Accession Councils.
The decision to reduce the size of the Accession Council and to hold a ballot for those ineligible to attend on an ex officio basis applies to all Privy Councillors, regardless of their nationality or their usual place of residence.
St. James’s Palace is the senior Royal Palace in the United Kingdom and the Court of St. James is the Royal Court to which all Realm High Commissioners are accredited. St. James’s Palace has therefore long been agreed to be the most appropriate setting for the Accession Council.
In any case, Westminster Hall will not be available to host the Accession Council because an intensive and time critical series of works will begin on the Parliamentary estate, including Westminster Hall, as soon as Demise is announced. The purpose of these works is to prepare the estate and surrounding areas for significant elements of ceremonial and procedural activity. Hosting the Accession Council in Westminster Hall would prevent the completion of these critical works, resulting in significant disruption to other national activity.
Attendance at an Accession Council is not a statutory matter and there is no constitutional requirement to consult Privy Counsellors on any amendments to attendance arrangements.
Decisions on attendance arrangements for future Accession Councils will be taken at the appropriate time.