§ 22. Mr. Keeling
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT the agreements of 1948 and 1949 between his predecessor and the unofficial members of the Executive Council of Northern Rhodesia, including the arrangement whereby the Governor is to call upon any such member who disagrees with his colleagues on a major issue to resign.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
Yes, Sir. I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT the statements made with respect to these matters.
§ Mr. Keeling
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that one of these gentlemen who refused to resign was dismissed by the Governor on the instructions of the Colonial Office, and is he satisfied with that arrangement, which seems a very queer one?
§ Mr. Griffiths
This was an arrangement made by my predecessor. The member in question was asked to resign because there had been a breach of the agreement. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will await the further full statement which I am making in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, even since the time of his predecessor, there has been a great increase in the status of the Colony and much interest taken in it by Europeans and Africans alike? Will he consider doing away with this utterly reactionary proposal, which his predecessor put into operation and which ill-becomes a Socialist Government?
§ Mr. Griffiths
I am circulating a very full statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT, which indicates the reasons which prevailed on my predecessor to accept this arrangement. I appreciate the point put; perhaps there will be an opportunity later to consider the matter.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether there is any similar rule in this country?
Following are the statements:1. Statement released on 17th August, 1948:Discussions have recently taken place in London between the Secretary of State and a delegation from the Unofficial Members of the Legislative Council of Northern Rhodesia on the subject of the proposals made by the Unofficial Members regarding the reform of the Constitution. The Governor of Northern Rhodesia, the Secretary for Native Affairs and two Africans selected by the African Representative Council of Northern Rhodesia also took part in the discussions. It was agreed that the proposals should not be proceeded with. At the same time it was considered most desirable that members of the non-official community should play a greater and more direct part in the administration of Northern Rhodesia.It is accordingly proposed that the Executive Council should include four Unofficials, of whom one would, as at present, be one of the Members of Legislative Council nominated to represent African interests. The remaining three Unofficial Members would be appointed from among the elected Members of Legislative Council. One or two of the four Unofficial 343 Members would be given responsibility for groups of departments, retaining their seats as elected Members in Legislative Council and not becoming officials.These proposals leave the door open for the advancement of Africans to appointment to the Executive Council when they are ready for this. Africans will this year for the first time have direct representation on the Legislative Council of Northern Rhodesia.Under the new arrangements the views of the Unofficial Members would carry the same weight in Executive Council as they do in Legislative Council, subject to the Governor's reserve powers.It was also agreed that in future the maximum statutory duration of the Legislative Council of Northern Rhodesia should be five years as was proposed in a Motion which was carried in the Legislative Council of Northern Rhodesia on 24th June, 1948.2. Statement released in April 1949:The Secretary of State has agreed, in consultation with His Excellency the Governor and the Unofficial Members of the Legislative Council of Northern Rhodesia, that the conclusion reached in the London discussion last July that the views of the Unofficial Members of the Executive Council will carry the same weight in Executive Council as they do in the Legislative Council, subject to the Governor's reserve powers, should he understood to mean that, without prejudice to the constitutional position of the Executive Council, the Governor will accept the advice of the Unofficial Members of the Executive Council when the four Unofficial Members are unanimous, except in cases where he would feel it necessary to use his reserve powers.At least one of the Unofficial Members of the Executive Council must always be a representative of African Interests.In matters where the Governor is doubtful whether the unanimous opinion of the Unofficial Members of the Executive Council is supported by the Unofficial Members of the Legislative Council, the views of the Unofficial Members of the Legislative Council would be sounded by way of a Motion in the Legislative Council or by discussion at an informal meeting of all Members of the Legislative Council.3. Statement released on 6th January, 1950:The Governor must retain ultimate power to make decisions with regard to resignations from the Executive Council just as he does with regard to appointments to it. In practice he appoints Unofficial Members* to Executive Council on the advice of their colleagues on Legislative Council, but will be entitled not to accept this advice for very strong reasons. The same principle should apply as regards resignations.The Elected Members should ask for the resignation of one of their members from Executive Council, and the Governor should agree to call upon the individual to resign, only in exceptional circumstances, when the Member had lost the confidence of his colleagues through major differences of such a* This does not include the member nominated to represent African interests.344character as to interfere with the smooth and efficient working of the two Councils.In addition the request should be made to the Governor only if a two-thirds majority of the Elected Members (at present seven out of ten) favour resignation.The Elected Members should accept the importance of continuity and independent judgment on Executive Council, and should agree that it would be necessary for the Governor to bear this in mind in working his side of the arrangement.