HC Deb 20 March 1962 vol 656 cc201-2
Q1. Mr. Stonehouse

asked the Prime Minister why, in view of the delay which will now occur in the review of the Federal Constitution, and the ensuing unrest, he did not advise Her Majesty to instruct the Governor-General of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland not to dissolve the Federal Assembly.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

The Governor-General is empowered under the Federal Constitution to dissolve the Federal Assembly acting in his own discretion, and in exercising this discretion he is required by the Royal Instructions to act in accordance with the constitutional conventions which apply to the exercise by Her Majesty of similar powers in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Stonehouse

Is it not the case that, according to the constitutional position, the right hon. Gentleman can advise Her Majesty to advise the Governor-General not to dissolve the Federal Assembly? Is it not unfortunate that the right hon. Gentleman did not take that action? Is it not the case that nobody wants this election but Sir Roy Welensky, that it is opposed by all political leaders, including Sir Edward Whitehead, that it will be a farce and that it is bound to lead to an increase in tension in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, who want no part of the Welensky Federation?

The Prime Minister

The facts are as I have stated. Under Royal Instructions, the Governor-General uses his discretion in a way similar to that followed in the United Kingdom. For me to have suggested any change might have been, under a purely legalistic interpretation, a possibility—although the time for it had passed—but I think it would have been a very unwise thing to do.