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Prime Minister (Appointment Of Successor)

Volume 529: debated on Thursday 8 July 1954

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asked the Prime Minister if he will introduce legislation to amend the constitution by authorising the Prime Minister to appoint his successor.

No, Sir. This is a prerogative of the Crown. It is for the Sovereign to decide whether to ask the opinion of the first Minister of the Crown about the choice of his successor and whether to act in accordance with that opinion. No legislation is needed.

In that case, will the Prime Minister tell us by what authority he announced in the United States that the Foreign Secretary would be his successor? Did not that announcement infringe not only the Prerogative of the Crown, but also the prerogative of the 1922 Committee?

The hon. and learned Gentleman is endeavouring to be offensive all round. I certainly do not recall ever having said anything of the kind. I have always held the opposite view very strongly. If the hon. and learned Gentleman will send me that quotation, I will look into it; I may well have been misreported. I certainly should not presume to commit such a constitutional error as that.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Labour Party would prefer their own leader should be the Prime Minister after the next General Election?