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Volume 720: debated on Tuesday 16 November 1965

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asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations which of the powers over Rhodesia, reserved by the Constitution of 1923, were abandoned by the British Government in consideration of the acceptance by Rhodesia of the 1961 Constitution; and which are still in force.

Between 1923 and 1961 the British Government had the power of disallowance of any law passed by the Southern Rhodesian legislature and the Constitution also required certain Bills principally those discriminating against Africans, to be reserved for Her Majesty's pleasure. There was also a limited power of amending the Constitution by Letter Patent or Order in Council. Under the 1961 Constitution the power of disallowance is restricted to laws which affect Southern Rhodesian Government stock issued under the Colonial Stock Acts or which are inconsistent with international obligation relating to Southern Rhodesia. The power to amend the Constitution by Order in Council is confined to a limited range of provisions, principally those dealing with the Governor and only certain Bills amending the Constitution are liable to be reserved. The scope of the powers—

It must be put if the facts are required by the House.

The scope of the powers vested in the British Government by the Constitution does not, of course, affect the ultimate responsibility of this Parliament and the British Government for Rhodesia.

Order. The Minister must find other ways of dealing with a long Answer like that.

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, from 1961 until today, the British Government have had no powers to alter the main provisions of the Rhodesian Constitution or to enforce immediate adoption of such doctrines as one man, one vote, and will he agree that the repeated suggestions that Britain should use such powers may have helped to convince loyal Rhodesians that their country had to attain independence in one way or another?

I cannot accept anything that the hon. and gallant Gentleman has said.


asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether he will make a further statement about the situation in Rhodesia.

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the very full statements already made by myself and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.

Are the Government still in touch with the Governor and the Chief Justice? If not, is there any way of regaining contact and, through them, with the loyalist and moderate element in Rhodesia? Without such contacts it would be very difficult for a constitutional and legal Government to emerge in future.