chapter  XX
17 Pages

EXERCISE OF THE RESERVE POWER ON THE GROUND OF ILLEGALITY

TONG prior to the New South Wales crisis of 1932 Keith L had discussed the problem of the attitude to be adopted by the head of the Executive in reference to illegal action by Ministers. The action of General Smuts, in January 1914, in deporting ten Labour leaders from Natal, was condemned. I Keith said:

any interference with South African policy by the Parliament at Westminster because of 'the existence of responsible self-government in South Africa'.3 Referring to the acquiescence of the Governor-General, Lord Gladstone, Mr. Harcourt said that the Governor-General's position was 'in the main largely analogous to that of the constitutional sovereign of this country',4 and that he

pelled the Labour leaders, the consent and concurrence of the Governor-General 'was neither sought for nor obtained', although the latter was informed of the action at the time when it was taking place. Lord Gladstone, according to Mr. Harcourt, did 'all he was entitled to do in his position

176 EXERCISE OF THE RESERVE POWER as constitutional Governor with responsible representative Ministers'. I There was no other Government which could have succeeded to the Government, and, in the circumstances, the action of the Governor-General was 'entirely correct'.Z Mr. Harcourt brushed aside the suggestion that Lord Gladstone should be instructed to reserve for Imperial consideration the Indemnity Bill so that the British Government could either veto or disallow it, describing such intervention as 'unprecedented and wholly unjustifiable', because 'such legislation is essentially one of the attributes and prerogatives of the responsible and popularly elected Parliament of South Africa'.3 The Indemnity Bill was duly assented to by the Governor-General. 4

Keith's most recent pronouncement on the duties of the Governor when he suspects illegality is that

cult to reconcile with his earlier emphasis upon the desirability of invokmg the judicial power to enforce legal claims.6 Keith subsequently said that

ON THE GROUND OF ILLEGALITY 177 A very curious feature of the dismissal of the Lang ad-

ministration was that, probably seeking to prevent the exercise of the power of dismissal, Mr. Lang adopted the practice of passing temporary Supply Acts, so that, at the time of his dismissal, the authority for paying moneys requiring parliamentary vote was due to terminate on May 3 I st, I 932. The dismissal took place on May I 3th, and Mr. Lang's successor, Mr. Stevens, actually governed the country during most of the month of June without having any legal authority for most of the very considerable payments of moneys necessarily made by him out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.