Status of the Union Act, 1934

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Status of the Union Act, 1934
enacted by the Parliament of South Africa
The Status of the Union Act, No. 69 of 1934, declared the Union of South Africa to be a "sovereign independent state", and enacted into South African law the sections of the Statute of Westminster, 1931, applicable to South Africa. It removed any residual power of the United Kingdom Parliament to legislate for South Africa, and any power of the British cabinet to advise the King on matters related to South Africa. It required the Governor-General to grant or reserve assent to Bills on the advice of the South African cabinet, removing his power to reserve them for the King's decision. It also removed the King's power to disallow Acts assented to by the Governor-General.

This act was first published on 22 August 1934 in Government Gazette Extraordinary No. 2217, and came into force upon publication, except for section 11(2), which removed the King's power of disallowance and came into effect on 19 November 1934, in terms of Governor-General's Proclamation No. 211 of 1934. It was repealed on 31 May 1961 by the Republic of South Africa Constitution Act, 1961, which ended South Africa's status as a British Dominion.

Act

To provide for the declaration of the Status of the Union of South Africa; for certain amendments of the South Africa Act, 1909, incidental thereto, and for the adoption of certain parts of the Statute of Westminster, 1931.



(Assented to by His Majesty the King on the 22nd June, 1934.)
(Signed by the Governor-General in Afrikaans.)


Whereas the delegates of His Majesty’s Governments in the United Kingdom, the Dominion of Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, the Irish Free State and Newfoundland, at Imperial Conferences holden at Westminster in the years of our Lord 1926 and 1930, did concur in making the declarations and resolutions set forth in the Reports of the said Conferences, and more particularly in defining the group of self-governing communities composed of Great Britain and the Dominions as “autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external afiairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations”;

And whereas the said resolutions and declarations in so far as they required legislative sanction on the part of the United Kingdom have been ratified, confirmed and established by the Parliament of the United Kingdom in an Act entitled the Statute of Westminster, 1931 (22. Geo. V. c. 4);

And whereas it is expedient that the status of the Union of South Africa as a sovereign independent state as hereinbefore defined shall be adopted and declared by the Parliament of the Union and that the South Africa Act, 1909 (9. Edw. 7. c. 9) be amended accordingly;

And whereas it is expedient that the said Statute of Westminster, in so far as its provisions are applicable to the Union of South Africa, and an Afrikaans version thereof, shall be adopted as an Act of the Parliament of the Union of South Africa;

Now, therefore, be it declared and enacted by the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, the Senate and the House of Assembly of the Union of South Africa, as follows:―


Definition.

1. In this Act the expression “the South Africa Act” means the South Africa Act, 1909 (9. Edw. 7. c. 9) as amended from time to time.


Union Parliament to be sole sovereign legislature for Union.

2. The Parliament of the Union shall be the sovereign legislative power in and over the Union, and notwithstanding anything in any other law contained, no Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland passed after the eleventh day of December, 1931, shall extend, or be deemed to extend, to the Union as part of the law of the Union, unless extended thereto by an Act of the Parliament of the Union.

Adoption of parts of Statute of Westminster.

3. The parts of the Statute of Westminster, 1931 (22. Geo. V. c. 4) and the Afrikaans version thereof, set forth in the Schedule to this Act, shall be deemed to be an Act of the Parliament of the Union and shall be construed accordingly.


King to act with advice of his South African Ministers.

4. (1) The Executive Government of the Union in regard to any aspect of its domestic or external affairs is vested in the King, acting on the advice of His Ministers of State for the Union, and may be administered by His Majesty in person or by a Governor-General as his representative.

(2) Save where otherwise expressly stated or necessarily implied, any reference in the South Africa Act and in this Act to the King shall be deemed to be a reference to the King acting on the advice of his Ministers of State for the Union.

(3) The provisions of sub-sections (1) and (2) shall not be taken to affect the provisions of sections twelve, fourteen, twenty and forty-five of the South Africa Act and the constitutional conventions relating to the exercise of his functions by the Govenor-General under the said sections.


Amendment of section 2 of South Africa Act.

5. Section two of the South Africa Act is hereby amended by the insertion after the word “implied” of the words―

“‘heirs and successors’ shall be taken to mean His Majesty’s heirs and successors in the sovereignty of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland as determined by the laws relating to the succession of the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland”.


Amendment of sections 26 and 44 of South Africa Act.

6. Sections twenty-six and forty-four of the South Africa Act are hereby amended by the deletion of the words “a British subject of European descent” in paragraphs (d) and (c) respectively of the said sections and the substitution therefor of the words “a person of European descent who has acquired Union nationality whether―

(i) by birth or

(ii) by domicile as a British subject or

(iii) by naturalization, or otherwise, in terms of Act 40 of 1927 or of Act 14 of 1932.”


Amendment of section 51 of South Africa Act.

7. Section fifty-one of the South Africa Act is hereby amended by the deletion of the words “of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland” where they occur in the oath and in the affirmation prescribed by the said section, and by inserting the words “King or Queen (as the case may be)” immediately after the words “His Majesty”.


Repeal of section 64 of South Africa Act.

8. Section sixty-four of the South Africa Act is hereby repealed and the following section substituted therefor:―

“Royal Assent to Bills. 64. When a Bill is presented to the Governor-General for the King’s assent he shall declare according to his discretion, but subject to the provisions of this Act, and to such instructions as may from time to time be given in that behalf by the King, that he assents in the King’s name, or that he withholds assent. The Governor-General may return to the House in which it originated any Bill so presented to him, and may transmit therewith any amendments which he may recommend, and the House may deal with the recommendation”.


Amendment of section 67 of South Africa Act.

9. Section sixty-seven of the South Africa Act is hereby amended by the deletion of the words “or having been reserved for the King’s pleasure shall have received his assent”.


Certain provisions of South Africa Act not affected by this Act.

10. Nothing in this Act contained shall affect the provisions of section one hundred and six of the South Africa Act, relating to an appeal to the King-in-Council, or the provisions of sections one hundred and fifty and one hundred and fifty-one of the said Act.


Repeal of sections of South Africa Act.

11. (1) Sections eight and sixty-six of the South Africa Act are hereby repealed.

(2) Section sixty-five shall be repealed as from a date to be fixed by the Governor-General by proclamation in the Gazette.


Short title.

12. This Act shall be known as the Status of the Union Act, 1934.



Schedule.

Statute of Westminster, 1931.
(22. Geo. 5. Chap. 4.)

An Act to give effect to certain resolutions passed by Imperial Conferences held in the years 1926 and 1930. (11th December, 1931.)


Whereas the delegates of His Majesty’s Governments in the United Kingdom, the Dominion of Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, the Irish Free State and Newfoundland, at Imperial Conferences holden at Westminster in the years of our Lord 1926 and 1930, did concur in making the declarations and resolutions set forth in the Reports of the said Conferences:

And whereas it is meet and proper to set out by way of preamble to this Act that, inasmuch as the Crown is the symbol of the free association of the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and as they are united by a common allegiance to the Crown, it would be in accord with the established constitutional position of all the members of the Commonwealth in relation to one another that any alteration in the law touching the Succession to the Throne or the Royal Style and Titles shall hereafter require the assent as well of the Parliaments of all the Dominions as of the Parliament of the United Kingdom:

And whereas it is in accord with the established constitutional position that no law hereafter made by the Parliament of the United Kingdom shall extend to any of the said Dominions as part of the law of that Dominion otherwise than at the request and with the consent of that Dominion:

And whereas it is necessary for the ratifying, confirming and establishing of certain of the said declarations and resolutions of the said Conferences that a law be made and enacted in due form by authority of the Parliament of the United Kingdom:

And whereas the Dominion of Canada, the Commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, the Irish Free State and Newfoundland have severally requested and consented to the submission of a measure to the Parliament of the United Kingdom for making such provision with regard to the matters aforesaid as is hereafter in this Act contained:

Now, therefore, be it enacted by the King’s Most Excellent Majesty by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:―


Meaning of “Dominion” in this Act.

1. In this Act the expression “Dominion” means the Union of South Africa.


Validity of laws made by Parliament of a Dominion, 28 and 29 Vict. c. 63.

2. (1) The Colonial Laws Validity Act, 1865, shall not apply to any law made after the commencement of this Act by the Parliament of a Dominion.

(2) No law and no provision of any law made after the commencement of this Act by the Parliament of a Dominion shall be void or inoperative on the ground that it is repugnant to the law of England or to the provisions of any existing or future Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom, or to any order, rule or regulation made under any such Act, and the powers of the Parliament of a Dominion shall include the power to repeal or amend any such Act, order, rule or regulation in so far as the same is part of the law of the Dominion.


Power of Parliament of Dominion to legislate extra-territorially.

3. It is hereby declared and enacted that the Parliament of a Dominion has full power to make laws having extra-territorial operation.


Parliament of United Kingdom not to legislate for Dominion except by consent.

4. No Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom passed after the commencement of this Act shall extend, or be deemed to extend, to a Dominion as part of the law of the Dominion unless it is expressly declared in that Act that the Dominion has requested, and consented to, the enactment thereof.


Powers of Dominion Parliaments in relation to merchant shipping, 57 and 58 Vict. c. 60.

5. Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provisions of this Act, sections seven hundred and thirty-five and seven hundred and thirty-six of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, shall be construed as though reference therein to the legislature of a British possession did not include reference to the Parliament of a Dominion.


Powers of Dominion Parliaments in relation to Courts of Admiralty, 53 and 54 Vict. c. 27.

6. Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provisions of this Act section four of the Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act, 1890 (which requires certain laws to be reserved for the signification of His Majesty’s pleasure or to contain a suspending clause), and so much of section seven of that Act as requires the approval of His Majesty in Council to any rules of Court for regulating the practice and procedure of a Colonial Court of Admiralty, shall cease to have effect in any Dominion as from the commencement of this Act.


Meaning of “Colony” in future Acts, 52 and 53 Vict. c. 63.

11. Notwithstanding anything in the Interpretation Act, 1889, the expression “Colony” shall not, in any Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed after the commencement of this Act, include a Dominion or any province forming part of a Dominion.


Short title.

12. This Act may be cited as the Statute of Westminster, 1931.

This work is in the public domain because it was created and first published in South Africa and it is an official text of a legislative, administrative or legal nature, or an official translation of such a text.

According to the Copyright Act, 1978, § 12 (8) (a), "No copyright shall subsist in official texts of a legislative, administrative or legal nature, or in official translations of such texts."