20 DECEMBER 1940, Page 2

A Consultative Assembly for Vichy

The decision of Marshal Main to create a Consultative Assembly to give advice to the head of the State and share certain responsibilities was probably not unconnected with the Laval plot. When the Senate and Chamber of Deputies transferred full legislative powers to Marshal Petain, thereby making him an absolute dictator, it was intended as soon as the crisis was over to promulgate a permanent Constitution. The Marshal is very old. His designated successor was Laval. When the Minister's treachery was revealed to him he doubt- less saw how dangerous a situation would arise if a Laval suc- ceeded him, unlimited by any Constitution, and actually inherit- ing the power to create one. Hence the decision, not merely to refrain from nominating any individual as his successor, but to call together a Consultative Assembly which, it is said, will be " fully representative." We may be sure that it will not be representative in the sense that it will be elected like a Parlia- ment ; nor are we told how its representation is provided for. It is more likely to be on the Fascist model of the Corporative State. But it is something that the Marshal is feeling the need of a body which will put him in touch with outside opinion, and one which would perhaps have influence in the State if he died. The full Constitution is not yet promulgated, and it may well be the case that before it comes into being, whether in accordance with Nazi, Fascist or French-Fascist principles, changes will have occurred in France and Europe that may make it unnecessary.