House of Assembly: Vol106 - FRIDAY 20 JANUARY 1961
Pursuant to Proclamation No. 168 of His Excellency the Governor-General, dated 20 May 1960, summoning Parliament to meet on this day for the dispatch of business, members met in the Assembly Chamber of the House of Assembly, Parliament House, Cape Town, at 10 a.m.
The CLERK OF THE HOUSE announced that during the recess vacancies had occurred in the representation in this House of the following electoral divisions, viz.:
- (1) Groblersdal, on the 10 June 1960, owing to the resignation of Mr. J. H. Abraham.
- (2) Harrismith, on the 10 June 1960, owing to the resignation of Mr. S. F. Papenfus.
- (3) Bloemfontein (District), on the 30 October 1960, owing to the resignation of Mr. P. J. C. du Plessis.
- (4) Bethal-Middelburg, on the 8 November 1960, owing to the death of Mr. J. T. Bezuidenhout.
- (5) Ceres, on the 25 November 1960, owing to the election of Mr. P. J. H. Luttig as a member of the Senate.
- (6) Pietersburg, on the 6 December 1960, owing to the nomination of the Hon. J. F. T. Naudé as a member of the Senate.
- (7) Gordonia, on the 1 January 1961, owing to the resignation of the Hon. J. H. Conradie, Q.C.
- (8) Pretoria (East), on the 10 January 1961, owing to the resignation of Dr. H. Muller.
The CLERK OF THE HOUSE announced further that the following vacancies had been filled during the recess, viz.:
- (1) Groblersdal, on the 25 July 1960, by the election of Mr. Marthinus Johannes Hendrik Bekker.
- (2) Harrismith, on the 24 August 1960, by the election of Mr. Johannes Jacobus Rall.
- (3) Bloemfontein (District), on the 16 January 1961, by the election of Mr. Jan Adriaan Schlebusch.
- (4) Ceres, on the 16 January 1961, by the election of Mr. Stefanus Louwrens Muller.
The CLERK OF THE HOUSE announced that the Hon. Mr. Justice Steyn, Chief Justice of South Africa, had been authorized by a Commission from His Excellency the Governor-General to administer the oath or affirmation of allegiance required to be made by members in conformity with the requirements of Section 51 of the South Africa Act.
The Serjeant-at-Arms announced the Hon. Mr. Justice Steyn, who was received by the members standing, and took his seat at the Table of the House.
Mr. M. J. H. BEKKER, introduced by Mr. J. E. Potgieter and Mr. Faurie, made, and subscribed to, the affirmation and took his seat.
Mr. J. J. RALL, introduced by the Minister of Education, Arts and Science and the Minister of Defence, made, and subscribed to, the affirmation and took his seat.
Mr. J. A. SCHLEBUSCH, introduced by the Minister of Education, Arts and Science and the Minister of Defence, made, and subscribed to, the affirmation and took his seat.
Mr. S. L. MULLER, introduced by the Minister of Finance and Mr. M. J. de la R. Venter, made, and subscribed to, the affirmation and took his seat.
The Hon. Mr. Justice Steyn then withdrew.
The CLERK OF THE HOUSE announced that a letter had been received from the Secretary to the Governor-General forwarding a copy of a letter from the Hon. J. H. Conradie, Q.C., M.P., tendering his resignation as Speaker of the House of Assembly to His Excellency the Governor-General, as follows:
Mr. Speaker’s Chambers,
House of Assembly,
1 December 1960.
His Excellency the Hon. C. R. Swart,
I hereby wish to tender my resignation as Speaker of the House of Assembly, and also as Member of the House of Assembly for the electoral division of Gordonia, both with effect from 1 January 1961.
(sgd.) J. H. CONRADIE.
The CLERK intimated that the House would proceed to the election of a Speaker.
Mr. McFarlane, I move—
In moving this motion, I wish to remind hon. members that Mr. Klopper has already since 1954 occupied an important position in this House. On 2 March 1954, he was appointed as Deputy-Chairman of Committees of the Whole House. In that capacity he served until 28 June 1957, and since then he has served this House as Deputy-Speaker and Chairman of Committees of the Whole House. Hon. members have had experience of the manner in which Mr. Klopper acted during those years when he occupied the Chair during the deliberations of this House. Therefore I nominate him this morning with the greatest confidence.
Hon. members will remember that before that time he was also Chairman of the Select Committee on Railways and Harbours and of other Select Committees. The hon. member is therefore well known to this House.
Hon. members will also agree with me that it would be fitting to mention a few of the outstanding characteristics expected from a person who acts as the Speaker of this House. In the first place, I think, it is expected of him to exercise tact and patience; secondly, he is expected to exhibit an absence of bitter party partially in his office; thirdly, I think, he must be a person who must enjoy the respect and esteem of all members of the House, and fourthly, I think, he should be a person with an alert mind to enable him to make decisions speedily and accurately.
Mr. McFarlane, I think that Mr. Klopper possesses all these excellent qualities. In addition, Mr. Klopper is fully bilingual and is an authority on parliamentary procedure. I see the hon. member for Salt River (Mr. Lawrence) looking at me. He knows that during tumultuous scenes in this House, when feelings ran high, Mr. Klopper always acted impartially but very firmly and courageously. Therefore, in suggesting the hon. member for this high post, I do so in the realization that he has been blessed with the important charateristics I have mentioned and that he will occupy the Chair with dignity and impartiality.
I do not think it will be unsuitable to quote here one of the best authorities on parliamentary procedure, a person who is often quoted in this House, viz. Erskine May. In connection with the Speakership, he said: “His duties are as various as they are important. He is, in fact, the representative of the House itself, its powers, its proceedings and its dignities.” I have no doubt that Mr. Klopper will comply with all these high demands made of him. In so far as the Speaker’s Chair is concerned, it is connected with long and honourable traditions, and I nominate Mr. Klopper because I know that he will occupy the Chair in a worthy manner.
There being no other proposal, Mr. Klopper was called to the Chair by the Clerk.
If the House is prepared to show me the great honour of elevating me to the post of Speaker of the House of Assembly, I shall do everything in my power to maintain the high standard set by my predecessors in office.
May I express my sincere thanks to the mover and the seconder of the motion, as well as to all hon. members who supported the motion, for the confidence placed in me. I thoroughly realize the onerous responsibility resting on the Speaker and the severe demands made of him. I know how far I fall short in that respect. I can only undertake to the best of my ability to try to line up to all these great expectations. I bow to the wishes of the House and shall be proud to preside over this House.
Before taking the Chair, I can only reiterate that I fully appreciate the great responsibility that attaches to the Speakership and that as far as it lies in my power I shall endeavour to carry out those high responsibilities. I dedicate myself, next to the service of my Creator, to the service of this honourable House and of our beloved country.
Mr. Speaker, where I have the honour to address you for the first time in your capacity as Speaker, I would like to congratulate you wholeheartedly on behalf of the whole House on the position which you will henceforth occupy in our midst and in our hearts. You referred to the great honour done you, but at the same time it is also an honour to this House to have you in its midst in the Chair. It is a tremendous task which rests upon you, and as is the case with regard to most positions of honour of any importance, you will be faced with many problems and difficulties. We shall try to cause you as little trouble as possible, but we cannot promise absolutely that you will be faced with no difficulties and problems.
Where I therefore heartily congratulate you on your elevation to this high office, we realize that you will have to adopt an impartial attitude, and seeing that you will have to carry out the onerous duties demanded by the dignity of this honourable House, we wish you all strength. In your hands rests the spirit of the discussions, and in your hands rests the dignity of this House. You will have to be on the alert, and you will have to call for order whenever it becomes necessary to do so. To a country which believes in the parliamentary system, it is of the utmost importance that its parliamentary institutions should always enjoy the respect of the public, as has hitherto always been the case. That has been entrusted to you, and I heartily hope and we also believe that because of the experience we have had of you in another position, you will in fact maintain that dignity. I fervently hope that in the years that lie ahead, years of great promise, years of a new beginning, you will be able to ensure that the parliamentary institutions remain honoured in the future as they have always been honoured in the past.
I heartily congratulate you on behalf of the whole House.
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the official Opposition, I should like to associate myself with the words and congratulations which have fallen from the lips of the hon. the Prime Minister to you on your elevation to this high office, with its long traditions in our Parliament.
You, Sir, are a servant of this House, from to-day its most distinguished servant, the servant of this House who speaks on behalf of all of us. From our experience of you in the past, from the calmness you have shown, the balance and fair mindedness you have displayed in the post you have occupied before, we have confidence that you will maintain the highest traditions of the office which you now hold. You will know, Sir, that it will not be possible for you to acquit yourself to your own satisfaction of that task without the co-operation of all members. We believe, Sir, that from your experience in the past, you know that you will get that co-operation and that assistance. We wish you once again great success in this post, great happiness in a task well done—that is the highest reward for anyone in that position.
On behalf of hon. members on these benches, I should like to associate myself with the congratulations expressed to you, Mr. Speaker, on the acceptance of the high position you now occupy. We as members of this House have experience of the particularly efficient manner in which you have performed certain of the services of this office. Special reference has been made to your spirit of impartiality and the manner in which you handle the debates in this House. To that I should like to add your keen sense of humour, which is so essential for the smooth working of this House. I have also been instructed to assure you on behalf of the hon. member for Salt River (Mr. Lawrence) that, although he views the future with a certain measure of anxiety, he will do his best to make your task as easy as possible.
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleagues and myself I would like to identify myself with the tributes paid by the previous speakers on your elevation to this important position. We wish to congratulate you, Sir, and to assure you of our wholehearted support and co-operation in what we hope will be a very successful and long term of office.
Mr. Speaker took the Chair.
I should like to express my sincere thanks to the hon. the Prime Minister, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition, as well as to the hon. leaders of the other parties in this House for their congratulations. I appreciate it very much, particularly the assurances of co-operation and goodwill. That spirit will be reciprocated, as far as I am concerned. It will of course be difficult to comply with all the wishes of hon. members, but I do not think any hon. member need be concerned at or afraid of the manner in which he or she will perform their duties in this House. However, the Speaker cannot do justice to the exercise of his duties unless he has the full support and co-operation of all hon. members.
I once again want to thank this hon. House for the honour conferred upon me and for the good wishes expressed by hon. members representing all parties in this House. I want to make an earnest appeal to hon. members to assist me in the difficult task which I shall endeavour to discharge to the best of my ability in an impartial manner. I shall at all times endeavour to maintain the dignity attaching to my high office. My motto will be to serve. And where I will discharge the duties of your servant, I trust I will at all times enjoy your co-operation to make this, our House of Assembly, one of the most august and respected Houses of Parliament anywhere in the civilized and democratic world. I thank you.
Proceedings suspended at 10.35 a.m. and resumed at 11.40 a.m.
I have to report that after the House had suspended proceedings this morning, I proceeded to Government House, accompanied by my proposer and seconder, Ministers of State for the Union and other honourable members of the House, where we were received by His Excellency the Governor-General, to whom I presented myself pursuant to the Standing Orders of the House. His Excellency then congratulated me in Her Majesty’s name as well as in his own name.
Mr. Speaker and members proceeded to the Senate House to attend the ceremony of the opening of Parliament, and on their return,
Mr. Speaker took the Chair and read prayers.
Mr. SPEAKER reported that the House had this day attended the ceremony of the opening of Parliament, and that His Excellency the Governor-General had been pleased to deliver an opening speech to both Houses of Parliament, of which, for greater accuracy, he had received a copy as follows:
MR. PRESIDENT AND MEMBERS OF THE SENATE:
MR. SPEAKER AND MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY:
MR. SPEAKER AND MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY:
Additional estimates of expenditure for the current financial year and estimates of revenue and expenditure for the ensuing financial year will be laid before you.
MR. PRESIDENT AND MEMBERS OF THE SENATE:
MR. SPEAKER AND MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY:
I should like to move as an unopposed motion—
Mr. Speaker, a sad day always becomes so much more sorrowful when a long connection is broken. In this motion there is reference to a period of 21 years, but in fact it is an even longer time since the late Mr. Bezuidenhout became a member of this House. It was on 3 May 1934 that he became a member of the House of Assembly for the Witbank constituency, and he represented that constituency until 31 May 1943. Thereafter there was a break in his service, but because of the affection he had developed for the work which we are all called upon to do here, because of his desire to serve his fellow-men in his constituency, he returned on 26 May 1948 as the member representing the Bethal-Middelburg constituency, and he continued to represent that constituency until November 1960 when he died. I have already said that a long connection of more than 26 years makes the parting so much more sorrowful. We had to do here with an hon. member who had friends on both sides of the House, a person who did not try to make enemies, who fought for the cause in which he believed, who tried to serve his constituency and his voters to the best of his ability, who had a love for agriculture, in which he himself was active—not only for his own farming operations but for agriculture in general. He tried to promote the interests of everybody who follow that profession and in particular he concentrated on the terrain of our political activities. He died quite suddenly, although there had in the past been signs of ill-health and many of us were aware that during the last few years he had to battle against physical disabilities to which most people succumb at a certain age. The hon. member still tried to do his duty until the end. It is a sad farewell we are taking here, and I want to ask hon. members to spare a thought, too, for the members of his family who have lost a loved one, a person who in their family life rendered them great assistance in all their troubles. The loss we feel is an even greater loss to them. We share in their sorrow and want to express our sincerest sympathy to all of them.
I second. We on this side of the House should like to associate ourselves with the words of condolence expressed by the hon. the Prime Minister in connection with the demise of Mr. Bezuidenhout. His parliamentary service of more than 21 years made him a valuable member of this House, one who was always a protagonist of agricultural interests in South Africa. He particularly concerned himself with getting the instruments, the machinery we use in our agriculture, manufactured in South Africa, and the fact that this is happening to-day is to a large extent due to the preliminary work he did. He was not only a protagonist of farming interests but concentrated on scientific farming. He was particularly outstanding as a maize grower, and a potato grower, and he was a prominent breeder of cattle. We also remember him as a valuable member of the Select Committee on Crown Lands, where he rendered excellent services to this House. But, Mr. Speaker, we shall also miss him as a friend, a man who had friends on both sides of the House, and one who conducted himself in such a way that members on both sides could remain friendly with him. He died at the comparatively early age of 64 years, and to his widow and his four daughters we wish to extend our deepest sympathy.
On behalf of the members sitting in these benches, I would like to associate myself with the words of sympathy which have fallen from the lips of the hon. the Prime Minister and the hon. the Leader of the Opposition in connection with the passing away of Mr. Bezuidenhout, as well as with the appreciation expressed by them of the services rendered by the late Mr. Bezuidenhout.
On behalf of my colleagues and myself I would like to identify myself with the motion now before the House and with the very eloquent tributes paid by previous speakers to the memory of our late friend.
Motion agreed to unanimously, all the members standing.
The House adjourned at