House of Assembly: Vol106 - TUESDAY 7 FEBRUARY 1961


Mr. SPEAKER took the Chair at 2.20 p.m.


For oral reply:

Boycotts Declared Against South Africa *I. Dr. D. L. SMIT

asked the Minister of Economic Affairs:

  1. (1) Whether he is in position to furnish a list of the countries that have declared a boycott of South African trade;
  2. (2) whether he is in a position to state to what extent these boycotts have affected the economy of the Union; and
  3. (3) whether he will make a statement in regard to the matter.
  1. (1) Yes. According to the latest information available to my Department boycotts have been imposed by legislative measures in India (unpartitioned), Pakistan (abandoned the boycott in 1956), Jamaica (British West Indies), Antigua (British West Indies), Sudan, Ghana, Malaya, Barbados (British West Indies) and Netherlands Guiana (Surinam).
    • According to Press reports which appeared on 24 January 1961, the Ethiopian Government has also decided on an official boycott against the Union;
  2. (2) With the exception of India, most of the official boycotts came into effect during the latter half of 1960 and it is, therefore, too early to judge the full effect on the Union’s export trade with the countries concerned. However, according to the available export trade statistics for 1959 and the first eight months of 1959 and 1960 with respect to the abovementioned countries, the position is as follows:


1959 Jan.-Aug. £504,136

1960 Jan.-Aug. £103,660

British West Indies (These figures cover exports to all British West Indies territories and not only to Jamaica, Antigua and Barbados.)


Netherlands Guiana (Surinam


not available

not available








£1,112,740 and





(Union exports to Singapore, the value of which is included in the figures for Malaya, are continuing.)

At the same time the total Union exports (gold excluded) during the first months of 1960, compared with the same period during 1959, increased from £248,507,963 to £268,540,992; and

  1. (3) threats of boycotts of Union goods and voluntary boycott movements, spurred on by trade unions, other organizations and, in some cases, by Government spokesmen, have occurred throughout 1960 in various other countries. There have, however, in these instances been no tangible moves yet to implement the threats or to support voluntary movements by means of legislation.

My Department has made it clear to Union interests that it is at all times prepared to discuss with them any problems relating to their sales in export markets where boycott measures have been taken or are being threatened, with a view to examining the possibilities of securing export outlets in alternative markets. Strenuous efforts to assist Union exporters in entering markets which have so far not received the necessary attention of Union firms, have been made and the indications are that such markets may hold good possibilities for a wide variety of Union goods.

The Export Credit Insurance Scheme, which is being operated jointly by my Department and a consortium of private insurance companies and financial institutions, offers Union exporters cover in respect of commercial, transfer and political risks attached to their export transactions and according to my information the scheme is being used to an increasing extent by Union exporters in order to cover themselves against any losses which might arise from discriminating action, such as boycotts, against the Union by foreign countries.

The Government will of course, in no circumstances negotiate with any foreign government or party responsible for boycott movements against the Union, in an attempt to persuade them to abandon such activities, and short of this, I wish to reiterate that my Department is more than willing to consider any reasonable requests from Union exporters for assistance in locating or developing export outlets.

I do not consider that a detailed public discussion at this stage of the boycott movements against the Union can be in the public interest or can serve any useful purpose.

Reserve of Officers Liable to Service *II. Dr. D. L. SMIT

asked the Minister of Defence:

  1. (1) Whether members of the Reserve of Officers have been notified by the Adjutant-General that they are still liable to service when necessary; and, if so,
  2. (2) whether any provision is being made for regular courses of training for such officers; if so, what provisions; if not, why not.
  1. (1) Yes.
  2. (2) Not regular coures but only when circumstances demand.
Excision of Schuynshoogte from Released Areas *III. Dr. D. L. SMIT

asked the Minister of Bantu Administration and Development:

  1. (1) Whether he will make a statement setting out the reasons for the excision of the farm Schuynshoogte No. 29, District of Soutpansberg, from Released Area No. 26. and the substitution therefor of certain other land in the District of Groblersdal, in terms of Proclamation No. 21 of 1961;
  2. (2) whether any Bantu were residing on Schuynshoogte at the time of the exchange; if so, how many and under what conditions;
  3. (3) whether they were consulted in regard to the matter; if so, what was their attitude; if not, why not;
  4. (4) what alternative accommodation has been provided for them and what assistance has been given to them in re-establishing themselves;
  5. (5) what were the respective Land Board valuation of the two properties; and
  6. (6) whether he will lay the reports of the valuators upon the Table.
  1. (1) The farm Schuynshoogte, District of Soutpansberg, is privately European owned and adjoins the Levubu Irrigation area, previously excised from the released area. Together with the farms Weltevreden and Waterboom it forms portion of the western boundary of released area No. 26. The European owners of these farms have for a number of years been urging the Department to excise their farms from the released area. The Department was agreeable provided suitable compensating land was made available and excision was not inimical to the development of the Bantu area—vide section 2 (2) (a) of the Native Trust and Land Act, 1936.
  2. (2) In view of the fact that the farm is European owned there can be no question of any Bantu having any rights on the farm. The question therefore falls away.
  3. (3) and (4) Fall away.
  4. (5) As the farm was privately owned it is not in the public interest to disclose the Land Board valuation. As appears from Proclamation No. 21 of 1961 the Governor-General was satisfied that the land made available in substitution for the farm Schuynshoogte is, for the purposes of the Act, of a pastoral and agricultural value at least equivalent to that farm. In fact, however, the value of the compensating land is much higher than that of the farm Schuynshoogte.
  5. (6) No.
State-Aided Food Schemes *IV. Mrs. SUZMAN

asked the Minister of Social Welfare and Pensions;

  1. (1) Whether it is the intention of the Government to reconsider its decision to abandon State-aided milk, butter and margarine schemes for the lower income groups; if not, why not; and
  2. (2) whether any steps are being taken by his Department to provide school-feeding for needy children where the Provincial Administrations have stopped school-feeding schemes; if not, why not.
  1. (1) No. After a thorough investigation of the matter, it was found that the schemes concerned no longer served the purpose for which they had been instituted because only a small percentage of the beneficiaries were persons in the lower income groups who could rightly lay claim to the benefits of the schemes. Any assistance which may be necessary in deserving cases as a result of the withdrawal of these schemes, will be considered on its merits under the Public Assistance Scheme administered by the Department of Social Welfare and Pensions.
  2. (2) No. It is considered that adequate provision is made under existing schemes administered by the Department of Social Welfare and Pensions.
Consideration of National Minimum Wage *V. Mrs. SUZMAN

asked the Minister of Labour:

  1. (1) Whether his attention has been drawn to a Press report in the Cape Times of 31 October 1960, that the Government was considering a recommendation that it should declare a national minimum wage for South African workers; and
  2. (2) whether the Government has taken any decision on this matter.
  1. (1) Yes.
  2. (2) Yes. The hon. member is referred to the Press statement issued by me on 15 November 1960, in which the question of wage increases for workers in the lower-paid categories was dealt with at length.
Membership of Bantu Trade Unions *VI. Mr. E. G. MALAN

asked the Minister of Labour:

  1. (a) How many Bantu Trade Unions and Bantu Workers’ Organizations are there in the Union which do not fall under the Industrial Conciliation Act and (b) what is their estimated total membership.
  1. (a) and (b): Figures are not available but it is known that the total membership of Bantu Trade Unions and Bantu Workers’ Organizations is negligible in relation to the number of Bantu persons employed in commerce and industry.
Death Rate Among Children Under Five Years *VII. Mrs. SUZMAN

asked the Minister of Health:

What was the death rate during each year from 1955 to 1960 from

  1. (a) gastro-enteritis and
  2. (b) kwashiorkor

among children under five years of age in each racial group in the

  1. (i) urban and
  2. (ii) rural areas.
  1. (a) (i) and (ii):

























Bantu (the figures for Bantu are in respect of the larger municipalities only).

not available




not available

May I explain that the figures for urban and rural areas are not recorded separately. Furthermore, we have at this stage only the provisional figures for 1959 and particulars for 1960 are not yet obtainable.

  1. (b) In accordance with the International Statistics Classification in use, deaths resulting from kwashiorkor are recorded under the main group “Other Vitamin and Malnutrition Diseases”. The figures in respect of kwashiorkor only are therefore not available.
Re-admission Refused at Moroka High School *VIII. Mr. EGLIN

asked the Minister of Bantu Education:

Whether any students of the Moroka High School for Bantu at Thaba ’Nchu have been refused re-admission to the school; and, if so, (a) how many and (b) why.

  1. (a) Ten students refused re-admission.
  2. (b) As a result of their behaviour during 1960.
Proposed New Magistrates’ Courts in Durban *IX. Mr. OLDFIELD

asked the Minister of Public Works:

  1. (1) What progress has been made with the proposed new magistrates’ courts in Durban;
  2. (2) whether a suitable site has been acquired; if so, where; if not, why not; and
  3. (3) whether any steps are being taken or are contemplated to improve the facilities at the existing magistrates’ courts in Durban; if so, what steps.
  1. (1) Pending the acquisition of a site it is not possible to plan a new building.
  2. (2) No; negotiations are proceeding.
  3. (3) Relief is being afforded by putting certain offices at the disposal of the Department of Justice whilst it is also the intention to allocate space in the new Government building which is in the course of erection on the Esplanade, to serve as temporary courts and offices pending the erection of the proposed new magistrate’s offices.

—Reply standing over.

Work Colonies for Vagrant Bantu *XI. Mr. OLDFIELD

asked the Minister of Bantu Administration and Development:

  1. (1) Whether any steps have been taken or are contemplated to establish work colonies for vagrant Bantu; if so, what steps;
  2. (2) (a) how many juvenile camps for vagrant Bantu have now been established and (b) how many inmates accommodated at each camp; and
  3. (3) whether further juvenile camps are to be established; if so, where.
  1. (1) The matter is under consideration.
  2. (2) (a) and (b) The following four—

Mooifontein in the district of Lichtenburg


Bekruipkop in the district of King William’s Town


Vuma in the district of Eshowe


Elandsdoorn in the district of Groblersdal


  1. (3) Yes, suitable places in the Bantu areas as and when necessity arises.
Trading Rights on the Pongola Scheme *XII. Mr. E. G. MALAN

asked the Minister of Water Affairs:

  1. (1) Whether any trading licences or trading rights have been granted in the area of the proposed Pongolapoort dam and scheme; if so, (a) what licences or rights and (b) what was the amount paid in each case;
  2. (2) what is the name of the person who or what are the names of the directors of the undertaking which obtained these rights;
  3. (3) whether tenders for acquiring these rights had been called for; if so, (a) where and (b) when; and
  4. (4) whether preference is given to person of any particular race in granting such rights; if so, (a) to which race and (b) why.
  1. (1) No.
  2. (2) and (3) Consequently fall away.
  3. (4) Also falls away, as it is the policy of the Department of Water Affairs to establish departmental shops on its ground at the construction camps for Government water schemes when the necessity therefore arises.
Cost of Trial of Two Policemen *XIII. Mr. EGLIN (for Mr. Lawrence)

asked the Minister of Justice:

Whether the State has paid the cost of the defence in the various trials of the two policemen charged with killing the Bantu person alleged by them to be the “panga man”; and, if so, what was the amount paid in respect of each policeman.


No, the matter is still under consideration.

Publication of Initials of Offenders under Immorality Act *XIV. Mr. EGLIN (for Mr. Lawrence)

asked the Minister of Justice:

  1. (1) Whether his attention has been drawn to a report in the Cape Argus of 3 October 1960 that his Department is investigating a proposal that only the initials of offenders under the Immorality Act should be published in the Press; and
  2. (2) whether any decision has been reached in the matter; if so, (a) what decision and (b) what are reasons for the decision.
  1. (1) Yes, the Department is investigating the proposal.
  2. (2) No.
Results of Police Recruiting Campaign *XV. Mr. EGLIN (for Mr. Lawrence)

asked the Minister of Justice:

  1. (a) What have been the results of the Police recruiting campaign; and
  2. (b) what vacancies still exist in the Police Force.
  1. (a) 650 European applicants were enlisted since 1 October 1960 to date as result of the recruiting campaign.
  2. (b) There is at present 926 vacancies for Europeans of which 692 are filled by special constables and women assistants. No difficulty is experienced in filling non-European vacancies.
State of Bantu Anglican Mission School Buildings *XVI. Mr. VAN RYNEVELD

asked the Minister of Bantu Education:

  1. (1) Whether his attention has been drawn to a Press report in the Eastern Province Herald of 30 September 1960 that 100 Bantu Anglican mission schools may close down because of the state of repair of the school buildings; and
  2. (2) whether he is taking any steps in the matter; if so, what steps; if not, why not.
  1. (1) I have no knowledge of the Press article referred to or of the possibility of schools closing down because of the state of repair of the school buildings.
  2. (2) Presumably reference is made to Church of the Province Mission buildings hired on behalf of Bantu School Boards for educational purposes in the Ciskei. These Bantu School Boards are themselves responsible for the maintenance of such hired accommodation and have recently been reminded of their responsibility in this connection. Bantu School Boards have at the same time been advised that where difficulty is experienced in financing necessary repairs they may apply to the Department for assistance.
No Order for Closing of Modderpoort School *XVII. Mr. VAN RYNEVELD

asked the Minister of Bantu Education:

Whether the Government has ordered the closing down of a school at Modderpoort; and, if so (a) which school and (b) why.



Building of Houses for Indians at Merebank-Wentworth *XVIII. Mr. WILLIAMS

asked the Minister of Health:

  1. (1) Whether his attention has been drawn to a Press report that the building of houses in the Merebank-Wentworth Indian Housing Scheme is being delayed; and
  2. (2) (a) what are the reasons for the delay and
    1. (b) what is the estimated backlog in housing for Asiatics in Durban.
  1. (1) Yes, my attention has been drawn to certain Press reports but I do not know whether they are the reports which the hon. member has in mind.
  2. (2) (a) As far as I am aware the housing scheme for Indians in the Merebank-Wentworth area is being undertaken without delay and
    1. (b) the housing shortage for Asiatics in the whole of the Durban area is estimated to be 20,000 dwellings.
Report on High Costs of Medical Services *XIX: Dr. DE BEER

asked the Minister of Health:

Whether the commission appointed by him in January 1960 to investigate the high cost of medical services has reported; and, if so, when will the report be laid upon the Table.


No, the commission has not reported yet.

Radio Lecture by Sir Julian Huxley *XX. Mr. COPE

asked the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs:

  1. (1) Whether a lecture by Sir Julian Huxley was scheduled to be broadcast by the South African Broadcasting Corporation last year; and, if so,
  2. (2) whether the broadcast of the lecture was cancelled; if so, why.

As the question put by the hon. member deals with a domestic matter of the South African Broadcasting Corporation, it falls outside my jurisdiction and I therefore have no information on the subject.

Passport of Natal Student Withdrawn *XXI. Mr. COPE

asked the Minister of the Interior:

  1. (1) Whether a student of the University of Natal was recently informed at Irene that his passport had been withdrawn; if so, (a) what is the name of the student, (b) when was the passport originally issued, (c) when was he informed of the withdrawl of his passport and (d) for what reasons was it withdrawn;
  2. (2) whether the student is an office-bearer of a students’ organization; if so, what organization;
  3. (3) whether the passport had been used for overseas travel; if so, (a) when and (b) to which countries; and
  4. (4) whether his Department had any information as to whether this student (a) had a criminal record, (b) had at any time been detained or restricted under any statute or regulation or (c) had at any time made public any views or acted in any way considered to be against the public interest; if so, what information.
  1. (1) Yes.
  2. (a) to (d) and (2) to (4).

A passport application is treated as a personal transaction between the applicant and the Department of the Interior. The details thereof are not disclosed for general information or publication for the reason that it is considered not to be in the public interest to disclose what information the Department has at its disposal concerning an applicant for or the holder of a South African passport.

Subsidy for Natal Indian Blind Society *XXII. Mr. WILLIAMS (for Mr. Butcher)

asked the Minister of Social Welfare and Pensions:

  1. (1) Whether the Natal Indian Blind Society has applied to his Department for a subsidy on capital expenditure; if so, what was the amount of the subsidy applied for; and
  2. (2) whether the subsidy was granted; if not, why not.
  1. (1) Yes, a subsidy of approximately £3,000.
  2. (2) No. The matter is still under consideration and it is hoped to arrive at a final decision shortly.

—Reply standing over.

Facilities for Sorters at Durban G.P.O. *XXIV. Dr. RADFORD

asked the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs:

  1. (1) Whether the benches used by sorters in the General Post Office in Durban have been removed; if so, why; and
  2. (2) whether any alternative provision will be made for the sorters to be able to rest in between peak hours; if so, what provision; if not, why not.
  1. (1) Stools—not benches—were previously used by sorters in Durban and other large centres. Efficiency was, however, affected thereby to the extent that they had to be withdrawn two years ago; and
  2. (2) sorters are kept fully occupied during their periods of duty and, except for meal and tea intervals, an opportunity to relax between peak hours does not normally occur. Rest rooms equipped with morris chairs and settees are available for the convenience of sorters during intervals for meals and tea.
Robbery in Post Office at Gillitts *XXV. Dr. RADFORD

asked the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs:

  1. (1) Whether the post office at Gillitts was recently entered by a robber; if so,
  2. (2) whether any damage was caused; if so, what damage;
  3. (3) whether the postmistress was injured; if so, what was the nature of her injuries; and
  4. (4) whether any steps are contemplated to remove the post office to a less lonely site or to provide protection for the staff; if so, what steps; if not, why not.
  1. (1) Yes.
  2. (2) yes; cash and cheques to the value of £26 6s. 5d. were stolen;
  3. (3) no; and
  4. (4) the South African Railways, from whom the building is leased, have been approached for the provision of a grille on the counter and for the main entrance to be altered to face the national road. Other accommodation is not available.
Visit by Sir Oswald Moseley to S.A. *XXVI. Mr. WILLIAMS (for Dr. Steytler)

asked the Minister of the Interior:

  1. (1) Whether his attention has been drawn to a Press report that Sir Oswald Moseley intends to visit South Africa this year; and
  2. (2) whether he has made any decision in regard to granting this person permission to enter the Union; if so, (a) what decision and (b) what are the reasons for the decision.
  1. (1) Yes.
  2. (2) No application for admission to the Union has been received from Sir Oswald Moseley. Citizens of the United Kingdom are admitted to the Union without prior applications if they can comply with the provision of the Immigrants Regulation Act, 1913 on their arrival.
Construction of Cross Runway at East London *XXVII. Mr. VAN RYNEVELD

asked the Minister of Transport:

  1. (1) Whether work on the cross runway at East London Airport has been commenced; if so, (a) by whom and (b) when did the work commence;
  2. (2) whether the scheduled date for the completion of the work has been changed; if so, (a) what was the original date and (b) what is the present date;
  3. (3) what is the length of the runway which (a) has been completed and (b) remains to be completed; and
  4. (4) whether he intends to take steps to speed up the completion of the runway at this airport; if so, what steps.
  1. (1) Yes.
    1. (a) Messrs. Darling and Hodgson (Pty.) Ltd., Germiston.
    2. (b) August 1960.
  2. (2) Yes.
    1. (a) December 1960.
    2. (b) November 1961.
  3. (3) (a) 2,850 feet.
    1. (b) 2,350 feet.
  4. (4) Due to work additional to the contract being required and days lost to rain the scheduled date of completion of the reconstruction of the airport has had to be extended from December 1960 to November 1961. The work is, however, proceeding ahead of schedule and no special steps to speed it up are contemplated.
Advisory Senates of Bantu Colleges

The MINISTER OF BANTU EDUCATION replied to Question No. *L, by Mr. Moore, standing over from 31 January.


Whether advisory senates have been established at the University Colleges of Fort Hare, Turfloop and Ngoya; and, if so, what are the names of the members.


Yes, advisory senates have been established at the University Colleges of Fort Hare and Zululand and consist of Senior Bantu Lecturers.

The names of the members of the advisory senate for the University College of Fort Hare are: M. O. M. Seboni, G. I. M. Mzamane, A. M. L. Masondo, T. M. Ntongana, C. M. C. Ndamase, S. M. Guma, A. B. Gamede, A. M. Dyasi, S. M. Burns Ncamashe.

The names of the members of the advisory senate for the University College of Zululand are: A. Nzimanse, B. C. Mtshali, J. S. Sibisi.

An advisory senate for the University College of the north has not yet been established as there is only one Senior Bantu Lecturer, i.e. Prof. Kqware. The Senate, however, consults him in connection with all matters in which an advisory senate would have been consulted.

For written reply:

Naming of Public Work I. Mr. E. G. MALAN

asked the Minister of Lands:

  1. (1) Whether any public works acquired or completed since 1948 or at present being constructed for or on behalf of his Department bear the names of present or former Governors-General, Cabinet Ministers, Administrators, Senators and Members of the House of Assembly; and. if so,
    1. (a) which public works,
    2. (b) what is the name of the public work in each case and
    3. (c) where is each such work situated.
  1. (1) No.
Rissik Street Post Office to be Replaced II. Mr. E. G. MALAN

asked the Minister of Public Works:

Whether he will consider the advisability of demolishing the Rissik Street Post Office in Johannesburg and replacing it by a modern building in another appropriate and convenient site; and, if not, why not.


The planning of a new building to replace the Rissik Street Post Office in Johannesburg is in hand.

It is the intention to demolish the existing post office on completion of the new building.

Naming of Public Works III. Mr. E. G. MALAN

asked the Minister of Finance:

Whether any public works acquired or completed since 1948 or at present being constructed for or on behalf of his Department bear the names of present or former Governors-General, Cabinet Ministers, Administrators, Senators and Members of the House of Assembly; and, if so, (a) which public works, (b) what is the name of the public work in each case and (c) where is each such work situated.


No; the rest of the question, therefore, falls away.


—Reply standing over.


asked the Minister of Education, Arts and Science:

Whether any public works acquired or completed since 1948 or at present being constructed for or on behalf of his Department bear the names of present or former Governors-General, Cabinet Ministers, Administrators, Senators and Members of the House of Assembly; and, if so, (a) which public works, (b) what is the name of the public work in each case and (c) where is each such work situated.


Yes. (a) Commercial and technical high schools; (b) and (c) Tom Naudé Technical High School at Pietersburg, Jan Viljoen Technical High School at Randfontein, De Wet Nel Technical High School at Kroonstad, and Albert Hertzog Commercial High School at Ermelo.

Railways: Goods Carried Over Various Systems V. Mr. BUTCHER

asked the Minister of Transport:

What were the gross and net tonnages of goods carried by the South African Railways during 1960 on (a) the Cape Western System (i) from Cape Town to the north and (ii) to the south from Touws River, (b) the Cape Midland System (i) to the north from Port Elizabeth and (ii) to the south from Noupoort, (c) the Cape Eastern System (i) to the north from East London and (ii) to the south from Queenstown, (d) the Natal System (i) to the north from Durban, (ii) to the south from Ladysmith, (iii) to the east from Harrismith, (iv) to the west from Ladysmith, (v) to the north from Ladysmith, (vi) to the north from Glencoe, (vii) to the south from Volksrust and (viii) to the south from Glencoe, (e) the Western Transvaal System (i) to the south from Union to Volksrust and (ii) to the north from Volksrust to Union and (f) the Eastern Transvaal System (i) from Komatipoort to Lourenço Marques and (ii) from Komatipoort west to Union stations?


Statistics of goods traffic conveyed from the depots mentioned are maintained in gross tonnages only. Details for the calendar year 1960 are as follows:


Cape Western System:







Cape Midland System:



(including 976,813 tons despatched via Swartkops for Klipplaat—Mossel Bay section)




Cape Eastern System:






Natal System:


















Western Transvaal System:



(Union is not a depot station and statistics are not maintained in respect of traffic clearances from this point, but the figure reflects traffic despatched from the Reef area southwards on the Union —Volksrust line)




Eastern Transvaal System:





Lengthening of Runway at Jan Smuts Air Port VI. Mr. VAN RYNEVELD

asked the Minister of Transport:

Whether the runway at Jan Smuts Airport was extended last year; and, if so, (a) what was the length of the extension and (b) how long did the work on the extension take.


Yes. (a) 4,000 feet. (b) 12 weeks from the date the decision was taken to lengthen the runway.


First Order read: Second reading,—Unemployment Insurance Amendment Bill.


I move—

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Mr. Speaker, the main purpose of this Bill is to make certain changes in regard to the Unemployment Insurance Fund which will fit in with the decimal system, and at the same time to establish an additional wage group which will result in the benefits of some contributors to the fund being increased by more than a rand per week. At the same time we are also taking this opportunity to make a number of administrative improvements to the Act.

I want to begin by referring to the new wage group which is being established, viz. Wage Group No. 12. As the Act reads at present, a worker earning up to £1,250 per annum can become a contributor to the insurance fund, and these contributors are divided into 11 groups according to their income, and they receive benefits accordingly. The group of workers which hitherto, however, was the worst off was those in the top wage group, Group 11, whose wages were between £819 and and £1,250 per annum. The weekly benefit they receive now amounts to £6 9s. 6d. It was this group which was the worst off and which we are trying to assist by means of the amendments contained in this Bill. The trade unions have also made representations to us to make concessions to this group of workers in Group 11. It was felt that the benefits drawn by these people have a lower ratio to their earnings than is the case in respect of the other groups of workers. This matter is now being remedied in this Bill by the establishment of a 12th group. Group 11 is now being divided in two groups. Group 11 will still, as before, include those earning from £819, but workers receiving between £897 and the maximum of £1,250 per annum will in future constitute the new Group 12, and they will receive 10s. 6d. per week more by way of benefits. The maximum weekly benefits are therefore now being increased to R14 or £7, and in that way this group of workers is being assisted. It is estimated that this concession, this establishment of a 12th group, will benefit 100,000 workers in the country, because Group 11 has hitherto consisted of 150,000 workers and as the result of splitting up that group, 50,000 will now remain in the old Group 11 and there will be 100,000 in the new Group 12. These increased benefits are accompanied by a slight increase in the contributions of the workers concerned. Instead of a weekly contribution of 12d., which this group has been paying into the fund hitherto, they will in future pay in 12 cents. As you will have inferred, Mr. Speaker, I have hitherto been speaking only of the employee and his contributions, because for this group the employers do not pay an extra contribution. The contributions of the employers are limited to 8 cents. That is in terms of the principle agreed on by the employees’ and employers’ representatives in the Unemployment Insurance Board four years ago when we amended the Act in 1956. On that occasion, four years ago, these employees’ and employers’ representatives agreed that two additional groups should be established, the present Groups 10 and 11, but the employers’ representatives agreed on condition that the employers’ contributions would not consequently be increased. Representatives of the trade unions who sit on the board, and also the employers’ representatives, consider that this concession which made four years ago should for the time being be left unchanged, and I have no reason for differing from them in this respect. Now, as against the somewhat higher contributions the highest group will pay in future, I must point out that according to the new decimalization scale the workers in Group I, i.e. those earning up to R234 per annum, will in future pay in slightly less, viz. 1 cent instead of 2d. a week. I may perhaps also add that this Group 1 will in future receive slightly increased benefits, viz. 17½ cents a week. That is actually the result of the conversion to the decimal system, because with this changeover the exact equivalent in rand and cents which Group 1 was to receive would have been R2.27½, but because it is difficult for the calculating machines to work in half-cents, the amount has now been set at R2.45, which means that this group receives an increase of 17½ cents a week in benefits.

In the same way the benefits payable to employees in Group 11 will be increased by 35 cents per week because the changeover to the decimal system results in their contributions being increased just a little more than those of workers in the other wage groups. This increase is therefore really of a compensatory nature, and it has also been done on the recommendation of the Unemployment Insurance Board. Now, in regard to the estimated income of the fund, it is estimated that as the result of this slight increase in the contributions of the two highest groups, together with the contribution by the State, the income of the fund will increase by R300,000 per annum.

I now come to the second aspect of this Bill, viz. the clauses which are intended to eliminate certain abuses. I will stipulate the clauses which deal with that matter. As the trustee and controller of the fund, to which the workers themselves have contributed millions of pounds, the State feels that it has a responsibility towards the bona fide contributors in so far as it must protect their funds against misuse. The expense of past years has shown that unfortunately there are certain people who make misuse of the fund. Let me mention a few examples, firstly Clause 2. There are contributors who fail to report to the labour bureaux of the Department in order to obtain employment once the period during which they have drawn benefits has elapsed. Many of these persons are obviously not genuine work-seekers, but people who are interested only in drawing benefits. It often happens, according to what we have been told, that a contributor is informed that his benefits have come to an end after a certain period, whereupon he immediately inquires when he should again come and register in order to receive benefits. It should be noted that he does not inquire at the labour bureau when he should again register in order to obtain employment, but he wants to know when he should register in order to draw benefits, because the period for which he has drawn the benefits has elapsed. As the Act reads at present an unemployed person can draw benefits for 26 weeks out of a period of 52 consecutive weeks. Now certain people simply wait until the next period of 26 weeks has elapsed, and then they again turn up at the offices of the Department of Labour to draw benefits for another 26 weeks. A case has even come to our knowledge where a certain pensioner postponed his departure to live overseas until such time as he had drawn all the benefits to which he was entitled. The House will agree with me that this is not the object of the fund, and that it is our duty to protect the bona fide contributors against such abuse.

Now, in order to enable our claims officers to take stricter action in such cases when it becomes clear to them—and I emphasize that —that the applicant concerned is not interested in obtaining work but merely applies to the Department in order to receive benefits, the claims officers in terms of this Bill are empowered to ask such applicants to furnish proof that they have actually looked for work. In other words, such people are now asked and expected regularly to come and register themselves with the Department, and if necessary also to prove, whether by the production of a letter or in some other way, that they have in fact sought work from certain employers and could not obtain it.

Then there are also persons who become unemployed deliberately with the object of remaining out of work for a while and to enjoy a holiday, or to renovate their houses, etc. Fortunately there are not many of them, but such cases do occur where people make misuse of the fund. We even find the choosy work-seekers who, though their qualifications perhaps do not justify it, nevertheless are not prepared to accept the employment offered if the relevant wages are either not precisely the same or higher than the wages they received before. If such a contributor is receiving benefits and refuses the offer of suitable work, then, as the Act reads at present, he can be refused benefits for a period of six weeks. If he refuses to accept suitable work he can be told: Very well, if you do not want to accept this work, then for six weeks we will not pay you unemployment benefits. But now we also find that some of that class of persons remain away for the six weeks which they have thus been fined for having refused to accept suitable work, and when those six weeks have elapsed they again turn up at the office to ask for their next unemployment benefit to be paid. In the meantime vacancies have been notified to the officers of the Department, vacancies for which that class of person would have been eligible, but because they stayed away from the office for those six weeks they could not be placed in that type of employment. When eventually this person then applies to the Department, it often happens that at that particular time there is no suitable work for him. It is in order to put a stop to that sort of thing that we are now amending the Act in this respect, so that the maximum period for which such a person can be fined can be extended from six to 13 weeks. The object is really that it should act as a means of forcing such persons to accept employment. In practice it will not often be applied, but it is a legal power given to our claims officers which will influence such persons to report at the office and to accept the employment to which they are suited.

I now come to yet another form of abuse, and that is dealt with in Clause 4 (b). In terms of Section 40 (2) (b) of the Act, an unemployed contributor in any wage group from Group 4 must receive benefits for the first 13 weeks of unemployment unless the Department can offer him employment in the same category as that in which he was formerly employed, and also in the same wage group, which provision in the main Act is quite a reasonable one. It is, however, sometimes clear to the claims officer that a person who has become unemployed is no longer physically fit to do the same work, or even perhaps that his age counts against him, and, as the Act reads at present, we are compelled to pay benefits to that person for 13 weeks. For 13 weeks one cannot put that person into any other type of employment to which he is suited; he must be placed in the category in which he was before and in the same wage group. The result is that benefits are presently being claimed by persons who in fact no longer wish to work. It also happens that people who, due to physical defects, are no longer able to do the type of work they formerly did, must now be kept by us in our employment register pending their being placed in employment where there is no longer any demand for their services. Let me mention just one example. Take, e.g., a printer in a printing works who has worked for all these years as a printer but who now, because of some physical defect, has become unemployed and is no longer able to do the same work. No printing works will employ him. But the Department is able to place him in employment elsewhere—say, for example, as the caretaker of a building—in employment which will not cause him any excessive physical or other discomfort. But, as the Act reads at present, he can refuse and we cannot place him in that employment for 13 weeks. All we now ask in this Bill is that the claims officers should be empowered, if they are convinced that such a person is no longer fit to work in the category in which he has worked for all these years, to offer him other employment in a different wage group.

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the House to take two points into consideration in connection with the amendments proposed here. I make that request because one can expect, when a stop is being put to abuses like this, to receive pleas and perhaps also criticism to the effect that it is unreasonable or unfair to take such action against such people. I would like the House in this respect to bear in mind two points, and the first of these is this: Where the claims officer is now being empowered to take stricter action in certain circumstances in order to protect the fund and its bona fide contributors against abuses, it should be remembered that any person who is not satisfied with the decision of the claims officer can in terms of Sec. 27 of the Act appeal to the local unemployment assistance committee, and, as hon. members know, both the employers and the employees are represented in that committee. If such a person feels that he has suffered an injustice as the result of the decision of the claims officer, he can appeal to that committee, and the decision of that committee then becomes the decision of the claims officer. In other words, if he has suffered an injustice and the committee agrees that it is an injustice, they can remedy it, but even more: If such a person is not yet satisfied with the decision of the committee and feels that he has suffered an injustice, he can appeal still further, in terms of Sec. 21, to the Unemployment Insurance Board, and on that board also both the employers and the employees are represented. It is therefore not a one-sided court; the employees’ own representatives serve on that board. The decision of the Unemployment Insurance Board is then considered to be the decision of the claims officer.

It cannot be argued that the workers are not aware of these opportunities for appeal, because supposing a claims officer has refused to grant a person his benefits or has stopped his benefits or has fined him, then a letter is sent to that person, and in that letter the reasons are indicated as to why his benefits have been stopped or why he has been fined, but even more than this: The attention of that contributor is directed to the fact that he can appeal to the Unemployment Assistance Committee. He is therefore not left in the dark in regard to this channel he has through which to remedy the injustice. The same procedure which applies to the Committee applies to the board, and this line of action provided by the Act eliminates any question of the genuine work-seeker being denied these benefits.

The second point I wish to emphasize in this regard is that the provisions of this Bill enjoy the unanimous support of the Unemployment Insurance Board. I have the names here of the members who served with that board, and who attended its meetings, and if it should become necessary, in the light of possible criticism, to mention their names, then I shall do so when I reply and also mention what employees’ organizations they represent in order to indicate that the provisions embodied in this Bill enjoy their unanimous support.

In conclusion I want to say this. It may be said that this measure really amounts to a measure drafted by the people who are affected by it. It came to us on the recommendation of the Unemployment Insurance Board; it was drafted by the people who are affected by it, and one can correctly describe this procedure as one of the most democratic procedures which can be followed because the people directly affected, whether by their contributions or their benefits, have been consulted by us in this matter.


We on these benches will support this Bill at the second reading and during the Committee Stage we will go in greater detail into the various clauses before committing ourselves to the amendments which are being proposed here, particularly in regard to Clause 2 and 8.

The Deputy Minister has indicated that there are ample safeguards for a contributor who feels aggrieved against the decision of a claim’s officer. We would like to examine that position closer and we shall do so in the Committee Stage. The position that we fear has been met in part by what the Minister has said, but the practical working of the Fund and the effect of the amendments now being proposed by the Minister, particularly in Clause 2, is that in many instances the contributor, once he receives notification that his claim has been dismissed and that he may appeal to the local committee, will leave the matter there. He has to put forward his appeal in writing, and that is a hardship for many. In many instances they call upon their local Member of Parliament to assist them at the present time. But when this type of hindrance is put in their way, they are not only going to come to their Member of Parliament, but they are going to condemn the Government and members of the Opposition for making it harder for them to get benefits from their Fund. It is true, as the Minister has said, that this is being done to safeguard the interests of the bona fide workers in this country. That may be so but the Minister has not indicated what steps he has taken or will take in respect of claims officers who go beyond the scope of their duties. We do get that type of claims officer. The Deputy Minister will remember that in previous years his Minister has admitted that it is not always possible to get the right type of claims officer. We have the difficulty also and this clause gives greater power to the claims officer, and it is questionable whether that power can be entrusted to the claims officer in spite of the safeguards mentioned by the Minister. We know of cases where the claims officer has been unreasonable and where he has changed his attitude when approached by a Member of Parliament. I say this not because I am condemning the claims officers as such. Many are doing a first-class job of work but there are exceptions and there is no protection in this Bill for the workers against that type of claims officer.

Before going on with the actual Bill I think it is necessary that the House should have some idea as to how the Fund is progressing. This Fund was introduced by the United Party in 1946. It has grown considerably since then and the conditions governing benefits have also been amended considerably. But I want to draw attention to the Controller and Auditor-General’s report which was laid on the Table yesterday. It is a very interesting report in connection with the Unemployment Insurance Act. because it gives a very clear picture of the Fund’s position over the past nine years. According to the report, on page 512, in 1951 the annual excess of income over expenditure amounted, in round figures, to £6,000,000. In 1952 it was about the same figure. In 1953 it was also £6,000,000; in 1954 it dropped to about £3,000,000, in 1955 to £877,000, in 1956 to £494,000, in 1957 a deficit of £720,000, and in 1958 a deficit of £2,080,000 and in 1959 a deficit of £3,500,000. You will notice, Sir, that in 1951 there was this excess of £6,000,000 and in 1959 a deficit of £3,500,000, so over a period of nine years there was a big change in the finances of the Fund. We are not objecting to that, Sir, because we know that the bulk of that has been absorbed in improved benefits. It is necessary though in considering the amendments brought forward by the Minister that we should bear in mind what has happened to this Fund. During the last financial year we had this position: The Controller and Auditor-General reports that in addition an amount of £37,716, was expended in providing additional relief on the Witwatersrand in terms of Section 39 (3). In this regard the Controller and Auditor-General says this—

In this way contributors received benefits even when their credit had been exhausted or where they would otherwise have had to wait before benefits were due in their next cycles.

This was in relation to the unemployed clothing workers, a subject on which we have had many debates in this House. I want to ask the Minister to be good enough to tell us in his reply what the position is at present in regard to the unemployed garment workers on the Reef. We would like to know because it has a bearing on what is being proposed here, and it is of considerable interest to know what steps the Deputy Minister is taking as far as the general unemployment position in the country is concerned. The benefits that have been paid out over the same period have, as I have indicated, increased considerably. In 1953 the total benefits paid out amounted to £1,030,000 and by 1959, the last year in respect of which the figures are available, the figure had increased to £6,417,000, so one can see that the improvements in benefits have been considerable indeed. The Monthly Bulletin of Statistics which was released yesterday indicates that during the last year there has not been much of an improvement in the unemployment position. The figures indicate that in October 1959 unemployment amongst all groups, except Bantu, amounted to 26,260, and in the month of October 1960, a year later, the figure was 26,137, a very small decrease. It is true that there was a much bigger decrease as far as African workers were concerned. As far as they are concerned, the position is that in August 1959 there were 46,373 unemployed, and a year later the figure had dropped to 32,838. The point I want to make here is that we have this opportunity when discussing the Unemployment Insurance Amendment Bill to get some indication from the Minister of what his Department is doing to improve the unemployment position, because as long as this position obtains there must be this additional drain upon the Fund, and although it is true that this is the purpose for which the Fund was set up the fact remains that an unemployed person is much worse off when he receives unemployment benefits than he is when he is in full employment, and the first duty of a government is not to see that a person receives unemployment insurance but that he gets a job. It is not in the interests of the country or in the interests of the Fund that the unemployment figure should remain constant as it is. We would like to see it dropping more rapidly. I raise this matter with the Minister because here we have an opportunity of discussing it with him. As the Minister said in his opening speech, the Government’s main concern is to look after the interests of the workers who are genuinely unemployed. That is true, but the Government’s first consideration should be to find jobs for those who are unemployed, and from what I have indicated it is quite clear that the rate of unemployment is not dropping as rapidly as it should if the Government does its duty through the Department of Labour and in other regards as well. In giving this very brief review of the position of the Fund, one other point arises. The deficit that I have referred to is, of course, less because of the interest earned on the Funds which are deposited with the Public Debt Commissioners. It would appear from the Controller and Auditor-General’s Report that the interest earned on these accumulated funds, which stood at about £67,000,000 as at 31 December 1959, is in the region of 3½ per cent on an average. I want to know whether it is considered reasonable that this vast sum of money, contributed mainly by the workers, should be earning such a low rate of interest when the interest rates generally pertaining to-day in respect of loans raised in this country and abroad is well over 5½ per cent. I put the question because one can see that with the gradual reduction in the amount of money in this Fund—if my figures are correct, the capital sum in the Fund is being reduced at the rate of £1,500,000 per year as long as the present benefits are paid and the unemployment position remains unchanged, so we are having a gradual reduction in the total accumulated Funds, and it does seem that an average of 3½ per cent is a low rate of interest on Funds which are really held in trust for the workers of this country. I put these points to the Minister; other speakers will deal in detail with some of the other aspects of the Minister’s speech, but I say again that in reviewing the position of the Fund we must accept that it is financially sound, that the benefits have improved considerably over the years, but the responsibility for maintaining this Fund as strong as it possibly can be, depends also on the Minister’s ability to reduce unemployment to an absolute minimum. That should be the first responsibility of any Government in dealing with a problem of this sort. It is no use telling us that the provisions of this Fund are this, that and the other when we know that there are these thousands of workers who are getting benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Fund but benefits which are nowhere near the amount they would earn if they were in full employment. We must not lose sight of the fact that our first responsibility and that of the Government is to get employment for those workers and not to hide behind this Act and to say “We have improved the unemployment benefits; we have done our job”.

Mr. Speaker, we are glad to have the opportunity of debating the position of this very important Fund and the amendments proposed by the Minister, some of which flow, of course, from the introduction of decimalization. There are other aspects which I have not dealt with here and that we shall deal with in the Committee Stage. In conclusion I want to say that the Minister outlined his case very clearly, but I do not think he fully appreciates the difficulties which face unemployed persons when they approach claims officers for benefits in terms of this Act. There are difficulties, and I hope that in the Committee Stage we shall be able to show up those difficulties more clearly than I am doing at the moment because it will be easier to deal with them during the Committee Stage. Sir, we are going to support the second reading but, as I have said, we reserve the right to move amendments when we come to the Committee Stage particularly as far as Clause 2 and 4 are concerned.


The hon. member who has just sat down really adopted a negative attitude on behalf of the United Party. He said that the United Party supported the second reading but he did not commit himself by saying that he will support certain amendments in the Committee Stage which are aimed at putting an end to certain abuses which are taking place at the moment. Secondly the hon. member quoted figures to show what the annual net profit was over the past years and he appeared a little concerned about the fact that the Fund did not show such a large net profit over the subsequent years. But he did not even regard that as a point of criticism because he answered himself by saying that he could very well understand why that was the position and that it was due to the fact that larger amounts had been paid out in the form of benefits. That makes it somewhat difficult for us to know what the United Party’s attitude is in regard to this whole matter. I want to say this, however, that apart from the fact that the object of this amending Bill which is before us at the moment is to adapt the activities of the Unemployment Benefit Fund to the decimal system, it also satisfies two very important requirements as far as unemployment insurance is concerned. In the first place it provides for the greatest possible benefits to be paid to contributors and secondly to prevent abuses so as to ensure that the money paid by contributors is used for the purpose for which it is intended. In the first place I want to deal with the provision that the money of the contributors should be spent in the correct manner. Apart from certain benefits, such as sick benefits, maternity grants, death benefits, the main. object of the Unemployment Benefit Fund is and remains to pay unemployment benefits to contributors who are fit and able to work and to assist them during the period that they are looking for work. Even the benefits which were approved of two years ago and to which the hon. member for Umhlatuzana (Mr. Eaton) has referred, namely to augment short-time pay packets, were aimed at preventing unemployment.

When we go into the history of this legislation, Sir, we find that jealous care is taken to ensure that benefits are not paid to people who are not bona fide workseekers. When we study the requirements laid down in the original Act that have to be complied with before benefits are paid out, we find that the whole approach is that the fund should be jealously guarded. It is inevitable that over the years certain defects should have become evident and certain abuses indulged in in the application of the law, defects and abuses which have constituted a grave danger to the main object of the Act, namely the correct spending of the Unemployment insurance moneys. We find that the Unemployment Insurance Board which also has representatives of the contributors, namely the workers, on it warned against this in their annual report in 1956, when they said the following—

Ordinary benefits were paid to contributors who were fit to and available for work, and it is necessary to guard against the Unemployment Insurance Fund suffering any loss through the actions of persons who are not genuinely trying to find work.

As has been pointed out by the hon. the Deputy Minister this amending measure is aimed at putting an end to abuses. We are doing this because of the experience which the Department of Labour had in recent times.

What is suggested in this amending Bill? In the first place, certain powers are given to the claims officers to refuse to pay benefits if they are convinced that certain contributors are not bona fide workseekers. What objection can there be to that? What objection can there be to their having the power to refuse to pay benefits if they are convinced that the person is not a bona fide workseeker? There can be no objection to that. Secondly an attempt is made to put an end to another abuse; in Clause 4 (b) power is given to the claims officer to refuse to pay benefits if it is clear to him that the contributor is no longer capable of doing the work on which he was formerly employed either because of his age or because of some serious physical defect. But—and this is important—that is not all. In the event of such a contributor refusing to accept a job, which, in the opinion of the claims officer, is suitable for him, and a job which will not make undue demands on him, he is not simply thrown on to the street. As far as it is possible to do so, he is offered a suitable job and only if he refuses to take it, the claims officer can refuse to pay him any benefits. But where this amending Bill deals mainly with those people who are getting on in years and those suffering from physical defects, and where we all know in what difficult circumstances those people often find themselves, I want to make a serious appeal to the hon. the Deputy Minister that he and his Department will ensure that this power which is being granted to the claims officer is exercised as sympathetically as possible so that it will not cause unnecessary suffering to those people. I am convinced that the Department will see to it that it will be exercised in that way.

In the third place, there is another abuse which is being eliminated. If a contributor refuses to accept suitable employment be will now be penalized for a period of 13 weeks instead of six weeks, as provided in the Act as it stands at the moment. The Deputy Minister indicated very clearly how the work of the Department in placing those people in suitable employment if they fail to report at the offices of the Department of Labour during that whole period of six weeks was being hampered. The principle remains the same, namely to impose a fine. That provision is contained in the original Act of 1946, it is merely extended in this Bill; the period during which a fine can now be imposed is extended from six weeks to 13 weeks so as to place the Department of Labour in a more favourable position and so that the people will learn to report at the offices of the Department of Labour regularly and at specific times so that efforts can be made to find suitable employment for them. The hon. member for Umhlatuzana quite rightly said that it was the task of the Department of Labour to place those people in suitable employment. But how in heaven’s name can the Department do that if those people are only interested in drawing benefits, if they are only interested in registering for benefits (not for work); and if they then stay away for a period of six weeks. It is obvious that in that event the Department of Labour cannot succeed in finding suitable employment for them.

Where this amending Bill seeks to prevent the fund from being abused in this way, it is in accordance with an important principle of unemployment insurance. The Government must see to it that the Fund is protected. The Government owes it to the employers and employees as the contributors to this Fund, to ensure that the money which is contributed by them is used for the purposes for which it was originally contributed. I am convinced that the employees will welcome this and that it will strengthen their faith in the Fund, which is there to protect them in times of unemployment.

I said at the beginning of my speech that there was another important requirement which was being met in this amending Bill, and that was to pay the greatest benefits possible to the contributors, because this Bill provides for greater benefits to be paid to those people who draw ordinary benefits. If further proof is still required to prove that the present Government is the best friend of the employees this Unemployment Benefit Fund provides the best proof. Apart from the benefits which the Government has introduced under this Fund, such as sick benefits, maternity grants, death benefits, etc. the position of the person who draws ordinary benefits is being greatly improved. It is characteristic of those improved benefits that, under the present Government, their contributions have been considerably reduced while their benefits have increased appreciably. I want to support that statement by giving a few examples. Take the case of a person who is to-day earning R858 per annum. In 1947 (had he paid in cents) he would have had to pay 20c. To-day he pays only 5c per week.


What is the reason for that?


The hon. member knows what the reason is. I am coming to that. The contribution of that person has dropped by 75 per cent. But let us see to what extent his benefits have increased. Had he become unemployed in 1947 he would have received R5 per week; but now in 1961 he gets R6.65 per week, a percentage increase of 33 per cent. Let me give another example. A person who earned R1,014 in 1947 had to contribute 20c and to-day he contributes 6c, a percentage decrease in his contribution of 70 per cent, but his benefits have increased from R5 in 1947 to R7.70 per week in 1961, a percentage increase of 54 per cent. A third example: A person who earned R1,170 per annum in 1947 contributed 20c; to-day he contributes 7c, a percentage decrease of 65 per cent. His benefits, on the other hand, have increased from R5 in 1947 to R8.75 per week in 1961, a percentage increase of 75 per cent. Then a last example: A person who earned R1,482 in 1947 contributed 20c per week and to-day he contributes 9c. In other words his contribution has decreased by 55 per cent, while his benefits have increased from R5 per week in 1947 to R10.85 in 1961, a percentage increase in his benefits of 117 per cent.

That is how the National Party Government has improved the position of the workers under the Fund and the hon. member for Turffontein knows very well that that is the reason, namely that we have a National Party Government in power that is well disposed towards the workers of South Africa and a Government that looks after their interests. In the case of the lower income groups their contributions have in some cases been decreased by as much as 85 per cent, and even with this amending Bill the contributions of the lower income groups are somewhat less, while the contributions of those in the higher income groups will be somewhat higher while the contributions of the middle income group remain the same. But that is not all that the National Party Government has done in respect of this Fund. The scale which is used for people to qualify for benefits from this Fund has been raised from an income of £750 to £1,250. As the hon. the Deputy Minister has pointed out, a further concession is made to the higher income groups in this amending Bill and a new Group, Group XII, is being created in order to diminish the great difference between their earnings and the benefits which they may draw, as is the position in the case of the lower income groups. I wholeheartedly support this measure and I am sure the workers of South Africa will welcome it and regard it as further proof of the fact that this Government is their best friend.


There is no doubt that the increased benefits under Clause 3 of this amending Bill will be welcomed by the workers, but I cannot agree with the hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) (Mr. van Rensburg) when he says that he thinks this Bill in its entirety will be welcomed by the workers of South Africa. Nor do I agree with him in his praise to the Nationalist Government for all it has done for the workers since it has come into office. The very fact that the Unemployment Insurance Fund is having to pay out increased amounts to workers, and the fact too that unemployment has risen in South Africa over the last few years, is surely indicative that the level of employment in the country is not being kept up, that the national income of South Africa is not rising, certainly not as fast as in earlier years, and by no means as fast as it should be rising in view of our great economic potentialities. I would agree with the hon. member for Umhlatuzana when he says that the duty of the Government should be to maintain workers in employment. I would go further and says that the entire fiscal, financial and economic policy of the Government should be devoted indeed to keeping the entire country at the peak of economic activity. In this regard of course we find much to criticize the Government about in its policy over the last 12 years. I can’t go into any great detail at present, but I simply want to mention the restrictions on employment, job reservation, the narrowing down of activities as a result of decreased investments in South Africa, and we feel all these things are causes for complaint by the Opposition, on these benches, any way, and by the workers of South Africa. They should be looking forward to times of expanding activity and they certainly should not be enduring, as they are, the increasing shadow of narrowing economic activities and the possibility of unemployment in the near future.

Having said those few general words, I want to come to the Bill itself and I want to say that we support this Bill but we have our reservations about Clauses 2 and 4. I will deal with these clauses now, and we shall take a further opportunity to discuss them during the Committee Stage. I agree with the hon. Deputy Minister who said that it is the duty of the Government as trustee of the fund to see that the fund is not misused by idlers and persons who are not genuine work-seekers. I think everybody would agree with that. But I am wondering if Clauses 2 and 4 which tighten up regulations as far as the application for and the receiving of benefits are concerned, by contributors to the fund, do not go much too far. I would like the hon. Deputy Minister to tell us if he has any idea at all of the percentage of idlers among the applicants for compensation, for unemployment relief, and to what extent indeed the amount paid out to idlers, or persons who are suspected to be idlers, has affected the fund. It seems to me that the remedies introduced in this Bill are far greater really than are needed to combat the ill which the Minister was complaining of.

Clause 2 asks now that the person applying for benefits not only, as under the old Section 38 of the 1946 Act, must satisfy the claims officer who has to investigate the case of proof of his continuous unemployment during the period in respect of which he claims benefits, and also must satisfy the claims officer that he is unable to obtain suitable work, but he must now also satisfy the claims officer that he has actively been seeking work. That is the general purpose of the new amendment to Section 38 of the Act. Now I want to know exactly how this is supposed to work, what type of proof is the applicant supposed to submit? The onus is on him and he has to submit proof to the claims officer. If you take the case of a work-seeker who genuinely has been going from factory to factory and has simply been met by a curt “no vacancies”, how can he actually prove that he has actively been looking for work? The employers are not going to submit to his request that written proof be furnished to the effect that they have turned the man away and I think somehow or other the obligation should be placed on employers to give notification to the claims officer that the person has genuinely been seeking work. I put this suggestion forward to the hon. Minister for consideration. It might be possible that the fund itself, or the claims officer, might provide work-seekers with books which they can have stamped by the factory where they have been seeking work. I do not see how the work-seeker can bring the additional proof in order to satisfy the claims officer that he has genuinely been seeking employment. Perhaps the hon. Minister can tell us if he has anything in mind or whether his department has thought of a practical way in which this could be carried out. I quite agree of course that the fund must be protected against idlers, but I do feel that in this case the genuine work-seeker is penalized by placing the onus on him and he has obviously no means of forcing employers to whom he applies for work to comply with the regulation which states that he must furnish the proof that he has been seeking employment. That is a reservation we have as far as Clause 2 is concerned.

I think Clause 4, both (a) and (b), is also aimed at the chronic idler, but it is also to my mind penalizing the genuine work-seeker. Clause 4 (a) amends Section 40 of the principal Act. May I say at this juncture that I think it is high time that this House had a consolidating measure before it. In this particular section alone there have been no fewer than five previously amending Acts, and it is virtually impossible for one to work one’s way through the maze of new amendments which have been introduced since the original Act 53 of 1946 was introduced. I commend to the hon. the Minister and his Department the early submission of a consolidating measure so that in future when we get an amendment— as we undoubtedly will, since the Government is never content to let well alone—it will not be so difficult for us to trace the meaning and purport of a proposed amendment. But after wading through all the previous amending legislation, it appears that what the two new sub-sections are going to do is first of all to increase the period of delay in the payment of benefit to workers from six to 13 weeks, again with the intention of trapping the chronic idler. Well, we feel that this penalizes the genuine work-seeker just as well, and I don’t think that this is a particularly good clause and that it is not the way to do it anyway. The other, and perhaps more objectionable, sub-section is sub-section (b) which now increases again the discretionary powers of the claims officers, already substantially increased by previous amending legislation, and particularly by Section 8 of Act 9 of 1957 where “suitable work” was defined. Originally, under the original Act, Section 40 (1) (i) simply related to the work of a similar class and in the same group as the work and group in which the contributor performed his ordinary employment. Now Act 9 of 1957, in Section 8 included the phrase “which in the opinion of the claims officer, the contributor is capable of performing and the acceptance of which will not, in the opinion of the claims officer, cause the contributor concerned, undue hardship”. Now we get this further discretionary power granted to the claims officer by the amendment of the definition of “suitable work” by the inclusion in this clause of the words “save where, in the opinion of the claims officer, the contributor is not capable of undertaking the work in which he has been ordinarily employed”. In each case, therefore, the power of the claims officer is increased. Now the hon. Minister did point out, quite correctly, that the contributor has the right of appeal, but even so I do not think in the first instance that it should be left entirely, especially where it is a case of physical suitability for work, to a claims officer, to determine whether or not a man is capable of performing such work. I think it should be at least a medical officer who should have the responsibility of re-classifying a man as far as the category of the work he is able to do is concerned. The hon. Minister particularly referred to age, but there are also accidents, and there is illness, and I think in all three categories it should be the responsibility not of the claims officer, but of the medical officer to re-classify the man as far as this is concerned.

These are our objections to this Bill, which, as I say, we will not oppose at the second reading, but in respect of which we hope to get satisfactory explanations from the Minister.


I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. member for Houghton (Mrs. Suzman), who is a very pleasant member, can seldom resist the temptation to take a dig at the National Party. I can only tell her that we admit that we have not always kept the economy of South Africa on the high level on which it was for very many years, but the fact that there is satisfaction amongst the workers, that we have had few strikes during the past years, is probably the best reply to this question whether or not this Government looks after the welfare of the workers.

The main object of this Bill is, in the first instance, to adapt the fund to the decimal system, in the second instance, to pay increased benefits and, in the third instance, to eliminate some abuses which are taking place to-day. I do not think there is anyone who will deny that this law has been abused in the past, and this is a genuine attempt to put a stop to those abuses. I do not want to say anything about the departmental procedure. The hon. the Deputy Minister will probably reply to the points raised in that connection. But here we are making a genuine attempt to put a stop to those abuses and I think we should welcome that, because the object of the Unemployment Insurance Act is only to assist people who become unemployed and who find themselves in straitened circumstances, and not to create unemployment. Employers often complain about the high percentage of absenteeism from work and this Bill ought to assist in combating that evil. That is why I say this Bill is an attempt to combat those evils. The older workers also constitute a big problem, especially now that work is not as plentiful as it used to be; it is not so easy to find suitable employment for them. I shall say something more about that in a moment. However, an attempt is made here to find other work for that person who is getting on in years and who did a certain job during his life, followed a certain trade, which he can no longer do on account of his age and who can no longer find employment in certain trades, an attempt is made to employ him in some other direction, instead of leaving him to live on unemployment benefits.

One is pleased, Sir, that the National Party Government—and here I want to mention the hon. the Minister and his Deputy—have once again succeeded, for the third time in the past 11 years, to increase the benefits payable to these workers under this Act. The hon. member for Houghton and the hon. member for Umhlatuzana both referred to the fact that during the past few years the expenditure exceeded the revenue of this Fund. I just want to point out that in terms of the provisions made over the past ten years, this Government has brought large groups of workers under the provisions of this legislation, groups which never before came under it, and it is obvious that that must have constituted a drain on the Fund. I want to mention a few things. In 1952 the Government passed legislation which provided for sick benefits to be paid to workers who had never before come under this legislation.


We suggested that.


That may be, but the Government did it. In 1953 it was decided to pay maternity grants to women who were working. Thereafter the Government made provision for benefits to be paid to the dependants of deceased contributors. In that way the number of people who were entitled to benefits under this Fund was considerably increased.


We know the figures.


Yes, the hon. member did his homework, but I want to give them for the benefit of the House. Up to 1959 sick benefits were paid to 22,274 contributors; maternity grants were paid to 22,364 female contributors; during 1959 benefits were paid to 1,982 widows and 179 other persons where the contributor had died. That gives us a total of 48,347 workers and their dependants who have in terms of the measures placed on the Statute Book by this Government been added to those who have drawn benefits according to the 1959 figures. These are additional people who have drawn benefits; people who did not do so before 1950. That is why I say that it is understandable that where the Government looks so well after the welfare of the workers, there should be a certain drain on the Fund. I think, however, that hon. members opposite must remember that they wanted to do away with this Fund. They wanted to use it as the nucleus for a national pension fund.


No, that is not so.


Yes, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Turffontein (Mr. Durrant) himself has introduced various motions to that effect over the past years. There can therefore be no objection now that the Government is using this fund to provide for the workers and their dependants.

I do not want to say anything more about the benefits which are being established in this Bill. I want to say something about the worker who is getting on in years. I should like to take up the cudgels on behalf of those older workers in our country. As a result of scientific research the expectation of life has been increased. We are very grateful for that, Sir, but I think that is a fact which we as a nation should face up to and take into account. One of the main problems as regards the unemployment figure—something which is related to the abuses which we are trying to eliminate in this Bill—is caused by the worker over 45 years of age, who loses his job or resigns his job and then seeks other employment but who cannot easily be taken up in any other type of work. One of the reasons why he cannot easily be placed in other employment is because of the terms of our pension fund. In terms of the Pensions Act people over 45 years of age find it difficult to be allowed to contribute to the pension fund because if those people only start to contribute at that age, the pension fund has to pay out benefits to them which are more than their contributions. I want to plead therefore that this subject of the matter receives attention. While the previous Minister of Labour and the present Minister have on various occasions pleaded for the older workers and have appealed to employers to employ them, we too should try to remove the difficulties which stand in their way. In spite of these appeals which have been made—and I also want to refer to the study made by the National Bureau for Social Research of the Union Department of Education—I want to plead that a special study be made of the labour aspect of the problem and that the best possible use be made of these people in our labour and industrial life, and that they be given an opportunity to remain useful citizens. Mr. Speaker, we have the position to-day that people get on in years but they remain strong and they become completely frustrated if they get the impression that life has nothing further to offer to them, that they are no longer needed and that there is no more work for them to do. I want to ask that better use be made of our older people. Where the Bill before us tries to eliminate abuses I want to plead that we introduce other measures in an attempt to assist our older people.


The hon. member for Pretoria (West) (Mr. van der Walt) is well known in this House for his interest in incapacitated workers. But if the hon. member had given closer study to the propositions in Clause 4 (b) of the Bill now before us he would find that the possibility exists that many of these elder people, although elderly in years but possibly still physically fit to perform jobs of a fairly active nature, are liable, in terms of this provision, to be discriminated against by a claims officer. One of the objections that we may have to this clause is the fact that such wide discriminatory powers are given to claims officers to decide whether or not a man is capable of doing a job for which he is seeking employment.

The hon. the Deputy Minister made great play of the fact that this provision will probably be applied to people of an advanced age group. But I think there is one point which has been overlooked, and that is that there will probably also be discrimination in regard to the benefits that any elderly person may draw when applying to the Unemployment Insurance Fund. This is a point to which I would request the hon. Deputy Minister to give his attention. He has explained that in terms of Clause 4 (b) a claims officer will now have discretion as to whether or not an applicant, having become unemployed and applying for either work or for benefits, should receive the unemployment benefits to which he is entitled in view of his past employment, or whether he should be placed in other employment for which the claims officer considers him to be more suitable, albeit at a lower rate of pay. That clearly is a discrimination against a worker and it is one of the objections which we have and which we will discuss in greater detail in the Committee Stage.

I should also like to echo the objections expressed by the hon. member for Umhlatuzana (Mr. Eaton) in connection with clause 2. In his closing remarks the hon. the Deputy Minister said that members of this House should bear two main thoughts in mind when approaching this Bill. The first one is that a worker has a right of appeal against any decision of a claims officer and, secondly, that any proposition that is put before us in this Bill has the approval of the Unemployment Insurance Board. Let me again say what I have said tor a number of years when discussing amendments that have been put forward by Nationalist Party Ministers of Labour in respect of the Unemployment Insurance Fund. I say that we are asked to discuss these measures when we have insufficient information. In terms of the Act the Board has to make an annual report available to this House, dealing with the operations of the fund and giving details in respect of payments and so forth. I well recall that in 1957 when the last Amending Act was passed, we had to discuss it on the basis of the 1954 report. On investigation I find that the only other information we have is contained in the latest report which is dated 1959. The Deputy Minister says that we should bear these factors in mind, but when one looks at the 1959 report one finds that out of the cases that have been brought before the Unemployment Insurance Board—and please note, Mr. Speaker, it is not the number of cases brought before Unemployment Insurance Committees but before the Board—75 per cent are cases brought on appeal from the decisions of claims officers. There are thousands and thousands of cases that come before the Committee but about which we know nothing. The only cases that we know about are those which come before the Board on appeal. I think that that fact supports what was said by the hon. member for Umhlatuzana. Every hon. member of this House knows that in our capacity as representatives of constituents we frequently are approached by people with complaints about how they have been dealt with by the fund. But whenever we approach the claims officers, we find that claims are dealt with promptly and the applicant gets satisfaction. I think the fact that 75 per cent of those appeals are from the decisions of claims officers prove that it is extremely dangerous to give such wide discriminatory powers to these officers as proposed in the Bill.

I would now like to turn to the other provisions of this Bill. I should like to deal with Clause 3, and the Schedule to the Bill, with particular reference to Benefits Paid to and Contributions made by Workers. We should realize that when dealing with these new contributions and benefits, we are dealing with the interests of 715,000 workers who are registered contributors to this fund. And in terms of the latest available figures, we are dealing with a fund totalling some £67,000,000. I therefore think it is completely ridiculous—if the hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) (Mr. van Rensburg) does not mind my saying so—to attempt to make political capital out of this fund, using the argument of the increased benefits being paid out of the fund. Let me remind the hon. member that any decisions up to 1957, whether by way of increased benefits or reduced contributions to the fund, were actuarially determined and not arrived at by a wish of the Government. It is ridiculous to come along and say that this adds to the prestige of the Nationalist Party Government because benefits have been increased, particularly when those benefits come from monies contributed by the workers themselves and not a penny of which has been contributed by the Government. It is ridiculous that the hon. member should try to make political capital out of a matter involving the workers’ own money and their own interests. I do not think that that sort of thing will do his cause any good.

I should now like to deal with the argument of the hon. the Deputy Minister in connection with the new tables which are brought about largely as a result of the change to the decimal system. This involves the extension of the ceiling up to £1,250, and the splitting of group 11 between groups 10, 11 and 12. The hon. the Deputy Minister has asked for our approval of these tables on the ground that there is a very slight difference because, so he says, in 1957 there was an agreement between the Employer Associations and the Employee Organizations on these tables. That agreement was reached when the Government decided to accept the recommendations of the Unemployment Insurance Board that the income limit should be raised to £1,250. Let me put this matter in its true perspective. The suggestion that the ceiling be raised to that figure in accordance with group 12 was originally proposed by this side of the House. I personally made that suggestion with the support of this side of the House. The arguments I advanced were subsequently taken up by the Trade Unions and discussed with the Unemployment Insurance Board. The Government’s attitude at that time was that it was not prepared to increase the ceiling unless there could be an agreement between the employers’ organizations and the employees’ organizations. They said they would only raise the levels of contributions and benefits if agreement could be reached inside the Unemployment Insurance Board itself. The hon. the Deputy Minister knows that that is the position. But what is the position now? We now have a fund which it no longer increasing its level to meet the increased numbers of contributors from year to year. That increase is between 13,000 and 14,000 per annum. Despite the increase in the number of contributors we find that the capitalization of the fund is decreasing. Why should that be so? It is decreasing because there is an unfair relationship in the contributions between certain groups of employers and employees. The employees are to-day carrying a larger burden. It is not on the old principle of “What I contribute you contribute”. As a result of the increasing cost of living in this country and the increasing standards of living, the workers of South Africa agreed to raise the ceiling to £1,250 a year. They had to compromise at that level in order to ensure that people earning that income would also be entitled to the benefits of unemployment insurance, and not only the lower paid workers. That has resulted in the position to-day where you have one level of contributions from group 8 to group 12, at which the contributions from the employers is fixed at 8 cents whereas the contributions from the workers are increased proportionately from group to group.

When one analyses the position one finds that the claims on this fund since 1957, when the number of claims stood at 52,262, have risen in two years to 94,471—and that is the latest available figure that we have. That is an increase of something like 42,000 claims on the fund. And that shows a loss of some 7,240,000 working days suffered by industry and commerce. When one sees those figures one realizes it is time to become concerned about what is happening to this fund. It no longer shows the graphic rise necessary to meet its increased obligations, it now shows a declining graph on the basis of the present contributions. The hon. the Deputy Minister may remember my words of warning in this respect in 1957, words which I am going to repeat to-day. There has now been a departure from the principle which was in force throughout the years, to the effect that any contributions to the fund, or benefits payable, should be determined on an actuarial basis. We have now gone over to the basis of trying to meet the situation by agreement at a board which is not concerned with the actuarial results at all. The fund may be placed in the position, as a result of this, that in a time of general unemployment or economic crisis it may not be able to meet its obligations. I warned the hon. the Deputy Minister in 1957 that on a compromise basis, where fixed contributions are fixed by agreement rather than on a basis of actuarial valuations, there exists no sound financial basis for the level of incoming and benefit payments, and in the long run this will have only one effect, namely, a decrease in the capital level of the fund and consequent dissatisfaction on the part of the workers of South Africa.

When one looks at the figures quoted by the hon. member for Umhlatuzana, so graphically illustrated by the Auditor-General’s report, one sees that the warning issued in 1957 was probably a timely warning. The time has therefore arrived when the Government should assume its full responsibility in regard to this fund and obtain an actuarial determination of what its obligations are. When one considers, for example, that of the 715,000 contributors to the fund, approximately 315,000 are women—as the hon. member for Pretoria (West) pointed out, in terms of the proposition moved by this side of the House some years ago in regard to maternity grants …


You dream and we do the work.


No, that proposition came from this side of the House, the proposition that grants should be paid to working mothers who were pregnant. When you consider the benefits that have accrued to our country in that regard, where maternity benefits to the extent of £1,210,000 were paid out to 22,364 working mothers—when you consider that I say it is a small cost to pay for 22,364 babies fathered from this side of the House in this proposition. [Laughter.]


Order, order!


Mr. Speaker, I think we can justly claim for this side of the House that we fathered 22,364 babies in the interests of the White population of South Africa. Lets face the facts: Without these benefits paid from this fund, South Africa would have been poorer off in terms of population. Undoubtedly the facilities given and the benefits paid to the working mothers of South Africa—out of their own contributions to the fund, because it is not largess from the Government—they were able to do their duty as South African mothers. We are now richer by 22,364 babies.

That brings me to the proposition that if 315,000 of the 715,000 contributors are women, then the women of South Africa who contribute to this fund get very little benefit out of it. All they have had whilst doing their duty was £1,210,000. I am now going to cast a thought to which I hope the hon. the Deputy Minister will give serious consideration. We as a country are richer as a result of this. Perhaps the time has come when the women of South Africa should receive additional benefits from the fund in the form of marriage grants.

Marriage grants are necessary because most of the 315,000 contributors get very little out of the fund. If marriage grants were to be established they would be of great assistance to them. One frequently hears of young couples saying: “We cannot afford to get married, we have not the time.” But there will be no excuse in the future if working women are entitled to receive marriage grants. It seems appropriate because, having become married and ceasing to work they are, in a sense, unemployed. Why not therefore give them some benefit in the form of a marriage grant. That seems to me to be a reasonable proposition.

When I move the original proposition for the payment of pregnancy allowances, it was laughed at by hon. members on the other side of the House. But in course of time they could not resist the pressure from the women voters of South Africa. I am quite sure that similar pressure will begin to exert itself from to-day, and in course of time we will find hon. members like the hon. member for Pretoria (West) claiming that he brought marriage grants in under the Unemployment Insurance Fund and that the kudos belongs to the Nationalist Party Government. I plead with the hon. the Deputy Minister to-day that while this agreement stands as a sort of armistice between the employer and employee organizations in regard to the level of contributions by employers, he must do something about it because it does act as a form of discrimination against the workers. It is unsound to run a fund of this nature on that basis. In every other fund we have, determinations are made from time to time on the actuarial valuations of those funds. But no such valuation has been made in regard to the Unemployment Insurance Fund for six years, ever since this agreement was arrived at. Whilst we are accepting this Bill as it is to-day, because we cannot refuse to do so, I do plead with the hon. the Minister that in the course of time he will have an investigation carried out into the actuarial valuation of the fund and the obligations it has to meet in terms of the benefits it will have to pay out.


Mr. Speaker, the National Party has shown over the years that it is the true friend of the workers. It did so not only while it sat on the Opposition benches by introducing motions, but it has also done so since taking over the reins of government by introducing legislation in the interests of the workers of South Africa. That is why, since the National Party appeared on the scene, there has never been any need for a Labour Party which has filled this role in other countries. But our present-day Opposition are always putting forward proposals such as that which the hon. member for Turffontein (Mr. Durrant) has made—only when they are in opposition! But when they sat on this side of the House and were able to put those proposals into practice, we never heard anything about these fine-sounding proposals which they are always making now that they are in opposition. The hon. member on a previous occasion wanted to convert this fund into a national pension fund. What would have become of the workers if that had been done? What of the benefits which have already been paid to the workers in the past? What would have become of them if we had accepted that proposal to convert the fund which has been established to provide unemployment benefits, into a national pension fund?

The Bill before us is aimed at combating unemployment in South Africa more effectively. The object is inter alia to make the adjustments necessitated by the introduction of the new coinage system. But one of the objects is to combat unemployment more effectively, to help the person who has become unemployed through no fault of his own to fend for himself and to meet his obligations towards his family. I say that this is one of the objects of this Bill. As I have said, the National Party Government realizes its responsibilities towards the workers. It knows that unemployment is one of the greatest and most terrible disasters which can strike the worker. It knows that even before that stage is reached, the fear that he may become unemployed is a cancer in the life of the worker. One of the secret anxieties which causes the worker with a sense of responsibility the most concern and which eats at his happiness is the underlying and ever present fear that the day may come when he will be unemployed, when he will no longer have an income and when he will have to reconcile two things, i.e. his income and his expenditure, without having any income. That is the impossible problem facing the unemployed, namely that he must reconcile these two factors—namely expenditure without an income. When that day comes he will not have an income. There will be expenditure—the expenditure required to provide his family with their basic requirements. His rent or the instalment on his bond will still have to be paid, and he will not have a salary or wages to pay them with. He will still as always need money to pay for his groceries, food and clothing. The ice-cream cart will continue to ride past as always; its bell will still ring as always, and the eyes of his children will shine with glad expectation as they have always done—but they will have no money because he no longer has a salary or income! Even before such a worker becomes unemployed, it is a cancer in his life. Once unemployment strikes him, it is one of the most destructive things which can happen to the worker. We know that it results not only in division and discord in the home, but that it also results in the disruption of the life of the family and the individual, that it has a very detrimental effect on the family as a whole and on the unemployed worker himself. And any Government worth its salt, any government which is concerned about the happiness of its citizens, will take this underlying anxiety in the heart of the worker into account and will try to eliminate the worker’s fear of unemployment by removing his fears of the consequences of such unemployment and by keeping unemployment under control as far as possible. The National Party Government is such a government. This Government has its methods whereby it combats unemployment in South Africa and one of these methods is to give the worker who has become unemployed an income while so unemployed, so that he can provide the basic requirements of his family. This Bill is evidence of that.

The Government’s other method of combating unemployment is precisely to provide employment to the worker who has become unemployed, the matter in respect of which the hon. members for Umhlatuzana (Mr. Eaton) and Houghton (Mrs. Suzman) have criticized us. But that is precisely the policy of this Government. These are then our two methods of combating unemployment, namely in the first place to give the unemployed worker an income with which he can provide his family’s basic requirements. No one who has studied this Bill properly and objectively can deny that this Bill furthers the first object, the Government’s first method of combating unemployment. It it not necessary for me to refer to the specific clauses once again. The hon. the Deputy Minister and other hon. members on this side have already done so.

I now want to turn to the second aspect, namely the combating of unemployment by providing the unemployed workers with employment. Hon. members opposite have told us reproachfully that that is the way in which unemployment should be combated, and not by unemployment insurance. We admit and we accept that that is the most effective method of combating unemployment. We have always tried to combat unemployment, but for this method to be fully effective employment opportunities must be available to the worker, and in a system which is based on private enterprise, the Government is not the main employer, but it must ensure that there is a climate which creates employment for its citizens. A climate must be created which will stimulate industrial development, which will provide factories where the people can work. That is the task of the Government and this Government has accepted it as its duty and is doing everything in its power to stimulate our industrial development, to create employment opportunities. It is in this regard that I want to make an appeal to the Opposition. Seeing that the National Party is doing everything in its power to stimulate industrial development and the erection of factories in order to create employment opportunities, I appeal to hon. members to cooperate with the Government for the sake of the workers of South Africa. Because how does this industrial development come about? It is dependent to a large extent upon capital investment from overseas. I now want to tell the Opposition that every irresponsible thing which they say and do to besmirch the good name of South Africa, every misrepresentation of the Government’s policy, results in potential investors being frightened away and in their deciding not to invest in South African industries. What is worse, they also cause boycotts against South Africa on the overseas markets which South Africa is seeking for the sale of her exports. I say that I want to make an appeal to the Opposition to co-operate with us in this regard for the sake of the workers of South Africa and their families, and not to make irresponsible statements. Let hon. members weigh their words for the sake of the workers of South Africa. Help us to stimulate our industrial development by not frightening away possible capital investors. Do not describe South Africa as a police state and a dictatorship while that is not the truth. [Interjection.] Sir, it is relevant to this matter because in this way potential investors are being frightened away and by behaving in this way hon. members are preventing the creation of employment opportunities, something which we all advocate. We ask hon. members for their co-operation. Let them please cease misrepresenting the Government’s policy.

*Mr. RAW:

Mr. Speaker; I do not propose to follow the hon. member who has just sat down in his wanderings through the wide field of unemployment, the principles of unemployment insurance, industrial development, boycotts and capital investment. It was no doubt interesting as a lecture, but I will confine myself to the Bill before the House, which I admit the hon. member for Boksburg (Mr. G. L. H. van Niekerk) did touch on— only once by the way—when he said that the hon. the Minister has already dealt with it and that it was not necessary to say anything more about the Bill. I want to talk about a few points which do arise from the Bill.

The first question I would like to put to the hon. the Deputy Minister is why it is necessary to have this amendment which is contemplated in Clause 2. The original Act in Section 38 already gives the officials very wide powers. It is necessary for the applicant for benefits to do certain things under the Act in terms of sub-section (2). Subsection (2) states that the claims official must investigate the application for benefits and that he may grant it if he is convinced that the applicant is entitled to benefits. He must first be convinced that he is entitled to it. Sub-section (3) states that the applicant must submit proof to the claims official of his uninterrupted unemployment, and sub-section (4) says that he must convince the claims official that he is not able to find suitable work. The claims official, in terms of Section 38, already has the power to investigate the case, to obtain evidence, and the applicant first has to convince the claims official that he has been uninterruptedly without work and has been unable to find work. But the hon. the Deputy Minister has not explained to the House why it is necessary to give the claims officials this wide power, a power which is more or less in terms of sub-section (4) of the original Act. It is difficult for us to understand why it is necessary to extend that power in precisely the terms of Clause 2.

Then I come to Clause 4, which amends the original Section 40 of the principal Act, and here I want to plead for a group of people who from time to time experienced great difficulties under the original Section 40. I refer in particular to those people who, in terms of the law, are not entitled to benefits because of inability to accept the work. The claims official now has the power under this amendment to make exceptions where the person is not able to perform the work which he usually performs. In other words, he is given the right to exempt such a person from the penalty clause. But there are thousands of persons who, according to the claims officials or according to their own knowledge of their disability, are not able to continue their work and under Section 40 they are not entitled to any benefits. Their only hope then is to make application for a disability allowance. I know of quite a number of cases where such persons under this Act are not entitled to receive any assistances, but when those persons submit applications for a disability allowance and have to appear before a doctor, the doctor says that they are able to work and not entitled to a disability allowance. The result is that such persons then suffer under an Act which, as has been explained, is designed to help such persons, and this proposed amendment is another step in the direction of helping them. But this does not solve the problem of the person who is disabled for the work to which he is accustomed but not sufficiently to be able to receive a disability allowance. This is something also that applies in particular to female workers who can no longer find employment in which they can do work to which they are accustomed. I would like to ask the hon. the Deputy Minister to investigate this matter. I realize that it will not be easy to insert a further amendment in this Bill and to solve this problem now, but I do ask the hon. the Deputy Minister to examine this matter to see whether it is not possible to insert some amendment or other in the future to assist the person who is disabled according to the claims official but not disabled according to the medical official who examines him for the disability allowance. And not only to assist him but also to reduce the period that elapses between the time a person’s unemployment allowance ceases and the date on which his disability allowance begins. Last year there was a case in my constituency of a person who received his unemployment allowance for 26 weeks. He was entitled to a disability allowance and he received it, but immediately he became entitled to an unemployment insurance allowance the disability allowance ceased automatically. After he had stopped receiving unemployment allowances, there was a break of five months before he could again receive his disability allowance. He was only entitled to it for a month, then his six months were up again and he could again apply for unemployment benefits, and then he again had to wait for three months before all the formalities were settled. I feel that in this special case something can be done administratively under the present provisions of the Act so that this break between the payment of the disability allowance and the unemployment allowance can be reduced or eliminated altogether, so that a person who receives a disability allowance but who becomes entitled to an unemployment allowance on a certain date be able to start receiving it automatically on that date and will not have this break twice per year between the Department of Labour and the Department of Social Welfare. Otherwise the Act should be so amended that a disability allowance can also be paid out of the Unemployment Insurance Fund. I make this suggestion to the Minister. This is something which has caused a great deal of hardship and which has placed whole families in an embarrassing position. The Government is the only authority which can act in this connection and really do something about it.

The last point I want to raise is in connection with the question of proof—here I return to Clause 2—which is required from persons to show that that they have really looked for employment. There are many factories where a poster is simply put up on the door at the street entrance to say that there are no vacancies. A person seeking employment does not even enter the building. He arrives at the door, which is perhaps locked. The factory is possibly on the sixth floor, but at the street entrance there is a notice on the door which says that there are no vacancies. It is impossible for a person to prove that he has unsuccessfully sought work at that factory. There are cases, particularly in the clothing industry, where the ordinary applicant for employment never enters the factory. He arrives there and sees whether work is available and if there is not, he goes on to the next factory. In such a case, where a person alleges that he called at such a factory but that there were no vacancies, I ask that the claims official should make investigations to find out whether it is true that there were actually no vacancies on the date on which the person says he was there. There is no other proof that he can bring.

My last point in connection with that particular aspect of the matter is a request that claims officials should be asked, and that the general circumstances at labour offices should be amended, to eliminate the feeling that people receive charity when they apply for something which is due to them as a right. They are entitled to apply for these benefits if they are in difficulties. But there are many people who refuse to go to the office and make application when they are unemployed, because they feel that the whole atmosphere and the attitude of the officials is that they come to ask for charity, and they are too proud to make use of their legal rights. I feel that much good can be done by a more human attitude on the part of the officials. It is true that there are people who take advantage of the law, and I realize that this is a problem, but there are also people who, through no fault of their own, have to go there to ask for help; those people are good citizens of the country and they are entitled to sympathetic treatment. It is not fair, just because a few criminals take advantage of the law, that those who have a legal claim, should be treated in the same way as those who misuse the law.


What do you suggest?

*Mr. RAW:

It is just a question of human relations. One can put nothing into a law that will help. It is just a question of what instructions the Department gives its officials and of the relations between the officials and the people with whom they work. I frequently go to see what the queue looks like at the office in Durban. The people stand there from 7 o’clock in the morning and only get away at 12 o’clock. Many of them are not even interviewed. There is one official to deal with them. It is impossible for him to do everything, but the people have to stand and wait the whole day, and many of them come to us and complain. I have had two cases this year where people have said to me: “I am not willing to be treated like a Kaffir and I shall not return to that office to be talked to in the way I am addressed; I am too proud to do that.” But that man has a wife and family, and because of his pride and his refusal to make use of his rights, his wife and children suffer. In those cases it was possible to make these people change their minds and to tell them to go back to the office, that the official may possibly have had a difficult day. It is a question of the attitude of the officials and the hon. the Minister can really do something in this matter through his Department. If he will encourage the right attitude he will find that there will be much better co-operation and less abuse. I make those two appeals to the hon. the Minister, and I hope that he will give his attention to those problems.


Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the Minister on the reduced contributions which are now being introduced. We are very thankful for them, because as the House knows the worker is not too wealthy and he welcomes such concessions. Hon. members opposite have now become the protectors of this fund, but I still remember that quite recently they urged in this House that this fund should be converted into a national pension fund. I do not think that hon. members opposite were in earnest when they advocated that step, because they know as well as we do how essential and important it is that we should strengthen this fund as much as possible because I can still remember the days when there was a depression, and it is by no means impossible that we may have such a depression again. At that time there was no such fund, and what help did the worker receive at that time? His position was simply impossible. To-day we have this fund to protect him. We cannot say with certainty what awaits us in the future. I still remember the time when B.A.’s and M.A.’s had to push wheel-barrows on big construction jobs in order to keep body and soul together. When we think to-day that we have this fund so that the workers can sleep easily at night and know that if something happens to them to-morrow they will have something to fall back on, it represents a great improvement in the position. I now ask hon. members opposite: Seeing that they are now defending this fund today, why did they urge at that time that it should be converted into a pension fund? Why are they speaking to-day as though they are the people who were responsible for this fund?

There are one or two points which I should like to bring to the notice of the hon. the Deputy Minister. He may say that I am objecting to the period being extended to 13 weeks. I regard it as a little harsh (kras) on the worker. I think we should keep this period at six weeks, but 13 weeks is too long.

Then I also want to point out to the Deputy Minister that I feel a little concerned about certain powers which are being delegated to certain officials because I have often received complaints that some officials abuse the powers which they are given. We must be most careful not to give undue power to certain officials. The contributor is also a human being and he also has feelings like anyone else. When he goes to draw benefits to which he is entitled and for which he has contributed, and he is insulted, he feels that he does not want to go to the office again to draw his benefits. This happens in many instances and I ask the Minister to investigate the position and to ensure that the officials who are responsible for paying out the benefits will treat the contributors reasonably and courteously. I mention this matter because I have received complaints from various quarters that the contributors are sometimes treated very discourteously.

Then I also want to make this request to the Minister. In recent times increased benefits have of course been granted to expectant mothers, but I nevertheless feel that we can increase those benefits still further. The funds are available and in some cases there are mothers whose husbands have a very small income. The mothers must assist in providing the necessities of life. If such a mother is unemployed for that period—and the benefits are very small—her family find it very difficult to make ends meet. I submit that matter to the Minister for his consideration and I hope that he will do something about it.


In my opinion the Deputy Minister has made a sincere attempt to improve the administration of the fund and he has tried at the same time to increase the benefits which will be given to the unemployed worker. I think he has gone a little way along the right lines. Whether or not he has been totally successful in his efforts will, I think, come out when we have a better chance to discuss each of the clauses in the Committee Stage. But a beginning has been made and we on this side of the House are pleased to accept the second reading and when the Committee Stage comes we will discuss the clauses in a non-political spirit; we will try to help to amend each of these clauses which we think should be amended, in such a way that they will be satisfactory to all concerned. We do not want to claim any political kudos for what has happened in the past; the past speaks for itself. But there are one or two matters here which I think we should talk over broadly, so that we can get the right perspective of what is meant in this amending Bill. Firstly we have been told that there are about 26,000 unemployed to-day in South Africa. I would like to know how many of these 26,000 are in the transition stage, going from one type of employment to another, or from one job to another and are only temporarily unemployed and not really unemployed. Then I would like to know how many of them are won’t-works, people who work the minimum amount of time which, if possible, will give them six months rest in the year. These are the people with whom we have to deal in Clauses 2 and 4. It is these won’t-works and these difficult types for whom we have to have these two clauses inserted in this Bill. Now, what has given rise to this Bill? Obviously two things. Firstly there must have been a demand by the workers for improved benefits, and secondly, I take it, that the administration has complained about the type of person who is abusing the privilege, if it can be called a privilege, of claiming unemployment benefits. Sir, I think we must view this matter in its right perspective. I for one do not think that all the claims officers are inundated with applications from people who are trying to do the Department down. Those people are very few in number and they are easily recognized. There are so few of them that even in a city like Johannesburg many of them are known by name to the administrative clerks. This can be dealt with and we must find ways and means of dealing with these people. Amongst these won’t-works are both men and women. There are the alcoholics and the neurotics and the neo-psychiatric types who border on mental instability. We have these different types of people to deal with and that is where the difficulty comes in, when you leave it to the claims officer to determine whether or not a person who has come for benefits is covered by Clause 2 or Clause 4. Should that person be penalized? Is he doing the wrong thing knowingly, or is he one of those people who is difficult to fit into the normal labour market? I refer to the psychiatric case; the alcoholic and those who are just on the border line between the normal and the abnormal. When we discuss this in the Committee Stage I should like to have the opportunity to pursue this matter further and then perhaps we can find ways and means of getting doctors to issue the correct type of certificate to cover all those cases so that the genuine person will be excluded from the demands made by the claims officer. This will take a lot of responsibility off the shoulders of the claims officer, and at the same time the position will not be abused either by the claims officer or by the person who demands unemployment moneys.

I want to go back to the schedule. There is one part of it with which I am not altogether happy. The Minister has now divided it up into the 12 groups. In group No. 8 the contributor will now pay 8 cents and the employer 8 cents. Then in group 9 the contributor starts to pay more until in group 12 the employer pays 8 cents and the contributor pays 12 cents, a difference of 4 cents. The Minister has told us in his second reading speech that these groups cover almost 100,000 people of the higher income groups. My arithmetic may be wrong, but as I work it out these 100,000 people will contribute £96,000 per annum towards the fund. If that is the case, I do not think it was very fair to have done this to this income group, because in my opinion this is the income group which will make least demands on the unemployment fund. I am sure that the assessors will confirm that the higher income groups make the smallest inroads into your fund, and I do not think they should be penalized for earning more. I think that at most they should be expected to pay a contribution equal to that paid by the employer. I do not think it is just to ask the higher income group to pay so much more than the rest if their claims are going to be less over the years than the claims made by the lower income groups.

Reference has been made here to maternity grants. I would like to suggest to the Deputy Minister that he should say that all expectant mothers will get maternity benefits from the third month of pregnancy. I do not think we should have the present set-up. I find that some women come to me in their fifth month of pregnancy and some later to ask for certificates to enable them to get maternity grants. Well, Sir, the position becomes unbalanced. Some are paid more than others, so I would suggest that the Minister should insert an amendment to provide that all expectant mothers will be entitled to maternity grants after three months. I put forward that suggestion to the Minister in the hope that he will consider it in the Committee Stage. There are a lot of little difficulties which crop up from time to time to which the claims officer and the man in the street attach very little importance but these things become very important to the unemployed. His first difficulty is to prove that he is unable to come to the unemployment office to report that he is still looking for work. Very often these people become ill and they go to the claims officer or to the Department and say: “I am terribly sorry I could not come last Tuesday, because I was ill.” The officer then asks him to produce a medical certificate, and now the man is in trouble because he did not call in a doctor, probably for two reasons; firstly because he is out of work and cannot afford to pay the guinea for the doctor, or secondly you may find that his illness was such that on that particular Tuesday he was able to help himself by taking two or three aspirins and staying in bed for the day. I think we should help the man who wants to report and is unable to do so because of illness and who is unable to pay for a medical certificate. There is no provision for the Department to say to this man: “Go to a doctor and get a medical certificate and the Department will pay the doctor’s fees for issuing the certificate or for examining you.” So the claims officer has to take the word of the claimant or alternatively the claimant is penalized. I do not think any penalty should be imposed on any person who says that he was too ill to come and report for work.

Then we come to the next difficulty. Very often a man is sent many miles to go and report for work. He does not know whether he is going to get the job, but he is told to go to a certain place to look for a job. These people very often have not got money to pay for transport and it is probably too far to walk, so they are penalized. Very often a man says “Well, I will try to get a lift there”. Should such a person be penalized because he did not go? Then on the other hand we are told that the man must produce adequate proof that he has been looking for work. The won’t-work knows exactly how to get that proof. He can always get the signature of some employer. He goes down the street and looks for notices on the window to say that there are “no vacancies” and as soon as he finds such a notice the won’t-work goes in and gets a certificate to say that he has applied for work at that particular factory. He knows perfectly well that he is not going to get work, so he goes into the factory, gets the signature and comes out again. He could get two or three of those certificates per day on his rounds without any inconvenience to himself. However, there are very few people who take these liberties and I think it is a pity that we should have to give the claims officer the power to decide which case is genuine and which is not and until the Minister tells me how many people are genuinely out of work and how many of them are won’t-works I cannot see any straightforward solution to these problems which are facing us.

Mr. Speaker, I think the rest of this Bill is straightforward. I do not think the Minister has included in it anything that is really contentious. The matters to which we have referred here are matters which can be adjusted to the benefit of all and I think we should have a little time in which to consider the various clauses ourselves, and then in the Committee Stage we can give the Minister our opinion and decide what is the right thing to do. I do not think there is anything in this Bill that cannot be rectified to the satisfaction of all concerned.

Dr. W. L. D. M. VENTER:

I agree with the closing words of the previous speaker in which he expressed the opinion that if we examine this Bill objectively at the Committee Stage, we will find that there is nothing wrong with this Bill but that it only seeks to further the best interest of the workers. I want to refer the House to one or two principles which are embodied in these proposed amendments. The first principle is that it is essential that the poverty which is so acute in our community, should be combated. I think that everyone of us, particularly those of us who are platteland M.P.’s, have had the experience that we are continually having to deal with people who approach one because they supposedly cannot find work. They ask one to advance them some money or to help them in some way or another because they cannot find any work. My own experience has been that when I accompany such a person to a labour bureau, I usually find that he has never been registered as an unemployed person, that he has never set about finding employment in the correct way, and that when they take his name at that bureau, in most cases he never turns up again; they find work for him but he simply disappears without any trace. We also often find that when people come to look for work and one eventually forces that person to go to the labour bureau, they know his whole history very well; they tell one all about it before the man and then one discovers that one is dealing with one of those people of whom we have so many in our community to-day, namely the poor person who does not want work. That is why this Bill provides that unemployed persons must register at regular intervals and must prove that they have been looking for work. I have never found the officials unsympathetic. I do not know whether the hon. member for Durban (Point) (Mr. Raw) has been unfortunate in encountering such unsympathetic officials, but I have always been struck by the psychological and sensible way in which the officials of the Department of Labour work; they know human nature. They know when they are dealing with someone who has genuinely tried to find work, and I think that such a person will find it easy to convince them that he has genuinely done his utmost to find the necessary employment. We are therefore now considering a piece of legislation which is trying to counteract and eliminate the ugly blot of poverty from our community. But another important principle which I find embodied in this Bill is that this legislation is in fact trying to protect that person who is so honest, the person with pride in himself, the person who does not want to beg; this Bill is trying to protect his pride by finding suitable work for him—work which suits him. Mr. Speaker, it was a revelation to me when I saw to what extent the Department of Labour is using and devising specialized tests to ascertain for what work such persons have an aptitude. I found this encouraging and I see hope for the future if we continue to try to make people contented by attempting to find out what their talents are and then to find suitable work for them. This is a very important principle which is embodied in this Bill, because an attempt is being made to make such a person feel contented, to help him retain his pride and his self-respect by placing him in employment where he will feel at home and contented, in work which suits him. But another important principle which I find in this Bill is that it takes into account the ease with which manpower is wasted. Under the former provisions of the Act, a person had to be placed in the particular category of work in which he was previously employed, but this Bill now provides that if he cannot be placed in that specific category, his services will not be lost; this Bill in fact makes it possible for him to be placed in a related category where certain of his talents can still be used. We can imagine how much this will mean from the point of view of the national economy. Not only does it mean a great deal from the point of view of the national economy, but it will also mean a great deal when seen from the point of view of the happiness of the individual, because that is after all the object of this legislation. We are not only thinking in terms of great numbers, of nations and of communities; we are thinking of the happiness of individual workers, and I consider that this Bill breathes a very fine spirit. This amendment proves to me that we are concentrating to an ever-increasing extent, in the light of modern scientific knowledge, on the individual and are trying to ascertain how we can make the greatest possible use of his talents in the interests of the national economy as well. I therefore give this measure my whole-hearted support and I am convinced that when we reach the Committee Stage and have given this matter further consideration we shall find that it represents a step forward.


The last speaker ended his speech by indicating how happy he was that this amending Bill meant that there would be some benefits for people out of work, that this measure represents a step forward in regard to benefits for these people who unfortunately find themselves out of work. Sir, not one hon. member has mentioned the Coloured people, and it is my duty as a representative of the Coloureds to draw the attention of the hon. member, who has just sat down in particular, to the fact that while there seems to be some joy—and rightly so— over the additional benefits which may accrue to the White worker, the Government, through the Minister’s Department, has failed to recognize the fact that in certain industries the Coloured people are deliberately excluded from the operation of the Unemployment Insurance Act. Here we have people who want to work and to contribute but the Government says “You shall have no benefits; you shall be excluded Sir, unemployment benefits form part of our social structure, part of the social security pattern, and we should be proud that South Africa has the desire to improve the social security of its people, but it must be for all people, not only for the White people. Sir, I wish to draw attention to the Coloured people who are employed in the food and canning industry. I say that it is a blot upon our social structure that this Government, for reasons which are not apparent, has deliberately excluded, by proclamation, the workers of the food and canning union from the benefits of this fund.




Not only Coloureds, but Natives as well. This union is mentioned by name and they are a mixed Coloured union consisting of Bantu and Coloured workers. There may be a case which I do not admit, for excluding the Bantu. Let as assume for the purpose of argument that there is a case. I will argue in a few minutes that that case is a very weak one, and let us assume that there is a case for excluding the so-called seasonal worker. There is no case, however, for excluding the worker in the food and canning industry who is in constant employment. I would remind the Minister that many years ago the Coloured people in this union actually contributed to the fund. Then they were suddenly excluded by proclamation and they have never been refunded their contributions either. If it is the desire of the Government to improve the unemployement position and the benefits payable to unemployed people, I ask the Minister what case can he put up for the exclusion of these people? Let me take them one by one. Sir, the seasonal worker, as he is called, is excluded, because the Government says that he is not in constant employment; that there are times that he must be out of employment because there is no work for him. But that is not a sound argument, because these people by their thousands, must keep themselves available to the farmers when the time comes, and I would like to know what would happen to the farmers or to the canning industry if all the Coloured people employed in the food and canning industry took on new work and if they were not available to the canning industry when required. These people, in order to keep an excellent industry going in South Africa, must therefore keep themselves available for this work and they are penalized because they happen to be seasonal workers. I should like to quote here from a letter which was sent to the Divisional Inspector, Department of Labour, Cape Town. I think the hon. the Minister probably knows about it. I may say that representations have been made ever since I became a member of this House over two years ago in connection with this particular union, and not only have the workers not received benefits, but legislation has been brought in year after year curtailing the activities of this union. I may deal with that question on some later occasion. The fact remains that there is the permanent worker and there is the quality worker, and according to this letter they are dependable workers who work right throughout the season. They are the packers, the supervisors, and workers in the preparation department, that is to say, the cutters and the cleaners—

It is on this worker that the factory depends entirely. The factory cannot exist without them. They are employed between November and April months and have no other form of employment.

If these people, upon whom the factory depends for its very existence, were to decide as a group not to make themselves available to these factories, does the Minister realize that the whole canning industry could be broken in one day? Why then should you not grant to these people the right which you give to everybody else? These people are not out of work because they want to be out of work but because circumstances force them to be out of work. And, Sir, they are prepared to pay their contributions. I want to remind the House again that this one union is specially referred to by name and is excluded in certain areas. What justification can there be for that? I want to come back again to the permanent worker in that union. Can the Minister give me one good reason why the permanent worker should not have the benefits provided for under this Act? He is not a seasonal employee; he is a permanent worker and he wants to contribute, and he says, “I have worked for years and if by chance I were to lose my work, am I not entitled like everybody else in any other industry, to get the benefit of this Act? What is there about this union that has earned the wrath of the Government? Sir, I know some reasons, but that has nothing to do with this particular question which I am now discussing. The Government is dead set against this union. I know that the Minister is sympathetic towards the workers; I am not attacking him. I hope he understands that. I am attacking the Government’s policy in regard to this particular union. The Government has been told over and over again that far from helping these people the Government keeps on extending the areas in which they are excluded. Almost year by year the Government has extended the areas in which this union is precluded from getting benefits. These workers don’t know where they are. They may be given the benefits to-day say in the Woodstock area. All of a sudden a proclamation comes out and says “You will be excluded”. Surely, Mr. Speaker, these people who are employed, who have families, who depend on their work and who become unemployed are entitled to the same consideration as anybody else in any other sphere of activity in our country. I make a plea to the hon. the Minister. If the Government or the Nationalist Party were sincere a few months ago in their desire to do something for the Coloured People, if they are sincere in uplifting the economic conditions of the Coloured people, don’t make it difficult for them to take part in the social structure of South Africa, don’t exclude them when there is no reason to exclude them.


“Jy raas verniet.”


You see, Mr. Speaker, that is their attitude to which I object. Anything that you say or do or try to do for the Coloured people, is not responded to by the other side. With all their talk about the “nuwe gesindheid” towards the Coloured people …


Order! The hon. member must come back to the Bill.


Mr. Speaker, I am speaking on the Bill in this respect that whilst this Bill tends to improve the lot of certain White workers, of certain other workers, the Government did not take the opportunity of remedying a wrong which they know exists. I do not want to take the matter much further. There has been a lot of correspondence; there have been numerous requests, there have been deputations to the Government. May I now make an appeal to the hon. the Minister: If you have a case against the two groups I have mentioned, which I don’t admit, you certainly have no case against the permanent employees, and so I ask in the name of this union and the people who belong to it, the people who are the mainstay of a most important industry in this country, treat them as you treat other workers, and do not show that you are against them, don’t exclude them for no apparent reason. I hope that my appeal on this occasion will not fall on deaf ears. I want to tell the hon. the Minister that there are hundreds and hundreds of people affected, and if you want to help the Coloured people, if you want to uplift them economically, then here is a golden opportunity of righting a wrong which should never have existed.


In considering this Bill, which as far as the workers of South Africa is concerned, is a most important Bill because it amends an important piece of legislation in regard to social security for our workers, the hon. member for Umhlatuzana (Mr. Eaton) for this side of the House outlined the point of view that we hold in regard to these amendments. However, I believe that the best yardstick for judging this legislation is to try and judge its practical application and interpretation, and in using that yardstick I come to the conclusion that the main provisions of the Bill and the principle of the Bill, as outlined and as included in Clause 4 of the Bill, which aims at the tightening up of the payment of benefits under the Act, are severe and rather harsh. In saying that, I do not wish to give the impression that in any way we condone idleness on behalf of the habitual won’t-works. Far from it. I think every hon. member of this House will agree that some provision should be made which will act as a deterrent to those persons whose main object is to utilize the 26 weeks of unemployment benefits.

However let us get back to the application and effect this legislation will have if Clause 4 in this Bill is passed. Clause 4 amends Section 40 of the principal Act and it is going to extend the penalty from six weeks to 13 weeks. I feel this penalty goes too far. I feel that the provisions here are not such that they can be described as the human way of dealing with some of these cases. In saying that, I should like to quote a case which I personally handled on behalf of one of my constituents, which shows the considerable hardship that does exist when a person is so penalized for a period of six weeks, and therefore the penalty of 13 weeks is going to have a far more severe effect on the contributor. In this particular case a person resigned his post after a dispute with his employer on 10 June 1960. He registered at the employment office on 13 June, but on 23 June he was advised that a six-weeks penalty had been imposed upon him because in the view of the claims officer he had resigned his job without just cause. In terms of the notification that he received, he was allowed 21 days to appeal against that decision of the claims officer He appealed on 13 July to the Unemployment Benefit Committee. Here the claims officer’s decision was upheld, and when he was advised of that decision, he was given 14 days to appeal to the Unemployment Insurance Board. Eventually that appeal was heard on 19 October 1960 and his appeal was dismissed. Now from the period that he first registered at the office, namely 13 June 1960 until 19 October 1960 a period of four months had elapsed. Due to the six weeks penalty and then the late payment of any benefit that he derived from his application after the six weeks penalty, he suffered considerable financial hardship in that period; he lost a good deal of furniture that he had bought on hire-purchase agreements, there was a foreclosure on the bond on his property. He was a family-man and had extremely high medical expenses to meet for a wife who was in ill-health. This transpired due to the imposition of a six weeks penalty, and so you can see, Sir, that if this is to be extended to a 13 week penalty, severe hardship will be suffered. I believe that one might claim that it could be justified where a person is an habitual won’t-work, but there might be cases and there will be cases where it is purely dependent on the discretion of the claims officer. It brings us back to the point that the claims officer has such great powers, and although there is recourse through the various channels, as mentioned by the hon. Deputy Minister when he introduced the Bill, I would like to make the point that the delay in attending to these appeals, is so great that the administration of the Act appears to need some form of streamlining so that these appeals and these disputes may be more expeditiously dealt with, thus obviating the severe financial difficulties a contributor may find himself in, and it would also have the effect that he would realize his financial fate within a reasonable period of time. Therefore my appeal to the hon. Deputy Minister is to reconsider very carefully indeed this decision to extend the penalty from six weeks to 13 weeks as I feel that the imposition of this penalty will hit in certain cases the genuine contributor who might be involved in an incorrect decision by a claims officer. The claims officer has undoubtedly an unenviable task, but I do feel that the general administration of the Unemployment Insurance Act should be so streamlined that all these cases can be dealt with far more expeditiously. The hon. Minister should give consideration to either increasing his staff or finding some other ways and means whereby these cases can be dealt with more expeditiously. The financial loss for a person who is a contributor to the fund makes application for benefits and then those benefits are denied to him, has to be done on a very strict and stringent basis, because the contributor is claiming from his own fund. At the same time, as mentioned by the hon. member for Umhlatuzana, it is the duty of this House to see that the contributors and members of the fund are safeguarded. However, I feel that the hon. the Minister can leave the period at six weeks, or at least give it serious consideration before extending the period to 13 weeks. The financial loss in this particular case I have mentioned was serious. Up to 2 September this contributor had only received one payment of £9 7s., and without the penalty and with regular payments during that same period, at a rate of £6 9s. 6d. per week, he would have received approximately £78. Therefore I would like to conclude by saying that the provisions of Clause 4, as I see it, require reconsideration in the interests of the worker who is perhaps a genuine case and who has to suffer with those who are not genuine cases.


Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the fact that this measure has been welcomed by all sides of the House and I also welcome the criticism which has been expressed. Much of the criticism has perhaps been unfounded, but I shall nevertheless consider it.

I want to commence by referring briefly to the first speaker on the other side of the House, namely the hon. member for Umhlatuzana (Mr. Eaton). He has inter alia submitted that we should in the first place ensure that there are employment opportunities in this country. The Government should take such action, it should undertake such schemes and it should stimulate the development of the country in such a way that there will really be very little question of unemployment. That he says is the best way of combating unemployment. I agree with him wholeheartedly in this respect. Consequently the actual position today is such that he can share my satisfaction because we in South Africa have practically no unemployment to-day. Our unemployment rate is 1.9 per cent, and by international standards it is really only when the figure exceeds 2 per cent that unemployment is considered to be present in a country.


That is only as far as Whites and Coloureds are concerned.


Furthermore if one bears in mind that at the moment a country like American has an unemployment rate of 6.3 per cent and a country like Canada 10 per cent, then I think we can consider ourselves fortunate and we can feel that the Government has done what the hon. member for Umhlatuzana has urged, namely to initiate such economic development that the necessary employment opportunities are created.

Hon. members have criticized various minor aspects. Considerable concern has been expressed at the extension of the penalty period from six to 13 weeks. I want to say at once that our officials always carry out their task and their duties with the utmost sympathy and discretion, and I have no reason to assume that they will now act like wild men when they are given these new powers. On the contrary we trust that they will use them with the utmost discretion. On the other hand hon. members as the representatives of the people are free at all times to bring cases to our notice where in their opinion officials have perhaps not acted with discretion. We shall give our serious attention to such matters.

As regards the penalty period, I want to point out that this provision has not always been embodied in the legislation. The provision of the principal Act, of which the United Party is now so proud, was actually much more strictly worded, so much so that if a worker who was a contributor, refused to accept work offered to him, he could immediately be deprived of benefits for an indeterminate period. There was no six week period. In 1957 the present Government made provision for that period. By so doing we have already made a concession to such people, and when the period has been extended we shall continue to consider their cases sympathetically. Hon. members who are so genuinely concerned about the harshness of the penalty provision in the Act (because that is how it has been described by an hon. member on this side) must realize that many countries in the world with the unemployment schemes of which we are familiar, go far further in this regard than we do. Countries like Australia, France, the Netherlands and New Zealand, all of which are countries which are in the forefront as far as social legislation are concerned, simply withhold the payment of benefits entirely from an applicant when it appears that he is abusing those benefits. As regards Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy and Norway, no period is laid down for which such a person may be penalized. We are therefore very lenient, despite the extension from six to 13 weeks. But as I said in my introductory speech, the intention is not that this period of 13 weeks will be strictly enforced. The intention is more that our claims officers will be able to use this provision in the Act for a period of 13 weeks, to say to such a workshy person, to put it like that: “If you do not accept this work, you run the risk of not merely being penalized for six weeks; we can now penalize you for up to 13 weeks.” In practice it will be used rather as a means of persuading this type of person to accept employment.

I now come to one of the matters which the hon. member for Durban (Point) (Mr. Raw) has raised. He said inter alia that this amendment does not differ greatly from the present Act. He made this submission in connection with Clause 2, and he asked why this insertion is required. Our legal advisers consider that under section 38 (4) of the Act, the claims officer actually only has the right to ask such an applicant to submit proof that he is unable to obtain employment at the time of his application for benefits. That is how the Act stands at present. This insertion merely gives the claims officer the further power to ask such an applicant who has already been unemployed for a long time to submit proof of his attempts to find employment. Many objections and much criticism have been expressed in this regard. The question has been asked how a man is to prove that he has in fact been looking for work. I realize that it could be difficult to do so, but such a person can after all point out to the claims officer that he has replied for example to a newspaper advertisement. If necessary he can produce a letter he has written. Our employment bureaux also roneo forms which are given to such a work-seeker and which he can take to employers. If an employer cannot place him in employment, he simply signs that form and the worker can then come back with that form and say: “I went to those people, but they do not have work for me.” This provision will be applied with the utmost leniency. I also want to say the following to the hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) (Mr. van Rensburg) who has pleaded particularly on behalf of the older people and who has expressed the fear that under these provisions we may not treat them with sufficient consideration. I want to assure the hon. member and other hon. members who have expressed doubts, that our Department and its officials will at all times treat these people, whether they are physically disabled or whether they are people who find it difficult to obtain employment as a result of advanced age, with the utmost sympathy.

The hon. member for Turffontein (Mr. Durrant) has asked inter-alia for an actuarial investigation into the fund. Years ago we asked the State actuaries to analyse the position of the fund and at that time their opinion was that it was impossible for them to calculate the unemployment position actuarially or to undertake actuarial calculations in respect of unemployment. As a result the standpoint was adopted that we should strengthen the fund, as we have in fact done. Despite the fact that over the past two years payments have exceeded income by £1,500,000 per annum, the fund at the end of 1960 stood at £65,000,000. It is therefore still in a very strong position. But we can reconsider the hon. member’s submission, particularly in the light of the fact that at the moment the revision of the Unemployment Insurance Act is being considered. It is to be reviewed as a whole and some of the points which hon. members have raised can be taken into account. We shall also resubmit the question of actuarial calculations to our State actuaries and we shall inquire whether they do not consider that in the light of the tendency which the fund has not shown for many years, it will in fact be possible to make such a calculation. With a view to a possible revision, the submissions by the hon. member for Rosettenville (Dr. Fisher) and the hon. member for Houghton (Mrs. Suzman) relating to unfit persons and the medical certificates relating to the fitness of such people can be taken into consideration. Perhaps the fund may be able to recompense medical expenses when a person has to obtain a medical certificate. We shall then be able to have unfit persons medically examined in order to establish to what extent they are medically unfit.

The hon. member for Langlaagte (Mr. P. J. Coetzee) and the hon. member for Rosettenville have also advocated increased contributions. The hon. member for Langlaagte has urged that we should increase maternity benefits. Nothing would please us more than to be able to increase them once again, but the facts are that during the past year, as I have already said, the fund has paid out £1,500,000 more than it has received and in addition more than £1,000,000 was paid out last year in maternity allowances, that is to say £1,232,000, which is a considerable amount. And it is a new provision in the Act which caused this increased expenditure. If we should increase the maternity allowances still further, or if we were to comply with the request of the hon. member for Rosettenville that we should pay maternity benefits from the third month of pregnancy, it will inevitably entail increased expenditure and the contributions will inevitably have to be increased. The money must come from somewhere. If strong representations are received in this regard from the trade unions— they are also represented on the Unemployment Insurance Board—then it is a matter which we can certainly consider. The hon. member for Rosettenville has also expressed his concern at the fact that work-seekers are often sent to isolated areas which involves transport expenses. I want to tell him that work-seekers whom the Department send to such areas, are given railway warrants and/or bus tickets by the fund. They therefore do not need to meet that expense themselves.

The hon. member for Boland (Mr. Barnett) has raised a matter in a very serious fashion. I am very sorry that he has put it in such a serious light because I am afraid it may create an incorrect impression which I want to remove at once. The hon. member as a representative of the Coloureds has quite rightly put the case for the Coloureds, but he has put his case in such a way that it would appear that we, that is to say the Department of Labour and the Minister, are excluding the “Food and Canning Union” from the payment of unemployment benefits. In the first place I want to say that we do not exclude any Coloureds because they are Coloureds. As far as the food and canning industry is concerned, the fact of the matter is that we have excluded the industry because it is a seasonal industry. We have not excluded the union which serves the industry. This is a very important point. We have excluded the industry because it is a seasonal industry, and not the people who belong to that specific union. The people who are employed in the canning industry are excluded on the ground that their work is seasonal, and for no other reason.


There are Whites amongst them as well.


Yes, included amongst these people who have been excluded are also Whites. These are people who are employed on seasonal work for three months in the year canning fruit, etc. To pay them benefits for nine months in the year, after which period they would once again work for three months, would merely exhaust this fund still further. After all we must also protect the bona fide contributors, the people who contribute year after year and never become unemployed. I think the hon. member should not approach this matter in the spirit that the Coloureds are being discriminated against. On the contrary I want to tell him this: Since taking over this post of Deputy Minister, the task of extending unemployment benefits to areas which were previously excluded and which should now be included, has been delegated to me. During the two years that I have held this post, I have extended these benefits to many towns here in the Cape.


To Oudtshoorn as well.


Yes, including Oudtshoorn, where there are many Coloured workers. This was done for their benefit. I can tell the hon. member that in every instance where we have extended the scope of the fund and made it applicable to one or other town in the Cape—I am referring specifically to the Western Cape where there are Coloureds—employers have objected that the extension of the scope of this fund to the Coloureds will result in their abusing the fund. I can now tell the hon. member this: Despite these objections, our attitude has consistently been that we should extend the scope of the fund to those areas in the light of the many benefits which the fund offers; in other words, to extend the scope of the fund to include Coloureds so that they can enjoy these benefits. I therefore think that it is very unfair of the hon. member by his criticism to create the impression that we are discriminating against the Coloureds in the case of the Unemployment Insurance Fund. On the contrary, we are doing a great deal to enable the Coloureds to benefit from this fund.


I was referring to the Canning Union.


We are not discriminating against that union because it is the Canning Union. We have not yet included them because the canning industry which is a seasonal industry, is involved. That is the reason. If the people concerned can advance stronger arguments to show that the workers in that canning industry are not only employed for a few months in the year, but that they are employed for, say, eight months or more, it is a matter which we can consider.


That is all I meant.


Then we understand one another in this regard. Mr. Speaker, I think I shall let this explanation suffice. We can discuss the other matters at the Committee Stage.


What is your opinion about a marriage allowance?


The question of marriage allowances which the hon. member has raised does not strictly fall under this legislation. It is not something which belongs under the Unemployment Insurance Act. If we were to pay a marriage allowance it would naturally also involve an increase in contributions. We cannot simply pay out like Father Christmas, if we are not receiving the funds needed to pay for those benefits. I therefore really do not think that this is a matter which belongs here, because marriage allowances can produce a multitude of administrative problems, apart from the fact that it does not fit within the framework of this fund.

Motion put and agreed to.

Bill read a second time; House to go into Committee on the Bill on 8 February.


Mr. SPEAKER announced that the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders had discharged Mr. Moore from service on the Select Committee on the University of the Orange Free State (Private) Act Amendment (Private) Bill and appointed Dr. Fisher in his stead.

The House adjourned at 6.5 p.m.