House of Assembly: Vol106 - THURSDAY 9 FEBRUARY 1961
Mr. SPEAKER took the Chair at 2.20 p.m.
Dr. J. H. STEYN, as Chairman, brought up the Report of the Select Committee on the University of the Orange Free State (Private) Act Amendment (Private) Bill, reporting the Bill with an amendment.
Report, proceedings and evidence to be printed.
Mr. VAN DEN HEEVER, as Chairman, brought up the First Report of the Select Committee on Public Accounts (on Unauthorized Expenditure, 1959-60).
Report, proceedings and evidence to be printed.
Mr. Speaker, with your permission I should like to make a brief statement to the House on the question of the remuneration of Members of Parliament. From time to time representations are made to increase the salaries and allowances of members to enable them to perform their duties and functions more effectively and to maintain the position generally expected of them as Members of Parliament. It will readily be appreciated that when such representations are made, not only the Government but also members are placed in an invidious position. After consultation between the various political parties it has therefore been decided to appoint a Committee consisting of the Hon. Mr. Justice Ogilvie Thompson as Chairman, and Dr. M. S. Louw and Mr. C. Corder as members, to investigate the whole matter. The Committee, whose report will be laid before Parliament, will have the following terms of reference:
- (1) To inquire into and report upon the emoluments, allowances, etc., of Cabinet Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Office-bearers and Members of Parliament in view of their work and responsibilities, the conditions which apply to their service and generally any other related matters which may come to the notice of the Committee in the course of its inquiry which it considers should be reported on;
- (2) to compare such emoluments, allowances, etc., with those payable at the time of the foundation of Union and thereafter; and
- (3) to establish whether it is necessary or desirable to alter these emoluments, allowances, etc., and, if so, to recommend in each case what these should be.
The meetings of the Committee will be held in a room in the House of Assembly portion of the buildings and a circular will be issued to Members of Parliament to-day informing them of the procedure to be followed should they desire to give evidence before the Committee.
First Order read: Adjourned debate on motion for second reading,—Constitution Bill, to be resumed.
[Debate on motion by the Prime Minister, upon which amendments had been moved by Sir de Villiers Graaff, by Dr. Steytler and by Mr. Bloomberg, adjourned on 6 February, resumed.]
Mr. Speaker, when the debate was adjourned I was expressing the opinion that the discussions taking place here in connection with matters affecting the relations between White and White in South Africa are less fruitful than hon. members probably desire, and that is so largely because the relations between the different White sections of the population are determined not so much by legislation as by the relations which exist in a personal way and on a personal level outside. We feel that what is of urgent and pressing moment for our country, especially having regard to our actions here, is the regulation of relations between White and non-White in our country because these are in fact largely determined by legislation. This party, at its inception, was established on the basis of that outlook. We did not approach the matter from the point of view of White-White relations so much as from the point of view of the serious problem of the relations between White and non-White. The choice of a form of government as such—I am referring now to the simple question of the form which the Government ought to take—was, therefore, never a question of principle with us. Nevertheless a sense of responsibility demanded that we should take a clear stand on an issue which was and still is a really burning one in our political life. We did so, therefore, at our inaugural congress in 1959 where we accepted a resolution on the question of the form of government, a resolution from which we have not deviated one inch since that date. In the first place we stated that the simple question of the form of government was one of preference rather than principle and that as soon as the time came to resolve that simple question it could be decided by the people’s choice. We said in the second place that when that choice was made it should be through a referendum which would be representative, through the vote of all properly qualified citizens, of all racial groups in South Africa. In the third place we said that where we regarded certain reforms in our constitution as necessary it was desirable, if not essential, that these reforms should first be introduced and finalized before a decision is taken on the form of government. In the first place, we expressed it as our opinion that the establishment of a republic should be put aside until such time as we could be certain of continued membership of the Commonwealth, which would naturally mean that there would first have to be a revision of our race policy. We adopted this standpoint before there was talk of the referendum of 1960 and a few months before the referendum was announced by the Prime Minister. Obviously we then had to determine our attitude in the light of our resolution of 1959. As my leader has also said in this debate, we regarded that referendum as improperly constituted. We felt that the other conditions which we had set out for the introduction of a republican form of government were not being fulfilled. Proposals were made that we should boycott it because in our opinion the referendum was an improper one. Obviously, however, as responsible people and realists we could not accept such a proposal. We participated in the referendum, therefore, and did our level best to persuade the people to reject the Government’s proposal. We did our best to co-operate with hon. members on our right and also with the other groups that were opposed to these proposals, and generally speaking we did so with satisfactory results as far as the organization of the campaign was concerned. But, as has already been emphasized in this debate, we took part with the slogan and under the banner: “Reject this Republic.” We said it was the wrong republic at the wrong time. Even in the heat of that struggle we never departed in principle from the idea that there could be a change in South Africa’s form of government but we were opposed to the particular proposals which were then before the country. Well, the result was announced in due course and it meant that the Government was clearly committed in the eyes of the nation and of the whole world to proceed with the legislation which is now before this House. My leader immediately made our attitude clear a day or two after the referendum result. He said then that it was and would remain our aim to continue to fight within the republic for the constitutional amendments which we regarded as necessary. That will remain necessary in the republic just as it was necessary under the monarchy and we shall continue our struggle to bring about those amendments. He added the proposition that a national convention should be held to discuss the constitution of the republic. He went on—and this is perhaps the most important—to emphasize that it was not our intention to place this issue before the people of South Africa again; that it was not our intention to fight again the battle that was fought in the referendum. The hon. member for Queenstown (Dr. Steytler) used the analogy that one could not go in and out of a monarchy like a bar. That was the attitude we decided on beforehand and that attitude was determined beforehand by our previous actions, by the attitude that we had adopted on this issue from the time of our inception. In other words, our attitude is that we are still opposed to the proposal which is before the House. We still feel that it will be the wrong republic at the wrong time. That is why we voted against the Bill at the first reading. That is why there is an amendment before the House in which we clearly state the reasons why we are going to vote against the second reading. We will oppose this legislation, in its present form, at all its stages; but in spite of the long debate which is taking place here, the outcome of this debate is one which was settled beforehand. What is of greater importance to us is what is going to happen after this debate. The other day I came across these words of an English poet which seem to me to be very much to the point in this connection—
That seems to me to be appropriate. What we propose to do now will be of much greater importance to South Africa than what we have done in the past. Now, what are we going to do? The United Party owes us an explanation as to what they think we should do now. In the first place I accept the statement of my leader that this party is not going to re-open the question of the form of government of this country. In the second place, I accept that we are going to try, to the best of our ability, to achieve our aspirations under a new form of government in the same way as under another form of government; in the third place, that we will continue to press with all the power at our command for a reform of our Constitution, but the reform for which we are going to plead will be on the lines of the reform that we have clearly propagated time and again and that we have placed before the people of South Africa. Whatever other accusations may be made against us, nobody can say to us that we have not made our intentions in connection with constitutional reform absolutely plain and clear. We stand by that and from to-day we will continue to strive for it.
Mr. Speaker, I hope that I have given a clear and reasonable exposition of the attitude of this party towards the republican issue and the referendum and towards this Bill and the position which will confront us in the immediate future. Indeed everybody on these benches has done so and I hope that you will allow me, Sir, to refer to the magnificent speech of the hon. member for Salt River (Mr. Lawrence). The hon. member not only spoke for the party, as I can do, but I think that by reason of his record and his achievements he is entitled to claim that he can speak for at least a very large section of English-speaking South Africa. I make bold to say that the responsible words which we heard here from the hon. member for Salt River reflected the true voice of English-speaking South Africa. I repeat the words that I used a moment ago: “What we are about to do is of much greater importance than what we have done or have not done.” The whole of South Africa wants to know and is entitled to know what the attitude of the various groups is going to be in the future. For our part we have very clearly answered the questions which arise in connection with our attitude and it is to be regretted that hon. members on our right have still failed to reply to some of these most important questions. I do not say this in any spirit of enmity, but I think we are entitled to clarity after a debate of this length. My hon. friends, to our joy, have associated themselves with our plea for guarantees in the Constitution and they have also demanded guarantees, but, as I have already emphasized, we have made our aims very clear and published them. Here is the Molteno report which sets out in detail exactly what guarantees we seek and what entrenchments we would like to see in a rigid constitution for South Africa. It is not clear to me whether the hon. members wish to guarantee freedom of movement for South African citizens in the constitution, freedom of association for South African citizens, equal economic opportunities for all citizens. These are not minor matters, Mr. Speaker. I mention them merely as examples. When one speaks of guarantees and of entrenchments in a rigid constitution it is necessary to say precisely what one wishes to guarantee and precisely what rights one wishes to grant to citizens. Sir, the confusion becomes worse if one looks at the statement which the hon. the Leader of the Opposition issued shortly after the announcement of the result of the referendum and after he had held a meeting of his party leaders in Johannesburg. It read as follows—
The present Constitution, as we all know, contains no guarantees or entrenchments whatsoever except the one with regard to languages, which is of course of very doubtful value, but it is in any event the only guarantee which appears at present in the South Africa Act. We are dealing here therefore with a change of attitude, which in our opinion is a very welcome change, in as much as hon. members have decided since October that they themselves believe that there must be guarantees. We want to know what these guarantees are.
In the past week we have heard again about the necessity for the Province of Natal to have its own legislative powers. This party, as is well known and as we announced long ago in this House, stands for a measure of legislative powers not only for Natal, but for any other province which is now within the Union or which may in future be in the Union. But when people talk about legislative powers for Natal, what do they mean? Does it apply to all the provinces, or is an exception to be made in the case of Natal? How far will these legislative powers go? Will they or will they not have the right of secession?
A plea has also been made in this debate in the very competent speech made by the hon. member for Constantia (Mr. Waterson) for a National Convention. This too is an idea to which we gave support long ago through our leader at the referendum. If the hon. member says he wants a National Convention he must also give us some idea of the scope of the discussions which are to take place there, of the agenda which will be presented and of the composition of the convention. I think the people are also entitled to clarity in that regard. Then, apart from the question as to how the constitution should look and the guarantees to be written into it, another question remains unanswered, the question which was put in this debate by the hon. member for Berea (Mr. Butcher) and which I have not heard answered. The hon. member for Berea referred to the statement made by one of the leaders of the United Party to the effect that he and his followers want no part in the republic and refuse to have any part in it, and my hon. friend behind me then called the attention of the House to Clause 54 of the Bill. I repeat it because it is a very important test of the attitude which hon. members adopt in this House. Every Senator and every Member of the House of Assembly, before he takes up his seat, will have to take an oath or make a formal declaration before the State President or some person duly authorized by him in the following form—
It is perfectly clear that anyone who wants no part in the republic can hardly take that oath. I think we are entitled to know whether hon. members on our right will take that oath or make that affirmation. If they are going to do so, what does the hon. member for South Coast (Mr. Mitchell) mean when he says he will have no part in it? Will he publicly retract those words of his when he takes the oath—with all the meanings which people have read into them and all the inferences which have been drawn from them? If he wants no part in it, then the Government is entitled to know which of the hon. members are prepared to take part in it and which of them are not. Naturally, I do not expect my hon. friends to withdraw from the country’s political life, but then they must not say that they will have no part in a republic. They must decide one way or another, but the regrettable confusion which has existed in the last ten days, especially among anti-republicans, is attributable entirely to ambiguous and irresponsible utterances of this sort. Mr. Speaker, possibly the most important of the questions which I have repeated and to which I would still like an answer, is the decisive question as to whether the United Party will strive for the restoration of the monarchy or not. There I must give credit where it is due. The Leader of the Opposition put his position quite clearly on 1 February when, according to a Press statement, he said—
I think he is too intelligent to try to undo anything which cannot be undone. But again, unfortunately, we are dealing here with confused statements. The hon. member for South Coast said, according to the Mercury of 4 February—
What, then, does this mean? The ordinary person who reads such a statement by the leader of an anti-republican group can read one meaning into it, and that is that the hon. the leader is going to strive for the restoration of that for which he fought; he is going to strive for the restoration of the monarchy. If that is not the meaning of those words—and I concede that the words are not altogether clear—then there is no other way to describe them except in the words of Shakespeare: “The tale told by an idiot signifieth nothing.” The House is surely entitled to know whether those words mean what they appear to mean or whether they were used to chase up some political hare or other and to confuse the issue still further. Where he referred in the statement to the tyranny under which the Natalians find themselves, the fact that they are being governed “without consent”, I am also interested to know what the meaning is in this connection of “government without consent”. After all, the White voters of Natal, on whose behalf the hon. member says he speaks, have full voting rights. They took part in the referendum. I have criticized the referendum, but at least they took part in it. Now I want to ask them this: If it is tyranny, if it is “government without consent” for those voters to accept the decision which was taken, what is the position of the non-Whites who had no vote at the referendum and who have almost no representation in this House where this legislation will be passed? Will the hon. member agree with us when we describe that as tyranny, and will the hon. member help us in our struggle to achieve “government by consent” for those people in South Africa? I doubt whether he will. I doubt whether his logic will take him far enough to appreciate that. According to the policy which he appears to support the position is that a South African citizen who is a White Natalian has the right to continue the fight—as, of course, he has—after having been in the minority in an election, and that he has the right to label it as tyranny when he is asked to accept the majority decision while the equally civilized man who has a coloured skin must be prepared to be completely without a vote; he must be prepared not to vote at all here in the Cape, and he must still accept that decision, and he must accept it peaceably—but that is not tyranny. The logic of this type of statement is hopeless. Its purpose is to create chaos, and its effect is dangerous. It would really have been better for our country if statements of this kind had not been made.
Mr. Speaker, it looks as though we are approaching the end of this debate. I repeat that the Progressive Party has done its best to give an honest and clear answer to every possible question. I repeat that never since we took our stand on this matter at our inception in November 1959 have we deviated from that stand. For the sake of clarity, therefore, I say once again that the restoration of the monarchy is this party’s aim. We wish to share in the republic; we will be loyal citizens of the republic, and we will strive to bring about constitutional reform on the lines that we have announced from time to time. I appreciate, as well as any other member, that every member has a duty to try to promote his party’s interests in politics, but I contend that every member also has a higher duty to his country, and that higher duty demands that, on an occasion such as this, he should do everything he can in a constructive and positive way in the future, as we have done in the past, to make possible a better understanding among all who live in this country. It also demands that on an historic occasion such as this, one will refrain from statements that are unrealistic, and that can only have the effect of inciting one section of the population against the other. We undertake to continue in the republic, as in the monarchy, to strive for better relations between all sections of the people of South Africa.
Mr. Speaker, hon. members will not expect me to answer all the questions which the hon. member for Maitland (Dr. de Beer) has asked, because they were directed to the official Opposition. But strangely enough, I want to take as my starting point a phrase which the hon. member used during the debate on Monday. On that occasion the hon. member for Maitland said that during his short life he had seen how the White population groups were coming closer together. It is quite clear to me that during this debate we have placed too much emphasis on the fact that we are trying to achieve national unity by means of this republican constitution. The fact is that we are not trying to achieve national unity, but that we already have national unity in South Africa. By this Bill we are making South Africa a republic, and we are thereby merely confirming and stabilizing national unity. The seed of national unity was planted as long ago as 1902 at the Treaty of Vereeniging, and this seed has grown and developed, and to-day we have reached the stage where our standpoint is that set out by Dr. Breytenbach who says in his book, “The History of the Second Anglo-Boer War”—
Mr. Speaker, as I have said, we already have national unity in South Africa; we are merely further extending it. Just as we have undergone a process of growth in the constitutional sphere which has resulted in our constitution gradually developing until we are now to have a republican constitution, so there has been development in the growth of our nation which is gradually bringing us to national unity. But speaking of national unit, we have been able to chieve national unity in this country because this side of the House—and I am referring especially to the National Party—has been firmly rooted in our national history. What we are doing to-day in this country is merely fulfilling the task which has been entrusted to us by our history, a duty with which we, the descendants of those past generations, have been entrusted to bring to completion. I read that the author, Cronwright Schreiner, who lived in the Cape Province during the Anglo-Boer War, said: “We must make England understand clearly that we, the majority in this colony, will never accept the deprivation of the independence of the republics, and that if it is taken away, we shall restore it, even if we have to hand this duty down to our children.”
To-day we are fulfilling the duty which has been handed down to us by history. But we can see clearly from the debate which has been held in this House over the past week that hon. members opposite do not—to use the expression “national unity”—want national unity. They are opposed to the concept that we want to establish national unity and racial co-operation, to use that term, in South Africa. The youth of South Africa are being reproached for establishing national unity in South Africa in accordance with the task entrusted to them by their history. I am now referring to the hon. member for Sunnyside (Mr. Horak) who has reproached the youth of South Africa for supporting this side of the House. During this debate he has said that the 18-year-olds voted in favour of the republic at the referendum and that they gave us our majority. But we know that national unity in the true sense of the word is not possible in South Africa unless, as the hon. the Minister of Lands has said, there is a change of heart amongst hon. members opposite. But I want to put it even more strongly. National unity or racial co-operation in South Africa, and particularly racial co-operation between the English-and Afrikaans-speaking peoples, will be impossible for as long as the spirit which hon. members opposite have revealed to-day prevails. I want to put it in this way: Racial harmony—I prefer the expression “racial harmony”—will only be possible in South Africa not when hon. members opposite undergo a change of heart, but only when they are reborn. Hon. members opposite will only accept racial co-operation in South Africa under certain conditions. At this point I want to read to the House the words of someone who gambled with his political future, who spent the closing days of his life in the desert, someone who tried harder than anyone else in this country to achieve national unity in South Africa. In the evening of his life, after the experiment which he had undertaken, General Hertzog was forced to say the following. In 1939, referring to the people with whom he had co-operated, he said—
This is the spirit which we find in the speeches of hon. members opposite. I should now like to remind hon. members opposite that over the past 50 years the Afrikaans-speaking section of our people have developed into a nation in every sense of the word, with their own language, culture and religion, and to-day this side of the House says: Let us look the English-speaking people squarely in the face; we say to the English-speaking people of South Africa that we have a common destiny in this country. And if we want to live happily together in this country and if we want to safeguard our future, we say to hon. members opposite: Let us co-operate and let us remove what is a symbol of division in South Africa. The first thing we ask is that the Crown should should be removed from this country. We want to remind hon. members opposite of one thing—and I want to put it mildly because I am very afraid the hon. member for Durban (Point) (Mr. Raw) will explode if I refer to the humiliation and injustice to which the Afrikaans-speaking people were subjected to 60 years ago. We know that this is something of which they do not like to be reminded, but in discussing the Crown the Leader of the Opposition had the following to say during the debate last year on the referendum. He said—
In those countries the monarchy was associated with “defeat”, but here in South Africa the Afrikaans-speaking people associate the Crown with humiliation and injustice. In South Africa the Crown cannot and will never become a symbol of loyalty and of unity. I do not want to enlarge on this aspect, but I want to remind hon. members that this is a sore point. I know that the English-speaking people do not like to hear about this, but I have read the book by Gary Allighan, “Curtain Up on South Africa”. In that book he says—
In his own words, the British acknowledged the shame and the immorality of that war and that is why they granted the republics self-government. We therefore come to hon. members opposite and we say to them: Remove this Crown from South Africa; let us remove the Governor-General and let our head of state be our symbol of unity, our symbol of loyalty and allegiance to South Africa; let that symbol be a President, a President elected in the manner prescribed by the draft Constitution. We on this side of the House shall swear loyalty and allegiance to that President. If it should happen that a President who happens to be an English-speaking person is elected by this prescribed method, we on this side of the House will also be prepared to swear allegiance to that President.
That is the hand of friendship.
When we reach that position in South Africa, we shall have the proper political climate for the achievement of racial co-operation. Then, as the hon. member for Parktown (Mr. Cope) has described it, we shall have “racial harmony”. It is most essential in South Africa that we as Whites should co-operate and stand together. I submit to-day that the Whites of South Africa— and here I must also include the supporters of hon. members opposite—are the only nation in the world which possesses the formula by which the White and Coloured races can live together and exist together in the same country, without the one exterminating the other, or without miscegenation. It is our responsibility to give that formula or that way of life to the world. We want to show the world that the relationship between White and non-White in South Africa is the only one which assures and can assure the. future of the various races and we consider—this is urgently essential— that the Whites as a whole by standing together can more effectively carry their message out into the world. We shall now be asked: If you want racial co-operation, if you urge that we should stand together, why did you not allow the enfranchised non-Whites to vote at the recent referendum? Mr. Speaker, in the constitutional sphere we have undergone a process of development. Our Constitution has been formed over the years, and certain franchise restrictions have been embodied in it. I therefore do not find it strange or unusual that this principle is applied in our country. We submit that these franchise restrictions are justified; that this Government was justified in its attitude because the country from which we received our Constitution on the basis of which we are building to-day, namely England, also had certain franchise restrictions in the past. It was only recently that all the people of England were given the franchise. We did not do this to disturb racial co-operation; this was merely a step we took because we believed that the republican ideal is an ideal which is “charged with sentiment”, as hon. members opposite have put it; for that reason we believed that this was really a matter which the Whites alone should decide. I should like to remind hon. members opposite that the franchise has not always been given to everyone in England, and seeing that we have undergone a constitutional process of development in this country, it is nothing strange or unusual that we do not allow everyone to vote at this stage. I have here an article entitled “The Right to Vote” which appeared in Commonwealth. I read the following extract—
We can therefore justify the Government’s attitude by pointing out that a country which is regarded as the cradle of democracy, where democracy to a large extent is honoured, has only recently given the vote to all its citizens.
I want to conclude by saying that we on this side of the House face the future with confidence because we are not seeking national unity; we have national unity and we are further extending it.
Unfortunately I was away during the greatest part of the debate last week attending to political matters in South West Africa. For fear therefore of repeating arguments which have already been used, I just want to make a brief statement as to my attitude before we proceed to vote on the principle of the Bill. Ever since I started participating actively in politics some 24 years ago I have consistently favoured the establishment of a republic of South Africa within the Commonwealth and it goes without saying therefore that when the House divides on this matter I shall vote on the side of the republic. That does not mean to say that I view this matter as a party political issue and that I support everything the National Party has said about a republic in the past, or anything they may do about it in future. There are other parties, apart from the National Party, which have been in favour of a republic and which are still in favour of a republic to-day and there are other South Africans apart from members of the governing party who have worked for a republic, as the result of the referendum abundantly showed. I believe for instance that the majority of the English-speaking people in the country are just as ready to accept the republic as the majority of the Afrikaans-speaking people, and that they would even have been prepared to vote for it but for the fact that this Government is handling the matter. Because the fact is that in the past 30 years the extremists in the National Party and particularly a section of the Transvaal party, have spread so many unsavoury ideas about our becoming a republic, that this has given rise to a deep-rooted prejudice against the establishment of a republic, under the régime of the National Party, not only in the minds of the English-speaking section but even in the minds of a great many Afrikaans-speaking people. If it had not been for that fact it would have been possible for us to have had a republic years ago with a larger majority than that obtained on 5 October 1960. …
For this unnecessary delay in obtaining a republic—a delayed action if ever there was one—the Afrikaans jingoes in the National Party are as much to blame as the English jingoes on the other side.
You are a mixture of the two.
Secondly, my support for this measure does not mean that I am ill-disposed towards the British monarchy in Britain or even towards the monarchy as an institution and as a system of government. On the contrary, I regard the kingship in Britain as the foundation of its unity and stability and as its greatest asset in its domestic politics, as well as in its foreign relations. It is an institution which I, as a South African, envy the Britons, and I go so far as to say that if I had had a choice between a Presidency on the one hand and a full-blooded South African monarchy in South Africa, if such a thing were possible and if it had grown from within ourselves, I would probably have chosen the monarchical system in preference to the presidential system, for the following reason: In South Africa a large section of the population has no vote and no political say.
As we know, only one-fifth of the total population of South Africa can take part in political elections. I am not decrying the fact; I am merely stating the facts. In the case of an hereditary king nobody takes part in the election of the king, with the result that everybody, whether he has the vote or not, regards him as the living personification of the State as a whole and not of party political authority. In the case of a president on the other hand, in the circumstances of our country, only a small minority of the population would vote directly or indirectly for him with the result that he does not receive the loyalty of everybody but is inevitably regarded by the voteless majority as belonging to the party political authority of the day in which they have no say or can get no say. That is why I am inclined to believe that in a multi-racial country like South Africa with its large voteless majority, a full-blooded monarchy, if it were practically possible, would give the State greater stability than a presidency could hope to do. But the difficulty is that we in South Africa have never had the benefits of a full-blooded monarchy and we cannot hope to have them. Since we have become an independent country we have been in fact a republic in everything but name, and that is why we found that in the referendum, in spite of all the propaganda against it, thousands of supporters of the Opposition were prepared to accept the republic and to vote for it. That is also the reason why Government leaders on the other side are finding it so difficult to convince the Transvalers that after 31 May we will virtually be a different State. Because everybody knows that we will still have the same form of government, and in practice the same head of State exercising the same functions, with just a different hat perhaps. In South Africa we have never had the advantages of a real kingship, and in addition to that the monarchy that we did have, or will have until 31 May, was the product of so much historical strife that its future existence was in the balance from the first day that the Union of South Africa came into being. Whereas the living kingship in Britain is a source of unity and of loyalty and a focal point for the Britons of Britain, the absent British kingship in South Africa, because of the facts of our history which we cannot alter, has always been a source of division and of discord and a source of estrangement between South Africans in South Africa. And sooner or later, in our time or in the time of others, this dispute would have had to be resolved one way or another, and I believe that the best way in which it could be resolved was by way of a referendum and that 5 October 1960 was as suitable a date as any other. I must say that I support the objection, which I myself raised, that all parliamentary voters, on whichever voters’ roll they may be, were not allowed to participate in the referendum. I think it was a serious breach of parliamentary procedure that a particular section of the parliamentary voters were arbitrarily precluded from voting on an important issue of a parliamentary nature. But after the political parties —all political parties—eventually agreed to the rules of the game and took part in it, I do not think it can now be argued that the rules of the game were invalid. My attitude and that of my party is that since a clear majority voted just as clearly in favour of the establishment of a republic in South Africa, the Government has the fullest right to proceed with it.
A soul without a body really.
As regards the diehards who refuse to accept the result as final, I first want to say this. Unfortunately I cannot agree with the wisdom of their politics, but after all the position is that if we wish to be a democratic country, everybody should have the right at all times to plead for the alteration of any law or any constitution, whether it is practical politics or not. The only thing that the country would like to know as regards these diehards is whether they speak for themselves or whether they speak on behalf of their political parties. Because if they speak on behalf of themselves they will perhaps have to do the logical thing and establish a party with the re-institution of the monarchy as the main tenet of their policy. And if they speak on behalf of their party we will have to get clarity on this point soon, particularly in view of the possibility of a general election in the course of this year, whether it will be the policy of that party to overthrow the republic as soon as they get the opportunity to do so.
On whose behalf are you speaking?
Finally I wish to say that my support for this measure does not mean either that I think that the draft Constitution now before us is in every respect a perfect constitution for South Africa. But what we were asked to decide on 5 October was not the question of a new constitution but whether South Africa should become a republic, based as far as possible on the pattern of the existing Constitution.
As a matter of fact if we had not had that assurance from the Government that the Constitution would not be drastically altered, thousands of people would not have voted “yes” in the referendum. And if we had not had that assurance, I would not have voted “yes”. I will tell you why. On the one occasion in history that the Government party tried to evolve a constitution, in 1941, they produced such a horrible product that the thing was buried immediately thereafter; and to-day one cannot, with the best will in the world, discover who were the framers of that constitution. Nobody in the Nationalist Party to-day wants to admit that he was the father of that child.
Order! The hon. member must now return to the Bill.
Therefore, the less the present Government tampers with the Constitution, the more grateful we ought to be. It is obvious that with regard to the Bill now before us there will have to be amendments in future, but I believe that should only come by way of adaptation and evolution. Because, if one looks at the constitution of Parliament in the Bill and one sees that 11,000 inhabitants of the country have not even a single representative in Parliament, and that 500,000 South Africans of Indian extraction to all intents and purposes do not even exist, and that 1,400,000 Coloured Westerners are represented here by strangers, one could almost think that this is the year 1861 instead of 1961.
Most people in the country would also like to see measures being applied effectively to cope in our Constitution with the abuse of political power as we have it to-day; to ensure that at all times there will be free access to the courts for everybody; and which in general will safeguard democracy in South Africa and will ensure that the Government of the day does not act on a sectional basis as is the case at present, and that the republic will be attractive and acceptable to all races and groups in South Africa. But for that we will first have to have a change of Government, and therefore I wish to express the hope that our friends of the main Opposition Party will, even at this late stage, not dissipate their energy by waging a hollow and unfruitful battle, but that they will accept the republic, not as being the end of anything but rather as being the commencement of very great possibilities in our politics.
In regard to our membership of the Commonwealth, hon. members know that both inside and outside this House I have always been a strong supporter of our Commonwealth bonds. During the ten years I belonged to the Nationalist Party I never ceased saying that it was in the best interests of South Africa to remain a member of the Commonwealth and that we should tell the world so frankly. My colleagues opposite did not like that at the time, and on one occasion I was even taken to task by a Prime Minister who pointed out that it was the policy of the party not to have any pre-determined policy in regard to this matter. It is therefore obvious that I was very glad to learn that the Union Congress of the Nationalist Party last year, on a motion moved by the hon. the Minister of External Affairs, unanimously resolved and now believes that it is in the best interest of South Africa to remain a member of the Commonwealth. I only want to say that if they had had the courage to say so ten years ago, not only could this republican question have been settled long ago already, but then so much confidence and goodwill would have been established in South Africa that there would have been much more unanimity about the matter than we obtained on 5 October last year. At all events, I cannot support the standpoint adopted by the main Opposition party in regard to the matter as embodied in their amendment. The Commonwealth is an association of independent states based on an undertaking that every member will be completely sovereign in its own sphere. The question of establishing a republic in South Africa is a completely domestic matter affecting our own internal form of government, and nothing more; and after the acceptance of the principle in 1949 in the case of India that a member country may become a republic and still remain a member of the Commonwealth, the fact that any other member countries want to become republics can no longer be a matter for consideration by the Commonwealth. At the very most it could only have become a question of notifying the other member countries of the Commonwealth. But unfortunately we have a Government which is so unpopular internationally that South Africa is being treated everywhere in the world to-day as an exception, and as long as this Government is in power we shall have to suffer these consequences. There is one thing, however, which we cannot allow, namely that however strongly we might wish to retain our membership of the Commonwealth, and however hard we try to do so, we cannot make the establishment of a republic dependent on the will and the wishes of our countries in the Commonwealth. We cannot even allow the Commonwealth to exercise a veto in regard to what is in fact a completely domestic matter in South Africa. In any case, I have the fullest confidence in the wisdom of the statesmen of the Commonwealth, and I have full confidence that they will see South Africa’s case in the right light, because what they will be dealing with is not the admission of the Nationalist Party or of the Government to the Commonwealth, but the admission of South Africa as a country. The Government is here temporarily only, South Africa is here permanently, and I would be shocked if the statesmen of the Commonwealth were to act so shortsightedly as to equate South Africa as a country with the Government which is temporarily in power. I repeat that personally I have no fear that membership will be denied to South Africa. I am convinced that we will retain our membership, not as the result of any attempts made by the Government, but in spite of the Government we have.
In regard to the amendments moved in the House, in two of those amendments the concept “national unity” has been emphasized. The hon. the Prime Minister himself took the opportunity to discuss the relationship between the Afrikaans- and the English-speaking language groups in South Africa. The hon. the Prime Minister will realize that over the years so much suspicion has grown up against his régime that henceforth only actions will be able to bring about an improvement, and not words. Seeing that the hon. the Prime Minister seems to be keen on improving the confidence of the Afrikaans- and English-speaking sections in each other on the basis of this new republic, I want to suggest a practical step to him which will make a world of difference to the good, if he should be prepared to take that step. It is this: Dissolve the Broederbond! Or if he is not powerful enough to do so, let him publicly announce his resignation from this secret political organization.
Order! The hon. member must now come back to the Bill.
Mr. Speaker, may I discuss the amendments?
The amendments are concerned with national unity, and I am trying to indicate the manner in which national unity in South Africa can be given an opportunity to increase, but if you rule that I may not do so, whilst the Prime Minister was allowed to do it, then I leave the matter there.
In conclusion, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition demanded certain guarantees from the Government before he and his party would be prepared to vote for the Bill. I want to ask him whether he really believes that guarantees can be given which cannot be circumvented by the present Government. In my opinion there is only one guarantee for a better South Africa, and that is that this Government should be replaced as soon as possible by a national Government representing both sections of the population, so that the proper content can be given to the new republic of South Africa. Because what will count in the long run is not the form we have before us now, but the type of government which will be in power in a republic, and the content which is given to the new republic.
I will not make any comments on what the previous speaker has said, because I would like to deal specifically with the viewpoints expressed by the hon. the Prime Minister when introducing this Bill to the House. The hon. the Prime Minister said that he wished to approach the subject with a sense of sincerity and historic appreciation of the occasion. I would like to say that we also, on this side of the House, wish to approach this matter with a sense of sincerity, and further to assure the hon. the Prime Minister that there is as much desire for understanding by those who voted against the republic in the referendum as those whom the hon. the Prime Minister represents.
In the course of his introduction, the hon. the Prime Minister said, in fact he admitted, that each section of the peoples of this great country had to make sacrifices in order to bring about the republic. He also talked of the sacrifices by the pro-republicans, consisting, as he said, of many sections of the people. He even conceded that sacrifices and heartburning would have to be made and suffered by those who voted against the acceptance of a republic. He said further that he believed that it was important in the establishment of a republic to make it as little painful as possible. He also maintained that having once received the majority vote in the referendum, it now became a question of when and how the republic should be established. In that context I should like to ask the hon. the Prime Minister to explain to this House and to the country why he did not consider and give practical consideration to the calling of a national convention, or the getting together of all the peoples of the country who, he concluded, would have to make sacrifices, and particularly those for whom he believed that the establishment of a republic should be made as little painful as possible. I firmly believe that it would have been the act of a great statesman to have called in for discussion with him, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition, in order to deal with what had taken place in the referendum. That would have been the opportunity to show the sincerity which must flow from a desire to bring about the unity which formed the main theme of the appeal to the people of this country to give a positive answer in the referendum for the establishment of a republic. After all, in moments of great crisis is it not the correct thing, is it not the right thing, is it not the soundest thing to do to call on the Leader of the Opposition in the political structure in which democracy is shaped, in order to discuss what should be done to bring about the change in the country in as little painful a manner (as the hon. the Prime Minister said) as possible? He did agree, and I accept it, that there was no question here of a political unity that he was looking for. He was looking for the unity of the people, the nation. It is in that context that I put this point of view to the hon. the Prime Minister.
The other aspect which I think should be explained to the country is why it was necessary to proceed with such haste to bring a Bill before this House for the establishment of a new constitution for a republic. After all, the hon. the Prime Minister is as aware as most people in South Africa, perhaps even more aware, that there must have been considerable emotional upsets during the period of the referendum and subsequently, and what better way is there to allow wounds to heal, thoughts to adjust themselves and feelings to cool down than the passage of time. That would have afforded an opportunity to all sections in this country not (as the hon. the Prime Minister rightly appealed to his own people) to crow over others, not to enthuse over a success, not to give vent to feelings of rejoicing because of the defeat of the other section of the community, but rather an opportunity for quiet thought for the whole of the country, so that even those who were the greatest propagators of thinking during the course of the referendum could themselves have the opportunity to try and adjust their own thinking, their own approach to this important subject. Because, after all, if we are to have unity in this country, all sections of the population have to come a little nearer to each other in thinking, a little nearer to each other in mutual respect, and a little nearer to each other in appreciation of the institutions and traditions of all sections in this country who have helped to build up what we South Africans call “Our Great South Africa”.
What has really surprised me, and I think a great number of my fellow-South Africans, is the extraordinary sense of fear which the Prime Minister suffers from. The hon. the Prime Minister has already told the country that he is not prepared to make any concessions as far as policy is concerned, he has expressed a fear of accepting other points of view, and we are only forced to one conclusion, a sad conclusion, that he can only achieve unity of the people of our country by the absorption of one section by another, the absorption of one political way of thinking by another political way of thinking. If we are to have unity by absorption, we will never have unity, because it will be the most difficult thing, perhaps an impossible thing, to maintain. National unity must be for the nation, and not for a political party. One is reminded of the fact that it has been the boast on the part of the Government over a number of years that its objective is to destroy the Opposition. We even had it in the no-confidence debate, that if an election were held again, the United Party would come back as the Opposition, but internally weakened. Why this crowing over the expectation of weakening the Opposition and destroying the Opposition when the whole basis of our political structure is the basis of democracy, something for which we South Africans believe we have made many sacrifices? The importance of an Opposition to a country is something which any democratic government must appreciate, and it is disturbing to hear that the objective is to destroy the Opposition. One is left with a sense of unreality that there is any sincerity in this desire to achieve unity.
We won’t destroy you, the public will destroy you.
There you are, the same boast. The public will destroy those who do it harm, and I do not think the hon. Minister should sit back so smugly, satisfied that the public of South Africa will support him and his party for all time. Changes come in every country and when the people begin to wake up to the policies of the Government which are inimical to their future, they will destroy the Government.
Why then so worried?
It is important to note that if 48 per cent of the electorate vote against a certain point of view, it is not unnatural for them to call upon those who wish to proceed with their own point of view on behalf of 52 per cent of the electorate, to provide certain safeguards for their future and their future way of life. Whilst it is admitted that it is difficult to provide entrenchments (as has already been pointed out), a solemn undertaking given by men who sit around a table, interested only in the future of the country and the future of their people, in an atmosphere, not of political heat or wrangle but in a solemn atmosphere of the conference table, could achieve a great deal. That is what is lacking in the whole of what has taken place in the discussions from the Government side over the last fortnight. Sir, we must not bluff ourselves. You cannot consider this issue in a racial spirit. You cannot consider this issue without the background of what is taking place in Africa and the great changes which are taking place in our own country, but to which the Government is turning a blind eye. Sir, the whole of our set-up is something which must be taken into account and cannot be left completely out of consideration in dealing with this question, We for instance have over the last eight or nine months had representations made by the industrial and business world, by the financiers of South Africa, by the churches, by the intellectuals of our country, by the educationists and almost half the electorate, asking the Government to try and bring about a different line of thinking in this country so that we can ensure future racial peace and future prosperity for our country. Hon. members on the other side laugh at this, because they are prepared to ignore the viewpoints of all these sections of the population. But they cannot be the only people who are right. They are well aware of the representations of industry and commerce to the Government; they are aware of the call by the churches for a change of heart; they are aware of the call of the electorate for a better understanding, and they are aware of the call of the educationists for a better direction in the affairs of South Africa. Hon. members laugh at that. Because they have a majority in this House, they laugh about what 48 per cent of the electorate and many other people who represent a cross-section of our community think and say and profess. It is all very well to cold-shoulder a community and to treat it with contempt. We do not want to be the foreboders of evil because we are part of the South African people, but unfortunately if the Government brings about an unfortunate state in this country, we, the South African people, suffer together—we do not suffer separately. Nobody on this side of the House wishes to crow over the troubles which the Government has. On this side of the House we are appealing to the hon. the Prime Minister to have a change of heart, and that is a very vital factor in the life of a nation.
We realize that shortly when the machine of this House goes into action and the vote takes place, it will be the first step towards what will be the establishment of the republic. But it is much more vital to South Africa that we should have a better understanding amongst our people so that we can face the problems of the future together, than merely to succeed through the machine of the majority in this House to bring about what has not yet been accepted unanimously by the people of this country. I am sure that my fellow South Africans, together with all those who represent this point of view, are hopping and praying that the Government may realize that it governs for the people of South Africa, and not for a section of the people, and that should they do that, they would play a very much greater part in establishing a successful future for our country than boasting that merely by a change in the form of our constitution they can bring about unity in South Africa.
I want to just draw attention to the preamble in other constitutions of republics in the world. The hon. the Prime Minister made mention of the simplicity of the preamble to the Bill before us. The third preamble says—
In most preambles to republican constitutions, the word “justice” and the word “unity” are constantly used. Now this very cold preamble of ours which only talks about the establishment of an institution and promoting its future, lacks the warmth that one would have expected in this great desire to bring unity to this country. If one reads for instance the preamble of the Republic of the Argentine one finds that it says inter alia—
and if one goes to Colombia, it says inter alia—
the republic of Switzerland—
Take the preamble to the constitution of the United States of America where it says inter alia—
Then the Republic of Ireland, which has a number of admirers here—
That is the preamble which one would have liked to have seen incorporated in this important measure, some assurances of basic rights. That would have shown a measure of goodwill on this important occasion.
May I be permitted now for a moment to deal with the remarks made by the hon. member for Maitland (Dr. de Beer), and to say that one was very disappointed with the whole of the attitude adopted by that hon. member. Somehow one felt that the tone of the debate had changed, the colour of the debate had changed somewhat. He endeavoured to patch up some problem which his party had in Natal. Apparently there seems to be a difference of opinion between the Natal executive of his party who state that they do not and will not and cannot accept the republican constitution as proposed and the statements of the leaders of the Progressive Party in this House. I do not think it is of very great importance to the people outside as to what that difference of opinion may be, but it is amusing to realize that in order to bring about some form of cohesion in their particular way of thinking, the hon. member attacked the leaders of our party, trying to show that there is some division of opinion here. I would like him to know that even his own papers in Natal, Government papers and the English newspapers of this country have already discounted all the capital that that party tried to make out of a forthright statement by a gentleman who said that for the future it would be his endeavour to bring about changes in the constitution for the benefit of the country. We are busy doing that all the time in our legislation, in all the legislation that comes to Parliament.
That was not his statement.
I have read all the newspapers, even the Burger, and I know exactly what was said. I can only say that it would be very much more helpful in our political life if instead of concentrating on the difficulties of other people, we would state our own point of view forthright so that the people of South Africa can know what we are thinking instead of trying to make capital out of what other people are thinking. Mr. Speaker, I want to conclude. I realize the importance of the reply which this House is going to hear from the hon. the Prime Minister very shortly, but I do want to draw the attention of the Prime Minister to one other factor with regard to the actual terms of the Bill. I refer to this question that deals with the prerogatives which, he said, were being maintained in order to retain the same form of constitution which he promised the country he would retain in the establishment of a republic. I am tackling this from a slightly different angle to that of the hon. member for Namib (Mr. J. D. du P. Basson). My view is that the hon. the Prime Minister should give thought, when this Bill goes to a Select Committee, to the powers of the President, and that these powers should be laid down specifically and categorically. I do not in any way want to derogate from the importance of the office of the President, or what it may be. But I would like to say that he is, or will be, in terms of this Bill, a statutory officer elected in a particular manner. He will even be subject to being opposed for that election when nominations are called for. Also, he can only be removed in a certain way. Now the position is this, that the prerogative of the Crown is something which is not laid down by statute, it is not something which is limited. It is not something which comes before the people for choice or selection. Monarchs have been removed in the past; they have been removed by peaceful means and they have been removed by revolutionary means, but the monarch is something entirely outside the person who depends for his position on an election by his fellow citizens. What is taking place here is that the office of the President can only be filled if a person is nominated and placed before the electorate in terms of the provisions of this Bill, that is, placed before the Members of both Houses of Parliament for election. If the President conducts himself in a way in which he should not conduct himself or his duties, then the same body can depose him. But if his duties are not laid down specifically and he takes advantage of some of these wide prerogative powers as are provided for, it is going to be very difficult to remove him unless one is able to prove, in terms of the provisions of this Bill, that he has done something which exceeds his powers as laid down in the Bill.
In reply to that possibility, the hon. the Prime Minister said that if we do not invest the President with these prerogatives we will be turning him into a glorified clerk. I say, with all humility, that that is a somewhat melodramatic description designed to turn aside a very important factor. One must take into account, in the election of an individual to that very high office, this important factor. I believe that once an individual has to be elected, once an individual is at the mercy of the body that elected him, and once he is in the position where he can be opposed for that election he is then a person who is a statutory official. He is a statutory officer. Therefore his rights and his powers should be limited or, if not limited, no matter what powers he may have they should be clearly and specifically set out in the law which creates that office and the manner of the election of a person to that office. I trust that that particular aspect and the question of the preamble will be taken into account by the hon. the Prime Minister when he replies to the discussions to-day, and also when the matter is referred to a Select Committee for its consideration.
This debate has had very interesting features although very little has been said in the course of its protracted duration about the Bill itself. It is an interesting fact that hon. members on the other side, in spite of the lengthy time at their disposal, have been able to find very little that they have been able to criticize in the contents of the Bill. As a matter of fact, the few proposals which aimed at improvements to which they referred, actually elicited support from this side. I have in mind what was said for example by the hon. members who has just sat down, as well as by other members on our side, namely, that they should have preferred to see more warmth and content given to the preamble as well as to the formulation of our oaths or solemn declarations. Let me say at once that I fully endorse that and as a matter of fact I said something on the same lines in my introductory speech. But it must be remembered that one only reads warmth into a piece of legislation if that warmth is in one’s own heart; words alone do not necessarily evoke warmth. It depends on how one reads the contents of the document. When I dispassionately read some of the documents which have been quoted here and then read our own preamble with the deep feeling that it can arouse in one when one thinks of it as the product of one’s own history, I find that in our preamble I can read and feel a warmth which is lacking when I read the preambles to the constitutions of other countries with which one compares it. In saying that, however, I am not suggesting that I do not agree with the proposition that it will be in the best interests of the republican epoch in the future if by a better choice of words the Select Committee can succeed in stirring our emotions to a greater extent. I sincerely hope the Select Committee will succeed in doing so.
Another interesting feature of these discussions is the fact that they have been conducted in a way which just a few years ago would have been totally impossible. The hon. member says that the Constitution should not really have been discussed in Parliament but by another body such as a convention, for example, because there, he says, it could have been discussed calmly, which is not possible in Parliament. If ever there was unfair criticism, which was directed here in the main against Parliament, it was this suggestion that we, who have in fact discussed these matters of great importance here so calmly with a full sense of responsibility, are not able to do so in a calm atmosphere; that in order to be able to do so we must have a secret session between four walls! What is that other than self-criticism of the wrong kind? Now at any rate, after this debate, I can make bold to say that we on this side throughout the debate, have displayed the necessary calm and sense of responsibility, and generally speaking that also applies to the other side, although not entirely. A specific feature of this debate has been that the question of the establishment of the republic has been discussed openly in this South African Parliament without any disturbances and without meetings of a virtually inflammatory nature having been held outside, as well as without fire and fury on the part of the newspapers of this country. I say again that that is something remarkable. It proves that we have reached a stage in our national life where the republic can and must be established. In that regard therefore this debate has been characterized by a special feature. Nevertheless it has not been entirely without incident. I just want to refer to this in passing and I do so more really to reveal the ridiculousness of these exceptions. There was, for example, the hon. member for Benoni (Mr. Ross) who referred to the spirit in which we on the Government side spoke about goodwill and unity as “whining and squealing”. When appeals are made for national unity and when we say that in the republic the various language groups must be well disposed towards one another, it is ridiculous for anybody to dare to stand up and say that it is “whining and squealing”. The same hon. member also talked about our wishing to “skulk behind the British Navy”. When we talk about wishing to remain a member of the Commonwealth, which is something which they themselves are so anxious to have, how Victorian it sounds for anybody on that side of the House to have the temerity to try to humiliate us—or is he trying to get us to depart from our attitude? —with this old-fashioned abuse (and this old-fashioned defence of their former attitude of dependence) that we want to skulk behind the British Navy! It is hardly worth referring to but I do so in order to draw attention to the fact that we have made so much progress in South Africa that to-day this sort of thing only strikes one as ridiculous; it does not even arouse our anger any longer. It is not something of which we need take too much notice. It only reveals a childishness which represents the final convulsions of a type of conflict which is now disappearing.
Another feature of these discussions has been this: After having pointed out how much we have actually conceded on our side for the sake of the acceptance of the republic in a spirit which should imbue everybody—and I mentioned one point after another that we actually conceded—we find that no concession has been made even in this late hour by hon. members of the Opposition and their Leader. What I mean is this. We have been prepared to accept as the basis of our future life the character of the republic, the Constitution, membership of the Commonwealth and things of that kind that they advocated, and yet they are still not prepared to support the establishmen of the republic. I contend therefore that they have made no concession. They must not continue to say therefore that concessions have been made on various sides. They have made no concession; they have not even agreed to the establishment of the republic. They are still acting in consonance with the attitude that they adopted last year. It is true that a number of pious appeals has been made to us to write various guarantees into the Constitution and those appeals have been accompanied by the statement that peace will then descend upon all of us. Last year, however, when we had not yet taken any stand with regard to the question as to whether we would wish to remain a member of the Commonwealth and the hon. the Leader of the Opposition in his reply to my proposal about the establishment of a republic asked, “What assurance have we that we shall try to remain in the Commonwealth?” I put this counter-question to him across the floor of the House, “I have not yet consulted my party but (and here I risked my political future) do you give me the assurance that if I say ‘yes’ to that you will say ‘yes’ to the question as to whether we should establish a republic?” He was not prepared to do so although my intention was clear. In other words, at that time there was no willingness on the part of the Opposition to give and take, and that willingness is still lacking to-day.
Coupled with that, there is another factor that is of considerable importance. If the hon. the Leader of the Opposition had said “yes” at that time and had at the same time given his co-operation, together with that of his party, to bring about the republic, a referendum would scarcely have been necessary. If the referendum had nevertheless taken place, there would have been an almost unanimous verdict, and then the result would have been that we would have been able to fight for membership of the Commonwealth so much more effectively than we shall be able to do now, when the Opposition is continually belittling the outcome of the referendum. In other words, the Leader of the Opposition not only refused to give his co-operation in regard to the establishment of a republic but he laid the foundation of the opposition which has since developed to our continued membership of the Commonwealth. Three-quarters of the opposition to our membership and the distorted statements with regard to our policy, statements which are believed overseas, are attributable to the struggle which has taken place since then (including the fight which has been conducted by the Press which supports him) as well as to the effect of hostile reports, emanating from their columns, which have been published overseas. For that he bears co-responsibility. If there is trouble in the future he must not forget that he rejected the opportunity to help to build a united South Africa by supporting the establishment of a republic and thus facilitating our continued membership of the Commonwealth. I should also add that in doing so he rejected the opportunity to co-operate in the drafting of the constitution. Hon. members must look at it in this light: If the hon. the Leader of the Opposition had been prepared last year to co-operate when I made an appeal to him in the utmost sincerity —and I made that appeal although I myself, as I have said, risked my political future for the sake of South Africa because at that stage I did not know whether I would have the necessary support of my own party for a republic within the Commonwealth—he would not have forfeited the opportunity to co-operate also in the drafting of the constitution. I warned him that he was throwing away this opportunity. We could have acted differently if the Government and the Opposition had jointly said that we wanted a republic which we were both going to try to keep within the Commonwealth. We would then have had to co-operate in the drafting of the constitution. As a matter of fact, in his own ranks and in his Press there were people who warned him in this regard at that time and before the referendum. They said to him, “Co-operate and then you can obtain more of those constitutional rights in which you believe that you can if you persist in your stubborn opposition to something which is inevitable in any case”. Hon. members opposite must not accuse me of stubbornness, as they are so fond of doing, while forgetting their own stubbornness. It was the granite-like unwillingness of the hon. the Leader of the Opposition that we encountered last year that prejudiced any possible co-operation on this point on which they are now asking for co-operation after having suffered defeat. I hope therefore that the hon. the Leader of the Opposition will put his hand deeply into his own bosom and find out what he lost for his country and for his party. But having persisted throughout in their refusal to co-operate, having rejected all appeals for unity and having waged a strenuous fight against the establishment of a republic up to 5 October, they now come along in the hour of their defeat and try, by a process of magic, to convert into victory the defeat that they suffered and from which I tried to protect them. Now suddenly they say: “If you want to be a statesman, if you do not want to be called terribly stubborn, if you do not want to be accused of adopting a hostile attitude, you will have to concede everything for which we ask—one, two, three, four guarantees and entrenchments—everything that we want and cannot get ourselves.” That is what hon. members opposite are asking in seeking concessions and guarantees from us, in demanding a whole series of entrenchments. In fact they go so far as to ask us to abandon the very policy for the implementation of which we were put in power; because hidden amongst the guarantees for which they are asking is a request for capitulation on our part in respect of the colour policy which is the basic source and will be the basic source in the future of the differences between the parties. They think that by using the words “guarantees and entrenchments” they can camouflage the sacrifices of policy that they are asking us to make, but their motive is transparent to anybody who uses his common sense. There is no doubt that what hon. members on the other side seek are not minor concessions for the sake of friendship and co-operation; what they are trying to achieve is a hidden victory now that the electorate has been wise enough not to follow their leadership. That then is a further feature of the struggle hitherto in this debate, namely, that hon. members opposite are trying by a process of magic to convert defeat into victory and it stands to reason that on that point we cannot yield.
In view of the fact that Opposition members have not advanced many arguments dealing with the contents of the Bill itself but have made a number of minor points, together with a few important ones on matters of a general character, I am obliged to follow their example. I want to reply therefore to a number of the arguments advanced by them. As far as the majority of them are concerned, I do not propose to deal with them exhaustively, because they have already been dealt with fairly thoroughly by members on this side. Nevertheless I do want to make a few brief observations. One of the points made by hon. members was that we should first have obtained agreement between that side and this side of the House before proceeding with the discussion of these republican developments. We should first have sought agreement. They said: “If only you had been statesmanlike and tactful and if only the Prime Minister had spoken to the Leader of the Opposition perhaps, it would have been possible to obtain a basis of agreement and then everything would have been so much easier. We would then have established a republic in peace and amity!” Mr. Speaker, we have been trying to obtain agreement with regard to the republican ideal over the last 40 or 50 years. For years there has been a clause in their constitution which permits them to strive for a republic. And what was the reply of the Leader of the Opposition last year on the occasion to which I referred? “I shall be against a republic in every shape or form, whether within or outside the Commonwealth.”
Well, I have no objection if that is their attitude. It may be “all right” to them as the hon. member over there says, but how dare they come along with the reproach—for the sake of public opinion and in order to obtain a little sympathy for their persistent opposition—that we rejected their hand of friendship? They are now trying without justification, to put the blame for non-co-operation on the shoulders of their opponents. How dare they say that if we had only tired to co-operate, if only we had discussions with them and had tried to obtain some agreement, the republic would have been established in perfect peace? After all, we did try and our effort failed because of the Opposition of hon. members on the other side to a republic in any shape or form, whether inside or outside the Commonwealth, to use the words of the hon. the Leader of the Opposition himself.
Then a second argument has been advanced here, and that is that we should have done something to remove the fear which is to-day in the minds of our opponents, namely the fear that as a minority group they will always be oppressed. But, Mr. Speaker, there need be no question in the future of a minority group in terms of clashes over constitutional matters, clashes which arise from the differences between those who cling to a home in another country, who cling to a monarchy, and those whose love is concentrated upon their own fatherland, South Africa. There need no longer be majority and minority groups on that score. In the Republic of South Africa we will all have to be Republicans. That fact is appreciated. One need only read the newspapers which have supported the Opposition throughout and who strongly stood for the monarchial system, newspapers such as the East London Despatch and the Rand Daily Mail. One need only read those newspapers to realize that to-day the fact that we are becoming a Republic of South Africa is accepted. In that Republic of South Africa we shall all be Republicans and we shall all be South Africans. If majority and minority groups develop, they will have to be political groups and not national groups, and there will be no room for fear. I am convinced, even though some hon. members on the other side may not be able to believe this, that in the course of the next few years the same thing will happen here that happened in Ireland, where the opposition to a republic from the Opposition was much more strenuous than here and where all the Opposition members became Republicans too not long afterwards.
What—Ireland? What about Ulster?
Surely Ulster is not part of Eire. Later on there was no longer any difference between Cosgrave and De Valera about republicanism. On the contrary, the time came when the Opposition represented themselves as better republicans than De Valera’s own supporters. I predict that that is also going to happen here. It will not be long before this Opposition will also propagate the republican trend as their real goal, just as they are now also propagating the policy of “South Africa first”. That is why I have no doubt that the statement that there is no future here for minority groups but only fear, will also be dropped, because people will get away from the idea that we are divided into minority and majority groups on a basis of language and origin.
Sometimes one becomes a little despondent when one pleads for basic national unity, as we are doing here, and when all these contributions are made by us to bring about that atmosphere in which we think the republic should be established, and one then finds that these venomous attacks, such as those made by the member for Benoni, the member for East London City (Dr. D. L. Smit) and the member for Wynberg (Mr. Russell), still continue, and when one finds a complete unwillingness on the part of the official Opposition to make any concessions with regard to the acceptance of a republic. One then begins to wonder sometimes whether it is worth while striving for more harmonious relations and whether we Republicans should not simply carry on without taking any notice of them at all.
One wonders then we should not establish the republic, and, if necessary, proceed with it on a sectional basis. But I must say that I reject that idea for the following reason and for that reason only, namely that I am deeply convinced that hon. members who sit here in Parliament and who are opposing the establishment of the republic, no longer interpret the feelings of the majority of their own supporters in this country. When one moves in the circles of supporters of members of the Opposition, when one reads their newspapers, however bitter they may have been towards us, one sees the clearest signs that the establishment of the republic in South Africa is bringing about a changed spirit and outlook, the fruits of which we are going to reap in the years which lie ahead of us. I face the future therefore full of courage and full of confidence, in the knowledge that these venomous attacks are no more than last-minute convulsions.
Then there were also a few additional arguments which I must also deal with briefly. One of them was that if we establish a republic, it will no longer be possible to incorporate the Protectorates. In other words, we must not proceed with the establishment of the republic because the Protectorates should first have been made part and parcel of the Union of South Africa. I believe that if we were to make the arrival of that day a prerequisite for the establishment of a republic, then more than ever before the Protectorates will never become part of the Union of South Africa. Moreover, if Generals Botha and Smuts could not make any progress in this regard, despite the services they had rendered in two wars, despite the promises embodied in the South Africa Act and despite the intentions underlying that legislation, which are admitted by everyone, and if, despite the attempts of General Hertzog after entering into a certain agreement prior to the Second World War with the then Labour Government, if after all this, it has not been possible for Britain to carry out what we believe to be a promise (because she cannot or does not want to), do hon. members really think that anything will still come of the incorporation of these territories, bearing in mind the developments now taking place in Africa and the developments which Britain herself is bringing about in the Protectorates in the shape of granting various constitutions? It would be a fool who believed that. We must now clearly realize that, since the concept of incorporation encompasses the principle that these territories will be placed under the control of the Government of South Africa and will become part of the Union, in contrast with the general tendency towards granting independence to Black areas, that the Protectorates will never be incorporated, even if the United Party should come into power, or the Progressive Party, or the Liberal Party. This would be in conflict with what Britain herself is already doing in those territories. Of course I consider that the way in which and the form in which Britain is granting self-government to these territories is wrong in certain respects. I think for example that it is wrong that she is giving Basutoland a type of multiracial government. This is basically a Bantu area, and to give 2,000 second-class White citizens the franchise in that area is unpractical. Nor do I think that it will last. But I am not so much concerned with that aspect at the moment. I am merely mentioning the basic fact that to an ever-increasing extent Britain is granting constitutions of their own to these territories. Mere incorporation therefore no longer offers any possibility of establishing a sound relationship with the Protectorates. However, the policy of separate development which we advocate does in fact offer a possibility of establishing a sound relationship. Our attitude is that just as we are ensuring that our Bantu, in accordance with the tendency in Africa, will develop towards greater political independence but as a result of our economic interdependence will retain their links with us even after the highest measure of political development has been achieved, that is to say, that a Commonwealth type of relationship will develop between us, so we shall be able to become the guardians of these economically dependent areas. In their own interests these Protectorates will also fit in best within this framework. Whether or not we are a republic, the existing facts and the possible relationship between us and the Protectorates will remain exactly the same. I therefore say that the argument relating to the Protectorates no longer has any force as far as withholding South Africa from establishing a republic is concerned because we realize fully what the trend is to-day. For years this argument served as a useful brake on our aspirations but that brake no longer serves any purpose; it has been released.
Then hon. members have mentioned another argument. It is that we are not giving the judiciary its rightful place in the Constitution, that we are undermining its status as the third pillar of the State together with the Legislature and the Executive. Allow me to assure hon. members, as the Minister of Justice has in fact already done, that there has never been nor is there the slightest intention in our minds of detracting in the slightest from the independence and the status of our judiciary. From a strictly legal point of view it was not necessary at all to refer to the judiciary, in that the judiciary have in the meantime (since 1910) been given its own legislation in which its functions, administration and everything else are fully defined and set out. Initially the legal experts also omitted all references to the judiciary from this Bill as being unnecessary because the judiciary had its own legislation However, I personally asked that the draft Constitution should very clearly provide that one of the three constituent elements of the State will be the judiciary. We are by no means committed to the form in which this provision was then worded. The insertion of the one clause which says that the administration of justice will fall under the Minister of Justice, can remain or it can be deleted. However, it certainly does not imply the subservience of the judiciary in its decisions to the Cabinet. There is no such intention, and according to the legal experts it does not have that meaning either. The Select Committee can delete this clause if it has the slightest doubt in this regard. But what I recommend should remain, whether as formulated in the second clause of the chapter concerned or whether formulated in some other way—legal members of the Select Committee can fight it out with the law advisers— is a clear and direct reference to the fact that the judiciary will constitute one of the three pillars of the State, and that its independent status and authority will be retained unaltered. I hope that we shall not have any doubt or any difference of opinion on this point.
Then hon. members have used another argument which I feel I should discuss, particularly out of respect for a friend who has passed away. Various references have been made to the fact that Adv. Strijdom, and as a matter of fact Dr. Malan as well, would not have been satisfied with the result of the referendum because it would not have complied with certain requirements which they regarded as being of great importance. Hon. members have referred more specifically to Dr. Malan in respect of the words “the broad basis of the will of the people Completely unjustified interpretations have been attached to these words. When at that time it was written into the Constitution of the National Party that a republic would be established on “the broad basis of the will of the people” there was a certain amount of argument as to whether it should read: “The broad basis of the will of the people” or “the basis of the broad will of the people At that time the wording “the basis of the broad will of the people” was rejected precisely because they could possibly be interpreted as meaning that a certain majority was necessary, and that it would be claimed that this should mean a two-thirds majority or some such majority. The wording “the broad basis of the will of the people” was deliberately chosen on the understanding that this meant that, apart from a parliamentary majority, there would have to be a national majority of the White voters in favour of a republic. In other words, it was precisely the argument over the formulation, over the wording, which showed that my predecessor was quite clear that the republicans should be prepared to gain a majority of the people. Both these leaders always adopted the standpoint that a majority of the White people had to be obtained, but that in addition the Government had to be sufficiently strongly supported in Parliament to be able to rule properly. To-day we comply with both those requirements.
In the case of Adv. Strijdom, hon. members have alleged that he supposedly said that there should be a majority of the English-speaking section of the population as well as a majority of the people as a whole before a republic could be established. I say specifically that it is not true that he adopted any such standpoint. I know exactly what his standpoint was because we often discussed it. It was not his standpoint that separate majorities of the separate White population groups should be obtained, or that we should obtain a specific majority of the English-speaking people alone. Such a statement was attributed to him at the time and he denied it. He also told me: That these people are only trying to make it impossible for us to achieve the republic. Anyone who knew Adv. Strijdom well, will know that what I am now saying is exactly what he always thought. There is only one respect in which Adv. Strijdom adopted a standpoint which differed from mine. I have always believed that when one speaks of a majority, one must be able to give a specific reply when one is asked what the majority should be. I have always adopted the standpoint that the specific reply which one should give is “a mere majority” and, to be logical, this means a majority of one. Adv. Strijdom’s attitude was: “We must not discuss that now; our opponents will try to force us to specify what majority will be needed and I do not want to say ‘one’. A two-thirds or a three-quarters majority is ridiculous, however; we must not speak of figures at this stage because if we were to say 5,000, the Opposition would say 20,000 and if we were to say 10,000 they would say 40,000; in other words, we would only become involved in a dispute over figures.” I know this because he told me so personally. I also asked him what he would regard as a good majority and he told me in confidence: Anything between 20,00 and 40,000. To-day the majority is 75,000 and I am convinced in my own mind that he would have been deeply satisfied with this result. I am also convinced that the same applies to Dr. Malan although I cannot claim ever to have discussed figures with him. However, I believe that he would have been just as satisfied with the result which has now been achieved.
There have been references to Adv. Strijdom’s assurance to the English-speaking people, the statement which he went specially to Durban to make, at which time he also stretched out the hand of friendship. However, I can testify that one of the things which upset him was that thereafter, after he had gone and set out his standpoint so honestly, it was often distorted and that people said: “How can we believe these people?” These were the old familiar tactics of the Opposition, that is to say, to cast doubt on the honesty of the Afrikaner leaders. Now that he is dead, hon. members must please not use his offer of friendship which was so cruelly thrust aside while he lived.
There is a third argument which I am sorry has been raised and I therefore want to say as little as possible about it. It has in effect been implied that we cannot attach much value to the result of the referendum because ugly things supposedly happened and fraud was practised. Reference has even been made to the intimidation of pensioners. I do not want to make counter-accusations, because that is also petty. It is like losing a game and then making all sorts of excuses afterwards. I could even produce evidence of complaints which have been submitted to me about the large-scale abuses of which monarchists made themselves guilty, but I have never discussed them. I am therefore merely mentioning this in passing in order to point out that if we wished to make accusations, we could all be equally childish, but it is better for the sake of the honour of our country that this type of gossip should be left unsaid. It brings us nowhere; it will make no difference to the result; and it can only harm the reputation of our country without any proof and to no purpose.
In the second place, hon. members have said that not only can the result not be trusted, but also that certain incorrect arguments were used which influenced the result. Two allegations have been made as far as I myself am concerned. The one is that I supposedly promised—the word “promise” was supposedly used—that the National Party would disappear if a republic was established. Of course I did no such thing. What I did say was that I was convinced that when the republic was established, there could be a reorientation in the political sphere amongst individuals because one bond which kept them together, the constitutional issue, would fall away, and this reorientation could take place inside or outside the existing parties. I said I did not know how it would come about, but I was convinced that there were many people who were monarchists but who agreed with the National Party as far as its colour policy was concerned and who would only then be able to find a home within our ranks. I added that there might be persons who were Nationalists mainly because they were republicans but who might start thinking along different lines in respect of its colour problem and that they would then seek their political home elsewhere, although I do not believe that there will be many. That is exactly what I said and for anyone to distort this into a promise that the National Party would disappear is unfair.
Who has distorted it?
I would rather not mention any names. Hon. members must just examine their own consciences and for the rest they must read their Hansard.
Then a second allegation has been made, namely that I have supposedly “promised” that we shall remain a member of the Commonwealth. I hope what I am about to say will not be disputed but this too I did not do. I have adopted a very clear standpoint regarding the Commonwealth. I have said that I believe that common sense will triumph at the Commonwealth Conference, and that I firmly believe that South Africa will remain a member of the Commonwealth unless the Commonwealth changes its character and nature, particularly if certain of the newer non-Whites states should adopt a hostile attitude towards our membership, and persist in it to such an extent that they force the older member states who want South Africa to retain her membership to choose between South Africa and these other countries. I have even said that I accepted that it was possible that a choice would be made which would go against South Africa. I added that if that were to happen, the Commonwealth would then have taken on a character in which the outlook of Britain and the older countries no longer prevailed, but the outlook of these other countries, and that we would not feel at home in such a Commonwealth and would ourselves prefer not to remain a member. For that reason I asked at the referendum that we should be given a mandate to establish a republic which would try to remain a member of the Commonwealth, but which would authorize us, if we could not remain a member, to continue with the establishment of a republic outside the Commonwealth. The referendum was held on that clear basis, and there was therefore no “promise” on my part which I would not have been entitled to give.
But I have given one promise, namely that I shall do all I can to try, without sacrificing any principles, to make it possible for South Africa to remain a member of the Commonwealth. With all the possible tact at my disposal, and by appealing to common sense and calm counsels at our discussions, I shall try to co-operate in making this possible. I believe that it is only prejudice and unjustifiable interference in our affairs which can keep us out. More than that I cannot do. If folly prevails, I shall be powerless and I therefore do not want it to be alleged that I have made certain false promises which I have not made.
The next argument which has been mentioned is that we should have consulted the Coloureds and the Natives and in particular the argument has been used that the Coloureds should have voted at the referendum. Hon. members know of course that if the enfranchised Coloureds had voted, it would, according to the figures, have really made no difference to the result, but I leave that on one side. Hon. members also know that the Coloureds in general are not concerned about a republic; they are concerned with bread and butter problems. There may be individuals who think differently on such matters but in general the Coloureds did not take much interest. However, that is not the crucial point. The really important points in the argument are the following. Firstly, over all the years that we have had a republican clause in our programme of principles, we have stated clearly that the decision would be taken by the White voters, and over all the years that this has been so clearly stated in our programme no United Party member has criticized it. The only point they have discussed insistently is what majority of the White voters, whether two-thirds or three-quarters, should be decisive. In all these years not one word of criticism has been directed at the fact that the term “White voters” was used. Hon. members also inserted a clause in their own constitution making it possible for their members to work for a republic. In other words, they were thinking about the time that might come when we would have to decide about a republic. They did not provide in their constitution that the decision would be taken by White, Coloured and Native voters together. They did not make this an issue. On the contrary, by remaining silent on this point, they indicated that they felt in the same way about who should take the decision.
I go further. The struggle as to whether South Africa could be a monarchy or a republic is one which has arisen out of actions, deeds and events in which Whites have been involved. The war, as a result of which the two republics disappeared, was fought between White and White. The Constitution of the Union was drawn up by White and White. If these developments were to be taken further, then this was a field in which the Whites had to settle their disputes themselves. That is why we have always adopted the standpoint that this issue is one between us, or, if we want to put it in that way, between English-and Afrikaans-speaking people, but that is not really the position. It is more a case of certain English-and Afrikaans-speaking people on the one hand and certain Afrikaans- and English-speaking people on the other hand. We as Whites had to make a choice in this regard.
Then in the third place we must take care not to repeat the mistakes of history if we want racial peace in this country. We did not dare to bring in the non-Whites as the arbiters in a matter over which we differed. In our history, particularly that of the Cape Province, and also in the case of disputes between the Cape Province and the British Government, the introduction of the non-White franchise represented one of the sources of discord and one of the reasons why tension arose between the Whites and the Coloureds. For that reason we did not want to make the Coloureds and still less the Bantu, in view of the future possibilities which they have of developing along their own lines, the arbiters between the Whites in this matter.
But in the fourth place: Assuming that we had done so and that the Coloured voters were allowed to participate in the referendum, can hon. members envisage all the cheating and the tension which would have followed, all the discord and disputes and all the unpleasantness at the polling booths? Hon. members who have experienced previous elections and who know of the abuses which occurred at those elections, know what a terribly unpleasant state of affairs could have arisen at this referendum. This had to be avoided in the interest of Coloured-White relationships. At best the referendum, unlike an election, did not represent a decision, but merely an indication of how the people felt. Those who took part in the referendum indicated to us in Parliament how the Whites felt on this matter. That is all we wanted to know. For the purpose of our deliberations here we wanted to know what the attitude of the White voters in this country was towards this issue. This is their advice which we have voluntarily asked, the test which we have laid down. Parliament must take the actual step, and on this occasion the Coloured representatives are voting just like any other members. All Members of Parliament on behalf of those whom they represent, are jointly responsible for the legal steps required to establish the republic. It was for these clear and simple reasons that the Coloureds were not allowed to vote. Allow me to add this. I do not believe nor do I think anyone believes that the reason why hon. members opposite wanted the Coloureds to vote was a moral reason, not that they wanted to give the Coloureds the right to vote without any ulterior motives. They wanted us to follow this procedure so that there would not be a republic. For that reason, when they started to argue on behalf of the Coloureds, they should have come to the further conclusion that the Native should also have been consulted. If the Coloureds had been included and the republican majority was nevertheless 35,000 they would still not have been satisfied. They would have asked: “Where are the millions of Natives?” because they would have tried anything to prevent the establishment of the republic. It is quite clear that South Africa cannot and will not allow its fate to be decided on such a basis. That is why this Parliament equipped with the knowledge of how White South Africa feels about its future, is being asked to take whatever action it considers necessary.
The next argument relates to our membership of the Commonwealth. This argument has actually been approached from three angles, which I should like to discuss, but before doing so I just want to make one or two points quite clear. The first is that those who would like us to lose our membership of the Commonwealth and who are now working actively in that direction, are either the communistic-inclined or those persons who have, perhaps unknowingly, become so conditioned by communistic propaganda, that they are playing into the hands of the communists. In South Africa certain disturbances were instigated last year, inspired inter alia by communist agitators. This was not done without reason. They were instigated inter alia with a view to the Prime Ministers’ Conference which was to take place last year. Since then sufficient information has become available for us to know that attempts will once again be made immediately before my departure or after my arrival in Britain to cause unpleasantness in this country so that it can fit in with the demonstrations which are being organized by the leftists or by organizations which support trouble-makers financially or otherwise. The object is to create an atmosphere in which our chances of remaining a member of the Commonwealth can be ruined, both here and there. If we are faced with trouble and unpleasant? ness, and if somebody tries to allocate blame in regard to whatever might happen in connection with our membership then it is high time that this background should be taken into consideration. Let those of us who want to attain the same object rather stand together, and not allow ourselves to be stirred up against each other in order to allow these people who are the enemies of all of us to achieve their object.
The second point I want to make in this regard is this. It is possible that as the result of this or other factors South Africa’s membership will not receive support. I myself do not believe that there is any great danger of that, but it is definitely a possibility. I think that the United Party and the Opposition in general, in the light of this fact, would be doing a good thing if they rather did not help to prepare the ground, by expressing doubts and making attacks as they are doing, in order later to be able to reproach us with an “I told you so” argument. It is perhaps clever party tactics to-day to say on the one hand: “We would very much like South Africa to remain a member of the Commonwealth, but we do not believe that you will manage to do so, inter alia, because you do not woo, e.g., Ghana enough.” All arguments of that type might seem clever, but they may harm the cause. If we should obtain membership they will be able to say: “Oh, the Government managed to do so in spite of their policy because De Beer was there, or because the Leader of the Opposition was there, or because Macmillan fought so well for South Africa; it is not due to the efforts of the Prime Minister of the Government; they are too weak.” If matters do not come right the Opposition can again say: “We warned you.” We know that in such a case the other member states and our Opposition will try to blame us. But do hon. members realize that when they are indulging in tactical manoeuvres with a view to having such arguments which can be used in both directions in the interests of their own party, they are at the same time, wittingly or unwittingly, playing into the hands of our opponents abroad? I have already described what the character of those opponents is. It would be of much more assistance, in order to achieve what they assert they so strongly desire, if there was unanimity and everybody said: “We agree that there should not be interference in the internal affairs of South Africa, and we agree that the link should be obtained on the basic principle of co-operation to promote our common interests. Casting all this doubt on the result and creating this atmosphere that the Government is so much at fault, and that Canada or Ghana, or whoever it might be, are already hesitant because the Government does not alter its colour policy—to adopt that attitude is harmful and foolish and I want to condemn it strongly.
Now I want to point out that hon. members have expressed doubt, inter alia, as to the manner in which we are now setting to work. Actually there are three lines of attack. Some adopted one standpoint and others a different one. The first proposition was: We should not have started the process of becoming a republic before first ascertaining whether it would then be accepted that South Africa would remain a member of the Commonwealth. Nor should we continue now in our attempt to become a republic before ascertaining whether we can remain a member of the Commonwealth. It was even said that because we did not first test the sentiments, but first took our own decision, we endangered South Africa. This argument amounts to no less than that we should not act like an independent state. It amounts to no less than that South Africa, in respect of its own future development, should allow itself to be ruled by the opinion of others, not the opinion of Britain, not the opinion of the big countries and the older members, but the opinion of any other member state, however small or inexperienced it might be, in so far as pressure can perhaps be applied to the older friends. The Government is not prepared to allow South Africa’s independence to be threatened in this way. South Africa must make its decision on its own. That is the first reply to this argument. The second is this— and I think hon. members did not consider the matter thoroughly before they advanced this argument, nor did the Leader of the Opposition, who, I think, used this argument himself—that in fact we made an attempt last year to test the feeling. Last year, before the referendum, and even before the referendum had been decided on, we asked certain questions at the Prime Ministers’ Conference. That became known later. One question we asked was: Is South Africa as a monarchy, in spite of its colour policy, welcome in the Commonwealth? The reply was an unequivocal Yes. Secondly, in accordance with the practice, the reply to the question whether South Africa could change from a monarchy to a republic was that the form of government was a domestic matter for every member state. It is for every member of the Commonwealth exclusively to decide on its form of government. It is of interest for the purposes of this argument that the question was also asked: Will the Republic of South Africa be welcomed in the Commonwealth? And the reply was: On that we cannot give a decision now, because then it may be said that we interfere in South Africa’s internal affairs. If a decision were to be given in favour of it, it may be said that the Prime Ministers’ Conference wanted to help the republicans in an eventual referendum; and if the reply is no then it helps the other side. In other words, the other member states would be judging a hypothetical case and interfering in the domestic matters of a member state. It was quite correct to adopt that attitude and therefore it is clear that what the Leader of the Opposition asked for could not be done previously, viz. to make a test in advance. A previous test could only be made in respect of two points, viz. the full right of a member to change its form of government and the question of whether the Union would still be welcomed as a member, i.e. by implication the colour problems which exist have already made us unwelcome there or not. After this double test was so satisfactorily made, South Africa could be glad that it had received this information. Now I come to a further point. Supposing the Prime Ministers’ Conference was prepared to be tested in advance and they had said no, what would then have happened to the relationship between South Africa and the Commonwealth countries? Do hon. members think that we in South Africa would have been satisfied with the fact that other people could tell us that we should not become a republic because they would then have nothing to do with us? Now we can still try to maintain sound relationships, but then we could definitely not have done so. There may be hon. members who think that they would then have won the referendum, but I assure them that the people who have now voted for a republic within the Commonwealth, if possible, but outside it if necessary, would then under that provocation have voted for a republic outside the Commonwealth. It would therefore have been most unwise to try to take the request further than we did so cautiously. In other words, a preliminary test made before any decision was arrived at here was impossible. Then there is a second line of criticism which says that the procedure we now follow is wrong, viz. after a decision has been arrived at by means of a referendum or a resolution by Parliament, to continue with the drafting of the constitution and the discussion of the constitution in Parliament before receiving a reply to the question about our continued membership at the Prime Ministers’ Conference. But that is the procedure which was followed in the case of all the other countries. That is the only procedure which was followed. Let me just quote what was written in the final communiqué after India had applied—and precisely the same words were repeated in all the other cases, viz. in the case of Pakistan, Ceylon and Ghana—
That is precisely the formula which we will use, viz. “under the new constitution which is about to be adopted”.
But you are first adopting it.
It is obvious that after the second reading, on which we are going to vote to-day, there will be no doubt that this constitution will be adopted, although the draft constitution in the meantime will be discussed by the Select Committee during the period of my absence. The position in which we will also be is therefore that our application will be dealt with on the eve of the adoption of our constitution. Therefore I now say very clearly and unequivocally that we are following the usual and the established procedure in every detail, and therein lies part of our chances of success.
There is a third trend of thought which has sometimes been mentioned, and that is that we should not have asked now to remain a member, but that we should first have become a republic and then asked for re-admission. To the best of my knowledge, this argument has not been used in this parliamentary debate, but it was in fact used outside, and it was even used by some of South Africa’s opponents. It was said, e.g., that member states should now refuse membership to South Africa to teach us a lesson, but then we could apply again later and they would let us slip in. I have already stated clearly, and I repeat it to-day in this House, that if South Africa is not allowed to follow the procedure which was followed in the case of all the other countries, and if we are told: “Your application will be refused now, or the matter will not be dealt with now, and you can apply again later”, then I say here in the most clear terms: South Africa will not apply again. We shall do our utmost to remain a member in terms of the ordinary procedure. We shall also continue to become a republic on 31 May. And we cannot allow South Africa to be insulted and humiliated by being kept out even temporarily, while South Africa is expected later to come crawling with drooping tail and beg to be admitted.
In the course of the debate, one of the Coloured Representatives said that we should not be in such a hurry. We should not continue to establish the republic now. We should first allow some time to elapse. Allegations were made in his speech which convinced me that, in fact, we have to continue at the present time. The first was that we were practically threatened with dissatisfaction on the part of the non-Whites. That is on a par with the sort of accusation also set afoot outside our borders by refugees. If our State of South Africa does not want to live with the constant blackmailing and threats by non-White elements in respect of becoming a republic, then the sooner we become a republic the sooner we will get rid of those attempts to prevent it, which can only harm good relations with various persons and states. Secondly, there was contempt in that speech for the depth of feeling and the genuineness of the ideal to have a republic which exists amongst republicans. It was practically said: You do not want a republic so badly; you are merely demanding it now; you are merely pressing through with it now. That is not true. If ever there was something in the history of South Africa which was deep-rooted in the hearts of the largest section of the population, amongst old and young, it is the republican ideal. It is essential in the interest of South Africa and of good relations internally that we should continue with this as fast as possible. Such contempt for that sentiment on the part of such a person and others like him can only harm South Africa.
Then there was still a third reason. The hon. member said: We should consider what the overseas investors in South Africa say; they do not like us to become a republic. Mr. Speaker, we are glad that money from overseas is invested in South Africa, but we know that those who invest that money do not do so through love of this country. They do so because they can make a good business investment here; they do it from ordinary, sound, business motives. We grant them the benefits they can derive from it, and we are glad of the benefits derived by us, but there is something which the country will not allow, and that is that foreign business interests which invest money here should try to dictate to us in regard to the constitutional development or the policy of our country. When such an argument is used by a member of this House as a kind of threat, that we should not become a republic because what will the investors say about it. then I say that this is the very reason which will urge me to reply: “Then we must negative that kind of threat as soon as possible.” Casting doubt in regard to our membership of the Commonwealth and this sort of threat from outside to thwart our becoming a republic lead me to the conviction that the sooner we take action the better.
That brings me to a further argument, viz. that we must agree to certain entrenchments, inter alia, the entrenchment of the demands made by Natal. In this regard an absurd argument was used. It is that we say that we were so fond of the form of constitution of the old republics. We have, as the hon. member for South Coast called it, a “nostalgia” for the old republican constituents. In terms of those constitutions there were, however, entrenchments and therefore he does not understand why we do not want to agree to entrenchments now. Superficially that seems to be a good argument, but in fact it is quite foolish because it contains no logic. The facts are these: We were always deeply desirous of using the old constitutions as the basis for our new constitution. If we had done so, we would have had to accept all the consequences, including the possibility of having entrenchments. In that type of constitution, in a constitution—let us say—based on the American pattern, entrenchments are inherently possible and even customary. If the hon. member for South Coast says that he is prepared to abandon the whole principle of the Union type of constitution, i.e. to abandon the British model in every respect, and that he is prepared to go back to the old Transvaal or Free State constitution in so far as it has a president with executive power, and with all the forms of organization of the State which accompany it, and that he is prepared to accept all this, then his argument would have had some force. But that is not what he wants. There are many of the characteristics of those constitutions which he does not want. He really wants to retain the British constitutional form which we now have, but in addition, and for his own convenience, he wants to incorporate something which is foreign to this system and which comes from other types of constitutions, without the rest of what is in fact part of the character of those constitutions. The fact is that one has to make a choice. One must choose between the one system or the other. In the one system one has to do with an inflexible constitution, including entrenchments and all kinds of provisions. In the case of the British model one has to deal with a flexible form of constitution. We have now, in terms of our promises and in terms of the demands made by them earlier, adopted the course of having a flexible constitution, in line with our own past history since 1910 and our recent decision that we want to uphold the sovereignty of Parliament. Now hon. members should not complain and say that they would have liked to have the other system partially because we have a certain love for the whole of it. One has to choose either the one course of constitutional development or the other.
The South Africa Act also contains entrenchments.
Various legal men who spoke here clearly pointed out that one can have no real entrenchments of any real value inside this system.
You had it until we got the new Senate.
Surely the hon. member saw what happened? In the first place, the South Africa Act was a British Act, given to South Africa by a controlling state. Later the sovereignty of this Parliament was put beyond all doubt and then, just as little as entrenchments can be introduced in Britain by the present British Parliament over future British Parliaments which will bind them, just as little can it be done here. Therefore it is just an impossibility. One chooses the one system or the other. That is obvious. If the hon. member wants to continue shaking his head he does so out of sheer ignorance.
What about the language entrenchments?
The language entrenchments are merely a heritage from the past. [Laughter.]
The dead hand of the past.
Will hon. members please wait a little and consider the matter, because this laughter is ridiculous. The language entrenchment is the heritage of the past, and we are prepared to retain this entrenchment as in the past, but we have said on more than one occasion, and hon. members themselves have said, that that entrenchment has a moral character rather than legal force. In fact, that entrenchment is also subject to the philosophy of the sovereignty of Parliament, and one cannot get away from that. We are, however, giving it all the power we can because we are taking over the entrenched clauses of the past as they stand, with the intention of honouring them and also because we are sure that they can never usefully be rejected. We are taking them over, but we cannot add anything to them. As the hon. member for Standerton (Dr. Coertze) said, this Parliament cannot give its successor anything more than it has itself, nor can one bind future Parliaments. Therefore even the language entrenchment has its limitations, in spite of its value. Its value lies, as the hon. the Leader of the Opposition also said and also in my opinion, more in the will of the people to honour it. There is nobody amongst us who has any doubt as to the will of the people now and later to honour that particular entrenchment. Very strong doubts must, however, exist whether anything else, for which there is no historical background either, will in that way have any moral entrenchment value.
Then there is a second point I want to deal with in regard to this argument in connection with entrenchments. The hon. members opposite have really adopted a two-fold attitude. Some of them said that if only we granted these certain entrenchments there would be general goodwill towards the republic. That was said by the hon. members for Yeoville (Mr. S. J. M. Steyn) and Wynberg (Mr. Russell). They advanced the very pious argument that if only we granted these entrenchments we would see how nicely we would all work together. I have already said that what they actually want is this: If we agree and implement their policy, then they will co-operate with us nicely! The point, however, which I want to make clear now is that as against that the hon. member for East London (City) (Dr. D. L. Smith) said: We never trust any promise made by this Government. In other words, some of them ask for entrenchments for the sake of good relations, whilst others say that in any case we will never be able to enjoy good relations with them. Under those circumstances it is surely not worth while continuing with this whole idea of entrenchments, particularly in view of the fact that they persist in their attitude that they reject the republic under any circumstances. That is the attitude which they have consistently adopted during this debate. It is necessary to expose the futility of such pretended offers of co-operation. Apart from that, they have made it clear that amongst the entrenchments which they inexorably demand is included the one that we must practically develop in the direction of a federation. Certain powers demanded by Natal, which are federal in character, must be granted. They want entrenchments which are in conflict with the whole spirit of the National Convention and of our constitutional development since then. The Opposition now says that unless we concede that there will be no peace; then the Government are oppressors and are overruling the Opposition by means of its greater numbers. That is a ridiculous attitude to adopt. An Opposition cannot advocate entrenchments on such a basis, and I think the less hon. members say about that in future the better it will be for them.
Now I come to the attitudes adopted by the hon. member for South Coast here and in Natal. I want to be fair towards the hon. member. One realizes in what a difficult position he is vis-à-vis the voters in his province. One has a certain amount of sympathy with him, even though he landed himself in that position. The fact, however, is that he has only one of two courses to follow. He can interpret his words in the way in which his leader interpreted them for him, namely that any member of the Opposition has the fullest right, even inside the republic, and also now in this debate, to adopt a standpoint and to fight for the things in which he believes along the constitutional way. He was quite justified in referring to my Green Point speech, when I said that if we now lose, we would continue to try to convince the public. We wanted the republic and would get it. We would obtain it constitutionally, but we wanted it. He is completely justified in adopting the same attitude and saying: I shall continue to work for what I believe in. If he believes that in the republic there should be amendments to the constitution, surely he has the right to fight for it along the political road. Who can deny him that right? But he will only be able to fight in one way, unless he wants to foment a revolution, and that is along the constitutional way. If he can get the majority of the people behind him when he pleads for certain amendments, and he and his party can get into power, he can of course make those changes. Then I will not come and shout and moan, like he does, and say: “You constitute a tyranny; you govern us by force.” But of course it is obvious that a government passes legislation in terms of its policy and in terms of the mandate given to it by the voters. Those hon. members involved our country in the last war by means of a very small majority. We were against it and fought against it, but that does not derogate from the fact that the Government which was in power should do so. Why he thinks that although he is now sitting in the Opposition he can still govern, I, however, do not understand. I also do not understand why he thinks that if he leads a deputation to interview me — and he was kind enough to admit that I listened to him in all courtesy and discussed their case with them courteously — he can then adopt the standpoint that if I cannot, in terms of my policy, agree to what he requests of me on behalf of the Opposition, then I am malicious, then I am his enemy, then I am unreasonable and a tyrant! That I cannot understand. If he were in power and I were to lead a deputation consisting of supporters of the Opposition to ask him to do something in which he does not believe, and which is against the policy of his party, will he consider that I would then be justified in saying: “But you are a terrible tyrant”? Of course I would not be able to say so. Surely I would not have the right as an Opposition to enforce my policy on his Government, and to force him to accept my policy. I can go and plead for something; I can see whether there are not certain things on which we can agree and then I would at least have gained something through my interview, and he was also entitled to do so. But the attitude now being adopted here is that, because they failed to get certain resolutions of the Provincial Council of Natal implemented by the Government, whose standpoint is quite different, the Government has thereby become a tyrant. That surpasses all understanding.
But I have to add something else to this, viz.: If the hon. member did not want to follow the course as a member of the Opposition of trying to obtain from the Government what he could and to abide by it when differences in policy make it impossible — except in so far that he tries to convince the public that his course is the correct one and in that way tries to come into power in order to make the changes he desires — if he does not want to adopt that course but a different one, then there is only one other course he can follow, and that is to rebel! The hon. member chose his words carefully. Nevertheless he gave the impression to many people, both on his own side as well as on our side, that he had something of that nature in mind. I hope my hon. friend will not be so unwise. I hope that in the interest of our common fatherland he will not lose his head to that extent, but that he will subject himself to the guidance given by his leader, who adopted a wise attitude—the first interpretation which I have just given. There are constitutional means by which he can get rid of everything in his system which worries him, but the other course will not work. I say this in all friendliness because I would like the hon. member for South Coast to realize something else, also. It is that if ever there was a part of this country which needs the co-operation of the whole country, in its own interest, then it is his province of Natal. Natal is the real problem province for all of us. It would be a relief to the rest of South Africa if we could draw a line just a little to the west of Pietermaritzburg, and if we could leave that part of the country to itself, with all its problems. Then three-quarters of our troubles would have been solved.
If we were to leave them alone in their misery it would, however, be a scandalous deed and an irresponsible one, because this is one whole country. The Province of Natal is part of South Africa. We have obligations towards each other. Purely on moral grounds and as a matter of justice, apart from other common interests we have, we shall remain standing by Natal. The Union must be seen as one great whole. Therefore the first point I want to make is that Natal needs the whole of the Union in terms of the struggle that province particularly has to wage against racial difficulties. I may tell the hon. member in passing that repeated representations have been made to me, particularly after the recent speeches made by him, that we should draw a line whereby large areas of Natal which do not feel as the hon. member feels and which (the hon. member is so fond of relying on local numbers) would produce a majority in favour of the republic, could be added to the other adjoining provinces. Of course I said: “No, I do not want anything to do with that, for the simple reason that we must regard our country as one whole.”
Let us, however, for the sake of argument imagine that the rest of the Union and Natal sever their connections. Then Natal would lose many of the benefits it enjoyed in the past and will still enjoy in the future in the material sphere. Would the port of Durban have developed as it did if Natal had been independent? Will the industrial development which one foresees for the future for Natal be undertaken if it is segregated, and what will then become of Natal with its important Tugela Valley and all the potentialities for development there, Natal with its large number of border areas which offer great industrial possibilities, Natal with its many raw materials and opportunities? Will Natal be able to develop all this without the assistance of the whole of the Union?
It cannot even combat its own sharks.
Let me take another example. Supposing that Natal were to be allowed to be separate and to secede—I do not say that the hon. member for South Coast wants that; he stated in clear terms that he would be opposed to any secession—then surely it would have to be governed in terms of the policy of the United Party. In view of the constitutional outlook of the United Party, who will then rule Natal? Will, under a policy of partnership, it be the Whites whom the hon. member for South Coast want to govern the province, or will it be the Indians and the Zulus, or eventually the Zulus alone? If under the United Party there should be a multi-racial government in Natal, or in part of it, segregated from the Union, then all the ideals which the hon. member for South Coast himself has in regard to the continued leadership of the Whites in his own area would come to an end. Then the British policy for Kenya or the Federation would have to be applied under a monarchy. The political salvation of Natal therefore lies in continuing along with the Union under the policy of the Nationalist Party, if it is interested in maintaining the domination of the White man. For that reason I say that I cannot understand why the hon. member wants to keep the public in his province in a state of agitation. It would be much wiser to adopt the attitude of the Progressive Party in this respect, which adopts the standpoint that if the Bill becomes law, as they expect it will, then they accept a republic and accept that South Africa will be governed, in terms of the proposed constitution, as a republic with the support of all people. They merely set the constitutional condition that they will continue to advocate and to work for the changes in which they believe. That is at least an understandable standpoint. Can the hon. member for South Coast not be moved by the pleas of his former friends? He will not listen to me, but his former friends will perhaps have more influence on him!
I now proceed to deal with the next point, and that is the last argument I shall deal with. It is the question of whether a convention should not be held. The argument is that if a National Convention is held it will lead to peace and friendship in the republic. Now I must in the first place say something in connection with the spirit of the past to which reference has so often been made, the spirit of the National Convention held at the time and from which the South Africa Act was born. That National Convention certainly argued quite a lot amongst themselves. There was much difference of opinion. We should not now talk too piously about that National Convention, as if everything they did was done in a great spirit of unanimity and charity and concessions made by people who nine years before had been enemies, and that that spirit thereafter continued to exist so nicely that if only we would do the same now it would again be repeated in the republic. Surely that is not the truth. There was much difference of opinion in that Convention. It is true that they compromised. In fact, often they just accepted these compromises because of the fact that they had to receive their constitution from Britain. In many respects their position was the same as that of Rhodesia and Nyasaland at the moment, who are making concessions which they do not themselves really desire to make, but have decided to make because they have to receive their constitution and status from another country. In the National Convention there was often deep disappointment in regard to concessions which had to be made, and after the Convention there was often a feeling of frustration. Not long after the Convention was held, one of the members of the Convention, General Botha, kicked out another member of the Convention, General Hertzog, from his Cabinet! Therefore it is not true to say that the National Convention introduced a period of peace. The greatest quarrels and the greatest struggles we have had in South Africa, including the Rebellion and other things, happened soon afterwards. Then why are attempts being made here to create the impression that if we, following on what was done in the past, simply convene a National Convention, we will have peace and quiet and willing co-operation? The mere fact of holding a convention will not achieve all that. It is an attempt to make misuse of an imaginary and almost pious atmosphere which is being spread over the National Convention for the present purposes. It is therefore a false argument that a convention will necessarily result in the spirit which will conciliate everybody. The truth is rather that a National Convention is unnecessary to-day. At that time, when the National Convention sat, there was no Parliament of the Union of South Africa. The only way in which four separate Governments or their representatives could be brought together was to convene a special sort of gathering in order to get them together. That is why a convention was arranged. But when one has a united country, which has its Parliament representing the whole of the country, elected by the voters of the whole country, where everybody regularly comes together, then surely that is the place where constitutional developments should be formulated. Supposing we were to convene a convention today, what would be its value? What can it do? It can only give advice to this Parliament, which can accept or reject that advice at will. And if it were a convention composed in such a way that it proposes the type of constitution which is wanted by the hon. the Leader of the Opposition or the hon. the Leader of the Progressive Party, then this Parliament, as it is composed to-day, will only reject it and not accept that constitution. What will the country have gained by it? It is ridiculous to suggest the holding of a National Convention. It sounds nice, but it is meaningless. Hence the fact that the hon. member for Constantia (Mr. Waterson) was not prepared to reply to the question as to how that Convention should be constituted. He said: “No, first concede the principle of a convention and then we can talk about how it should be constituted. He realized that everybody could then see how impracticable that suggestion was. But the over-hasty hon. member for Wynberg (Mr. Russell) did not hesitate to say what he wanted. He asked for a mixed convention, a multiracial convention, and one in which not only politicians should be represented. He is of course afraid that there will then be a majority of Nationalists.
Did you not say that Parliament was sovereign and that a convention would only be advisory?
Then my reply to the hon. member is: What would be the use of it then? No. He only wants to postpone the establishment of the republic in the hope that in the meantime other things will happen. What he suggests is that we should get a number of ministers of religion, a number of lawyers, a number of traders and a number of doctors and members of other professions to meet, with a number of Coloureds and Natives thrown in, and that they should then talk it over and report the outcome to Parliament. Parliament, as everybody knows, would then be unable to accept the proposals! It is ridiculous to convene a convention on that basis and with such obvious results. Surely it is quite inconceivable that anything will be achieved along those lines, except continued discord. No, when there is a festering sore anywhere—and at the moment there is a festering sore on the body of South Africa— the surgeon must open it up immediately; he cannot wait until more serious complications develop. We are not prepared therefore to accept this idea just to cause complications and difficulties.
I want to conclude by pointing out that we have a clear choice before us. We are faced with a choice as to the type of republic we want. It is perfectly clear what the Government wants. It accepts a republic which is based on our developmental history, and that is a republic within which there will be a Parliament made up of Whites, which will then try to solve the colour issues in accordance with the well-known, well-publicized, methods of the Government. The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, on the other hand —the Progressive Party goes even further— also wants something which is perfectly clear. He wants a multi-racial Parliament eventually and he wants a constitution which will make provision for that. Let me refer briefly to his speech at the Lunch Club in Cape Town, as reported on 31 January of this year, where he very clearly stated the United Party’s policy in relation to the Bantu. He said—
In other words, he wants the reserves to be represented in this Parliament. He then goes on to say—
He then refers to the Asiatics and says—
Here we have a very clear exposition of his standpoint. He wants a Parliament in which the Whites are represented by their representatives, in which the reserve managements will be represented by Bantu, I take it—in due course at any rate …
I did not say that.
Very well, perhaps by Whites to start with. But here I must add that he stated—
I take it therefore that he means that at this stage the representation must be group representation, and later on when they come on to the Common Roll, I take it that it will no longer be “group representation”, that then their representatives will be Black and White, whoever may be elected.
I never said that.
I admit that the hon. member did not say it but I hope he will admit that that follows from what he said. In any case I am prepared to confine my remarks to “this stage”. At this stage he wants the Whites represented by Whites in Parliament, the reserves represented in Parliament by Whites, I take it; the urban Natives represented in Parliament by Whites, I take it; the Coloureds represented as a group, by Whites, I take it, but perhaps he has an alternative; perhaps he wants Coloureds there.
And then he also wants the Asiatics represented in this Parliament as a group, represented by Whites. I do not know how long his morality argument is going to deter him from allowing Asiatics to be represented here by Asiatics. I do not know how long his morality argument is going to deter him from allowing the urban Bantu, as in the case of the Coloureds, to be represented by Bantu, and I do not know how long, in the long run, he will be able to resist the pressure that will be exerted that he should allow the Bantu reserves to be represented by Bantu. Once you have conceded the principle that you are morally obliged to allow a certain group of the population to be represented by members of their own group and they are on a Common Roll …
Is that why you were so afraid of Coloured Representatives?
Yes. I am very pleased that I have now made the United Party realize that once you start, then the rest must follow. There are two lines of development, two roads that can be followed. Both of these roads are moral but there is no sort of half morality applicable to any one of these two roads. My attitude therefore is that I do not want to follow a constitutional trend in respect of one colour group that will inevitably lead to all the other steps unless I am prepared to apply a dual sort of morality.
There was talk of complete separation at first.
No, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition must not try to run away from my argument now. I am dealing at the moment with political apartheid, because I am dealing here with a constitution. I am dealing here with what I say is going to be his attitude in the republic, as it has been stated here clearly. This is apparently the attitude which the United Party adopts to-day: It wants a multi-racial Parliament. In that Parliament at least all the races must be represented, and I say here now that later on the United Party will then have to give them all representation through members of their own race. I say that the Leader of the Opposition will not be able to get away from that. The only point that I want to make in advancing this argument is this: When we vote in connection with this constitution and the United Party votes against it, it will be voting against it because it wants to substitute for it what it claims to be the type of constitution in which it believes—for the republic as well—and that type of constitution is one which makes provision for multi-racialism. It is perfectly clear to us now, therefore, what our differences are. In the first place he does not want a republic, inter alia because he is in favour of a monarchy, but he does not want this particular type of republic either because he is in favour of a multi-racial Parliament. He desires a multi-racial constitution for a multiracial people. In that regard we are poles apart, and it is as well that South Africa should know it at this stage. The choice of the future, the struggle of the future, once the republic has been established, will be what our colour policy should be, inter alia in the political sphere. Let us realize, therefore, that that is the reason why it is impossible to effect a compromise between the parties, and it is for that reason also that we cannot give the entrenchments that they want. These are nothing but political tricks in an attempt, in an indirect way, to extract from us something that we are opposed to and that they favour.
What becomes of national unity then?
Political unity is impossible. The way in which we vote and choose here to-day will make two things clear to the people of South Africa, the one being that even at this late stage the United Party is still trying to withhold the republic from South Africa, and secondly that the United Party is trying to withhold from South Africa a Constitution which gives the White man security and all the other groups their own opportunities, because the United Party wants a common fatherland with a mixed Parliament for a mixed nation.
Question put: That all the words after “That”, proposed to be omitted, stand part of the motion,
Upon which the House divided:
(Sitting). Mr. Speaker, may I draw your attention to the fact that an hon. member on the other side called out “no”. Will you ask him to vote on this side? May I mention the gentleman’s name? I refer to the hon. member for North-West Rand (Mr. J. C. B. Schoeman).
Order! Did the hon. member call out “no”?
Mr. Speaker, as far as I know I was in full possession of my senses and I emphatically deny that.
The House divided:
Tellers: W. H. Faurie and J. von S. von Moltke.
Tellers: H. C. de Kock and A. Hopewell.
Question affirmed and the amendments dropped.
Motion accordingly agreed to and Bill read a second time.
Resolution to be transmitted by Message to the Hon. the Senate.
Mr. SPEAKER read the following Message:
The House of Assembly begs to acquaint the Hon. the Senate that it has appointed a Select Committee of 10 members, of whom 5 shall form a quorum, acting in conjunction with a Committee of the Hon. the Senate as a Joint Committee, to inquire into and report upon the Constitution Bill [A.B. 1—’61]; that the Chairman of the Joint Committee shall, besides his vote as a member, have a casting vote in case of an equality of votes; and that it be an instruction to the Committee to bring up its Report not later than Friday, 24 March.
The House of Assembly requests that the Hon. the Senate will be pleased to appoint a Select Committee with similar powers to serve with the members of the House of Assembly.
Message approved of and ordered to be conveyed to the Senate by the Clerk of the House.
Mr. SPEAKER announced that the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders had appointed Mr. Eglin to serve on the Select Committee on Public Accounts in the place of Dr. Wilson, who resigned as a Member of the House of Assembly.
Mr. SPEAKER communicated the following Message from the Hon. the Senate:
Bill read a first time.
Mr. SPEAKER communicated the following Message from the Hon. the Senate:
Bill read a first time.
Orders of the Day Nos. II and III stood over until Order of the Day No. IV had been disposed of.
Fourth Order read: Second reading,—Vyfhoek Management Amendment Bill.
Mr. Speaker, this is a small and innocent little Bill. The Vyfhoek irrigation scheme was established in 1935 and there is a big piece of land which is owned jointly by persons who have already received transfer of their property. Fifty morgen of land was held back from that land which they own jointly in case it was needed for an airport. That piece of land, however, is not required for an airport to-day and will probably never be required for that purpose. New irrigations works have now been established and this 50 morgen of land and certain areas of the land which is jointly owned can now be used for irrigation purposes. The joint owners are now desirous of dividing the new piece of land which will come under irrigation, and which belongs to them, amongst themselves so as to enlarge their individual holdings. The purpose of this Bill is to transfer these 50 morgen to them so that they can divide it amongst themselves. The State does not require it for any purpose whatsoever.
Mr. Speaker, even an Opposition which is as vigilant as this one in the public interest, is not able to find in this Bill any ulterior political motive and we shall support the Bill.
This piece of land falls within my constituency, Potchefstroom, and there is nothing contentious about it. The board which has control over this piece of land requested the Government to do this. The Minister was kind enough to give it preference and this Bill is the successful result of the good work he has done and the service which he has rendered the farmers in the constituency of Potchefstroom.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Second Order read: House to go into Committee on Perishable Agricultural Produce Sales Bill.
House in Committee:
On Clause 14,
I wish to move the following amendment—
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 15,
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
Remaining Clauses and Title of the Bill put and agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Amendments in Clauses 14 and 15 put and agreed to and the Bill, as amended, adopted.
More than two members having objected,
Bill to be read a third time on 10 February.
Third Order read: Adjourned debate on Motion for Second Reading,—Mental Disorders Amendment Bill, to be resumed.
[Debate on Motion by the Minister of Health, adjourned on 8 February, resumed.]
Mr. Speaker, when the House adjourned last night I was saying that we on this side of the House welcome this great step forward, but I want to repeat that although it is a great advance I have to point out to the hon. the Minister that in order to carry out this step he is faced with formidable and almost insuperable difficulties, if he is to implement all that it entails and all that he pictured in his opening speech. The hon. the Minister of Health has a grave responsibility, and amongst the heaviest responsibilities is that of caring for the mentally ill. I welcome this move; it is the first positive move for 14 years. But it is not enough. Much depends on follow-through, and we will watch this with great interest.
The hon. the Minister claims that this will have the effect of almost getting rid of the overcrowding of the hospitals. Sir, this will have very little effect. It is a terrible indictment on the mental health services of this country that there is a queue waiting to get into the hospitals, and it will take years, even with this advance, to overtake the backlog. Proof of the waiting list is to be found in the number of patients who are detained in gaols. I read from the report of the Commissioner of Mental Hygiene for 1958, which is the last one available. He says—
There is a grave shortage, as I have said, of staff. There were 20,426 patients in mental hospitals in this country at the date of this report. There are, in theory, 67 doctors to look after them, an average of 300 patients per doctor. And, of these, 16 are temporary and there are 5 vacancies. In other words, the number, when you take into consideration the administrative work that they have to carry out, is something in the region of 400 patients per doctor. And all of them are ill. But that is not the only work these men are expected to do. If you read this report, you will see the extra-mural work which they are expected to do and which they carry out. I will take one hospital, Weskoppies. They are expected to attend to the Mental Health Society Clinic, the Voortrekker-hoogte Military Hospital; the Sonderwater Work Colony; the School clinics; the Police College; the gaol and the Central Prison; the Irene Home; the St. Joseph’s Training School, Johannesburg.
Order! I am anxious to allow a very wide discussion on this subject, but are those not matters that could best be handled under the Vote of the hon. the Minister?
Well, Sir, with all due respect, the hon. the Minister made a speech last night in which he painted such a rosy picture of what he was going to do that I was trying to point out some of the difficulties. Unless he appreciates them I do not think his dream is going to be realized. However, I will leave that for the moment except to mention if I may, with your permission, that there are eight doctors in this institution who are expected to do all the work I have mentioned, and much else besides—the forensic work for the Transvaal. In addition to that, this hospital contains most, if not all, of the criminal lunatics and the long-term lunatics.
As I have said, there is a shortage in the number of doctors. There are 180 vacancies for European nurses. Not only that, but the Minister is going to be faced with the extraordinary difficulty of not having these people in the country. The doctors for this work do not exist. In the whole of South Africa there are only 70 psychiatrists, including his own staff. So much is this causing trouble and anxiety to those who are responsible for medical education that, in a report made to the Medical Council by Professors Elliott and Snyman, they make this remark—
In other words, not only have we not the doctors to carry out the Minister’s wishes but we also have not the training facilities. I sympathize with the hon. the Minister, he has the greatest difficulty, but he must make some effort, as has been pointed out to him before.
The Minister says that he is anxious to obtain the patients early. But these patients will not seek, as he seems to suggest, care at the gates of mental hospitals, nor even at the extra-mural mental health clinics. Most do not realize that their illness is mental; many do not appreciate that they are even ill. They seek health at the ordinary hospitals, and in some way the Minister must site his out-patients’ clinics either in the same building or contiguous to the out-patients’ departments at the general hospitals. All patients should walk through the same gate; they can be sorted later. If the Minister wishes to have more and better-trained nurses he should persuade the nursing colleges for general training to incorporate psychiatric training in that training.
Lastly, if the hon. the Minister wishes to have more psychiatrists he should bring pressure to bear on the medical schools. And, in particular, in the case of the non-Europeans, there should be established at the earliest possible moment a department of psychiatric medicine in Durban, because only people who speak the same language and have the same background can give and receive psychiatric treatment.
As I have said, in this Bill the hon. the Minister of Health has taken a great step forward, and I hope that he will not feel that my remarks have been in the nature of harsh and destructive criticism. Rather I wish to point out that we on this side of the House who have some knowledge appreciate and understand his difficulties and his problems. We hope that this is only the first instalment on the road to improved care for the mentally ill. The hon. the Minister has appointed a planning committee to advise him. May I suggest that he put this question of planning before the committee as a top priority.
In conclusion, we welcome this Bill and we hope it is only the first instalment in the coming vision of hope for those who are mentally ill and for their distressed families.
I want to associate myself with the remarks made by previous speakers who pleaded that we should make it easier for the general public to avail themselves of these facilities. We know it is essential that mental patients receive treatment at an early stage. In practice, however, we find it difficult to persuade patients, even in the early stages, to attend mental hospitals as out-patients. Usually they live far away from the institutions. On the Rand, for instance, there is one at Krugersdorp; we have Weskoppies at Pretoria and one at Potchefstroom. To take the patients there for treatment in the morning or in the afternoon, and then to take them back home, a couple of times a week, is out of the question. For that reason I should like to ask the hon. Minister to extend the practice which is in existence in the Transvaal, where they co-operate with the out-patients’ clinics attached to the big hospitals, and where the patients are sent to the nearest general hospital which has a clinic for out-patients. The services of private psychiatrists are then used to treat those cases. By making use of the services of these private practitioners to treat mental patients at an early stage we will be relieving, the full-time psychiatrists attached to mental hospitals of some of their duties. We realize that if the patient gets worse or if he is already in an advanced stage it is better to treat him in a mental hospital. However, I think facilities should be created at general hospitals, not only for the convenience of the public, but also to have more psychiatrists available to treat these people. That is why I wish to associate myself with the remarks made by previous speakers who have asked that this service be placed on a wider basis and that it be brought nearer to the patients and the doctors in the various towns and cities. I believe that is not as yet the practice in the Free State and in the other provinces and I think that even in the case of the Transvaal the facilities can be extended. It will also relieve the position in the mental hospitals to a great extent.
Mr. Speaker, I should like to commend all the hon. members who took part in this debate for the high standard maintained and for the valuable suggestions made. Allow me to reply to just a few of them. The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg City) (Colonel Shearer) and also the hon. member for Rosettenville (Dr. Fisher) suggested that we should also have out-patient branches at Provincial hospitals. I think we are all in agreement on this point. I think it is very essential; I think we realize, if we wish to combat this disease, we have to combat it at the incipient stage and it is only possible to do so if we could make it as easy as possible for mental patients to be treated. They are accustomed to being treated in a general hospital. There is no stigma attached in going to an ordinary hospital, and the result is that we will be able to serve them best if we could have out-patient branches at Provincial general hospitals. But, Mr. Speaker, you will recall that two years ago I expressed it as my conviction that this is desirable, and I am glad to be able to say that we have already been taking steps to see whether we can promote this new idea. There is, however, this difficulty that the Provincial hospitals do not fall under our jurisdiction. They fall under the jurisdiction of the provinces, and all we can do is to try to persuade them. There is, however, a council which is known as the Hospitals Co-ordinating Council. On that council the Minister of Health is officially the chairman. The council consists of representatives of the Union Department of Health and also representatives of the various provinces of which the latter are mostly represented by members of their Executive Committees.
Business suspended at 6.30 p.m. and resumed at 8.5 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, when the debate was adjourned I was saying that after discussions the Council agreed to establish psychiatric wards in Provincial hospitals to deal with borderline cases. Let me inform the House that we already have such wards at the Johannesburg General Hospital, Benoni, Krugersdorp and Pretoria. Hon. members will appreciate therefore that we have already progressed far on that road. The hon. member for Rosettenville (Dr. Fisher) went further and asked the Minister to take over these out-patient departments from the local authorities. Unfortunately one can only delegate the power one has, and as the Minister has no power over Provincial hospitals he cannot delegate such powers. I am much in agreement with what the hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (City) (Colonel Shearer) said when he pointed out that there is a stigma attached to a mental hospital and for that reason one would prefer to have one’s out-patient departments at Provincial hospitals. Such an arrangement would certainly be desirable but at the same time I think it is equally important to have out-patient departments at our large mental hospitals. The reason is that research work in connection with the testing of new drugs and methods of treatment can be done only on persons who are seriously afflicted and not on borderline cases, because in the borderline cases the condition may fluctuate as in the case of the temperature of a sick person. In a borderline case the condition may fluctuate from normal to abnormal, and in such a case it is very difficult to establish whether the drug or treatment administered is responsible for improvement. All our research work will therefore have to be continued at the big national institutions. I appreciate that for a certain time there will still be a stigma attached to these hospitals, but I am sure that in the course of time that stigma will gradually disappear.
*I notice that the hon. member for Houghton (Mrs. Suzman) is not in the House, but she said that the hospitals were overcrowded. Unfortunately she put the position in a somewhat bad light and she exaggerated when she said that there was over-crowding to a large extent, both as far as the Whites and the non-Whites were concerned. It is certainly not true in the case of Whites; as far as they are concerned the position has improved so much that there is room for everybody; in the case of non-Whites however, we do still have overcrowding. You should bear in mind, Sir, that when we talk about over-crowding we use as yardstick the standard applicable in the case of Whites, which is a high standard. Some people go so far as to say that it is too high, but the standard applicable in so far as overcrowding in the case of Whites is concerned is not the same as the standard applicable in the case of the Bantu. According to the standard of over-crowding in the case of the Bantu there is not such over-crowding as suggested. However, I do not say that there is not room for improvement. We are trying our utmost to improve the position. A new big mental hospital is being erected at Stikland at the moment at a cost of £2,500,000 and we hope that it will be completed next year. That alone will bring great relief. Last year we also investigated the possibility of erecting one or more mental institutions for chronic patients in the Native areas and of then moving the chronic cases to these areas. I am expecting the report shortly, when further steps will be considered. At the same time we should not lose sight of the fact that these out-patient departments which are to be established at the mental institutions, and those which already exist at Provincial hospitals, will materially affect the position. I am not as optimistic as the hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (City) who said that in Holland their clinics, with their standard, had brought about a 40 per cent decrease in the number of patients. I am not saying that they will have the same effect in this country, but I do agree that they will have some effect.
I hope therefore that in the course of the next year or so we will be able to see a big improvement in the position in so far as overcrowding is concerned. The hon. member for Durban (Central) (Dr. Radford) touched on one of the most important aspects of this problem. Unfortunately he is quite correct. There is a tremendous shortage of staff in South Africa, particularly of psychiatrists and specialists. It is not due to the fact that we cannot find sufficient psychiatrists for our services. It is not due to our institutions or to the work they have to do in those institutions. It is due to the general shortage of such people in South Africa. The unfortunate part about this problem was also touched upon by the hon. member when he pointed out that our difficulties are aggravated by the fact that our training facilities are so limited, and because of that it means that we cannot go faster than the speed at which we can train specialists for our mental hospitals. May I remind the House again of what the hon. member for Durban (Central) told us, that at the end of 1959 we had only a little over 70 psychiatrists. The question is how to tackle the problem. We have discussed the matter and our latest step has been to obtain the consent of the Public Service Commission to create ten posts of clinical assistance for our institutions, three at Sterkfontein, four at Valkenburg and three at Weskoppies. The incumbants of these posts will undergo training to qualify as psychiatrists on the condition that for every year’s training they will have to serve the State for another year. We hope that from these trainees that we are now able to get we will be able to rely on their assistance for at least six years, and I am sure that once they are in the service of the State they will find it so attractive that we will be able to retain the services of most of them. It is unfortunate that this should be the position, but unfortunately this is the best we can do at present. I hope that by so doing we will be able to overcome our great difficulties.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Fifth Order read; House to go into Committee on Workmen’s Compensation Amendment Bill.
House in Committee:
On Clause 24,
When the second-reading debate took place, I raised the question of the position of widows who are at present qualified to and are receiving pension rights under the main Act. I asked the Minister whether or not he could provide for an increase in the benefits to be made available to the widows in terms of the present Act. The Minister indicated that that was not possible. I also indicated that there was going to be a lot of discontent over the anomaly that will arise when once this Bill is promulgated. Over the radio this morning, when the news was given of the parliamentary proceedings yesterday, the announcement was made that the Minister was amending the Workmen’s Compensation Act and that in terms of the amendment widows would receive an increase in pensions. If that were true, I would be quite happy, but it will not be the case. It is only the widows of the future who will benefit. I want to appeal to the Minister to reconsider this position carefully. The proviso in this clause says that these benefits will not apply to accidents which occurred prior to the date fixed. It is quite clear from that that the present beneficiaries under the fund will not get any improvements in their pensions. So we will have this anomaly that if a workman is killed two days before this Bill is promulgated, his widow, if she qualifies for a pension, and has the necessary number of children, can get a maximum pension of £33 per month, and, if two days after the promulgation of the Act, the workman is killed his widow will get £45. Now I consider that to be a very unsatisfactory feature. I want to point out to the Minister that, as far as other sections of the community are concerned, those who receive pensions from the Railway Administration and old age pensions, they have from time to time been given a bonus to assist them because of the increased cost of living. But these particular pensioners receive nothing of that kind at all and it seems to me that the Minister should have considered the plight of the pensioners and given them the benefit of the increase as well, and that is my plea to him. It is not often that we have an opportunity of debating this particular Bill, although this Act has been amended more frequently than perhaps any other legislation, but the position is quite clear to me. I received a telegram this afternoon from one who qualified for a pension six months ago because of the death of her husband and she asked how much increase she could expect. In terms of this Bill I must reply that she can get nothing at all. She was grossly misled by the radio communication this morning, no doubt, and I think she was quite entitled to think that she was going to get some benefits from this Bill, because it is hard to explain to any widow that her position is such that future accidents, where loss of life occurs, will entitle the widow to a better pension than the one she receives at present. It is that principle I am appealing to the Minister about. It is not easy to move an amendment at this stage, but I have one here which I intend to move so that we will have the position quite clear, and it will put the issue to the Minister in such a way that he will be able to reply to it and give the reasons why it is not possible to support the amendment, or else to say that he will support it. The amendment reads as follows—
- (a) the provisions of Sections 4, 5, 14, 15 and 23 shall not apply in respect of accidents that occurred prior to the date so fixed; and
- (b) the provisions of paragraphs (a) and (d) of Section 6 and Sections 16 and 17 (except the provisions relative to lump-sum payments) shall apply in respect of accidents that occurred prior to the date so fixed.
I am not suggesting that the widows who receive pensions under the present Act should also receive the benefit of the increased lump-sum payment, but I am suggesting that from the day this Act is promulgated all those widows who are in receipt of pensions should get the benefits of the increases provided for in this Bill. I think that is a reasonable request and I hope the Minister will give it favourable consideration. I am quite sure that he will have the support not only of this side of the House but of the majority of members on his own side, so it is a worthwhile proposition I am putting to him.
I am sorry that I cannot accept the hon. member’s amendment, as it involves extra expenditure requiring the Governor-General’s recommendation.
Mr. Chairman, although you cannot accept the amendment, may I reply to the plea made by the hon. member? The point he raised is one with which we all have great sympathy. Unfortunately, it is not financially possible to do as he requests, but apart from that there is the liability placed on employers by this Bill which will result in additional expenditure amounting to about £1,000,000 per annum and one has, therefore, to be reasonable, although one has all the sympathy in the world with these widows. The fact is that we have placed this liability of £1,000,000 on the employers, and if I do what the hon. member wants we will have to pay for widows in respect of accidents since 1943, and I think you can visualize what that will amount to.
What will it amount to?
It has not been calculated, but our financial experts estimate that it will be quite a big amount, which we cannot expect the employers to carry because we feel that we have taxed them, as it may be put, by an additional £1,000,000. The hon. member can raise that point again when the Vote comes up for discussion.
Mr. Chairman, I should like to support the contention advanced by the hon. member for Umhlatuzana (Mr. Eaton). According to the Auditor-General’s report, the financial position of this fund at the end of 1959 was strong. There was a very large balance in the fund, so the financial aspect is not really as important as the hon. the Deputy Minister has emphasized.
But there is another point. In these cases it is always desirable to find a precedent if possible, and I think there is a very good precedent. Hon. members may remember that during the First World War we had a scale of military pensions. They were paid out from 1918, for more than 20 years. During the Second World War a new plan was introduced and the pensions were raised; in some cases pensions were doubled. What was the position of the pensioner from the first war? Was he excluded? Did the Government say that the new pensions would be for the men disabled in the second war? No, they said that the veterans of the first war could also get the increases. What my hon. friend is asking the Minister is this: that he will say that the widow who lost her husband last year will receive an increase from the date of the promulgation of this Act. Is that reasonable? If a man is killed at work a week after this Act comes into operation, his widow and children will receive the increased benefits, but if he happens to have been killed a week before she will not receive them. I think that is unreasonable and I hope that the Deputy Minister will ask the Minister to introduce an appropriate amendment at the Report Stage.
The hon. member has referred to war pensions, but we must remember that those pensions are paid out of Government funds, whereas these pensions are paid out of the employers’ funds and not Government funds. We only administer it and see to it that it is run in the proper way. That is the fundamental difference between the two. I am afraid that, with all the sympathy I have, nothing more can be done than is provided in this Bill.
The Deputy Minister has indicated that he is full of sympathy for the cause and he has suggested that we raise this matter under the Labour Vote. We shall do so, but I want to suggest to the Deputy Minister that he has the opportunity before we get to the Labour Vote of convincing the Minister of Labour and his colleagues that provision should be made in the Budget to pay these increased pensions to the widows. It will then come out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund. I feel that the Minister of Labour was remiss in not making provision in this Bill for what we are asking for now, because he must know of the difficulties facing those who are deprived of their breadwinner. I have had the experience of trying to assist in claims where the breadwinner has lost his life, and the loss of income is approximately two-thirds if the full benefits are paid to the widow with three or four children, as compared with the income they enjoyed when the husband was alive. The provisions of this Bill amount to an additional £12 per month and that is a tremendous amount of money to these widows. I hope that the Deputy Minister, in view of the sympathy he has, will make provision for this position to be met through the Consolidated Revenue Fund by way of a bonus payment or something like that.
I think the hon. member expects too much. The widow is paid according to the contributions of the deceased husband and to ask the Government to make a contribution from the Exchequer will create a very dangerous precedent which will affect all future increases in the allowances paid to people. Once you have created he precedent you cannot depart from it again.
Is there an increase in contributions in this Bill?
Yes, to the employers. I think it would create a very dangerous precedent.
Mr. Chairman, I wish to support what was said by the hon. member for Umhlatuzana (Mr. Eaton) and also point out to the Deputy Minister that we did raise this matter under the Labour Vote last year and the Minister gave us the assurance that the Workmen’s Compensation Act would be amended this Session, and therefore it is a great disappointment to us to find that this provision in the Bill does not affect the widows in respect of the amount of benefits they are now receiving.
Mr. Chairman, what makes the position even more difficult than normally is that the Deputy Minister and the Government have accepted the fact that the present widows are under considerable strain, by making improvements for widows in future, and it seems only reasonable to me that the Government should accept the responsibility and make provision for them out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Surely the Minister knows …
The hon. member must confine himself to Clause 24.
The Minister knows there is no other opportunity of raising the matter, because if we raise it under the Vote and ask for additional funds Mr. Speaker will rule it out of order. This is therefore the appropriate place to make the suggestion, that administrative consideration should be given to these widows.
Clause, as printed, put and, after discussion, agreed to.
The Title of the Bill having been agreed to,
Bill reported without amendment.
Bill to be read a third time on 10 February.
Sixth Order read: Second reading,—South African Reserve Bank Amendment Bill.
Mr. Speaker, the main object of this Bill is to make the Reserve Bank Act applicable to South West Africa. Whilst this amendment is being made, we also take the opportunity to rectify a few other minor matters in the main Act, matters in regard to which there is some legal doubt, and matters which, because of changed circumstances, have to be included.
The portion of the Bill dealing with the application of the Act to South West Africa is contained in Clauses 1, 2, 3, 6 and 8 of the Bill. Clause 8 refers to the general application of the Act to South West Africa and the others are consequential to that application. Clause 1 deals with the insertion in the list of definitions of the words “‘territory’ means the territory of South West Africa” and “‘Union’ includes the territory”. The existing Act provides that members of the House of Assembly cannot be members of the Board of Directors of the Reserve Bank. Clause 2 provides for the same provision in the case of members of the Legislative Assembly of South West. In the main Act it is provided that commercial banks are allowed to subtract from any supplementary requirements in regard to their reserves which might be applied from time to time, any net increase, after a prescribed date, in the aggregate amount of its holdings of Union Treasury bills or of its holdings of bills issued by it and its advances granted to the Land and Agricultural Bank of South Africa. Now in terms of Clause 3, this same position is provided for in the case of the Land and Agricultural Bank of South West Africa. Clause 3 (b) provides for the possibility—a very vague possibility—that one of these commercial banks may establish their head office in South West Africa. You know, Mr. Speaker, that if the Reserve Bank deems an increase in the additional reserves necessary, it must be done by way of notice in the Government Gazette. But the Government Gazette in South West Africa only appears once a month and not once a week as is the case in the Union, and the bank concerned may then be prejudiced by receiving the necessary notice too late. We are now providing in this clause that in such a case notice may be given to a bank, the head office of which is in South West Africa, by way of registered letter, on or before the date on which the notice appears in the Government Gazette in South Africa.
As the principal Act provided that the Reserve Bank had to accept liability for the bank notes issued in South West Africa by the various commercial banks and which were in circulation in that territory, on the date that the Reserve Bank obtained the sole right to issue notes in that territory, Clause 6 of this Bill now makes the necessary provision in that regard. The consequential details will have to be settled later, but here we are simply making the necessary provision.
These are all clauses which only deal with the main object of this Bill, namely to apply the Reserve Bank Act to South West Africa. Then there are one or two other provisions which I just want to discuss briefly. Clause 4 is important. You know, Mr. Speaker, that it is normal in South Africa for the State’s revenue to be subject to seasonal fluctuations. There are times when the State is drawing large sums from the private sector through its tax collections. And this will always be the position until we have a system whereby income tax collections are spread more evenly over the whole year. The fact that money is being withdrawn from the private sector must inevitably have an influence on the liquidity of the banks— the amount of credit which they can provide. Another factor which also has an effect in this respect, is variations in the balance of payments. During the period when our balance of payments is increasing, the liquidity of the banks is also at its highest level. But when the balance of payments remains static or declines, the liquidity of the banks declines as well. Normally the two balance one another, because at the time when the Treasury is withdrawing money by way of taxation and thus reducing the level of liquidity, that is precisely when the balance of payments is running in our favour and increasing the level of liquidity. But that is not always so. In some cases it happens that these two phenomena are present during the same period, as was the case in 1960. During the period September to December we normally expect the balance of payments to increase, but what we actually had during those three months was the normal trend as regards the withdrawal of funds from the private sector for the payment of taxation. The result was that the banks got into difficulties, they did not have sufficient liquid funds to provide the credit requirements of the other financial institutions, and if the State through the Reserve Bank had not assisted them by way of advances—I think we assisted them to the tune of £15,000,000 during the months of October to November—there would actually have been a shortage of liquid funds.
The provisions of the new Section 8ter are in reality just the reverse of those of Section 8bis. In Section 8bis we have already made provision that if the banks have an unduly high level of liquid funds available, which creates the danger that they will provide too much credit and thereby further inflation, the Reserve Bank is entitled to require them to maintain additional reserves; over and above the normal 10 per cent the Reserve Bank after 30 days’ notice can require the banks to maintain additional reserves up to a maximum of 10 per cent. But no provision is made for the reverse position. We have made provision for when the banks have unduly large liquid resources at their disposal, but we are now providing for those cases when the banks have too little liquid funds. In this Bill the Reserve Bank is given the right to reduce that 10 per cent but to not less than 6 per cent, so that the banks can increase their liquid resources until circumstances again become normal. This provision therefore supplements Section 8bis. We can almost say it is Section 8bis in reverse.
This clause has been inserted at the request of the banks because they feel that it is very essential that they should have this right and because it is not always possible to advance funds to the Bank by the other method so that they can have the necessary liquid funds at their disposal. We are also convinced, in view to the development which is taking place on the local money market, that this will only be a temporary position, and that 6 per cent will be adequate seen purely from the point of view of protecting the bank’s depositors. As I say, this is a temporary measure and as soon as the position is restored, as soon as there is an improvement in the balance of trade, or when the period during which funds are withdrawn from the private sector comes to an end, we can then discontinue applying this method.
Clause 5 contains a new provision. This provision merely removes a legal doubt regarding what has hitherto always been the policy of the Reserve Bank. Section 9 of the principal Act provides what the bank may not do. At the end of the list we find the following in para. (i): “May not invest in securities of the Union Government an amount exceeding a certain amount.” This means that the bank may not subscribe to a Government loan, whether it is a new loan or a loan replacing another loan. It may not subscribe to such loans and invest money above the prescribed amount in that way. This has never been interpreted as restricting the Reserve Bank in any way in its normal open market transactions, transactions which in recent years have begun to assume very important proportions. Our legal advice is also that this is the correct interpretation and this is how the Reserve Bank has interpreted it in the past. To interpret this provision in any other way would seriously restrict the overall effectiveness of the Reserve Bank as one of the controllers of our credit system. But to put the matter beyond all legal doubt, we are now replacing the words “invest in securities of the Union Government” by the words “holding stocks of the Union Government which have been acquired directly from the Treasury by subscription to new issues, the conversion of existing issues or otherwise This will not restrict the Reserve Bank in any way as far as the purchase of ordinary State securities on the open market is concerned but it means that it cannot make an investment by way of a loan or a converted loan involving any amount greater than that specified here.
The last new provision is contained in Clause 7. Clause 7 amends Section 17 of the principal Act. Inter alia it contains these words “… which can be regarded as gold reserves of the Reserve Bank in our weekly statements.” And it also contains these words: “Gold which is in its possession or gold in transit.” But since 1959 when we gave the Reserve Bank the right to sell gold bullion—the larger or the smaller bars of gold—it has been found essential and very convenient to leave part of the gold holdings of the Bank at the refinery, namely the Rand Refinery Ltd., so that if gold bullion is sold they do not have to go to the head office of the Reserve Bank so as to transport it from that point, but it can immediately be obtained from the refinery where it is simply refined. But strictly speaking that is not quite correct because the intention of the Act is that the only gold which can be regarded as gold reserves, is gold which is at the Mint or which is in transit. Section 17 (2) of the principal Act reads as follows—
Now we are just adding: Gold belonging to the Reserve Bank which is either at the South African Mint or at the Rand Refinery Ltd. or in transit. By so doing we are bringing the Act into line with our practice, a practice which has become necessary since giving the Reserve Bank the right to sell gold bullion.
These are all the provisions of this Bill, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, we will not oppose the second reading of this Bill and we appreciate the lengthy explanation which the Minister has given us.
I think at the same time, however, that it is advisable to pinpoint certain observations which the Minister has made. While we agree with the remarks he has made in regard to the desirability of establishing a branch of the Reserve Bank in South West Africa, I want to refer particularly to Clause 4 of the Bill where the Minister indicates that in terms of this Clause, he proposes to take power which will allow him to reduce the present minimum of 10 per cent of demand deposits so as to provide additional facilities to enable the commercial banks to inject credit into the private sector. I would draw the Minister’s attention to an article which appeared recently in the Financial Mail which reads—
Now, Mr. Speaker, this is an admission by the Minister that money is tight and there is nothing in this section to show that this is only going to be a temporary measure as the Minister suggested in his explanation. The Minister suggested that this would be a temporary reduction and unlikely to be permanent.
What is temporary is not the measure but the Bill itself. Just as the additional reserves are temporary so this will be temporary too and it will go back to 10 per cent.
I understood the Minister to say that it was temporary to bring it down to 6 per cent. But there is no guarantee, Mr. Speaker, that it will not stay at 6 per cent. There is one bank in particular which has been very near the border line of 10 per cent for a considerable time and I would like to ask the Minister whether all the commercial banks asked for this or whether it was only one or two who asked for this additional facility. I would also like the hon. the Minister to tell us in his reply how much additional money will be injected into the private sector as a result of this amendment of the Act which gives the bank these additional powers of injecting this further amount into the private sector?
I think the Minister will remember the debate on the original Banking Bill and he will remember in 1942 when that Bill was debated in this House, that the Opposition—and the Minister was a member of the Opposition then —very keenly debated the Banking Bill and pointed out the necessity for making adequate provision to secure, as it was put at that time, the safety of the people’s money. The original Section 14 of the Act was amended in 1959 and we did not object to it then. Discretion was allowed in regard to the investment of 10 per cent. Sub-clause (2) of Section 14 of the original Act widens the proviso with regard to the investments of the commercial banks and this Bill before us now provides for the lowering of that 10 per cent to 6 per cent; that is an indication of the tightness of money and an indication that unless we watch the position carefully, the safety of the people’s credit can be assailed. Mr. Speaker, if the Minister queries that, might we ask him: Why 6 per cent, why not 7 per cent, why not 5 per cent? What reason is there that it should be fixed at 6 per cent? If in 1942 the Minister, when he was a member of the Opposition, and others, were satisfied that 10 per cent was the safety margin, what factors have been introduced since then, what official information has come to the knowledge of the Minister, which persuaded him that 10 per cent was wrong then and that 6 per cent is right now?
I think the Minister should give us some indication what the reason is. We will know that there is a tightness of money and when we are asked to give the Reserve Bank the right to take a lower percentage than that which has obtained since 1942, I think we are entitled to more information than that given by the Minister to us to-night.
I am sorry to say but I do not think the hon. member who has just sat down has grasped what this whole matter is all about. He knows himself that the very purpose of a central bank in any country is to regulate the finances of that country, to exercise control, particularly over the commercials banks and to ensure that everything goes well. As the hon. the Minister has said, you have conditions in every country, even in South Africa, under which money is more liquid from time to time and less liquid at other times, or to put it differently, times when you notice signs of greater prosperity and times when you see signs of less prosperity, a condition which may eventually develop into a recession.
It is precisely under those conditions that it is the duty of a central bank to intervene and to adjust the position. If it thinks that money is getting too tight, the central bank must provide relief so that credit facilities will be more readily available. On the other hand, if it looks as though money is getting too plentiful, the central bank should intervene and tighten up the position. There are two ways of doing this. The one is the method mentioned by the hon. the Minister—to go into reverse gear. The other is for the banks to pay over 10 per cent of their reserves to the Reserve Bank.
With the last amendments to the Reserve Bank Act, provision was made whereby, if money became too plentify, if it looked as though there was too much prosperity and credit was too easily available, the Reserve Bank had the right to call up 2 per cent more than 10 per cent every month. Instead of calling up 10 per cent the first month, it could call up 12 per cent and it could go on like that up to a maximum of 20 per cent. On that occasion the Reserve Bank did not exceed an additional 6 per cent where the position became easier and it was then left at that. That is the procedure when credit is too easily available. But we have the opposite position which the Minister explained so clearly, namely where there is too little credit. When it appears that money is scarce, the Reserve Bank should also have the power to inject the position; it should have he power to ease the position so that credit facilities will be more readily available. The Reserve Bank should be able to create greater or lesser credit facilities not only in any one specific instance, but at any time in the future. Whereas the previous amendment dealt with the curtailment of credit facilities, this Bill is aimed at injecting the position so that more credit facilities will be available, if conditions demand it.
Last year, for instance, credit facilities were certainly not as easily available as one would have liked them to be and I do think that if the Reserve Bank had had the power to do so it would have said: “No, it is no longer necessary to pay the full 10 per cent to the Reserve Bank; you may pay less. It is not necessary that the reserves in the Reserve Bank be as high as that.” The banks would consequently have had more money available to meet the credit demands. That, Mr. Speaker, is a very sound principle. Every country wants to see its finances within the fiscal of that country, namely the Reserve Bank so that the necessary steps may be taken to apply the brake when credit facilities are too easily available and to release it when credit facilities are less easily available.
Then I should just like to mention something in passing; it does not really belong here but I hope the Minister will give it his attention at sometime or other. It is true, Mr. Speaker, that this is a very sound principle as far as banks are concerned, but banks are not the only institutions that provide credit facilities. The banks provide less than 50 per cent of the credit facilities taken up by the general public and because of that I think, it will be wise on the part of the Minister to exercise the same control over other institutions which offer credit facilities, such as building societies for instance. In order to attain the object which this Bill envisages, and to make it work 100 per cent effectively, it would be a good thing if other financial institutions were also controlled in this way. I know it cannot be done in this Bill but I shall be pleased if the Minister will think about it and perhaps come forward with something similar at some later stage as far as the other financial institutions are concerned. I do not doubt for one moment that this is a sound principle and it gives me pleasure to support the Minister.
Mr. Speaker, we agree with the hon. member for Hercules (Dr. A. I. Malan) on the operation of this clause, but that is not the point which the hon. member for Pinetown (Mr. Hopewell) has raised. I am sure that the country as well as this House, will regret having heard from the Minister that the banks were in difficulty last year. We have a section of the Act which controls this reserve and the amount is fixed at 10 per cent. For years that has operated very satisfactorily. The country and financial circles will want to know what necessity there is for a change and what the financial position of the country is. I personally have very great confidence in the finances of this country, but this suggestion that we must reduce this reserve from 10 per cent to 6 per cent—that it may be necessary to do it when it was not even contemplated in the past—is not something that reflects well on the great credit of South Africa. That is what we are most concerned about. I agree with the hon. member for Hercules on the operation. I know the Minister of Finance is doing his best in difficult circumstances but I am afraid it will not create confidence to say that we may reduce it to 6 per cent. Because he may come along later and say “the position is now becoming desperate, I am going to reduce it to 2 per cent”. That is what we are very concerned about, those of us who have confidence in the country, who have money invested here, not only South Africans but investors from overseas. They are the investors to whom the Minister made such an eloquent appeal this week. In order to obtain that confidence, which he is anxious to obtain and we are anxious to obtain, I think we should leave it at 10 per cent.
Mr. Speaker, the way hon. members who have spoken, have taken this up, shows that I have not made myself very clear. Or perhaps I should ascribe it to their lack of understanding of Afrikaans. [Interjections.] Well, I give you an alternative; I say it is one of the two— you can have your choice.
I think my record at the Exchequer will show that I will never dream of doing anything to endanger the confidence in the credit of South Africa. This suggestion comes from the Reserve Bank. The hon. member for Pinetown (Mr. Hopewell) asked why 10 per cent was sufficient in 1942. In 1942 we did not have any provision for increasing the 10 per cent, when circumstances demanded it, it came later on. There was no provision then to deviate from the 10 per cent, 10 per cent was the fixed rule—never less never more. Section 8bis was introduced afterwards because it was realized that if there was too much liquidity in the country that would be an incentive to inflation and we could not afford that. In 1958 we applied the provision of 8bis. We raised it gradually from 10 per cent to 12 per cent, to 14 per cent, to 16 per cent. In November 1958 we gave 30 days’ notice that it would be brought back to 10 per cent. This clause is not of a temporary nature in the sense that it is being introduced into the principal Act to have effect until the end of this year; it becomes part of the principal Act, just as Section 8bis is part of the principal Act. But action in terms of this Clause is of a temporary nature. This very clause contemplates that it can be withdrawn. Section 8ter (1) (b) says—
That is the notice that they have reduced it. They can withdraw it after 30 days’ notice. So the whole idea inherent in this is that it is a temporary measure to meet a temporary lack of liquidity in the banks. It is not only the banks that experience this lack of liquidity, but all the financial institutions suffer because they also are unable to satisfy the credit demands of the country. Now the hon. member asks why if 10 per cent was sufficient in 1942, if that was considered a reasonable safety margin for the banks, should we now have another basis of safety margin. The hon. member forgets that in 1942 we did not have such a thing as a money market in this country, and that since 1942 the Reserve Bank itself has had a lot of experience. I can read what the alternative is if we do not give the Reserve Bank the powers, what they have had to do and what they will have to do again, and why they are asking for this provision. There is something much more dangerous and that is the creation of credit unnecessarily. This is what they say—
They have got to sell their Treasury bills because they have not got the money for their credit requirements—
What they have got to do there is that they can still meet the position, but as the article in the Financial Mail says, it must be done by roundabout ways, and sometimes not the soundest financial ways. What we are doing now, and that is stated very clearly here, is to obviate that. The Reserve Bank has assured me that they are convinced—
That is only a recent development—
Now this is the Reserve Bank and it is at their request that I am introducing this. I cannot blame the hon. member because I put the very same point to them, but I hope that just as I was prepared to be led by people who know much more about it than I do. he will also accept their assurance. I asked them whether it was safe, because I am not going to endanger the deposits of depositors at the banks. They gave me this assurance. The position has changed considerably as a result of the development in the money market here. It is not so static as it was in 1942, and we still keep that level but we simply say that if circumstances demand it, they can go above the 10 per cent in order to check any tendency towards inflation, and if circumstances demand it, they can go below that, with a very fair safety margin of 6 per cent, namely when they want to prevent all the dislocation that would follow if there is not sufficient credit available at our commercial banks. That is the position. There is no mystery about it. It does not apply to any particular bank. Even now with the 10 per cent, many of the banks hold much more than 10 per cent, but if it is reduced to 9 per cent or 8 per cent or 7 per cent, if the demand is there, it does not mean that all of them automatically will go down to that point, but they can’t go below 6 per cent. Many of them will probably still keep up the 10 per cent. And as soon as the position is righted, as soon as the liquidity of the commercial banks rises again, then we can restore it. We can simply in terms of this Bill withdraw the notice, but we have to give the banks 30 days’ notice. I can assure the hon. members that I went very carefully into this and that is what the Governor of the Reserve Bank assures me. I can’t go and pit my knowledge against his, when he gives me the assurance that this does not affect the safety of the deposits by the depositors. I hope hon. members will also accept that assurance, as I have done.
*The hon. member for Hercules (Dr. A. I. Malan) has said that this position which has arisen in the case of the Reserve Bank and the dangers which exist if ordinary banks do not provide sufficient security to their depositors, may also arise in the case of other deposit-receiving institutions. I just want to tell him that I have already considered the matter and have given instructions for the appointment of a technical committee to go into this whole matter because I intend introducing a consolidated Banking Act next year When we introduced the Banking Act in 1942 conditions were really quite different. Just to give one example of how conditions have changed, I want to mention that in 1942 we had four types of credit institutions, namely, people’s banks, loan banks, deposit-receiving institutions and commercial banks. Over the years only two additional people’s banks and loan banks have been established, but the third category, namely, that of deposit-receiving institutions, is now really bursting at the seams. We have a very great number of them. We have now appointed this technical committee consisting of two representatives of the Reserve Bank, Mr. Rissik and Dr. Gerhard de Kock, and three representatives of the Department of Finance, namely, Mr. Roelf de Villiers, Registrar of Financial Institutions. and Messrs. Pretorius and Ferreira. This committee will now, as a technical committee, investigate i.a. the matter which the hon. member has raised, and they will notify all the other commercial banks and institutions so that they can submit representations to the committee. They have very wide terms of reference with a view to the consolidation and amendment of the Banking Act next year. We want to modernize the Banking Act. Circumstances which were still applicable in 1942 are now becoming obsolete and the legislation must be amended, just as this particular provision must be amended.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time; House to go into Committee on the Bill on 10 February.
Seventh Order read: Second reading,—Banking Amendment Bill.
This is a Bill which is still shorter than the previous one because it has only one main object, namely, to make the Banking Act applicable to South West Africa. Hon. members know that the position is that all our legislation, such as the legislation relating to insurance, building societies and pension funds, mutual aid societies, as well as the decimalization legislation, have been made applicable to South West Africa. We are now doing the same in the case of the Banking Act. Hitherto banking in that territory has been controlled by the 1930 Banking Proclamation of the territory itself. The South West Administration, the Office for Financial Institutions and the Treasury are agreed that the provisions of this proclamation are obsolete and should be replaced by those of the Banking Act which hon. members know has at least been amended regularly to meet changing circumstances. It will, moreover, be still further amended next year. Clauses 1 (a) and (b) merely extend the definition of “Union” to include the territory in the normal way. Clause 2 (1) makes the principal Act applicable to South West Africa while sub-section (2) provides that, for the purpose of the application of these provisions, references in the principal Act to the Companies Act, the Insolvency Act, the Registrar of Companies and certain other officials as well as the Land Bank, must be construed as a reference to the corresponding institutions in the territory after the commencement of the principal Act. The existing Section 52 (4) of the Banking Act will impose a prohibition in South West Africa, just as it does in the Union, on anyone other than a banking institution applying to himself a name or description in which the word “bank” or any derivative thereof occurs. These clauses provide that if an existing company changes its name in consequence of the application of the provisions of the section to which I have referred, any deeds which have to be changed as a result, will be changed free of charge. These provisions are all consequential upon the application of this legislation to South West Africa.
The hon. Minister has told us that the idea in this Bill is to extend the Banking Act to South West Africa, and he also told us that, in introducing this Bill, he has the concurrence of the South West Administration. If that is the case we have no objection on this side of the House.
As the only member for South West Africa present in the House to-night, I should just like to express my thanks for and my pleasure at the fact that South West Africa is now being brought under the Banking Act. I have known that area since 1926 and what I find welcome about the Bill is the fact that from now on we shall gradually cease to have a multiplicity of currencies in South West Africa. When I arrived there in 1926 our Natives did not understand what a shilling and a sixpence were. They said “Ein Mark Fünfzig”. I myself was the manager of a Native shop. At that time we had Barclays Bank notes, Standard Bank notes and Reserve Bank notes, and in recent years we have also had Volkskas notes. Four types of notes. If we go back to the Middle Ages we shall find …
Yes, but the Bill does not go back to the Middle Ages.
Yes, Mr. Speaker, but during the Middle Ages we had various currencies which the nations had to exchange with one another. Our difficulty in South West Africa was the following: One went to the Union and one took a pocketful of notes, but only one type, namely, the Reserve Bank notes, was known in the Union; the three others were unknown. We had the greatest difficulty in exchanging those notes in South Africa. I myself have had the experience that the young lady first had to approach her manager and the manager had to phone the bank manager, who then told him: “Take as many as you can.” The inclusion of South West Africa under this legislation will save us a great deal of trouble, and I am not only referring to tourists to the Union, but also to our contract Natives who come from other areas and who really cannot understand three, four, and five types of notes or currencies. For that reason, on behalf of South West Africa, I want to express my sincere thanks for the inclusion of our territory under the Banking Act.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time; House to go into Committee on the Bill on 10 February.
Eighth Order read: Second reading,—Coloured Persons Communal Reserves Bill.
Mr. Speaker, this is a very simple and short measure, which really only deals with the administration of a certain area. The Coloured Settlements Act of 1930 made provision for the establishment of such areas. Thus far only one area of this type has been established, namely, an area situated plus-minus 200 miles north-east of Upington along the South West border, an area known as Mier. The size of this area is about 430,000 morgen and the principal type of farming there is stock farming. There are about 90 families living there. We have found that the 1930 Act is not really suitable for the administration of an area of this kind. What we now propose is that this area should be brought under the Mission Stations and Communal Reserves Act, as amended two years ago. This will enable us to apply the benefits of that Act to this area as well, and we also propose that the 1930 Act in this connection should be repealed because it serves no purpose. It is far better to manage this area of 430,000 morgen together with and in the same way as the remaining areas which already fall under the Mission Stations and Communal Reserves Act. This will facilitate the administration, and improvements can then be made in a more uniform way. What I have in mind, when I speak of improvements, is that a good deal will have to be done in connection with the provision of water supplies, and that at some stage villages will also have to be established. This area is lying altogether fallow, water supplies are poor, and the only way to manage it effectively and to increase its carrying capacity for the people who live there is to apply the Mission Stations and Communal Reserves Act. The whole position amounts to this, therefore, that we want to remove this area from the administration of an unsuitable Act and place it under the administration of an Act which was passed unanimously by this Parliament and which is already producing good results in the various areas.
The United Party has no objection to the second reading of this Bill. I may say, Sir, that as Secretary for Native Affairs in my day I had a good deal to do with the administration of these reserves and there is no doubt about it that the effect of this Bill will be to bring the administration of the Mier Settlement into line with that applied to the communal reserves established under the Cape Mission Stations and Communal Reserves Act of 1909, as amended from time to time. The change, I think, not only brings about uniformity in administration and procedure, but, as the Minister has pointed out, it will enable funds to be made available for development and improvement of the reserve in terms of Act No. 32 of 1959, which hitherto has not been applicable there. I should like to ask the hon. Minister whether he has carried out any investigation with a view to ascertaining what can be done in the way of improving the economic and social conditions of the families living there and whether he has any programme in mind for carrying out the betterment schemes that are contemplated by the 1959 Act. I should also like to ask him whether it is his intention to give individual tenure to these people. Under Section 5 of Act No. 3 of 1930 under which this reserve is at present administered, the right of occupation is purely personal, but Section 26 of the 1909 Cape Act makes provision for the granting of individual tenure. The granting of individual tenure to people living under such circumstances may not be desirable, but it is a matter that I think should receive the attention of the Minister. In conclusion may I also draw attention to the confusion that exists in the legislation relating to these Coloured reserves. Numerous amendments have been introduced from time to time and it is very difficult indeed to gain a clear picture of the law without laborious study of a number of Acts of Parliament. In this connection too it is important to note that in terms of Section 16 of Act No. 12 of 1949, the provisions of the Cape Act of 1909, as amended, and the regulations made thereunder, have actually been extended to all the provinces of the Union. The House will, I am sure, appreciate how difficult it is for people in other provinces, outside the Cape, to have ready access to this old Cape legislation. The Cape Acts themselves, the Acts of 1909, are out of print and copies are not procurable, and how people outside the Cape can be expected to find out what is required of the inhabitants of these Coloured areas is impossible to contemplate. I hope the hon. the Minister will take steps to consolidate these measures and put them on a proper footing. Subject to those remarks, we support the second reading of this Bill.
I can tell the hon. member that the idea is to place the inhabitants of this area, at their own request, under the administration of other legislation so that it can be declared a betterment area. The moment that is done we can help them under the schemes laid down in the 1909 Act, as amended, so that their water conservation can be put on a better footing and, as I have just said, we can also help them with fencing and then we can put up camps so as to regulate their grazing better for them. That is what we have in mind mainly: water conservation and improvement of the pastures.
As the hon. member knows the Act provides for ownership, that is the 1909 Act, as amended, and the intention is to start with the small towns in these areas in this connection. We have to allow them to acquire this land in these towns so as to enable them to borrow money from the National Housing Commission for the improvement of the towns.
We also intend consolidating these measures next year. We are working on it now.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time; House to go into Committee on the Bill on 10 February.
The House adjourned at