House of Assembly: Vol106 - WEDNESDAY 1 MARCH 1961
Mr. SPEAKER took the Chair at 2.20 p.m.
Before calling upon the Minister of Transport to move the next motion of which he has given notice, I wish to remind hon. members that on the motion for the House to go into Committee on the Estimates of Additional Expenditure, as well as on later stages, debate must be confined to the subjects contained in the Estimates and the reasons for the increase of expenditure. Discussion should not re-open the question of policy involved in the original grant.
Mr. Speaker, hon. members will have noticed from the Second Estimates of Additional Expenditure to be defrayed from revenue funds, which have already been tabled, that provision has been made for additional expenditure amounting to R362,816 to be incurred during the current financial year. Savings are, however, anticipated and in consequence no additional funds will require to be voted. The original Estimates provided for an amount of R410,230,400, but, together with the First Additional Estimates presented to Parliament during May last year and the Additional Estimates now to be voted, the total comes to R410,632,366. As indicated in the printed Estimates, savings to the extent of R5,500,966 are anticipated, bringing the total revised Estimates to R405,131,400.
The increase of R196,114 under Head No. 24 (Interest on Capital—Harbours) is due mainly to recoveries from new construction work in respect of harbour assets used on such work being less than anticipated, and increased interest charges as a result of cranes for Port Elizabeth harbour having been delivered during the current financial year instead of during 1961-2.
In regard to Head No. 29 (Interest on Capital—Airways), the position is that during the financial year 1959-60 the actual Loan Fund drawings exceeded the amount provided for and in consequence the interest charges for the current financial year are higher than anticipated when the original Estimates were prepared.
The amount of R36,048 reflected under Head No. 30 (Miscellaneous Expenditure, Net Revenue Account, Airways) is made up of R10,094 in respect of increased cost-of-living allowance payments resulting from changes in Airways personnel and an amount of R25,954 mainly in respect of trade claims against the former German Reich. The facts in connection with the latter item are, briefly, that certain Junkers aircraft as well as locomotive spares were ordered from Germany before the outbreak of the last war, but not delivered. Since the war the matter was followed up through diplomatic channels, but the claims in this respect had ultimately to be abandoned in consequence of legal and other indications consequent upon the occupation of Germany. The outstanding amount has accordingly been written off as a charge to Bad Debts and Sundry Items.
In regard to Capital and Betterment Estimates, provision has been made in the Second Estimates of Additional Expenditure on Capital and Betterment Works for an amount of R5,679,650, which requires to be appropriated to meet expenditure under various heads. It will not be necessary, however, to obtain additional loan funds to meet this expenditure, as sufficient savings are available for this purpose.
The additional amount of R4,383,000 reflected under Head No. 2 (New Works on Open Lines) is required mainly to cover belated debits on works originally anticipated to be completed by the end of the previous financial year and items authorized for the Unforeseen Works Vote, when it was too late to make financial provision in the original Estimates for any expenditure to be incurred during the current financial year. I should like to deal briefly with some of the more important items included under this head.
In order to facilitate the even flow of traffic from the Postmasburg line, it became necessary to make an immediate commencement with the doubling of the line between Beaconsfield and Spytfontein, as well as the avoiding line between Kamfersdam and Beaconsfield, and to put in hand certain alterations and additions to the marshalling yard at Beaconsfield. An amount of R1,021,500 will be spent on these works during the current year. An amount of £864,000 is required for financing the construction of a concrete slab deck over the new passenger station at Cape Town arising from representations by the Cape Town Foreshore Board and the City Council. This amount is recoverable from the authorities mentioned. Consequent upon a decision of the Department of Water Affairs to construct a dam in the vicinity of Stomptdrift station, it became necessary to deviate portion of the railway track for approximately six miles on the section Klipplaat-Oudtshoorn in order to locate the formation of the line above maximum flood level. The anticipated expenditure on this work during the present financial year is R90,000 which is recoverable from the Department of Water Affairs. Hon. members are aware of the fact that legislation was passed last session for the establishment of a fund to finance, wholly or in part, the costs involved in the elimination of level crossings. Provision is also made under Head No. 2 for an amount of R140,000 to be expended from the Fund so established on works to be commenced during the current year.
The additional provision under heads 3, 4 and 7, totalling approximately R324,000 arises mainly in respect of the items omitted from the original estimates as it was expected that these items would have been computed by 31 March 1960.
Cranes ordered for Port Elizabeth harbour were delivered earlier than originally anticipated and this is largely responsible for the necessity to include the amount of R461,900 under Head No. 5 (Harbours).
Provision is made for an additional amount of R510,000 under Head No. 8 (Working Capital) for the House Ownership Fund. It was deemed expedient to divert a portion of the funds provided for departmental quarters in the estimates for the current financial year to this Fund in order to assist a greater number of staff to acquire their own properties. In effect, 147 houses at 11 of the larger centres which were to have been provided as departmental quarters, were made available to the staff under the House Ownership Scheme. Parliamentary sanction is now sought to regularize the diversion of the amount involved from the Vote for Departmental Quarters to the House Ownership Fund.
Hon. members will recall that parliamentary sanction was obtained during the last session for the proposed widening of the entrance to the Duncan Dock, Table Bay Harbour, and that provision was made for the amount of R300,000 to be financed from Loan Funds during the current year. This expenditure can now be met from savings under other heads of the 1960-I programme and there is, therefore, no necessity to obtain additional loans funds for this purpose. A special clause to regularize the matter has been included in the Railways and Harbours Additional Appropriation Bill, 1961.
I intend to present the Main Estimates for the ensuing financial year during next week and in the circumstances I trust that the Additional Estimates will not take up too much of the time of the House.
The Minister was kind enough to send over to me a copy of the speech which he has just made, which was most helpful in following what he said. I thank him for the explanations and details on certain items which he has given to this House. Of particular interest is the fact that housing is being properly attended to; that is a most important item in the railwayman’s welfare. Sir, no doubt the hon. members for Port Elizabeth feel that an undue proportion of these Additional Estimates is being allocated to what is, compared with Cape Town, a secondary port of the Union. Perhaps they will have something to say on that matter themselves. I am glad that savings have been found for the development of the Duncan Dock, to widen its entrance. I hope that, as a result of this widening, there will be a partial if not a complete solution to the “range” problem which has always worried shipping people and created hazards in this most important harbour.
Look out for the “Natal Stand”.
Order! That matter is not under discussion now.
I know, Sir, you will not permit us to widen the debate, but I hope the Minister will sufficiently widen the mouth of the Duncan Dock. You will excuse my enthusiasm for that particular subject, Mr. Speaker.
The Minister is asking for an Additional Vote of R5,500,000 on Capital and Betterment Works and an appropriation of some R360,000 from Revenue Funds. Although he has given us a fairly detailed explanation, and although it is not customary to range far and wide in this debate, I must remark on an unusual and a noteworthy feature of these Second Estimates of Additional Expenditure. I refer to the so-called “savings”, both available and not available, to meet excess expenditure. They total some R40,000,000. Keeping in mind the so-called “savings” and knowing that the Minister may well receive an unbudgeted surplus of some R20,000,000 on this year’s workings, one realizes that he is making no gracious or, to use his own words, “considerable concessions to railwaymen” when he announces at long last that they are to get the well-deserved reward for their sweat and hard labour by way of fully consolidated cost-of-living allowances, which will bring increased pension rights, too. These are not “concessions” as you, Mr. Speaker, being an old railwayman, know only too well. It is what the workers have earned by the sweat of their brow, by their efforts to prune waste and increase efficiency. It is no less than what they are entitled to …
Order! That is not under discussion.
Sir, one would almost think there was a general election in the offing. I know that other occasions will arise very soon on which we shall be able to discuss the proper reward that railwaymen should get in addition to these benefits. The Minister has said, when he has savings, when he has profits, the railwaymen should benefit. I hope he will see that they benefit to the extent they should by way of increased pay and emoluments.
I wish to make a few more general remarks about these Additional Estimates. I will come back to the so-called “savings”. On Revenue Account, under the headings “Savings not required to cover excesses” there is an item of over R2,000,000. Last year under this heading there was no provision whatsoever—it did not have to be made, and in the previous year too—and the amount under that heading was nil. There is also an amount of R2,500,000 for savings on interest and capital. These are called “savings”. I wonder whether they are not really the result of over-provision. Perhaps the Minister can tell us in his reply whether in fact this saving is due to the fact that necessary work could not be completed because the “available capital” was not called upon. Could it be that these so-called “savings” resulted because the necessary capital works could not be completed as a result of a shortage of labour due to the wholesale sacking of people in the economy drive in the last two years? The Minister will, I hope, explain to us more closely than he has already done how he can make a saving of R30,000,000 on capital and a saving of R2,500,000 in interest. Sir, when we turn to the Loan Account, the expenditure on Capital and Betterment Works, we see that the so-called “savings” there total some R30,000,000.
The question of savings is not under consideration at the moment. I have given guidance to hon. members as to what they may discuss and I hope the hon. member will follow my guidance.
I will indeed, but I thought I would be well within my rights in this matter to discuss the principle of savings and how they are arrived at.
No, I have told the House and I have told the hon. member what he can discuss under the various heads. He cannot go beyond that. He will have another opportunity to discuss the matter that he now wishes to raise. He can only discuss the reasons for the additional expenditure.
I would like your guidance on these matters, Sir. There has been under-expenditure on approved items. These two Bills deal with that.
The Bills only deal with additional expenditure, not under-expenditure.
But the Minister in his explanation dealt with under-expenditure; he dealt with savings.
Merely in passing.
Well, I am only really dealing in passing with the same item. I will not go beyond your ruling, Sir, but I want to say that the items described in this Additional Appropriation of Savings are not really savings. They are the result of bad budgeting, of inefficient estimation, of overprovision …
Order! The hon. member must abide by my ruling.
Having made that point sufficiently, I think, I will conclude by saying that the Minister’s explanations have not fully satisfied us. They do not give us all that we want to know in connection with these additional appropriations and we will at the proper time, when we go into Committee, discuss the various headings in greater detail. No doubt other members on both sides will make their contribution to this debate and examine the Minister on the particular headings and items which interest.
The hon. member will have a full opportunity in the course of the Budget debate to obtain all the necessary information in regard to the savings which have been effected both on Capital and Betterment Works and on expenditure from Revenue, and I will be only too pleased to give the hon. member that information because it will be an indication of the continually increasing efficiency of the South African Railways and Harbours.
Motion put and agreed to.
House in Committee:
The Committee has to consider the Second Estimates of Additional Expenditure to be defrayed from Railways and Harbours Revenue Funds during the year ending 31 March 1961 and the Second Estimates of Additional Expenditure on Capital and Betterment Works for the year ending 31 March 1961.
The Committee proceeded to consider the Second Estimates of Additional Expenditure to be defrayed from Railways and Harbours Revenue Funds.
On Head No. 17.—“Miscellaneous Expenditure—Railways”, R15,200.
Sir, this is a new item. I want to refer to Item 534 (a), “Contribution towards research work in connection with sands for foundry purposes” in particular. Here we are being asked to approve of expenditure for research work in relation to the foundries of the Administration, and I wish to discuss certain matters arising from this new item. The hon. the Minister will recall that facilities were placed at the disposal of the Railways and Harbours Select Committee during the last recess to carry out certain inspections at the Kuduspoort workshops, amongst others. There we were shown the work that was proposed in the development of the foundry there, and it was explained to us by the engineer in charge that eventually the policy that the Administration proposed was that certain foundries would disappear and that they would all be centralized at Kuduspoort.
That has nothing to do with this item. This has to do with sand research.
I am dealing with research work in connection with sands. What I want to know from the hon. the Minister is this: Is the reason for the removal of these other foundries the inability to find suitable sand …
May I give the hon. member the information? This will possibly curtail the debate. During 1957 …
On a point of order, there is such a row that we cannot hear a word the Minister is saying.
During 1957 the Administration was approached by the president of the Institute of British Foundrymen (South Africa) with a view to forming a co-operative body to investigate the question of suitable sands for foundry purposes. He asked provisionally for an annual grant for a period of three years. The Administration, however, approver of an annual contribution of R600 for two years, for 1958 and 1959, but the research work into the quality of the sand has nothing to do with the foundry or the building of the foundry. The research work is progressing satisfactorily, and as the final report will be of great value to the Administration, it has been decided to make a further grant of R600, merely for research in regard to the quality of the particular sand to be used in Railway foundries wherever they may be situated.
Head put and agreed to.
On Head No. 24.—"Interest on Capital— Harbours”, R196,114,
I hope the hon. the Minister will inform us on what the additional capital involved was expended because although the hon. gentleman has told us that we will have an opportunity to discuss surpluses at a later date it does seem that here we are spending on the roundabouts what has been made on the swings. In other words this item R196,114 is being used, and the money has seemingly come from savings under Head 14. I hope the hon. the Minister will explain the position.
The additional amount is required to cover increased interest charges occasioned by less interest recoveries due mainly to new works at East London harbour having been opened earlier than anticipated and to meet increased requirements as a result of cranes for Port Elizabeth harbour being delivered during the current financial year instead of 1961-2.
Head put and agreed to.
Head No. 29.—"Interest on Capital—Airways”, R115,454, put and agreed to.
Head No. 30.—"Miscellaneous Expenditure —Airways”, R36,048, put and agreed to.
The Committee proceeded to consider the Second Estimates of Additional Expenditure on Capital and Bettermant Works.
On Head No. I.—“Construction of Railways”, R450,
I wonder if the hon. the Minister will give us some explanation of how the addition has been incurred on Item 2, “Additional amount required R17,964”.
This new connecting line from Newcastle station to a point on the Utrecht line is necessary due to the doubling of the Glencoe-Newcastle line. An additional amount is required to cover expenditure not anticipated when the original estimates were prepared.
May I ask the hon. the Minister for a little more information in connection with this line. In a note under Head 2 the following explanation appears: “Although no additional funds are required, it is necessary to obtain approval to increase the total estimated cost of the work.” Can the Minister tell me whether they are still busy with the construction of that line, or is my information wrong if I am left under the impression that that line has been in use for a long time already?
Yes, it has been built already.
I take it that these replacements of bridges on the Natal system refer mainly to those that were destroyed in the floods last year. Would it be out of order if I complimented the railwaymen on the speed with which they restored the bridges and put the railway line in working order again.
Although there is no item in that regard, I accept the compliment with considerable appreciation.
Head put and agreed to.
On Head No. 2.—"New Works on Open Lines”, R4,383,000,
I refer to Item 119, level crossings, on page 13. This is a new item where the Committee is called upon to vote an additional sum of R22,000 for level crossings. The Committee will recall that a Level Crossings Bill was passed by this House during the last session of Parliament. I would like to know from the Minister whether this money which we are now being called upon to vote here, is to give effect to the first recommendation of the Committee that was set up under this new legislation and, if so, what is the programme that was envisaged.
May I compliment the hon. the Minister on having completely bilingual estimates before us this time. My estimates start in English and end in Afrikaans. What, however, I really want to ask the hon. the Minister is this. In respect of items 15, 16 and 30 where a substantial amount of money is required, there a Governor-General’s special warrant was issued and presumably the work is in progress and the appropriation is now being confirmed. There are two other items to which I wish to direct attention. The one is Item 119 on page 13 when R140,000 is required and the other is Item 136 on page 14 where R864,000 is being appropriated. I would like to ask the Minister whether sums of this magnitude can be expended within the next 30 days. Sir, I draw this comparison with the earlier one because there a Governor-General’s special warrant was issued and the work has been in progress for some time, but here two substantial sums of money are being asked for and there is less than 30 days left within which to apply the money. I would like to know from the Minister whether in practice it will be possible to carry out the work which is being authorized under these items.
While the Minister is considering that question I want to say a few words too about Item 136. The footnote there says that “a portion of this amount is recoverable from outside sources”. The total sum is approximately R3,000,000. Of the additional sum we are being called upon to vote to-day, namely R864,000, can the Minister tell me what proportion is recoverable from outside sources, and also what proportion of the total amount is going to be recovered. Then on Item 119 could he give us some idea as to how the elimination of level crossings is progressing. Is the Act working effectively? If possible, could he also give us some particulars of the list which is referred to here, the level crossings listed by the Permanent Level Crossings Committee and, add to that the order of priority fixed for tackling the work of eliminating level crossings.
The hon. member for Johannesburg (North) (Mr. Plewman) referred to Items 15, 16 and 30. I wonder if the hon. the Minister would give us a fuller account of the reasons why it has been found necessary to double the avoiding line between Kamfersdam and Beaconsfield, and also to extend it to Spytfontein. This avoiding line was built in 1955 for the purpose of by-passing Kimberley. As far as my recollection goes, I believe that within a year or two of the completion of that line further moneys were spent on re-grading the line. Can the Minister tell us why it is now necessary to double the whole of that line and to continue the doubling as far as Spytfontein?
My second question is in connection with Item 153. “Durban Harbour: Reclamation of Swamp Area at Bay Head”, R20,000. Will the total amount allocated, R33,500, provide for the whole of the reclamation of the proposed marine engineering area adjoining the marine engineering ship repair base, or is this only a portion of the area that is designed for ultimate occupation by the engineering industry?
On page 17, Item 177, I find there is an item “Clairwood: Hostel”. The first comment I want to make is that if it is the hostel at Montclair, then I can understand the item.
It is the Montclair hostel; it is the new hostel which has just been completed.
I think the Minister should have this item amended to read “Montclair”. “Clairwood” is misleading. The question I want to put to him is what the reason is for the additional amount of R40,000 which is to be voted. The hostel has been opened for quite a while.
No, I am sorry, this is not the Montclair hostel. This is the Clairwood hostel.
Perhaps the Minister will tell us where this Clairwood hostel is. I know of only one hostel there, and that is at Montclair. I think it is called the Carney hostel.
You cannot have two hostels both costing R678,000.
I think this is the new hostel at Montclair, and if the hon. the Minister can tell us what the additional amount of R40,000 is required for, it might help to solve the problem that we are faced with in regard to the increase.
I would like to direct the hon. Minister’s attention to Item 115 on page 13: “Boughton-Tetelegu: Subway.” An additional amount of R14,762 has to be voted. What is the reason for that additional amount? Then I would also like to direct his attention to the footnote at the bottom of the page, which says “portion of this amount is recoverable from outside sources”. Would he tell the House what those outside sources are?
Before the Minister replies, I should like to come back again to this Item 119, because I would like further enlightenment in connection with the manner in which this item is presented to the Committee for information. The hon. Minister will notice that it says that the estimated total cost was R1,500,000, which is allocated here in terms of Act 41 of 1960. But the Level-Crossings Elimination Fund, which was established in 1960, provides that there shall be equal contributions from the Railways and Harbours Fund, the Consolidated Revenue Fund, and one-third to be paid by the National Road Fund. Here is shown an amount of R1,500,000. Are we to take it that the estimated total cost will be the total contribution of the Administration for this financial year, or is it the total amount that the Administration is going to contribute to the fund as a whole? Is the amount part of the total contribution? I should like to have some information, because we will be called upon in future years to vote sums of money for this particular item, and, unless we know where we stand in respect of the matter, I think we will be very confused on this issue.
The hon. member must confine himself to the item.
Yes, Sir, I am asking the hon. the Minister for an explanation as to how this amount is shown as the “estimated total cost” in terms of the Level-Crossing Act of 1960. We are only called upon now to vote R140,000. Is that considered as a part contribution of the whole of the Administration’s contribution to the fund in terms of the provisions of Act 41 of 1960? Would the hon. the Minister please, in his reply, clarify the position?
Mr. Chairman, I want to refer to Item 127. There is an additional expenditure of R7,044. Would the hon. the Minister tell us how, with the erection of these colour-light signals, there can be such a large additional expenditure. Why was there such an under-estimate of the expenditure?
I would like to draw the attention of the hon. the Minister to Item 21, the doubling of the railway line and the improvement of curves between Mooi-rivier and Estcourt. I was under the impression that the doubling of the line there had already been completed, and I would like to know from the Minister whether there are still curves which have not yet been straightened, but will now be straightened, which would justify this additional amount. I particularly ask this question because, in that section, the doubling of the railway line has already caused the farmers tremendous inconvenience and much loss of land. Will they have to lose more land as the result of the further doubling of the line?
I want to refer to two items which are linked and are intended for the same service, that is Item 213: Improvements to 2,200-volt supply line for automatic signals, Cape Town-Bellville, Salt River-Simonstown and Maitland-Heathfield, on which provision is made for an additional amount of R7,432. The original estimate was R49,400, the expenditure to 31 March 1960 was R37,566 and the revised estimate now is R7,432. And then there is Item 221, again dealing with electrification in respect of the section Cape Town-Simonstown: Replacement of 1,500-volt sub stations at Milnerton, False Bay, Deep River and Glencairn, on which the total estimated cost was R838,200, of which R836,536 was spent up to 31 March 1960, and an additional amount of R2,940 is being asked now. The work apparently must be very near completion, and I want to ask the hon. the Minister whether these additional amounts are sufficient to cover the completion of the work, and whether the hon. the Minister can tell us whether, as a result of this additional expenditure, the Administration now will be in a position of effecting improvements and to speed up the railway service on the southern end of the Peninsula.
I will be grateful if the hon. the Minister could give some further information in regard to Item 150: Durban: Alterations to Local Accountant’s Office, where an additional amount of R5,434 has to be voted. The reason why I am asking for further information is that the new Oswald Pirow Building was only opened in Durban last year, and an amount of over R1,000,000 was spent there, and it will be interesting to know what alterations are now being required so soon after the completion of the new building. Then, under 151: Durban Harbour: Improvement of Electric Lighting, Maydon Wharf, an amount of R3,668, I should like the hon. the Minister to give further information as to what this amount entails, and whether the whole area of Maydon Wharf, which extends for about one and a half miles, will now have sufficient lighting, and whether that will complete the amount that was provided for on the original estimates. May I also refer to the item mentioned by the hon. member for Umhlatuzana, namely the amount of R40,000 under Item 177 in respect of a railway hostel in Durban. Is the provision of this amount for the equipment of the hostel, and has the equipment of the hostel received the attention the Minister promised us it would receive?
May I direct the Minister’s attention to Item No. 201: Cape Western System: Pipeline from Voëlvlei? I take it the hon. the Minister is asking us to spend an additional amount of R11,716 on this pipeline because he is convinced that this is the cheapest, best and most modern method of transporting a liquid commodity from one place to another, and I want to ask him whether he will apply the same criterion to the transport of liquid automotive fuel from Durban to Johannesburg?
Order! That is not under discussion now.
Before the hon. the Minister rises, may I direct his attention to Item 225: Kazerne: Radio Control. The estimated total cost was R17,300 and expenditure up to date is R5,456, and we are asked to vote an additional amount of R4,690. May I ask the hon. the Minister if this additional amount is for the further extension of this system of radio control at Kazeme. The hon. Minister knows that there is considerable satisfaction with the introduction of this system. It seems to have expedited deliveries considerably in the Johannesburg area, and I would be glad if the hon. the Minister could give some further information in this regard.
May I refer to Item 113. I should like to ask the hon. the Minister whether the work undertaken there has already been completed, or whether he anticipates the completion at an early date. I am referring to the overhead road bridge at Grahamstown Road, Port Elizabeth.
Mr. Chairman, I want to direct the Minister’s attention to Item 154: Estcourt: Additions to station building. An additional amount of R3,846 has to be voted. May I ask the hon. the Minister what this amount is for, is it for improvements to the new station building, or for further additions?
The hon. member for Turffontein and several other hon. members want some information in regard to Item 119. As hon. members know, the Railway Administration makes a contribution to the Level-Crossings Elimination Fund from Revenue. Now this amount here has nothing to do with the contribution of the Administration to be voted from Revenue. This is the actual expenditure from that Fund. The Fund receives contributions in terms of the Act from the National Road Fund, the Provinces and from the Railway Administration.
The Department of Railways administers the Fund?
Yes. Consequently Parliament must vote on these Estimates expenditure from that Fund, but the actual contribution to that Fund is made from Revenue, and that is voted by Parliament in the ordinary course of events when the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure come before the House.
The R1,500,000 is the value then of the total Fund, after the contributions of the other two elements? Is the R80,000 the contribution of the Railways?
The R80,000 is the amount that the Railway Administration was allotted for 1960-I, and the total amount in the Fund, after the different contributions have been received, is R1,500,000. Now Parliament has to vote the expenditure of R140,000, the additional amount, for this year.
Mr. DURRANT What is the programme?
If the hon. member puts a question on the Order Paper, I can give him the particulars. I have not got them with me at the moment. The hon. member for Johannesburg (North) (Mr. Plewman) wants information in regard to Item 136: Cape Town: Deck over station platforms. Obviously if the amount is required to be voted for the current financial year, it will be expended. The total amount is recoverable, one-third from the City Council and two-thirds from the Foreshore Board. In other words the Administration is not responsible for any of this expenditure.
The hon. member for Durban (Berea) (Mr. Butcher) wanted to know about Items 15, 16 and 30, that is the Beaconsfield-Spytfontein, doubling of line, and the Kamfersdam-Beaconsfield doubling of avoiding line and alterations and additions to the marshalling yards. Traffic is increasing considerably from the Postmasburg section. The hon. member will recollect that some years ago we doubled from Pauwpan to Belmont to meet the increase in traffic on the Cape main line. That alleviated the position for a certain time, but it was felt that with the increasing manganese traffic, and especially now that the new line is being built from Sishen to Hotazel for the purpose of opening new manganese deposits, and the additional requirements of Iscor which have gone in for a very big extension programme, the line’s capacity is overloaded and that these lines cannot cope with the traffic even offering at the present time. This is only part of the improvements to increase the carrying capacity. We are doubling now to Spytfontein, doubling the avoiding line between Beaconsfield and Kamfersdam, etc. I don’t know whether the hon. member is aware that we also introduced C.T.C. from Postmasburg to Kamfersdam and that will come into operation within the next month or two. But further improvements are contemplated, improvements from Midway to Bank to Potchefstroom, and from Potchefstroom to Klerksdorp and from Klerksdorp to Warrenton. We have to meet the demands of Iscor and a very large additional amount of traffic will have to be conveyed over that line. This is only part of the improvements and there are still further improvements which are being investigated at the present moment and which in due course will be decided upon. The hon. member wanted to know something more about Item 153. This amount is merely to prevent mosquito breeding in the swampy areas. That is why the reclamation is taking place in the bay-head area. It was authorized under the 1959-60 Unforeseen Works Vote, but the work was not completed by 31 March 1960.
Not for the destruction of “(g)nats”?
No, we don’t exterminate “(g)nats”.
The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (City) (Col. Shearer) wanted some information in regard to Item 115. The information is that the Administration bears 70 per cent of the total cost of the elimination of the Sweet Waters Road Level-Crossing. The additional amount is due to increased costs as a result of a landslide. The work was carried out jointly by the Administration and the Pietermaritzburg City Council and could not be completed by 31 March 1960. In regard to Item 177, I am informed that this is the new Montclair Hostel, but this is merely a belated debit payment.
The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District) (Capt. Henwood) wanted information in regard to Item 127: Colour Light Signals. The reason for this increase is that the work could not be completed by 31 March 1960, due to the late delivery of material. Consequently this amount must be voted for the current year.
The hon. member for Drakensberg referred to Item No. 21. Of course the doubling of the Mooi River-Estcourt Line was to meet increased traffic, but the progress there was greater than anticipated.
Is it completed?
Yes, but you usually get belated debits after the work has been completed, and this is one of those debits.
The hon. member for Simonstown wanted information in regard to Item 213. The information is that this amount is necessary to minimize faults in the supply of current to signals and to obviate dislocation of the train service. The work could not be completed by 31 March 1960, due to a shortage of staff. As the work went over into the current financial year, this amount has to be voted. Then in regard to Item 221, the conversion of I,500-volt to 3,000-volt traction supply. It is also belated expenditure.
The hon. member for Durban (Umbilo) (Mr. Oldfield) desires information in regard to Item 115. This work could also not be completed by 31 March 1960. The same applies to Item 151.
The hon. member for Wynberg (Mr. Russell) wanted information in regard to Item 201. The position there is that the present water supply is inadequate, and it is a belated material debit. I am afraid I cannot discuss the matter of pipelines now.
The hon. member for Turffontein referred to Item 225: Kazerne: Radio Control. This is also belated expenditure. The hon. member has rightly said that we have introduced radio control on our cartage vehicles and it has proved to be a boon both to the Railways and the public. Where necessary, we will extend it, but I think we have provided where necessary the cartage vehicles with radio control.
It can be extended where necessary.
It has given considerable satisfaction.
I think the Railways as a whole are giving considerable satisfaction to the public.
The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Mr. Dodds) wanted information in regard to Item 113. This is the Administration’s 60 per cent share of the total cost. It is also a belated material debit.
The hon. member for Drakensberg wanted to know something about Item 154. This is also a belated material debit. It is not new work that is being done now. The work has been done and the debit came in late.
Would the hon. Minister kindly give me some information on two further items here, the one affecting Johannesburg Station and the cafeteria facilities at that station, as reflected by Item 160. A further expenditure is asked here of R3,026. Does this item refer to the non-European cafeteria that is being installed there,. at the South Station building? Which cafeteria does this refer to? Then there is one item that appears rather peculiar, Item 169. It refers to a fruit shelter at Messina. There the estimated total cost was R9,600 and, according to the figures here, expenditure to-day has been R10,144, and we are now being asked to vote an additional R3,200, which makes the cost of the shelter to date some R13,344 as against the original estimate of R9,600. Could the hon. the Minister give us some information in regard to that big jump above the original estimated cost of these works?
In regard to Items 213 and 221, is it estimated that these additional amounts will complete those two items, and will they result in some improvement in the Peninsula service?
We are continually making efforts to improve the service, not only the Peninsula service, but all the services in the country, and any new work will contribute to the efficiency of the service so that an improvement is always something to be welcomed. During the Budget debate I can give the hon. member the necessary information as to what is being done to improve the suburban passenger service. But I am afraid the Chairman will not allow me to give that information now.
The hon. member for Turffontein wanted information in regard to Items 160 and 169. As far as Item 160 is concerned, progress was slower than anticipated. This refers to the cafeteria at South Station building. It is the European cafeteria, not the non-European cafeteria.
These facilities are being highly appreciated by the public.
I must say I appreciate all the kudos that is being handed out. Then in regard to Item 169, the Messina fruit shelter, this is belated expenditure. It very often happens that an estimate is made a considerable time before the work is actually commenced and by the time the work is undertaken, costs have gone up, consequently the costs of a work are often very much higher than at first estimated. Hon. members must not be carried away too much by these astronomical figures in rand. They must divide it by two and then they will find that, when it comes to pounds, these are comparatively small amounts.
In connection with Item 179, I should just like to ask the Minister why this additional amount is required for the building of houses at Kazerne. The total expenditure involved will amount to R351,000. Does this perhaps refer to the Native housing programme of the Railways?
Order! The hon. member may only ask the reasons for the increase.
Here we are also dealing with delayed expenditure. In other words, the money has already been spent and often a debit comes in too late and then provision has to be made for it the next year.
Is it for Native housing?
No, for White housing.
My attention has been drawn to Item 137: Beaufort West: Purchase of School Grounds and Buildings. What is that for? And then Item 146: Humewood Road: Additions to S.A.R. Recreation Club.
In regard to the last-mentioned item, that is a delayed contract payment, which makes this additional amount necessary. In regard to Item 137, that is for the provision of office space which at the moment is insufficient, and it is also a delayed debit for material.
Head put and agreed to.
On Head No. 3—"Rolling Stock”, R241,300,
I want to ask for certain information under this head. There are fourteen items, 227 to 240. The note at the bottom of the page gives part of the explanation, that is that these items exceed the statutory limit of R2,000 and are therefore submitted in terms of the Select Committee Report of 1949. That is the resolution which makes it necessary to obtain parliamentary approval for these over expenditures. If I may stray for a moment, may I say it is a very good sign to find these items are on the Vote in this manner. Amongst these items are Nos. 230 and 234. There are other items of a similar category but possibly the explanation for all of them will be covered by the explanation on these items. My question covers Items 230, 234 and 235. Item 230 provides for 332 official’s coaches of type A.X.B. at an estimated total cost of R6,640,000, of which, up to 31 March, R1,909,840 had been expended. The Minister is now asking for an increase of an additional amount of R36,386. I want to ask the hon. the Minister, as in relation to the total expenditure budgeted for, this amount is relatively small, would he tell this Committee what that amount covers? Does it merely cover provision for the additional expenditure to be incurred during the year 1960 to 1961 or not? In other words, is it only the additional amount for the one year and not the total expenditure figure? How far does this figure go towards meeting the amount voted for the 332 coaches and what has given rise to that expenditure on this particular sub-head?
As I have said, a similar thing occurs in connection with No. 234, 9 vehicles for steamheating of trains worked by diesel locomotives. There is now an amount of R39,000 asked for which again tallies with the amount to be expended in this financial year. How far has the work advanced …
Order, order! The hon. member must confine his questions to the additional amount required.
That is what I am doing, Mr. Chairman.
No, the hon. member is talking about the original amount, the estimated total cost, but that is not under discussion in this Committee.
With respect, Mr. Chairman, I am quoting the additional amount necessary to be voted, in relation to the increased amount now asked for. I am asking the hon. the Minister if he can tell us what is actually covered by the additional amount now asked for. Has there been some revision in the total cost so that with this additional amount it will now cover the item?
On a point of order Mr. Chairman, can the hon. member not ask whether the additional amount is sufficient to complete the operation for which the original amount was quoted?
Order! The hon. member can only ask what the reasons are for the additional amount.
Are the reasons for the additional amount so that the original work can be completed?
Order! That is not under discussion.
Mr. Chairman, may I take a point of order with you?
The ruling given by Mr. Speaker before the commencement of this discussion referred to items on which additional expenditure was required, that additional expenditure being required on items already approved by this House in the original Estimates. We are now dealing with Head No. 3, Items 227 to 240, which items have not yet been sanctioned by this House. In terms of a ruling by the Select Committee, when the Railways spent certain amounts in excess of R2,000, those amounts have to be brought to this Committee for sanction.
They have already been voted in the previous year.
These items therefore come up as new items.
No, they have already been voted in the previous year.
Order, order! Hon. members must confine themselves to the additional amounts.
May I explain to the hon. member. If he will look in column 2, he will see the expenditure to 31 March 1960. All of these amounts were on the Estimates for the year 1959-60, and the original amounts were voted by the House. Now some expenditure has been incurred in the present financial year and this is the additional expenditure required, to be voted for the present financial year. But the original amounts were actually voted in 1959-60.
Mr. Chairman, with respect, what the hon. the Minister has now said is not quite correct. The amounts shown here are expenditure to 31 March 1960, but those amounts are not necessarily expended. For example I refer the hon. the Minister to Item 236 which has been the subject of discussion in the Select Committee only recently. That is coming up in the present Estimates, the question of unauthorized expenditure as items not yet approved. The expenditure for those items has been undertaken by the Railways Administration but the items have not been before this House before under the original Estimates. Surely if there are new items on the Estimates we are entitled to discuss whether that expenditure is justified or not? The fact that it shows expenditure does not mean to say that that expenditure has been approved by the House.
If there are new items, yes.
Mr. Chairman, I might point out to the hon. member that if he will look at the Brown Book he will find that all these items have already been voted by the House, including this particular Item No. 236 to which he referred. That was included in the Unforeseen Works Vote. But the actual items which have been voted in previous years are shown in the previous Brown Books for the years 1959-60 and earlier. All of these items have been voted. All that is required this year is the expenditure in regard to those original items which were voted for the current financial year.
Mr. Chairman, may I draw the attention of the hon. the Minister to Item 236. There was not sufficient money in the Unforeseen Works Vote to do this item. There was no money there. It could not be voted. The money was expended under Unforeseen Works …
But that is not under discussion now.
The point is that no money has been voted for this particular item, none at all. That is why we raised this question. This is the first time we have had an opportunity of discussing this item.
If the hon. the Minister would refer to the Unauthorized Expenditures he will find that in the report of the Controller and Auditor-General there is reference to this item. There was no money available to meet this item.
Order, order! That is not now under discussion. Only the R8,844 is now under discussion, and the hon. member must confine himself to that.
We are now dealing, with respect, Sir, with the additional expenditure to be voted, but latitude is always granted when it is a new item. This is an item which has not yet been before this Committee. That is the point I wish to make.
The position is that this amount was voted out of the Unforeseen Works Vote of 1959-60. The matter can be discussed when the Bill in regard to Unauthorized Expenditure is before the House, if the hon. member wishes to discuss it. But Parliament actually voted the money as a lump sum for Unforeseen Works for 1956-60, and that appears in the Brown Book. All that we can now discuss is the additional amount of R8,844 required to cover the current financial year.
I must ask hon. members now to confine themselves to the additional amounts.
May I please come back to Item 230 under Head No. 3 on page 21 and again ask the hon. the Minister my original question. An additional amount of R36,386 is now being asked for. Does that amount cover the completed job or will there be any further additional estimates still to come? In other words, does the amount we are now being asked to approve cover the completion of the work or is it merely to cover the portion of over-expenditure during the current year?
Order! The hon. member can ask the hon. the Minister what the reasons are for this additional expenditure.
Very well, Sir, I will put it in your terms: Can the hon. the Minister tell me the reason for this over-expenditure and what does it cover?
The progress of the work was greater than anticipated and provision was required for this capital expenditure during the current year. It is quite obvious that further expenditure will be involved. The original amount voted by the House was R6,640,000 and only R1,909,840 has been expended. Obviously the balance has still to be expended. This is the actual amount required for the current financial year, the amount required to be voted.
On Head No. 5.—“Harbours”, R461,900,
Mr. Chairman, I would appreciate it if the hon. the Minister would give us the reason for the increased costs in respect of Item 246. The increase there is almost half as much again as the original estimate. Would the hon. the Minister tell us whether that is on account of increased costs of construction or increased costs of these cranes? Are these cranes imported in their entirety and assembled in the Union or what is the position? And the same question applies to Item 248, the increased costs of the crane at Walvis Bay, although the increase in cost is not as proportionately great as that under Item 246.
I refer to Item 247 on page 23 “Durban Harbour: Special Plant for Maintenance of Harbour Assets”. This is a new item. No provision was made for it in former years. The information here to the effect that it is special plant for the maintenance of harbour assets indicates that this is something quite out of the ordinary. At the bottom of the page, in the footnote, it says “Urgent works to be commenced during the financial year 1960-1. I therefore assume that the work has already been commenced, but there is no indication of what these urgent works are, except that it is special plant for the maintenance of harbour assets. Would the hon. the Minister please tell us what it is all about?
With regard to Item 246, the delivery of the wharf cranes was earlier than expected. That is why the expenditure has occurred in the current financial year. The delivery was expected only in the following financial year.
In regard to Item 248, this work could not be completed by 31 March 1960 due to delays in contract work. That has reference to one 4-ton wharf crane at Walvis Bay Harbour.
On Item 247, the information is that the initial equipment ordered for Wharfs I and 4 at Maydon Wharf, the work is now complete but the plant is to be retained for future maintenance of the work. The plant was taken over from construction work and we have to bring it into capital account.
Head put and agreed to.
On Head No. 7.—"Airways”, R16,900,
Mr. Chairman, this is a completely new item, these estimates to replace seats in DC4 aircraft at a total estimated cost of R60,000. The Committee is now called upon to vote R16,900. It says in the footnote that this amount is required to cover expenditure on work, the progress of which was greater than anticipated.
This raises the whole question of the capacity of these aircraft. Are we to understand that, with the alterations now being made in this type of aircraft, the DC4, it is intended that they should work on the basis of an increased passenger load, and that further use is to be made of this type of aircraft? In view of the fact that this is a completely new item opening up the whole question of the seating capacity of this type of aircraft, I think that the hon. the Minister should make a statement on the matter, and I trust that he will do so.
The expenditure is required to convert the aircraft to the skycoach configuration. The progress of the work was greater than anticipated, and provision is required for betterment expenditure.
Is that what these aircraft are now going to be used for?
Yes, for skycoaches. That is a good configuration, as the hon. member may know. I do not know whether he has travelled in a skycoach, but there is additional seating.
How many are being converted?
The Skymasters are being converted, and then the DC7Bs are being converted into first and tourist class skycoaches. But the Skymasters will have the skycoach configuration throughout.
I raise the question of this expenditure because, as we understand it, the skycoach services have not in themselves been paying. The question arises as to whether the Committee should approve of such expenditure without a satisfactory explanation from the hon. the Minister as to why these aircraft are being converted for that particular service. This is a completely new item.
Order, order! The question of whether that service is an economic undertaking or not is not under discussion.
But surely, Mr. Chairman, before the Committee can be called upon to approve of an expenditure on the part of the Administration, we are entitled to some explanation from the Minister as to why this particular type of aircraft has to be converted to a skycoach service? That means that they are being converted to virtually tourist seats. These skycoach services have not been paying. …
How does the hon. member know that?
According to the last figures that I saw, they have not been paying, and, if I recall correctly, according to the hon. the Minister’s last Budget statement, they have not been paying. Is it intended that there should be a non-European service with these DC4s? Special services were introduced on a tourist basis for the non-Europeans, with this type of seating, but I think the hon. the Minister should enlarge a little further on this question.
Could the hon. the Minister tell us how many aircraft are involved in this change-over, this re-seating, and is it his intention to carry on with that particular policy?
Sky-coaches were introduced at lower fares and without all the conveniences which our usual aircraft have. The idea was primarily to make our people more airminded; in other words, to bring air travel within the means of people in the lower income groups. I think that this has proved a success, because, once people become airminded, you have more passengers for the other services as well. Even if the skycoach services did not pay initially, I am quite confident in my own mind that eventually they will, because they are becoming more and more popular. I think it is an excellent innovation, and that is why we have extended the skycoach service to include the DC7 with the mixed class; that is, the ordinary economy class and the first class fares. The hon. member must realize that, in order to build up air traffic, the fares must be brought within the means of people who could not otherwise afford to travel by air. I think we are rendering a service to the travelling public by doing this. We are not using all the DC4s; there are still one or two of them on the service to South West Africa, but there are now a number being used as skycoaches in addition to the DC7Bs.
The non-European service is confined to a Dakota service between Johannesburg and Durban. That experiment has proved most disappointing up to the present. We have practically no support for that service, and I am afraid that, if support is not forthcoming, I shall have to withdraw it.
The hon. the Minister did not answer my question. Can he tell us how many aircraft are involved in this expenditure?
I do not know how many aircraft are involved.
Head put and agreed to.
Head No. 8.—“Working Capital”, R510,000, put and agreed to.
Second Estimates of Additional Expenditure to be defrayed from Railways and Harbours Revenue Funds reported, without amendment, and the Second Estimates of Additional Expenditure on Capital and Betterment Works, reported without amendment.
Report considered and the Second Estimates of Additional Expenditure from Railways and Harbours Revenue Funds and the Second Estimates of Additional Expenditure on Capital and Betterment Works adopted.
The MINISTER OF TRANSPORT brought up a Bill to give effect to the Estimates of Additional Expenditure adopted by the House.
By direction of Mr. SPEAKER, the Railways and Harbours Additional Appropriation Bill was read a first time.
Bill to be read a second time on 2 March.
First Order read: Third reading,—Defence Amendment Bill.
In regard to the Bill now before us for its third reading and the consequences that will flow from it, I think I would not be going too far if I say that it is a Bill which will give parliamentary authority not only to extend, but also, in time of peace, for the first time, in the history of the Union, to use the far-reaching and important powers of the Defence Act as now being amended, for the defence of the Union not only against external aggression in time of war but also for the prevention of internal disorders in peace-time. I think one could best sum up the provisions of this Bill by saying that the Bill now before us for its third reading provides the legal authority to permit the Government’s declared policy for the defence organization of South Africa to be used for the prevention or suppression of internal disorder in time of peace.
A direct consequence of this Bill must inevitably be that, having regard to the Union’s maximum capacity in terms of manpower, finance and all the other relevant resources that are necessary for defence purposes, the capacity of the country for efficiently and effectively undertaking the defence of the Union against external aggression would now virtually cease to exist. One of the most important consequences of the Bill now before us would be very largely to subordinate that important aspect of defence policy in order to introduce the principle of, to a large extent, converting the country’s defence organization into an internal security force. I am not discussing the necessity for that action. That has been dealt with in previous debates. But that is a fact that we will have to accept as a result of this Bill. It is no good our refusing to accept that this is a far-reaching consequence of this Bill. Parliament has decided on this and, if adopted in this third reading, we shall be accepting both the context and the consequences of this Bill. As a result of that acceptance and of these new conditions, the entire organization, the training and the equipment of the armed forces for their new responsibilities must be accepted as being widely divergent from its original basis. One can already see the effect of that in the fact, that already the Defence Department has effected the sale of very important portions of armament which would have been necessary had the Defence Force retained its original character with its main function being defence against external aggression. I do not propose to follow that line, but I do think it is necessary for Parliament and the country, in the acceptance of the measure now before us, to understand that that is one of the most important consequences which flow from this piece of legislation. No matter how we may theorize that we can use the Defence Force for both purposes, we have to face the practical reality that this country is not big enough, nor powerful enough, nor wealthy enough, nor possessing sufficient resources to undertake both responsibilities at the same time. To a very large extent, therefore, one will be sacrificed in order to secure the other.
It is true that, in terms of the Defence Act, as amended, we will still have certain striking forces in the air and on the sea, but that is to a limited extent and is not the general position. The amending Bill now before us applies to times of peace the drastic powers of commandeering, control and various other aspects such as control over civilian life and property which, hitherto, have only been applicable under the rigid conditions laid down in the Defence Act. We have eased those restricted conditions and expanded them considerably.
Another important consequence of the Bill before us is that it relaxes and abolishes certain well-established safeguards and controls which formed a basic and fundamental portion of the original Defence Act. We dealt with those changes at considerable length in the Committee Stage and it is not my intention to enlarge on them now. Certain controls hitherto exercised by Parliament through the Governor-General have now been scrapped and the Minister of Defence, as a member of the Cabinet, has been given very extensive powers. It cannot be gainsaid that one of the important consequences of the Bill before this House is to extend fairly widely the military power of control over a number of important features of the every-day civilian life of all racial groups in the country.
Other than these features, the Bill before us will impart into the Defence Force organization a number of administrative powers found to be necessary as a result of experiences gained during the past emergency and in the administration of the Defence Force over the period which has elapsed since the Defence Act was originally passed. This was found particularly necessary under the field conditions which existed during the emergency period. There I think the Bill moves in the right direction. It has introduced practical methods, no doubt advocated by practical and experienced officers. Flaws which existed in the parent Act will now be remedied by the Bill we are asked to pass.
Amongst other provisions is included the streamlining of certain pay procedures. One of the consequences of this Bill—and I think this is the intention—will be to cut down the very lengthy and irritating delays which have sometimes taken place in pay adjustments as a result of what, to some extent, was dual control between the Department of Defence and the Public Service Commission. As a result of the adjustments in this Bill, the intention, and, I believe the effect, will largely be to eliminate that source of irritation and make for smoother working in that Department. That will eliminate the cause of grievance of serving men and also a source of irritation which is not conducive to good morale in the services.
Another important consequence of this Bill is its action to legalize the use of defence transport of various types, air, land or sea, on what has become known as mercy services. This applies generally to the removal of urgent cases and the utilization of the only means of transport available. The Bill now legalizes a practice which has hitherto been accepted as a custom but which incurred a certain amount of delay as a result of the red tape and formality involved. All that has now been eliminated. Therefore in general it is a good move, with the reservation that we have voiced, that we feel that in some cases the Government has gone too far in protecting the State against damages resulting from certain accidents which may occur. We feel that the Bill is a little harsh on individuals who, through no fault of their own, are compelled to use these defence services and may be involved in an accident over which they have no control. But there again, the matter has been debated at length and we are not prepared to labour the point at this stage. It still stands that in certain of these cases, should they arise, we hope that the Minister will give much more sympathetic consideration to it.
In its more military provisions, as apart from the other aspects, the Bill takes long overdue cognizance of the more important role in defence to be played by the commando unit. It completes the stepping up of the commandos, which was carried out some time ago, to lift them on to the same level as the A.C.F. The Bill now provides the next stage by also bringing the commando units when mobilized under the same military discipline as that which applies to the A.C.F. and the Permanent Force. There again I think it is as the result of experience gained during the emergency when it was found that the military control over commando units was very nebulous in many cases. There also it is a step in the right direction and one which will assist in building up amongst the commandos the spirit of service which undoubtedly is there, and can now perhaps be better controlled and directed into channels where it can give the most efficient service.
One of the consequences of the Bill which will meet with widespread approval is the restoration of the position of the Defence Reserve to the position which existed before 1957. There again, it was a matter which was contested by this side rather strongly at the time when certain privileges and status were taken away from the reserves. The original position has largely been restored and the same code will now be applied to them as when they served previously. I think that is something which will redound to the improvement of the force and it will certainly give satisfaction to the experienced men and officers on the reserve who are available for service to the country.
In the earlier stages of the discussion of the Bill, the hon. the Minister asked for co-operation in regard to defence matters and felt that the times we live in warranted it. I merely want to repeat the assurances which this party gave the Minister and his predecessor. It is not only in times of emergency that this party is prepared to regard defence as a national responsibility and give its fullest co-operation, but at any time in the discussion of matters dealing with defence this party has been prepared to give its utmost co-operation in all such matters as we are satisfied are in the interest of the defence and security of the Union, just as we are prepared to oppose any suggestion which we consider is detrimental to our military defence and national security. The Bill before us gives the Minister powers never before held in time of peace. The Bill also contains, as the result of granting those powers, the placing on the Minister of a very heavy responsibility to see that the powers conferred upon him are utilized only when it is imperative for the security of the nation to do so, and even then that they should be utilized most carefully and that every consideration should be given to the effect of their use. It is also an added responsibility on the Minister that he should exercise the greatest discretion in the choice and control of such senior officers to whom it will obviously be necessary for him to delegate certain of the powers granted in this Bill. It is quite obvious that no one man can hope to cope with all these powers, and therefore there will have to be that delegation of authority, but the overall responsibility remains with the Minister, and we ask that the greatest discretion be used. I know it has become almost a parliamentary tradition that in dealing with such widespread power as this, one says: Well, we know that the present Minister will not do such a thing, but we do not know what his successor will do. Well, I do not subscribe to that pious platitude. The Minister is a member of the Cabinet and has to conform to the policy and the decisions taken by the Cabinet. Therefore the Minister is not a free individual in many respects. I say that when we give these responsibilities we are really dealing with the Government, and in making the request that the powers granted under the Bill be used with the greatest discretion, we are passing on that request also to the Government and to a Cabinet which, to put it in the most polite form, has certainly given the country very little confidence that the powers granted to them will not be used foolishly.
A large part of the Bill deals with the Government’s policy to prevent internal disturbance rather than to suppress it after it has occurred, and I think there are few people who would quarrel with that. It is much better to prevent trouble rather than to deal with it after it has occurred. But I want to conclude on this note, and I speak for my party when I say this, that we have gone a long way in the interest of the security of the country to meet the Minister and the Government in agreeing to some of the provisions of the Bill which apply controls that we do not like and which must be used with great discretion. We have done that because we accept the policy that the Government is the ultimate authority on whom the responsibility for the security and safety of the nation must rest. But having said that, I want to say again that the use of power, of guns and weapons, is not the answer to many of the situations which the Bill is providing for. The Minister himself, in the course of the debate, referred on a number of occasions, as his justification for asking for these powers, to the situation which existed in Rhodesia. In passing I would just like to say that the situation there is quite different from ours. The use of the Defence Force in Rhodesia recently was an example to the whole of Africa of the spirit of co-operation. When they were called out they worked in the closest harmony with the African races they were called upon to control, and by so doing they won their confidence. I think that is what we have to aim at, not to break down confidence but to win and restore confidence. The only lasting answer to the problem this Bill deals with is a policy which will restore full mutual confidence in the minds of all the people and do away with the causes which result in the unrest. If we can do that, and if we can restore that confidence and root out the difficulties which create unrest and provide a fertile ground for the agitator to stir up trouble, then without any doubt there will be no necessity to apply some of the more stringent powers contained in the Bill. The Minister also stressed the importance of the time factor in dealing with matters of this kind. We fully agree that the time factor is most important, but just as it is important in helping to prevent unrest, so the time factor is important in getting to a state of affairs in the country which would make it unnecessary for any state of unrest to develop.
The hon. member for Simonstown (Mr. Gay) has pointed out very clearly the effect of the large additional powers being given to the Minister and the Government by this Bill. He has made it quite clear that as the result of these additional powers the whole character of the Defence Force will be changed. As he put it, the Defence Force as a result has not retained its original character, viz. that of a force to resist aggression, but it is now being given powers never before held in time of peace and therefore it has become virtually a supernumerary of the Police Force. That is the effect of this Bill. Those powers are contained in Clauses 16, 17 and 18. Clause 16 deals with commandeering, Clause 17 deals with the taking over of rail services, and Clause 18 deals with the power to remove persons from a certain place and to order them to assemble in a given place. In passing, I would remark that it is curious that the Minister is seeking powers to authorize the Government to assume control over any railway service or air service, without seeking power to take control of the harbour system. Nothing is mentioned in the original section about taking control over the harbour system. It seems to me that the very fact that the original Section 102 is not amended to enable the Government to take over control of the harbour system gives point to the argument of the hon. member for Simonstown that the main purpose of these amendments is not to streamline the Defence Force for purposes of a shooting war against some invading power, but rather to enable the Minister to use the forces for the purpose of maintaining internal order and to deal with any events which might arise; to suppress internal disorder and to deal with whatever other sombre events the Minister may contemplate. I mention the question of harbours because one knows that in the last war the control of harbours became very important from the security point of view. We all remember the injunction not to talk about ships and shipping, and the tight control that was exercised in regard to the movement of ships. Apparently the Minister has not felt it necessary to assume powers to control the harbours. Sir, it is the words “prevention of internal disorder” which cause me concern. Those words have now been imported into the Bill.
May I put a question to you? Why does the hon. member in all his speeches draw such a vast distinction between the existing provision which says “in time of internal disorder” as against “the prevention of disorder”?
I thought I had dealt with this question of prevention. If I have not answered the hon. member, he can put another question to me. But I have been leading up to this very point he has raised. I say it is the words “prevention of internal disorder” which cause me concern, because the principal Act in Section 100 talks about a time of war and internal disorder. Indeed, if one refers to Section 13 of the Act, it will be found that the Permanent Force may be at all times employed on service in the prevention or suppression of internal disorder in the Union. Those are the words used, and Section 28 of the Act places a similar liability on the A.C.F. So the Defence Act of 1957 spoke about the Permanent Force being used for the prevention or suppression of internal disorder. When that Act was passed, we had not as yet endured the difficulties of a statutory period of emergency in South Africa. At that stage we had not experienced in practice what happened during that emergency when, as the Minister knows, there was considerable criticism from the Opposition as to the use or the alleged abuse of powers at that time. It is quite clear that under the existing powers which are conferred on the Minister, if a situation has arisen in which internal order has to be preserved then in my submission we have already reached the stage at which an emergency is there. That disorder should be suppressed is common cause. It is not suggested for a moment by this side of the House that we would like to see chaos prevail.
I would like to see disorder prevented, but I want to know when and at what period does it become necessary to act to prevent disorder in such a manner as to involve the calling out of the Defence Force and the use of these extraordinary powers which the hon. member for Simonstown himself admits have never before been invoked.
In other words, you want things to develop first?
No, but if things have developed to such a stage that it is clear there will be unrest, then the Minister can step in. But he can do that to-day without this Bill. No reasonable citizen of this country is going to criticize the Minister of Defence who, in a moment of emergency, calls out his forces and exercises extraordinary powers if it becomes quite clear that it was necessary to do so for the purpose of maintaining law and order. But if you give these extraordinary powers in advance and say to the Government that they can be exercised, then they have carte blanche; and experience has shown that if you give these powers in advance, those who exercise them are not as cautious in exercising those powers as they might otherwise be if they knew that they had to justify the use of the powers afterwards. The hon. member for Simonstown has said that he discards the argument that we trust this Minister. He said, very rightly, that it is the Government which has to take responsibility, and the hon. member went further and said that it was common cause that the Government does not carry the confidence of the country. That is the very reason why I am anxious about these powers, because whether it is the Minister or not, they are powers given to the Government, a Government which many people in this country believe to be trigger-happy, as the hon. member for Simonstown rightly says, and one which could abuse these powers.
On a point of personal explanation, I never used the phrase “trigger-happy I said they might act foolishly.
I accept that at once. Therefore the hon. member feels that it is not a question of a genial or tolerant Minister, but a question of giving powers to a Government which does not carry the confidence of the country Therefore I want to suggest that as far as any shooting war is concerned, the Minister is completely able to do what is necessary. He has powers to call out the forces under the existing Act. He can do certain things in time of war, which is defined in the Defence Act as meaning any time during which an actual state of war exists or may in the opinion of the Governor-General be anticipated. In other words, if the Minister is dealing with positive aggression from outside, he need not wait for the actual declaration of a state of war, but he can act when in the opinion of the Governor-General war may be anticipated. So he is completely covered as far as external aggression is concerned. But the hon. gentleman has put this question to me: “Do you not know that a cold war is being carried on in the world? Why did you ever pass the Defence Act? Did you expect a war at the time?” Of course I know that there is a cold war which has been going on ever since the end of the last war, and of course I know about the Berlin blockade and what happens in other parts of the world like Formosa, Laos and even at UNO. There a cold war is being carried on, but it is not a shooting war; it is a war of ideologies. In the cold war it is the ballot and not the bullet which counts. The Minister now says he wants to take extraordinary powers to deal with the cold war in time of peace. Sir, if you want to suppress something, then it seems to me that in the cold war it is far better to prevent something than to wait until you have to suppress something. Surely it would be much better if the Government realizes that the best protection for South Africa is not to rely on the suppression of internal disorder which may flow from the cold war, but to take such steps as to ensure that the climate of opinion and conditions in the country are such that the cold war can never penetrate to the masses of the people, particularly the non-Whites who may be affected. That is what should be done. I take up the challenge thrown out by the Minister in regard to the cold war and I say there is a cold war, but that this is not the way to fight it. This is either a policy of unnecessary fear on the part of the Government, or of strong-arm tactics which can so easily be abused by a Government which is intoxicated by power. Of course the cold war may develop into a shooting war. It did so in Korea, but if such a situation arises obviously then there is war and the Minister must have unlimited powers and no one will expect to restrict him from using them. What in fact the Minister is contemplating is an emergency. He is asking in advance for carte blanche. For the very reasons given by the hon. member for Simonstown I feel that it would be dangerous to vote for this third reading. This Bill applies to peace-time the drastic powers of commandeering, etc., which previously obtained only in time of war. The hon. member for Simonstown says it relaxes certain safeguards and controls. The Minister says that the House has voted on this matter and that it is over. Sir, in my view this matter is not over. We have done our best in the earlier stages of the Bill to improve it. In the Committee Stage members of the Opposition moved amendments; attempts were made to improve the Bill, but those attemps were turned down by the Government, not by the Opposition. It is not the Opposition ranks which have refused to remove what one regards as objectionable in the Bill. It is the Government. And in those circumstances the Government must not expect me to give my approval to the third reading of the Bill. I propose to vote against it.
Sir, I do not want to keep the House long. The attitude of this side of the House has been very adequately and capably expressed by the hon. member for Simonstown (Mr. Gay). We are supporting this measure because undoubtedly certain concessions have been made by the Minister. There are certain powers that he is taking about which we had our doubts. We tried to give the necessary protection to the public by putting forward amendments in the Committee stage, but quite clearly the Bill, with the exception of Clause 18 where the Minister seeks powers of evacuation and concentration, does not go very much further;, than to bring about improvements to the original Act that was passed in 1957. I hope you will permit me in the circumstances, Sir, to show in what respect the attitude of this party differs from that of the Progressive Party. While the hon. member for Salt River (Mr. Lawrence) was addressing the House I put a question to him. I asked him to try to distinguish between the words “internal disorder” as used in the original Act and those used in this amending Bill which is the substitution “during operations for the prevention or suppression of internal disorder”. In other words a much narrowed interpretation. The hon. member for Salt River, like other members of the Progressive Party who have dealt with this measure, have run away from this distinction all the time, and the reason is perfectly clear, as I will indicate now. Having evolved a preconceived political plan of creating public opposition to this measure through the newspapers, they got caught up in their own net, and now they have not been able to follow a line which is in accordance with a true interpretation of this Bill, because they had committed themselves publicly in the newspapers, as a politicarstunt, to oppose this measure, and now they have to carry their attitude to its natural conclusion in an attempt to give some basis of logic to the approach that they have adopted throughout these discussions. The hon. member for Salt River has based his entire argument this afternoon on the fact that according to him a new principle is enshrined in this Bill, the principle that the forces of this country—the Citizen Force, the Permanent Force, the Commandos and the Reserves—are for the first time being used for the prevention and suppression of disorders in the country, with far-reaching powers in the hands of the Minister.
That is what the hon. member for Simonstown said.
No, that is what the hon. member said this afternoon.
I was quoting the hon. member for Simonstown.
With respect, Sir, the hon. member for Salt River tried to place an interpretation upon the speech of the hon. member for Simonstown which he never intended. You see, Sir, he has attempted, with his art of supreme advocacy for which the hon. member is well known, to give this colour to the speech of the hon. member for Simonstown. He has attempted to use the eminence of his position as a well-known lawyer to place an interpretation upon words as they stand in the original Act which was never intended at all. I challenge the hon. member and I challenge any member of the Progressive Party to prove that there is any new principle enshrined in this Bill; that the forces of our country may now be used for the purpose of suppressing internal disorder, with wide powers in the hands of the Minister in that regard. I challenge him to prove that this is an entirely new principle. The hon. member for Salt River forgets that in 1957 when the original Act was passed, he voted for Section 13 and he voted for Section 28 of the original Act. And what does it say there? In Section 13 the purposes for which the Permanent Force, just one arm of our forces, may be used, are set out very clearly—
The hon. member for Salt River and other members of the Progressive Party behind him voted for and supported this provision in the original Act and the justification which the hon. member gave to our party at that time when the matter was considered, was that he was a member of General Smuts’ Cabinet who had first introduced this principle during the last war. And now the hon. member views it as a disastrous thing that the Minister is taking these powers.
The hon. member must not put words into my mouth; I do not think I ever discussed this matter. Let the hon. member quote where I said that.
Sir, the hon. member for Salt River now finds that his political manoeuvre is being exploded, so he conveniently forgets what he once supported when he sat on these benches as a member of the United Party.
I supported the Bill but you must not put words into my mouth.
Sir, the hon. member does not only speak in the House. As I recall, he has a great deal to say outside this House on occasions. It is perfectly clear from this that the principle of being able to use the forces of our country for maintaining law and order is not a new principle. It is provided for in the original Act. It is not something new that is being inserted in this Bill, an impression which the hon. member tried to create in the minds of the public in his Press statements before the matter was discussed here. As far as the Citizen Force is concerned, the hon. member for Salt River regards it as a terrible thing that voluntary forces can be used for the suppression of internal disorder. But if he turns to Section 38, which he supported in 1957, he will find …
Quote what I said.
Yes, I will. Sir, if the hon. member, before moving the type of amendment which he moved in the Committee Stage, had given proper consideration to the original Act before adopting the standpoint which he has adopted in the course of these discussions, he would have found that this principle is already enshrined in the Act. Section 28 says clearly that—
And what does paragraph (b) of Section 13 (1) say? It says—
And now we have to hear that the hon. member bases all his arguments on the allegedly wider powers taken in Clauses 16, 17 and 18 of this Bill. Clause 16 merely gives the power to the Minister during operations for the suppression of internal disorder to commandeer materials, as is now stated in terms of Section 100 of the original Act. Clause 17 merely gives the forces, not the Minister, additional powers which are necessary in the suppression of internal disorder to commandeer or take over transportation services. Clause 18 provides for the new power, to which we objected and in regard to which we succeeded in extracting certain concessions from the Minister, introducing certain limitations. However, we were not yet quite satisfied and we showed our disapproval by voting against the clause when it was put in the Committee Stage. But the mere inclusion of that power to evacuate and concentrate people in time of internal disorder is not in itself a factor which entitles any responsible member of this House to vote against this whole measure. In other words, the attitude adopted by the hon. member for Salt River to-day is being adopted by him not with a view to maintaining law and order in our country or with a view to ensuring that our forces can be used in the proper way, in a responsible manner, to preserve law and order, but simply to justify a false political picture, in respect of a comparatively simple measure, that they attempted, for political ends, to create in the minds of the public of South Africa.
Mr. Speaker, as you probably know, I also had objections to some of these clauses. If one now listens to the fuss which was made by the hon. member who has just resumed his seat, one becomes suspicious that there is something which he now wants to rectify because they made certain mistakes. I leave the matter there.
Nobody objects to the Defence Force being used to suppress internal disorder. I think we are all at one there. But the danger lies in using the Defence Forces to prevent internal disorder.
But that is already the law.
If it is already the law, why then should it be inserted here?
I am merely asking for a few additional powers, but that is what the law says to-day. That has been the law for the last few years already.
But why then have this Bill?
Did you read the Bill?
Mr. Speaker, one really sometimes has to feel sorry for those hon. members. My objection is this: I say that there is really only one method by which the Minister can prevent internal disorder by the use of the Defence Force, and that is by an exhibition of superior force, and if he feels that there is a threat of disorder in the country, in this way to deter any person who seeks to incite disorder. But look at the powers he takes here. He takes the power to commandeer the Railways, to compel people to evacuate certain areas, to compel them te assemble in some building …
But I thought your objection was that we were going to use the Defence Force for that.
I say that it is no use calling out the Defence Force in order to prevent internal disorder. If the Minister has to call out the Defence Force, I repeat that a state of emergency already exists. Then it is not a question of preventing a state of emergency; it is a question of suppressing such a state of emergency. The prevention of internal disorder in a multi-racial country like South Africa is something which is no easy task, and I make bold to say that the Defence Force in fact cannot prevent internal disorder. The causes for such disorders are so deep-rooted that the Defence Force cannot deal with them.
But precisely the same applies in connection with war. There are also underlying deep causes for that.
If there is war, there is no question about it; then the Minister must have unlimited powers, but we are dealing here with peace-time. The hon. the Minister wants to try to prevent disorder in peace-time, and he takes powers which will be used in circumstances which practically amount to the fact that a state of emergency already exists. The hon. the Minister thinks that he is doing a good thing, but I repeat that in terms of these clauses he is declaring South Africa actually to be in a permanent state of emergency.
But then it is the 1957 Act which did that.
If it has already been done, why then have this Bill? I want to repeat what I said the other day: This sort of thing is going to give the outside world a completely wrong impression of what the actual position is in this country. I do not believe that, whilst we have other means at our disposal, we should declare a disguised state of emergency in terms of these powers. I again say that if the Defence Force is called out there is already a state of emergency, and then we should have the right to tell the world that there is a state of emergency in South Africa and that the Defence Forces have been called out for that reason, but to call out the Defence Forces and to pretend that no state of emergency exists gives the outside world, and also our own people, a false impression.
I want to comment very briefly on the somewhat strange intrusion into the debate of the hon. member for Turffontein (Mr. Durrant). I wish to comment on the fact that, in trying to attack the hon. member for Salt River (Mr. Lawrence), he was repudiating his colleague, the hon. member for Simonstown (Mr. Gay). I do not believe that the hon. member for Salt River in his speech to-day went out of his way to disagree or intended to disagree with anything that the hon. member for Simonstown had said, other than the final conclusion on which we differ.
Sir, this is the nature of what the hon. member for Simonstown said and of the corroborative statements made by the hon. member for Salt River. First of all, the consequence of this Bill was that the character of our Defence Force had been changed. I think he used those precise words. He indicated that the character of the Defence Force had been changed, that one of the prime functions of the Defence Force now was no longer to defend South Africa against external aggression, but to deal with the internal situation within South Africa. On this point the hon. member for Salt River agreed 100 per cent with the hon. member for Simonstown and both of them disagree with the hon. member for Turffontein. Secondly, the hon. members for Simonstown and Salt River said that powers which were unheard of in times of peace were now being given to the Minister; that the powers which he was seeking to exercise in terms of this Bill, were powers which were normally only exercised in times of disturbance or in times of war. Once again, without quibbling about the exact words, the hon. member for Salt River was supporting the hon. member for Simonstown in this contention. Both of them were repudiated by the hon. member for Turffontein.
You are twisting my words out of their contents now.
Thirdly, the hon. member for Simonstown said that, while these powers were being exercised through the Minister, he did not subscribe to the attitude that this Minister might be a benevolent person and that he would not use these powers excessively. He drew the attention of the House to the fact that, while it was the Minister who would give the operative order, it was the Government collectively which would be responsible for the exercise of these powers. He went on to say that, to put it at its best, this Government, of which the hon. the Minister is a member, was not a Government which had the confidence of South Africa in the exercise of such power. The hon. member for Salt River agreed with the hon. member for Simonstown.
Then why are you voting against the Bill?
For the three reasons put forward by the hon. gentlemen. For the reason first of all, that this Bill was evidence of a fundamental change in the character of our Defence Force; for the reason that powers were being given to the Minister which were never previously heard of other than in times of war, and thirdly, because we agree with the hon. member for Simonstown that that Government sitting on the other side of the House does not have the confidence of the people of South Africa in the exercise of these powers. The hon. member for Salt River, in agreeing with the arguments advanced by the hon. member for Simonstown said “for these very reasons we believe we should oppose the Bill”. The hon. member is quite at liberty to say that in spite of these reasons he agrees with this Bill, but why the hon. member for Turffontein should now try to drive a wedge into what I though was a fairly solid front as far as the arguments advanced against the Bill by the hon. members for Salt River and Simonstown are concerned, I simply cannot understand.
Sir, let me say this that the hon. member for Turffontein was obviously not listening very carefully to this debate, because there are very real differences between the times and the occasions on which the Minister could use the powers under the old Act and the times and the occasions on which he can use the powers under the new Bill. Indeed, that is what the member for Simonstown was saying and indeed it is what the Minister has asked for. Let us look at a few of these powers which have been altered or the circumstances under which the powers may be used have been altered. Clause 16 which amends the original Section 100 deals with the commandeering of private property. In the past property could only be commandeered when there was internal disorder, in other words, for the suppression of an existing state of disorder. Now, Sir, the right to commandeer is being extended not to where there is clearly internal disorder, but to any time in the history of our country when the Minister in his complete discretion assumed that internal disorder might arise; in his complete discretion, without reporting to Parliament, he may take preventive measures. So, Sir, we have no clear definition of when the internal disorder is presumed to have commenced. The Minister in his discretion can decide when to use these powers.
Mr. Speaker, the next clause on which discussion took place was Clause 17 which amends Section 102. I think that even the hon. member for Turffontein can very clearly see the differences in the powers given to the Minister in terms of the new Clause 17, because in terms of the original Section 102, it was only in times of war that he could commandeer the railways or transport facilities. In terms of this Bill, not only in times of internal disorder but at any time, no matter how peaceful the circumstances may be, if the Minister considers it desirable to prevent something which he thinks might happen, he will be entitled to commandeer the railways. This is clearly a fundamental departure in the circumstances under which these powers may be used. Then finally we come to Clause 18 where once again provision is made for the assembly of people, etc. In the past such powers could clearly be used only in times of war; now it is not only in times of war but in times of peace; not only in times of internal disorder but in anticipation of a period of internal disorder that the Minister may in his complete and sole discretion use these powers. Let me say further that in the original Section 103, not only had a state of war to be proclaimed but the Minister, acting under regulations, was responsible to report to Parliament, and within 14 days. If Parliament was in session, he had to lay upon the Table of the House the regulations under which he was acting. The House could then survey what he was doing and members could criticize him or withhold their approval. Now we suddenly find that not only can the Minister act but he is no longer responsible to Parliament; he is no longer required to report to this House; this House is not required to consider either the regulations or the actions of the Minister in terms of the new Clause 103bis. Mr. Speaker, if one supports this measure one departs from the fundamental approach on which all members of the Opposition have previously been agreed, that when one takes fundamental powers of this sort, they can only be taken, if they must be taken, under the supervision and control of Parliament. That was clearly stated in the original Section 103, and it has been specifically excluded from Clause 103bis. Sir, we believe that very sound arguments have been advanced by two speakers on this side of the House, the hon. members for Simonstown and Salt River, as to why the effects of this Bill are damaging.
You are being funny now.
I do not know if the hon. member has been listening. If anybody in this House is looking funny at the moment, it is that hon. gentleman. Sir, I endorse the attitude taken by the hon. member for Germiston (District) (Prof. Fourie). The impression which is being given is that this Government believes that the way to prevent disorder is to call out the Army. Sir, let us look at the series of disorders which have taken place in South Africa. Let us look at the disorders which took place in March and April of last year. Would it have been wise if long before those disorders took place, the Minister in his sole discretion had mobilized the Army and used these new powers? No, Sir, if you want to prevent disorders—and we all want to do so—then you take remedial action; you look for the root causes of the grievances; you consult with the people concerned and see whether they have legitimate complaints. You do not merely sit back and say that you are going to call out the Army. Sir, this is indicative of an attitude which is growing up in the minds of hon. members on the other side of the House. Instead of realizing that South Africa is moving into a period where disorders are likely to take place because of the conditions which exist in South Africa, this Government and hon. members opposite seem to think that the remedy of our troubles lies in mobilizing the Army. Finally let me say that there are times when action must be taken by the Government. Let me say that I hope that those times will be confined and that to the greatest possible extent the Police Force will be used, and not the Army. I think that those of us who served in an Army realize what a grave state exists when people who are not professional soldiers are taken out of civilian life and brought into the service of their country. I would regret it very much indeed if the Minister adopted the attitude that now we must look upon all the civilians of South Africa as part of an army to prevent and suppress internal disorders within South Africa. I hope the Minister despite the powers which may be given to him if this Bill is passed, will not concentrate the activities of the Army on the suppression of internal disorder but that he will rather use his persuasive powers within his own Government to create conditions under which disorders are unlikely to take place, and that he will not call up civilians or the Army unless it is absolutely necessary in times of war or in times of real internal disorder.
The hon. member for Pinelands (Mr. Eglin) will immediately begin to realize that he was slightly off the beam when I say that I intend to agree with him on one or two points. The first point in respect of which I wish to agree with him is when he said that there were certain points on which the hon. members for Salt River and Simonstown were in agreement—that is quite correct. There were certain issues on which they agreed. They were in agreement that a situation had arisen in South Africa where the Government were asking for powers in order to maintain law and order. The difference between them was that this side of the House is prepared to grant those powers when it is necessary for the security of the State, and the hon. member for Salt River and his party are not prepared to grant those powers. We agree that it is unfortunate that these circumstances should exist in South Africa. We agree entirely— and that agreement was made quite clear in the speeches this afternoon—that it is to be hoped that the use of these powers will not be necessary, and that if they have to be used they will be applied in a decent way. But once the hon. member for Salt River had reached the stage where he had agreed that a situation existed in South Africa where it might be necessary to use such powers the point of difference became quite clear. The hon. member for Salt River and the Progressive Party insist that a state of emergency should then be declared and that is where his party and our party differ; that is the parting of the ways, because we accept it as basic that the security of the State is part of an ordered and civilized life, and that it is the responsibility of the State to guarantee the security of its citizens. We are not prepared to stand in the way of steps and actions which are necessary to guarantee the security of the citizen, steps to protect him from trouble or danger, and we are not prepared to see the security of the State threatened. The hon. members for Salt River and Pinelands both referred to Section 13 of the existing Defence Act. The hon. member said that the hon. member for Salt River had read that out.
I referred to Section 101.
The hon. member for Salt River quoted Section 13 and when an interjection came from the hon. member for Turffontein (Mr. Durrant), the member for Pinelands said “he has read it”.
No, I said it.
The point is that it was quoted, and it was accepted by the Progressive Party that the Permanent Force under Clause 13 and the Citizen Force, in terms of Clause 28, may be called out on service in the prevention or suppression of internal disorder in the Union. They accept that; they agree that the Permanent Force or the Citizen Force may be employed in the prevention or suppression of internal disorder—the words which the hon. member for Salt River said were the crux of his objection. He started his speech by saying “my concern is over the words ‘prevention of internal disorder ’”. Yet here they are agreed and they accept that the Permanent Force and the Defence Force may be used in the prevention of internal disorder. They accept that. Yet they are not prepared to accept the corollary which has arisen in practice through the application of Clause 13 (b) in time of emergency. They are prepared to allow the hon. the Minister to use the Defence Force, to employ the Citizen Force and the Permanent Force, but when he asks for powers to apply that usage, the power to transport forces for instance, and the other powers under Clauses 16, 17 and 18, then they object. I want to make it quite clear for the simple reason that politics have been played in this measure by the Progressive Party, that this party which has put up such a hullabaloo about our voting with the Government on this Bill, accepts the principle of Clause 13 that the Permanent Force and the Citizen Force may be employed to prevent disorder. They object now to the exercise of that employment. In the exercise of the employment of the Permanent Force, they object to those powers which are a corollary to that employment. They are prepared to allow the forces to be used, but they are not prepared in the use of those forces, for instance, that those same forces should clear women and children out of a danger area. Clause 18 permits the Forces being employed in the prevention of disorder, and the Progressive Party accepts that—they agreed with it and voted for it. They are agreed that if there is a danger, the Permanent Force, or the Citizen Force may be used, but they object if the use of those Forces should require the clearing of women and children from a danger area. They refuse to give that power. It is essential that this should be absolutely clear.
Then you should get somebody else to make it clear.
I might reply to that, Mr. Speaker, that the Progressive Party should find a better second battalion reserve of the “Green Point Light Horse” than the hon. member for Germiston (District). In their retreat from Green Point, they have tried to follow a line which has landed them in difficulties. We want to make it absolutely clear at the third reading, when we deal with the Bill as it is now before us, that this principle which we are supporting is a principle which we are supporting is a principle which we have always supported, a principle which is essential in any democratic state, that the state should have the power to preserve itself and its security. We accept that principle, we have always done so and the Progressive Party have also done so, and it is necessary that the people should know that our consistent attitude on this matter is. based on our acceptance of that fundamental fact that law and order must be preserved and that the security of the State is paramount; I want to place on record, and I challenge any member there to deny it, that the Progressive Party also accept that fundamental principle. They have accepted it by their support of the use of forces not for the suppression, but for the prevention, or suppression, of internal disorder. They stated that they support that, and the position they have now fallen into is one from which they cannot extricate themselves. Much as they may wish to retreat from Green Point, they will find that they will be called to order by the people of South Africa for playing politics with the safety of the State and the security of its citizens.
I really cannot understand the mentality of the hon. members for Salt River (Mr. Lawrence), Pinelands (Mr. Eglin) and Germiston (District) (Prof. Fourie).
Do not even try.
I often attempt the impossible. The hon. member for Salt River, who took the lead in pleading that we should not use the Defence Force before a state of emergency has been declared, surely knows that that is not the principle at stake in this amending Bill. He knows that that is not the principle which is now being embodied in this Bill for the first time. He knows that it is an old principle contained in the Defence Act. All we are asking for now is this: The principal Act allows us to use the Defence Force for the prevention of internal disturbance and now we just ask, seeing we have that Act which allows us to use the Defence Force for the prevention of internal disturbance, that we should also be allowed to commandeer certain things we require if we use the Defence Force for the object provided for in the principal Act. Then we go further and ask in Clause 17 that where it may be necessary to use the Defence Force for the prevention of disorders, we should also have the right to commandeer or to use certain railway materail or transport, or the vehicles of other people, and aircraft, etc. when we want to make use of the Defence Force in terms of the Act. There is nothing new in addition. We have the right to make use of these things in terms of the principal Act. I cannot imagine why the hon. member for Salt River right throughout this debate tried to make the point that we are now asking for powers that we do not already possess. I admit, and I frankly admitted it during the second reading debate, and afterwards, that in Clause 18 we asked for new powers. I did not try to hide that fact. But this principle of using the Defence Force for the prevention of internal disorders is nothing new. The hon. member for Turffontein and other hon. members stated it clearly. It is an old-established right which we possess. In Clause 18 we ask for new rights, viz. the right to be able to evacuate people from an area, also in order to prevent disorder. But I stated clearly why we needed that power. The hon. member for Salt River simply wants me as the Minister to say that South Africa is in a state of unrest and that for this reason I need these powers. I shall never make a statement like that. South Africa is not in a state of unrest. We have a Government which does its duty, a strong Government which accepts its responsibilities. Hitherto we have prevented a state of unrest from arising. Now the hon. members of the Progressive Party say: “You must get to the root causes.” We must investigate and remedy the root causes of the troubles in South Africa. But then the world generally must also investigate the root causes of wars. The world does so, but in the meantime it prepares itself for war in case those root causes cannot be remedied. In the same way we in South Africa must make an attempt to discover the root causes and to remedy them. The two sides of the House differ in regard to how these difficulties should be solved, but if we investigate the underlying causes of the trouble and try to remedy the position it still does not mean that we should not be prepared to prevent disturbances. According to the line taken by the hon. members of the Progressive Party, it means that if we cannot find a solution for the root causes of the trouble, we should simply sit with folded hands if murder and bloodshed take place in our country to-morrow. Because then we must remedy the root causes of the trouble. No, it is our duty to try to remedy the underlying causes of the trouble, but we should also be prepared to take action if we cannot immediately overcome these difficulties. I have before me a pamphlet “The African leaders’ call to the African people of South Africa”. It says that they are going to hold a conference at Pietermaritzburg, and they say—
Mr. Chairman, it will take an exceedingly long time to remedy this root cause of trouble, and in the meantime we should be prepared. They go further and say—
It is easy to say that the cause for all this must be remedied, but the world has not yet found a means of remedying it, nor has Africa as a whole yet found a method of remedying it. But in the meantime should we not prepare ourselves to cope with this trouble if the root cause for it cannot be remedied? Those hon. members just want to sit quietly. I have never yet in my life come across a more irresponsible attitude on the part of a small Opposition Party. I am not going to settle the dispute between the two Opposition parties. It is their affair. I just want to say, however, that I appreciate the attitude adopted by the official Opposition. I asked for their co-operation in the sphere of defence, and the official Opposition, through what was said by the hon. member for Simonstown (Mr. Gay), stated that they would give us their co-operation wherever possible. They said that they were not in favour of the power asked for by me in Clause 18, and they voted against that clause. But right throughout they said that they would give me the opportunity to make South Africa safer, if that were possible. I appreciate that. But I am disappointed with the petty politicking in connection with the defence of our country which we had from the hon. member for Salt River and those who support him.
As fewer than 15 members (viz. Messrs. Butcher, Eglin, Prof. Fourie, Mr. Lawrence, Dr. Steytler, Mrs. Suzman, Messrs. R. A. F. Swart, van Ryneveld and Williams) voted against the motion, Mr. Speaker declared it agreed to.
Bill read a third time.
Second Order read: Third reading,—Census Amendment Bill.
Bill read a third time.
Third Order read: Third reading,—Public Service Amendment Bill.
Bill read a third time.
Fourth Order read: House to go into Committee on Industrial Conciliation Amendment Bill.
House in Committee:1
On Clause 1,
This is the clause which amends Section 4 of the original Act, and it is the clause which has met with the greatest amount of opposition throughout the country, particularly in the trade union movement, and the fight that we have put up over the years against the splitting of the mixed trade unions, is a fight which we are not prepared to give up at this stage. The amendment contained in Clause 1 makes it easier for the splitting of the last remaining 56 trade unions that are mixed. I want to say right away that on the list of trade unions which the hon. the Minister indicated as still mixed, there are some of the most powerful trade unions in South Africa. I want to say right away that the hon. the Minister in his admiration for the Typographical Trade Union indicated that this was a most efficient trade union, very well organized, a very well run organization, and an organization which was really a model not only as far as South Africa is concerned, but for the whole world. It is a mixed trade union, Sir, one of the 56, and in terms of this amendment which we are now discussing, it will be possible for that very strong trade union, very well organized trade union, this model trade union to be effectively destroyed. Now the hon. the Minister might say that that is not the intention of the Government. We are not concerned here with the intentions of the Government. We are concerned here with the provisions of the Bill, and in terms of these provisions it will be possible for that powerful trade union to be destroyed. In making that statement, I want to make it quite clear at the same time how such a trade union could be destroyed. I am taking the Typographical Trade Union as an example, because I know that this trade union has the admiration of the hon. the Minister, and that may be one of the reasons why he is now not so keen to say that his aim and object is to destroy all the mixed trade unions in so far as their mixed racial membership is concerned. The point that I want to make here is that in terms of this amendment it would well be possible in a municipal area like Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria, if the majority of the White workers in that municipal area who are associated with the printing industry wish to have a separate White union, to gain registration; that is providing they can prove that they have got more than 50 per cent of the members in that area supporting their new venture. And what is the next step which follows? That that new union will apply to the Registrar for registration and the registration of that particular union would go through, confined to the area, say the municipal area of Cape Town, under the conditions which I have outlined. What must the Registrar do immediately he registers that new trade union? He must amend the certificate of registration of the Typographical Union to exclude the municipal area of Cape Town which is now represented by a new trade union. That I think is the Act as it is now. There is no provision in this Bill, the proviso to this new sub-section (c) to prohibit the Registrar from taking action in respect of one municipal area at a time; he can give registration in respect of the Cape Town municipal area; he can then give it in respect of Pretoria, Bloemfontein, etc., until such time as the original certificate of registration of the parent union is no longer a union registration at all. Under those conditions, the White unions which are being created all over could become the most powerful union and the mixed union would then become completely useless—it would only represent Coloured members. That is the intention of the Minister, I know, that is what he wants to achieve. But the point has been made that this proviso will prevent an existing union which is representative of the whole of the country from being destroyed. I want to point out to the hon. the Minister that it is not so, that the destruction of such a national registered union can come about by this piece-meal attack. Mr. Speaker, we are not in favour of seeing the mixed unions disappear. We have given our reasons time and time again as to why we favour mixed trade unions. We believe that the welfare of all races is best safeguarded if the whole of the working force of the country is included under the umbrella of one trade union. We can of course not go so far as the Progressive Party. They would like to see the Natives included in such a union as well. We have not gone that far. I say that as far as this section is concerned, this Clause (1), we will vote against it. We cannot see any point in amending it because there is no way in which we can amend it that would give effect to the policy of this party. We shall vote against it, and I do hope that the hon. the Minister when he replies at some later stage, will give this matter his serious thought. I believe that he thinks that the proviso is going to safeguard a union like the Typographical Union, but in my opinion, it does nothing of the sort, and I do hope that when he replies, he will take this matter into serious consideration, because he is now opening the door to make it possible for unions like the Typographical Union to be destroyed.
The hon. the Minister has indicated that in his opinion if we were not to have this clause in the Industrial Conciliation Act, he would be acting in an undemocratic manner. He has made the point that this clause makes it possible for workers in the trade union movement to exercise their democratic freedom, their freedom to say whether they wish to be in a mixed union or whether they wish to be in a racially pure union. My reply to that is that the democracy of the trade union movement is where members of the trade union should be best able to exercise their democratic rights. They have always done so in the past and the rule of majority inside the trade union has always been the effective way of conducting the affairs of such a trade union. But now the hon. the Minister is giving to the dissentients in such a union the right to create a separate branch, a special separate racial branch. That is interfering with the democracy of the trade union movement. It is not giving democracy, it is interfering with the existing democracy of the trade union movement. It is making it possible by this legislative measure for interference to take place in the internal workings of a mixed trade union. It is not a reasonable proposition to put to this Committee. I feel that it is a step backwards. If the Europeans wish to break away from a mixed union, they can do so under the present Act if they can get 50 per cent of the members throughout the country to support them. If they can persuade 50 per cent of the members within that mixed union to form a White union, they can do so.
Mr. Chairman, I think the hon. the Minister knows our objection to this Clause 1 which embodies the principle of the amending Bill now before the Committee. During the second reading we told the House that we object to this clause because it obviously is going to facilitate the splitting of the trade unions, which is something we do not agree with in principle. I would like to place on record the objections which have been written up in a memorandum by the South African Trade Union Council, which does represent thousands of workers and which does have the interests of the workers at heart. I would like to remind the hon. the Minister that the South African Trade Union Council, in this memorandum, states that it protests most strongly against the proposal to amend Section 4 of the Industrial Conciliation Act—which is the object of the clause we are now discussing—because such amendments will cause the further splitting of the trade unions and make it easier for dissident and irresponsible elements to establish break-away groups. The memorandum did say “even in the smallest areas”, and the hon. the Minister has amended that to include not the smallest, but less small areas. However, the areas are still much smaller than the whole of the area covering the Union of South Africa; they are areas under the jurisdiction of local authorities, although that is not quite so bad in so far as he has changed the definition of “areas However, the unions object to this. We have expressed our objections in the second reading debate. We do not like the changes which have been introduced in other sub-sections of this clause and we intend to vote against the clause.
Mr. Chairman, I too must join in voicing our protest against the amendment which the hon. the Minister has introduced. We have always regarded it as a cardinal principle of labour legislation that every effort is made to ensure the maintenance of the trade union movement at a very high level, particularly because it gives the opportunity in our democratic society for the employees to band themselves together to look after their interests and to have a proper voice in making representations to employers and to protect the interests of all those who are engaged in an industry.
I also believe that it is vital, in the industrial life of a country, that one should maintain strong trade unions and also maintain the highest possible level for trade unions. As has rightly been pointed out, it is not only an objection from our side of the House to this type of legislation, but we also voice the very strong objection on behalf of the trade unions of this country who have submitted not only memoranda but have publicly and otherwise expressed their protest against this amendment which seeks to continue to divide the trade unions into what will be almost local trade unions and so destroy the effectiveness of trade unions which have been established on a national scale. But there is something even more sinister about this whole thing; something which I do not like. If the hon. the Minister is trying to pursue the policy of apartheid—which, we know, is an ideological policy—then one realizes that he is following the policy of apartheid. But to introduce that into the economic life of the country in a manner which, eventually is going to cause a great deal of unrest in industry, and amongst employees, is, in my opinion, doing something detrimental to the economic interests of our country.
I feel that what will be achieved here is this: Eventually, if the hon. the Minister has his way, he will have trade unions established on a colour basis only. I fear one difficulty —a difficulty he has had before and which he is having to-day in the industries he is attempting to establish on the borders of the reserves and so on. That difficulty is that you will have a differential rate of earning by various colour groups in this country who are associated with the trade unions. You will find in times of difficulty and slackness in a particular industry that, say, the Coloured people in the garment industry will negotiate and agree to a rate of pay which will possibly be lower than something for which the artisans have fought for many years and which they have achieved at the cost of very great difficulty. That is going to be a very serious inroad in this whole principle, a principle which this country had accepted, and which this party particularly stands for, the principle of the rate for the job.
I realize, of course, that it assists the hon. the Minister with the application of job reservation. It makes it very much easier for him, once he has the colours nicely divided, to impose job reservation wherever he finds that he has a problem. But we find for instance, under the Native Building Workers’ Act, an agreement has been arrived at for the artisans who work in the Native townships, to carry out their services at a very much lower rate than has been applied to the building industry generally; you have that difficulty. In fact, the hon. the Minister knows that some of his own people have had some very serious objections to this. They are now able to work at about one-third of the figure that has been laid down in the trade. That may be a far analogy but it certainly does indicate what can happen. I recently saw a factory in Johannesburg, a garment factory employing a considerable number of Coloured people who form an important part of the garment workers’ industry on the Reef. You will find there that that particular industry will be split into two completely different unions. And you will find, as was said by the hon. member for Boland (Mr. Barnett), an entirely different approach to the whole subject. I believe that that different approach where you are going to get trade unions with an entirely different conception of what they should earn, is going to cause a great deal of disruption in the industry.
I would like the hon. the Minister to tell us how he envisages that, in the pursuit of his policy of apartheid, he will not in any way bring about some unrest in the various industries, particularly when the trade unions follow exactly what the Government has in mind in bringing this amendment about. I think it would help the House if he would enlighten us and tell us how he is going to avoid any criticism from the industrialists of the country when this particular clause goes into full operation in the industrial life of this country.
The hon. member who has just resumed his seat, as well as the hon. member for Umhlatuzana (Mr. Eaton) again advanced the argument that this Clause 1 would lead to the splintering of the trade unions. This argument was fully replied to during the second reading debate. The danger they see in this clause has just as little substance as their predictions in 1956 had. Mr. Chairman, if you had sat in this House at that time and could cast your mind back to what those hon. members said at the time in regard to the danger of the splintering of trade unions, it would be difficult for you to believe that in the year 1961 there are still trade unions left in South Africa. At that time they made a great fuss about the matter, but to-day they admit that that splintering did not take place.
In regard to this clause, if the provisions of the 1956 Act could not succeed in causing the splintering of trade unions, having made it so much easier for uni-racial trade unions to hive off, I find it difficult to understand how this clause will succeed in leading to the splintering of trade unions. We have already said, and the hon. the Minister repeatedly told them, that ever since 1956 not a single trade union complained of the fact that there was splintering. I repeat that where the 1956 Act made hiving off much easier, what right have hon. members opposite to allege that this clause will lead to the splintering of trade unions?
Then the hon. member for Umhlatuzana further said that this clause interferes with the democratic rights of trade unionists. But what is happening now, Sir? I prefer to think that if the Minister had not introduced this amendment in the Act, that would really have amounted to interfering with the democratic rights of the members of trade unions. Because the position to-day is that there are traditionally mixed trade unions which do not want their members to form uni-racial trade unions. This makes it impossible for those members who desire to have uni-racial trade unions, because of the existing provisions in the Act, viz. the provision in connection with the requisite majority of the total number of persons engaged in the industry in the whole area. This clause now makes it possible for such members to hive off, in view of the fact that this condition is now being amended to read that a majority of the persons engaged in an industry in a specific area may apply for registration. I feel that this clause now makes it easier for them. And now I want to know this from the hon. member for Umhlatuzana: Why should those workers be denied the right to do so? Unless this clause is put on the Statute Book it will mean that the members of those mixed trade unions will not be able to exercise the right to hive off in their own uni-racial trade unions, as they desire to do. Surely that would be interfering with the democratic rights of those trade unionists. Every worker ought to have the right to elect to what kind of trade union he wants to belong. The worker himself will judge as to what is in his best interest. Every worker surely belongs to a trade union for his own benefit and for no other reason. He is the man best able to judge whether that trade union is able to protect his interests. If he decides that it is in his best interest to belong to a uni-racial trade union—and that is what the hon. member for Umhlatuzana wants to deny as the result of the attitude they adopt here—then the worker should be able to exercise that right. I therefore consider it is the duty of this Committee to remove all obstacles preventing that trade unionist who chooses to belong to a uni-racial trade union from having the right to establish such a uni-racial trade union. Mr. Chairman, what the Opposition is actually fighting for is to entrench the rights of the parent unions. They are less concerned with whether it is in the best interests of the workers. If the workers feel that it is in their own best interests to belong to a uni-racial trade union, that is evidently not a consideration to the Opposition. If the workers feel that the parent unions no longer cater for their interests, or are unable to do so, that does not count with the Opposition; that is no consideration to them. All that counts with them and the only matter to which they give consideration is to protect the parent unions at all costs, even though it has to be done at the cost of the interests of the workers. I say that it is not in the best interests of the workers to adopt such an attitude, and I much prefer allowing the democratic right of the worker to be exercised than to perpetuate the autocracy of the parent union.
But the hon. member for Umhlatuzana also made a very important admission here today. They now find themselves more or less in the position in which we predicted that they would find themselves. The hon. member stated that the United Party was in favour of mixed trade unions. Did I understand the hon. member correctly?
That is precisely what I predicted would happen. The United Party is now being taken in tow. In 1956 they were neither opposed to or in favour of mixed trade unions, as was clearly stated by the hon. member for Salt River (Mr. Lawrence) on that occasion on behalf of the United Party. But now the United Party has already reached the stage, as the hon. member has admitted here, where they are in favour of mixed unions. The only difference between them and the Progressive Party is that whereas they are in favour of mixed trade unions, the Progressive Party wants to allow Natives also to belong to the mixed unions. This is a very clear and very important admission in connection with this matter. Our predictions have therefore come true, that if once one finds oneself on the road to integration, one eventually lands where the Progressive Party now is …
The hon. member should not expatiate on that, but should confine himself to the clause.
Mr. Chairman, I will say no more on that point. I already stated that point very clearly in the second reading, but no sooner had I uttered those words than the hon. member for Umhlatuzana came along and admitted that they had now advanced quite a lot from the standpoint they adopted in 1956.
Mr. Chairman, I do not want to traverse the path travelled by the hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) (Mr. M. C. G. J. van Rensburg) and his argument dealing with Clause 1 (a). But I think that when he speaks of the autocracy of a central body as against the democratic right of a local body—disregarding, for a moment, the definition of an area—he is over-simplifying the position. For example, if we leave colour out of the question entirely and deal with it just on the principle that we are being asked to approve, then it is argued that a national body shall have no power of veto over decisions by a local body although it may be that the decision of that local body was taken almost on an even vote. After all, it does not follow that in the decision of the local body the voting will be by a two-thirds majority; it can be by one over 50 per cent. However, I do not want to go too deeply into this question. It has been argued sufficiently at the second reading stage, as to whether a federal constitution, though it, may be, gives the greatest diversified rights to individual groups to express their views, gives the strongest body of opinion within a trade union. It is our contention that that is not so. It is not the splitting up of the trade unions so much that we are concerned with here, it is the weakening, ultimately, of the total strength of the trade unions in certain circumstances. The fact that under existing conditions there have been no great complaints is not a proof of the case. However, I do not want to go further into that but I would like to say a word on the modification in Clause 1 (b).
The hon. the Minister and those concerned with him know quite well the meaning of this particular clause, but I do not think it will waste the time of the Committee if I deal, briefly, with the original section that is being amended here. The original Section 4 (4) (b) reads, in effect—
That is the sub-section dealing with objections—
that is the paragraph dealing with lodging an objection—
and that is the closed shop paragraph—
It is now proposed to alter the word “may” to “shall”. In other words, it removes the discretion of the Registrar to decide this matter. We are dealing, in particular, with the case where an objection is lodged by one union against another.
My opinion is that this does—I will not say interfere with the closed shop provision— it does make the position of the closed shop slightly weaker. There the Registrar could have a discretion and, after all, the Registrar is the man with the knowledge of these matters and should in most cases be able to decide wisely. In other words this is another provision which makes it easier for those who wish to have separate unions to have them, and in so doing it does weaken an existing position—I do not say strongly, but it does weaken it. In other words, if we look at this apart from this particular principle and said that the Registrar might take a similar action in the case of a closed shop situation with regard to some other provisions than this one then, the Government themselves, who are strong in their acceptance of the principle of the closed shop, would be strong in their opposition to it. Because, in this instance, it affects the question of union membership as between pure and mixed unions, they are quite agreeable to it. It means, in actual practice, that where two unions are registered simultaneously, the members in or desiring to become members of the new, pure union and compelled by the closed shop principle to belong to an existing union, the Registrar shall disregard their membership of the initial union. I myself think the position on this was better as it was. I think it is the opinion of many trade unions who take the traditional view of trade union structure. If we ourselves object to the encouragement given at every step to the creation of pure unions, rather than the Government either holding absolutely free balance or putting its weight down on that side of the scale which might make for stronger organization, irrespective of the short-term wishes of individual workers—because there is a difference here between the short-term interests of one group which may desire to be pure and the long-term interest of the trade union of which that group is a member—as I say, I think the purpose as evidenced in legislation should either be completely neutral or thrown on the side of the long-term interest of the workers as a whole rather than the short view of the advantage that individual groups take of their position. I think, therefore, that this clause —although to a lesser extent than Clause 1 (a)—can be objected to in the provisions of Clause 1 (b). If, assuming that I am in agreement that Clause 1 (a) should be there, in other words that pure unions is the desired aim, then I would say that if you cannot get them without the provision of (b), leave this modification out anyway.
When my time expired earlier on I was about to deal with the other two provisions of this clause in sub-sections (b) and (c). In respect of (b) the hon. member for Durban (Musgrave) (Mr. Williams) has covered the point that I wanted to make so I will not spend any more time on that one. In respect of (c), I think we would have preferred to have (c) remain. We want the Registrar to have the right of discretion in this regard. But the hon. the Minister has made it quite clear that he does not intend to permit the Registrar to have a discretion which can be challenged in a court of law, so we cannot take that any further.
In reply to what the hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) (Mr. M. C. G. J. van Rensburg) has said, to the effect that we have changed our ground and that we are now quite clearly going a step further …
Order, order! The hon. member should not take that argument any further.
I am just going to reply to it, Mr. Chairman. He says that now we are in favour of mixed unions and we are going a step nearer the Progressive Party. I want to say that our whole opposition to the introduction of those provisions in the original Act was based on the fact that we were opposed to the destruction of the mixed unions. That has been our position all along. We believe that if a mixed union wishes to form itself into separate unions they can easily bring it about. Within their own democracy they can do that. The other point that was made by the hon. member was that because of the way the Act is worded it is not possible for a White union to gain its independence if the mixed union were to object. There again I want to point out that if a mixed union were persuaded by its White members that it would be in the interests of all that they should have a separate trade union, they would then be in the position to apply for registration and, if they had the necessary qualification, there would be no objection from the registrar or the parent union. That would then be exercising the democratic rights within the trade union. That is what we want. But the hon. member does not want that to happen inside the unions. He says that if, inside the unions, the minority cannot get the support of the majority then it is the privilege, it is the right, it is the duty of the Government to interfere and to say we will give you that right, even though you cannot achieve that objective within the ranks of your own trade union. I felt that the hon. member should be acquainted with that point so that he will know what the position really is when we talk about democracy of the trade unions.
I should like the hon. the Minister to reply to some of the points that have been made, and once he has replied I may be in a position to add one or two more arguments, depending upon what he has to say.
Mr. Chairman, I shall not take a lot of the Committee’s time. When discussing this clause in the second reading I was distracted by a small fracas over the question of the rules of the House and I did not conclude my argument. It was on the question of now making it necessary for the Registrar to recognize as members of a new union, which had not yet been properly formed, members who were still members of a closed shop union. I was trying to point out to the hon. the Minister that new unions, when they try to get formed, very often register members without demanding payment of fees and build up a considerable paper membership. It then happens that the new union, perhaps, does not fulfil the early promise that it had, or the workers decide to remain members of the old union, and they do not go through the necessary formalities of resigning from the new union. So the paper membership of the new union remains. Since there has been no financial obligation on the part of the workers, they do not much worry about any of the other obligations either. In terms of this clause, by removing the discretionary right, it means that the Registrar will have to continue to take into consideration those members who are still paper members of the new union even though they might have gone back to their original union.
I think that that is something to which the hon. the Minister has not given sufficient attention when removing the discretionary right as he does in Clause 1 (b). That is the one point that I did not complete when we were discussing this in the second reading stage. I should like the hon. the Minister to tell us how he proposes to make allowances for the circumstances which I have just mentioned.
At the outset, Mr. Chairman, I should like to say that I was not at all disturbed or surprised by the objections raised by the other side, the joint Opposition, on this clause. It was very apparent during the discussions in the second reading debate that the Opposition were against this clause in principle. I do not blame them, and I hope that they will not blame me if I cannot agree with them. We have made it quite clear since before 1956 that we do not like mixed trade unions. We would like to facilitate, in every way, the separation of members of mixed trade unions, on racial grounds. Then we would like them to form their own trade unions. We have never made a secret of that principle, we came out in the open with it, and we still maintain that it is the only way in which to handle this matter. In reply to the hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Miller) let me say that we do not expect unrest, so it is no use asking us how we are going to avoid unrest if we have these mixed trade unions broken up. We have had that experience during the last few years. We told this House that of 113 mixed trade unions we only have 56 left, and I sincerely hope that on this voluntary basis the 56 mixed unions will break up too, but we are not going to force them to do it, as I said time and again, and we are not forcing them with this legislation, but we are opening the way for them to do it. Where the hon. member for Umhlatuzana (Mr. Eaton) goes wrong is by suggesting that with the registration of a new union the registration form of the existing union is varied. But the registration form is not varied at all when a new union is being registered. Take his example of the Typographical Union. In the Western Province the Coloureds would like to form a new union, and hive off from the mother union. They must have in the local area of Cape Town more than 50 per cent— 50 per cent plus one. The rest of the Coloureds will remain in the mixed union, and the registration form of the mixed union is not varied at all. You have this position, e.g. in the Transvaal where in the building trade there are five unions, the Amalgamated Union of Building Trade Workers, the Blanke Bouwerkersvakbond, the Lichtenburg Bouwerkers Industriële Vereniging, the Operative Plasterers’ Trade Union and the Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers, all in one industry. The same thing can happen in the printing industry. There is nothing to prevent the Typographical Union remaining a mixed trade union registered for the whole of the Union of South Africa. The only thing that we endeavour to do here is that if the members of the union in a certain area feel that a new union will serve their interests better than their old union, for several reasons, on racial grounds or any other grounds, and if they feel they want to form a new union, this legislation will put them in the position to do so. That is all. But the rest will remain. You are not going to destroy the Typographical Union. I join the hon. member in his admiration for the Typographical Union, and the work they have done, and I still believe that as long as the members of the existing union feel that they are served by their union they will remain members and there is no necessity for them to hive off and to form a new union. Why paint this dark picture as if everything will fall to pieces now? There is nothing like that. I do not think it is necessary to enlarge on this principle any longer. We have a difference in principle and it is no use discussing it. I am afraid that we have shown now in practice, as the hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) (Mr. van Rensburg) pointed out, that that is our record and our record stands. There is no difficulty. Let us make another bargain. Let us see what happens in four years’ time. Only I am afraid the hon. member for Houghton (Mrs. Suzman) will not be here, else I would lay her a wager that nothing detrimental will happen. That is the first point.
The hon. member for Houghton pointed out, in connection with Clause 1 (b) that whenever a member, even under a closed shop agreement, is taken into account, he need not pay fees. But the Acts says he must be a member in good standing. No member is taken into account if he is not in good standing. I think that will solve her problem. The new unions will not accept a member if he is not in good standing.
Mr. Chairman, it is quite obvious that the Minister is not prepared to take any notice of the arguments we put forward from the joint Opposition, as he calls it.
I do not think that is fair. I do take notice of your arguments, even if I do not agree with them.
But you do not say that the argument is not sound, and you just say that because of the policy of your party, you cannot agree with it. Let us accept that position. Now perhaps the Minister will be prepared to listen to the arguments of the trade union which has the admiration of us both, the Typographical Union.
I have read it.
When this editorial was written, I must say in fairness to the Minister, it was in respect of the original Clause 1 (a) as it was first published, and the effect is not as severe now as when it was when this article was written, but the editorial still stands good.
May I just say that it was because of that editorial that I amended the Bill.
But I am sure the Minister cannot say that the amendment meets with the approval of that Union. This is what the union says—
Then this is the important point—
That is what the trade unions think about it, and this very responsible and model union has this opinion as to why this amendment was introduced even in its modified form. They believe that it is to compel them on a voluntary basis to agree to the Union being separated into European and Coloured unions.
Let us leave it to the responsible members of the union.
The difficulty is whether we can do that with this compulsion.
There is no compulsion.
The Minister has made it quite clear that the policy of his party is to see separate trade unions. Are we to believe that this Minister will not pursue that policy if it means that the Typographical Union will be destroyed? Does it mean that the Minister, if he finds that this provision brings about what this union thinks it will, he will make an amendment because he wants that union to carry on as it is? We cannot accept the wishes of the Minister in this regard; we are now dealing with the law. I said earlier, and the Typographical Union has said so, and also other unions, that this provision will make it possible for the mixed unions to disappear. I say to the Minister that this is a serious matter when a well-organized trade union is faced with either agreeing voluntarily with the wishes of the Minister in terms of Government policy, or else has to wait until such time as compulsion is brought to bear. I do not think the Minister is in the position to say that if the whole of the membership of the Typographical Union wishes to remain as they are, he will make no change. I do not think the Minister will make that statement in the House, because his own party would haul him over the coals for it, and that is the test. If the Minister, under pressure from his party, is forced to take further action to bring about the destruction of all the mixed unions, we would not be surprised. That is what we expect. That is why I say that an amendment of this sort makes possible the destruction which the Typographical Union foresees, and all the good intentions of the Minister cannot affect the law once it is passed. I say again that if the Minister will make a statement this afternoon that, provided the members of the mixed union are happy to remain as they are, he will not take steps to bring about their separation, it will relieve the worry not only of the Opposition, but of all the other mixed unions. I think the Minister should take up this challenge, because, in terms of the article I have read and the policy of his party, there can be no rest for him until such time as there are no mixed unions left, whether it is done by the free will of the members of the unions themselves or whether it is done by legal action on the part of the Minister. I cannot put it to the Minister more clearly. Will the Minister say that?
That is a very easy challenge to accept. What the hon. member for Umhlatuzana said amounted to this, that we do not like mixed unions, and we are making it as easy as possible for trade unionists who are in a mixed union to form new separate racial groups. That is the only reason why we introduced this amendment, to make it easy for them, but we are not going to force them. I do not agree with that editorial that it is voluntary compulsion. It is a voluntary act and if the majority of members want to form a separate union they can do so. So it is very easy to accept the challenge and I think the hon. member should rest assured that we have no sinister intentions.
I thank the hon. the Minister for that statement because what it amounts to is this, that as long as the mixed unions can persuade their members that it is in their interest to remain a mixed union they will be allowed to remain mixed.
Tellers: W. J. Potgieter and J. von S. von Moltke.
Tellers: H. C. de Kock and A. Hopewell.
Clause 1, as printed, accordingly agreed to.
On Clause 3,
I wish to move the following amendment—
In doing so, I want to indicate what it means, because it will not convey much to hon. members. The Minister has amended Section 16 of the principal Act, which deals with appeals from the decision of the Registrar, and this Bill, in Clause 3, amends sub-section (2) (a), which reads as follows—
The Minister has now extended this to 30 days—
Now my amendment is in respect of sub-section (1) of Section 16, and it will have this effect, that any person hereinafter referred to as the appellant who feels aggrieved by any decision, etc., of the Registrar may within 30 days of the date of such decision apply to the Registrar for a statement of his reasons and may appeal either to the Minister or to the Tribunal. All of these clauses deal with very important matters, and it is to obtain from the Registrar reasons for his decision in matters such as the registration of trade unions and employers’ organizations, the division of assets in trade unions in certain circumstances, the variation and the scope of registration of trade unions or employers’ organizations, or the constitution of trade unions, etc. These are all very important issues and the present Act lays down that they have to lodge their appeal within 14 days. In practice it has been found that 14 days is too short, particularly over the Christmas and New Year holidays when many trade unions close down. The South African Trade Union Council has made representations in this regard as well. They feel that it will make for the smoother working of the Act if they have 30 days in which to lodge their appeals.
I will accept that amendment.
Amendment put and agreed to.
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
Remaining Clauses and Title of the Bill put and agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; amendment to be considered on 2 March.
Business suspended at 6.30 p.m. and resumed at 8.5 p.m.
Fifth Order read: House to go into Committee on Marriage Bill.
Mr. Speaker, before the House goes into Committee I wish to move the contingent Notice of Motion standing in my name, namely—
The request contained in this notice, Sir, has reference to Clauses 29 and 30 of this Bill. Those clauses prescribe the procedure to be followed by a marriage officer in the solemnization of a marriage and the marriage formula. It also has reference to the amendment proposed by the Select Committee forbidding marriage by proxy.
The history of this contingent notice will be found on pages 12 and 13 of the report of the Select Committee of which I was a member and which considered the Bill after the second reading. In the Select Committee, Sir, I moved amendments that were designed to provide a formula in cases of marriage by proxy. The chairman of the Select Committee, being in doubt as to whether these amendments were competent after the second reading, referred the matter to the Speaker. Mr. Speaker ruled that in as much as Clause 29 of the Bill provided that a marriage must be solemnized in the presence of the parties themselves, my amendments would have the effect of introducing a new principle into the Bill, a principle which would be in conflict with the principle contained in Clause 29 and that they were out of order.
I then moved that the Chairman report specially to the House requesting leave to consider the advisability of extending the scope of the Bill so as to include a provision for the solemnization of marriages by proxy. Upon this the Committee divided and my opinion was negatived. The voting was on non-party lines. Those in favour of the motion were the hon. member for Heilbron (Mr. Froneman), the hon. member for Springs (Mr. Tucker) and myself; and those against were the chairman, the hon. members for Bellville (Mr. Haak), Kimberley (South) (Dr. W. L. D. M. Venter) and Prinshof (Mr. J. H. Visse). After that the chairman of the Committee moved the amendment contained in the sub-clause (3) of Clause 29 of the present Bill, the effect of which is to prohibit specifically marriage by proxy. On a division this amendment was carried by four to three, the voting being on the same lines. Sir, if the request contained in my contingent notice is granted, then I shall move the following amendments—
These amendments, Sir, are designed to preserve our common law and to give effect to the decisions in two cases heard in the Supreme Court of Johannesburg in 1946 and 1947 when the Judges granted orders requiring the Magistrate of Johannesburg to solemnize two marriages by proxy. In these circumstances, Sir, I submit that the matter is of sufficient public importance to receive further consideration by the Committee and that it should not be brushed aside by the negative amendment suggested by a narrow majority of the Select Committee.
This question of marriage by proxy was raised by me during the course of the second reading debate. I submit with all due respect that it was not fully argued and did not receive the consideration that it deserved. There are many of us who believe that marriage according to the religious sanctions of the church, with both parties in attendance in person, contributes to the spiritual welfare of the parties and puts the marriage on a higher plane than a civil marriage at a magistrate’s court. But, Sir, this sacramental idea of marriage as an essential element of the contract has unfortunately long been abandoned and is not in law necessary to the validity of the marriage. Marriage before a secular official has been recognized in our law in South Africa for many years and it is sanctioned by this Bill without the sanctities of religion being required.
Professor Lee in his Introduction to Roman Dutch Law, on page 62, stated that the later Dutch law—the law that our forefathers brought with them to South Africa—following the example of the French, made a civil marriage indispensable, a religious ceremony being left to the option of the parties. He quotes as his authority two eminent Dutch writers, van der Keessel and van der Linden. Van der Keessel says this on page 23 of his theses—
This principle has been repeated in Clause 33 of this Bill which says that after a marriage has been solemnized by a marriage officer a minister of religion may bless such marriage according to the religious rites of his religious denomination. The essential element, therefore, being the formula contained in Clause 30 of this Bill.
I submit, Sir, that in the case of these civil marriages the marriage becomes a purely civil contract, a form of marriage that is entered into by a great many people to-day. All that is required in these civil marriages is that the marriage officer, usually a magistrate, should see to it that the pre-requisites are complied with, that the statutory formula is administered and that the contract is registered in the manner prescribed by law for all the world to see. As a magistrate I solemnized hundreds of these marriages myself—marriages that are shorn of any semblance of the religious sanctions that many of us would wish to see. In these circumstances it becomes, as I have said, a purely civil contract. If this view is accepted there seems to be no reason whatsoever why it should not be contracted by proxy through a duly authorized agent or attorney as was done in the two cases decided by the Supreme Court in Johannesburg.
This point of view was very ably put by Mr. A. A. Roberts, a former Government law adviser. He is an eminent advocate who has since acted on various occasions as a Judge of the Supreme Court of the Transvaal. In an article that was published in the South African Law Journal, Vol. 60, at page 260, Mr. Roberts states his views on this matter. A contrary view was subsequently expressed by another contributor in an article published under the nom de plume of Aquilias. This contrary view was published in Vol. 63 of the same journal at page 345. Mr. Roberts’ view was, however, confirmed by the Johannesburg Supreme Court in the two cases to which I have already referred. I think I had better read to the House a summary of these two cases for the information of hon. members. The first of the two cases was Davidson v. Plewman.
The hon. member for Johannesburg (North) (Mr. Plewman) was the respondent in this case.
Not the co-respondent!
He refused to perform the marriage by proxy in that case. The case is reported in 1946 W.L.D. at page 196—
In the latter case the magistrate cited the article in the S.A. Law Journal written under the nom de plume of Aquilias in support of his objection. The Supreme Court did not follow it and granted the order. Sir, I remember the case of a soldier who was a prisoner of war in Italy. I handled the case myself. This man escaped from prison and took refuge with an Italian family. He fell in love with one of the daughters and had a baby by her. He was then repatriated without any marriage ceremony taking place. He wanted to marry the daughter but he had great difficulty in bringing her and the child to South Africa. Eventually the Government stepped in and helped him to bring her out with the child. But I submit, Sir, that that was eminently a case in which marriage by proxy would have been the most sensible thing to do.
Sir, I say that these two Johannesburg decisions are in accordance with the principles of our Roman Dutch law. In support of this assertion may I direct the attention of the House to a passage from van der Keessel. As hon. members may perhaps know, van der Keessel was a very eminent professor of law at the University of Leyden from 1770 until 1808. He was one of the most eminent writers of our Dutch Jurisprudence. I read from paragraph 87 on page 24 of his Select Theses of the Laws of Holland and Zeeland. This is what he says—
“…which may be done even by procuration”, thus recognizing the law of proxy. That, Sir, is the law of Holland to this day, a procedure which is frequently recognized where either of the parties is not in the country. According to the law of Holland a person in this country may send his power of attorney to Holland or to any other country where similar laws are in operation, to be married there by proxy. Clause 29 of this Bill does not prevent this procedure. It has been said that if marriage by proxy is recognized it may result in an influx of undesirable immigrants into this country, particularly Asiatics. Sir, there is no substance in that argument. Under Section 4 of the Immigrants Regulation Act, No. 22 of 1913, the Minister of the Interior has deemed all Asiatics to be unsuited to the requirements of the Union and they are, therefore, prohibited immigrants. The wives and children —under the earlier law—under sixteen, of Asiatics domiciled in South Africa were exempted; but Act 43 of 1953 did away with this exemption and to-day the wife or child of an Asiatic may only be admitted to the Union subject to the approval of the Minister of the Interior. The Government has that aspect of the matter entirely in its own hands. I submit, Sir, that in view of all these facts, the House should approve of my motion.
I second. I would like to say that the hon. member for East London (City) (Dr. D. L. Smit) has presented such a comprehensive case on the merits of the situation that I do not think it is necessary for me to say anything. Sir, I should like to draw attention to the fact that the Bill which is before us at the moment has been the subject of considerable study. This Bill is apparently now to be put on the Statute Book after it first saw light of day in the year 1911. That was when the Bill was originally published.
Had it not been for the vigilance of the hon. member for East London (City) who wished to see certainty in our law, if he had not raised this point on Clause 29, sub-section (3) would not have been inserted and it would still have been possible to marry by proxy in South Africa. But it was essential that the law should be put beyond any doubt and I think he quite rightly raised the matter in the hope that his view would prevail. I would like to put this plea to the House. This is a matter which was discussed in a Select Committee on non-party lines; there was cross-voting by members of the same side of the House in which there was a division of four to three. There is obviously, therefore, a case to be made out that this matter should be further considered by this House. The hon. member for East London (City) has moved for an instruction. All that that will mean, Sir, is that he will have the opportunity of putting an amendment which will reverse the position as carried by the Select Committee by a majority of one. It will enable this House to take a decision as to whether it is right that a marriage should be allowed by proxy or that it should not be allowed by proxy. I should like to draw attention to the peculiar position which will exist if the Bill is passed in its present form. A South African will then be entitled to marry in another country where marriage by proxy is allowed by granting a proxy to be married in that country. He will, however, not be able to marry in his own country by getting a proxy on behalf of the other party to the marriage. Sir, those are issues on which this House can decide. I take my stand on the fact that where in a non-party measure there is such a small measure of difference of opinion, carried only by the odd casting vote, and hon. members feel that the matter is so important that it should be considered by this House, hon. members should be given that opportunity in order that the respective merits of either permitting or of debarring marriage by proxy should be decided by this House, and decided decisively one way or the other.
My plea, therefore, is, Sir, that this hon. House should give the hon. member who obviously has made a very great study of this subject, the opportunity of putting his case to the House and allow a discussion on the merits of the matter and a decision taken. I hope that this House will be given that opportunity so that once and for all this question can be determined of what is in the best interest of the law of marriage in this country.
Mr. Speaker, I am obliged to oppose this motion because the Select Committee which considered this Bill, discussed this matter fully and at length. The merits of this proposal were also the merits which that Select Committee discussed.
In the first place I should like to deal with the remarks made by the hon. member for Springs (Mr. Tucker) in this respect. He has based his argument on the fact that a South African can marry elsewhere by proxy, while he cannot do so in this country. But may I put this to the House: When it is possible for a South African to marry in this way elsewhere, then he is able to do so under the laws of that state or country which we in South Africa have absolutely no competence to discuss or to consider. And such things happen every day of the week. We have the position for example in the Commonwealth that South Africans are citizens of another country while the citizens of that country are not citizens of South Africa. It is not our law which permits that, but it is the law of a foreign country which makes that provision. The hon. member for Springs cannot therefore submit as an argument that we should also do so because he is then arguing in effect that we should incorporate all these other laws into the laws of our country. Therefore, if he had reconsidered the matter carefully, he would have realized that this argument was really—I do not want to say worthless because I should then be unfriendly towards the hon. member for Springs—one which did not hold water, because it is an argument which also applies to many other things we definitely do not want.
As regards marriage by proxy, I should like to point out to the House that it originated during a period which is quite different to the times in which we are living to-day. It originated at the time when a sea trip from Europe to South Africa took three months and longer, and it was introduced not for the benefit of the Cape Province or the Cape Colony or for the refuelling station of Jan van Riebeeck, but it was conceived for the benefit of the Dutch colonies in the East. A journey to those colonies took still longer. If a man had a bride whom he had married in the Netherlands by proxy and he wanted her to come out to the East, there would have been many dangers involved during the journey if she was not married. I can leave it to hon. members’ imagination what the dangers were. If she was not married, there was the danger that her feelings might have changed by the time she arrived in India or South Africa. I am not trying to be funny, Mr. Speaker; I am merely indicating the realism of that era. The result was that they allowed marriages by proxy because the bridegroom in the Cape or Java had a far greater safeguard as far as the journey of his bride was concerned. That is the whole position. But to-day that is definitely no longer required. That was the consideration which prevailed with the majority of the Committee members, namely, that the reasons for this particular institution no longer existed and for that reason the principle was obsolete as well. We all know that principles are like people. They become obsolete, they fall into disfavour, they fall into disservice and they fall into disuse. We on the Select Committee felt that this principle had fallen into disuse.
The other consideration was that we would also be making it possible for certain citizens of this country to import brides who under South African law would be the legal marriage partners of citizens of the Union but whose entry into our country was prohibited for other reasons. What would be the position if we were to allow a person in this country to marry a prohibited immigrant but when that legally married wife arrived in this country, the immigration regulations of the Department of the Interior prevented her landing? Then propaganda would be made that this country has such regulations that it does not even allow a man’s legal wife to land here.
There are also other considerations. The domicilium of a marriage is determined by the domicilium of the husband. Then the property affected by the marriage is governed by our own law and whether such a marriage partner, man or woman, comes to this country or not, the legal consequences of that marriage in respect of the property nevertheless remain. We felt that under all these circumstances (because our country is as it is, with its unique composition, with its regulations which people cannot always understand and which we do not always even want to explain) we should rather avoid embarrassing situations. That is why we took up a stand against this old Roman-Dutch law which provides for marriage by proxy.
The hon. member for East London (City) (Dr. D. L. Smit) now bases his stand on the fact that he is the great champion of the principles of Roman-Dutch law and says he wishes to retain marriages by proxy for that reason. Allow me to tell him this: These are words which sound very strange coming from the hon. member because he is someone who has great respect for things which are quite foreign to South Africa and the people of South Africa. [Interjections.] He must therefore not blame me …
Order! The hon. member must confine himself to the motion.
The hon. member for East London (City) must not blame me if I consider that this plea of his does not relate to the merits of marriages by proxy but to something else.
Mr. Speaker, I want to support the motion of the hon. member for East London (City) (Dr. D. L. Smit) most strongly. He as well as his seconder put their case so clearly that it is not necessary for me to go into the legal implications; that would merely be repetition. I want very shortly to deal with the practical side, an aspect which has been brought strongly to my notice as a Member of Parliament during the last ten or 12 years, particularly since the last war. Now that the Government has come to its senses and revived a former Government’s immigration scheme, it is just as well that we discuss this matter of marriage by proxy. That is largely the reason why I am supporting this motion. I know of several cases which have come to my notice of immigrants coming out here leaving their fiancées behind in the land of their birth, somewhere in Europe, and after a test period deciding to establish themselves in South Africa. But they did not want to get married or bring their fiancées out before they had finally decided to live here for the rest of their lives. Having decided that they wanted to take up South African citizenship and that they wanted to be South Africans, they then wish their fiancées to join them in their new country and get married. This is where the trouble arises from several different angles. Let me just give the type of difficulty that I have come across personally. The engaged couple has been separate for a number of years. The man cannot go to his native land to fetch the girl of his choice there for a number of different reasons. Firstly, he has only the means to pay her fare to come out. That is one case I know of. This man could not afford to go over himself, as it would have meant that he would have had to give up his job as well as pay his own fare there and back and that of the girl’s. Secondly, I know of a case where the man was settled in good employment here and he was afraid to jeopardize that job by leaving the country for a lengthy period to go overseas to get married. A third condition which is a very common difficulty. The girl’s parents do not like their daughter to travel unaccompanied to a strange country where she will be amongst strangers and perhaps when she arrives here find that her fiancé has changed his mind and that he does not want to marry her. She will then be stranded here in a strange country without means of returning to her native country. The final case I want to mention—and there are others that have come to my notice—is that the man was not prepared to pay the girl’s fare to South Africa unless he was sure that on arrival here she would marry him. He has had experience of courtship romances on board ship and he was afraid that the girl might arrive here and tell him that she was going to marry somebody else she had met on board ship. That is the position. Well, to overcome these difficulties the only course is for the marriage to be contracted before the man sends the fare over or before the girl decides to come out to join him. As I have said, Sir, I am speaking of cases that I as a Member of Parliament have been called upon to try to clear up.
In conclusion I just want to say this: If this Bill cannot be changed then I feel most strongly that an amendment to Clause 29 (3) of this Bill should be accepted in the Committee Stage when that clause comes up for discussion. An amendment that provides for some authority such as a court or a Judge or a minister to be able to give permission in special cases for marriage by proxy. The case should be dealt with on its merits. We should not close the door for ever and make it impossible for anyone to overcome Clause 29 (3). Surely, Sir, there should be some elasticity in a case like this particularly to meet hard cases. Therefore I support most strongly the motion of the hon. member for East Lon-London (City).
I was one of those who were in the minority when we voted on this matter in the Select Committee but I feel that in view of the fact that the Select Committee have already decided on this issue and have concluded their discussions in every respect, it is not necessary for the whole House to re-open this matter. For that reason I will not vote for the motion of the hon. member for East London (City) (Dr. D. L. Smit) at this stage. Furthermore I should like to tell the House why I voted with the minority on the Select Committee. My reason was that I wanted to see an old Roman-Dutch law retained. But on the other hand, I also realize fully that in this modern world in which we are living, there are other considerations to be taken into account, particularly in this respect that our marriage laws may possibly be evaded by people who come into this country on the strength of a marriage by proxy. I realize that there is a great deal of substance in that argument. Those are the reasons why I cannot support the hon. member for East London (City).
I am not speaking with any legal knowledge of this subject. As I understand the position, the Select Committee was divided, not on the question whether we should have these marriages by proxy or not, but on whether we should hear the arguments for and against and have the right to vote on it. I have heard the hon. member for Standerton (Dr. Coertze) put up a very strong case, I have heard the hon. member for East London (City) put up a strong case. I want to hear the whole case debated, and if we wish to hear the case debated, it should be in Committee of the whole House. Why then can we not accept this motion? I want to hear the legal men on both sides discuss this fully. There are legal men on the other side whom I wish to hear. That the Select Committee had a majority one way, does not preclude me from hearing the arguments. I want to hear the arguments as a member of this House, and therefore I appeal to hon. members, whether they are in favour of marriage by proxy or not, to accept the motion of the hon. member for East London (City). The reasons given for and against at the moment are premature. I think this whole discussion, with great respect, Mr. Speaker—it is necessary perhaps to introduce arguments—has gone too far; it is premature. This discussion should take place after we have accepted the motion.
I do not wish to deal with the legal aspect of this matter either. I am coming into this picture when the Bill is reaching the final stages of its passage, and I have been instructed to handle it from this stage onwards because the second reading of this Bill has already been accepted during a previous session. It seems to me as though hon. members have forgotten what took place during the second reading debate. This matter was fully discussed during the second reading. What the hon. member for Kensington is asking for now was fully discussed at that stage. My predecessor, the former Minister of the Interior, replied fully on that point and gave the reasons why it was not desirable to introduce this new principle into our law. This is something completely new to our legislation. The Select Committee which was entrusted with this matter, and which went very thoroughly into the various Acts which are being repealed and which are mentioned in the schedule to this Bill found that it did not appear in those old Acts; not one of the old provincial ordinances advocated this principle. The principle of marriage by proxy is a new principle, and because it is a new principle there should be very good reasons for its introduction. I wish to refer hon. members, whose memory may not be so good, to the debates which took place on this subject last year, before this matter was referred to a Select Committee. This matter was discussed in this House as long, ago as 1945. It was referred to a Select Committee at that time, evidence was given before that Select Committee, the desirability or otherwise of introducing it was considered and nothing further was done about it. There should be very sound reasons for it. It is not my intention to deal with the legal aspects but I merely want to repeat what the hon. member for Standerton has already mentioned, namely, that our immigration laws are very strict. We are all agreed on it that forbidden immigrants, or immigrants who do not comply with the requirements of this country, should be kept out of this country. We cannot be party to it that after a marriage has been contracted, whether by proxy or otherwise, the second person who was not present at the marriage, is prohibited from entering the country. If we accepted the principle as contained in this Bill we would be placed in a very difficult and untenable position as far as compliance with our existing laws was concerned. What are we going to do, Sir, in the case where a person wants to marry someone who does not in the slightest conform to the requirements for entry into this country, for example if he is a communist or leftist? Will we be entitled to forbid him entry into this country? We cannot do so. On the one hand we allow a marriage contract to be entered into between two persons under our law, and on the other hand we refuse to allow them to carry out the terms of that contract.
May I ask a question? If that is so, is that not the position to-day because we prohibit such a marriage in this country but such a marriage can still take place outside this country and the same reasons apply?
The hon. member for Standerton has already referred to that and the hon. member for Springs (Mr. Tucker) should realize that if we allowed that under our law, if we allowed an act to take place, but forbade the next step under another Act, it would be a conflicting attitude, and that is what we want to avoid; that is why we do not want to introduce a new principle at this stage. But as far as I am concerned, the most important reason against it, and I hope the House will consider this, is that marriage is not a cold legal contract between two parties. We forget that so easily. Where will it end if we are already allowing one party to be absent when the marriage takes place? Why not allow both parties to be absent at a later stage? If we allowed one to be absent then we might just as well also allow the other party merely to advise that he intends to marry that person and that, Sir, is not a sacrament according to my religious beliefs. Marriage is something on a higher plane than a mere contract. Once we allow marriage to sink to that level what will happen to the family life of our nation? If a marriage has to take place I have no objection if the parties enter into an ante-nuptial contract, but the contracting of a marriage itself assumes a meaning, as far as I personally am concerned, only when it has been properly blessed in a religious sense and otherwise. That is why I feel that we in this country, with our ideas about Christianity, should be very careful that we do not lower the value which we place on marriage in our legislation. At a time when there is really no longer any necessity for it, we should think twice before introducing a new principle where marriage is regarded as being merely a cold legal contract. We ourselves should not lower marriage to such a level that it no longer assumes the high value which we should like it to assume. That is why I feel we should be very careful and that we should not discuss this matter any further; after all it has already been discussed. The principle was rejected at the second reading and after a very thorough discussion the Select Committee also rejected the principle. No good purpose will be served by reopening this matter.
I would like in the first instance to express my resentment of the remarks of the hon. member for Standerton (Dr. Coertze) which he levelled …
Don’t be so touchy!
I can be as touchy as I like. I don't know whether the hon. member opposite has a different kind of hide, but I personally resent very much the attack on the motives of the hon. member for East London (City) (Dr. D. L. Smit) in presenting his argument to the House this evening, because if any person at all certainly bears the stamp of sincerity in what he says, it is the hon. member for East London (City). On the other hand what he has said is of course absolutely correct, and what the hon. member for Standerton has said from his knowlege of the law is not correct, because this type of marriage by proxy was well known not only in Roman-Dutch law, but was well known in many other countries. A very interesting comment in an English case stated this—it can be found in the South African Law Journal, Vol. 64, 1957, where Lord Merriman in the case of Abt v. Abt said—
The point of view expressed by the hon. Minister is that it is against our Christian principles to allow this form of marriage to take place. But as I have pointed out, this form of marriage has been recognized for centuries. It is no new principle, and our law has accepted it in the decided cases to which the hon. member referred.
May I ask the hon. member a question: Is this allowed under the laws of Moses?
I am talking at the moment about South African law. I do not allow anything. I am only concerned about the law in our country. The other point to which the hon. Minister referred was the fact that this country had very strict immigration laws and other difficulties. Of course, many countries in the world have immigration laws. In fact all countries in the world have immigration laws with all sorts of restrictions, and in many senses those immigration laws don’t really differ much. Our immigration law for instance has been based to a large extent on the American Immigration law, and the argument that because we have certain laws, this type of marriage will lead to considerable difficulties, is completely fallacious. It seems to me that for some peculiar reason some other motive has crept into the opposition to the suggestion that the law be clarified with regard to marriages by proxy, because the hon. member for Heilbron (Mr. Froneman) has very briefly sought to justify his opposition now to the principle which he accepted as a good lawyer in the Select Committee.
I was quite candid about it.
The hon. member has now changed his mind from the viewpoint that he maintained in the Select Committee when he voted with the hon. member for East London (City) that this amendment should appear in the law. Sir, if the hon. member for Standerton will take the trouble to perhaps do a little more research into this matter, he will find that all the old authorities dealt with this question of marriage by proxy.
I said that it was outmoded.
It is not only not outmoded, but it is recognized to-day in practically all civilized countries in the world. As a matter of fact, the only reason why this appeared in our case law recently was because of the supposed problem that arose, a post-war problem to which the hon. member referred, and which then led to one or two decided cases. It was never abused in this country. That is the extraordinary thing about it. Despite the fact that it was recognized by our common law, we only had two cases in our law reports of recent date which deal with this matter, indicative immediately of the fact that there is no abuse of marriage by proxy. In fact, one always relies on the natural desires of people and the natural observance of people of their own religious outlook, because that is really the brake on marriages by proxy, not the fact that one must pass a law in order to avoid it. The difficulty in regard to all these matters in this House, Mr. Speaker, is …
Order! The hon. member must confine himself to the motion.
Yes, Sir, I was trying to answer the criticism from the other side, but I agree with you, Mr. Speaker, that we must confine ourselves to the motion and therefore follow the plea of the hon. member for Kensington (Mr. Moore), namely, that there is no reason why the House should avoid discussing a matter which the Minister has left as an open matter for this House. The arguments that have been put up against the House agreeing to this motion are in my view much more open to criticism than the veiled suggestion made by the hon. member for Standerton with regard to the introducer of this motion.
I did not intend to enter this debate, but I do want to make one thing quite clear. I am not interested one little bit in the legal side of this matter. I want to know where our freedom-loving people in this country are coming to now when there is objection to a motion of this sort. This is interference with the private lives of individuals. There is not a single member here, I think, that would like to be married by proxy, but there are many who may on account of circumstances quite beyond their control be forced to adopt that procedure, and I do feel that …
Order! I have a very high regard for the hon. member’s feelings, but he must come back to the motion.
Mr. Speaker, I am trying to bring home to the hon. members on the other side the necessity to allow this particular amendment to come before the House. I feel it is one that should be studied very carefully by every member individually. We are freedom-loving people in this country. Now the hon. member raised the question of the Select Committee. I do not think that the Select Committee have the brains and everything else of the whole House. If they only decided by one vote, Mr. Speaker, it is all the more reason why all the members of this House should have the opportunity of voting on the matter as well. That is the appeal, I think, that we from this side of the House make that the time has come when we must stop interfering with the private lives of individuals.
With those few words, I wish once more to express the hope that the subject matter will be allowed to come before this House.
Tellers: N. G. Eaton and A. Hopewell.
Tellers: W. H. Faurie and J. J. Fouché. Motion accordingly negatived.
House in Committee:
Clause 8 of the Bill put and negatived.
On new Clause 8,
8. (1) If a religious denomination or organization changes the name whereby it was known or amalgamates with any other religious denomination or organization, such change in name or amalgamation shall have no effect on the designation of any person as a marriage officer by virtue of his occupying any post or holding any position in any such religious denomination or organization.
- (2) If a religious denomination or organization in such circumstances as are contemplated in sub-section (1) changes the name whereby it was known or amalgamates with any other religious denomination or organization it shall immediately advise the Minister thereof.
On Clause 11,
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 25,
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 28,
I am opposed to the amendment introduced by the majority in the Select Committee on this clause, which I submit touches most immediately the social life of the people, and it will also encourage immorality.
As the clause was originally drafted, marriage with a divorced wife’s sister or divorced husband’s brother was confined to cases where divorce had been granted on the ground that the divorced spouse was incurably insane or serving an indeterminate sentence of imprisonment as an habitual criminal. I think that goes far enough. The amendments propose to remove these limitations and to permit such a marriage whatever the circumstances may be.
I feel that this change in our law is not in the interest of the public, and that it will constitute a danger to family life. It is likely, moreover, to offend the religious and social susceptibilities of the people.
At the outset I would like to ask whether our churches, including the Jewish fraternity, who hold the key of the nation’s conscience, have been consulted with regard to these amendments. The Bill, as originally drafted, was submitted to them and apparently they did not object, but there is nothing to show that they have been consulted in regard to the radical changes that are now suggested by a majority of the Select Committee. In England similar changes in the law were strenuously opposed by the established Church, and I do not think we should proceed with these amendments until the views of our own religious denominations have been authoritatively obtained. These changes, I may say, will not be welcomed by the women of our country. I have received a message from the Mothers’ Union of South Africa protesting against this amendment. This question was carefully considered by this House on two previous occasions when Acts Nos. 11 of 1920 and 17 of 1921 were passed. Act No. 11 of 1920 made it lawful for a widower to marry the sister of his deceased wife or any female related to him through his deceased wife, except any ancestor or descendant of such deceased wife. Act No. 17 of 1921 contains a similar provision authorizing marriage between a widow and the brother or more remote relation of her deceased husband. But each of these statutes contains a proviso which forbids what is contemplated in the amendments we are now considering. I read from Section 3 of Act No. 11 of 1920. That reads as follows—
And the proviso to Section 3 of Act No. 17 of 1921 is to the same effect in so far as a woman marrying her divorced husband’s brother is concerned. The old Cape Act, No. 40 of 1892, has a similar provision.
That is the law of this country to-day, both under our Common Law and under the statutes of this Parliament. Those who seek, Sir, to interfere with the law should give sound reasons as to why it should be done. Once we start tampering with these old institutions we never know where it will end, and I submit that no sound reasons were adduced in the Select Committee to justify the amendment put forward by the majority of the members present.
Sir, I have every sympathy for a marriage between a widower and his deceased wife’s sister, or a widow and a deceased husband’s brother. Such marriages have in many cases brought happiness and have been of benefit to any children who may have been born of the first marriage. But this further inroad into our Common Law and our existing Statute Law not only creates a new danger to the family life, but it constitutes another breach in the Christian concept of marriage.
It frequently happens, Sir, that the younger sister makes her home with her married sister, and this is a welcome addition to the family, particularly among members of the lower income groups. The younger sister with her earnings is able to contribute to the family budget, and to lend a hand with the children. And it would be wrong if her introduction into the home should constitute a danger in the family circle.
There may be hard cases, such as have arisen during abnormal war conditions. But to accept them as a reason for changing our Common Law is both unwise and dangerous, and on balance more people will be injured if these amendments go through than would benefit by them.
Such a change, Sir, would tend to undermine the family structure and diminish the bonds of marriage. That is especially the case where the people live under congested conditions. Hon. members who have had experience of the social conditions under which many of our people live, will know that cases, unfortunately, do arise in which a husband falls in love with his wife’s sister who may be living with them as a member of the family and he may even commit adultery with her. The position of the wife then becomes intolerable and she is driven to apply for a divorce. The converse also applies where the husband’s brother lives in the house. I need only refer to a case that happened in Bloemfontein and was tried before the Supreme Court in Bloemfontein last October. A husband caught his wife and his brother, who was living in the house, in compromising circumstances, and he shot them both. The jury found him guilty of murder with extenuating circumstances, and the judge sentenced him to ten years’ imprisonment. I say that these amendments may encourage a man to seduce his wife’s sister with the intention of marrying her later on, in the hope that his wife will divorce him, if he knows that the law will allow him to get rid of his wife and marry her sister.
Sir, the psychological effect on the minds of the children of the marriage is bound to have unfortunate consequences. To-day there is a rising tide of juvenile delinquency, much of which is caused by broken homes. I am aware that in England and in certain other countries such marriages are permitted, but in England last year, when the law was changed, the Churches were strongly opposed to any such change. I say that our approach should be to make divorce more difficult rather than to remove the restrictions that are a result of centuries of experience, and are intended to prevent immorality in the family circle.
I am very much opposed to these amendments, and I trust that they will not go through.
I should like, very strongly, to support the hon. member for East London (Dr. D. L. Smit) in this matter. I think that this Committee, and particularly some hon. members on the other side of the House, should give more serious consideration to the views expressed by the hon. member. It was rather extraordinary to find the tremendous amusement created when the hon. member referred to the viewpoint of the Churches. It was so very different from a discussion we had not long ago when an appeal was made to this side of the House on the basis of Christian principles, when we were dealing with marriage by proxy.
There is a great deal of merit in what the hon. member for East London (City) has said with regard to the intrusion into the social life of our community. This particular prohibition has actually stood the test of many centuries and, for the edification of the hon. member for Vereeniging (Mr. B. Coetzee) who, I am sure, is very anxious to learn about Mosaic Law, this particular prohibition against the marriage of a man to his divorced wife’s sister, was one of the prohibitions in the table of prohibitions of marriages in the Mosaic Law. It has been accepted as a prohibition by all the faiths that have emerged.
But Jacob actually married two sisters at the same time.
It is quite clear that when you talk on a matter which really has some basis of sincerity, the amusement on the other side is indicative of the lack of courtesy to the very principles on which they say their own party and its politics are based.
The position is that every faith over 20 centuries has accepted this prohibition, and it has been regarded as one of the important foundations, not only of our social life but of the family system. That is one of the very important factors which must be taken into account. The whole of our society, particularly for us in South Africa, is based on the importance of the family system and the family traditions. South Africans, particularly, pay great homage to the importance of the family system. I believe that this particular clause which now seeks to remove this prohibition is not only going to make a further inroad, but an extremely serious inroad into, and lay open almost the whole of family life to suspicion and possible deterioration.
My appeal is this: it is all very well for hon. members of this House to talk of the fact that old laws have become outmoded, but I think it is important to remember that when one touches the family system one touches the foundation of the whole of our structure of modem society. I therefore make a very strong appeal to hon. members, who will obviously deal with this matter as an open question, to support the viewpoint of the hon. member for East London (City), and my own attitude in this matter, in that we should not agree to accept this section of the Bill to remove the age-old and well-established prohibition.
I should like to move—
Committee in paragraph (c), be put.
Mr. Chairman, I am sorry to have to disagree with the two hon. members who have just spoken, but I feel that this is not a matter which can be decided by a rigid law. Laws may have been in force for many years, in fact, for hundreds or even thousands of years, but that does not necessarily mean that they have always been right. Where there is—as the hon. member for East London (City) (Dr. D. L. Smit) admitted—the possibility of hardship then, surely, it is our duty, if we are to follow the principles of basic humanity, to try to remove hindrances which are admitted even in the arguments against the exclusion of restrictions. Surely it is our duty to remove those hardships.
I do not believe that the mere exclusion by law of certain circumstances with which we all disagree, is going to stop those evils. If evils are going to occur, as has been outlined, if a man is likely to commit adultery with his wife’s sister, then the fact that he is not able to marry her is not going to stop that adultery. The fact that the law prevents him from consummating that union is not going to prevent him from committing the offence. If a marriage has deteriorated to the extent that, within one family, such division exists that that can happen then, surely, we should not by artificial means lay down a restriction which is going to continue that evil state. In a case like that we recognize divorce. I am not in favour of divorce but I recognize it as one of the essential evils of the modern age. I recognize that if it must be it must be. It is one of those things that we have to accept as a reality of this age. If we accept that, then should we so tie that down that we are going to create hardship to people merely in order to continue with a system which has been in existence for 100 or 1,000 years?
I am only sorry that in the debate that has taken place on the two contentious issues of this clause, we could not all have taken a more open approach to the matter than we did on the last clause on which we divided. On this matter, as on the last, I do not believe it is an issue on which we should divide because of any political conviction. It is a matter of what is going to help society and what is going to help those for whom it is our responsibility, as a Parliament, to legislate. In this case I believe that there are hardships created by the prohibition which is now being removed. Therefore, with regret, I cannot agree with those who have spoken for the retention of the prohibition, and I support the clause as it is proposed.
Mr. Speaker, I just want to state what the existing law is, so that we may see this matter in its true perspective. In terms of the existing law a widower may marry his deceased wife’s sister and a widow may marry her deceased husband’s brother. But a divorced man may not marry his wife’s sister and a divorced woman may not marry her divorced husband’s brother—except in the Free State. The law is slightly different there. In the Free State a divorced man may marry his wife’s sister. That is the only province where the position is different from that in the other three provinces. I just want to say to the hon. member for East London (City) (Dr. D. L. Smit) that I do not believe that the morals of the people in the Free State have in any way deteriorated because of that freedom which the people in the Free State are allowed. If we want to fight the evils mentioned by him, I do not think this is the right way of doing it; because if we fight it in this way a series of consequences will follow. Those results are that people simply live in sin because they are not allowed to enter into a legal marriage. A whole series of incongruities flows from that position. I want to plead with the hon. members for East London (City) to view this matter in an entirely new light and that we should rather abolish this prohibition on marriages under those circumstances. It is in the interests of the country that we do so.
I am very exercised in my mind with regard to both the arguments put forward. The case put forward by the hon. member for East London (City) (Dr. D. L. Smit), would seem, on the face of it, unanswerable. There you have a younger sister coming to live in the house, the man seduces her and then makes life impossible for his wife in order to get rid of her, and she has to clear out so that he can marry the younger sister. That is the one side. But there is another side to it and it is this: suppose that the wife is not the innocent being that she is supposed to be. Suppose she goes off and leaves the man with the children and then an elder or a younger sister comes in, brings those children up and looks after them. Is it not the case, then, that he should be allowed to marry that woman? No adultery or scandal has taken place at all, but he needs someone to look after his children because his wife has bolted and left him, and he wants to, marry the sister. He cannot let her live in his home because of talk although she is acting as a mother to his children. But he cannot marry that woman. That is the other side of the story and I must admit that I am very worried and I have not yet made up my mind which way to vote in this case.
I very seldom differ from the hon. member for East London (City), and he has put his side of the case so convincingly. But he takes it for granted that the man is at fault. But it could possibly be that the woman is at fault and that the man has been left with the family.
He can divorce her.
Yes, he can divorce her, but if her sister has come in and looked after the children and he then wants to marry her in order to give the children a home, he cannot do that. That is the other side, and I find it difficult to decide which one should be supported.
Mr. Chairman, the Select Committee was faced with various points of view when it considered this matter. Firstly, there are churches in our country which do not recognize any divorce at all. Then there are churches in our country which do recognize divorce, but which do not allow the divorced parties to remarry. Then there are churches which allow divorce, but which do not allow a marriage with the brother or the sister, as the case may be. And then there was the belief on the Committee that in this day and age we should see divorce for what it is, and that we should relax the law somewhat. Then, as the hon. member for Frankfort (Mr. Froneman) has quite correctly pointed out, there was a fourth consideration, namely that this greater freedom already exists in one of the provinces.
The Select Committee had not formed the impression that there had been any deterioration in the morals of the Free State as such, where the greatest freedom in this regard was allowed. That was the first point.
The Committee also took into account that all in all those parts of the world where these particular churches had their counterparts, a fierce struggle was being waged against them, aimed at making divorce easier and simpler. The Committee was further impressed by a further consideration, namely that we cannot use marriage to prohibit or prevent immorality, and that people who try to do so, are really barking up the wrong tree. Those were the considerations which weighed with the Committee. On the Select Committee members of the different parties voted on different sides. The considerations were that in this modern age we should see marriage for what it is, that we should see divorce for what it is, and we should see these presently existing prohibitions as the failures which they also are as regards the purpose for which they are used. That is why this amendment has been moved, and that is why I am very glad that the hon. member for Durban (Point) (Mr. Raw) supports this proposal. I agree with him wholeheartedly and I hope the Committee will accept the amendments of the Select Committee as they stand.
The question which we are discussing at the moment, namely whether a man should be allowed to marry his deceased wife’s sister or his wife’s sister in the case of a divorced man, has quite an interesting history.
Where does it start?
As far as South Africa is concerned it starts with our original laws which were based on the Canon laws which maintained that a man and wife were of the same blood and flesh and that for that reason if a man married his wife’s sister, no matter under what circumstances, it was incest. It is interesting to note that that was the position right up to 1921 and then certain prominent members in this House whose wives were no longer alive wanted to marry but they found themselves in conflict with the ecclesiastical concept namely that a man could not marry his wife’s sister, whether his wife was dead or still alive, because that would be incest. The law was accordingly changed in 1921 except in the Free State as the hon. member for Heilbron has pointed out because the Free State had already advanced in that respect, it was not necessary to change the law there, because that was already the law in the Free State. I may add in passing that a former Minister of Finance, Mr. Havenga, was married to his deceased wife’s sister in terms of this Act. The late Senator F. S. Malan was similarly married to his deceased wife’s sister according to the 1921 Act.
I listened to the hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Miller) who quoted from the Bible. What does the Bible say? I am not referring to the New Testament now. I want to refer the hon. member to Deuteronomy 25, verse 5 …
The Abraham of to-day should listen to what the Abraham of those days said. Verse 5 reads as follows:
I merely mention this because it is interesting to note that we have progressed since the years that the Canon Laws have operated in South Africa, so much so, that this House has decided in the past that it would no longer be incest for a man to marry his wife’s sister under certain circumstances. What has happened since then? I have the greatest respect for the hon. member for East London (City) (Dr. D. L. Smit) and for his integrity, but he should realize that we are living in a new era. During the war I came across cases of soldiers who were on active service, I have in mind particularly the case of a sailor in the South African Navy whose wife deserted the children when they were still small. The wife’s sister cared for the children and was a mother to them in the true sense of the word. They even called her “mother When he returned he had nobody else to care for his children but his wife’s sister. To-day they are anxious to marry. He does not know where his former wife is. He is divorced from her but he is not allowed to marry the sister. He cannot marry the woman who is known to his children as their mother because the law forbids him to do so. I am sure the hon. member for East London (City) will agree that such cases should be put right. I hope that irrespective of the moral objections which the hon. member may have, he will realize that a man can commit adultery with another woman and that the sin in that case is as real as it is when he commits adultery with his wife’s sister. Let me say this to the hon. member that if he continues to object to this Bill, as amended in the Select Committee, he will be standing in the way of various people who should be happily married.
Mr. Chairman, I would definitely not have supported the two clauses in their original form, because I think it is wrong to place an absolute prohibition on the re-marriage of a divorced person to the sister or brother of the other spouse from which he or she is divorced. After the lapse of a certain period of time and, in certain circumstances, I think it is human and right to allow it. But I am less able to accept this amendment than I was to accept the original clause which did not make the necessary concession. In the long run we should not regard this proposed amendment by the Select Committee merely as an amendment to our marriage laws. We must turn our minds to the divorce to which it refers. The relationship between a sister and a sister and between a brother and a brother is, to a certain extent, one of good faith, and if that good faith is violated, such violation cannot immediately be rewarded by an immediate marriage thereafter. Mr. Chairman, the position under our divorce laws as they are to-day, is that a brother or a sister can violate the good faith which exists between himself or herself and his brother or her sister, and then, without paying any penalty, he or she can immediately reap the benefits of his or her dishonourable conduct. The position is absolutely clear to me, and I think we should allow our consciences to dictate to us in this House, and that we should consider the matter very well before we approve of this clause in its present form. I would be prepared to support an amendment to the effect that, say, after a period of three, four or five years after the divorce, such a marriage can take place. But, as the clause stands at the moment, once the divorce is final, whether the cause was adultery or desertion, a re-marriage can take place the day thereafter. I think that idea ought to go against the feeling of decency of every member of this Committee.
I do not agree with those hon. members who are opposed to the motion that I have put. I have listened to their arguments, and I think that I should quote to them the provisions of the old Cape Act which dealt with marriage between a man and his deceased wife’s sister. That matter was very carefully debated in the old Cape House, and there was a good deal of diversity of opinion. But eventually they passed this law, subject to an amendment that was introduced in Committee. I quote from Section 4 of Act No. 40 of 1892, which said this—
The old Cape legislature was very, very concerned about that side of the matter.
Then, I again want to draw attention to what happened in our own Parliament in 1917. There was then an amendment to the law of marriage, and I quote, first of all, Act 11 of 1920. That brought the laws in force in Natal and the Transvaal, relating to marriage, into line with those of the Cape Province. That one contains the same provision—
Now we come to Act 17 of 1921. There the matter was again considered and this Act, let me say, applies to the whole Union and not merely to any one particular province. It says this—
Then Section 3: As I say, this applies to the whole Union and does not merely relate to any particular province—
I do not think we should lightly set aside these provisions that have been passed by this Parliament and by the old Cape Parliament after very careful consideration. Likewise, I do not think that we should over-ride the common law. There is too much tampering with the common law. We should stand by that common law which has been in force for centuries. I am therefore very, very much opposed to this amendment.
Mr. Chairman, I just want to give one explanation to the Committee. The hon. member for East London (City) (Dr. D. L. Smit) also asked this question in his original speech: What do the churches say? I am informed that this proposed amendment by the Select Committee has been submitted to the major churches, to a cross-section of churches in South Africa, and that no comment worth while mentioning has been received from those churches. The attitude which I adopt is not that the churches agree with this, but rather that they argue that they as marriage officers are not obliged to marry people who in the opinion of the church, have made themselves guilty of that. But rather than to allow those people—we all know of cases—to continue to live in sin, there should be an opportunity for them to contract a legal marriage. I am merely telling the House this otherwise that question will have remained unanswered. I have studied the documents in the Department and there has been no criticism worth while mentioning.
I would like to disagree with my hon. friend from East London (City) (Dr. D. L. Smit) and to support the suggestions of the Committee. After all, this is not a problem of genetics, it becomes purely a question of sociology. It has been argued that because it did not happen in the past it should not happen now. We know very well that in regard to marriage the law has changed considerably over the past 50 or 100 years. There are even to-day churches which do not recognize divorce. So that I do not think that this House should be greatly impressed with what has happened in the past. This is purely a sociological problem, and for it to be argued that a mother or sister-in-law is in a specially privileged position is hardly fair. To say that they are accepted into the home is quite true but, Sir, you might as well suggest that a woman cannot marry her lodger after divorcing her husband.
That is very far-fetched.
No, it is not far-fetched. You may suggest that a man should not marry his secretary. After all, a business man’s relations with his secretary are very close. The point is that those days of sociological legislation, legislation which has been overshadowed by the Old Testament and by the early Christian martyrs and those sorts of people have gone. I think that to condemn people to live in sin merely because they happen to be brother-in-law and sister-in-law is hardly fair or just. You cannot make laws for morality. This Government has tried that already in many instances and it has failed.
I really feel that we should take a liberal view of this matter.
Amendment put and a division called.
As fewer than 15 members (viz. Mr. Bowker, Dr. De Wet, Messrs. E. G. Malan,. Miller, Mitchell, Pelser, Dr. D. L. Smit, Messrs. F. S. Steyn and B. J. Vorster) voted against the amendment, the Chairman declared it agreed to.
Clause, as amended by the Select Committee, put and agreed to.
On Clause 29,
On the motion of Maj. van der Byl, the amendment made by the Select Committee was put,
I move as an amendment—
The clause will then read—
That does away with all the arguments we have had from the Minister that a man can marry by proxy a person who is an undesirable immigrant, and, then, if the wife is not allowed to land in South Africa, propaganda is made against us. The Minister has taken great care to go into the whole background and the history of the matter, but unless she is suitable to come here she cannot come, and all the trouble falls away and yet you have that loophole proposed in my amendment which allows of special cases. I do not think that the Minister can have any objection to that, because the decision is left entirely in his hands. But it still leaves a loophole for cases of hardship.
I want to support the amendment moved by the hon. member for Green Point (Maj. van der Byl). Because of the objections which have been raised against it, this whole question of marriage by proxy has been viewed in the wrong light, such objections for example, as the entry of undesirable immigrants into this country. The institution of marriage by proxy is also very necessary in the case of marriages here in this country, because it may happen that a person who is very ill in Johannesburg wishes to marry someone in Cape Town but he cannot be conveyed and it may be essential for him to marry for property right reasons and then he cannot get married. During the last war there were many cases where it became clear that marriage by proxy was necessary. I plead for the acceptance of this amendment because we will then solve all the difficulties of the Minister and other hon. members.
I would like to raise a point of order for your consideration, Sir. When this matter was before the Select Committee it was ruled, and I believe that the ruling was upheld, that marriage by proxy was not contemplated in the Bill as it stood and that the matter could not be considered in the absence of an instruction. The effect of the amendment may be to permit marriages by proxy and it seems to me that in terms of the ruling already given the amendment is not competent.
I am sorry that I am unable to accept the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Green Point (Maj. van der Byl) as it proposes to allow marriages by proxy in certain circumstances, which would introduce a new principle not contemplated by the Bill as read a second time.
Clause, as amended by the Select Committee, put and agreed to.
On Clause 32,
I move the amendment as printed—
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 35,
I move the amendment as printed—
On Clause 38,
I move the amendment as printed—
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
Remaining Clauses, the Schedule and the Title of the Bill put and agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; amendments to be considered on 2 March.
Sixth Order read: House to resume in Committee on Preservation of Coloured Areas Bill.
House in Committee:
Progress reported on 23 February when Clause 1 was standing over and Clause 4 was under consideration, upon which an amendment had been moved by Dr. D. L. Smit.
Amendment put and negatived.
Clause, as printed, put and agreed to.
Clause 5 put,
Progress reported and leave asked to sit again.
House to resume in Committee on 2 March.
The House adjourned at
Mr. SPEAKER took the Chair at 2.20 p.m.
First Order read: Second reading,—Railways and Harbours Additional Appropriation Bill.
Mr. Speaker, having examined the Bill, I find the moneys appropriated by it are to be applied for the purposes specified in the Second Estimates of Additional Expenditure which were approved yesterday. We examined all these items meticulously, as is our duty, and it is unnecessary to traverse the same ground again. Therefore we will give a very easy and quick passage to this Bill.
But before I sit down, may I stretch the rules of debate to say a few words about the retiring General Manager of Railways, Mr. du Plessis. I do so because although this is not the last time he will be present in this House, it is probably the last time that we will have an opportunity on this side of the House of speaking to him. Let me say that we will miss him. We have had great fights and many differences in the past, but we have always appreciated his friendly courtesy and the dignity, loyalty and enthusiasm with which he has managed an often difficult and responsible job. I personally have known him well outside the realm of politics. At all the Congresses with which I was associated when I was in the Chamber of Commerce movement, we were happy that he was often there, and although he often failed to agree with our contentions and arguments we found him courteous in the manner in which he carried out his duties. We wish him very many happy years of retirement. They say that the best reward for having worked well is to be asked to do more. It is possible that he will not be allowed to rest, but will be called to a more active participation in many other activities in which I know he takes serious interest. I am sure that he will continue to render public service for many years to come; we wish him well.
Mr. Speaker, like the hon. member who has just sat down, we shall not oppose this Bill. We have made our comments on it in the initial stages and we have nothing further to add. However, I want to join my colleague in expressing my appreciation of the fact that Mr. du Plessis, the General Manager of Railways, is here on this occasion, attending the House, I believe, for the last time in his official capacity. Like the hon. member for Wynberg (Mr. Russell), I and other hon. members of this party have never pulled our punches in Railway debates. We have said many hard things and have made many suggestions to him which he may have taken as a reflection on the policy he was administering, but I think it is only right that we should on this occasion pay a tribute to him for the work he has done. I recollect, in the early days when I represented commerce, the attitude of almost amused tolerance with which Mr. du Plessis used to greet the somewhat amateurish criticism that we offered to him, but I think he very soon realized that the constructive criticism we voiced was put up in the best interests of the country as a whole. Moreover I must pay a tribute to him personally for the regular discussions he initiated, first of all with organized commerce and later with the Transport Consultative Committee, as the result of which many of the views of commerce were accepted by him and many difficulties were eliminated. I also would like to pay a tribute to him for the fact that our discussions over the last seven years, rendered them conflict years of co-operation rather than of conflict. We were always treated by him wih he utmost courtesy and consideration, and he always approached our views with an open mind. I would not try to portray the General Manager as a paragon of virtue. Indeed I should also make it quite clear that we have had and I still have important differences of opinion with him on major matters of policy, but Mr. du Plessis has played a major part in bringing the transport system of the country to the stage it has reached to-day. Speaking as a Natalian, I would also like to pay tribute to him for the part he has played in bringing the transport system in Natal and the whole of the development work in the port of Durban to the stage it has reached to-day. With that, I should like to join my colleague in wishing Mr. du Plessis a long and happy retirement in which he will enjoy the fruits of his labours. I can assure him that the same attentive and constructive assistance that we have given to him will be extended in like manner to his successor.
There are few occasions when we on this side are able to associate ourselves with what hon. members opposite say, but we can do so on this occasion where they paid tribute to Mr. du Plessis, who is retiring shortly. Mr. du Plessis stood at the head of this huge organization during difficult years, and in extending our good wishes to him we also want to pay tribute to him for the manner in which he performed this difficult task. I think that the fruits of the work of the past few years, these splendid results which are now being achieved by the Railways, are a nice parting gift to him for his years of faithful service to the Railways. I want to tell him that he should forget the unfair criticism and the attacks which he often had to endure; from the very nature of the matter one must expect that. We wish him many years of prosperity and a pleasant retirement.
On behalf of Mr. du Plessis I want to thank hon. members for their generous and well-deserved tributes. I am sure he thoroughly appreciates them. I will have the opportunity of paying tribute to Mr. du Plessis when I make my Budget speech on Wednesday next, so I shall not do so at this stage. I just want to thank hon. members on his behalf.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
House in Committee:
Clauses, Schedules and Title of the Bill put and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Bill read a third time.
Second Order read: First Report of Select Committee on Railways and Harbours (on Unauthorized Expenditure), to be considered.
I take the rather unusual step of rising on the motion for the adoption of this Report of the Select Committee on Railways and Harbours (on Unauthorized Expenditure). Sir, it is unusual because it has become rather a conventional matter to adopt the Report, but it will be my submission that there are some unusual features connected with the Report this year, features to which I feel attention should be drawn. Naturally there is a distinct limitation on the extent to which one can discuss this particular Report, which asks this House to approve of an expenditure of £153,404 Is. 7d. at this particular juncture. Sir, I am limited in what I can say because the evidence that was taken before the Select Committee is not before the House.
Why did you not ask th Committee to report the evidence?
Sir, I feel very restricted because if I have to answer the query of the hon. member I will have to disclose what took place in that Committee. But when the amendmend was moved by the hon. member for Wynberg (Mr. Russell) the other day it was stated that there was a very clear and distinct division of opinon in respect of certain amounts which form part of the total amount. The Auditor-General in his report makes reference to this total of unauthorized expenditure which was considered by the Select Committee, and he makes certain observations in respect of particular items that we are called upon to vote here and which are reflected at £4,130 under Revenue Services and £149,273 under Capital and Betterment Services. Let me say immediately that as far as the bulk of this expenditure is concerned there can be no objection at all but there are certain principles arising out of the adoption of this Report which affect the question of parliamentary control. In respect of the first item, Revenue Services, the Auditor-General’s report reflects this item as an ex gratia payment not covered by appropriate authority. It was a payment made to a shipping company as the result of negligence on the part of one of the Administration’s officials which resulted in damage to a ship in the Durban harbour. The Auditor-General makes reference to this matter on page 235 of this report. It is stated there that this particular official was reprimanded after a disciplinary inquiry. The Auditor-General goes on to say that the damage that was paid to the shipping company to the extent of £4,130 was paid as an ex gratia payment. The Auditor-General points out further that this ex gratia payment of £4,130 is not covered by appropriate authority, as neither the prior sanction of Parliament nor a Governor-General’s special warrant was obtained in terms of Resolution No. 1 of the Second Report of the Select Committee on Railways and Harbours in 1938. Sir, what is this resolution that was adopted by the Select Committee in 1938? That Committee stated very clearly that the Select Committee on Railways and Harbours had recommended on no less than three occasions that the practice of submitting ex gratia payments by the Administration annually for the approval of Parliament in an Unauthorized Expenditure Bill be simplified by the adoption of certain principles. The principle which applies in respect of this case was this that when a new and important principle or a large sum of money, that is to say £500 or more, is involved, the prior sanction of Parliament should be obtained by specifying the items in the estimates of expenditure. The resolution then went on to say this—
But, Sir, the Committee did not concur with that view because it went on to say—
From all the evidence that I can obtain, it is clear that this resolution was accepted, but it was not only accepted by this House, it was also accepted by the Railway Administration. Now we are called upon here to approve of unauthorized expenditure of £4,130, which is included in the globular sum of £153,000-odd in direct conflict with the resolution which was passed on four occasions by a Select Committee and approved of by the House and accepted by the Administration. Sir, the Minister in his reply may maintain that that was all very well but that there have been previous examples. There have been previous examples where the Select Committee has concurred in ex gratia payments which have been made in spite of this resolution of 1938, but as far as I can ascertain there were only two occasions on which that was done. Reference is made in last year’s report by the Auditor-General to two minor amounts of £500 and £434 which were paid out as ex gratia payments to the widows of certain railway officials. The amount involved was certainly nothing like the amount involved in this particular case.
Sir, this is not the only case to which I want to refer. Included in the sum of £149,000 for Capital and Betterment Services, there is a further item of £2,932, in respect of which the Auditor-General again observes that “such payments were paid contrary to the resolution adopted by the Select Committee on Railways and Harbours”. It is very pertinent to note that the Select Committee in 1949 was most specific in its recommendation in regard to the payment of moneys for unforeseen works under Capital and Betterment Services, where there had been no prior approval by this House or a Governor-General’s special warrant. It stated—
Here we have, amongst others, this particular example in respect of Head No. 2, Sanction No. 1/3158 in regard to which the Auditor-General makes these very pertinent observations.
Sir, I have stated the case as factually as I can without making any reference to the evidence that was taken before the Railways Select Committee. I am not permitted to refer to that. That evidence will only come to light when the report is eventually tabled in this House at the end of the Session. But the principle to which I wish to draw attention is this: Parliament sets up a Select Committee which fulfils an important function in controlling the public purse, and if one Department of State puts itself above this House in a matter of principle of this nature, then what is the use of any Select Committee or what is the use of this House passing any resolution in respect of these matters? If the Committee draws attention to the fact that other Departments of State fall in line with the wishes of this House, then I want to know this: Why cannot the Railway Administration similarly fall into line when it comes to expending public moneys? I draw attention to this, Sir, because it typifies a high-handed attitude in direct conflict with resolutions adopted in this House, not on one occasion, but on no less than five different occassions, by committees charged with the responsible function of controlling the public purse on behalf of this House. This is a flagrant case of flouting the decision of this House, because the specific resolutions to which I have referred were not only referred to the Railway Administration but they were referred to this House for approval and this House gave its approval to those resolutions. We are placed in this difficult position that we cannot vote for the removal of these items. To do so would prejudice certain railway officials, but when the evidence becomes available it will show what the true position is in respect of these matters to which I cannot now refer. Sir, I have risen to draw attention to this matter because I think this House should protect the Select Committee and demand from all Departments of State that they should observe the wishes of this House and of the Select Committees when it comes to controlling the public purse and looking after the interests of the taxpayers of this country.
Listening to the hon. member one gets the impression that there is something seriously wrong.
But there is.
There is nothing wrong. One would think that a sum of about £2,000,000 was involved, and that the Select Committee was not placed in a position to obtain the necessary evidence, to inquire into the matter and to report to Parliament. The hon. member wants to know what is the use of a Select Committee. While he was speaking I was also wondering what is the use of a Select Committee when we have this type of debate after the Select Committee has had the opportunity of inquiring into the matter, hearing evidence and reporting to Parliament.
Where is the evidence?
The evidence will be printed in due course. It is entirely a matter for the Committee to decide whether or not the evidence should be printed together with the Report. The Public Accounts Committee prints the evidence even with their first report.
Why don’t you?
Because I am not a member of the Select Committee; I leave that to the Select Committee. The hon. member should know that having been in Parliament all these years.
When the report comes out it will show why evidence is not here.
I will give the House all the information it requires —not the evidence of the Select Committee. Sir, what is really involved in this diatribe on the part of the hon. member in which he creates the impression that there is something seriously wrong?
The item to which the hon. member refers was an ex gratia payment of £4,130 3s. 8d. paid to certain claimants. On 28 November 1958, the motor vessel Thorshope, after leaving the graving dock at Durban harbour, collided with one of the assisting tugs (Sir David Hunter) while manoeuvring in the turning basin and suffered extensive damage to the port side of her hull. Investigations disclosed that the accident arose from the negligent action of the Administration’s pilot who was piloting the ship in that his order to the tug, Sir David Hunter, which was towing the Thorshope stern first, to let go the tow, was given at a time when the vessel had too much sternway which resulted in the tug being overrun. A departmental charge of disciplinary infringement was preferred against the pilot who pleaded guilty to negligence in that he committed an error of judgment in under-estimating the speed of the Thorshope. The sentence imposed was a recorded reprimand.
A claim for the costs of repairing the damage to the vessel was received from the owners, and as the damage was the direct result of negligence on the part of the pilot it was decided to accept liability. After negotiations with the shipowners and careful inquiry into the circumstances, the sum of £4,130 3s. 8d. was paid to the claimants as a charge to the Marine Section of the General Insurance Fund (subsequently adjusted and debited to Head No. 25, Miscellaneous Expenditure Net Revenue, Harbours). There was no legal liability on the Administration to pay this claim but the Administration regarded it as equitable in view of the circumstances, to pay the shipowners the amount claimed. As the hon. member has correctly stated, there is a resolution of the Select Committee on Railways and Harbours which was accepted by the Administration, that any ex gratia payment exceeding £500 must either be voted by Parliament or a Governor-General’s special warrant must be obtained. What actually happened in this case is the following. A bona fide oversight had arisen as a result of the claim being dealt with in the first instance as one against the Administration’s General Insurance Fund. It was only when attention was drawn to the payment by the Controller and Auditor-General’s inspector as one that was of an ex gratia nature on 3 March 1960—too late to permit of its being provided for in the Additional Estimates for 1959-60—that the accounting aspect was adjusted by debiting Net Revenue Account (Harbours) and crediting the Insurance Fund. This, however, entailed unauthorized expenditure being brought to account. That is what happened, Sir. The impression created by the hon. member is that there is something very wrong in regard to this whole matter; it was purely an oversight. It was first of all debited to the General Insurance Fund, quite bona fide, and when the Auditor-General brought this to the attention of the management it was immediately adjusted and debited to Net Revenue Account (Harbours), and the Insurance Fund was credited. The second item which the hon. member referred to was “Sanction 1/3158-C Kelso Junction-Umsinto: Rerail, etc., 44m. 5.45ch. to 50m. 53.37ch.: £2,930 12s. Id.” The facts of the case are as follows: When preparing the completion certificate in respect of this work towards the close of the 1959-60 financial year, it was found necessary to make certain accounting adjustments resulting in a debit to the Capital Betterment portion of the Sanction. It was too late to make the necessary financial provision in the Additional Estimates for that year and the System Manager, Durban, was authorized to effect the adjustments in the new financial year to obviate unauthorized expenditure being incurred. The Controller and Auditor-General per his minute JA. 11/1/4 dated 1 August 1960, requested however, that the adjustments be made during 1959-60 with the result that expenditure amounting to £2,930 12s. Id. was brought to account without prior parliamentary approval having been obtained. Whilst every endeavour is made to ensure that all items involving belated debits in excess of £1,000 are duly provided for, in this case by the time the whole of the recorded expenditure on the work had been reviewed (which is the usual procedure preparatory to the compilation of a completion certificate which reflects the full cost of the work, appropriately allocated) it was too late to obtain a vote to cover the unauthorized betterment expenditure which arose from adjustment of the expenditure allocations. In the case of a relaying work, particularly, betterment allocations are only made after the material has been inserted in the track, the cost of materials up to this stage being debited to the Renewals Fund. The omission to obtain a vote of Parliament to cover the expenditure was due to its not being anticipated that an adjustment exceeding £1,000 would be involved.
Sir, that is the position. The hon. member tried to create the impression that this was a mountain instead of a molehill. The hon. member must remember that the South African Railway Administration is not a twopenny ha’penny concern in some small rural town; it is a tremendously big organization involving an annual expenditure of hundreds of millions of pounds, and if this is all that is wrong, I thing it is a compliment to the South African Railways.
The Minister has made out that the principle involved here is not an important one, because the amount is not large. We must remember that it is the principle that has to be dealt with, and the Controller and Auditor-General draws the attention of the Select Committee and this House to that fact. Whether the amount is £1 or £1,000,000 makes no difference; it is the principle that we are concerned with here and the question of overall parliamentary control. The Minister has referred to two of the items which are reflected in this report. I want to refer to another one. I refer to the Controller and Auditor-General’s report on page 17, and the item to which I refer is Sanction 23/11211, and the date, which is important, is 26 May 1959. This was a conversion of 19 Blue Train coaches; the amount sanctioned was £25,000 and the expenditure for 1959-60 was £22,578. It is quite clear that in this instance the position is quite different from the two cases referred to by the hon. member for Turffontein (Mr. Durrant).
This is quite a different case; it has no relation to the two matters he raised.
It has this in common, that it is also unauthorized expenditure, and the report that we are dealing with now concerns unauthorized expenditure. In this case it is revealed that on 26 May 1959 a sanction order was approved for an expenditure of £25,000. This sanction was for the conversion of 19 Blue Train coaches, and during the financial year ending 31 March 1960 R45,156 was spent, and of this amount £25,000 was debited to the Unforeseen Works provision. Unfortunately, insufficient provision was made to cover this amount in the Vote Unforeseen Works, with the result that this amount has now been voted as unauthorized expenditure. What emerges from this unfortunate affair? Firstly, that the work was sanctioned on 26 May 1959, and the estimated costs at that time, the amount sanctioned, was £25,000. Secondly, from May to March of the following year, R45,156 was actually spent; that is to say, in the financial year ending 31 March 1960. Of this amount £25,000 was debited to the Unforeseen Works Account for the year ending 31 March 1960. This Vote was over-spent, and this amount of £25,000 could not be met. This is the important point: No action was taken by the Administration to provide for this amount on the Additional Estimates for 1959-60, which could easily have been done at the beginning of the 1960 session. There was ample opportunity for this amount to be included in the Additional Estimates at the time, but this was not done, with the result that the figures which are now revealed in the Additional Estimates which we dealt with yesterday indicate that the estimated total cost of this work is R50,000, of which R45,156 has been spent, and which has not yet been brought to account. Yesterday we were asked to vote an additional amount of R8,844. The resolution which deals with Unforeseen Works says: “Works authorized in the Unforeseen Works Vote, after the completion of the Estimates, and for which it is too late to make financial provision in the succeeding financial year.” The resolution stated quite clearly that this account is to be used when it is not possible to make provision in the Additional Estimates or in any other way during the financial year. But in this particular case there was from May 1959 to March 1960; in other words, ample opportunity for the necessary provision to be made and for the Vote to be included in the Additional Estimates for 1960. That was not done, however, and that was why the Controller and Auditor-General has again drawn attention to this resolution, that, where it is possible to make proper financial provision so that Parliament can vote the money, it should be done, and should not be left to an unauthorized vote being obtained in this way long after the work has been completed. That is the position that we are faced with to-day. I should imagine that this work has practically been completed by this time, and yesterday was the first opportunity we had of discussing the Vote itself. But, Sir, because of the ruling which you gave, we were only able to discuss the additional amount, not the item itself. So we were restricted in our discussions even yesterday.
Unfortunately, I cannot speak again now, but at the second reading I will reply to the hon. member and give him all the information.
There we can see what other difficulty we are placed in. The Minister has already spoken, otherwise we could get the information.
The second reading can be taken immediately if you like, and then I can give you information.
I will also have another opportunity of speaking on Monday. So we call it all square, and, as far as I am concerned, I am prepared to leave it till the hon. Minister gives some information on Monday. We are raising this matter because it is a matter of principle. An important principle is involved here. It is parliamentary control of money that is spent by the Administration. I will be the first to admit that one cannot expect a huge organization like the Railways not to have a slip-up here and there.
There was no slip-up here.
The facts revealed to us by the Controller and Auditor-General indicate that a sanction was signed in May 1959, and, during the first months of the session in 1960, ample opportunity occurred for that amount to be included in the Additional Estimates. It was not done, and that is why this position has developed, and that is why we have taken this unusual step of discussing this matter on this particular occasion. I do hope that it will have the desired effect, and that the Administration will take more care over this sort of thing, so that Parliament can fulfil its correct function.
It is not necessary to go very further into this matter. This short debate will have been a very useful one if it will result in the printing of these reports with the evidence, in time to appear concurrently with the unauthorized appropriations we are supposed to vote. Probably the hon. Minister agrees with me.
As it is now, the only artificial method we have of getting the evidence printed is by moving in Select Committee for a Special Report. If that is agreed to, then report and evidence appears simultaneously. But, as matters now stand the evidence we should have available to decide on these matters as a House only appears later in the Session after the money has already been voted. It seems such a silly procedure. I think it should be changed.
I am informed that it will be done in future.
I am so glad to hear that.
Before I sit down, there is one thing I would like to make certain that the House fully understands. In relation to this ex gratia payment, we had no intention of re-examining the action of the pilot concerned in the accident. What we were really questioning is the method by which this ex gratia payment was brought to account. It is our bounden duty as members of the Select Committee to take note of what the Controller and Auditor-General reports to us and examine his comments carefully. We know ourselves that our pilots are some of the best in the world and we are proud of them. It is acknowledged that they are excellent and skilful. I know the pilot in this case was reprimanded. And there, as far as we are concerned, the matter rests. We are only interested in the fact that the payment may have been made in an irregular way.
I do think though that it is important for the Government and the Administration to realize that so-called “unforeseen works” often could have been foreseen. In the case which the hon. member for Umhlatuzana mentioned, it seems clear that there was a slip-up somewhere. The item I think was sanctioned in May 1959. One would have thought that it must have been sanctioned on the basis of an estimate. Knowing how careful the Railways are in regard to these matters, these bogies could not have been converted without an estimate having been obtained. Now it seems strange to us that an expenditure item could not have been brought up the following March in this House by way of Additional Estimates. I am glad the Minister has decided that in future the evidence will be printed …
It is not for me to decide. I am informed, however, that that will be done.
The hon. Minister knows very well that if he gives a hint, it will be carried out. An important member of our most important Select Committee here in Parliament, the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said by way of interjection “Why did you not ask that it should be printed?” Two days ago I told him that we were voted down in the Select Committee by the hon. member’s side when we moved for a Special Report so that evidence would be printed. I hope this remark of the hon. member will be noted. We can end this debate on that note. Hon. members will be glad that this matter was brought to the attention of the House, and that in future we will have all the evidence before us before we make decisions. Nothing will be hidden. As the Minister says, if the Government side refuses to publish evidence, the immediate presumption is that there is something to hide, whereas in actual fact there may be nothing sinister. I think it is a bad system and I am glad that it is going to be corrected in future.
Certain hon. members, and particularly the hon. member for Turffontein (Mr. Durrant) tried to create the impression here that something extraordinary had happened in the Select Committee. He seemed to be implying that we were trying to hide something, and I want to deny that most emphatically. Unfortunately, we may not reveal here what took place in the Select Committee. If I were able to reveal the actions of the Opposition in the Select Committee, this House would realize that they are concerning themselves here with petty matters and a campaign of obstruction. There was no new principle at stake, just as there is no new principle at stake this afternoon. The matters concerned were mentioned last year and even before in the report of the Auditor-General. It is no new principle. The same sort of thing took place in the past, and what is more, this year the amount is much smaller than in the past. But seeing that the hon. member for Wynberg (Mr. Russell) evidently wants to interrupt me, I just want to point out in passing that the hon. member said something to which I have to react, although I may not really discuss it now. The hon. member stated here that we out-voted them in the Committee and that that is the reason why the evidence is not available. Now I want to say that the Opposition did not move a motion that the evidence should be printed together with this report. It was quite a different motion they moved, about which I cannot expatiate now, but the wrong impression was created here. The same ex gratia payment to which objection is now raised was contained in last year’s report. The same reference to the decision of the Select Committee in 1938 was also contained in last year’s report, and the hon. the Minister gave information here this afternoon which covers a much wider field and which constitutes much more evidence than even the members of the Select Committee received. Then why all this fuss? I also want to say that surely no normal person would expect, with such a huge organization as the Railways, with a staff of more than 200,000 and with a budget amounting to a few hundred million pounds, a mistake not to slip in here and there, accountancy mistakes, bookkeeping mistakes. But this was not a deliberate contravention of the decision of the Select Committee. Hon. members know that. If that were the case, they would have had a basis on which to stand. But it was not a deliberate contravention of the decision of the Select Committee. It was simply a bookkeeping mistake, and the Railways had no extra expenditure as the result of that mistake. The expenditure would have been the same whether the bookkeeping was correct or not. There were no extra expenses.
Why did they not object last year?
As the hon. member says, there was no objection raised in the past in connection with the same procedure. We are not concerned here with sinister matters, but only with procedure. I do not want to expand on this further, but I must say that this course of action of the United Party creates the wrong impression.
I would like to remark …
Order! I cannot allow any further discussion.
Motion put and agreed to.
The MINISTER OF TRANSPORT brought up a Bill to give effect to the resolution adopted by the House.
By direction of Mr. SPEAKER, the Bill was read a first time; second reading on 6 March.
Third Order read: First Report of Select Committee on Public Accounts to be considered.
Report considered and adopted.
The MINISTER OF FINANCE brought up a Bill to give effect to the resolution adopted by the House.
By direction of Mr. SPEAKER, the Bill was read a first time.
I move as an unopposed motion—
May I for the information of the House make the observation that whilst we have no objection to the adoption of this report and we raise no objection to the second reading of this Bill, I think the House should be aware that the contents of this report, coupled with the evidence that has been printed and laid before the House, is not necessarily the end of the matter, and that the Select Committee on Public Accounts still has under consideration the evidence which has been laid before it in this report, and it may well be that later on in the reports of the Public Accounts Select Committee there may be reommendations to the House arising out of some of the matters dealt with in this report.
I am glad the hon,. member for Constantia (Mr. Waterson) raised the matter, because I myself felt that if anyone read this evidence he would think: But why is only one recommendation made here, viz. the approval of certain items of expenditure, whilst quite a few matters were touched on in the evidence which require further attention? I want to emphasize what the hon. member has said, that the Select Committee will still go into this evidence thoroughly and will consider taking further decisions to submit to this House in regard to certain aspects of this evidence. Here I want to refer particularly to paragraphs 62 and 63 of this report of the evidence, which reveal that the Select Committee is becoming increasingly hesitant to approve unauthorized expenditure where it feels that it could partially or wholly have been avoided, and in which it is pointed out that if it is refused and Parliament approves of the standpoint adopted by the Select Committee, that money can be recovered from the officials concerned. I do not think it will do any harm if this is brought to the notice of officials handling public funds.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
House in Committee:
Clauses, Schedule and Title of the Bill put and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Bill to be read a third time on 6 March.
Fourth Order read: Report Stage,—Industrial Conciliation Amendment Bill.
Amendment in Clause 3 put and agreed to and the Bill, as amended, adopted.
Bill to be read a third time on 6 March.
Fifth Order read: Report Stage,—Marriage Bill.
The omission of Clause 8, the new Clause 8, the amendments in Clauses 9 and 11, the omission of Clause 24, the new Clause 24 and the amendments in Clauses 25, 26, 28, 29, 32, 35, 38, 39 and the Schedule put and agreed to and the Bill, as amended, adopted.
Bill to be read a third time on 6 March.
Sixth Order read: House to resume in Commitee on Preservation of Coloured Areas Bill.
House in Committee:
[Progress reported on 1 March when Clause 1 was standing over and Clause 5 was under consideration.]
Clause 5 put and agreed to.
On Clause 6,
Here we have one of the clauses of this rather intricate Bill which I think calls for some explanation. This clause provides that the Minister shall pay compensation, subject to certain conditions which are set out here. In sub-section (b) there is a proviso. The Minister shall pay compensation in the case of an owner who is admitted under the terms of Section 4 of the 1909 Act, “provided that the Minister may pay compensation to the last-mentioned owner in respect of improvements which he effected to the said land before the fixed date if such improvements do not form part of the lot or holding granted to him”. The point in respect of which I ask for information here is: The owner in an area which has been the subject of a proclamation, in terms of this Bill, is entitled to compensation and is entitled to be regarded as a registered owner for the purpose of the 1909 Act, but can only get compensation in respect of improvements which he effected to the said land before the fixed date if such improvements do not form part of the lot or holding granted to him. In other words, when he gets part of the lot or holding granted to him but not all of what was his, is the position then this—I put it to the Minister—that a qualified person (because this is a qualified person, we are not dealing here with disqualified persons) may lose the holding which was his up to the moment of the proclamation, and that after the proclamation he will only be entitled to a certificate saying that he is a registered occupier on the piece of land which is allotted to him? It may not be the piece of land in respect of which he was the owner prior to the proclamation. He can be given another piece of land altogether. A re-survey takes place, and he may be given another piece of land altogether, although there is his home, there is the property which he occupied and owned at the moment of the proclamation, but which now he loses; he can be put somewhere else and given another piece of land and all he gets is a certificate showing that he is a registered occupier. The improvements which he effected on that land now becomes the property of somebody else, and it is in respect of those improvements that he can get compensation. I would like to ask whether it is possible under this clause for that to take place that a man shall lose his land, his home and his improvements on a piece of land and merely get a certificate of occupancy in respect of another piece of land altogether?
There is another question which arises here. In sub-section (1) of Clause 6, it says—
Now, Sir, sub-section (1) of Section 4 says that this land is to vest free of any restriction, restrictive condition or personal or real encumbrance … in the Minister. The crisp point is: What precisely are the rights which vest in the Minister in respect of which under sub-section (1) of Clause 6 compensation can be demanded of right by a registered occupier? The language here is mandatory. It says the Minister “shall” pay this compensation for these rights. What are those rights? We have still not yet reached rock bottom in regard to the question as to whether there are freehold rights, unrestricted freehold title, possibly for a qualified occupier of one of the lots in an area proclaimed under this Bill. I know the suggestion has been made that there are no such freehold rights in existence. I am sorry, but that is quite wrong. I have had an opportunity to check up since the speech of the hon. Deputy Minister recently, of which I was furnished with a copy so that I was able to follow precisely what he said, and the assumption apparently is that there are no Coloured people with freehold rights. I do not think we must try and argue about what are “freehold rights”. Freehold rights means a clear unrestricted title, where the dominion of the soil vests in the owner. That is freehold title. The assumption is that Coloured people do not have that right. That may well be so in the Cape, but this Bill does not only apply to the Cape, it applies to all provinces, and Coloured people are not only Coloured people known as “Cape Coloured people Coloured people are Coloured people of many racial derivations and they have freehold rights, and we are concerned under this clause to know what are their rights under Section 4, both in sub-section (1) and in the proviso (iii) to (b) of Clause 2. What are the rights in respect of which “a qualified person is entitled of right to get compensation”? Is it not that one of the rights is his right to be deprived of his freehold title? I hope the Deputy Minister is going to make it clear whether a qualified person in an area proclaimed under this Bill can be deprived of freehold title if he has got it? If there is a person with freehold title, unencumbered title, a title which gives him the dominion of the soil in that piece of land, can that right be taken away from him? Does he lose it in terms of Section 4 and is he therefore only entitled to come and ask for compensation in terms of Clause 6 because he is going to get a quit-rent title, circumscribed title—it is true he does not pay quit-rent, but nevertheless the proposal is that he shall get a quit-rent title, with limitations as to his power to bond or to dispose of that land without approval of the Minister, or the Governor-General? I hope we are going to get the whole issue cleared up now. What rights has a registered owner, what compensation can he demand? And in respect of (b) of the proviso to sub-section (1), I want to know whether a man who has owned land and has had his home there and made improvements on the land, can now be dispossessed, even although he is a registered owner or a registered occupier for the purposes of this clause, and be given another piece of land altogether and have to come back now and ask for compensation for his home and the improvements that he has himself constructed on that piece of land.
I agree entirely with the views put forward by the hon. member for Natal South Coast (Mr. Mitchell), but there is another type of occupier that concerns me somewhat and that is the occupier who is a qualified person, who has settled on a piece of land and for the purposes of earning his livelihood and living, possibly requires an area of two acres of land. But when this area is proclaimed a survey is made and the area is divided up into lots. Should he be allocated a lot of say half an acre, or a quarter of an acre which is inadequate for his requirements, I do not quite know what his position is going to be. I expect that the Minister will compensate him perhaps for a garage building in which he ran a business without the necessity perhaps of any stringent licensing regulations being observed; he might have run a dairy to supply the people in the immediate area, or anything of that nature, and under this survey he is allocated a plot and he is compensated for the building, the business whereby he earned his livelihood. For his purpose two acres were required, and he is now allocated a plot of a quarter to half an acre! I think his position will be a very hard one, especially if he owned the two acres on which he was previously situated, as in the case which was dealt with by the hon. member for South Coast. What is his position going to be? I would like to know from the hon. the Deputy Minister exactly what provision is going to be made under this Bill for people in that position. One could go on thinking of many different types of people who might be dairying, who might be running a garage business, who might be breaking down second-hand vehicles but who are living on the same property; or people who for some reason have acquired a piece of land to which they have obtained freehold title. They will now be allocated a plot which might be inadequate for their businesses or for their means of livelihood; people who might have farmed on a very small scale or something of that nature. What is going to happen to those people?
The other type of person does not quite fall under this clause but I would like to put this question at this stage as we missed the opportunity under Clause 4. That is the type of disqualified person that the Minister indicated he was not necessarily going to chase out of an area if he were trading in that area. He will be allowed to continue trading but he will have to live outside of that area. In other words, he could not live there but he could make his livelihood there. I do not quite know exactly what is going to apply to that man. If, for example, he is allowed to continue trading in that area but, under this clause, he is allocated a site which is not his original trading site, I take it that in that case he will be compensated for both his land and his buildings. But he might not necessarily be re-allocated that site in this proclaimed area. Therefore there does seem to me to be a possibility—just as the hon. the Deputy Minister indicated that he had a case at Saron where a European was in competition with a Coloured person and he indicated that he was going to get rid of the European competition, which is in conflict with the statement he made in reference to a previous Bill. In view of that it is possible that that trader could be allocated a new site which would be so detrimental to his business that he would be virtually pushed out of the area because it does not pay him to continue to trade there, in relation to some other person who would be granted a more favourable site in terms of this Bill. I should like the hon. the Deputy Minister to clear those two points up because I think that although they relate, partly, to Clause 4 as well, they do properly fall under these two clauses together.
I discussed the point that was raised by the hon. member for South Coast (Mr. Mitchell) with my Department and with the law advisers. They have informed me that a qualified person who is a registered owner of property retains his property as if that property had been granted under sub-section 1 of Section 8 of the Act of 1909. Secondly, that section provides for quit-rent ground free of quit-rent. Thirdly, this provision will not militate against the registered right of a qualified person, because, as far as could be ascertained, all areas in the Cape Province which may be affected by this Bill, were originally granted under quit-rent tenure. As far as properties in other provinces are concerned, no individual tenure exists. That is what I am told. These properties or areas are held under diverse conditions on a communal basis. That is my information, and I cannot take it any further. I must accept the information supplied to me.
*That person will probably be compensated by making another site available to him, and then he will only be compensated in respect of the improvements he made to the first site, because he is compensated by the exchange of sites. There is no question of not negotiating and not giving such a person a suitable site when allocations of this kind are made. There are the cases of unqualified persons, but it seems to me that hon. members’ difficulty now is why such an arrangement is made in respect of a qualified person. A situation may arise which makes it necessary. As hon. members know, most of these areas are unplanned. The commonage was there, and the township was established, but that township was not planned at all. Now we want to plan it in terms of the 1909 Act. One, for example, wants to improve the streets and provide the necessary health services. Then sites of this nature may be affected as the result of that. Then one will have to compensate the owner of that site by giving him another site. What is being proposed here is that in such cases he should be compensated by granting him another site, and that he should then be compensated only in respect of the improvements made by him to the first site, but not for the site itself also. That is the whole underlying point. I can only foresee that this type of site will be affected when we are doing planning which affects certain sites, when we want to lay out the township better and provide services. I may tell hon. members that I visited many of these places. One finds that many of these houses were built facing in all directions. The sites were inefficiently surveyed. In fact, in many cases they were perhaps not even surveyed at all. They were just pegged out. If one then wants to make proper streets and lay out the township properly, this type of site may be affected, and that is why we include this provision.
I am afraid that while we thought this Bill was an intricate Bill, it now appears even more intricate than we thought it was. The hon. the Deputy Minister says that in respect of registered occupiers of land who were living in an area when a proclamation was issued and who are now registered occupiers of land, and therefore qualified persons, he is informed by his law advisers that they will retain their property. Those were his words. He said: “That man will retain his property”, in the area now proclaimed in terms of this Bill.
If that is so, why does this Bill make provision for that man to be paid compensation for improvements which do not form part of the plot or holding granted to him?
I explained a few minutes ago that in the case where you are planning a new township that applies.
Yes, but this Bill does not say anything about planning a new township. To begin with, we are dealing with a rural area in any case. I do not know how big a piece of land may belong to a man in a rural area. And when that is sub-divided hereafter and sub-divisions are being allotted so that the various folk will get each his piece of land in terms of the sub-division which has taken place, it is quite clear that at that time it must be anticipated that there will be someone who owns a home and property and who has made improvements to the land which will not be allotted to him. They are the people to get the compensation. Surely that is the position. And to say that that man will retain his property is to make nonsense of what has been put in this Bill. Why make provision for him to be paid out for improvements to property which is not allotted to him if, in the next breath, the Deputy Minister says that all those properties will be allotted to the owners? The Minister says it will be allotted to the owners, that they will retain their property. This compensation is to be paid to them if they do not retain their property. Provision is made for a man to receive compensation if he does not retain his property. Then, why does the Minister say he will retain his property? There is no need for this provision if he is going to retain his property.
Then I want to go on to another point. The hon. the Deputy Minister shakes his head sadly and says that he is informed that in provinces other than the Cape there are no Coloured people who have freehold title. I am sorry, I cannot help what the Minister’s advice is, but it is quite clear that the definition of a Coloured person for the purposes of this Bill is not the definition of a person usually known as a Cape Coloured. Whatever that may be in terms of racial dissent, there is a legal definition. I want to read that definition to this Committee. I am now quoting from Act 12 of 1949—
So that a Coloured person shall include Cape Malays, it shall include Griquas, but it shall not include Turks or Asians. I repeat, there are in the other provinces, people who are not Cape Coloured people as that term is commonly understood in the Western Province, but they are Coloured people. They are known in the Transvaal as Coloured people, and they are known as Coloured people in Natal. They have no ethnical relationship with the Cape Coloured folk down here in the Cape Province. They own freehold title. When I was the Administrator of Natal I issued certificates whereby the people in my province obtained freehold title, and they include Coloured people. The hon. the Deputy Minister has one of them serving on his own board in Natal at the present time, and who has land in Natal. There are people there who are commonly called Mauritians, but they are classed as Coloured people. There is nothing to prevent them owning land in freehold, and they do own land in freehold. Big sugar estates in Natal are held in freehold by those people.
Mr. Chairman, if we are going to pass a law here which refuses to take cognizance of those people, it may be because the Minister has, in effect, already made up his mind that nowhere where those people are concerned is he proposing to issue a proclamation in terms of the Bill before us. It may be that the hon. the Deputy Minister is saying: “I am not going to deal with places where people of that class are concerned, that is not in my mind.” But if that is so, and if he is really only concerning himself with people in the Cape, With the one exception in the Free State, and he is dealing with people who are commonly known as Cape Coloureds, then why is the Bill so worded that it is applicable to the other provinces? When a law is made applicable to the other provinces and it brings within its ambit people of the Coloured races in the other provinces and their rights are involved, then we have to raise these matters in this House. It is no good us being given assurances, it is the printed word, it is the law that has to be the determining factor hereafter. It is not what the Deputy Minister’s intentions are to-day. The hon. the Deputy Minister is here to-day and gone to-morrow. His officials are here to-day and gone to-morrow—and the sooner to-morrow comes the better it will be. Whoever they may be, for this purpose they are transitory, but the law remains until such time as it is repealed. We have to take cognizance of the scope of the law and the four quarters to which it reaches. And if the four corners of the law are going to reach to people who have freehold rights, then we must stand up and say so.
I am very sorry, but the assurances of the hon. the Deputy Minister in this regard will be of no value to us at all. We want to be sure that the law is going to make provision for those people, and I hope that the hon. the Deputy Minister will bring in, somewhere or other and at a suitable moment, a provision to deal with the case of a person who may have freehold title. Freehold title is the dominion of the soil, in the same way as we speak of freehold title in my province as meaning a clear title, unencumbered and in respect of which you have the right to determine for yourself, without asking leave of the Governor-General or anybody else to bond the farm if you wish, or to sell it if you wish.
The hon. member has now, in repeating what he said on a former occasion, made a great point of the so-called definition. When I made the statement previously that this definition was contained in the 1909 Act, hon. members opposite seemed to think I was misleading the House and blamed me for it. I proved to them that as the result of amendments it became part of that Act. Now this hon. member again pretends that this definition has simply been taken out of the air. What are the true facts? This definition is in line with legislation introduced by that side of the House when they were in power. I want to read it, from the Coloured Persons Settlement Act, No. 7 of 1946. The hon. members opposite were responsible for that Act, and this definition is based on that one, against which the hon. member has made such a fuss and wanted to create the impression that we have ulterior motives as far as this definition is concerned. I am now going to read it to him. In Section 1 of that Act which was passed by his party we find this definition—
That is precisely the same concept as is contained in this definition. In other words, if we sinned, then we did so by following the example set by the hon. member’s party when they were in power.
I have no objection to the definition.
If the hon. member has no objection to it, why then does he raise the matter? Because he bases his whole argument on this question of the definition. The other evening hon. members actually laughed when I advanced the argument that this definition formed part of the existing Act which we now seek to apply to these areas. I therefore cannot see the hon. member’s point.
Then I come to the second point. He asks why do we not say that we want to plan townships and that for that reason such sites will be affected? We are laying down a general principle here because we are dealing with these rural areas. Anybody who knows anything about Coloured affairs will have a clear idea of what areas we have in mind. We do not intend including farms on which individuals are carrying on farming operations. There are numbers of individual owners of farms belonging to Coloureds. We are not concerned with that here. What we are concerned with here is the same type of areas as those which already fall under the 1909 Act. They are areas which have the same character and which do not consist of farms. There is just a small group of them. I also mentioned the total, that they consist of approximately 200,000 morgen. These places can be named. I told the hon. member that I was only giving an example, that in planning the township the position might be that such a site is affected. There are also other development schemes as the result of which such a site may be affected, and it is to provide for this that we say that there can be compensation by giving the man another site and compensating him for his improvements. I am sorry, but I cannot assist the hon. member further.
After listening to the hon. the Deputy Minister’s explanation I find that there is still one point that he has not answered as far as I am concerned. Let me try and put it in another way: If a person is a registered owner of a plot of land of, say, two acres when this proclamation comes into force, the Minister has accepted that this land will be re-surveyed and divided into plots. That person is a qualified person and as such he is allowed to stay in the proclaimed areas. He is allocated a new plot for the simple reason that for health purposes the area has to be laid out afresh so as to provide for streets and various other services to the community. In the re-allocation of a plot to that man, will he get back his old plot? Incidentally, he has lost all the rights to that plot, the ownership now vests in the Minister. He is re-allocated a plot because he is a qualified person. Should he be allocated a plot of only one acre, I can find nothing here under which the hon. the Minister is obliged to make compensation to him for the loss of one acre of his land. He can be compensated for the loss of the building and for the improvements which he might have made in the way of boreholes and things of that nature. But I am unable to see where that man is compensated for the loss of part of his land. That is the point I am trying to make with the hon. the Deputy Minister.
In terms of Clause 4 that man loses his right of title to that land, as an owner of that land. Clause 4 makes that very clear because title now vests in the Minister. The clause says—
And that land becomes the property of the Minister. The original owner then has no further right in it. But if that plot is subdivided into two and he only gets half of it, then I can find nothing in Clause 6 which says that the Minister must compensate him for loss of half of the land which he previously owned. He had right and title to it and could sell it otherwise, but this proclamation has caught up with him before he could dispose of it, and I can see nothing in this Bill which says that he can be compensated for the loss of that land. He can be compensated for his buildings and improvements but what happens to his land? He has lost one acre of land which he previously owned. The hon. the Deputy Minister has not explained to me that that is not, in fact, the case under this clause, combined with Clause 4. That is what is going to happen to these unfortunate people who might through hard work have acquired that land, who might have lived there for many, many years, who might have had the land passed down from father to son. And I can see nothing here which will compensate them for the land which they might lose in the replanning of these areas.
I want to deal with this question of freehold again. The hon. the Deputy Minister seems to try to make it hang on the definition of a Coloured person. It does not hang on the definition of a Coloured person. I merely used that definition in order to show that a Coloured person, for the purpose of this Bill, is not a person commonly referred to in the Cape Province as a Cape Coloured person. There are Coloured persons who come within this definition, in the other provinces of the Union but who are not of the class commonly referred to as Cape Coloured people. The point is that amongst those people who are not Cape Coloured people there are people who have freehold title to their land. It is a fact.
The hon. the Deputy Minister says that the information he has is that there are no such people. Now what are we faced with? We are faced with this, that it is one of two things: either the hon. the Deputy Minister is misinformed and there are people who have such freehold title, or the Deputy Minister means that in areas in respect of which he anticipates issuing a proclamation, there are no such people.
Yes, that is what I mean,
I am glad that the hon. the Deputy Minister now brings this question down to a crisp point. He does not deny that there are Coloured people who have freehold title.
I have just said that I was not referring to any individual holder of freehold title, such as farmers for instance, I am not referring to them.
The hon. the Deputy Minister now makes it clear that he agrees that there are Coloured people who have freehold title. That is the first point. The second point to which he agreed just now was that he does not intend that this Bill shall be authority for the issue of a proclamation to cover any of the land of Coloured people who have freehold title. Now this Bill is not dealing with urban areas. The Minister has pointed out that there are areas such as the old Mission Reserves and so forth which have rather an urban character. They are dealt with in terms of the existing law. This Bill deals with rural areas. The Deputy Minister says “I am only going to apply the proclamation in the case where a community has evolved which, in its character, is an urban character, rather like the character of those communities which have grown up in the Mission Reserves”. If I understand him correctly that is what he has said, that he is not going to use this Bill for the issue of a proclamation in areas where the people are living under conditions which are virtually rural in character, such as farms and so forth.
Mr. Chairman, I think that is extremely dangerous because this Bill does not say that. That may be the Deputy Minister’s intention. That may be the intention of his officials at the present time, and of his Department. But that is not the point. The point is, what does this Bill say? The Bill makes no such distinction. The Bill talks about rural areas, and it is perfectly clear on that point. The Bill says that the Governor-General, on the advice of the Minister may—
and so forth. It is a rural area which is being set aside, and there is no reason whatever, as I see it, why there should not be in that rural area a piece of land in respect of which there is freehold title, which the Deputy Minister is now prepared to admit Coloured people outside of the Cape do possess. They do possess freehold title. In my opinion, in this Bill, provision should be made against the possibility of a Coloured man losing his freehold title by reason of the fact that his property is brought within the area of the proclamation to be issued hereafter by the Minister, and all he will get in return, having lost his fre-hold title, is this quit-rent title. That is a material loss. Unless, indeed, the first part of Clause 6 provides for the compensation of the loss of just those rights. But provision should specifically be made for it, because those rights are still not defined.
I want to ask the hon. the Deputy Minister whether he will reconsider this matter. Never mind about his anticipation or his expectation or his beliefs as to what the future holds, I ask him whether he will not make provision for the cases of people with freehold title who may be prejudiced in their title by getting something less than freehold, in other words, a quit-rent title; a restricted title, upon the proclamation being issued by the Minister.
Clause put and agreed to.
On Clause 7,
I should like the hon. the Deputy Minister to give us certain explanations on this clause. The Bill states that instead of paying compensation to a disqualified person, the Minister may compensate that disqualified person in other ways. One is, that if his right was a piece of surveyed land, he may re-transfer that land or another piece of land in the said area. Alternatively, if his right was an undivided share in land, he may cause a portion to be surveyed and transferred to the disqualified person. Mr. Chairman, this seems to me to be a peculiar contradiction. The Minister makes provision in the Bill, under Clause 4, to dispose of the assets of a disqualified person but, in fact, what he is doing is introducing into this Bill the whole principle of the Group Areas Act. Then he retains to himself a discretion as to what he should do with regard to the compensation of disqualified persons. Instead of doing as one would expect following Clause 4, namely, to take the land away from the disqualified person and compensate him in an adequate manner, he leaves him in the air and retains the discretion as to whether he should perhaps re-transfer that piece of land or another piece of land to him.
I think that we should have an explanation on this point. I want to understand the purpose of this peculiar form of authority which the Minister wishes to retain.
The thing that worries me mostly is that this type of legislation follows the type we have in the Group Areas Act, something vague, something undefined and something no one really understands. Unless the hon. the Deputy Minister is prepared to give us more information, one cannot appreciate what the purpose of this peculiar type of legislation is.
I explained this point very clearly in the second reading debate.
I apologize. I was not here.
I said that there were areas the names of which I would not like to mention, and I gave reasons for not wanting to do so, because it would be unwise to do so before we have negotiated with these people. I said that there was one area where this solution would perhaps be essential. I now want to tell the hon. member that if he knows these areas as the Coloured Representatives know them he will realize that in most of them the people live in a community, in a so-called township which is surrounded by the commonage. Now in one or two or more of these places disqualified persons came in during the course of the years, and they now live amongst these qualified persons. The qualified persons, the Coloureds, desire to have full control over these areas in terms of the 1909 Act. It is also the desire of the unqualified persons to leave in a way which will suit them. Now there is one such place, the name of which I would rather not mention, where the people have already negotiated with us and said: Give us other sites on the commonage, and then we will vacate these sites, because the commonage is large; give us a piece of land there where we can build our houses and then do not incorporate it in these areas, because then these sites on which we live now will become available for the proper development of the Coloured community. That is the only intention here, to be able to compensate a disqualified person by giving him a site elsewhere. That is why we take the power to exclude part of. the incorporated area for that purpose. It is in the interest of both groups to do so.
In relation to what the hon. the Minister has just dealt with, I want to ask him this. Is the giving of alternative land in terms of Section 7 subject to the agreement of the person who is to be moved? I can understand the position if the owner of land is prepared to accept alternative land as compensation, but where he is not prepared to accept the particular land offered, does the matter go to arbitration? Is it subject to Clause 11?
Whilst I appreciate some of the remarks of the hon. the Deputy Minister, and whilst I appreciate that these views can only be directed to Clause 7 (1) (b), I still think he should explain what his purpose is in taking powers first of all to have a particular piece of land of a disqualified person transferred away from him, and then to re-transfer that land to him. It says that the Minister may re-transfer that land for another piece of land in the said area to the disqualified person. What is the point of that? One wants an explanation, because this type of legislation where you deal with disqualified persons, where you in fact legislate that individuals shall become disqualified in regard to the ownership of land, and where you take away the land and use it for another purpose—one has become accustomed to find that that type of legislation is usually vague and gives powers which no one really follows, and so you have constant amendments even after the consolidation of laws. I think the Minister should explain to us in detail. I can appreciate his point, although I do not see the purpose of the legislation, in regard to Clause 7 (1) (b) where there is an undefined piece of land which he surveys and then gives the disqualified person a piece of that land. But where he takes a surveyed piece of land away and then retransfers the very same land to him—that is what it says, “may re-transfer that land”— why does the Minister want to re-transfer that land? Why does he do it? What does he achieve by disqualifying the person and taking his land away and re-transferring it back to him?
Mr. Chairman, I remember that during the second reading debate the hon. member for South Coast (Mr. Mitchell) was concerned about the possibility of these areas being expanded with a view to establishing the Colouredstans he had in mind. He did not want the areas to be increased in size. But what happens here is this. As soon as a certain area is incorporated under this Act, the Minister cannot immediately exclude bits of that area with a view to exchanging it for other sites held by disqualified persons in the area, because he does not know yet whether these persons who became disqualified in the area will be satisfied to accept a particular bit of land. The result is that he incorporates the whole area and then starts negotiations to give the disqualified persons alternative land. But, in the first place, with the incorporation under the 1909 Act, all the land in the area is incorporated and transferred to the Minister as the trustee. Then that land is out of the hands of the disqualified persons. Transfer is passed in the name of the trustee, the Minister. The Minister is the trustee for the qualified persons. Now he gives certain sites on the edge of the area in exchange to the disqualified persons. How can he exclude it again, because the whole area has been incorporated? Then he retransfers the sites he exchanges to the disqualified persons, and then he can take them out of the area. But he must first know whether those sites are acceptable to the disqualified persons. He cannot say that he wants to incorporate a certain area and he suspects that there are five or six people who will have to be compensated, and for that purpose he is holding out a few morgen of land. I think that is elementary, and the hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Miller), with his knowledge of this type of transaction, ought to be able to understand it.
I appreciate the effort of the previous speaker to assist the Committee, but I would like to draw the attention of the Minister to Clause 4 (1), which provides that land in an incorporated area shall vest in the Minister in trust. Then it goes on to say in Clause 4 (2) that if land has been surveyed in the incorporated area the ownership of any disqualified person shall, unless he sells it within the proclaimed period, vest in the Minister. In other words, if a person owns a piece of land which has been surveyed and has the deed of transfer and diagram in his possession, then that piece of land must be disposed of within the period fixed in the Gazette, and if it is not disposed of it vests in the Minister. I appreciate the argument of the last speaker that it is transferred into the name of the Minister as trustee, but I would like to know why that particular piece of land should be re-transferred. I am not talking about a piece of commonage; there is reference to a piece of surveyed land. Then the Minister may retransfer that particular piece of land which has been surveyed and has a diagram and not a portion of the commonage, because that is provided for in the next sub-section. What is his purpose in taking the power to allow a specific piece of land to vest in him and thereafter, in substitution for monetary compensation, to retransfer that very piece of land? I think the Minister must give us the details and I appeal to him not to expect this House to accept legislation which leaves everyone completely vague, and the only one who knows in which direction he is going is the Minister, and he does not make it clear to the House. That is the only point. I am not criticizing any motives he may have, but I just want him to explain why he follows that particular procedure.
I would like to ask the Minister for an explanation of what appears to me to be a contradiction. If the Minister reads Clause 6, it says that the Minister shall pay compensation to a disqualified person, and in Clause 7 it says that he may give him any piece of land as compensation. Now if he shall pay compensation, which is peremptory, and the Minister takes some other power and says: I will not pay you compensation; I would rather give you another piece of land, that sounds contradictory.
I have explained that we are dealing here with a whole series of, different areas where different conditions obtain. What we are providing for here is that in any case compensation will be paid. If the Minister and the person concerned cannot come to an agreement, the matter goes to arbitration. But we are dealing with certain areas—and I think the hon. member can guess what I am referring to, but I do not want to mention the names—where the people have already made representations and said that the compensation they want is simply to be given land in exchange; instead of being given notice to vacate the place and receiving compensation, they prefer to go and live on sites elsewhere. That is what is intended here. There will be compensation, but there is also this means by which people can be compensated if that is their wish. That is why it says that the Minister may do so.
The Minister said he would use this method of compensation provided in Clause 7 only in cases where the persons concerned consented, and he said in reply to the hon. member for East London (North) (Mr. van Ryneveld) that their taking this alternative land was subject to their consent. I would like to put it to the Minister that on my reading of this clause, that is not the case. Clause 6 makes it quite clear that the agreement referred to in respect of compensation, where it says that the compensation payable in terms of this section shall in the absence of agreement between the Minister and the owner be fixed by arbitration, is excluded in respect of compensation in terms of Clause 7, in terms of the proviso in the opening words of Clause 6, which says that the Minister shall, subject to the provisions of Section 7 (1) do certain things. Therefore I would like to ask the Minister to agree to an amendment which I think will make the position perfectly clear—
The clause will then read that instead of paying compensation to a disqualified person in terms of Clause 6, the Minister may in his discretion compensate such a disqualified person who consents thereto as follows. That would make it perfectly clear that the necessity for agreement which is provided for in Clause 6 would also apply in respect of Clause 7, because the Minister does this only in his discretion and only in the case of a person who consents to it.
I will accept it.
Just one final question. I want to ask the Minister whether he accepts the fact that instead of paying compensation he has the right to retransfer the very same bit of land that the disqualified person owned before. He accepts it but is not prepared to say why.
The hon. member for Parow (Mr. Kotzé) has just stated the matter very clearly and I cannot improve on it. The trouble of the hon. member for Bezuidenhout is that he has no knowledge of the particular conditions obtaining in these areas, and it is difficult to understand what our intentions are unless one has that knowledge. The hon. member must simply take my word for it.
I accept it.
Amendment put and agreed to.
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 9,
I move the amendment standing in my name, but in view of the fact that my amendment to Clause 4 was not approved of by the Committee, I shall omit certain words and move it as follows—
I submit that the penalty of R100 or twelve months’ imprisonment for failure to produce title deeds or to submit claims for compensation within a specified period, or to furnish particulars of unregistered rights in terms of Clauses 4, 9 and 10 are out of all proportion to the nature of the offence, particularly when we are dealing with people who belong to the poorer classes of our population. A maximum of R10 or fourteen days would, I submit, suffice. In any event, the omission to submit a claim for compensation in terms of Clause 9 should not be punishable as a criminal offence. It could be met by other means. Clause 9 says this—
Here a man is committing a criminal offence if he does not submit a claim for compensation and he is subjected to a heavy penalty. I submit that this is absurd. If the man does not submit his claim in a reasonable time, that is a matter for him, but surely he should not be punished for failing to submit a claim for compensation. I also submit that the period of 30 days is too short, but I think another hon. member will move an amendment in that regard. We are dealing with people who have no legal training. It may be argued that the penalty is the maximum that the magistrate may impose and that he need not necessarily impose it, but where the Legislature fixes a substantial penalty as in this case it serves as a guide to the judicial officer dealing with the case, and a very substantial penalty may be imposed on such an accused. I think that is quite wrong, and I submit that the Minister should reduce the penalty.
I wish to move the amendment standing in my name—
I believe this is a very harsh clause. It is indicative to me of the sort of indecent haste that has crept into the dealings with disqualified persons in terms of any of the colour Bills that have come before the House, and I feel the Minister should do something to relieve the position of these people. Here we are dealing largely with uneducated people who do not understand the normal processes of the law, and all of a sudden they have to furnish proof in writing in regard to the property they own within thirty days. In the last part of Clause 8 I think the Minister envisaged that he would encounter some difficulty in getting hold of these people. I do not think it will be easy to serve notices on these people. Where they will have to be contacted by advertising, I think they should be given a period of three months at least, for the Minister or their friends to try to find them. I accept that in the case of the holder of a mortgage bond it is not so essential because they are probably more educated people, who might even be Europeans, but they also might be overseas and not available and I believe that this period of 30 days is far too short. I appeal to the Minister to give them at least three months, which is short enough, but it will relieve the position considerably.
I do not want to create the impression that I am being stubborn and that I am not prepared to listen to representations which are based on well-founded arguments. I just want to say to the hon. member for East London (City) that this penalty of R100 or six months is still much lighter than that laid down in the 1946 Coloured Settlements Act where the penalty was twice as heavy. There is no particular reason why we chose this amount and this period, but hon. members will realize that there must be a maximum penalty to make people realize that they have to cooperate. That is the practice in virtually all legislation. But I should like to meet the hon. member and, if he will be satisfied with R50 or three months, then I think we shall be very fair and then the penalty will still be far below the maximum penalty laid down in the 1946 Act. As far as the hon. member for Umlazi (Mr. H. Lewis) is concerned, I can well understand that it may be difficult sometimes, but on the other hand we must not create the impression that we want any dawdling with this matter, and I am prepared therefore to alter it to two months. I accordingly move—
With leave of the Committee the amendments proposed by Dr. D. L. Smit and Mr. H. Lewis were withdrawn.
I want to get clarity because I think the insertion of these words “or such further information asked for” also means that if the Department asks for information and does not obtain it, the man can also be fined. Surely it depends on the type of information asked for. As the clause reads now, any person who fails to comply with the provisions of sub-section (1) or to furnish any information asked for, shall be guilty of an offence. I do not see the necessity for that. All that is intended in this clause is to permit the Minister to obtain the details in regard to mortgage bonds and leases. What is the further information asked for? And it is an offence for which he can be fined R50 or go to prison for three months if he does not furnish the further information asked for. I would like to ask the hon. the Minister to consider scrapping those words, because, as I said earlier, if the man does not comply it may involve him in a penalty. An official may ask quite unreasonable questions. It may be beyond the capability of the man to give that particular information required, and yet, under this clause, he will be committing a criminal offence. I hope the Minister will give us some explanation or consider withdrawing those words.
May I just say to the hon. member that, in drafting legislation of this kind, the law advisers naturally have to take precautions. One does not know what other information may be required for the proper implementation of the Act, and that is the intention here, and therefore I am certainly not going to delete a sentence of this kind without having given very careful consideration to it. I undertake to do so, but there is no intention here to drive people. The hon. member knows that, in dealing with people of this kind, people who are ignorant and whose co-operation one seeks, the Department goes out of its way to give them guidance. We will get nowhere by treating these people in a hard-handed way because then we will not get their co-operation at all. The object in inserting these words therefore was not to adopt a harsh attitude.
The hon. the Deputy Minister has now given the undertaking that he will go into the necessity or otherwise of retaining these words, and I hope he will let us know later on what he has decided.
Amendments put and agreed to.
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 12,
Perhaps I can curtail the discussion on this clause. In the course of the second-reading debate, hon. members drew my attention to the rules which have to be taken into account in determining compensation. I have again discussed the matter with the law advisers and with the Department, and I should like to move the following amendment—
- (a) was the fair market value on the fixed date of the land and improvements thereon or of the right; plus
- (b) fair compensation for any inconvenience and loss actually caused by the vesting in the Minister of the land or the right.;
May I just explain that, by putting it this way, we shall be bringing it in line with the provisions of the Natives Trust and Land Act. The law advisers have gone into the matter and they assure me that this is in accordance with the provisions of that Act.
I want to ask the hon. the Deputy Minister to allow this clause to stand over. This side will advance certain arguments in connection with Clause 14, and we should first like to have an opportunity to study the proposed amendments. I therefore move—
On Clause 14,
This clause is one which was dealt with fully during the second-reading stage, and the strongest possible exception was taken to it by this side of the House. It entitles the Governor-General by proclamation to repeal in whole or in part any law or provision thereof which applies to an incorporated area which, in the opinion of the Governor-General, is in conflict with the provisions of this Act. Sir, my information is that it is utterly unsound to legislate in this way. There is a provision here dealing with these Coloured areas; this is one of some five amendments of the original Act which has been passed during the years. It is clear law that, if a later statute has a provision which is in conflict with an earlier statute, then that earlier provision is repealed pro tanto, and it must be read subject to the provisions of the later statute. I do submit that it is Parliament and Parliament alone which should formally repeal the provisions or portions of the provisions of any law. If this method, which is proposed here, were followed it could only lead to chaos. The statutes are published and there has been no repealing law. In no time our statute law, of which I think we can be proud because it has been kept on a sound foundation throughout, can Only be damaged if this method were to be followed. I do hope that the hon. the Deputy Minister will agree to this clause standing over. If the Minister cannot agree to that, we will be forced to vote against the clause, and I say to the hon. the Deputy Minister that that is so even if he should agree to the amendment which I understand the hon. member for Johannesburg (North) (Mr. Plewman) will move in terms of the notice he has given. To accept that amendment would be an improvement to the clause, but it does not do away with the basic objection that here Parliament is giving the Governor-General the power, by proclamation to over-ride the provisions of a parliamentary statute. Here I would like to refer the Deputy Minister to something he said in his reply to the second-reading debate. I raised the question of the Dunn family in Natal. They are on land which was given to them by a special Act of this Parliament. The Deputy Minister said that there was a great deal of sorting out to be done, and that the provisions of this Act could certainly hot be applied to them at the present time until that matter had been fully investigated. I accept that, but under this provision of Clause 14, special rights which have been vested in a family by an Act of Parliament could be made subject to different provisions at the stroke of the pen and Parliament, which saw fit to pass special legislation to protect their rights, would not be consulted in the matter at all. I do suggest to the Deputy Minister that it would be far better to withdraw this clause and not to proceed with it. If further amendments are necessary, he will be able to make them. He has indicated—and I am glad that he did—that the time has been reached when a consolidating measure must be passed as early as possible; so the hon. the Deputy Minister is contemplating further legislation, and in those circumstances I suggest that, for any cases which he may wish to deal with in terms of this legislation, he has the necessary powers, because, if there is other legislation which is in conflict in certain respects, it may be repealed. But in any case, I hope that the example that I have given the Deputy Minister convinces him that he should not stand by this clause. I hope that we will not pass it, because I believe that the putting of such a piece of legislation on the Statute Book might possibly be regarded as a precedent for legislating in this way, and it is a method of legislating which I submit would be most undesirable.
I support the views expressed by the hon. member for Springs (Mr. Tucker) and I support his proposal that the clause should be withdrawn. I agree with him that it is both a dangerous clause and a dangerous precedent to establish in legislation. Sir, the procedure of the House is such that I cannot wait until the clause itself is put to the vote, and therefore I have to move my amendment at this stage. I therefore move the amendment standing in my name on the Order Paper—
- (2) The Minister shall cause a copy of every proclamation issued under subsection (1) to be laid upon the Table of both Houses of Parliament within 14 days after the publication thereof if Parliament is then in ordinary session, or if Parliament is not then in ordinary session, within 14 days after the commencement of its next ensuing ordinary session.
- (3) Every such proclamation shall cease to have the force of law 30 days after it has been laid upon the Table of both Houses of Parliament unless before that date it has been approved by Act of Parliament.
Here we are concerned with a form of delegation of powers by Parliament, which to say the least is extraordinary. The marginal note to the clause reads “Repeal of certain laws by proclamation” and then the clause itself says—
As I have said, to say the least of it, this is an extraordinary power. If powers of delegation have ever been granted in this House in this form before, then I can only say that fortunately it must have been sparingly done. I personally am not aware of any other instance where powers have been delegated to the Governor-General as head of the Executive to repeal outright any law of Parliament by the simple process of issuing a proclamation. But whether examples can be quoted or not is beside the point, for surely there is no one who will attempt to deny that a delegation of power to repeal a law of Parliament, with no more formality than the issue of a proclamation by the Governor-General, has in it inherent dangers which this House cannot afford to disregard. In my opinion this form of delegation contains dangers against which this House must, in the public interest, provide safeguards. I am aware of only one instance in which a delegation of powers to the Governor-General has been granted to suspend a law and that, of course, is a very different thing from repealing a law. In that case, however, Parliament correctly had second thoughts about the matter and provided safeguards on which my amendment is modelled. I refer to the Currency and Exchange Act, No. 9 of 1933, in which provision is made in Section 9 that the Governor-General may suspend a law. Of course, that legislation was passed under very different circumstances than are present here. The country was at that time in the throes of an economic depression which had followed upon a world-wide depression, and extraordinary powers had to be taken. But as I have said Parliament had second thoughts about the matter, and in the Finance Act No. 27 of 1940, safeguards were then introduced on which my present amendment is modelled. Sir, merely to state the danger of such delegation without safeguards is to prove it, because what the House is really being asked to do here is to legislate blindly. If the hon. the Deputy Minister knows what laws are likely to be repealed, then at least those laws should have been specified in detail in the provision itself. Usually powers of delegation to the Governor-General take the form that enable him to do some positive act; for instance, to exercise legislative powers or to make regulations within the ambit of the enabling provision. In other words, in those cases the delegation is to add to the provisions of the law and not to subtract from them. But here, of course, we are dealing with the opposite position. Here powers are being given to the Governor-General to undo or to negative what already exists, that is to repeal in whole or in part laws which have been placed on the Statute Book by Parliament. The granting of powers to do a positive act is subject to recognized controls and supervision at present. It is for example possible in the case of delegated legislation to test that legislation in the courts, and Parliament itself has provided a safeguard of laying regulations on the Table, with or with out the requirement of approval or rejection by Parliament. But there is still a further factor. Under those powers, if something. Is done and it is done incorrectly it can be rectified again. Mistakes can be rectified by a subsequent exercise of power. But in the case that we are dealing with here where a negative act is done, not one of those safeguards can prevail. Once the power has been exercised, once the law has been repealed, then the Governor-General has completed his task, and in legal terms he becomes functus officio, and if he has made a mistake he has made a mistake. Nothing can be done about it unless Parliament itself re-enacts the provision to which he, in good faith, but mistakenly has referred. Whatever he has done stands whether he has done it rightly or wrongly. If it is wrong it stands unless Parliament re-enacts it.
I believe that in all these matters the guiding principle is that Parliament should be jealous of its prerogative and that it should surrender no more powers by delegation than it can itself control. A very eminent authority on the subject, Sir Cecil Carr, who, I believe is still counsel to the Speaker of the House of Commons, once put it in more or less the following words: “Wherever a delegation of powers contains the germ of arbitrary action, then safeguards must be devised.” What I am endeavouring to do in this case is precisely that. I am endeavouring to provide safeguards, in the event of the Minister not taking what I believe is the correct course, and that is to withdraw the clause altogether. The safeguard I am suggesting at any rate has this additional virtue that it allows administration to go on, but the repeal of the law will stand only for so long as the amendment suggests and will stand no longer than would give sufficient time for Parliament to determine what should happen and, if it wishes to exercise its powers of repeal to do so. I therefore suggest very earnestly that the hon. the Deputy Minister should consider the points made by the hon. member for Springs and withdraw this clause, but if he finds that he cannot do so, then to agree to the insertion of the amendment moved by me.
Unfortunately I cannot accept the suggestion of the hon. member for Springs (Mr. Tucker). It is perfectly clear that Parliament has already passed legislation in terms of which these areas will be governed, namely the Act of 1909. Parliament is not groping in the dark therefore as to what legislation is going to be applied to these areas. In discussing this measure I asked the Department what legislation we have in mind, and the Department was unable to give me examples, but amongst the host of old laws which are still on the Statute Book there may be provisions that will stand in our way in enforcing this legislation so that the provisions of the 1909 Act can be carried out, and it was for that reason only that this clause was inserted. I agree with the hon. member that Parliament ought to retain a measure of control. I agree with him in principle that in the last resort this Parliament must have the right to exercise control and to be able to ascertain whether the right thing has been done and I am prepared therefore to accept the amendment of the hon. member for Johannesburg (North) (Mr. Plewman).
Amendment proposed by Mr. Plewman put and agreed to.
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
The remaining clause having been agreed to,
The Committee reverted to Clauses 1 and 12 standing over.
Clause 1 put and agreed to.
On Clause 12,
The hon. the Deputy Minister has kindly favoured us with a copy of his amendments and I just want to clear up one point, and that is the position of goodwill in relation to a trading business which may be in an area which is the subject of a proclamation under this Act. The Deputy Minister’s amendment provides for compensation to be paid which “(a) was the fair market value on the fixed date of the land and improvements thereon or of the right ”. The right presumably is the right referred to in Clause 4 (2) (b) (iii), which is a registered real right. Is that the right?
Sir, goodwill in relation to a trading concern is not a registered real right. Clause 12, as printed, said in sub-section (2) (b), which is now being withdrawn by the Minister—
- (b) in determining the value of any trading right the value of the goodwill shall not be taken into consideration.
Paragraph (b) now falls away, but the Deputy Minister’s amendment, as I see it, does not expressly include what now may be considered a trading right, but the crisp point I put to the Minister is this: As it is not a real right in terms of his amendment, is it open for argument between the owner of the trading premises and the umpires or arbitrators, as the case may be, to discuss the fair market value?
Nothing prohibits them from discussing it.
That is my point. Although that right is not expressly included to be taken into account, it is not now expressly excluded so that it becomes a matter which can be discussed what the fair market value was on a fixed date. If the Deputy Minister agrees that that is the correct interpretation of his amendment, we are very pleased that the Deputy Minister has seen fit to come forward with this amendment which we accept for the purposes of Clause 12.
May I just indicate that we are pleased that the hon. the Deputy Minister has made this amendment which does meet the point which we too raised at the second reading. I reiterate that we are still totally opposed to any person being removed on the ground of race alone, but if it is necessary or if the Deputy Minister decides that he shall be moved, then at least we naturally desire that he shall be paid adequate compensation. In this respect I think the proposal of the Deputy Minister does meet the case and we approve of it.
Amendment proposed by the Deputy Minister of the Interior, put and agreed to.
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
Title of the Bill put and agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Amendments to be considered on 6 March.
Seventh Order read: Second reading,—Anatomy.
This is a short Bill, morbid on the one hand but very necessary on the other. This Bill really has two objects. The first is to make available more adequate clinical material to the schools of anatomy of our various universities, and secondly to facilitate the administration, the purely formal aspects of this legislation.
Hon. members will recall that some years ago we had only two schools of anatomy in South Africa. A third was established at the beginning of the ’fifties, that is to say, in Natal; thereafter a school of anatomy was established at the Pretoria University and subsequently the one attached to Stellenbosch, which is situated at Bellville. As hon. members are aware we now have five schools of anatomy instead of two, and to a very large extent we are struggling to-day with the same problems which are being experienced by all schools of anatomy throughout the world, namely a shortage of study material. It is necessary therefore to do everything in our power to find adequate anatomical material, and in making available this further material, we must do so in such a way that we do not offend people’s religious feelings. Hon. members, particularly those who are medical practitioners, will be aware of the fact that under the old set-up, under the old Anatomy Act, certain corpses could be made available to schools of anatomy; I refer to the corpses of paupers who were supported by the State or the Provincial Administrations, and who were entirely dependent upon the State for their support. I want to make it perfectly clear, because I do not want any misunderstanding in this regard, that the position to-day is that it is not every pauper whose corpse can be given to a school of anatomy. Under no circumstances do I want to create the impression that it is the practice to-day to hand over the corpses of indigent or poor people to schools of anatomy; it is only done in the case of paupers who have no kith or kin who can claim their corpses and bury them. Under the old Act the corpses of such paupers who were supported in an institution, whether by the State or by a Province, could be given to a school of anatomy. We are now obliged to go further and to provide that the corpse of any person who was known to be a pauper may be given to a medical school, always with the proviso that if any relative—and we do not even confine it to relatives—or any friend of such a person turns up, the corpse must be handed over to that person for burial and in that case the corpse cannot go to a school of anatomy.
Hon. members will also be aware of the fact that in the first place, in terms of the old Act, the anatomy inspector has to wait 24 hours to see whether anybody turns up to claim the corpse before he can hand it over to a school of anatomy. If nobody turns up to claim the corpse then it goes to a school of anatomy, but a period of a fortnight must elapse before that corpse can be dissected, just in case a relative or even a friend should turn up to claim the corpse in order to give it a proper burial. We are not acting recklessly therefore; we are not hurting anyone; we are not offending people’s religious feelings. I trust therefore that hon. members will agree with me that it is necessary to bring about this amendment.
Hon. members will also be aware of the fac. that it is perfectly legal, of course, for any person to bequeath his body to a school of anatomy by testamentary disposition. This Bill now contains a new provision, again in an attempt—I repeat that—to see whether we cannot make available more material, which is absolutely necessary for the training of our students, a provision to the effect that if anybody in the presence of two adult witnesses, expresses the desire to do so, then his corpse may be given to a school of anatomy for analytical purposes. In the Other Place, where this Bill has already been passed, certain misgivings were expressed, and in this House too there are certain hon. members who have indicated to me that they have certain misgivings—amongst others, the hon. member for Vanderbijlpark (Dr. de Wet), who cannot be here to-day unfortunately—and I shall be very glad if hon. members will give their attention to that problem. We are providing here that a person may, in the presence of two witnesses, either at his home or in hospital, express the desire that when he dies his body should go to a school of anatomy. If he expresses such a desire to-day, it cannot be done because the Act does not permit it. We are now introducing this amendment, but the misgiving has been expressed that if a person expresses such a desire, not in the presence of his relatives, and his corpse is then taken to a medical school, it is going to come as a shock to the relatives who are anxious to give him a proper burial and are not prepared to allow his corpse to be made available for this purpose. The person concerned can do so by testamentary disposition; he has the fullest right to do so. But the argument is that when a person has bequeathed his body in his will, his wife will be aware of it. After all, hon. members in this House do not do anything without their wives being aware of it. Where a person bequeaths his body in his will it is assumed that he settled and discussed the matter with his wife and that she agreed, because otherwise he would not include that provision in his will. I can well understand that argument and I should like to hear the views of hon. members in this connection. I understand that in the Committee Stage the hon. member for Vanderbijlpark is going to move an amendment to which I shall give careful attention and which I shall also be prepared to consider on its merits.
In the second place, this Bill provides that a surviving spouse may of his or her own free will, if he or she chooses to do so, give the corpse of his or her spouse to a medical school. In the past this has not been possible. We are now making that possible for people who want to follow this course. We are also making it possible for the parents of a deceased or stillborn child to hand over the corpse to a medical school. This provision speaks for itself and I do not think it is necessary for me to explain it at greater length.
We trust that once we have passed this measure we shall have sufficient clinical material available for our schools of anatomy.
It is clear also from the old Act that bodies which are made available to schools of anatomy can only be used, according to the strict provisions of the Act for dissection purposes, but there is nothing in the Act to say that they can be used for scientific purposes. That is now being amended. I must say that as a layman I find it very difficult to understand how it has been possible in practice to distinguish between the two hitherto. Up to what point does one confine oneself purely to dissection purposes and up to what point does one confine oneself to scientific purposes? I take it that in practice corpses have also been used for scientific purposes. But to put the matter beyond any doubt, we now want to make it possible for such corpses to be used for both dissection and scientific purposes. Hon. members will no doubt agree with me that that is necessary.
It will be observed that in terms of the old Act the provisions of the Act had to be carried out by the Governor-General; that was practicable while we only had two medical schools, but now that the number of medical schools has been increased it is no longer practicable and we are therefore substituting “Minister” for “Governor-General” in this connection. Another amendment that we want to introduce is this: In terms of the old Act a body could only be used for 18 months. It has now been proved to our satisfaction by the authorities of the schools of anatomy that it is not necessary to keep a corpse for 18 months only; that it can in fact be used for two years, particularly as a result of improved methods of treatment and preservation. This amendment makes it possible to keep a corpse for two years.
Hon. members will also be aware of the fact that under the old Act the anatomy inspector had to investigate and report every six months. When we had two medical schools this was quite feasible, but with five medical schools this is no longer practicable. We have been convinced by the authorities that it will meet the position if the inspector investigates and reports in this connection once every 12 months. Moreover, under the provisions of the old Act the burial of that body at the end of this period had to be attended to by the anatomy inspector personally. It is quite impossible and impracticable, of course, for him to do this work personally, and we are now introducing an amendment to enable him to have it done. He still remains the responsible official, but he will now be able to have it done by other persons.
Those, briefly, are the provisions of this Bill which I trust will receive the support of hon. members.
Mr. Speaker, right in the beginning I want to say that this side of the House, certain of our medical men and other hon. members having expressed certain doubts, will support the Bill. I want to thank the Minister for having given us such a thorough and clear explanation of the object of these amendments which are being made to the 1959 Act.
This problem of the bodies of deceased persons has been a problem to our medical schools for centuries already, and we who read something about the subject know how throughout the centuries there was a trade in bodies because the universities or medical schools so badly required this clinical material, as the Minister called it, for medical research.
Together with the hon. the Minister we want to try, particularly in view of the fact that the number of universities with medical faculties are increasing in number, to make it possible and even easier for these medical faculties to obtain this clinical material. Of course we also recognize the delicacy of the matter. We realize, just as he does, that apart from religion there is nothing which can hurt people’s feelings so easily as the body of a deceased person, but I think the hon. the Minister has stated his case so clearly and has explained the amendments so thoroughly that very little objection can be raised to this. There will be little opportunity for the surviving relatives to object. However, I wonder whether these amendments will result in sufficient material being made available during the next ten or 20 years to supply our universities or medical schools. I think the time will arrive when we will have to make further amendments. But at this stage I want to say nothing more. I will leave it to the medical men on this side of the House to discuss the various clauses further and to express their doubts, and if necessary we can devote more time to the various clauses during the Committee Stage.
Mr. Speaker, you will allow me just in passing to refer to Clause 4 (d) (a)bis. I will just read it out because I am not quite sure what it actually means—
Surely that is contradictory!
He perhaps provided in his will that the body should be dealt with in a certain way, and then his wife wants to do something different.
Yes, but it still says in the beginning “the surviving spouse”. If she has agreed. But then later it says “unless that person or his surviving spouse … has expressed a wish to the contrary”. In my opinion, this sentence is either clumsy or unclear or contradictory, and at this stage already I want to draw the Minister’s notice to it so that when we come to the Committee Stage he can perhaps give us a better explanation of what he means. Having said these few words, I want to give the Minister the assurance that we welcome the measure and will support it.
It should immediately be clear to the hon. the Deputy Minister from the speech of the hon. member for Hillbrow (Dr. Steenkamp) that this side of the House fully agrees that we should do everything in our power to provide the schools of anatomy with the necessary material for scientific purposes as far as dissection and the like are concerned. I think the hon. member for Hillbrow has made it quite clear that we are anxious to give that assistance to the hon. the Minister’s Department and to the schools of anatomy. I must say at once that this is a morbid subject to discuss. I think that because of the inherent respect we in South Africa have for death and for the dead, this is not a pleasant subject to discuss. But we realize at the same time that we have a duty to perform towards science and also realize what has been achieved in the past by making these corpses available in promoting medical science in the world and also in South Africa. For that reason we on this side of the House support this Bill.
Having read the Bill, however, and having studied the old Act of 1950, one wonders, Sir, whether what we are contemplating under this Bill will serve the desired purpose. I think the hon. member for Hillbrow has also expressed his doubts about it. I myself am not a medical man, but there have been times in medical history when scientists were so anxious to obtain corpses that they even paid people to desecrate graves. I read an article about that only recently. Of course, we no longer have that sort of thing to-day. As the hon. the Minister has said we would like to supply the material without hurting anybody’s feelings. After I have read Clause 4, however, I gravely doubt whether what we are doing here will serve the purpose. I think it is right that when a person is kept in a State institution at the expense of a Governmental or provincial institution, and he dies, the Government should have a certain claim to his body. Nobody else had looked after him; no member of his family or friends had shown any interest in him; it was the Government which had cared for him. If such a man was regarded as a pauper and was an inmate of a Government institution and kept by the State, the provisions of this Bill are quite correct.
Not only that, but the position should also be that no relative or friend claims the body.
Yes, but this Bill provides for a change and it reads—
“on reasonable grounds suspected to have been a pauper at the time of his death Who is to determine that? Who will determine that that man can on reasonable grounds be suspected of having been a pauper at the time of his death” Naturally, I see the hon. Minister’s difficulty. Of course, more clinical material should be made available. Consequently, the legislation should be made slightly more flexible. But at the same time if the public gets the impression that we are now attaching a slightly wider interpretation to the word “pauper”, one wonders whether the public will appreciate our real object and whether this Bill really serves the purpose which the hon. the Deputy Minister has in mind. To some extent I think it is shocking that the net should be cast wider. I have no solution to offer to the hon. the Minister, but I do believe that if we educate the public and if we can convince the public that there is nothing wrong in making a body available for scientific purposes., even if it is the body of a relative, we shall achieve greater success. I must admit that I have doubts in regard to Clause 4 (c) which deals with the presence of two adult witnesses. As far as (d) (a) bis is concerned, I think this is an excellent improvement on the existing Act. It is left to a relative, the nearest available relative of such a deceased person, if such a person had not provided for it in his will, to decide whether such a body should be made available. But in terms of Section (c) of Clause 4 two adult witnesses have to express the desire that such a body should be made available to a school of anatomy. It can be anybody. I do not wish to cast any reflection on anybody but as it reads at the moment, it can be any person, and I am afraid that instead of attaining our objective, we may rouse suspicion in the minds of many people who do not regard this matter in the same light as we do and who also do not regard it from a humanitarian or scientific point of view. Sub-section (2) of Clause 6 says, “Any portion of the body may, if the superintendent deems it necessary for dissection purposes, be removed and kept and preserved separately If you look at Section 6 of the original Act, Sir, you will find that it reads” the body shall be handed over to the authorized school of anatomy mentioned in the order and it may thereafter be used for purposes of dissection It is true that Section 9 of the original Act provides that such a body should remain there for at least 14 days, unviolated. But in terms of the original Section 6 it is specifically provided, if I read it correctly, that it can thereafter be used for purposes of dissection. And now in terms of this amendment any part of the body may be removed and kept for dissecting purposes. I am afraid that will not be welcomed by certain religious groups or sects or by people who, for different reasons, may regard that as improper and in conflict with their religious concepts. There can be no argument about it if that part of the body is removed with the approval of the relatives. If it is some malignant growth or other that is removed, very well. I understand that the hon. the Minister said in the Other Place that this was mainly concerned with the removal of the brain, because if you wish to preserve that properly it has to be removed within a certain period. But according to this amendment it may be any portion of the body and I am convinced that many people will object to that. For example, according to this amendment it can quite easily happen in the case of a man who is poorly dressed and who falls dead in the street, to be regarded as a pauper. It may be more than 14 days before his family turns up and in the meantime, according to the power which we are now plasing in the hands of the superintendent of the school of anatomy, certain portions of his body may be removed and kept. I repeat that I think that the approval of the family or bona fide friends of such a person should first be obtained. I find myself in a difficult position as far as this matter is concerned. It is the earnest desire of us on this side of the House to do everything in our power to assist medical science, seeing that so much progress has already been made and seeing that the new medical faculties have been established. I personally and all of us want to do everything possible to assist those schools. At the same time I cannot but feel that we should take the religious feelings of the public into proper consideration. For that reason I shall be pleased if certain amendments could be effected in the Committee Stage that will allay my fears and overcome my objections
Mr. Speaker, some time last year I had an opportunity of telling this hon. House that it was my opinion that there were far too few doctors being produced in our country to-day. One of the reasons for this falling off in the turn-out of doctors was because of the lack of material to be found in the medical schools in the early years of the course of medicine. I found from investigation then that those students who had to enter university for their second year of study found it almost impossible to get into anatomy classes because of the shortage of material. It therefore became necessary to limit the number of students who were going to university to study medicine. The only way in which one could take in more students was, obviously, to find more material for study. Not only was this so in established universities where there are medical courses, but I am sure that other universities were hindered in their efforts to establish medical schools because of this shortage of material. And when I speak of material I do not mean only that subject which we are discussing, but material of all kinds. Right at the beginning of the course when one starts learning anatomy, you find that there you have the largest number of students trying to proceed in their course and that the better type of student has already been sorted out in the first year of study. The better student goes into his second year of study but finds himself hindered because of the shortages of bodies for anatomy and physiology.
This Bill, in some ways, attempts to provide something to fill that shortage. I do not think it is complete. I do not think by the introduction of this Bill you are going to get very many more bodies than you have had in the past. It is my experience that the number of bodies that are being used for dissection purposes are, in the main, not those of White people. They are Bantu bodies. The White people’s bodies that are being used in the anatomy classes are those which come from the pauper type, from the uncared for, and the unclaimed. I cannot see any great rush of people, because of this Bill, to will their bodies to medical schools. I do not think that is going to happen. I do not think it is going to make it easier for people to give their bodies, and I do not think the desire is there for many people to give their bodies for dissection purposes. But if it is going to help to fill a want then I, for one, do not want to stand in the way of the Minister. I do not want to stand in the way of education. I do not want to stand in the way of the claims of medical schools. But I do not think that this Bill is going to help very much.
It is easy to criticize parts of this Bill. There is a lot in this Bill with which I do not see eye to eye. But I do think that we should have thought of other ways and means to implement the shortage of material. I still want to hear from the hon. the Deputy Minister at some time or other why he thinks that this Bill will bring more bodies to the medical schools. I would like to know from him how many people have been prevented by law from willing their bodies to medicine?
Surely you do not expect me to know that?
No, but I say that when we look at this factually there is not going to be a sudden rush of bodies to the dissecting table I think that what we have to look at is the question that arises in regard to the Bantu. We are told in the Bill that the body must be claimed within 14 days, otherwise it can be used for the purposes of dissection. Well you know, Mr. Speaker, in the way in which we live in this country to-day it is not easy for people living in, say, Pondoland, to learn of the death of a relative that has taken place in Johannesburg. That is something that takes time and I would like to see this period extended to at least 30 days. That would give the relatives of the Bantu an opportunity to learn, firstly, that the death has taken place in an urban area and, secondly, it would give them a chance to come up and make the necessary representations to claim the bodies. All sorts of complications take place in the life of the Bantu. Communications between the urban areas and the Bantu homelands take time. Then there is the getting together of a few pounds to travel up to the urban areas in order to identify the body. That is not something that can be done by correspondence. These people have to leave their homelands and go to the urban areas to identify the body.
It takes money and it takes time, and you must give these people time to get the money together and time to travel. You must give them time to find out that one of the family has been found dead. As I say, I am not very happy about this period of 14 days and I think that in the interests of humanity it should be extended.
It has always been 14 days.
I know that, but I do not think it is a good thing. I have not liked this from the beginning and I should like to see it amended to 30 days. However that is a point we can deal with later, and I am sure that if it is found that 30 days is a more reasonable period for a claim, particularly in the case of the Bantu, the Minister will give this his favourable consideration. It is not going to make any difference to the number of bodies you are going to get. At least I do not think so. I think that those persons who are found dead, uncared for, paupers, criminal types and so forth are still going to be left in the hands of the State.
As far as White people are concerned I feel that the religious bodies on the whole, will look after their dead. I think they already do that. It is a reason why there are so few White bodies to be found in the medical schools. But there are one or two clauses here which I do not like at all. That clause which allows a person who is ill to will his body to a medical school for scientific purposes I particularly dislike. Because he happens to say, in front of two competent witnesses, that he wants his body so disposed of, should not be accepted as the final say in the matter. Just look at the picture. Look at what happens in hospital where you have a man who is going to die. Just think of his state of mind at that time …
You need not labour that point.
Is he compos mentis? Is he able to judge what should be done or what should not be done? I think that the only time that he should be allowed to will his body in front of two witness is if those witnesses are members of his own family. But when you have an ill man away from his home, with his family nowhere near him and you have two junior nurses who are allowed to say “Well, in our presence, he said he wanted to will his body to be cut up” is not right. Then that body can be taken away and dissected. I do not think that that is right. And I do not see anywhere in this Bill where provision is made for the next-of-kin to make an appeal against that decision. If that should happen, if two probationers say “So-and-so said this to us”, it is going to take an awful lot of investigation to get that dead man to deny that he said it.
He will not worry about it.
No, he will not worry about it but where does it say that his next-of-kin can argue the case for him? I think that before we go on with this we should make provision for the next-of-kin to appeal against the statement of the two witnesses. The Bill does not even say competent witnesses, it says reliable witnesses. Well, Sir, I cannot allow that to pass without some sort of reassurance from the hon. the Deputy Minister at the appropriate time.
I have already told you that an amendment will be forthcoming.
Will the amendment include the right of appeal?
I am hoping that when the hon. the Deputy Minister replies he will include in his amendment some form of appeal to be granted to the next-of-kin in these cases.
I now want to say a word or two on the question of the mutilation of bodies. I am not at all happy that parts of a body should be taken and the rest of it be buried. I say that what we should do is to see that any part of a body that is going to be removed should have some form of identification on it. And all parts of the body should be buried as a body and not as pieces of bodies, as might quite easily happen in this case. Not only that, but if we are not careful we might find that at some distant date, at excavation time, bodies will be found with three arms and five legs. We must avoid that sort of thing. We do not want to find a box filled up with parts and thrown into a hole, and that is virtually what is going to happen if we do not have proper supervision, as this clause allows for the removal of parts of bodies. I am fully aware of the necessity to preserve parts of the body as soon as possible, and I have nothing to say against that. But even if a part of a body is preserved rapidly, that does not give us the right to use that body unless it falls under the terms of this Bill in that it is an unclaimed body. We must not find a situation in which persons are being buried without a brain because the brain has been preserved 12 hours after death. Those things should not happen. They did happen in the days of Mr. Burke and Mr. Hare but they must not happen in these days.
Where will you get the brain material from?
Well, that is a problem. In the same way the hon. the Deputy Minister may say to me “Where are we going to get the legs from and where are we going to get the eyes from?” I say that we must make the best of the material we have got. We must not waste one single part of the material we have. We must also use as much synthetic material as we can get hold of. It is amazing what can be done to-day with plastics. The models that are made with plastics to-day are almost as good as the real thing. I have seen skeletons made of plastic material that are almost as good as the ordinary normal skeletons you see hanging in a dissecting room, and it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference. They have all the markings on them; but they do not have the wear and tear of usage.
Is it also difficult to tell the difference between synthetic brains and ordinary brains?
Well, I think I have the answer to that.
I now want to come back again to this very important question of the exclusion of medical students from medical schools of a shortage of material. At this stage I think it is quite appropriate for me to say to the hon. the Deputy Minister that he must do everything in his power to get the medical schools to open their doors as wide as possible to as many students as possible, so that we can start producing more doctors than we have at the moment.
But I do not understand you. First you blow hot then you blow cold.
The position is this, Sir, I am not obstructing you in getting bodies for the second year students for dissection purposes or for scientific purposes. But, at the same time, I do not want you to do that without giving the relatives of the people concerned a fair chance to claim the bodies. It must not be a smash and grab raid.
There is nothing of that sort.
No, but there might possibly be, especially when we have clauses to the effect that two witnesses can decide whether a man did say that he is going to give his body to a medical school. It is not very pleasant to see that sort of thing in a Bill, and I do not know whose bright thought that was. But, as I say, we must make full use of what we have. I did say to the hon. the Deputy Minister that he must get synthetic parts if we have not got the real material. But he must also remember that with the increase of our population and with The increased demand at the medical schools you have an increased number of bodies available. What did we do in the days gone by? We got bodies, they came in. They come in slowly and even if it means that more than six students must work on a body, it is worth while doing it. But you must not exclude students from the universities because there is a shortage of bodies.
I should like to see a further investigation into mental hospitals where bodies remain unclaimed for a long time. Those people have been a burden on the State for many, many years, some of them for all their lives. I think that the State should have a claim on those bodies. I say that the prisons situation should be examined. I think that where a man has been an habitual criminal and has been a burden on the State over a large number of years, his body should be claimed by the State. Persons who are hanged should be claimed by the State.
What about claims by their relatives?
Even against the will of the relatives. I think that if a criminal has been a burden on the State for a large number of years, for ten or 15 years like some of these habitual criminals and the next-of-kin have not had any contact with that person over a large number of years, have never cared to rehabilitate that person, or have found it impossible to rehabilitate him, or have never visited that person because they could not care less what happened to him in his living days, they should not be allowed to come along and claim his body. Remember that he is going to be buried at the right time. And he will probably have as good a burial as his next-of-kin would have given him. But I do think that we have the right, in those circumstances to claim that body. If you have claimed it during his lifetime I think you can claim it at the time of his death. It is a very delicate matter to have to deal with. Agreed it is not a pretty picture to have to look at, but there it is. Where people have been a burden on the State for all these years I think that we have the right to claim their bodies.
The remainder of this Bill contains clauses which are improvements on the Act. I cannot find fault with them and I do not want the hon. the Deputy Minister to think that I am merely being obstructive in what I have said. That was not my intention at all. My whole object in bringing these points to the notice of the hon. the Minister is purely for the purpose of giving the next-of-kin, in certain cases, an opportunity to claim the body. And I have also suggested to him other methods of obtaining bodies which the State virtually possesses at the present time.
I think I am even more surprised than most hon. members in this House at the remarks that have come from my colleague the hon. member for Rosettenville (Dr. Fisher). However I do agree with the hon. member from Port Elizabeth (West) (Mr. Streicher) that this is a sombre subject and should be dealt with with gravity.
I want, first of all, to state that when it comes to anatomy I speak with a great deal of authority. At the present moment I am the inspector of examinations in anatomy for the South African Medical Council, and within the last two years I have submitted written reports on all the medical schools of the country as regards their anatomy examinations. This means that I have personally visited, within the last two years, every medical school in the country, and for more than one day each; sometimes for two days and sometimes for as many as five days. Therefore I know exactly what happens in these universities and medical schools. I think that my hon. colleague next to me unfortunately created a wrong impression when he implied that bodies were not kept together and that you might find buried, say, a body with three arms and only one leg. I had not intended describing the sombre details of an anatomy room, but in an anatomy room the students work in teams. They have one table with one body per team. The teams work on that body throughout the whole session. Those people keep together because they must always work on that body as it is the only opportunity they are going to get, and they jealously guard the parts which are at their disposal because there are many of them to study those parts. There may be as many as ten students to one body, depending upon the availability of bodies. These are carefully guarded, and there is no other place for these students to work but that particular table. So that the body is kept together. The only reason why, now, the universities want the time extended to two years is that on account of better methods of care, better preparation and better preservation, it is possible to retain these parts suitably preserved during that period. But I should hate any hon. member to have the impression that these parts are thrown about the room, that they are not kept identified, that they are mixed up and that they are tumbled together in a sack later and thrown into a hole. This is very far from the case. The professors and lecturers in anatomy are responsible people. They are responsible to the State and they carry out their duties very carefully.
I would also say that I cannot agree that if a man has said, in the presence of two adults reliable witnesses, that he wishes his body to be handed over for educational or scientific purposes, that that should be disputed by someone. This is not such a terrible thing. It happens in the street every day that people are damaged and injured, and nothing particular is done about that. These people fulfil a definite purpose, and it is important to realize that if a man wishes to help science or medicine—or even art—after he is dead, that he should be allowed to do so and not interfered with. After all, if he makes a will —as the hon. the Deputy Minister has said, his wishes are carried out. If he makes a wish then that wish should be carried out as well. But, in general, people on their death beds are not thinking about that sort of thing. They do not, in their last moments, when they are non compos mentis and not sure what is happening to them, suddenly wake up and say “I think I would like to be dissected”. That is not what happens at all. They do not think they are going to die, they just quietly drop off to sleep.
We cannot exaggerate the importance of the study of anatomy in medicine. It is the foundation of medicine. It is the foundation on which the whole of medicine is built, because if you do not know the structure of the body how can you possibly know what is likely to go wrong with it? The two basic sciences of medicine are anatomy—the structure of the body—and physiology, the function of the body in health. Both of these depend upon an intimate knowledge of the structure of the human body. No amount of plastics or synthetics can possibly replace the actual body itself. As time marches on. after all these years of anatomical dissection and study there are still portions of the body in which we find structures which have been overlooked, the importance of which has not been realized. We find, even in the short span of my own life, that as a surgeon I have found structures of the body which, when I started in medicine, were, so to speak, mentioned in passing, or not even mentioned in passing, but which have now assumed an importance out of all proportion to others which we, in our day, spent hours studying. How can you reproduce in synthetics these delicate structures, some of them finer than a hair? Bones can be manufactured, but no other structures. There can be a use for these models but they are relatively, for highly scientific work, unimportant. They are quite useful for teaching artists, but not for much more than that. It would be a mistake to think that the teaching of anatomy is confined to medical students. If you go into the Anatomy Department of any of these universities you will find dentists, masseurs, occupational therapists, all studying anatomy, and needing to study it to the same extent as the doctors. They perhaps do not pass examinations of such high standard as the medical men, but it is important to these people to have an intimate knowledge of the human body. It might be said that we could use animals. It is true that in some respects animals are used to give a basic knowledge, in the same way that they are used in zoology. There are portions of animals which for scientific purposes demonstrate certain structures which are minute in a human but large in them, and they are used, but to a very limited extent. We cannot do the microscopic anatomy which is necessary from anything but the human being. These portions of the body are absolutely necessary. I hope I have convinced the House that the need for bodies in the study of medicine is absolutely necessary, and I hope I have also convinced him that the bodies are cared for.
I come now to the point whether the bodies should be kept for a fortnight. It is most unusual for a body to be kept for even such a short time as a fortnight. You must picture to yourself that students enter the university on the same day. The general entry into most of the medical schools in the second year is about 100, although some of them are behind that at the moment. That, together with the other students, the therapists and dentists, etc., means that they require 50 to 60 bodies on the same day, so that the bodies are not rushed at in a fortnight. They are preserved and kept sometimes for as long as six months. That is one of the reasons why the schools wish the time to be extended to two years, because if it is limited to 18 months they may actually only have 12 months.
Secondly, as regards the removal of a portion of the body before that fortnight, there are portions of the body which are difficult to preserve intact. They tend to liquefy and to become almost unrecognizable. It is important, as the Minister said, to have brains. Now the brain, unfortunately, is a single structure. You have two arms and two legs and there are two sides to the head, but only one brain. That means that there is double the number of students detailed to learn from that brain. Therefore, if there is any loss of brain it is a very serious matter to the medical school. I would like to correct what is perhaps an impression which has been given to the House that the body would be delivered without brain. I am sorry to have to go into these details, but no person could dissect a brain under a fortnight. It would take at least that time to harden, to make it fit to handle, if not longer. If the brain has been removed, it will be replaced, and what is more, unless the relative or friend who has claimed the body makes a very close inspection he will not see that it has been removed. That is not an uncommon thing. If a magistrate, during the course of an inquest, orders a post-mortem to be carried out, it is the duty of the pathologist to examine the brain and when that body is returned to the relatives they must look very closely indeed before they will see any evidence that the brain has been removed. I would hate the House to have the impression that these things are done callously and not with reasonable care and thought for the feelings of the relatives. Medical schools are serious institutions. The supply of bodies is limited to the pauper who cannot afford to pay for his own funeral and to the man who wills his body, and it is even more limited when the cause of death is not known because it is of the utmost importance that non-infectious bodies only should be admitted to the medical school. Therefore, unless the cause of death can be stated with reasonable certainty, these bodies are not taken to the medical school. My friend from Port Elizabeth suggested that a man falls down in the street, and within 12 hours his body is delivered to the medical school. But the police do not do that sort of thing. They do not hand bodies over in a few hours. Unless they have identification, they do not hand these bodies over.
There is one clause which, contrary to the thoughts of everybody else, I would like the House to consider, but I will not press it, and that is the last sentence in Clause 4 (a)bis, that a bona fide friend must express a wish to the contrary. It must be very difficult for such people to have bona fide friends who will come along at that stage when they have not spoken before, and it seems to me difficult for the authorities to recognize who are these bona fide friends unless they comply with the section in the original Act and claim the body. If they are willing to claim the body, by all means let them do so. The hon. member for Hillbrow (Dr. Steenkamp) suggested that this difficulty will become worse. I do not think so. The oldest medical schools in the world have solved this problem, and this is one of the ways discovered of solving it. Even in Britain where you have a welfare state where people are cared for from the cradle to the grave, although there is difficulty it has not been found to be insuperable, and the medical schools there, some 15 to 20 in number, are still getting bodies, some willed to them but mostly coming out of the state institutions. It is unlikely that our institutions which care for paupers will fall short of bodies, and I think we will be able to solve the problem, but I do wish the House would do all it can to help the Minister to obtain the specimens which are so sorely needed in this country.
Mr. Speaker, I think the whole House will agree with me if I say that I am very thankful that the hon. member who has just sat down has participated in the debate, and I personally would like to thank him for his contribution. I have listened with great attention to the hon. member, who is a distinguished authority on the subject. I somehow got the idea, Sir, that he would have liked the hon. member sitting next to him to be a student of his just at the moment, because I think he would have taken great pleasure in plugging him. I think I am speaking on behalf of all members when I say that the hon. member has put the whole case for this Bill very conclusively and that it is really not necessary for me to say anything further about it.
*I want to return briefly to certain of the arguments which have been advanced. The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (West) asked who would determine whether or not a person was a pauper. There has been no difficulty about that in the past and the test, in any case, is obvious. I said that not all paupers landed in the school of anatomy. The body of a man does not go there merely because he was a pauper, but only if he was a pauper and no friend or family had claimed his body. That is the basic requirement of the law and the difficulty, as envisaged by the hon. member, cannot therefore arise.
As far as the other aspects raised by the hon. member are concerned, we can go further into those in the Committee Stage. The hon. member for Rosettenville (Dr. Fisher) introduced a certain aspect into his argument, and I am sorry that he did so. He referred to the non-White areas, Pondoland, for example. I want to tell him that what we are doing is mainly in the interests of the non-Whites and that fact should be appreciated. But I want to go further and say that, as a former medical student, he will know that as the law operates at the moment and as it has operated for many years, no difficulties have cropped up so far and our communication system is improving daily. In the days when communication was very difficult, and when it was much more difficult to determine the identity of a person, there were no complaints and no trouble. Our communication system is much better to-day and it is much easier to identify a body by the submission of documents than years ago. So, instead of the position deteriorating it should be improving.
Then the hon. member asked to take the bodies of habitual criminals even against the wishes of their relatives. I am not prepared to do that at this stage. After all, if a man has gone to prison he has paid the penalty and I certainly see no reason why, in addition to having exacted this penalty from him, we must penalize his relatives after his death. No, the whole basis of this Act is not to take a body against the wishes of the relatives concerned and I am not prepared to do it in this Bill or until I am absolutely forced to do so I am not prepared to do it in future either. That is why I said that, even in the case where the man has expressed a wish in the presence of two witnesses that his body should go to a university, I do not feel very happy about it in this clause, and I foreshadowed that an amendment would be forthcoming to give the relatives a chance to have a say in the matter. It will not even be a question of an appeal, as the hon. member put it. As far as I am concerned, if the relatives say they do not want the body to go there, then it is out. I do not want the anatomy school to feel that they are holding bodies there against the wishes of the relatives, who want to give that body proper burial.
*Those, in brief, Sir, are the provisions of this Bill but I want to repeat and say clearly that the whole basis of this Bill is that it should be done on a voluntary basis. We do not want to acquire bodies against the will and wishes of people, because that would go against our religious concepts. If it cannot be avoided, I think it will only be in the distant future that we will take such steps as those. Hon. members have expressed their doubts whether we will obtain sufficient clinical material. I cannot say whether or not we will obtain it, but the experts who know say we will. The hon. member over there who is an expert says we will and we must accept that. The extension of the time limit from 18 months to two years also makes the position easier. I trust, therefore, and I accept it according to the advice given to me by experts, that we will indeed find that position to improve.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time; House to go into Committee on the Bill on 6 March.
Orders of the Day Nos. VIII, IX and X stand over.
Eleventh Order read: Second reading,—Foundation Seed Bill.
I think it is very fitting that this Bill which deals with the production and multiplication of foundation seed should be before this House at this stage. This year South Africa together with a great number of member states of the Agricultural and Nutrition Organization of the United Nations takes part in an international seed year. The main purpose of this seed year is to launch a propaganda campaign throughout the world, as widely as possible, to encourage the use of high quality seed of improved varieties, because not only has it been found, but it has also been proved, that the use of good quality seed is the most effective method of increasing production per unit. It has been calculated that if all the farmers throughout the word used a good quality seed there would be a 25 per cent increase in production. This year particularly the seed merchants and seed experts, in co-operation with the Department’s publicity service and our information services, will do everything in their power to make the farmers more conscious of the fact that it is absolutely essential that more attention should be paid and greater emphasis laid on the production and the use of a high quality seed than before, but it remains a truism, also in the literal sense, that what a man sows he will reap. Besides soil and water seed is the most important factor in agriculture. Good seed, therefore, is an extremely important factor in agriculture.
It does not follow necessarily, however, that good seed complies with all the requirements of all ecological industrial areas and it is necessary, therefore, that we concentrate on the production and the multiplication of new varieties suitable for the various agricultural areas in the country. We in South Africa are fortunate in having the climate and sunshine which we have because that stimulates the production of seed considerably. The germinating quality of our seed is in general higher than in most other countries in the world and it has also been found that our seed can be preserved for longer periods than in most other countries where their climatic conditions are not as favourable as ours. That is the reason why seed is sent to the Union by various countries so that it can be multiplied here and returned to those countries. What we need in agriculture particularly is seed with three dominant qualities. We want seed with the desired hereditary quality of withstanding the well-known plant diseases and the insects in the different areas, and also seed of which the plant will comply with certain mechanical requirements, because that plays an important role in the reaping of the crops and in the processing of those crops and consequently makes its cultivation an economic proposition. That is a subject which seed breeders and research workers of the Department and outside the Department are continually studying. A small quantity of breeder’s seed is being cultivated by research workers and breeders, but that small quantity has to be multiplied into what we call foundation seed, and the foundation seed in turn has to be multiplied and made available to the trade and the farmers, and that, Sir, takes up much time. It often takes years before you have enough seed which has been multiplied from breeder’s seed for the trade and the farmers. Not only does that take up much time, but it is also a very exacting process because it involves a great deal of time, labour and expense. In some cases it is the fruit of a life-time’s labour on the part of a research worker. If you wish to have the full benefit of the labour of that research worker and breeder, Sir, it is absolutely essential that the multiplication process into foundation seed and into quantities sufficient for commercial purposes, takes place in circumstances which will ensure that that foundation or breeder’s seed does not lose its hereditary qualities through hybridization. We find in this country that by the time many of the new varieties of breeder’s seeds which have been cultivated reach the farmers they have become hybridized because the necessary machinery has not been created to ensure that the multiplication of that seed is properly controlled and registered. In this way much of the good work that has been done is wasted and the farmers have experienced that when the good varieties reach them, the seed has already been hybridized to such an extent through cross pollination, etc., that the seed falls far short of the actual quality which the breeder claimed it to be. The object of this legislation, therefore, is to remedy those defects.
Hon. members may ask what the Department is doing and why it has not done it in the past. But the main function of the Department of Agriculture is research and the plant breeders in its employ devote all their time to this. Secondly, the Department does not have sufficient land at its disposal for the purpose of multiplying the seed, and it also lacks many of the other facilities which are essential if you want to do it properly. What the Department does have, however, is an inspection service which it will make available to the Board to be established. As the position is to-day, breeder’s seed must of necessity be handed to other people for multiplication purposes, people who often do not have the necessary equipment and who do not work as precisely as they should, with the result that hybridization or inter-breeding takes place easily. There is, therefore, a real need for a statutory body which will be representative of the various interests in the seed industry and which will have the necessary power to receive breeder’s seed from departmental as well as private breeders and arrange for its multiplication into foundation seed. That is the main object of this Bill.
Business suspended at 6.30 p.m. and resumed at 8.5 p.m.
Mr. Speaker, when business was suspended I was emphasizing the fact that there was a real need for the establishment of a statutory body which will be representative of the various interests in the seed industry and which will have the necessary power to receive breeders’ seed from both the Department and private breeders and arrange for its multiplication into foundation seed. As has already been mentioned, there are various stages in the production of seed. The first is the breeder’s seed stage, secondly the foundation seed stage and thirdly the commercial seed stage. My Department has long since felt that there was a very definite need for greater control over seed in general. For years farmers’ organizations throughout the country have been pressing for this. As a result I appointed a departmental committee which consisted of representatives of organized agriculture as well as representatives of the seed trade and representatives of the various control boards to make a comprehensive inquiry into the whole position. I want to avail myself of this opportunity of expressing my gratitude and appreciation to the representatives of those various bodies which I have just mentioned for the time and labour they have devoted to that investigation and also for having drafted this measure which is before us to-day.
May I say this, Sir, by way of explanation: This Bill deals with foundation seed, that means the production and the multiplication etc., of foundation seed, but the second Bill, the Seeds Bill deals with the marketing and distribution of commercial seed.
Yes, the marketing and distribution of all commercial seed, declared as such under that Act. Hon. members may ask why we have a Foundation Seed Bill as well as a Seeds Bill—where does the father come in? By way of explanation I just want to say to the House that when I was comparatively young even before I got married, an old friend of mine said something to me which I think hon. members will agree is very true. He emphasized the general truism that in most cases three-quarters of a man’s success—but note well, also his failure— depended on his wife. For this reason I agreed with this committee and with my Department that it was not necessary to bring fathers into the picture in this particular respect.
Breeder’s seed is naturally very valuable material and the very object of this Bill is to promote its multiplication into foundation seed in circumstances that will ensure that cross pollination, hybridization or the deterioration of that valuable seed is eliminated completely, if possible, in the process of multiplying it. In the last stage, namely the stage where the seed is supplied to the farmers, we want seed of the highest quality and in the purest condition possible. You will notice, Mr. Speaker, that this Bill deliberately follows the pattern of a control board under the Marketing Act more or less in that it provides for the creation of a foundation seed scheme and the establishment of a stautory board on which all the interests concerned will be represented. It is really not necessary for me to explain the other provisions. I want to emphasize, however, that the main objective of this Bill is the promotion of seed production and not so much the marketing of seed. Because of that and from an administrative point of view, it could not be done under the Marketing Act because a special foundation seed board is necessary for that purpose and this Bill provides for that. Other possibilities that were considered, other than special legislation, to promote the production of foundation seed was firstly the establishment of a co-operative company and/or a utility company. But as a result of possible financial implications and after due consideration, this departmental committee of inquiry decided unanimously that such organizations would not serve the purpose and that a specific board should be established.
Under this legislation departmental seed breeders and private seed breeders will in future hand over their breeders seed to the foundation seed board for multiplication purposes. It will be optional, though, in the case of private breeders. In other words, there is no compulsion. Breeder’s seed will only be issued to registered producers of foundation seed only and will be multiplied under the control of the departmental seed inspection service. All breeders of foundation seed who want to join the scheme will have to be registered and they will multiply their seed under the control of the inspection services of the Department. In other words, inspection on a national scale will take place in order to make a careful study of the growing habits of plants, the occurrence of disease and other conditions relating to production. It is our aim to do away with the hybrid seed scheme of the Mealie Control Board and with the winter grain-seed scheme of the Wheat Board, but those two boards which have done very useful work up to date, work for which we ought to be and are very grateful, can themselves decide whether or not they wish their seed schemes to be incorporated under this foundation seed scheme. I just want to say this that in the case of the hybrid maize seed scheme, they have realized that they would not be able to perform that function, and because of that they have already asked the seed inspection service of the Department to supervise their breeding of hybrid maize seed. Talking about hybrid maize seed it may be interesting for the House to know, by way of interlude— because I understand we have any amount of time at our disposal—that up to to-day the. hybrid maize seed board has only been able to comply with 18 per cent of the requirements of the mealie producers. Statisticians and agricultural experts maintain that if we can increase our supply of hybrid maize seed so that it can comply with 50 per cent of the hybrid maize seed requirement, it will in terms of money mean no less than R16,000,000 to South Africa, because of the bigger crops that will be obtained from the same land which is being cultivated to-day. Then the question which farmers also pose immediately arises: What do we do with the surplus? I maintain that the use of quality seed whose inherent quality is to give a higher production per morgen, will immediately be one of the main solutions to high production costs and will place us in a better position to compete on the world markets, with less subsidization. The whole idea, therefore, is of much greater economic significance Sir than the contents of this little Bill would make you believe. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that we are really laying the foundation of, and that we are opening the door to development in South Africa as a result of which we will be able to supply better seed to our people, the economic results of which, not only as far as the agricultural industry is concerned, but as far as the economy of the whole country is concerned, cannot be determined in figures at this stage.
The accounts of this foundation seed board will be audited by the Auditor-General and consequently it follows logically that there will be the closest co-operation between this foundation seed board and the Department and its seed inspection service in general. In moving the second reading of this Bill I want to express the hope that not only will it provide the farmer with seed and the consumer with bread, but that it will ensure better seed and better bread to everyone in this country.
There is a general feeling among the farmers of South Africa that it is time that the purity of seed is guaranteed and that the producers of that seed should be able to guarantee that the crops to be grown from the seed will be true to type. I think that the main principles of this Bill will be welcomed by most farmers. There are one or two minor matters which I wish to put to the Minister and in due course when we come to the Committee Stage, I will move an amendment for the deletion of Clause 10 (2). I will give my reason in due course why I intend to move the deletion of that sub-section. But I am in favour of the broad principles contained in this Bill.
We have in this country many new varieties, many new strains of seed which are purported by means of advertisements, to produce something extra special. The farmers buy this seed because of the attractive advertisements and the write-ups in propaganda to sell that seed. I can say from my own personal experience and the experiences of farmers in my own area that it has cost the farmers in this country many thousands of pounds in trying to prove the value of these so-called new strains and new varieties. It is time that we prevent all that money being wasted in this country by ensuring that the seed is what it is advertised to be.
This Foundation Seed Bill deals with the highly technical side of seed breeding. This is a very technical undertaking and should only be undertaken by specialists. We must keep that in mind, Mr. Speaker, when we deal with Clauses 9 and 10 because Clause 10 (2) has a bearing on Clause 9. Before I deal with those two clauses I want to touch on Clause 8. I do not like the provision in Clause 8 to the effect that the board can empower any official in its employ “to enter any place” to see if seed is stored there for sale or for distribution. Now what does “any place” mean? There is no definition in this Bill of “any place”. We have the same position here that we have had over the years in respect of control boards where minor officials in many instances are given power to enter premises without a search warrant. I think this provision is unnecessary and I think the ordinary course of common law could be followed. What is “any place”, Mr. Speaker? Will a minor official now be allowed to go on to either a farm or any premises where seed is stored—it may be a home—if he has reason to believe that seed is stored there in order to find out whether a levy has been paid on that seed? To give the power to a minor official to enter “any place” just to collect a levy—and after all in most instances this levy is going to be a very small sum of money—without defining “any place” is far-reaching. I would like to ask the hon. the Minister to consider that particular aspect of this clause.
Getting down to Clauses 9 and 10 which go together I want to warn the Minister that in the Committee Stage I will move the deletion of Clause 10 (2) because the provisions there give the Minister the power to refuse the nominations submitted for the Board from the bodies who have the right to nominate. This particular Clause 10 (2) gives the Minister that right and you must remember, Sir, that that panel of names is submitted by organized agriculture in particular as set out in Clause 9 (a) and (b) particularly and to a lesser extent in the other sub-sections of Clause 9. Clause 9 (a) says “four persons to represent producers of plant seed, appointed from a panel of eight persons submitted by the South African Agricultural Union” Clause 9 (2) (b) reads—
I want to deal particularly with 9 (a), (b) and (c). In terms of 9 (c) the Minister may choose “one person to represent co-operative societies dealing in plant seed, appointed from a panel of two persons …” Now with these three provision there are double the number of names required that have to be submitted by organized agriculture, organized distributors and organized co-operatives. Now, Mr. Speaker, because this question of foundation seed in such a highly technical business there are not many people available in those categories. But in 10 (2) the Minister—and when I say “the Minister”, I naturally mean his Department—has the right to return that panel of names and ask for a fresh panel. Now he only needs four representatives from, say, the South African Agricultural Union. I should think it would be very difficult to obtain more than eight specialists in this particular specialized field in this country at this stage of development. This is the first occasion that a Bill of this sort has been introduced in this country and that a control board will be established to deal with the question of foundation seed. The Minister can send that panel back and ask for another eight names and if he does not like anybody on that subsequent panel he may appoint whoever he likes. Now, Mr. Speaker, I think that is a vote of no confidence in organized agriculture. If he is given eight names from which to choose four I think that is sufficient and reasonable. I cannot see organized agriculture and organized co-operative societies nominating double the number of people who are to be appointed and submitting a panel to the Minister from which he cannot choose four suitable appointees. As I have pointed out this is a subject that is of a highly technical nature and there are not too many people available. I think it is wrong that any Minister should have the right to return the panel and to appoint whom he likes. I think that organized agriculture as such should be given the right to nominate their eight nominees and the Minister should appoint four of them. I think that is reasonable. When we come to the Committee Stage I will move the deletion of sub-section (2) of Clause 10.
The other members of the board are mainly to be appointed by the Minister and the Department. The Minister in this respect will appoint those whom he wants and he can change them at any time it suits him. So I hope the Minister will give this due consideration and that he will accept my amendment. I am not doing it in any way of being difficult but I do know that organized agriculture has felt in the past that certain of their nominees are not accepted because they fight for the interests of the people they represent, namely the producer. Perhaps they get up against an official in the Department, not only in the case of organized agriculture, but this happens wherever you have control boards, and the Department feels that they should keep that particular man out because he is making a nuisance of himself. But, Mr. Speaker, that man is doing his duty towards the producers if he thinks they are not getting a square deal and with the composition of the boards as they are, there can be no question that he is trying to sabotage the work of the board or even holding up the work of the board. So I think if the Minister looks at this question reasonably he will accept my amendment in the Committee Stage. I hope he will tell us when he replies to the second reading debate that he will be prepared to accept the amendment which I propose moving in the Committee Stage.
As I have said, we are in favour of the broad principles of this Bill. There is one other matter that I want to touch on and that is Clause 22 on page 12. In terms of Clause 22 the “Minister may delegate to any senior officer of his Department any of the powers conferred upon him by this Act other than the powers referred to in Section 5”. Here again, Sir, we have delegation of powers; not to the Secretary of Agriculture or to one very senior official but it is a delegation of power to a number of officials. I do not think that makes for good law and I think it is a mistake.
I have more than one very capable senior officer.
Yes. the Minister may have very capable officers to-day but will the Minister have the same capable officers next week or next year or the year after?
I hope we will have more as time goes on.
We hope so, but you get promotion on the ground of age sometimes and not on merit. I do think that for the Minister to have the power to delegate power to a number of officers is a mistake. I do not propose to move an amendment in that regard at this stage but I am just telling the Minister that I think it is wrong and I think it would be wise on his part to reconsider the wording and to make one senior official responsible for any delegated authority.
Clause 23 reads—
I won’t read the whole clause, Sir. I put it to the Minister that in the past we have found great difficulty on many of our control boards that the people they represent cannot be given any information as to what is happening where it will be of the greatest importance to them to know at an early stage. It is often kept secret too long. After all the man is on the board not representing himself, he represents the people who put him on that board, and I think he should be allowed to give certain information to the people he represents or the organized body he represents. They do not represent the public at large, they are all nominated representatives of an organized body. I think they should be allowed a certain amount of latitude in disclosing to the people they represent what is happening. Otherwise, Mr. Speaker. I feel misunderstanding often arises between the bodies concerned, their representatives and the boards. Much of the criticism of control boards on the part of the producers is often brought about by this insistence on secrecy which is quite unnecessary. There may be things which are essential to keep secret but I think what happens at board meetings should broadly be made available to the organized bodies which are represented. I would like the hon. the Minister to consider that. We support the general principles of the Bill. We feel that the time is ripe for such control to be exercised.
I want to avail myself of this opportunity of thanking the hon. the Minister and congratulating him on this piece of legislation which deals with a matter which has become very important. All agricultural societies as well as the farming community have long since felt a need for legislation of this nature. We are pleased, therefore, that the Minister has now decided to take action to place the control of seed in the hands of a board.
As the Minister has said, in view of the high production costs with which the producers are faced, it is essential that they use good seed. It is necessary therefore, in the first instance, that the farmer has confidence in the seed that he buys. It is not so easy to breed the specialized seed which the farmers have been using lately. It is a difficult, lengthy and costly process to breed the necessary foundation seed. I think few people realize what it costs to breed foundation seed but I can tell the House, Sir, that it takes time and a great deal of money to breed that seed. That is why I am sorry that the previous speaker said that he would try to have some of these essential clauses amended. When breeding that foundation seed it is essential that there is inspection and for that purpose the officials of the Department should have the right to inspect the lands. It is not merely a question of the levy which will be imposed and which will be collected but it is necessary that the lands where that seed is cultivated are controlled. It may happen that a breeder cultivates a seed of an inferior quality and that he somehow or other keeps that seed, and maintains at a later stage that the seed was cultivated on the same land, that it was of the same quality, except for some minor defect, and then sells it privately to the trade. For that reason it is necessary for the Minister to have accesss to those premises or buildings as well as to the lands in order to inspect them. If we want to have confidence in our seed in future, confidence which is necessary if we wish to develop, the Minister and his board should have that power. I am convinced that if the hon. member had some knowledge of what the position was, he would not move an amendment to that effect. I am sure that he regards it to be as much in the interests of the farmers as we do, that they should be supplied with good quality seed. The measures which the Minister is now introducing are absolutely essential for that purpose. I also think that it is necessary for the Minister to have complete control over the board. I think the Minister should have some play as far as the members to be appointed to that board are concerned. There are not many people with the necessary knowledge and information who can serve on those boards in order to perform this highly technical service. I do not wish to repeat, Mr. Speaker, but I want to thank the Minister once more, more especially where it seems to me that this development will soon take place. We are not dealing with foundation seed only. We also have the male seed which is necessary for the fertilization of the foundation seed. It is necessary that the strictest control be exercised over the production of that seed if we wish to produce seed of a high quality. Not only that, Mr. Speaker, but it is also necessary, even after the seed has been cultivated, to carry out the necessary inspection in order to test the germinating properties of the seed, before it is sold for commercial purposes. What is more, seed loses its germinating ability at a certain stage, and the utmost care should be taken, when smoking or anything like that takes place. The closest co-operation should be maintained between the Minister and the board and the inspection staff as far as this matter is concerned. In future we want to have and we must have confidence in the seed of this country. That is absolutely essential. If a farmer has incurred those high costs connected with production and he subsequently finds that his seed was of poor quality, he is faced with a terrific lost that year. With the erratic rainfall that we have in this country the farmer often finds that he has a week less time within which to plant and he should not incur costs unnecessarily. I do not think we can ever go so far as to guarantee the quality of our seed, as the hon. member has pleaded. I do not think that is possible. But I do think that necessary steps can be taken to have seed certified, particularly as far as its germinating properties are concerned and, how it has been cultivated. If the Minister were to issue guarantees he will probably find himself involved in a great number of court cases. Once again I want to thank the Minister and congratulate him on the steps he is taking in this regard.
I need hardly tell the hon. the Minister how pleased I am that at last we have the introduction of this Bill. May I remind him that nearly 20 years ago, when he first came into this House, I reminded the House of the kind of seed that was distributed in this country.
Before I deal with the various clauses of this Bill, might I just refer to the two items the hon. the Minister referred to in his opening remarks. South Africa is very much behind other countries as far as seed and seed propagation is concerned, and I am glad to notice that we have at last seen the light, and that the hon. the Minister has introduced a Bill which will enable us to come onto the same plane as other countries. He told us this evening that there is a world organization developing foundation seed, that we are joining in with them with a view to propagating seed in South Africa on the same basis as they do. There is a world demand for seeds with a degree of purity, and I firmly believe, in view of what the hon. the Minister himself said, that in this land of sunshine of ours we are capable of producing seeds as good as, if not better than other parts of the world.
The Bill before us is going to fill a very long-felt want in South Africa. One can say that the impurity of seeds in South Africa has been such that there were complaints from every quarter of South Africa. From that point of view we welcome the Bill. I am pleased that our seeds are now being removed from the Farm Seeds and Fertilizers Act that was supposed to fill this gap.
This Bill can bring about purity of our seed to a very great extent. I am, however, perturbed about the scope of the Bill. May I briefly deal with Clause 3. Will, the hon. the Minister be prepared to extend the scope of the Bill to make provision for research and the breeding of seeds? That, would improve the whole structure of the Bill. Sir, it requires improvement and I want to put it to the hon. the Minister that at a later stage I want to move an amendment to Clause 3, inserting therein “and to foster the breeding of new types and varieties of seeds and plants better suited to the different climatic and soil conditions that exist in South Africa It will improve the scope of this Bill and make it possible for us in South Africa to produce seeds that will be the envy of countries outside South Africa. I commend that to the hon. the Minister for acceptance. In South Africa we have got these great variations, great differences in climatic conditions and soil. The conditions throughout the country vary considerably. There is an urgent necessity for the breeding of types of seed to conform with the various requirements of those climatic conditions, the various soil conditions, rainfall, droughts, and so on. We have got to breed seeds in South Africa that are capable of meeting the requirements of these varying conditions, and I sincerely hope that the hon. Minister will agree with something that I am going to put to him at a later stage. The hon. the Minister knows full well that we have many diseases in South Africa and that we are also capable of breeding under certain conditions types of seeds and types of plants capable to withstand these diseases and to overcome the varying existing conditions. I want to put it to the hon. the Minister that there is no man in this country and no organization in this country better suited and better equipped to deal with this question of foundation seeds than the hon. the Minister is. He has got experimental farms, he has got agricultural colleges, he has got experimental plots situated right throughout the country on private farms where they can distribute this seed for the purpose of testing its suitability to meet the requirements of our country. I maintain that this matter should be left in the hands of the Minister to establish these foundation seeds on those experimental farms and those agricultural colleges and the research stations. On those farms he has got a highly qualified staff, your field staff, your observers, men who are highly trained in the propagation of seeds. Now the hon. Minister suggests that he will allow this to go out to people that he regards as suited for the breeding of seeds, but I still maintain that the control over the production of these seeds should be in the hands of the hon. the Minister through his various organizations that I have suggested.
Would you apply that to all seeds?
Yes, to all seeds.
I think you are wrong.
At a later stage they can be distributed to the various farmers’ organizations for the purpose of producing them for distribution. But I am concerned with the production of foundation seed. Now take the tiniest quantity of seed. Take the lupin seed that came out here. It was stolen seed when it came out here, and 26 seeds came out here. And from that seed has been produced for South Africa a plant that is doing a very great service in the rehabilitation of soil in South Africa. There are many other seeds that we can get, and that was done entirely by the hon. Minister’s Department. Why not look at the future and confine ourselves to that and employ the outside assistance that we can get from other seed producers if they wish to join in the work of production of Suitable foundation seed for propagation and distribution at a later stage?
I want to say a few words on this question of specialists dealing with these seeds. The hon. Minister has the only specialists that I know of in this country to cope with this problem; he has the only men capable of producing the seed; he has the only real observers that are capable of sorting out those seeds, determining their suitability for the particular climatic conditions, observing the cross-polination that takes place from time to time. I need hardly remind the hon. the Minister because he comes from a seed-growing area that only a practical man who knows his seed can walk into a field and pick out just one “korrel” that is thriving to a better extent than any other in that particular field. Those are the types of people that we want, and I want to suggest that the Minister should confine this work to those specialists before he distributes seed outside that sphere. Let them concentrate on the production of seed. It is important to the whole issue, because having had the experience that I have had with agricultural colleges, experimental farms and experimental plots and research stations, I still say that Department stands head and shoulders above anything that I have seen in this country and I have visited lots of seed-producing areas. Some of them I regard as a positive disgrace, but I will deal with that on the next Bill.
Now I want to deal briefly with this Board that the hon. Minister proposes to establish. I do not want to be critical, but now the hon. Minister wants to put four men from the South African Agricultural Union on the Board. Has the hon. Minister any assurance that those four men from the Agricultural Union that he is going to select are going to have any knowledge, any specialized knowledge of seed production? Of course he has not. I want men specialized in the production of seed on that Board. Can the hon. the Minister give me the assurance that he will get those men from the South African Agricultural Union. From my point of view I would say that if he took four men from the experimental stations I would be better pleased than getting them from the South African Agricultural Union. When I say that I am not saying anything derogatory about the South African Agricultural Union. Then we come to sub-section (a): Three persons shall represent the Department and one person shall represent the Department of Agricultural Economics and Marketing. It does not designate those men with any particular qualifications for the job. I think the most important part of the whole of this Bill is to have men who are specialists, men with a specialized knowledge of the subject they have to tackle. Who these three persons will be from the Minister’s Department and the one from the Department of Agricultural Economics, I do not know. We have horticulturists who are keenly interested in the production of seeds, we have many other designations in the Minister’s Department capable of the same job. Will the hon. Minister not accept something from us so that we get specialists from this particular Department as members of this Board rather than just three persons representing the Department? This matter is so important that this side of the House is justified in making an appeal to the hon. the Minister to reconsider the constitution of this Board in the direction I have indicated. In conclusion I want to tell the hon. the Minister that I am very pleased that he has at last seen the light of day and that it will redound to his credit that an organization is to be established that will promote better seed for South Africa.
It is not necessary to thank the Minister again and to congratulate him on this Bill. The other side of this House as well as this side have already done so. I think to-day is a big day in the lives of the agricultural farmers of South Africa, because we intend placing this Act on the Statute Book and because this legislation will give stability to agriculture in future. I wish to point out that as far as the production of foundation seed is concerned, South Africa is lagging far behind the rest of the world. The hon. the Minister referred to mother seed (foundation seed) and father seed and was somewhat humorous, but it is true that until very recently, in the sheep-breeding industry, for instance, the farmers picked out the ewes which yielded the most milk and used the lambs of these ewes for breeding purposes.
That was a good idea.
Yes, that was the one method employed and in the case of seed too much progress can be made. In placing this Act on the Statute Book I think it is fitting that we also place on record the fact that those individuals who have already started with this work in South Africa have rendered the country a great service. I have in mind those farmers who have displayed initiative, the private breeders who have bred foundation seed, some of them may have done so with a view to material gain, but they have nevertheless rendered South Africa a great service. I think we should be grateful to those people. We must remember, Sir, that if you use seed in respect of which the germinating quality is only 50 per cent, it means that the production costs of that farmer is exactly doubled, and that at a time when over the whole world efforts are being made to keep production costs low and when the consumers are actually being subsidized in respect of the products they use. In view of the fact that production costs are rising on the one hand, it is of the utmost importance on the other hand that the germinating quality of the seed is as high as possible, 100 per cent if possible. I know of course, that you cannot guarantee seed, but the important point is that the farmer should use seed which will come up to expectation and that the seed will yield crops which will be in accordance with the claims made in that respect. We have this interesting fact, however, that whereas the Opposition congratulate the Minister, they differ amongst themselves as far as this Bill is concerned. I do not want to deal with Clause 3 at this stage, in respect of which the hon. member for King William’s Town (Mr. Warren) tried to drag in another matter. But I do think that the hon. member for King William’s Town advanced one constructive idea which may perhaps be developed at a later stage, but I have to point out, however, that in the first place the Department of Agriculture and its research stations are not the right people to undertake this work. I think this Bill makes it very clear that its purpose is to promote the cultivation of new and improved varieties of plant seed. The Minister and his Department cannot undertake that cultivation, as they themselves realize, although they can be of assistance as suggested by the hon. member for King William’s Town. As far as the composition of this Board is concerned, the hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District) (Capt. Henwood) has objected to Clause 10 (2) which empowers the hon. the Minister to ask an organization to nominate other people if he is not satisfied that those who have been nominated are the right people. On the other hand, the hon. member for King William’s Town asked the Minister what guarantee he had that those people would be qualified; that the South African Agricultural Union would nominate eight people amongst whom he would find four who were qualified? You are immediately faced with this incongruity, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. member for King William’s Town does not want the South African Agricultural Union, which after all constitute the farmers of South Africa, they are the people after all who have to use this seed.
Be honest. I said that I did not want to say anything derogatory about the South African Agricultural Union but whether the hon. the Minister could guarantee that those gentlemen would be acquainted with this particular item.
I am coming to that. After all they are the people who are dependent on good seed. Those organizations are, in the long run, the mouthpiece of the producers of that seed and I think we must accept it, without any doubt, that when the South African Agricultural Union is asked to nominate a panel of eight persons, they will in the first place nominate people who have already proved that they know what is the best way and the best method of growing this seed and who have obtained the best results with the cultivation of new seed. In the second place they will nominate people to serve on that board whom they know will be best able to guard the interests of the producers who will use that foundation seed. There is one aspect in respect of the constitution of this board which pleases me. This board will consist of 12 members. The hon. member for King William’s Town now asks that the one member to be nominated by the Department of Agricultural Economy and the three members to be nominated from the staff of the Department of Agricultural Technical Services should be qualified people and that that should be laid down in the Act. I think we can all assume that when the Minister appoints representatives from the Department of Agricultural Technical Services on this board, he will obviously nominate people who are sufficiently qualified and capable to do the work. That is obvious to all of us. The hon. member says that the Minister is the best man in the whole of South Africa to undertake this task. He says the Minister’s Department has already proved that they know what they want to do but in the same breath he says that the Minister should lay down in the Act that he will appoint the best qualified people. How is that qualification to be defined?
He wants the clause to suit a possible future United Party Minister.
I think so too, but I wish to refer to the other aspect. The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District) is afraid that the Minister will try to victimize and remove from the board those people whom he does not want there. I can only think of one circumstance in which the Minister will be anxious to remove anybody from the board and that is if that person knows nothing about this whole subject, or when some organization or other has nominated the wrong person. Does the hon. member not realize that the Minister has been very lenient, he does not even force a chairman on to this board. Had the hon. member read Clause 13 he would have known that the Minister was leaving it to the board to choose its own chairman. He allows this board a free hand. The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District) objected to Clause 23, which provides for secrecy. I think this is a very important clause because that is essential. It really seems to me that the hon. member has not read the Bill because it clearly states there “disclose any information acquired by him in the exercise of any duty or function under this Act or the said scheme …” And listen to this, Sir, “… in relation to the business or affairs of any other person” I think it is essential that the breeders of foundation seed, as far as their own business and their own affairs are concerned, should be protected in this Bill. I cannot see how one can wish a member of the board to be able to broadcast and make such information public to the world outside with impunity. I do not think the hon. member should insist on that clause being amended. It is an essential clause.
I am pleased to say that the hon. member for King William’s Town has to-night given the Department of Agricultural Technical Services the best testimonial it has ever had, and I hope he will continue to do so in future. He has also given a testimonial to the officials in respect of the research work which they are doing to-day and which they have done in the past. Once again I want to express my gratitude to the Minister for introducing this Bill.
It has been quite amusing listening to the hon. member for Wakkerstroom (Mr. Martins) trying to criticize members on this side of the House and making a case out of nothing at all. All that the hon. member for King William’s Town wanted to indicate was that there should be an assurance from the Minister that specialists will be appointed on this Board. That is all that the hon. member for King William’s Town indicated. I am satisfied that in reply to this debate, the Minister will give us the assurance that the Board as provided in this Bill will have specialists as members, whose responsibility concerns the purity of parent and seed, not the marketing of seed. It is a specialized job and the hon. member for King William’s Town was expressing his hopes that specialists would be appointed to the Board. He made no attack on the South African Agricultural Union. The hon. member for Wakkerstroom tried to make much out of nothing. We all want the Minister to indicate that specialists will figure on this board in a material way. We welcome this Bill. It is long overdue. We in South Africa are the country of all weeds, all weeds have flourished in this country like in no other land in the world. A friend told me that he planted oats and he said Russian roll weed came up there as thick as the oats, and he says he has had Russian roll weed ever since, and that is 40 years ago. Russian roll weed is evidently as difficult to eradicate as jointed cactus. And we know that pricklypear seed was introduced into this country, and that also has cost this country millions of pounds. We suffer from lack of experience and that is why we want to have guaranteed parent seed, and we want to educate people in regard to the value of pure seed. We must not be like the 1820 settler who when given maize to plant planted the whole cob, or like another settler when given a piece of biltong planted it and was disappointed that he did not obtain a biltong root crop. I myself think that the provisions of this Bill are not strict enough to assure purity of seed. That is my opinion and I have here certain statutes of England, and here are several Acts which provide for the purity of seed. I notice here in Section I provisions as to tests and it says: “A test of seed for the purpose of the preceding sections shall in the case of seeds other than garden seeds be made at one of the official seed-testing stations established under this Act.” And these testing-stations are licensed by the Minister. [Quorum.] I am surprised that the business of the House has been delayed on account of there not being a quorum, especially as the appeal for a quorum has come from the Government side, where only seven members were present on the Government benches. And then this Government claims to be a farmers’ Government. We are dealing here with one of the most important Bills to come before this House. I was saying that I do not think that the provisions of this Bill are strict enough to asure the purity of parent seed, and I do not see in this Bill provision made for compulsory testing at testing-stations licensed by the Government. Then there is another provision in the British Act I referred to just now and that is in regard to the germination of seed. Mr. Speaker, in this country we suffer to a great extent as a result of seed not germinating. In Great Britain there is a very serious penalty for people who sell seed when the germination has been killed and in their Act provision is made that, at least every year, seed is tested by a Government Department and no seed is sold that has not been tested within a year as regards its germination.
I like this Bill, Sir, but I think we must protect the users of our seed. We must see that adequate provision is made to ensure that if parent seed is pure, it is also seed that germinates efficiently. I hope that the hon. the Minister will give us some assurance that included in the latitude given him in this Bill there will be provision for the special, official testing of established seed at licensed testing stations. As the hon. member for King William’s Town (Mr. Warren) said, we also feel that we would like the hon. the Minister to assure us that he will ensure that specialists are included on this Board.
Mr. Speaker, this Bill, and, in fact, all Bills that concern our farming community are tainted with the Marketing Act. Some of the clauses of this Bill are identical with certain provisions of the Marketing Act. But this is not a marketing Bill; it has nothing to do with the marketing of seed; it is only to ensure the production of pure seed. In Great Britain I was informed by a farmer who was a seed producer that he had to give a guarantee that there were no weeds growing on his farm. If his truck went to the near-by village, his horses’ hooves had to be disinfected and cleaned at the entrance to his farm. The result was that he had absolutely no weeds. I imagine that we in this country will have to endeavour to have seed production stations where there are no weeds at all. That would be the only way to guarantee absolute purity.
Now that the hon. the Minister has introduced this Bill I would appeal to him to see to it that the old haphazard methods of production of specialized seeds are discontinued. Even our lucerne seed production—which falls under a different Act—should be subject to guarantees of purity. There are lucerne fields, in succession one after the other, in which there should not be a single weed, but in lucerne seed we find dagga and all kinds of weeds germinating. I warn the hon. the Minister that he will have to be strict; he will have to think of something more than votes and offending the susceptibilities of certain people. We must follow the example of what has been done in other countries which are able to guarantee the purity of their seed.
I have never yet come across any person with a greater knack to pull a fast one than the hon. member for Albany (Mr. Bowker). When he discusses agricultural matters he makes a wide detour and covers the subject of jointed cactus as well. Had the known member known anything about the breeding of foundation seed he would have realized that what he said was absolutely redundant. If you grow foundation seed, one of the most important rules, in the first place, is that the bed or land on which you wish to grow that seed, should be clean. In the case of maize, for instance, if there are any plants within a distance of 400 yards from that maize land, plants which may possibly influence the foundation seed, those plants should be uprooted and the land cleared. If you breed any kind of seed which can possibly be influenced by some weed or other, one of the rules is to destroy those weeds. I am not sure, however, whether jointed cactus will influence either detrimentally or beneficially the foundation seed of all plants.
Mr. Speaker, I should actually not have spoken but I am doing so at the invitation of the hon. the Minister of Agricultural Technical Services, who said that we had any amount of time at our disposal and that he thought we farmers would have a pleasant chat this evening.
We must go home.
No, you cannot go and sleep. Mr. Speaker says we may only go home at half-past ten. I as a breeder of foundation seed, as a practical farmer and as a person who have been growing foundation seed for many years, probably realize more than the ordinary farmer the importance of this legislation which is before us this-evening. For example, if we consider the price of breeder’s seed to produce double-hybrid maize seed, we realize that the maximum use must be made of that breeder’s seed, seed which cost between £60 and £70 per bag. I think breeder’s seed will still be cultivated by the Department of Agriculture—I think I am right, the Minister can correct me if I am wrong—and by the Department alone. It is such a highly specialized seed that no control board can afford to employ officials to cultivate breeder’s seed. In other words, breeder’s seed will continue to be cultivated at the research stations and at the agricultural colleges. The Minister can correct me, but I think if this legislation envisages that such a board should employ those experts and establish farms where breeder’s seed can be cultivated, the position will become untenable. In that case I as a foundation seed breeder will have to pay such a high levy that I will not be able to make a living. That is a task which the Department of Agricultural Technical Services must undertake. That is how I see the position. So the hon. member for King William’s Town (Mr. Warren) need not worry. It should be left in the hands of the Department. The multiplication of the breeder’s seed can then be left in the hands of this board which will then, be means of breeder societies, multiply the expensive, almost priceless, breeder’s seed, so that the seed will ultimately reach the producer from whom the farmer can obtain it for the purpose of cultivating the product for the market.
The manner in which double-hybrid maize seed is cultivated is very interesting. I want to tell the House—I think the hon. the Minister knows this—that when it cultivates double-hybrid maize seed the Department of Agriculture uses four pure varieties of maize, and by means of in-breeding they inter-breed each variety with itself with the result that those four varieties become four pure-bred varieties. Each variety becomes practically a pedigree variety. The effect of that is that the plant gets smaller and smaller and its production lower and lower with the result that the seed becomes extremely expensive. Two single varieties are then crossed—that is single hybridization. The two single-hybrid lots of seed are then issued as breeder’s seed to the Seed-growers’ Society which to-day falls under the control of the Maize Board in co-operation with the Department of Agriculture. The farmer then plants those two single varieties. He plants one row of single-hybrid seed which he uses as the male species. That is where the male seed comes from. He then plants three rows of single-hybrid seed which is called the female variety. When the panicles appear the breeder has to remove all of them in the case of the female variety, which is used as the mother before those panicles produce pollen. The single-hybrid male seed— the male variety—then pollinates the three rows of single-hybrid seed which is used as the female variety. You can imagine, Mr. Speaker, that if one panicle is left the pollen of that panicle can be blown for a distance of 400 yards. You will see, therefore, Sir, how important it is that the breeding of double-hybrid seed is properly supervised.
I personally welcome the fact that in future that will not be left in the hands of the Maize Board in conjunction with the Department. It is not as though they have not done good work, but I have long since realized that in future it will become a task which the Maize Board will be unable to perform. However, I want to congratulate the Maize Board on the wonderful progress it has already made, because last year they managed to get the farmers to produce between 60,000 and 70,000 bags of this double-hybrid maize seed; which has had a very beneficial effect on the maize crop during the past years.
Then we have another seed; I have in mind, for example, wheat seed. Excellent work is being done at the research station at Bethlehem, where a very capable official has bred a variety of wheat seed for use in the eastern Free State, a seed which is absolutely rust proof. We know that the eastern Free State and north-eastern Free State and the surrounding areas are subject to rust. A limited quantity of that variety of wheat seed is cultivated at that research station and it is necessary that that wheat seed, the production of which has taken years of research and crossbreeding, should not be lost to the producer and that the seed should be kept as pure as possible. I think it can be kept pure.
What seed is that?
The wheat is called Bethana. It means “the house of bread”. In future that wheat will be controlled by the Foundation Seed Board which will then distribute it to the breeder societies who will in turn multiply it and keep it pure. That will be of tremendous benefit to those parts of our country where the farmers have to cope with the rust problem.
That, however, Mr. Speaker, applies in the case of all seed. I take it that that will apply in the case of seed potatoes, which is today under the control of the Seed Breeders’ Union. The breeding of seed potatoes if certified double-seed potatoes are bred, is a particularly highly specialized industry. I now want to reply to the hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District) (Capt. Henwood). I just want to tell him that the Minister will have no difficulty in finding four farmers to appoint on the Foundation Seed Board. Over the years the farmers of South Africa have, under the guidance of the Department of Agricultural Technical Services, gained wonderful experience and you need therefore have no fear in that regard, Mr. Speaker, because you will find more than a sufficient number of farmers who will be capable of serving on that board. They are people who have practical experience as well and they will be able to play their part on that board when problems arise which the officials and the traders are unable to solve. In such a case the practical farmer will play his part in solving the problem which the other members of the board cannot solve.
I want to conclude but before doing so I just want to give the hon. the Minister the assurance that the farmers of South Africa are very grateful to him for having introduced this legislation to-day and for the fact that it will eventually be placed on the Statute Book.
I think the hon. member for Bethlehem (Mr. Knobel) has given us a most interesting lecture on the breeding of double-hybrid maize seed. I just want to say this that what I know of him and his farming methods, he is capable of doing so. But I cannot agreed with him where he says that in future the Department and the hon. the Minister should be the body or the organization to concentrate on the production of breeder’s seed. If the Department of Agricultural Technical Services were to be solely responsible for that, apart from the respect which I have for the Department and for the knowledge of its experts, apart from my gratitude to the previous Department of Agriculture for having accepted the recommendations of the Maize Board in 1947 to the effect that a start should be made with the breeding of hybrid maize seed, I cannot agree with the hon. member for Bethlehem. We know that on the recommendation of the Maize Board, the Department of Agriculture sent Dr. Saunders over to America at that time, to investigate the hybrid seed scheme in America. I do not want to belittle the excellent work which was done but I just want to say this: If in future the Department of Agricultural Technical Services were to be the only body to render these services, we will never reach what should be our ultimate aim, namely, that 90 per cent or 95 per cent of the maize seed used in the country is hybrid seed. I can see no reason why private initiative should not also play its part in the production of breeder’s seed and foundation seed.
I had the privilege two months ago at Des Moines in the United States of America, in the State of Iowa, the biggest maize producing state in the world, of visiting the stations of the Pioneer Hybred Seed Corn Company, one of the biggest producers of hybrid seed in the world. I had the privilege of being the guest of the world-famous plant geneticist who is at the head of the Pioneer Hybred Seed Corn Company at Des Moines. I made some inquiries about their system of producing hybrid seed and seed in the U.S.A. There is wonderful and cordial co-operation between the Department of Agriculture of the U.S.A. and the big private companies which concentrate on producing hybrid maize seed on a large scale. The University of Iowa in the little town Ames, six miles outside Des Moines was the first agricultural university in the world to breed hybrid maize seed. The cooperation between the Department of Agriculture and the big private companies which breed hybrid seed in the U.S.A. is so wonderful that during the past season 95 per cent of the maize seed planted in the U.S.A. was. hybrid seed. I wonder whether 10 per cent of the maize seed which is to-day being sown in South Africa is hybrid maize seed. I doubt whether it is 10 per cent—perhaps the hon. member for Bethlehem will know. Less than 10 per cent of the maize seed which is sown here to-day, is hybrid maize seed. That is why I think that when it comes to the question of breeding seed there should not be too much control. There should be control as far as purity is concerned, as far as breeding is concerned; perhaps there should be control as far as germination is concerned, but the control should not be anything like the control exercised by a control board under the Marketing Act for instance. Those control boards are in complete control with the result that private initiative is completely eliminated. If we wish to reach the stage in South Africa, which we will have to reach if we wish to increase our maize production per morgen, if we wish to come anywhere near the production which they already have in the U.S.A.,. it is essential that big companies be established on private initiative, or big agricultural cooperative societies, or breeders’ co-operative societies, that will work in co-operation with the Maize Board under their scheme and under the supervision of the Department of Agriculture, towards this end. If we wish to reach the stage which they have already reached in America, namely that 95 per cent of the seed they use is hybrid maize seed, we shall have to do that. I want to tell this House that they have a gigantic organization in America. Whereas our maize production in South Africa is between 36,000,000 and 40,000,000 bags per annum, America expects a maize crop of 1,100,000,000 bags this year. I asked Dr. Wood of the Pioneer Hybred Seed Company to what he attributed the fact that there has been such a terrific increase in production and he told me that the one factor which was responsible was that ever since the University of Iowa started to breed hybrid maize seed, they had made such progress in co-operation with private initiative that America had reached the stage where 95 per cent of the seed used was hybrid seed. I mention that in passing in reply to the hon. member for Bethlehem.
I want to say a few words to the hon. member for Christiana (Mr. Wentzel). I think he misunderstood the hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District) (Capt. Henwood). The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District) does not propose moving an amendment in the Committee Stage in respect of the inspection. What he does intend doing is to move an amendment in respect of the Minister’s power as far as the appointment of representatives to the Foundation Seed Control Board is concerned. I just want to put that right.
Mr. Speaker, I must say that when I studied these two Bills—the Bill with which we are dealing at the moment, the Foundation Seed Bill, and the Seeds Bill with which we still have to deal but which has already been made available to us—it was not quite clear to me why these two Bills were not consolidated in one. It is not clear to me why they cannot be condensed into one Bill. Nor did the hon. the Minister advance a convincing argument in his introductory speech during the second reading why that was not possible. The Foundation Seed Bill provides for the control over the production of foundation seed.
The one deals with control and the other one with supervision!
With respect, Mr. Speaker, I tried to read the Bills as intelligently as I presume the hon. member for Cradock (Mr. G. F. H. Bekker) did. I want to say this in all honesty: I should like the hon. the Minister when he replies, to advance a more convicing argument than he has advanced why it is necessary to have two Bills. I think the same purpose would have been served with one consolidated Bill. In the one instance these two Bills provide for control over the production of foundation seed. We should not be led astray by this word “foundation seed”. It is not quite clear to me what is meant by foundation seed. Seed is seed and it should be the aim of every farmer in South Africa to breed foundation seed—the best seed he can, except, of course, in the case of hybridization, hybrid seed, as in the case of maize where you have breeder’s seed, single-hybridization on the one hand where in-breeding takes place on such a large scale that there is hardly any production. Then you bring the two together and you get a single variety; you then combine the two single-varieties and you get the hybrid seed, as the hon. member for Bethlehem has explained. Apart from that the ideal position to be aimed at by the Government in particular is where every farmer in this country will use foundation seed. No difference should be made in legislation between seed and foundation seed. I think that is wrong. I notice in this Foundation Seed Bill that Clause 5 provides for a foundation seed certification scheme and Clause 14 of the other Bill provides for a seed certification scheme—the one provides for the certification of seed. These are two matters which are very, very closely linked together. As far as I am concerned I should like to know whether there are sufficient reasons to have two Bills. However, Mr. Speaker, I do not want to criticize this Bill on that account. I do not want to oppose this Bill for that reason. I think the time has arrived, that it is long overdue, that control is exercised over the production, the cleaning and selling of seed. But I do not want control to be taken too far, control which will kill initiative in so far as the production of foundation seed is concerned. I think the time is long overdue in South Africa, Mr. Speaker, that something be done in order to control production, cleaning and the selling of seed. I was a member of the Maize Board and other boards for years. On many occasions I had the opportunity of going through the maize belt and to realize what rubbish was being sold to the farmers as seed. There was no control. There was no control over it and for that reason I think that any farmer who is worth his salt will welcome this Bill.
I do not want to go into detail. I personally think that as it becomes necessary to adapt them to practical experience we will very soon have to introduce amending legislation in respect of certain clauses which are now being passed in this Bill. That will happen. This is a new scheme. It does not come under the Marketing Act. We cannot place it under the Marketing Act. From the nature of things it does not lend itself to that because this is not a big commercial undertaking. The ultimate buyer will be one type of person only, the man who sows the seed, namely, the farmer. Consequently the market is limited. That is why I do not wish to deal with the clauses in the Foundation Seed Bill one by one and criticize them. I do not think it is so much a question of the principle of control. I think the word “control” is wrong. It is a question of the Government and a body to be established by the Government, supervising the production of seed. There is nothing wrong with that. If there is one thing which causes the farmers to suffer great losses—I have personal experience of this and I think most farmers have—it is when the farmer buys seed and he has no guarantee as to the quality of that seed. Well, it is impossible to guarantee seed. You have no idea, Sir, of how it will germinate. You have no idea in the case of maize or wheat, of the amount of foreign seed amongst it. That also applies in the case of other seed. You have no guarantee as to its purity. You merely have to take the word of the person in Johannesburg who was responsible for cleaning it, and take what you can get. Generally my experience as far as the specialized seed cleaners in Johannesburg, are concerned, people with whom I have had dealings, is that they do their work properly. They do their best but the old method of cleaning seed is such that if the cleaner is not an expert, he is unable to distinguish between Boesman-maize seed and Cincinatti seed, if they are mixed in one bag. They are very similar. If the poor farmer sows that seed he is the victim. For example he sows the pale Boesman seed at a certain time but if there is any Cincinatti seed amongst it that should have been sown earlier. The result is that he loses half his crop at the beginning of April because of frost and his crop is reduced by 25 per cent. It is interesting to see in the U.S.A. to what trouble seed growers and seed sellers go in order to be able to guarantee the germinating quality of the seed which they produce and sell. I do not think we in South Africa are faced with the same problems in regard to germination as the people in the United States of America. They have cold areas there where the temperature is below freezing point in winter and that is the main cause of poor germination. It is, however, necessary in South Africa that great attention is paid to germination because there are many factors which influence that. The officials of the Minister’s Department are experts in that respect; they know the subject A to Z and for that reason it is most essential that they control the various breeders in so far as the germinating aspect is concerned. Nothing is more frustrating to the farmer than having done everything in his power to prepare his land, only 60 per cent of the seed germinates. The maize or wheat comes up, it stands there but it should be twice as thick. As the hon. member for Wakkerstroom said at the outset, as a result of poor germination the farmer’s production costs are increased by 100 per cent.
There is something in connection with the Bill which I should like to bring to the notice of the Minister. According to Clause 5 the Minister is to introduce a foundation seed certification scheme and in terms of this Bill he gives all the other power to the Foundation Seed Board. Clause 2 provides for the establishment of a body corporate to be known as the Foundation Seed Board. Clause 3 lays down the objects of this board and Clause 4 says what this board can do to attain those objects. According to Clause 5 the Minister may call into being a foundation seed certification scheme. It is not clear to me whereas this board is given all the powers set out in Clauses 3 and 4 and in Clauses 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17, it is deprived of those powers in Clause 5 and that it cannot establish a foundation seed certification scheme itself but that the Minister has to do so. Perhaps there is a good reason for it, but then I want to know what it is because I think that will give rise to some difficulty. The Minister acts on the advice of his officials who are capable. The Foundation Seed Board will act on the advice of its members who may possibly also be capable, but apart from the fact that they both have capable officials, they will sometimes come into conflict and there will be duplication of work. That is why I cannot see why the Minister gives all this power to the board, that he has drafted the Bill in such a way that it provides for the establishment of a foundation seed board with all these powers and authority and that he then introduces a clause in terms of which he takes certain of those powers of the board into his own hands. If it were necessary to do so I would have no objection to it but to me this seems to be a contradiction in the Bill; the board is vested with all the power that it requires, it is vested with so much power that it can impose a levy and establish a seedling organization which can buy and sell foundation seed, but in the same Bill the Minister deprives the board of one very important function, namely, the creation of a foundation seed certification scheme and vests it in himself and his Department. I should be pleased if the Minister would explain that.
I want to say something in respect of Clause 10 (2). I agree with the hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District) (Capt. Henwood). I think the Minister is vested with sufficient power under Clause 9 as far as the constitution of the board is concerned, perhaps too much in my opinion, but we will not quarrel about that. Clauses 9 vests him with sufficient power in that a panel has to be submitted to him which contains the names of double the number of people he has to appoint, he has a choice. If he is not satisfied with the names on the panel, as in the case of (2) where he has to appoint four from a panel of eight, if he is not satisfied with any of the eight he can ask for a further eight names to be submitted. He may eventually have 16 names before him from whom he has to choose four. Whereas the Minister asks the South African Agricultural Union, the cooperative societies and the seed merchants to submit a panel of names, and whereas these organizations may already have submitted two panels to him with double the number required, the Minister ought to have sufficient confidence in the names submitted not to take the additional powers under Clause 10 (2), namely that if he is not satisfied with them he can follow his own way and appoint his own people. [Interjection.] I am surprised at the hon. member for Christiana for objecting to this.
But that is the basic principle.
The hon. member has been a member of the Maize Board for a long time and he ought to know what happens in the case of a member of a control board who pleads for the interests of the producers and ultimately comes into conflict with the officials of the Department. That hon. member will be the first person to object if the co-operative societies on the Maize Board or Wheat Board for example, were forced to submit a panel consisting of more names than the actual number required.
Is that not the same principle which is followed in the Marketing Act?
In this case we have a scheme to control foundation seed and a board is appointed consisting of interested persons. In the case of the Maize Board it is a scheme which controls a product and that board consists of people interested in that industry. The principle is the same. In this case the Minister has greater power then he has in connection with the constitution of the Maize Board and I think Clause 10 (2) is an insult to those people who are interested in the breeding, handling and selling of seed, in that the Minister may reject their recommendations and follow his own way. I repeat that apart from these few points which worry me, we all welcome this legislation. In the course of the next few years this legislation will right itself. There will be amendments. It is expecting too much that a Bill of this nature should be 100 per cent right from the start. We will learn in the course of time and the board will from time to time come to the Minister and point out defects which will have to be rectified.
Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that the welcome extended to this measure by hon. members opposite is much greater than the little criticism they voiced. They all feel that the time is ripe for such a Bill and that, together with us, they must congratulate the Minister on it. I welcome this Bill whereby the cultivation of foundation seed will be controlled, and also commercial seed when it is distributed. Seed control has been necessary in our country for a long time. As farmers we know how much damage was suffered as the result of the fact that we did not obtain suitable seed, seed which was suitable for particular climatic conditions and types of soil, seed which did not germinate well and resulted in poor crops. As the result of that farmers have suffered irreparable loss. This Bill will now prevent bad seed being cultivated in future and being distributed amongst the farmers. Particularly do I welcome the promise inherent in this Bill in respect of research to cultivate new varieties of more suitable, hardy and fertile types of seed. I am sure that a very wide field still lies open for study and research. We know that wonderful results have already been achieved and that the production of the crop farmers has been tremendously increased by it, particularly the hybrid seeds which are able to resist the drought conditions in the Western Transvaal, and which have given very good results. But I want to welcome this Bill particularly because it makes it possible to do research in connection with the cultivation of foundation seed from our large variety of indigenous types of grass. I know that much has already been done in this regard, but I believe that there is still a wide and interesting field lying open for investigation and research, in order to obtain foundation seed from hardy, valuable and nutritious grasses. The greater part of our country is covered by grass. I am not talking about the Karoo areas now, but particularly of the Free State, Transvaal and Natal, where the grazing is mostly covered by grass. These grasses have been of inestimable value to our cattle-breeding industry in general and to the dairy industry and the meat industry in particular. For extensive cattle farming good grass is a sine qua non for success. The only way to make a success of cattle farming is to have good, hardy and nutritious grass which can be used in winter as well as in summer. The cattle farmer’s entire living depends on the grass coverage on his farm. My point is that we can never over-emphasize the importance of careful study and research into our grasses with a view to cultivating foundation seed of the best type. In the Marico area we sometimes find up to 20 types of grass on 30 square yards of land. I ask myself whether enough research is being done to investigate the hardy qualities of grass which is perhaps bitter or sour but which is very drought-resistant, as for example what we call in the Bushveld the “stinkgraspol”, which still stays alive when sweet grasses like the luxurious buffalo grass have already been killed by drought. For example, in the Free State and in the harder parts of the Transvaal we find the well-known “rooi klossiegras” which is very drought-resistant. If that “rooi klossiegras”, which is a sweet grass, can be crossed with the “stinkgras” I mentioned a moment ago, and foundation seed can be obtain which will make the “stinkgras” more palatable, and it can be spread in those parts of the Bushveld where it grows but where the red grass will not grow, and vice versa, what good results may perhaps be obtained? I am thinking, e.g., of the ordinary thatch-grass which is a sweet grass, which is used by the Natives to thatch their huts, but which has been proved to be one of the best types of grass in our part of the country in so far as its drought-resistant qualities are concerned. When it begins to get dry, the animals eat it like oat hay. It is a grass which easily grows from seed. Those qualities can be bred into other grasses and perhaps a variety can be cultivated which is drought-resistant and which can be of great benefit to the farmers. It is a tough, perennial grass, a luxuriant grower and very hardy. When I travel through the country I often get out of my car just to look at a nice farm which is well covered with grass and to admire it. There is no greater inspiration to a farmer than to see such a farm. A farmer who is not inspired by such a sight still does not have the right appreciation of grass. I just want to mention the example of one farmer, the late Mr. Neethling in the Northern Transvaal. He had the habit, whenever riding on horseback to look at his cattle, to take a little axe and a small pick with him, and to fill his pockets with grass seed which he had obtained from the research station at Rietondale or had plucked elsewhere on his farm, and whenever he found a bare spot he got off his horse and spread this seed, loosened the soil and put a thorn-bush over it. The result was that very soon he had one of the most wonderfully grassed farms which could carry more cattle per morgen than most other farms. That is why I feel that it is so absolutely essential that more research should be done in connection with improving our hardy indigenous grasses for our own benefit. The other day I visited Bien Donne and whilst talking to the lecturers there I remarked that it was a pity that more research was not being done in regard to the cultivation of indigenous shrubs and plants. One of them replied: “The fact is that research workers overseas have already recognized the good qualities of some of our plants, and they took plants and seed overseas and improved them to such an extent that they now make it available to us at a very high price We have a rich source of indigenous plants. I am sure this country is richer in types of grass than any other country, and the time has arrived when more research should be done so that better use may be made of it. That is why I as a farmer welcome this Bill, because research in this direction is one of the things which in future will be benefited by it. Foundation seed derived from our grasses and made available to the farmers will be of great benefit to the country.
Mr. Speaker, my colleague has already said that we on this side welcome the Bill, and that we feel that the time has come for it to be introduced. Of course, one requires good seed if one wants good crops, and we must try to produce more and more good seed so that we can produce food for all our people. Certain types of seed are also required for certain areas. The one type which one can use in one area, cannot be used in another area at all, and these seeds must be developed in the areas concerned. The use of good seed results in good crops without the costs of production being increased and that is of course most advantageous. The Minister has said that surpluses may result, but that must not happen; we must not have surpluses. As the crops become bigger, we must plan to find a market for our products either locally or abroad. If we do that, we shall have a product which costs us far less to produce and we shall be able to sell it abroad more easily because the costs of production are lower. The Department of Agriculture with its research has been of incalculable value to us, but the private undertakings have also played an important role, and it is right that they should continue with the cultivation of foundation seed. It is of course quite right that they should be represented on the board. To me the board seems a little big, and I think that the costs involved may be very high. I do not know exactly how we can reduce it, but if it is possible to do so, the costs will be reduced.
As regards Clause 10 (2), I also want to associate myself with what hon. members on this side have said. I do not want to imply for one moment that the Minister will not act responsibly in appointing the members of the board, but nor do I believe for one moment that the body which makes the recommendation and submits the panels will act irresponsibly. I believe that they will appoint the right people to these panels, and I think that the first panel which they submit should be sufficient to enable the Minister to select his members. I hope the Minister will delete Clause 10 (2). I do not think it is necessary and I think it is no more than right, and that the Minister will find sufficient people in the list submitted to him.
Mr. Speaker, I doubt whether from the point of view of the broad economy of South Africa we have had a more important measure in recent years than the Bill now before us. The potential value to South Africa of a measure like this cannot be calculated, because the right steps now will continue to benefit the economy of South Africa from now to eternity. This is a measure which, if it is administered with imagination, and with the full weight of the Minister’s Department behind him, can do very much for South Africa and can produce so much untold wealth which is of a far more permanent nature than the wasting assets of our base minerals and our gold and diamonds. All those things are wasting assets, but here we have something which will continue to increase and to improve the economy of South Africa from year to year.
I want to deal for a moment with one or two general points before coming down to matters in more detail. Firstly, I want to say that I support the amendment moved by the hon. member for King William’s Town (Mr. Warren). I hope the Minister will be prepared to accept it. The Bill in some respects is still a little bit ragged. The hon. member for Marico (Mr. Grobler) dealt with the question of grasses a few moments ago. Well, that comes under the Bill, and I do not know whether it is the intention of the Minister, but in the language used it is well within the four corners of the Bill. The Minister says yes and I am very pleased. I was hoping that no unexpected interjections would be made while the hon. member for Marico was speaking to indicate that he was going beyond the scope of the Bill, because I want to go even a little further. I want to refer again to the amendment of the hon. member for King William’s Town, because we have not yet got the four corners of the work which can be done by the Minister or by the Board. The hon. member for Florida (Mr. H. G. Swart) has pointed out not an overlap but what appeared to be unnecessary differentiation of powers between the Minister and the Board. There is a great deal in what he said and I think it is an argument well worth considering. In that respect, while there may be a differentiation in those powers, I do not think it is quite clear to us yet precisely what the scope of the measure is and precisely what the Minister is aiming at in the ultimate. You see, Sir, if it is possible for foundation seed to be produced in terms of this Bill for annual crops, the various food grains and also grasses, then we can go a step further in terms of the language here and we can deal, for example, with crops like trees and timber. Pedigree seed is being grown today by private enterprise in this country, and that can be brought within the scope of this Bill. How far the thing can go is shown by the sugar industry, where because of the production of seed, and not the normal method of propagation of cane by means of the cane itself, and obtaining improved strains of that seed, the whole of the sugar industry in South Africa has been revolutionized over the last 25 years, merely by means of the industry itself. The yield per acre has been doubled and possibly trebled, so that the same number of acres are producing more than double the amount of sugar they did before. The fertility of the soil has also been built up and the type of cane grown can be milled at a relatively small cost per ton, as the result of developing these seeds. Here we have an industry which itself set to work to produce special seed, and the sugar crop is worth millions of pounds to South Africa to-day. I think it is about £38,000,000, and that has come about very largely as the result of the scientific application of modern principles to the breeding of seed. That is merely an example.
But I want to touch on another point, and I am only touching on it because I am not sure that this Bill goes far enough, but my hon. friend’s amendment goes far enough. I want to deal with our fruit. Deciduous fruit does not grow from seed. It is true that the seed may be planted to get a stock on which you may bud or graft your tree, but the method of propagation used is budding or grafting. Here the selection of buds is of immense importance to South Africa, even if you leave out the question of grafting for the moment and deal only in the simplest terms with budwood. In terms of the amendment, that would be clearly seen as one of the objects to be aimed at in terms of the Bill itself.
At 10.25 p.m. the business under consideration was interrupted by Mr. Speaker in accordance with Standing Order No. 26 (1), and the debate was adjourned until 3 March.
The House adjourned at