House of Assembly: Vol107 - TUESDAY 25 APRIL 1961

TUESDAY, 25 APRIL 1961 Mr. SPEAKER took the Chair at 2.20 p.m. QUESTIONS

For oral reply:

Union Not a Member of the Imperial Forestry Institute *I. Mr. HUGHES (for Mr. E. G. Malan)

asked the Minister of Forestry:

Whether the Union will continue to be a member of the Imperial Forestry Institute after South Africa has become a republic and legislation in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries to maintain the existing position has ceased to be of effect; and, if not, why not.


The Union ceased to be a member of the Imperial Forestry Institute in 1937.

Membership of Commonwealth Air Transport Organizations *II. Mr. HUGHES (for Mr. E. G. Malan)

asked the Minister of Transport:

Whether the Union will continue to be a member of (a) the Commonwealth Air Transport Council, (b) the Committee for Air Navigation and Ground Organization, (c) the Commonwealth Radio for Civil Aviation and (d) the Commonwealth Shipping Committee, after South Africa has become a republic and legislation in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries to maintain the existing position has ceased to be of effect; and, if not, why not.

  1. (a) Under consideration.
  2. (b) Yes.
  3. (c) This question is not clear. Presumably reference is made to the Commonwealth and Empire Radio for Civil Aviation. If that is so, membership is not involved.
  4. (d) This Commitee falls under the Department of Commerce and Industries.
Training of Defence Force Officers in Britain *III. Mr. HUGHES (for Mr. E. G. Malan)

asked the Minister of Defence:

Whether, after South Africa has become a republic,

  1. (a) officers of the South African Defence Force will continue to enjoy facilities for training at the Imperial Defence College and
  2. (b) the system of Defence Liaison Officers will be maintained.
  1. (a) This is a matter which is still to be settled with the British authorities, and I cannot, therefore, express myself thereanent at this stage.
  2. (b) Yes.

—Reply standing over.

No Students Employed by Special Branch *V. Mr. COPE

asked the Minister of Justice:

Whether any students at any university in the Union are at present employed by the Security Branch of the South African Police to report on the views and activities of other students; and, if so, at which universities.




—Reply standing over.

Delays in Paying Salaries of Certain Bantu Teachers *VII. Mr. VAN RYNEVELD

asked the Minister of Bantu Education:

  1. (1) Whether his attention has been drawn to a report in the Evening Post of 6 April 1961, that several New Brighton school teachers at Port Elizabeth, appointed at the beginning of the first 1961 term, had not yet received any salary; and
  2. (2) whether he will make a statement in regard to the matter.
  1. (1) No.
  2. (2) I am, however, aware of the fact that 17 new appointments were made by the New Brighton Bantu School Board with effect from the beginning of the first term of 1961.

Of these, 13 payments of subsidies were delayed as contracts were received from the Bantu School Board only towards the end of February and up to 18 March 1961, and could therefore not be included in the paysheet earlier than March. These subsidies were all paid on I April 1961.

In at least three other cases teachers were appointed to unauthorized posts by the Bantu School Board.

My Department cannot therefore be held responsible for these delays.


—Reply standing over.

Grant to Natal Indian Blind Society *IX. Dr. RADFORD

asked the Minister of Social Welfare and Pensions:

  1. (1) Whether an application from the Natal Indian Blind Society for a subsidy in respect of expenditure on a workshop for blind Indians was received by his Department during 1960; if so,
  2. (2) whether the application was granted; if not, why not, and
  3. (3) whether he will reconsider the matter.
  1. (1) Yes.
  2. (2) Yes, but the Society has as yet not been informed of the grant made. This will be done shortly.
  3. (3) Falls away.
Medical Practitioners Sent Overseas by C.S.I.R. for Research *X. Dr. RADFORD

asked the Minister of Economic Affairs:

Whether any medical practitioners were sent on visits outside the Union, or subsidized for such visits, by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research during the period 1955 to 1960; and, if so, (a) how many in each such year, (b) what are their names, (c) what was the cost of each visit, (d) to which country or countries was each visit carried out and (e) what was the reason for each visit.






d) and


1955: 1;

Dr. A. van Zyl;


United Kingdom;

research on the biosynthesis of thyroxin and thyroglobulin, etc.;

1956: 1;

Dr. A. van Zyl;


United Kingdom;

research on biosynthesis of thyroxin and thyroglobulin;

1957: 1;

Dr. G. J. K. Dean;


Holland, Sweden and the U.S.A.;

research on porphyria;

1958: 2;

Dr. W. B. U. Jackson;



research on diabetes;

Dr. D. I. Pretorius;


Europe and the the United Kingdom;

research on nutrition;

1959: 2;

Dr. J. J. Theron;


Europe and the U.S.A.;

medical liaison;

Dr. H. W. Snyman;


Central and West Africa;

medical liaison;

1960: 6;

Prof. H. W. Snyman;


Kenya and Uganda;

medical liaison;

Dr. H. Nossel;


United Kingdom;

research on blood coagulation;

Dr. R. J. Bitchford;


U.S.A., United Kingdom, Puerto Rico and some African Territories;

attendance of a congress at the London School of Tropical Medicine and research on bilharzia;

Dr. I. Webster;

R 2,000;

United Kingdom, Europe and the U.S.A.;

pneumoconiosis research;

Dr. B. van Lingen;



pneumoconiosis research; and

Dr. G. K. Sluiscremer;


United Kingdom and Europe;

pneumoconiosis research.

Bantu Chief Greeted with a Handshake by Commissioner-General *XI. Mr. HUGHES

asked the Minister of Bantu Education:

  1. (1) Whether his attention has been drawn to a photograph which appeared in the Press on 19 April 1961, showing the Commissioner-General for the Transkei greeting a Bantu chief with a handshake; and
  2. (2) whether the instructions to officials of his Department not to shake hands with Bantu persons, as outlined by him on 8 March 1960, have been withdrawn; if not, why not.
  1. (1) Yes; it is a well-known practice in such circumstances, and it already was the position during the old Republics.
  2. (2) The instruction to which the honourable member refers was to the effect that officials should avoid situations which would cause the shaking of hands. The reason was differing, and therefore confusing, conduct by officials on the same occasions and I had to obtain more uniformity in the interest of the Department. I clearly indicated to officials at the time that where refusing to shake hands would give offence (in other words where the situation referred to above would not occur) greeting in the European manner could be allowed. I therefore see no reason why the instruction should be withdrawn.

Arising out of the Minister’s reply, may I ask him if he will undertake to circularize the officials of his Department with this photograph to show the proper courtesies to be extended to the Bantu?

Investigation in Regard to Diverting Orange River Water to Sundays River *XII. Mr. VAN DER AHEE

asked the Minister of Water Affairs:

Whether, in connection with the development of the Orange River to which he referred on 17 March 1961, the possibility is also being examined of diverting the waters of the Orange River to the upper reaches of the Sundays River and the Van Ryneveld’s Pass Dam.



Changing of Names of Statutory Holidays *XIII. Mr. EGLIN

asked the Minister of the Interior:

Whether the Government intends introducing legislation during the current Session to change the name or date of any of the statutory public holidays; and, if so, (a) which of the public holidays will be affected and (b) in what way will they be affected.


I regret that I am unable to reply to this question as the matter is under consideration.

Compensation in Regard to Changes in Customs Tariffs *XV. Mr. EGLIN

asked the Minister of Economic Affairs:

Whether the assurance which, according to the Cape Times of 17 March 1961, he gave to South African exporters that the Government will compensate them or the importers in the countries concerned in the event of any higher customs tariff which may be imposed as a result of the abolition of preferences due to the cessation of the Union’s Commonwealth membership, will cover compensation (a) in respect of goods exported in fulfilment of contracts concluded between South African exporters and importers in other Commonwealth countries (i) prior to the date of the statement and (ii) subsequent to the date of such statement but prior to the date on which any subsequent statement may be made and (b) in respect of tenders submitted by the South African exporter subsequent to the date of such statement but prior to the date on which any subsequent statement may be made.


The purpose of my statement, which was necessitated by repeated inquiries directed to my Department by interested exporters as to what the immediate customs tariff position would be in Commonwealth countries on exports from the Union, was to assure exporters that there could be no change while the Union was a member of the Commonwealth and, furthermore, that even when the Union was no longer a member of the Commonwealth, the tariff position in respect of the items covered by agreements would remain unchanged indefinitely, unless the countries concerned notified the Union of their intention to terminate the agreements, in which case the termination would become effective after the expiry of six months from the date of such notice to terminate.

In the light of the foregoing the replies to the questions are—

  1. (a)
    1. (i) Yes. On goods shipped prior to my statement and up to the date a further statement is made;
    2. (ii) yes; and
  2. (b) my statement clearly covers shipments made prior to a date on which a further statement will be made. My assurance does not cover shipments made after that date, unless the further statement says so explicitly.
Dismissal of Graduate Bantu Teachers

The MINISTER OF BANTU EDUCATION replied to Question No. *VII, by Mr. Moore, standing over from 18 April.


How many graduate Bantu teachers have been dismissed from teaching posts in the Department of Bantu Education in each year since the establishment of the Department.


Since the establishment of the Department of Bantu Education only one graduate Bantu teacher has been dismissed from Government Bantu schools.

It is estimated that the number of graduate Bantu teachers dismissed by Bantu School Boards averages one per year.

Representations for Bantu Nursery School Education

The MINISTER OF BANTU EDUCATION replied to Question No. *XVI, by Mr. Butcher, standing over from 21 April.


Whether representations have been made to him concerning nursery school education for Bantu children; and if so, (a) by whom, (b) what was the nature of the representations and (c) what was his reply.



  1. (a) The National Council of Women of South Africa, and the Nursery School Association of South Africa.
  2. (b) The National Council of Women of South Africa requested me to co-operate with interested bodies to make provision for a course in crèche supervision and nursery training so that professionally trained women may care for the preschool Bantu child.
    The Nursery School Association of South Africa requested me to expand subsidization to crèches and day nurseries catering for working mothers.
  3. (c) A nursery school cannot be classified as a school in terms of the Bantu Education Act, and I therefore have no power to subsidize nursery schools. I have, however, indicated that Bantu teachers with a Lower Primary Teachers’ Certificate should be suitable for nursery school work with the help and guidance of the mentioned associations, and therefore I need not introduce special training facilities for this purpose.
No New Standard for Matriculation for Bantu Scholars

The MINISTER OF BANTU EDUCATION replied to Question No. *XVII, by Mrs. Suzman, standing over from 21 April.


Whether it is the intention of his Department to introduce a new standard for the Matriculation examination for Bantu scholars; and if so, (a) in what respect and (b) in what subjects will the new standard differ from the present standard.


No. It is not the intention of my Department to introduce a new standard for the Matriculation examination for Bantu scholars. The standard of all Matriculation examinations, including the National Senior Certificate and that of the Provincial Administrations, is determined and controlled by the Joint Matriculation Board. A change of standard therefore does not rest with my Department.

Should my Department at any time introduce a departmental senior certificate examination, the standard of the syllabuses and of the examination will still have to meet the requirements of the Joint Matriculation Board.

For written reply:

Purchase of Magazines for S.A. Airways

The MINISTER OF TRANSPORT replied to Question No. I, by Mr. E. G. Malan, standing over from 21 April.

  1. (a) Which (i) English and (ii) Afrikaans magazines are subscribed to for the convenience of passengers on the internal services of the South African Airways, (b) how many copies of each magazine are subscribed for, (c) who decides which magazines are to be acquired and (d) on what basis is the selection made.



(b) Per month



Femina and Woman’s Life


Panorama (English edition) (every six weeks).


Reader’s Digest


African Wild Life (per quarter)


S.A. Financial Mail


Let’s Go












Illustrated London News


Daily Mirror.






Men Only


Wide World.






Comics (for children)




Saturday Evening Post






Good Housekeeping





Lantern (per quarter)






Sarie Marais


Rooi Rose


Panorama (Afrikaans edition) (every six weeks)


Sjarme (per quarter)


No literature is supplied on the Skycoach services.

  1. (c) Magazines are acquired by or on behalf of the Railway Management by recommendation of a standing committee.
  2. (d) To supply, as far as practicable, literature of a general nature and not of a specialized kind.

I move as an unopposed motion—

That Order of the Day No. XVIII for to-day—Second reading,—Chiropractors’ Bill —be discharged and the Bill withdrawn.

I second.

Agreed to.


First Order read: House to go into Compiittee on Land Bank Amendment Bill.

House in Committee:

Clauses and Title of the Bill put and agreed to.

House Resumed:

Bill reported without amendment.


Mr. SPEAKER announced that Mr. Nicolaas Franciscus Treurnicht was to-day declared elected a member of the House of Assembly for the electoral division of Piketberg.


Second Order read: House to resume in Committe of Supply.

House in Committee:

[Progress reported on 24 April, when Votes Nos. 2 to 4, 10 to 23 and 27 had been agreed to and precedence had been given to Vote No. 24.]

On Vote No. 24—“ Transport”, R15,432,000, Mr. GAY: Mr. Chairman, I would like your guidance to start with. I wish to raise under the Minister’s policy a matter for which provision is made under Loan Vote L. Is it competent for me to raise that under the Minister’s policy at this stage of the debate?


Yes, it is perfectly in order.

Mr. GAY:

I want to raise the question of the amount provided under Loan Vote L, R645,000, for the building costs of a departmental ship for meteorological and scientific research purposes. As you will remember, Sir, this matter was discussed at an earlier stage of the Session under the Additional Estimates, when the original amount for that particular work was approved by the House. We are now being asked to approve of the balance of the Vote. The question then arose as to why it was necessary to go outside South Africa to incur this expenditure on the building of a ship …


Order! I misunderstood the hon. member. I thought he was referring to sub-head L under the Transport Vote, but apparently he is referring to Loan Vote L. That cannot be discussed at this stage.

Mr. GAY:

Then I want to refer to the provision, an exploratory provision largely, which is being made for the establishment under the Transport Vote of an hotel at the Jan Smuts Airport. We are rather keen to know exactly what the Minister’s policy is.


Order! That also falls under the Loan Vote.

Mr. GAY:

In that case I will raise these matters again when we come to the Loan Votes.


May I claim the privilege of the half-hour? Mr. Chairman, when the Part Appropriation debate was in progress, on 14 February, I stressed the urgency of an accelerated scheme for improving the National Road system throughout our country. Our railways, according to the Minister, have nearly completed their immediate capital development plans and I think the Minister can now turn his delayed attention to our road system with great advantage to our country. As I said then, a comprehensive national road-building programme would have several good, economic results. It would in the first instance absorb the labour that is being discarded by the Railways now that they have completed their major plans. It would increase the distribution facilities of this country enormously and so ought to bring down the cost of living. It would develop some important regions of South Africa for which the Railways alone cannot cater efficiently or economically. It would help the Railways in the long run by providing feeder services to increase their volume of business and their profits. Finally it would implement the findings of the Viljoen Commission which, some few years ago, went on record as saying that in many respects an imaginative, forward-looking road transportation plan was more important even than further capital development of the Railways. I feel that what we need to do is to build more and better Special as well as National roads. New plans should include real assistance, greater aid to local authorities to improve sadly neglected urban road and street facilities and to strengthen and widen and consolidate all existing roads to fit them for the heavier traffic they are bearing now and will bear in increasing measure in the coming years. To-day I will put forward further and more concrete suggestions to supplement my previous pleas for urban and national road development. We must insist on the provision of through ways, and ring roads; on the building of express ways and link roads; on the reconstruction of many of our National roads that are falling into a grievous state of disrepair; on the building of greater safety and permanence into our road system generally; on the adoption of a more energetic and dynamic approach to the transportation needs and problems of our country. I urged, during that debate, that the Minister of Finance should devise a new and more generous formula for financing the Road Fund and suggested that a substantial portion of the excise duty on locally refined petrol should be apportioned to the Fund and in addition contributions from diesel fuel. The Minister of Finance finally announced in his Budget that he would take a step in this direction but, Sir, he has not taken nearly a long enough stride. I do not think that his new formula, improved as it is, will bring more than R4.000,000 extra revenue to the Road Fund. That extra amount must be regarded as quite inadequate. I would like the Minister of Transport to consider seriously the supplementation of such money as he may receive through these taxation sources, not by increased taxes on road users, but by using loans to rebuild and reconstruct our roads to make them really efficient for our transportation needs. I suggest that putting Loan Funds to this purpose will prove a wise investment. I hope that the Minister will consider my suggestion earnestly. Mr. Chairman, in devising road plans for the future, I have been impeded to a certain extent by the absence of any report from the Department of Transport and from the National Transport Commission, since March 1959. Perhaps the Minister can tell me when the 1959-60 report will be published. It is eagerly awaited. It should be available for this debate. Even the Encyclopedia Britannica is more up to date than the Minister’s Blue Books. It has detailed reports and articles which are more up to date on road development as well as other relevant world wide information and material. I have, however, been assisted considerably by conversations with Ministerial departments and by the fact that on this subject, which I take to be non-political in certain respects, the Minister himself has told me something of what he has in mind. As a result of this, in addition to my own amateurish investigations, I have formed ideas which I propose to lay before the Committee. I will submit certain concrete suggestions which I hope the Minister and this Committee will consider seriously to-day.

I would like the Minister, in his road transportation plans, to think for as much as a decade ahead. In relation to the Cape, which I take first of all, I suggest a National Road to close the vital gap which now exists between Oudtshoorn on the partially completed Route 12 and Route 9 between Cape Town and Colesberg; the junction to be between Prince Albert and Fraserburg Road. Now that the Robinson Pass has been reconstructed and opened to traffic, and as an addition to the old trunk road between Oudtshoorn and Beaufort West which has been improved part of the way, I think it is essential that the National Road link, I suggest, should the up that part of the Karoo with the South Coast. If the plans which I hope the Minister has in mind are brought to fruition, the whole of the North-West Cape could eventually be opened up to the ports of Cape Town, Mossel Bay and Port Elizabeth. If he carries the present special road that goes from Kakamas to Upington, right through Prieska to Britstown, De Aar and down to Naaupoort, it would have the beneficial effect of opening up that potentially rich portion of our country to wider markets to the south. If this road were to be rebuilt strengthened and widened and properly maintained, it would bring the North-Western Cape in touch with the main Routes 13 and 9 to Cape Town and the North, as well as linking it up with National Routes 7 and I to Port Elizabeth and Mossel Bay. It would be a very wise move and I suggest that this is a priority for the Cape. While we are on the subject of the North-Western Cape, the Minister should include in his plans a National Road running up from Van Rhynsdorp to the North, to the Orange River, and then eventually linking up with Karasburg to bring South West Africa more efficiently and closely into touch with Cape Town’s natural hinterland, the North-West Cape. I am sure that these suggestions are well worth considering, especially as the development of the North-Western Cape has been sadly retarded by the obstinacy of previous Ministers of Railways, and this present one, too, in refusing to close the railway gap between Calvinia and Klawer on the Bitterfontein line, which could shorten the distance by rail from that area to Cape Town considerably. This has been urged by me for many years; but if we have a more efficient road system, I am sure it would help greatly to distribute and market the goods which should naturally come to Cape Town from those areas. A National Road here would help to develop those neglected areas where railways are non-existent. That, roughly, is what I feel is the minimum that should be planned for the Cape for the next decade.

The Orange Free State also demands attention. There is a need for a better road, a special road from Aliwal North to link up with Route 5, round to Natal. It would take the shorter cut from Rouxville through Wepener and up to Bethlehem and so avoid the very much used and longer road right round via Bloemfontein. Such a special road would pass through the Eastern Free State which, scenic-ally, is one of the finest parts of the country, and I am sure would open up a beautiful area to valuable tourist trade. It would not be without strategic value. I would not, however, place the building of this special road in the category of a first priority for the Free State. There are other roads, which I presume the Minister has in mind, which are much more important. The first thing I would do would be to close the gap between Ventersburg and Senekal, a distance of about 40 miles, with a National Road. That would the up the new Free State gold mines most effectively with Natal and Durban; it would also shorten the distance considerably. But even more important than that is to find some way of relieving the strain on Route 3 between the Witwatersrand and Durban. That National route is over-taxed. As the industrial wealth of that part of the country is opened up, we will need a good or better alternative road transport route. Between the Reef and Durban we have an area of very rich potential. There we have the power, the coal; we have the water; above all we have the labour. It must of necessity, in the future, become an even richer industrial centre than it is now. Therefore I submit that the Minister must run through a wider, stronger, better, more consolidated road from Heidelberg right down to Harrismith. This route, which should be a National Road, is, I believe, shorter. I am not sure, but on the map it looks shorter. This would give an alternative route from Johannesburg to Durban; it would relieve the pressure on the present Route 3 and would increase our distribution facilities exceedingly.

Sir, Natal also needs urgent road development. The present railway line from Durban to Golela is not sufficient to open up the northern part of Natal. It is my hope that the Minister will include in his plans a National Road running from Gingindlovu right up north as far as Golela, with the idea in mind of eventually pushing it through to Piet Retief and linking up with the Transvaal. Eventually he must extend it up, through Barberton perhaps, to Nelspruit on Route 4 which goes from Pretoria to the east. These plans ought to be urgently considered. They are part of a long term plan but should be commenced immediately. Now that we have completed a 24- or 25-year plan—or practically completed it—we should be prepared to take another decisive step forward. We should be prepared to plan in advance and work systematically towards a settled goal. With increased money derived from a fairer share of road user taxation and, if necessary, with loan funds money we must develop these areas. The north-western parts of Natal cannot be developed only by the railway system. We must give Natal a better link road, special or national, from Eshowe up to Vryheid and carry it on to Piet Retief. This improved system will stimulate road transport, will supplement what the Railways cannot do. Indeed it should add to the payability of the Railways by bringing feeder traffic which the Railways cannot seek out themselves.

Sir, as always happens in debates such as these when one’s time is limited, I have probably left all too little time for a proper consideration of the most important industrial area in the whole of the country. I refer to the Witwatersrand and the Transvaal …


Hear, hear!


I am not thinking of it as important aesthetically, but economically; I am not thinking of the welfare of their members so much as the welfare of the country. They speak very vociferously for themselves. The Witwatersrand is really the traffic centre of the Union. I think it provides some 60 per cent of the revenue obtained from fuel taxes. It also supplies, as I do know, some 50 per cent of the demand for ordinary, everyday commercial commodities and services. It is our largest single market area in the Union and as such must be properly catered for by proper transport facilities. It is the key commercial centre of South Africa and its development potential must be adequately encouraged. It is necessary for the Government to realize this and to provide funds to widen, strengthen and consolidate the existing roads round and about the Witwatersrand and all roads leading to and from it. Through-roads and ring-roads must be built through and around Johannesburg. Traffic must be made to flow easily, freely and efficiently. Alternative routes must be developed to link up with our existing national roads in the neighbourhood. Present national roads must be doubled and perhaps in some cases quadrupled. For example, the road between Johannesburg and Pretoria, and all the busier parts of the roads leading to Durban and to the Cape. Speed and safety must be built into these much used roads. We must eliminate rail crossings; we must build more bridges. Generally speaking we must ensure that road traffic, at all costs, moves on wider, better, stronger roads if we are going to give proper service to the distribution industry in this country. A first-class transportation system is essential in a country of vast areas, with strung-out lines of communication, with long distances between markets. We must do everything we can to cut production costs and distribution costs to raise the generally low standard of living of so many of the non-Whites. One of the main costs of manufacture and production is distribution. Distribution costs practically rand for rand as much as manufacturing costs. We must insist on bolder, more daring road transportation plans for the future.

Before I leave this subject may I say that the Minister should give thought to the better road development of the western Transvaal which has, I believe, been sadly neglected. There are no national roads to my knowledge to link up that part of the country with their natural market, which is the Rand and Johannesburg. The Provincial roads may be excellent but I submit there is a need for a first-class National highway to be built from the western Transvaal through Krugersdorp into Johannesburg. Mr. Chairman, these are some of the ideas which I have obtained from examining national road problems with interested people in the Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and also with the Minister himself. I hope that he will not just dismiss them as something too elaborate but will realize that advance planning on a vaster scale should be our goal. I know, or rather I suspect, that the Minister is dissatisfied with the moneys he has been allocated by the Minister of Finance for his national road plans. I know that any Minister who has the welfare of the whole transport system at heart, must feel that present funds are totally inadequate to develop our national and special roads properly. I trust he will exercise all the influence he can with the Minister of Finance to see that sufficient capital is made available in the next budget.

Before I sit down, I would like just to express my appreciation of the fact that the D. F. Malan Airport is at last to come into its own. It is many years since I led a deputation to the present Minister at Johannesburg, when we urged that our Cape Town aerodrome needed certain essential navigational aids. We have always demanded the best equipment that can possibly be obtained for the safety and reliability of the air services. On that occasion it was said that the D. F. Malan Airport could not be raised to the status of an “ international airport ” because only one such air station is allowed in South Africa. It has to be the main terminal for international airlines. It was thus impossible to declare it an international airport. But now apparently, wtihout declaring it an international air station, we are to have the best and most up-to-date navigational aids for safety and reliability in the whole of the Union. I am glad that the Instrument-Landing System (ILS as it is called), the Precision Approach Radar (PAR) and the Surveillance Radar (SRE) control system are to be installed in Cape Town. We are going to have the safest and most efficient instruments in use very shortly.

Lastly, while I still have the time, I should like to say just a few words in connection with another matter which is important enough to earn the Minister’s attention. I am always distressed when I drive around the cities or along our national roads to see the way in which advertisements and hoardings have been erected in a most unsightly and often dangerous way, distracting motorists on busy roads and dangerous curves. They draw the attention of the motorist away from his job of driving his car safely. Especially now that advertisers are using luminous paint on many of their displays, to say nothing of the dangerous curves artistically displayed on these posters. The better the poster the more fatal it can be. I am quite sure that many of the more susceptible members opposite find their attention drawn away from the care of the wheel, to other thoughts. We should be careful to ensure that safety is the main consideration when choosing the sites where these posters are put up. Nor should they be erected in such a way as to spoil beauty spots. The hon. the Minister by amending the Ribbon Development Act can exercise much better control of advertising signs on national roads to our aesthetic benefit as well as for the safety of drivers and of the public. The Railways themselves are not blameless in this matter. They have allowed signs and advertisements to be displayed in places on their properties where they should not be. In some cases, when driving through busy towns, it is difficult to tell a red neon sign from a flashing red robot light. My time is now ended. I hope the hon. the Minister will give his attention to this last plea of mine, as well as to the other matters I have mentioned.

*Mr. D. J. POTGIETER: The hon. the Minister will perhaps remember that I have been asking for years that when Plan No. 2 for road building is drawn up he should consider the urgent need for a national road from Vryheid to Eshowe. I also asked for a road from Dundee to Greytown, and I will appreciate it if the Minister will tell us in his reply that Plan No. 2 has now been finally approved, and whether those roads have been included in Plan No. 2.


I should like to add my support to the remarks of the hon. member for Wynberg (Mr. Russell) when he complained about the absence of the report of the National Transport Commission for the year 1959-60. It seems appalling that this year —and not for the first time—we have to make this complaint and it is rather symptomatic of the comparative neglect with which road transportation matters seem to be treated in this House. I also complain that the hon. the Minister did not see fit to introduce this debate by making a statement on national transportation policy, particularly as regards the construction of roads. I say that because the hon. the Minister of Finance in his Budget speech on 15 March made a very important statement regarding an alteration in the taxation on motor fuels and indicated that an increased sum would be made available to the Road Fund. I would have thought that this would be an appropriate occasion for the hon. the Minister to lead this debate by making a statement elaborating on the remarks of the hon. the Minister of Finance. We all welcomed the statement made by the Minister of Finance particularly because he indicated that in future an amount of 5.3 cents per gallon would be levied in respect of all motor fuels to make an additional contribution to the Road Fund and that the additional amount is estimated at R2.6 million per year. We were also pleased to get the assurance that the National Transport Commission foreshadowed an extended programme of national road building. That statement by the hon. the Minister of Finance was disappointing to this extent that there is no acceptance by him of the principle that all road transport users in this country including S.A.R. road transport should make an equal contribution in respect of licences, excise duties on fuel and custom duties on other items, such as vehicles, tyres, etc. Moreover, I believe that most people will be concerned that the amount of the increase of funds made available to the Road Fund is so comparatively small. The hon. Minister must realize that the growing demands for improved roads are assuming such enormous proportions that to increase the amount made available to the National Transport Commission by only R2.6 million per year is fractional compared to what the country really requires at this moment. There will also be general disappointment that there has been no announcement as to whether the National Transportation Commission has in any way revised its attitude, or its responsibilities in so far as the financing of roads is concerned, both in respect of the provinces and also in respect of local authorities. I believe that a very good case can be made out for claiming that now more than ever there should be some extensive research into the country’s requirements over the next 20 years of roads of every type, not only main arterial roads, but secondary roads, scenic roads for tourist traffic, and also more particularly now in respect of urban roads. I believe that can only be done if it is preceded by an adequate examination of all the statistical data that is available so that as accurately as possible a long-term blue-print can be drawn up for building the roads this country will require in the course of the next 20 years. I should like to ask the hon. the Minister of Transport whether in fact there is any blue-print for road development, a long-term blue-print, because we know that the last five-year plan for the building of national roads is virtually completed, and yet we wait in vain for any statement about any plan to succeed it. It is quite obvious that in this respect the country is running the risk for the next few years of finding itself in the same sort of transport chaos in so far as roads are concerned that we found ourselves in in respect of railway transport in the early ’50s. So I urge the hon. the Minister to make a statement during this debate in an attempt to reassure our apprehensions in regard to these questions.

There are certain outstanding tasks which face the National Transport Commission in the next few years. These have been mentioned briefly by the hon. member for Wynberg, and I want to refer particularly to one aspect which he dealt with, and that is the plan for extending the network of national roads. My hon. friend mentioned certain roads which he believes are important. I should like to add others, which I regard as equally important. In the first place I think that not only for economic reasons, but also more particularly perhaps for strategic reasons, there is a case to be made for the raising of the Newcastle-Greytown road to the level of a national road, continuing straight through to the coast, to join the coast somewhere in the neighbourhood of Stanger. That would provide the port of Durban with a second alternative route to the interior. At present we are dependent on one road only. In the second place I think a good case can also be made out for building a new national road from Harrismith through Olivierskop to Bergville, in the belief that that would attract a tremendous amount of traffic to that part of the world, and also the building of a road linking the Eastern Transvaal from Piet Retief through Paulpietersburg to Vryheid and to Eshowe, to link up with the present North Coast national road. I would also urge the raising of the Empangeni-Gollel stretch to the level of a national road. Furthermore, I support the plea that the road from Kroonstad to Harrismith be given the most urgent priority in view of the growing importance of having an adequate road link between the port of Durban and the Free State gold fields.

But quite apart from that I believe that the National Transport Commission should also revise its attitude towards the provincial councils, particularly in respect of their programme of secondary roads and also in respect of roads calculated to attract tourist traffic to South Africa. I should like to mention one in particular which to my belief on a long-term basis would be a very sound investment for South Africa, and that is the road running from the Mount-aux-Sources National Park, or from Bergville, right down the length of the Drakensberg to Underberg. I am fully aware of the immense cost of such a road, but I think that from the point of view of a national investment this will be a tremendous investment which would have the effect of drawing large numbers of overseas tourists to this country. But after saying that, I should like to emphasize that I believe that the growing preponderance of demands for increased financial support is in respect of urban motor roads. If one compares the magnificent network of national roads that South Africa possesses to-day, with the extention of the national arterial roads into the urban areas, one appreciates the fact that the building of the national roads and limited access roads inside the urban areas has fallen very short of the building of the national roads outside. That is due mainly to the inadequacy of the financial support given to local authorities in the building of these roads and also to the enormous cost of expropriation within the borough boundaries. I believe that this is a matter in respect of which the National Transportation Commission should urgently revise its attitude. Unless there is improved assistance given to local authorities, there is always going to be this gap between the capacity of national roads outside the urban areas and those inside. With the fantastic expansion of motor traffic, this matter requires urgent attention. I would remind the House that it has been estimated that within the next 12 years the number of vehicles on the roads will probably double itself, and within the next 20 years it will probably treble itself. That makes one appreciate the fantastic congestion that is going to build up in our cities, and unless adequate arterial roads and link roads, ring roads, throughways and overhead-ways are provided in time, it must lead to chaos. [Time limit.]


I would also like to discuss roads, but the first proposition I wanted to state has already been stated clearly since the Committee started discussing this Vote to-day, viz. by the fact that hitherto nothing but roads have been discussed. My first proposition was in fact that roads are very important for the development of the economy of our country, that we are not sufficiently aware of the importance of roads, and that the roads in South Africa have not yet received the necessary attention which is justified by the problem.

I want to make certain recommendations or suggestions, but to do so it is necessary for me to give a survey of the position of our roads in South Africa, and in particular in so far as it concerns the Cape Province, of which I have special knowledge. I want to give that as the background in order thereafter to draw certain conclusions particularly in regard to the importance of our roads, and then I want to submit certain recommendations to the Minister in regard to what I think is in the best interest of the development of our road system in future. We are aware of the fact that at the moment the funds of the National Road Fund are used, under the control of the National Transport Commission, mainly for national and special roads, and also to a large extent to finance main roads in the urban areas. The anticipated revenue of the National Road Fund for the coming year, 1961-2, is no less than R26,200,000. That is the anticipated revenue of the National Road Fund for the coming year. Of course, one realizes immediately that this is a very large sum, particularly when one compares it with the items of expenditure under the Transport Vote appearing in the Estimates. I want to say that this large sum of money is needed for the proper maintenance and building of roads and that even more than that is required, and in order to explain the position I would like to give the House a few figures.

I do not know whether people in general realize how very expensive it is to build roads. National roads, e.g., cost anything from R30,000 to R80,000 per mile. Main roads, i.e. the more important roads in the Cape Province falling under the Provincial Administration, are estimated to cost R28,000 per mile. Double roads such as we have in the urban areas, with traffic going in one direction on the one side and in the opposite direction on the other, easily cost up to R200,000 per mile. Speedways in urban areas, such Boulevard East, which is at present being built in Cape Town, together with the expropriation which accompanies it, cost up to R2,000,000 per mile. That gives us some idea of the tremendous cost of building roads. I said a moment ago that the National Transport Commission provides the funds for the national and special roads. National roads are built wholly with funds coming from the National Road Fund, which also pays for the maintenance. But in regard to special roads, 70 per cent is paid by the National Road Fund and 30 per cent by the province concerned. After completion of such a special road, the maintenance of it rests exclusively with the province concerned. Apart from these tremendous sums of money made available by the National Road Fund for roads, the provinces are also respectively busy with tremendous programmes. Since 1935 when a start was made with the building of national roads we have been busy in the Cape Province with a programme of approximately 4,900 miles of national roads, which are still being built, and which still have not been completed since a start was made in 1935.

Now I would like to paint a picture of the scope of the roads in the Cape Province alone. The total mileage for which the Cape Province is responsible, directly or indirectly, wholly or partially, is approximately 89,300 miles. That means that all the roads in the Cape Province for which this province is wholly or partly responsible are long enough to encircle the earth three times. That gives us some idea of the scope of our road-building programme. The Cape Province is at the moment busy with a road-building programme of approximately £200,000,000, and it is intended that this programme should be completed within the next ten or 12 years. That gives us an idea of how great our problems are in regard to roads and how high the cost is.

I said a moment ago that it was necessary to make large sums of money available. It is necessary, firstly, because our economic expansion is wholly dependent on having proper roads. That is particularly true due to the fact that railway expansion has practically come to a standstill. The position to-day is that the Railways are experiencing such keen competition from road transport that the Railways have to be protected to some extent through the medium of the Road Transportation Boards. I think we all agree with that, because the railway network in South Africa simply must remain in existence. But on the other hand, one also realizes that one cannot do so under all circumstances and regardless of all economic laws. Nevertheless we realize that our economic expansion in future is practically completely dependent on the extension of our road system. It is also essential for us to build proper roads because the traffic on the roads is not only becoming heavier but also faster. There is another important factor which makes it necessary to have good roads, and many of them, namely defence. It will be necessary in future to have suitable roads if one wants to by-pass a danger-point or if one wants to reach a danger-point in times of war or other troubles.

Then there is still another factor, namely that it should not be thought that when we have spent millions of pounds on road building and when those roads have all been completed and tarred, that is the end of the matter. After a road has been built and tarred it must be re-sealed within six or seven years, and the lifetime of a properly built tarred road is only approximately 20 years. Then it is worn out and the road has to be re-built. We must therefore accept the fact that in South Africa, with our long distances, we will always have to make large sums of money available for the building of roads, not only now but also in the future.

Now I want to deal for a moment with the National Transport Commission. I said a moment ago that the National Transport Commission decides in regard to the use of funds from the Road Fund, and it makes recommendations to the Minister. Now I would like to voice some criticism and make certain recommendations, but in the beginning I want to say that I do not do so in a spirit of criticism of the present National Transport Commission, because we realize that we in South Africa not only have reason to be grateful for what has been done by the National Transport Commission in regard to roads in South Africa, but that we also have good reason to be proud of the roads which have already been built. Nevertheless we should not think, in view of the good work done in the past, that there is no room for improvement. Therefore I want to make a few remarks…. [Time limit.]


The question of road accidents has been discussed in this House on quite a number of occasions, but I do feel that in view of the alarmingly consistent increase of road accidents and resultant fatalities and serious injuries, the matter should once again be brought to the attention of the hon. the Minister, who has a great deal to do with the South Africa Road Safety Council. Before proceeding with the purpose of my address this afternoon, which is to deal with the question of more intensified research, I feel that one should draw attention to some of the statistics of accidents in recent years. During the first six months of 1960, the most recent figures available, there were throughout the Union 309 road accidents per day and the daily average of persons injured numbered 105 and the daily average of deaths was eight. One can say that over the year one in every six motor-driven vehicles was involved in an accident. If one looks at the figures over the preceding three years, one finds that in 1957 the daily average of deaths was 5.75, in 1958 it was 6.5 and in 1959 it was 7, and as I have said a moment ago, in the year 1960 it has increased to 8. The number of accidents for the same years was as follows: 1957—227 per day; 1958—279.5 per day; 1959—297 per day; and in the first six months of 1960, as I have already said, 309 per day. The latest figures available to me, for the month of August 1960, show even a further increase in the previous average. Now, Mr. Chairman, if one looks at other countries, one finds perhaps a similar incidence of accidents and deaths. In the United Kingdom, for instance, in 1959, there were 261.216 accidents with 6,250 persons killed. The total cost of material losses of vehicles and also loss of earnings and lives and so on, was assessed for that year at the colossal sum of £219,000,000. In the Union the estimated cost of road accidents in 1956 was estimated to be approximately £32,500,000. This represented a sum which exceeded the money spent on road construction, the maintenance of roads, and so on, for the whole country in that year by R7,000,000. If one turns to Australia, another country where a Select Committee sat recently, one finds that in the year 1957-8 the assessment of the material damage there amounted to something in the region of R95,000,000. In 1957 a committee of inquiry was appointed by the Minister into road safety. It submitted its report and it resulted in legislation for the establishment of a South African Road Safety Council. Paragraphs 31 to 82 of that particular report dealt with the causes of road accidents and preventative measures to be taken, and the necessity particularly for research which formed one of the important features of the recommendations in those paragraphs. In 1959, the Commonwealth of Australia appointed a Select Committee to inquire into and report on road safety, and under the heading of “ research ” it was stated that the most consistent recommendation made to the committee was the establishment and encouragement of road safety research on a national basis. In Britain. I understand, there is a Royal Research Institution which has been in existence for some years. So it is clear from our recent South African report and the Australian report that the insistence has been on the question of research, and the conclusions come to are that the greater majority of the accidents are due to human instrumentality and not pure chance. I am disappointed to find, Mr. Chairman, that in the Estimates of the hon. the Minister in this Vote no provision is made for research on a scale which would be commensurate with the problem that we are facing. The sum of R90,000 is absolutely inadequate if it is to contemplate the importance of research. Research is always a long-term issue and therefore a start has to be made and, in my view, made as soon as possible. If this figure, for instance, were R500,000 one might perceive a possibility of something substantial commencing, and something substantial thereafter proceeding in this most important and difficult problem that faces our country. It is trite information, Mr. Chairman, to place before this Committee the fact that whenever one opens a newspaper on any morning or any afternoon in any part of the country, one is immediately faced with one or two road accidents, very often of a serious and aggravated nature. In recent days whole families have been wiped out in these unfortunate accidents on our national and provincial roads throughout the Platteland.

In dealing with research one of the cardinal factors that is beginning to play a part in other countries is the establishment of a central bureau from which a great deal of information can be obtained about the driving of vehicles, and through which a system has been developed known as the point system, whereby the particularly driver involved in an accident will find himself rated historically in so far as his driving and use of that vehicle is concerned. The importance is no longer just the question of deciding that, possibly, a breach of regulations or failure to observe road signs is the cause of the accident, but rather to inquire into who is responsible for the accident and what is responsible for the accident; what are the factors in the human field that have played their part in bringing about that accident. For years we have been compiling statistics on the various evident causes of accidents such as the failure, for instance, to give the signal that one is turning, or the failure to give a signal that one is stopping; or the failure to give any signal indicating what the driver intends to do. But there are many more factors from the human point of view that have entered into this picture and that necessitate, in my view, a very large degree of research.

If one looks at the report which appeared in a book called the “ Open Road ”, published by the South African Road Federation in February 1961, one finds this statement—

There must be proper research into the reasons for the high incidence of accidents to discover in the Union who and what are responsible for this grave state of affairs.
All these inquiries call for the services of experts, of the best and most experienced experts available. Such advice cannot be bought cheaply. It will need a lot of money to uncover all the facts that lead to the why of accidents and how to lessen them.

Further on it goes on to say that unless adequate steps for the proper funding of such a research institution under the South African Road Council are taken, we will not in any way avoid this continuing increase in the incidence of accidents in our daily lives and on the roads of our country.

It has been said before, but I think it bears repeating, that the incidence of serious injury and death in this country far outstrips the casualties of a similar nature suffered by this country throughout both wars in which this country was engaged. I feel, Mr. Chairman, that South Africa, with its large open roads, and with perhaps more open spaced cities than other countries in the world because our development has not yet been able to catch up with our vast open spaces; that in a country like South Africa something should have been done by now. One does not want to be recriminative, but something must be done to bring down this alarmingly high rate which is, I believe, per capita the highest rate in the world.


When my time elapsed a moment ago I had sketched the background of the scope and importance of our roads, and I then said that I wanted to analyse the work of the National Transport Commission, with great respect for the work done by that Commission and its members in the past. In the first place, how is that Commission composed? The National Transport Commission consists of seven members. The Secretary of Transport is the Chairman; one member is appointed as Road Transport Commissioner, and one as Commissioner of Civil Aviation. That makes three. For the rest, representation is given to, firstly, one person out of a total of four nominated by the four provinces jointly, people who must have a sound knowledge of the requirements of the Union in respect of roads; one person who has a sound knowledge of aviation matters, and lastly, two persons appointed for their particular knowledge of industrial, commercial or financial matters and public affairs. I would like to direct attention to the fact that of these seven members only one is appointed because he has particular knowledge of the circumstances pertaining in the Union in respect of roads.

I want to go further and I want to analyse the activities of the National Transport Commission. Their work is not confined only to the expenditure of the money of the National Road Fund. In addition to that, the Commission is also entrusted with the following matters, viz. merchant shipping, the Weather Bureau, State motor transportation, road transportation, including road transportation boards, and civil aviation. That proves that roads really only form part—I do not want to say a large part or a small part—of the activities of the National Transport Commission.

I would now like to ask the Minister to consider giving better representation to roads, if not on another body, which is what I really want to advocate, then on the National Transport Commission. I want to say that as matters have now developed the composition of the Commission is to some extent contrary to the spirit of the Act which established the Commission, because it appears from the composition of the Road Transport Commission that the members should have a sound knowledge of roads in the Union. But it is physically impossible to have a single member on that Commission who can say with certainty that he has a thorough knowledge of the roads of the Union. That is impossible. Even though there were three or four members of the Commission who each made a study of a separate area of South Africa in respect of roads, I would say that not even those persons will have a sound knowledge of the roads. It is for that reason that I plead in the first instance that in a Commission like that which controls the funds of the Road Fund and in that connection has to make recommendations affecting the length and breadth of the Union, it is not good enough that there should be only one member with a sound knowledge of roads. It is impossible for that member to do his work properly.

I feel, further, that on the whole roads are not sufficiently represented on the National Transport Commission. The hon. member may perhaps tell me that there is an advisory board in which all four of the provinces are represented. I would like to tell the Minister at this stage that I am not approaching the matter from a provincial standpoint, but from a Union standpoint. There is an advisory board, which is provided for in Section 11 of the Act, but it just remains an advisory board. You will agree with me, Sir, that an advisory board has always been an unsatisfactory affair. In addition, this advisory board does no? function as efficiently as it should do. I can inform the hon. the Minister that for eight months I served on the Executive Committee of the Cape Province and during that time this advisory committee did not meet once. There may perhaps have been good reasons for it, but the fact remains that one needs people with particular knowledge of roads on that board which has direct control over the funds of the Road Fund, and not merely indirect control.

I have said that roads are so important that the subject needs all the attention we can devote to it. I say that firstly because of the fact that millions of pounds of public money are being spent on roads, and secondly, because of the economic importance of reads. I would like to refer to the announcement made recently by the hon. the Minister of Finance in his Budget speech. He announced that more funds would be made available to the Road Fund, and inter alia he said this—

It is essential for the further development of the country that our road system should be extended and improved, and the National Transport Commission in fact has an extensive road building programme which will require appreciable additional funds.

I agree with that completely. We cannot overestimate the value and importance of road building. Therefore I want to ask the hon. the Minister of Transport to consider whether the time has not arrived, as the result of the tremendous sums of money which have to be made available, and the scope and importance of roads, for the establishment of a completely separate Department to deal with roads, at the head of which a board can be appointed which would deal exclusively with roads over the length and breadth of South Africa. If the annual expenditure, as we see it here this year, viz. R26,000,000, does not justify a separate department and a separate board or a separate commission, then I cannot see what on earth would justify the establishment of a separate board or commission to render services to the country. But if the Minister feels that a separate department is not justified, I want to ask him to consider appointing a separate board to deal with the expenditure of the money of the Road Fund and which will advise the Minister in regard to roads in the Union; that this board should concern itself exclusively with roads so that the members of that board —and not only one of them—can all make a thorough study of roads when they have to take decisions in regard to these millions of rand which come from the pockets of the taxpayers.

I would like to ask the Minister to accept these recommendations of mine in a good spirit, because I make them honestly and sincerely.

Mr. GAY:

I want to continue, to some extent, the remarks made by the hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Miller), particularly in regard to the question of road safety research and the expenditure provided for under the Vote in that direction. Like the hon. member, I want to express the view—although one cannot urge for an increase in expenditure—that the amount of R90,000 provided for in this estimate is far too little to really cope with so vast a problem. It is fast approaching the time when this matter should be given a lot more consideration.


Order, order! The hon. member may plead for it but he cannot propose it.

Mr. GAY:

Yes, Mr. Chairman, I am not proposing, I am merely drawing attention to the fact that the time is coming when we will have seriously to consider this question.

I want to touch on one aspect of road safety in particular, and in doing so I do not in any way intend to cast reflections on the activities of the Road Safety Council itself or its various committees throughout the country which are doing a magnificent job of work often under very difficult circumstances. I think the country at large owes them a debt of gratitude for the practical improvements it has been possible to make up to date in connection with the safety on our roads, grim though the picture still is. The aspect to which I want to refer is one which more generally affects local authorities, and particularly local authorities in some of the bigger areas. I refer to their activities in putting into practice the precepts laid down by the Road Safety Council, and the doctrines which they themselves preach in regard to road safety in their own areas. I think that if there was one thing that must strike us as motorists, particularly those of us who have to use the roads late at night or during the dark hours, it is the lack of elementary precautions on the part of the local authorities themselves in regard to road safety, and particularly where road work is in progress. I refer not so much to new works, but to repairs, to the widening and extending of existing roads. Here in the Peninsula we have had, and still have examples of local authorities being very far indeed from practising the gospel that they preach to the public with regard to road safety. By lack of attention to such things as adequate lighting, control and demarcation of excavations and of deviations on the road, the local authorities themselves provide ample opportunity for the piling up of accidents. I would therefore appeal to the Road Safety Council which is now being provided with funds under this vote, to take up that aspect of road safety and try to impress on the local authorities that it is their duty not only to advocate road safety amongst road users in their particular areas, but in their own works to put road safety into practice to a larger extent than they do in some cases.

I then want to refer to another aspect of this problem in which I think the average motorist will agree with me, and that is the growing multiplicity of traffic control signs which are developing along the Union’s roads. They in their turn contribute in no small measure to the hazard of the road because there are so many of them. The speed of travel has increased to such an extent that they have to be read at speed if they are to be of any value at all, and there are so many of them that Heaven help the motorist if he tries to decipher exactly what he is supposed to do from those signs under certain conditions. That is another point I would commend to the attention of the Road Safety Council, that they might examine that question and see if there cannot be a more drastic streamlining of these signs, a great uniformity of traffic signs which, I know, they are trying to bring about. These signs are put there with the set purpose of improving safety on the roads, but owing to the multiplicity of them they very often have the other effect.

There is one other aspect which, I think, is a contributory factor towards the high incidence of road accidents, and particularly road fatalities. This is a matter which has been very largely dealt with in the overseas countries which, from experience, are slightly more advanced than we are in South Africa in some directions of road control. I refer to the practice which exists and which is being perpetuated by the planting of a forest of poles on the kerb line along practically all the roads in the area. You will find that along all the big motor highways overseas to-day the erection of poles along the kerb line or the boundary of the carriage way is a thing of the past. They are set well back so that if a car is involved in an accident or has to take sudden action to avert a crash, due to the poles being set well back, the car does not crash into them. Not only that, but the kerb is not square but is sloping and presents an area over which the car can travel—at some risk, but nevertheless giving the motorist a better chance of getting away—instead of coming into violent contact with the kerb. If you take the incidence of death, particularly in the urban areas, resulting from people who collide with poles which are set up to support warning signs or many other purposes, you will find that a large number of what might have been serious accidents have become fatalities as a result of colliding with these poles.


They are experimenting with rubber poles overseas.

Mr. GAY:

I believe that there is plenty of room for research in that direction. As the hon. member for Wynberg (Mr. Russell) has reminded me experiments are being carried out overseas with a type of rubber pole which bends when struck. Naturally, motorists are not supposed to strike the poles, but human nature being what it is, that does sometimes happen. I would suggest that is an aspect which may be considered, at any rate on all new roads. These poles should not be erected right on the kerb. We have an example of this in this town now, on the new De Waal motor drive, where in many cases the new lamp posts are erected within six inches of the kerb line. I know that the banking in places is difficult and requires the excavation of the rock if the pole were placed a little higher up, but it is not beyond the means of our engineering capacity to deal with it. I would urge that the Road Safety Council gives its attention to the aspect, coupled with this fact, that what is almost a religion appears to have grown up insisting that no two road cautionary or control signs can appear on the same pole. Consequently, within 20 or 30 yards you may see half a dozen poles stuck up, in most cases painted like a barber’s pole with gaudy coloured rings, each carrying a different sign and each one providing an additional hazard for the road user.

I would commend these features for the attention of the Road Safety Council. They may probably have them under consideration, but I thought it might be as well that we directed attention to them because they are contributory factors in regard to road safety, and if, as the hon. member for Bezuidenhout so ably pointed out, we are trying to reduce the number of road fatalities that we have in our country, these are some of the things that might be considered in that direction.


I rise only to reply to the hon. member for Wynberg (Mr. Russell). The fact that he pleads for more and better roads is appreciated. There is no objection to that. But, because it is being used as criticism on this Vote, he must not blame me if I rise to correct him.

We differ in regard to the debate on this Vote, and I think that I am right. In my opinion only national roads ought to be discussed in this debate, and not all roads. Every speaker refers to roads in general. Most of the roads in the country fall under the provinces, and it has absolutely nothing to do with national roads which fall under this Vote —neither its administration nor any other aspect. I leave it to the Chairman’s discretion as to what he is going to allow. The hon. member for Wynberg spoke about the Western Transvaal and, with all good intention, I want to help him right. I cannot remain seated after the remarks he made about the roads in the Western Transvaal. When my colleagues and I, who represent constituencies in the Western Transvaal, return to our constituencies they will ask us why we did not correct the hon. member. That is what I propose doing now. He also used the term “ roads ” in the plural. He did not talk about a national road.


I did.


The hon. member spoke about roads in general in the Western Transvaal.


No, I did not.


That was how I understood you.


Have you got a national road there?


The hon. member displayed a great lack of knowledge about the condition of the tarred roads, to put it like that, in the Western Transvaal, because those are the roads for which we are all pleading.


But there is no national road.


I understood the hon. member to talk about roads. I do not want to do him an injustice. I just want to inform him that, as far as tarred roads are concerned, which are equal in all respects to the status and service of any national road in the country, we have tarred roads to such an extent in the Western Transvaal—I will not say, as my colleague behind me says, more than sufficient—that we are very satisfied with the position.


I never said anything about that.


But you attacked the position there. Even if I were, for instance, to concede that this was not the intention of the hon. member, all the other speakers discussed roads in general. Because the Western Transvaal was mentioned, and because I am one of the members representing the Western Transvaal, I want to point out what the position is there.


May I put a question to the hon. member? Do you not want any national or special roads in the Western Transvaal?


The hon. member asks whether I do not want a national road for the Western Transvaal. Yes, we will welcome it. But we have provincial roads in that part of the country which give the same service—101 per cent and 200 per cent—as the national roads do. The hon. member used his speech for criticism on this Vote and, even if he did it in a nice and tolerant manner, he still gave the impression that insufficient was being done in regard to road building in the Western Transvaal and in the country in general. He referred specifically to the Western Transvaal. In the Western Transvaal there is hardly space for a national road. All the roads there have already been tarred.




I do not think the criticism of the hon. member for Wynberg on this Vote was fair. He wanted to allege to the hon. the Minister of Transport that insufficient was being done for roads in the Western Transvaal. I now take it upon myself to say that there is no more room for a national road. All the provincial roads there are tarred, and this afternoon still, while the matter is being debated here—I say this to the hon. member for Salt River (Mr. Lawrence)—there are several strong road gangs busy tarring the remaining provincial roads.


When my time expired I was dealing with the difficulties of local authorities in completing national roads in urban areas. I was pointing out how, due to inadequate contributions from the National Transportation Commission in respect of expropriations of land, these programmes, are falling more and more into arrear. One can see this, not only in Johannesburg and Cape Town, but also in Durban. For instance, in Durban, there is the case of the connection between Tollgate and Black Hill, to complete the link between the national road leading into Durban and the heart of the city. Work on that road was started in 1955 and important bridges have been built and have been standing there for five years. No further work has been done on them simply because the money for the expropriation and the construction has not been available. It is remarkable that an important road link like that should be neglected for the obvious reason that the National Transport Commission lacks the funds, or else cannot make sufficient allocation to the City of Durban.

The same applies to the second access to Durban, from 45th Cutting to Overport. There is a section of road only two miles long and, as far as I can make out, the City of Durban has already had four or five bites, at the cherry, and on each occasion they have done about 200 or 300 yards, not consecutively, and the work is still only half-finished. One wonders how much longer these important link roads are going to take before they are completed. The long and the short of it is that the Transport Commission simply has not enough funds available for all the work, nor does it seem that there is any adequate appreciation of the importance of getting these roads finished quickly. Year by year the value of land and the cost of expropriation goes up and also the cost of construction. Therefore, the longer these things are delayed the worse the problem will become in all the leading towns and cities, and within a short time we will find ourselves in a position such as they have got into in England, where the backlog for the building of national roads is so big that it is almost impossible for them ever to catch up.

I must complain of the inadequacy of the allocation of revenue to the urban authorities, because this is a very obvious defect in our present system of building roads. Quite recently Councillor Sydney Smith in Durban, when introducing Durban’s record budget of £30,000,000 for 1960-1, pointed out that within the borough of Durban the motorists contribute in licences and in revenue by way of excise on petrol no less than £2,000,000 a year to the national and provincial revenue, and of that revenue which is solely attributable to the motorists of Durban who do approximately 80 per cent to 90 per cent of their motoring within the borough of Durban, the allocation of funds made to Durban for the building of roads was R260,000 out of a total of R4,000,000. That means that the share they received in return for financing the building of roads in their own city was a trifling 8 per cent. I put it to the Minister that this state of affairs applies in every major town and city of the Union, and it is grossly unfair and liable to have very serious repercussions. If this problem is continuously to be neglected, it will mean that road conditions in these city areas will build up year after year and will become a national disaster. We all know how chronic road congestion means an immense waste of money one way or the other. It means a loss of money in fuel, higher cost for tyres and repairs, loss of time all round, loss of productive efficiency, and it must inevitably detract from the standards of productivity of our industry. We recently had two commissions of inquiry which went into the financial relations of the provinces and the Central Government. There was the Borckenhagen Commission and the Schumann Commission. Unfortunately, the question of the financing of roads and the allocation of funds from the excise duty on petrol and the funds from licences, etc., was excluded from the terms of reference of the commission. I urge the Minister to recognize that the time has come for another commission to go into the whole question of planning and co-ordinating the whole of the future building of our road network, not only on a national basis, but on a provincial and an urban basis, as well as the building of throughways and ring roads in cities, which, in most centres, has not even been touched yet, and also the question of the adequacy or otherwise of the present contributions to the financing of the Road Fund. Furthermore, it should study the manner in which the funds available will be allocated as between the provincial, national and urban road programmes. Only if the Minister shows this foresight and appoints such a commission of inquiry and establishes a fair and equitable basis for the allocation of adequate funds, can we solve the problems. Otherwise our road problems will become insuperable in the near future.


I want to raise a matter which has not yet received attention this afternoon, namely third party insurance. There is great anxiety in the country amongst all sections of the population concerning this question of third party insurance. The anxiety has of course been created by the increased premiums imposed this year. These premiums are not regarded as being imposed by the insurance companies. Because the hon. the Minister of Transport has to approve of it, it is assumed throughout the country that he is responsible for the increased premiums, which is, of course, not the case. The ordinary man in the street regards it as a sort of extra taxation being imposed on him. As I said before, the hon. the Minister of Transport is only responsible for fixing the premium after a case has been made out for it, and the insurance companies must have made out a good case for increased premiums. But I particularly want to raise this matter because I think that this state of affairs should be put right.

The anxiety is aggravated by the fact that a premium war is being waged between different companies at the moment. It is being argued that if such a good case has been made out for an increased premium why is it then possible for some companies to offer the same insurance at a lower premium? Did the hon. the Minister act correctly when he approved the increased premium? Those are the questions being asked, and therefore I think that this matter should be reviewed.

In my constituency I have received numerous protests from farmers’ associations about this matter. I must point out that the farming community is particularly affected by the increased premiums. The farmer is now required to take out third party insurance for every tractor. Most of the time his tractor is on the farm and not on the road. He must also take out third party insurance for every trailer, when the trailer is used mostly on the farm and not so much on the road, and the largest number of claims instituted are not in respect of accidents caused by tractors or trailers but by motor vehicles. I am aware that there has been more than one commission on this matter, but the commissions were opposed to the State taking over the scheme. Now I want to point out that there are three factors which have led to the increase in premiums.

The first is the way in which compensation is claimed and granted. Compensation is not granted to all people to the same extent. If I am a poor man with an income of R100 per month and I break my leg, then my compensation is considerably less than that of a man with a big income of R3,000 per month. His loss is calculated on another basis. The position is that at present everyone puts in an abnormally high claim and that compensation is granted on a basis which is not the same for everybody.

The second reason is the high costs of litigation. It is also a contributory factor. The third factor is duplication. Each insurance company must establish its own third party risk division and must also have its own assessors, its own attorneys and its own administrative section. The result is that there is endless duplication of this service throughout the country. I have already mentioned the costs of litigation. Every assessor institutes as high a claim as possible. The claims of the doctors who attended at the scene of the accident are as high as possible, because everything is being paid for by the insurance company. The attorneys also claim as much as possible, and the high cost of litigation is a great contributory factor. Now I want to plead again for this matter to be reviewed, and to ask whether the time has not come for the State to take over the scheme. There was a situation similar to the compensation of workers. There the claims varied too and the costs of litigation were also high, but all that was eliminated when the State took over the scheme. If the State takes it over and fixes the compensation then the claims will not vary as they do now and it will not be necessary to take every case to court. The insurance companies, too, are not innocent in regard to taking cases to court. Do not get the idea that it is only the attorneys who do it. Every company forces the people to go to court because they know that the people are shy of the courts and because they do not want to go to court they accept just any offer which the company makes. They want to force the people to accept certain compensation offered well knowing that the people are in fact entitled to higher compensation. That is why they go to courts and that is where the high cost of litigation comes in.

I hope that the hon. the Minister will again review the matter to see whether it cannot be taken over by the State. I also want to mention an additional reason, which I think is a very good one. The money, the premiums being paid, will be State funds just as in the case of the Workmen’s Compensation Fund, a fund which is invested very advantageously in the country by the State. Here just as strong a fund could be established which could also be advantageously invested by the State to the benefit of the country.


I also want to say a few words in connection with third party insurance. I want to say that our roads are not as bad as some hon. members allege and that the large number of accidents are not mainly due to the fact that the roads are inadequate. I think the roads are very good in relation to the population and the long distances. The fault must be sought elsewhere and it should be sought by the drivers who, because of human factors and irresponsibility, and to a great extent incompetency, are responsible for the large number of accidents. Hon. members say the roads should be made wider, but the wider the roads are the more play one gives to the irresponsible and the incompetent drivers.

This brings me to third party insurance. In my opinion the third party insurance system should be integrated with the efforts to achieve the following. It should be used in the first instance to keep the premiums low and to reduce accidents and to punish those who offend most. It should be used as a means of punishment, and I can see no reason why that cannot be done. I want to suggest, for example, that a person with one accident should pay a specific premium, and after his second accident a higher third party premium should be imposed, with still a higher premium after the third accident, if he is guilty, and that the third party premium should be related to his licence. If he does not pay the increased premium after repeatedly causing accidents he should lose his licence. I think that if we do this we will be able to apply the third party insurance for another purpose also, namely to reduce the number of accidents and to deal with those who show no sense of responsibility.


This has been quite an interesting debate. Constructive criticism and good suggestions have come from both sides of the House. The main topic under discussion was national roads. Certain hon. members wanted to know whether I have a blueprint for the future, and if so, what the programme for the building of national roads is. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to inform the House what the programme is and what it entails.

The hon. member for Berea (Mr. Butcher) complained about the inadequate funds made available to the National Transport Commission. The hon. member knows that that is not entirely in my hands. I will be only too pleased to obtain more funds, but it is a matter for the Government to decide. The increase is not entirely adequate, but still half an egg is better than an empty shell. The new basis of calculating contributions to the Road Fund will certainly be of assistance and will enable the National Transport Commission to build more roads than would have been the case otherwise. Hon. members will also realize that we have to cut our coat according to our cloth. Consequently the expansion programme is limited. I am going to give hon. members all the necessary information. It might interest them to know that the total revenue of the National Road Fund for the year 1958-9 was R20,786,403, of which R13,797,312 was expended on construction and maintenance. The total revenue for the year 1959-60 was R22,573,008, of which R17,457,312 was spent on construction and maintenance. The revenue for 1961-2 under the new formula is estimated at R26,200,000, which is an increase of almost R4,000,000 on the previous year’s figures, plus R7,000,000 carried forward from the year 1960-1. That is a total amount of R33,200,000, which will be available for expenditure. Hon. members will recollect that the Minister of Finance informed the House that from this year the National Road Fund will receive 5.35 cents the equivalent of 61d., on every gallon of petrol, imported and locally produced, as well as on every gallon of diesel fuel. The Estimates of Expenditure on roads construction and maintenance, excluding possible expenditure on urban arterial roads, for the financial year 1961-2 is R26,500,000.


How much extra does the new formula bring in?


About R3,500,000. The balance will be spent on such items—i.e. the balance above R26,500,000— as urban arterial roads, payments to the National Parks Board, payments to the C.S.I.R., which does a large amount of road research, and contributions to the Level-Crossings Road Fund, R500,000; interest on Provincial and Divisional Council Loans, redemption on Divisional Council Loans and the administrative expenses of the National Road Fund. If the National Transport Commission so decides, the bulk of the balance will be spent on urban arterial roads and unused funds, if any, will be invested with the Public Debt Commissioners.

With regard to the Original Programme which was formulated in 1936, of the rural national road mileages, only approximately 267 in the Cape and 41 in Natal remained to be completed to bituminized standard. It must be emphasized that no scheme for the construction of modern roads, especially not a big scheme such as the one I am dealing with, is ever really completed. My reason for saying this is that even when the Five Year Scheme of Works was in its initial stages, it had already been decided to tar all the roads concerned and not only 20 per cent as was originally contemplated. The effect of this decision naturally was to put forward the day of completion. Since World War II there has been a tremendous increase in the number of registrations of motor vehicles and the volume of traffic on the roads. National roads which were considered satisfactory prior to World War II became obsolete and had to be relocated, reconstructed or improved. Roads which were satisfactory by the standard of the 1940’s do not come up to the mark to-day. Some of these roads have increased in importance due to the economic development of the areas through which they pass. The position I wish to present is one which has to be reviewed continuously. Where roads are important—and national and special roads are important—continual improvement is the only way in which the traffic demands can be satisfactorily met. Such improvements may even necessitate the re-location of the road. The ultimate development of the national road system, when traffic requirements justify it, will be a complete system of freeways. It will be clear, therefore, to hon. members why I emphasized that one cannot speak of completing a road system.

Now, in regard to the extension of the Existing Programmes, it has for some time been apparent to the National Road Transport Commission that the time has arrived where the existing programme has to be extended. Consequently the Commission undertook extensive investigation and consultation with the Provincial Administrations took place. In this regard I want to say in passing that the National Transport Commission does not embark upon a programme of road building without consulting the provinces concerned. After all, they are mainly and vitally responsible. That is one of the reasons why there is the Advisory Road Board on which the provinces are consulted at every turn, and it is only when agreement has been arrived at with the provinces that the programme is finalized and is submitted to me for approval. The investigations and consultations resulted in certain recommendations of which I have now approved, and the following are the extensions to the existing programme:

In the Cape Province, and I am giving merely the approximate cost of the building of these particular national roads, it is contemplated that the following national roads will be built: Vanrhynsdorp to Vioolsdrift, at a cost of approximately R9,000,000; Oudtshoorn to Beaufort West, at a cost of approximately R5,000,000. Provision is also made for a special road in the Cape from Groblershoop-Prieska-Britstown-De Aar-Noupoort, at a cost of R7,700,000. In Natal, a national road from Gingindhlovo to Gollel is contemplated, which will cost approximately R6,000,000, and a special road from Eshowe-Vryheid-Paulpieters-burg-Piet Retief, at a cost of R6,000,000. In the Orange Free State there will be a national road from Harrismith to Villiers, a single lane for completion, at a cost of about R1,200,000. There will be special roads from Rouxville-Wepener-Bethlehem, at a cost of R7,800,000, and from Ventersburg to Senekal at a cost of R1,000,000. In the Transvaal the following national roads will be built: Heidelberg to Villiers, at a cost of R1,500,000; Eastern and Southern Johannesburg ring-road, at a cost of R12,000,000; Eastern Pretoria ring-road, at a cost of R6,400,000; doubling the Johannesburg-Pretoria road at a cost of R4,000,000; doubling Johannesburg-Heidelberg to the point where the Villiers-Harrismith road branches off, at a cost of R1,600,000; doubling the Vereeniging-Vanderbyl-Ascot road at a cost of R200,000; relocating the Kaapmuiden-Nelspruit route through Crocodilepoort, at a cost of R1,400,000; and then two special roads, Bedford View-Welgedacht-Witbank, at a cost of R12,500,000, and Gollel-Piet Retief, at a cost of R1,300,000. The total cost of these national and special roads will amount to R88,600,000. The doubling of certain other routes will also be undertaken. Cape Town-Somerset Strand: The cost of doubling will eventually be in the vicinity of R3,200,000; Liesbeek River to Langa is in the process of being doubled under contract; Langa-Borchards Quarry is being planned for immediate doubling; Borchards Quarry-Strand has not yet been planned; Cape Town-Bellville: Doubling already completed, but a few interchanges must still be built at a cost of approximately R1,000,000; Bellville-Paarl: Being planned and will cost approximately R2,000,000; Wingfield-Killarney: Four miles of road are being doubled at a cost of R700,000; Johannesburg-Potchefstroom: The routes are presently being investigated; Durban-Pietermaritzburg at R4,000,000; the section Durban-Emberton has already been completed, and from Emberton to Sterkspruit is in process of being doubled; Sterkspruit-Thorny Bush is being planned; Thorny Bush-Pietermaritzburg is in the process of being doubled. Then Pietermaritzburg-Mooi River, at a cost of R3,200,000; Pietermaritzburg-Hilton Road is in the process of being built; Hilton Road-Tweedie is being planned; Tweedie-Mooi River is being planned and construction will be commenced later this year. Further it is contemplated to give assistance for urban arterial roads, and the intention is to amend Act 42 of 1935 so that these roads will not be declared national roads in terms of Section 4 (1) (a) or 4 (1) (c). I may mention that the Commission has already been approached for financial assistance to construct urban arterial roads by the City Councils of Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Port Elizabeth, and this matter is now receiving the attention of the National Road Transport Commission.

To continue: Cape Town: (1) route 9 (Koeberg Road-Roggebaai) (declared); (2) Route 2: (Liesbeek River-De Waal Drive); (3) Boulevard East (Liesbeek River-Roggebaai); (4) Table Bay Boulevard; (5) Link Road Boulevard East-Table Bay Boulevard; (6) Black River Parkway (Koeberg Road-Liesbeek River). Port Elizabeth: (1) The Creek-Baakens River; (2) Baakens River-Linton Interchange; National Road (By-pass); Durban Urban arterials: Route 2: Louis Botha Airport Inner Ring-road; Route 3: Westville to Inner Ringroad; Route 14: Glenashley to Inner Ringroad, and the Inner Ring-road. Pretoria: (1) Urban Arterials: North-South route; East-West route; (2) Link Roads (special roads): Ring-road to City: North-South route and Ring-road to City: East-West route; (3) National Road (Eastern Ring-road). Johannesburg: Inner Ring-road; Inner Ring-road to Northern boundary at Bramley; Inner Ringroad to Germiston; Inner Ring-road to Baragwanath; Inner Ring-road to Western boundary at Maraisburg; Links to Outer Ring-road; Outer Ring-road. That is what is contemplated in the programme which I have just announced. I may add that the policy of the Commission is to construct declared roads through urban areas where the constructed road will comply with freeway standards and requirements. If such standards are not obtainable the road is located along a route generally away from the central urban area. In order to safeguard the relocated road it is essential that full access control be maintained. With this in view and in accordance with the aim and object of converting, in due course, all declared roads into freeways, no private access to such roads will be permitted. Access will only be permitted at planned intersections and at points agreed to by the Commission. It should further be pointed out that in their ultimate form all declared roads will be equipped with unbroken medians between opposing carriageways. To ensure that new businesses are not established along these outside routes to the detriment of existing businesses in the towns, the Commission has recommended that existing legislation be amended to prohibit the erection of structures within a distance of 1,500 feet from declared road intersections.

I think that is all the information that hon. members desired in regard to the national roads programme. The hon. member for Wynberg (Mr. Russell) raised a very important matter and that is in regard to advertising along national roads. I can only say that I fully agree with him. I think that as a result of loopholes that were found in the Advertisements on Roads and Ribbon Development Act, advertisements and hoardings have been erected which not only deface the landscape but are a definite danger. Unfortunately the more striking, the more efficient the advertisement is, the greater a danger it becomes to road traffic. This is a matter that has engaged my serious attention and I intend introducing amending legislation at the next session of Parliament to deal with this matter.

The hon. member for Wynberg said that he was pleased to see that the D. F. Malan Airport was coming into its own. He says that he pleaded some years ago that the D. F. Malan Airport should receive international status. I can only reply that the provision of navigational aids, of course, has nothing to do with the international status or otherwise of the D. F. Malan Airport. It is not a question of no adequate navigational aids having been installed in the past; it is simply that my Department keeps abreast of the most latest developments in this field, and consequently when any new navigational aids become available, we install them at our different airports as soon as possible in the interests of safety.

*The hon. member for Vryheid (Mr. D. J. Potgieter) raised the question of the Dundee-Greytown road. I can tell him that in terms of an agreement between the National Transport Commission and the Provincial Council of Natal the province itself will construct this road.

The hon. member for Ceres (Mr. Miller) made an interesting speech; it is clear that he knows his subject. He gave valuable information to the House. The hon. member pleaded that the composition of the National Transport Commission should be changed so that roads would be better represented. I do not know whether that will serve any useful purpose. He also pleaded that if possible a separate roads department should be established, or at least a separate board. Had the National Transport Commission been responsible for the financing and the construction of all roads in the four provinces, that would have been a very good suggestion and it would probably have been accepted, but the National Transport Commission, as he rightly said, was responsible mainly for the financing of certain roads but that the construction of those specific roads and the financing and construction of all other roads should be undertaken by the province itself. There is an advisory board dealing with the construction of roads on which the provinces most interested are represented. In addition the Department of Transport together with the road engineers of the various provinces, instituted technical research before we, inter alia, decided on this programme in connection with the construction of roads, but the National Transport Commission as such, because it has limited funds, although there is further expansion of those interests which represent roads, cannot do any more than they are doing to-day. Our great difficulty to-day is lack of funds, and if more funds could be made available to the National Transport Commission, it would be possible to expand the programme much more. It seldom happens, if ever, as the hon. member knows, that the National Transport Commission comes to a decision on its own as regards the construction of a particular road, whether it be a national road or a special road. That usually happens in consultation with and on the recommendation of the province concerned.

The hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Miller) dealt with road accidents. My reply is that the Act providing for the new organization was only passed by Parliament last year. The organization was established very recently, and I think it is only fair to give them an opportunity to show what they can do. They have not really got into their stride yet. Research will, of course, play a vital part in road safety, and provision is made in the constitution of that organization for a body or bodies to concentrate on research. You cannot cure a disease before you have diagnosed it—that is generally accepted—and research is actually the diagnosing of accidents. It plays a very important part. Other steps will also have to be taken but this organization must make the necessary recommendations. The provinces are responsible for controlling road transport by way of their ordinances. Suggestions have been made that the punishment should be more severe for offenders. Suggestions have been made that we should adopt the system that they have in Canada where for every accident or for negligent driving a number of points is allocated to the motorist and eventually his licence is withdrawn. Suggestions have also been made in regard to advertisements, which again is the responsibility of my Department and in regard to which I have already indicated that I am going to amend the Act. We must give this new organization an opportunity of showing what it can do. The suggestions which hon. members have made will certainly be brought to their attention.

*The hon. members for Heilbron (Mr. Froneman) and Ventersdorp (Mr. Greyling) raised the question of third party insurance. I merely want to repeat that the Minister does not approve or disapprove of the premiums. The law provides that the Minister should publish the premiums in the Government Gazette but the Minister does not approve of them and he does not disapprove of them. The law merely compels him to publish the premiums for general information.


Then it is a bad law.


No, it is a good law, the fault does not lie with the law. There are probably many other matters that can be improved and the hon. member for Heilbron has referred to a few of them. Because there is so much dissatisfaction and so many shortcomings in connection with the procedure that is followed—aspects which contribute to the high costs mentioned by the hon. member, as for example, legal costs and other matters—I have appointed a commission, a very representative commission, with particularly wide terms of reference to go into the whole question. The chairman of that commission is the former General Manager of Railways, Mr. Danie du Plessis, and he has already commenced duty. The terms of reference of the commission which was appointed a few years ago were very limited and it could not go into, a number of the points raised by hon. members, but the terms of reference of this commission are very wide and they will investigate all aspects of third party insurance — the administrative angle, the procedure followed, etc.


May I ask why the Minister does not wish to have the legal profession represented on that commission?


I think the legal profession is to some extent one of the biggest culprits. As a matter of fact, many of the attorneys have touts who go to the hospitals to ascertain whether there is anybody, particularly a Native, who has been injured in a motor-car accident in order to get him as a client. Many attorneys do that. Before the insurance company is notified that there has been an accident, an attorney has already issued a summons against the insurance company and he drags out the case as much as possible so that the legal costs may be as high as possible. That is why they are not represented.

I have asked this commission to submit its report towards the end of the year, if possible, so that if the law has to be amended, I will be in the position, if I am still here, to amend the Act next session. As far as the question of the Government taking this insurance over is concerned, that aspect is not included in the terms of reference and I deliberately did not include it, because I think it will be to the detriment of the public generally if the Government were to take over this scheme. This insurance is totally different from workmen’s compensation insurance. The workmen’s compensation insurance is only applicable to certain employees who receive a certain salary per annum. Only the employer contributes not the employee, and thirdly the employee is always covered no matter under what circumstances he has an accident, or whether it is his fault or not, as long as he had the accident while on duty. This is totally a different matter. In this case it has to be proved that the person who caused the accident was negligent, and if he was not negligent, no compensation is paid If the Government were to take the insurance over political pressure would be exerted on the Government to pay compensation in the case of all accidents under all circumstances, as in the case of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, whether it was the fault of the motorist or not and if the Government were to take it over the premiums would probably be trebled. I think it would be wrong for the Government to take it over. This commission is doing excellent work, or at least I hope they will do excellent work. We will know that when we get their report and we will therefore have to wait till the end of the year.

Vote put and agreed to.

Precedence given to Votes Nos. 45 and 46 (Agricultural Economics and Marketing).

On Vote 45.—“ Agricultural Economics and Marketing (Administration)”, R1,435,000,


May I ask for the privilege of the half-hour. I make no apology for raising this matter again with the Minister. We are faced with the same position this year as we were last year. The financial statements and reports from all the control boards throughout South Africa are just under two years old by the time they are Tabled in this House. I want to ask the hon. the Minister why that is so. Any normal business has to present its reports and have its accounts audited within six months of the end of its financial year. I think that is not fair to this House, because it has to discuss those reports, and I think our discussions on those reports could be more interesting and constructive if they were available to us for the previous year. I feel justified in suggesting to the Minister that those accounts should be ready and audited and made available to this House for the immediate preceding year. There is another item to which I want to draw the attention of the Minister and that is in connection with the report from his own Department. There again, I think that report should be before this House before we discuss the hon. the Minister’s Vote. Last year it was handed out after the Minister’s Vote had been discussed. That report is more than a year old by the time it arrives here, so I want to ask the Minister to do something about it.

Sir, at the end of what I am going to say I want to discuss various increases and decreases in the Estimates and ask for explanations for the increases.

Sir, South Africa is going into a period in which she is going to face up to enormous surpluses, and I want to ask the Minister what we are going to do about this, because we are faced with the position that as a result of the change in our Constitution, our markets for those surpluses may be very seriously affected. I am going to start off with maize, but I have nothing to say that should affect my hon. friends over there except to help them. We are faced with the position in South Africa that we will have no less than 25,000,000 bags of mealies surplus to our own requirements. We are going to ask for those mealies to be exported and they have to be absorbed in markets which are already saturated by some 77,000,000 bags of maize which are surplus to the requirements of America. What are we going to do about it? The maize producers of South Africa are going to be very seriously affected. The fact that we might have serious interferences with the absorption of our products as a result of the change in our Constitution, might present a very serious difficulty. But, Sir, I do not allude to maize only. There are many products where we produce surpluses. What I am particularly concerned with is how we are going to bring about a greater absorption of those products in our own country. Up to the present we have refused under any circumstances to consider the absorption of these surpluses in our own country. I want to put forward some suggestions again which I have made at odd times on public platforms. I think they are due for some consideration by the hon. the Minister. Could South Africa not absorb a portion of that surplus maize locally? That surplus is a doubtful starter for export, this year at any rate. Could it not be absorbed by raising the quality of the beef that is being put on the market? I maintain that the weight of the animal feed could be increased by at least 30 per cent if we could absorb part of that product in the production of a better quality of beef. Failure to do this is going to present us with serious problems in this country. I want to ask the hon. the Minister whether he has ever thought of it from this point of view: Is it that the price of maize is too high—and I am not saying that it is too high—or is it that the price of beef is too low? I draw the hon. the Minister’s attention to the position in other countries which are feeding huge quantities of maize with a view to producing a better quality of beef and the price that they receive in the open market in their own country is still higher than the price in the export market Perhaps some adjustment to the price of beef in South Africa might induce South Africa to utilize a portion of those surpluses to raise the standard and the quality of its beef. I would recommend that the hon. the Minister read some of these reports. I know that he has read one at any rate—a very excellent report. I want to draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that according to that report there is no grading except for export, and I commend that to the Minister for his consideration. If the Minister is not satisfied that the price of beef is too low, I would ask him what he proposes to do about it? If the hon. the Minister wants to query that, I want to put it to him that if he visits the various markets, as we all do to keep ourselves acquainted with what types and qualities and grades are sent to our markets, he will realize fully that the quality of the stock sent to our markets is, I will not say disgraceful, but it ill becomes us in a country like this. Sir, I pass Maitland every morning, and I want to assure the Minister that one would think there was a perpetual drought in South Africa judging by the condition of the stock that is unloaded there The quality and condition could be improved very greatly. I want to suggest to the Minister that he has the power to take steps to improve this condition very considerably. Under the meat scheme, on a recommendation from his board, he could state that that type of stock must not be slaughtered until such time as it has been brought to suitable condition and may be bought or _ removed by public auction or private tender, it would fetch a price similar to the price at which it is being absorbed by the market. Sir, that is important. I still think that that stock that is being sent to our market, could be improved very considerably in quality. Sir, there are other uses to which surplus maize could be put, and I think this calls for research by the Minister in that direction. I want to suggest to the Minister that surplus maize in South Africa could be used to raise the standard of health of the individuals in this country. If they could absorb it, it would make a very big difference. It would raise the manpower capacity very considerably and thus raise the output and efficiency. Research into the greater use of maize is, I realize, a difficult matter. It is a difficult product to handle from the consumer’s point of view, particularly from the point of view of the Natives in the urban The cooking of that product is extremely difficult. Would it not be possible for the Minister to bring about a greater absorption of that product, which is an excellent food product, by means of research to establish how that difficulty can be overcome. This is such an important matter to South Africa, that I would urge the Minister to give it serious consideration in the not too distant future.

As to the rest of the products, there are many of them which are of a super quality and which are produced in this country. I want to put this to the Minister: Are the consumers in South Africa not entitled to the super article to a greater extent than they are getting it to-day? We are exporting the super articles and in many instances we have to subsidize that export. I find no fault with that, if it is necessary to stabilize the industry in this, country. But we are sending the super article away and leaving an inferior article for our local consumers. I say “inferior” notwithstanding the fact that it is sold at the same price as the superior article. It is extremely important that we should try to get a portion of that production on to our own markets. I think South Africa is entitled to that.


You are wrong. We are not sending out our super qualities.


I would like the hon. member to ask the Minister how much of that second-grade butter is exported for overseas consumption. I would like to know how much second-grade maize is exported for sale overseas, and I would like to ask that hon. member how much of any other product of inferior quality produced in South Africa is sent overseas? Only one quality product is sent overseas and that is to get the best possible returns overseas for that particular product with a view to making it unnecessary for us to subsidize to the extent that we do.

Sir, in perusing the two-year-old reports, we find to our astonishment that we carry on dragging—I use the word “ dragging ” because that is all it is to-day—levies and greater levies out of the farmers’ pockets. I would say nothing if those levies were used to set up funds to stabilize those particular products, but are they being so used? To give you one instance, Sir: In 1942 the fund of one of the control boards stood at £2,900,000. Four years later, according to the latest report, it stood at £4,250,000. What do they want that money for? I think the hon. the Minister appreciates that the farmers in this country under present conditions are wanting all the cash they can get.


What board is that?


The Meat Control Board. I want to tell the hon. the Minister that we are faced with this position that that money which is so essential to the farmers to-day, is on investment at 3 per cent or 4 per cent. What percentage is the farmer called upon to pay for the money he requires for his normal operations in farming? Anything from 5 per cent to per cent. Having raised the matter last year, I want to ask the Minister if he has given any attention to it, because he did not reply to me on a previous occasion, and I would like a reply from him because it is essential to the farmer that he should have all that is reasonably possible from the product that he puts on to the market in South Africa. Now I want to address a few words to the Minister on the meat scheme itself. Sir, the scheme as such. I take it, has gone. There is a Meat Control Board operating with an enormous staff. Sir, the grading system is still in operation, notwithstanding the fact that all the other countries have abandoned the grading system and use a grading system only where export takes place. From the time that auction on the hoof was introduced, the scheme really was thrown to the winds; there was no scheme left. Now you have the abolition of permits. I want to ask the hon. the Minister what he intends doing, or what scheme he intends bringing in to try and relieve the position as it exists in South Africa to-day. I have talked about fluctuations made in the meat scheme over a lengthy period of time, and I will give the hon. Minister some figures from the latest report of the Meat Control Board: “ Beef—a low level of 97s. 9d. per 100 lbs. for all grades was reached in May 1960, as against the highest level of 126s. 8d. in November 1959”! Does the hon. the Minister realize what that means m £ s. d. per individual ox in round figures of 600 lbs? An amount of £8 13s. 6d. and surely, Sir, that is a sufficient fluctuation for the farmers of South Africa to ask the hon. the Minister to introduce something that will bring about greater stability than they have experienced under that scheme.

I think the House is entitled to some statement from the hon. the Minister on the meat scheme as such. Has the hon. Minister studied the various methods of distribution of other countries? The hon. the Minister knows that private individuals have sent men overseas at great expense to themselves; the Meat Control Board has sent its officials over; they have come back and have no doubt reported. They could not have reported very definitely from the experience of private individuals who have gone across, and I want to ask the hon. Minister whether he is accepting in any way the recommendations of these individuals should his own officials not be able to give him a satisfactory solution?

I want to come to this one question that is causing the farmers of South Africa a deal of anxiety and that is the question of railage on the bulk of their products. Railage is going up and up and precisely nothing is done to meet those higher charges from the cost point of view for the producer. All other costs are going up. I want to assure the hon. the Minister that little or nothing is done to bring about an increase in the prices received by the producers. It is a serious matter to which the hon. the Minister should give serious attention. The Control Board charges and the charges of local authorities are also a serious item. I reminded the hon. the Minister last year that certain of the Control Board charges, including railage, are as high as 15 per cent, but nothing less than 12½ per cent. I ask the hon. the Minister: What producer in South Africa can afford to forfeit to 15 per cent on any product that is produced in this country, well knowing that the costs of production in this country are particularly high? Sir, these things are making big inroads into the returns of the farmers.

I then want to come to the increases in the Minister’s Vote itself. We find here that the Chief Marketing Officers, two of them, receive R6,240. I want to ask the hon. the Minister whether any report has been submitted by these officers to him of the conduct of the various markets throughout South Africa. There is another item I want to refer to “ other staff ”, an increase from R90,050 to R109/785. Is the hon. the Minister getting additional staff? He can get additional staff. I want to ask him for a little contribution to bring this House a little nearer up to date so that we can discuss these matters properly. There is the “ purchase of equipment for dairy services ” under F, R7.270. For what purpose is that equipment to be used in South Africa? Then a final item under G, an increase from R17,914 to R21,000 under “Commonwealth Economic Committee”. In view of the change that is to be made in this country, I should like to know from the hon. the Minister what our attitude and our position is going to be as far as that particular market is concerned. It is extremely important to us and I think we should be forewarned of what we are to expect in the future.


The hon. member has raised a few points to which I want to return. Furthermore, I think he stated the position as he personally as a farmer saw it and I have no objection to what he has said. He pointed out that we were exporting mealies and that we should rather use those mealies in this country, and because the whole country is in a quandary about this, I think I should say something about that. Mr. Chairman, if anything is subsidized in our country then it is the consumption of mealies. Here we have an item of R3,256,000 for subsidies in respect of railage on mealies and maize products. That is maize that is consumed in this country and on which the Government pays a direct subsidy in the form of railage. Had we received the subsidy in respect of the surplus maize that is exported, we would not have shown such a great loss on our exports, but the loss is more imaginary than real, because the subsidy which the Government pays in respect of the maize which is consumed internally is so high that it is really there where the loss is sustained. I think every maize farmer and the Maize Board want to assist in creating a greater consumption of maize on our internal market. I can assure the hon. member that that is a question which is continually engaging the attention of the board, the question of what we can do to make more and more maize available to our local consumers at the lowest possible price because we know that our best clients are the consumers of South Africa. When you send maize overseas, you may be sending it to a market where there may be a good demand to-day but the day after, when you have a large surplus, there may be no demand on that market for maize, with the result that you cannot get a reasonable price on that market. There is nothing wrong, therefore, with the principle of the idea raised by the hon. member, but the trouble is that people are in a quandary and do not realize what the Government is doing daily to encourage local consumption and to enable the consumer of South Africa to buy that product as cheaply as possible. If we want to give credit where credit is due, we must admit that one of our greatest assets in South Africa is the maize farmer. He provides the basic food product at a reasonable price like nowhere else in the world. I want to go further and say to the credit of the maize farmer that had he not been prepared to do so, South Africa would not have prospered and progressed in every respect the way she has. That is why I think South Africa owes a great debt of gratitude to the maize farmer, and where the maize farmer expects the consumers of his produce in secondary industry to stand by him in future when poor markets overseas force him to fall back upon the local market, I trust the public will admit that during the years when the maize farmer received good prices overseas, he made his product available locally at a very reasonable price, so that everyone could make a living.

There is another type of farmer which I think ought to receive the attention of the country and that is the meat producer. I want to put it this way that I think the meat producer is to-day probably the one man who is surrounded by and in the grip of innumerable problems so much so that he finds it difficult to make a living. We have the fortunate position in this country to-day that we have just emerged from the most gripping droughts South Africa has ever experienced. We are very grateful. I think everybody will agree with me when I express gratitude to the Almighty on behalf of all hon. members who represent farming communities for the fact that He has helped us out of the drought and that we are no longer in the stranglehold of the drought in which we have been for the past four or five years. However, that four or five year period of drought has left its mark and there are many farmers in this country who sustained great losses on their farming operations on account of the drought. We think of the sheep farmer in the North-Western districts who for four or five years had to trek from one place to another with his stock and who had to buy fodder to keep his stock alive, but he had to spend a great deal and he had to do whatever he could to save what was left to him and during those years he did not get the same quantity of wool that he would have got in normal years. During that period he did not receive a lamb crop and that merino ewe which he fed for fours years in order to keep her alive is old to-day; now that the drought has been broken, she has lost all her teeth. Now he has to buy another one. That is the position in which those farmers find themselves to-day. We hope that the Government will do everything in its power—and we know it will to help those people. That is not only the position of the sheep farmers but also of the cattle farmers. There are many cattle farmers m the constituency which I represent, Vryburg. It is probably the biggest cattle farming district in South Africa. There are other big districts, however, where cattle farming is conducted on a large scale. I think of South West Africa, an area which is nearly as big as half the Union. That area is mainly dependent on its meat production. Its national income is mainly derived from its meat production and those farmers have experienced long periods of drought. They sent cattle to the market when it was to their own detriment to do so. They had to send their young oxen and heifers which were in prime condition to the market because they had nothing else to send and we are pleading for those people. That is why I am asking the Minister to come to the assistance of the meat producers in the country by increasing the minimum price, so that the producer will at least make a bigger profit. There is still marketable stock all over the country. You know what happened last week, Sir. The market is so over-stocked to-day, Sir, that I am informed that on occasions cattle have had to wait 20 days before they were slaughtered.


The next week there was a shortage.


Yes, as a result of the floods, etc. But this means that the farmers suffer great losses and I think that where the farmers have to market their stock to-day, the present is opportune time for the Government to help them, if it can, by increasing the floor price. I am not asking that the price of meat should be increased generally. I can assure the hon. member for Houghton (Mrs. Suzman) that we do not wish to increase the price of meat to the consumer, we are merely asking for more stability. I think the cattle farmer will be more than grateful if the Minister were to say: “I shall fix the floor price as near as possible to the average price received over a year” or whatever period the Minister decides on. In that case the farmer who is obliged to sell will not find himself in the position in which he found himself last week when the market was over-stocked. I think the meat producer deserves that. The hon. Minister’s colleague the Minister of Agricultural Economics and Marketing said somewhere or other that in future we would have to eat eggs and chickens and pork. That will be very difficult, Sir. The day when the stock farmers of South Africa can no longer supply South Africa with meat, and the day when we have to fall back on pork, eggs and fowl will be a sad day. Let us keep the farmer going and enable him to produce. I want to remind the Minister that the time has arrived for us to think about exporting, that we should draw up a definite programme as regards the exportation of our super and best grades of meat. South Africa has not as yet developed a taste for those super grades of meat but there is a market for it overseas. We have passed the stage where we thought South Africa was facing a future of meat shortages. There will only be shortages if we pay the farmers too little, if it no longer pays them to produce meat, otherwise there will not be any shortages. I want to urge upon the Minister to keep that in mind and to do everything in his power to create a market where we can sell our super grades.

Before I sit down, Sir, I want to direct an earnest plea to the Minister and ask him to make sure that we do not have a repetition of what happened on the market last week and to consider re-introducing the permit system. Not, however, a permit system under which there are all sorts of uncertainties, but a moderately compulsory permit system. It must be made more compulsory.


Will that not be dangerous?


No, not if the organization is right. [Time limit.]


I want to come back to the hon. the Minister in relation to agricultural prices and satisfactory marketing of surpluses. The one thing that is killing the agriculturist to-day is the disposal of surpluses. A small surplus of any particular product kills the whole market for the producer. When the Marketing Act was originally brought into being, it was stated by the then Minister and it was given out to the farmers as a whole—and the farmers supported the Marketing Act because they were promised their cost of production plus a reasonable margin of profit …


Can you quote his words?


The farmers supported the Marketing Act because they were promised their cost of production plus a reasonable margin of profit. The hon. Minister looks at me, but he does not know the original plan that was put to the farmers at the time, and I did what I could to get the farmers to accept the Marketing Act against quite a bit of opposition from many farmers who did not want to be interfered with in relation to their marketing. I do not see why when you have controlled prices, the farmers should not get a reasonable return on their cost of production, taking in all their costs, which to-day of course are mounting every day. Why should the farmer not be allowed a reasonable margin of profit to allow him to live and to bring up his family and give them an opportunity in life, the same as anybody in commerce and industry? In industry, the moment some product costs more to produce, the industrialist has only to put his figures up to the Minister of Economic Affairs and he is allowed, if the price is controlled, a further margin. The same applies to the distributor in respect of any of these products where the cost of distribution is under control by the Government Now why should the hon. Minister not allow the full cost of production to the producer? This Minister has said on numerous occasions, also in this House, that he cannot always accept the recommendations of marketing boards. He asked me whether I thought that he should accept the recommendations of marketing boards. I replied that any control board’s recommendations where the Marketing Council has investigated the matter (having no personal interest in it at all) and where the Marketing Council on top of the Control Board, after investigation, recommended certain prices, they should be allowed by the Minister. Take the cost of labour to-day. The cost of labour is increasing every day. We are asked by the Government to increase wages and there is a lot of talk throughout the country of minimum wages being applied to the lowest paid labour in the Union. How can we under existing prices which in many instance are uneconomical, pay labour more, if we are already not making a reasonable profit on the products which we have to market? Railage is another thing. The rail rates have gone up several times during the last few years. One cannot blame the Government. The South African Railways must make the Railways pay, and the hon. the Minister of Railways is efficient and says “ I cannot afford to carry these goods at these rates ”, and then the rates are increased and the farmers have to pay. But then the farmers should be allowed to include that extra in their cost of production. Otherwise where is the farmer going to get the wherewithal to bring up his family and to pay his way? Look at the tremendous number of loans and bonds that have been passed by the Land Bank in the last few years. I am not talking about droughts and floods. Drought distress and flood distress is something quite apart from the ordinary marketing problems of the farmers. Not so long ago the hon. the Minister in a public statement talking about industrial milk, said that because there was sufficient milk and over-production he did not see his way to approve of higher prices. But, Mr. Chairman, we have in the past subsidized the export of these things. Take the export of cheese to Italy some couple of years ago, where there was a subsidy paid on that cheese. I say that there are ways, much better ways, of using some of the surpluses, especially of dairy products, highly protective foods, important for the health of the nation. These surpluses should be utilized to the benefit of the nation to the fullest degree. Otherwise the Minister or the Government must help in respect of the cost of production so that the cost of production is reduced, and reduced considerably, if the farmer is to be kept solvent and kept on the land. This is the Government which have done away with the school feeding schemes. A lot of our surpluses, especially of dairy produce, were used in connection with school feeding schemes. They used surplus milk and surplus cheese. In the ’thirties at one stage we took up practically all the surpluses which could not be marketed at a reasonable figure and they were used by school feeding schemes. In my own area I was chairman of the Milk Control Board under the scheme that was in being between 1938 and 1939. We sold a lot of surplus milk from our milk pool to the local authorities at wholesale rates, at cost of production, and they through their health department distributed that milk to the non-Europeans in the local authority townships and they took the surplus of our market so that we for the bulk of our milk got a reasonable price without destroying our basic price for production. It is usually the surplus milk, or the surplus cheese, as the case may be, that smashes the whole market.


What was the average price?


Our average price was a lucrative price, one that at least kept us going, without having to run to the Land Bank for a bond, and gave us a decent return on our business. It was a reasonable price and our basic price took in our cost of production and gave us a reasonable margin of profit. The surplus was taken up that way, through selling to our local population by various methods, and the surplus milk was even sold at cost of production, but the bulk of our milk, 80 to 85 per cent, was being sold not only at a cost of production price, but plus a reasonable profit. In that way the dairy farmer was making a decent living. Child welfare societies and welfare societies as a whole were also given any surplus milk at those prices and they distributed those products through voluntary organizations and in that way the surplus milk was taken off the market. That I say is the best way of utilizing the surplus milk. You can do it with many other products, but with milk and cheese in particular the hon. Minister could help us to get rid of surpluses. The only alternative if we are not going to be given our cost of production plus a reasonable return on our investment, on our work, the only other way to keep the farmer on an economic footing is for the Government to help in that cost of production so that his costs are kept down to a minimum. But there are many ways, I repeat, in which we could use up those surpluses to good advantage for the nation as a whole, particularly through your school feeding schemes. [Time limit.]


The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District) (Capt. Henwood), who has just resumed his seat, made a number of interesting statements here which one cannot allow to pass without comment. The hon. member had a new approach as to how we should get rid of surpluses. The same standpoint had already been adopted before in an agricultural debate by members of the Opposition. Now I just want to tell the hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District) this, that this problem of how to get rid of surpluses is not quite as easy as the United Party always pretends, that one should simply consume these products. It is not as easy as the hon. member for King William’s Town wants to intimate, that the surplus maize should be consumed in the country and that there will then be no more surplus. No, the United Party must come to light with something more concrete than this manner of getting rid of surpluses. We have had previous experience in this country of what happens when one has two prices inland, one price for the ordinary consumer which should be the basic price, but also a lower price to stimulate consumption. What were the consequences at the time? We had the greatest chaos. I want to admit here that as a consumer I had to take an oath under certain circumstances—it was in connection with maize—that I would use this maize for feeding animals, and many people took that oath but did not keep it, and I also used maize for other purposes than for that specific object.




Hon. members now say “ Shame ”, but do you know, Sir, that I am not the most dishonest man in this world; I am not even the most dishonest man in the Union, and if I did it, how many others were there who did it too? The scheme now proposed by the hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District), that we should, for example, use up our surplus milk production by simply having school feeding schemes, etc., will in fact never work.


Are you satisfied that the dairy farmer makes a good living?


The hon. member asks whether I am satisfied that the dairy farmer makes a good living. I am not satisfied, but the conditions created by this Government are not responsible for the fact that those people do not make a good living. But in my turn, I want to put a question to that hon. member, because he still has plenty of opportunity to speak. Does he want to tell me that by increasing the prices of dairy products one can in that way ensure that the dairy farmer makes a decent living? And I want to put that question to the consumers amongst the United Party—the hon. member for Vryburg (Mr. Labuschagne) has just spoken very nicely to the hon. member for Houghton (Mrs. Suzman); we know that there are numbers of consumers amongst members opposite—and I want to ask them whether they are satisfied that increasing prices by itself is the only solution of our problems?




The hon. member for Maitland (Dr. de Beer) now says that is not the solution. I want to come to the other point raised by the hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District), viz. in regard to our production costs. If the hon. member has read through these Estimates and has noted the various amounts being voted here under the Vote of the Minister of Agricultural Economics and Marketing, e.g. subsidies on maize, on wheat, on dairy products and on rail fare, particularly in regard to stock in the drought-stricken areas, etc., will the hon. member not give recognition for once and say that this Government has done much to keep production costs low? Surely we cannot carry on an agricultural industry in this country which continually has to look to the Government for subsidies and other assistance to keep it economic and to continue to exist. No, if we want to let agriculture get into the position where it continually has to be subsidized by the State to keep it on an economic basis, then the future of agriculture in this country is doomed.


What is your solution?


The hon. member asks me for a solution. In the short time available to me, I certainly do not have the opportunity to give the hon. member for Queenstown (Dr. Steytler) the solution. If I could briefly give my solution, I would say that more stability should be given to agriculture so that it will not be so much subject to climatic conditions and fluctuating prices—my solution briefly will be more stability in regard to seasonal circumstances and price levels, and now the hon. member for Queenstown and I can discuss this matter further at a later stage.


Now you are correct.


I have been correct all the time, but the hon. member just does not want to admit it. Now I just want to say a few words about the meat market and the meat scheme which was raised here by the hon. member for King William’s Town, followed by the hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District). The hon. member for King William’s Town said that the meat scheme as such had ceased to exist ever since we have had sales of meat on the hook. Did I understand him correctly? I do not want to do him an injustice.


I said as a stabilizing factor.


As a stabilizing factor. That is very interesting. I have just said that I want stability for the farmer. I want stability in the various markets. But, Sir, if there is a little more profit for me in a certain product, I would be prepared to make certain changes. I just want to qualify and explain that. In the first instance, we had a fixed price for mutton and beef which we just had to accept. To-day we still have that fixed price, except that it is appreciably higher than the one we had to accept. But there is this difference, that where we are dealing with auctions on the hook we also have the advantage that when there is a smaller supply on the market one can get a higher price. And the South African Agricultural Union and the various regional unions all agitated for it and all of them accepted it, and I do not believe that a single one of them would want to go back simply to a fixed price to-day, which would be the old floor price. The hon. member should rectify this matter.

Mr. Chairman, it is true that the fluctuations are enormous, and I want to agree with the hon. member for Vryburg that whilst the fluctuations are so great the floor prices should be raised to avoid these great fluctuations. The nearer one brings the floor price to the market price or the average price, the smaller the fluctuation will be. But give the producer the benefit of getting what he can get above the floor price, that which is to his benefit when the supply is less than usual.

The hon. member also mentioned the permit system. I refer now to the hon. member for King William’s Town. I want to agree with him that I am also concerned that one cannot for ever allow stock to enter one’s controlled area without knowing how many are entering, without having any control over the supply. But I want to tell the hon. member that the permit system, as we inherited it from the United Party and as we tried to improve it, and as we want to continue it, was the greatest failure, and that it is better to abolish it than to continue with it. [Time limit.]


The hon. member for Somerset East (Mr. Vosloo) has a habit of speaking around the subject. He speaks of himself being the champion for the stability of farm prices, and he speaks of raising the floor price of meat. Well, what has he done about it? He is a member of the Government; he criticizes the old United Party permit system. But this Government has been carrying on with that system for the last ten or 12 years, why have they only now awoken to the fact that that system is not a good one? We would like members of the Government party, when they speak, to accept some responsibility as regards the parlous state that the farmers in this country find themselves in to-day. And I hope that the hon. the Minister will give us some information with regard to what steps he has taken and what consideration he is giving for the provision of better marketing of our surplus production in this country. I not only want to refer to maize in this respect, there is also this question of the over-production of pineapples in recent years. This has brought ruin to many farmers purely owing to the fact that the Government disregarded the necessity of investigating the stability of the pineapple market. The entire collapse of the pineapple industry is a responsibility of the Government. Pineapple farmers were encouraged in their production. They were given research stations. They were told they had a great future. But the Government did not even look as far as the horizon; they failed to realize that this product could not command a stable market. And I regard the collapse of that industry as being purely the responsibility of this Government.

Mr. Chairman, in addition to that, it is wrong to allow larger interests to overload our markets to the detriment of our soil and result in the forcing of small growers off the land. I wonder if the hon. the Minister has perhaps considered the allocation of quotas of production as applied to farms and not to individuals, similar to what has taken place in the sugar industry in terms of Act 28 of 1936? The sugar industry is the most stable, industry in our country to-day. The Minister may claim that it has a better market for its surpluses, but on account of the allocation of quotas, due regard being had to the size of the farms and the extent of legitimate production, this industry has held its own and these people are enjoying prosperity which no other section of the farming community is experiencing to-day. I imagine that the policy of our Government is merely to let matters drift and let the Land Bank and the State Advances Office stand the racket as regards the rehabilitation of the farmers who have been broken through our unstable markets in this country. I wonder if the hon. the Minister could inform this House of how his commodity committees justify their existence? Maize, chicory, dairy and milk production are in a chaotic condition, to the general dissatisfaction of all the producers of these products.

I do not know whether the Government receives the complaints that we members of the Opposition do, but we are for ever receiving complaints from primary producers in this country regarding the instability of their markets and the lack of interest paid by the Government to their problems. It is not right for the Government to leave it to the Opposition in this House to decide what their policy should be, and to ask us for advice. The Government has its experts, it sends representatives overseas, they should be able to profit by the experiences of farmers in other parts of the world. I imagine that the farming community of South Africa have to farm in more precarious circumstances than almost any other farming community in the world, and I would even go so far as to say that I include China.


What are you talking about?


I am talking about the unstable conditions that farmers in this country have to put up with.


But in China they are dying of hunger.


That hon. member evidently knows very little about farming in China and the great developments that have taken place there.


But they are dying of starvation.


It would seem that that hon. member has very little sympathy for the farmers of this country who have been ruined and who have had to go to the Land Bank and the State Recovery Office for assistance. Is he aware of the thousands of pounds that have to be advanced annually in order to stabilize even small farmers? In this House we have voted large amounts to help farmers, even in areas like the Eastern Free State, in spite of the ideal conditions under which they farm. Those farmers suffer purely from the instability of the markets. The small farmer always catches the bad market. When you have a fluctuating market such as we have in this country, the larger farmer can so regulate his supplies that he averages his returns, but the smaller farmer always catches the lower markets. And these fluctuations of the market are what the hon. the Minister should endeavour to control at least to some extent.

With specific regard to marketing, I should like to ask the hon. the Minister what his Commodity Committee recommends for the marketing of oranges. For instance, have representations been made as regards the reduction of transport charges? In recent years even the Union-Castle Company has increased its charges for the transport of fruit overseas, including oranges, and there is no doubt that our railways make a greater profit out of the transport of oranges, for instance, than the poor producers ever make. The producer is not making a profit at all to-day. It is in these early stages of a depression that the Government should step in and stop the rot.

I do not want to introduce matters of a local nature, but I would like to bring to the attention of the hon. the Minister the fact that when speaking of the coastal belt of the Eastern Province—an area which I know—1 must say that producers there have had a very serious setback. Half the pineapple farmers have gone out of production as a result of the inefficiency of the rationing of our markets. Milk production is being curtailed. The Chicory Control Board is over-loaded with an overwhelming surplus. Vegetable prices, in spite of recent legislation, are still erratic. Citrus prices are uneconomic, and so are egg prices. This area which should lead in primary production is rapidly going over to wool and sheep, and that is happening in front of the Minister’s eyes. This is an area ideally situated for the production of the food which we will need, yet it is going over to wool production. They are overcoming heartwater in that area, and the coastal belt of which I speak is threatening to rival the Karoo as a wool producing area. [Time limit.]


I wish to express my appreciation under this Vote and on behalf of the woolgrowers of South Africa for the duties performed and services rendered by the Wool Commission to the woolgrowers during the past years. The work done by the Wool Commission is not above criticism, and they are continually being criticized. However, the task of the commission is not an easy one. Their task is a difficult one because in the first instance they have to take into account the conditions which prevail in the wool producing countries and in particular they have to take into account the conditions which prevail in the wool buying countries of which there are 40 which operate on the wool market of South Africa. As far as the fixation of minimum prices is concerned, South Africa produces about 500 types of wool and they have to fix a minimum price in respect of every type, so that they can calculate the average minimum price for the entire clip. You will see therefore, Mr. Chairman, that the task of the Wool Commission is not an easy one. Neither can they fix prices for a lengthy period of time. They have to adapt the prices every year to the conditions which prevail in the wool producing countries and wool buying countries. The fact that the commission has to buy up wool from time to time proves that the price has dropped beyond the minimum price fixed by them. In other words, because the Wool Commission has fixed a minimum price in respect of every type of wool and because the commission has bought up wool, it has placed millions of rand in the pockets of the wool farmers. That is why I want to express our appreciation to the Wool Commission for the manner in which it has performed this difficult task. The Wool Commission means a great deal to the producer. The commission has also largely been successful in keeping the price above the minimum.

I now want to deal with another matter. Some years ago when wool bags cost 5s. each, the wool producers complained and said that the price was too high, and the woolgrowers’ associations were told that as soon as the stock of wool bags in South Africa was depleted, the woolgrowers would be supplied with a cheaper wool bag which could be imported for instance. Instead of that the price of wool bags has not decreased. The price of wool has decreased but the price of wool bags has increased from 8s. or 80c to R1.30. Subsequently it rose to R1.50 and to-day the price is R2.50 but the price of wool is 10 per cent lower to-day than last year. When we think of the production costs of the wool farmers, costs which he has to incur of necessity such as medicine for his stock, dipping material, licks, where the prices have soared, we must admit that the production costs connected with wool are very high. We should like to ask the hon. the Minister of Agricultural Economics to give his attention to this question of the high price of wool bags, the high price of stock medicine, dipping material, etc. I am not saying that the Minister should take drastic action but I trust he and his Department will do something to see to it that those people supply the necessary materials to the farmers not at higher prices, but at lower prices.


I want to associate myself with the remarks made by the hon. member for Graaff-Reinet (Mr. van der Ahee) when he expressed appreciation to the Wool Commission for the good work they have done in the interests of the wool industry in South Africa. I think we all agree with him that these people have an exceedingly difficult task to perform and they are acquitting themselves very well of that task to-day.

I want to return to the hon. member for Somerset East (Mr. Vosloo). He asked this side of the House whether we only wanted the price to the producer to be increased— increased price for products—as though it was such a crime to ask for that. He said that whereas his colleague, the hon. member for Vryburg (Mr. Labuschagne) asked the Minister to attend to the minimum price in respect of beef, to increase it slightly. If it is such a terrible crime on the part of this side of the House, surely it is a crime on the part of that side of the House! The hon. member for Vryburg undoubtedly realizes what the problem is of the farmers in that part of the country which he represents. I also wish to associate myself with his remarks and to plead for the meat farmers of South Africa. When we study the index figures in respect of the increase in agricultural prices, we find that as far as the price of slaughter stock is concerned there has been a slight improvement in the position during the past few years, if you compare it with the price of some other agricultural products. That does not mean to say that the profit of stock farmers leaves nothing to be desired, because we know that those people cannot control their production costs But when you compare it with the index figure as far as the price of the product itself is concerned, it would appear that there has been an appreciable price increase in that industry. We find for example that in 1952-3 the index figure was 329, in 1955-6 it was 358, in 1957-8 it was 393 and in 1958-9 it was 371. If certain changes are made therefore as far as the marketing of our meat and our stock is concerned, it would appear that this particular sector of the farming industry probably faces a better future than any other sector of the industry. The hon. the Minister of Agricultural Economics himself said a few weeks ago in this House that it was expected that in the year 1975 there would be a substantial meat shortage in South Africa. The hon. the Minister told us, for example, that in 1975 it would be necessary for us to have 2,000,000 head of cattle, that there would have to be 7,500,000 head of sheep and 1,000,000 pigs, whereas our present consumption is approximately 1,500,000 cattle, approximately 6,500,000 sheep and approximately 761,000 pigs. We all know that South Africa is admirably suited for meat production. We know that our climate and vegetation lend themselves to that. There is one factor that we should not lose sight of and it is this: When we look at the number of animals which we have to-day, we notice that in 1918—these are the figures relating to stock owned by both Whites and non-Whites—there were nearly 7.000. 000 cattle, whereas there were approximately 12,000,000 in 1957. As far as sheep are concerned—wool-producing and non-wool-producing sheep—we had 30,000,000 and some hundred thousands in 1911; there were 48.000. 000 and some hundred thousands in 1930 and according to the official figures we had 38,000,000 in 1957. There has, therefore, been a considerable drop over the last ten years. I admit that droughts and diseases have influenced our stock population from time to time. White farmers and Bantu farmers on White farms lost no fewer than 500,000 cattle in 1924. There were various reasons for that. In 1957 the White farmers alone lost 500,000 cattle. We have the same position in the case of sheep. According to the figures which the hon. the Minister gave the House a couple of weeks ago he anticipated an increase of approximately 30 per cent in the consumption of meat in South Africa from to-day up to 1975, When we consider what the cattle population was in 1948 and what it was in 1957 we find that there has been a decrease of 428,000. We should remember that we had 12.000. 000 cattle in 1957 and we have to rely on those animals for breeding purposes and we have to replace the old animals and the poor breeders. If we expect consumption to increase to that extent over the following 14 years—and the population will also increase —we can also expect a big meat shortage in that year. That is generally accepted. The position in America is that they slaughter 14 per cent of their cattle every year. In South Africa we slaughter only 7 per cent; 16 per cent in Australia and 20 per cent in Argentine. You will see therefore, Sir, that we are far behind other countries in our consumption. With the increase in our population and the rise in our standard of living, so much so that even the non-Whites eat more meat, there will be a big meat shortage within the next few years. I want to ask the Minister this question: What is the policy of this Government and the Minister’s Department to encourage the production of beef, because it is obviously not only a question of supply and demand. I think we need something more than that if we want to supply the country with meat in 1975. There should be greater encouragement in respect of meat production. Supply and demand should not be the sole encouragement. Greater encouragement should be given by means of stable prices. It is definitely essential that the minimum price for beef should be increased if we wish to encourage the industry, and it has to be encouraged for the sake of supplying the nation with its meat requirements. When you think how the cattle and sheep population has declined, you can ascribe it mainly to droughts and stock diseases. [Time limit.]


The Opposition has been complaining about the prices of agricultural products the whole afternoon, but in the same breath they speak about the large surpluses we have. There is not a farmer in the country who does not understand that if there is a large surplus of a certain product it affects his price. The hon. member for Albany spoke about pineapples and chicory and citrus, of which we have surpluses, and said that the prices have fallen, and he says chicory needs a control board, and even with the price fixation we had the farmers still produced more than the country required, but now they still want a higher price, and then the surpluses will again increase. Our farmers and the Opposition must learn that when more is produced than can be consumed, it will force down prices and eventually the producer will have to contribute in order to export the surpluses. The hon. member for King William’s Town said that more of the surplus mealies should be consumed in the country at a lower price. He says he does not know whether the price is too high for the farmer who needs it to feed his animals, or whether the price of beef is too low. If he considers the matter properly, he will see that the export maize, on which he says heavy losses are being incurred—the Government subsidizes the consumer in the country to the extent of R8,800,000 and that really represents the higher amount the consumer will have paid for the maize if the Government had not subsidized it; but because the Government is aware that if it allows the price of maize to be increased by that amount, the consumption will be less and the surplus bigger, and in order to enable the consumer to obtain enough maize at a reasonable price the Government subsidizes white maize to the extent of 3s. 6d. per bag and this year it will subsidize yellow maize by 5s. a bag. When it comes to the losses suffered on the export of maize, it means that the export maize must cover the subsidy paid by the Government here, and it must also cover the Railway subsidy of R3,265,000 over and above the railage paid by the consumer in the country, in order to come out even. In other words, the maize farmer bears those costs. This amount is not what the Government pays on export maize, but just what it pays to the consumer. The producer himself pays the loss on the export of maize by means of the levy on his product. The consumer and the Government do not pay for the export losses.

The hon. member for King William’s Town also asked what the Government was doing to encourage a greater consumption of maize in the country by making it available to the Bantu in a more attractive form. The Mealie Control Board and the Government have spent thousands of pounds in order to give the Bantu mealie meal in a precooked and attractive form, to be used particularly in the large cities where they have to go to work early in the morning, so that they do not have to cook it. Those experiments are still continuing. Then it is said that first-grade maize is being exported and that only second-grade maize is being supplied to the consumer here. That is the biggest nonsense I have ever heard. There is sufficient Grade I maize to supply all the consumers and still leave some over for export. We are even exporting the Grade I dented yellow maize which the consumers in the country do not like. The round yellow maize which the consumers like to use for cattle-feed can be supplied to them in whatever quantities they need, but the people who manufacture cattle feed are very keen on buying up the Grade 2 mealies to put into the feed. That is not our fault. They can get enough Grade I maize if they want it.

Then it is said that the boards should not establish stabilization funds, but that the farmers should get that money.


I said that money would be collected which was not being used for the stabilization funds, but that this did not apply to maize.


Thank you. Any control board which has surpluses which have to be exported must have funds. When there is a surplus and prices fall, one cannot in addition place a levy on the farmer in order to stabilize the price. Then the hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District) said that he wanted the farmer to be given the production costs plus a reasonable profit in terms of the promise which was made. But the farmer has always received his production costs plus a reasonable profit, although one farmer may consider that 5s. is a reasonable profit and another may think it should be £1. The question is: What is a reasonable profit? When a reasonable profit has to be given and there is already a surplus in the country which has to be exported, how can the Opposition expect the Government to increase the price of the product still further? [Time limit.]


I was pointing out that there has been a tremendous decrease in the numbers of cattle. The same position applies to the number of sheep. In 1938 we had 48,000,000 and in 1957 we had 38,000,000. Even on the strength of these few figures one can draw a few conclusions, the most important of which is that there will undoubtedly be a great shortage of meat in future. That is proved by the figures I mentioned and it can also be proved further by the expected increase in the population. But the question is what this decrease in number should be ascribed to? Should it be ascribed merely to drought and disease, or is it due to the fact that there is not much confidence in the meat industry at the moment? I readily admit that this is one of our agriculture products which shows an appreciable increase in prices in so far as the index figure is concerned, but if that is so, why is there not yet enough confidence in the industry? That can mainly be due to the method of marketing and the uneconomic minimum prices obtained by the farmers at the moment. I think that our cattle population should be increased by means of better breeding and selection, but if there is one thing which should be eliminated it is the fluctuation in the producers’ prices. That is what causes the lack of confidence. I am convinced that the meat industry can have a good future, but then we shall have to devote more attention to orderly marketing. Whether that should be done with or without the permit system is something which the future will have to teach the Minister. As a meat producer, I am at this stage inclined to advise the Minister to watch the position. I cannot say that I know of many cases of farmers in my part of the country who suffered tremendous losses as the result of the abolition of the permit system. If it should be the case that this causes a further surplus on our markets, the Minister will have to evolve another plan. But one thing we should bear in mind is this. If we really want to encourage the meat producers, the person whom we should bear in mind is the one mentioned by the hon. member for Albany, the small farmer. With or without the permit system it is particularly the big meat producer who has a reasonable chance of obtaining a good average price for his product, because he perhaps markets a few hundred head of cattle every year or 1,000 or more sheep, and that marketing takes place over a period of months, and at one moment he receives a good price and then again a worse one, but his average over the year is not too bad. But it is the man who markets only 200 sheep or only 50 cattle a year and who does not have the opportunity to select a good market who loses confidence in the industry, so much so that he tries something else and goes in for another branch of agriculture. I am thinking, for example, of our settlements. They lend themselves to meat production because the people have the lucerne, but because their farms are small they cannot produce meat on a large scale, and they are the people who cannot market right throughout the year, and when they receive bad prices they lose interest. Therefore if there is one matter to which the Minister should devote attention, it is the future of the meat industry. I think there are only two important points at this stage which should enjoy attention, namely whether the present prices are economic, particularly to the small farmer—I admit that the big farmer can make a reasonable profit—and in the second place, what can be done by means of breeding and selection to encourage these people to produce meat so that by the year 1975 we will be able to supply our larger population with enough meat.


I foresee that the time will come when the Government will have to do something that may be drastic *—and perhaps it is necessary that we should gradually prepare ourselves for that day. I foresee that the time will come when the Government will have to divide the Union, as far as agriculture is concerned, into regions and areas, based on a proper agro-economic survey, in which only certain types of farming will be carried on; that we shall have to stop ruining our fine pastures and taking out trees and growing crops there on a short-term policy that we can follow for just a few years, and then wind erosion takes place and we hasten the advent of the desert. I know that this is a revolutionary suggestion, but I do not hesitate to make it, because then we will get a much more balanced production in South Africa. We would not try then, simply because it pays us temporarily, to grow groundnuts and maize and kaffir-corn in areas where we ought to farm with cattle. I hope I am not going to be misunderstood. I know that this Vote lends itself particularly well to any attempt to gain popularity by saying certain things, but I am speaking in the interest of the farmer himself when I talk about a long-term policy for agriculture. We should think seriously of saying “ This particular area lends itself to cattle farming and that area lends itself to the growing of cereals ”. Let me explain that one could then be registered as a maize farmer, and here I am not suggesting that one should only grow maize in a certain area and that if the maize crop has been destroyed by hail, one would not be permitted to do anything else. But we should treat the soil of South Africa as a precious treasure and as a national asset for succeeding generations; we should follow a long-term policy, and that can be done not only by legislation or compulsion but by encouraging people to do the right thing.

One of the problems with which we have to contend is that we as Members of Parlia ment and the salaried person and the farmer all receive too little money. That is the whole problem. It is our duty to plead for more money for others outside, but I think the time has come when we as farmers should make a proper survey of the cost of our inefficient farm labour, which eats up the farmers’ income. That is why there are many farmers who are not doing well, not because they are not getting enough for their products, but because their labour costs are too high. On this occasion I should like once again to bring it to the notice of this Committee, mainly with the object of bringing it to the notice of the farmers, that we are building up an agricultural economy on a very doubtful labour force. There are times when we have to rely on the farmer to feed the nation, and we must also be prepared to give our attention to the labour force that we have on our farms today. I repeat that our agriculture industry is founded on a very doubtful labour force. We are dependent on non-White labour, but I think the time has come when we should give serious attention to a matter which has been brought to the Minister’s notice on a previous occasion by way of a motion introduced by the hon. member for Ventersdorp and seconded by myself. Since we have a great land hunger and there are many people who are anxious to farm but who will never have sufficient capital to become land-owners, I feel that we should enable the farmer to employ Whites as farm foremen or managers. The destruction and depreciation of our expensive farm implements are factors that we cannot overlook. It simply eats up the profits of the farmer and his capital, and that is one of the reasons why there are some farmers to-day who are struggling.

Then there is another matter that I want to bring to the Minister’s notice. This is the third year that I am raising this matter on this Vote, and I think I shall go on talking about it every year until I am satisfied, whichever Government is in power. I should like to point out that the farmer—and here I refer in particular to the maize farmer—must regard every cent of the capital that he invests in production as risk capital. His pre-harvesting expenses do not affect his income; they are incurred whether he reaps one bag per morgen or 20. I do not want to be told that a person who produces one bag per morgen is not a maize farmer. I am talking about circumstances beyond his control, about the risk that he runs. I have seen with my own eyes that mealies look very promising and yet your crop proves to be a total failure. The Government cannot take the responsibility for elements beyond its control, but I am trying to emphasize that every cent that the farmer spends in putting the seed into the ground is risk capital. All I am asking is whether we are satisfied that the risk factor is taken into account sufficiently when the prices of agricultural products are fixed.

There is another matter that I want to bring to the Minister’s notice. I want to ask whether the producer is not entitled to a cost-of-living allowance in the same way as the pensioner and the labourer. I want to ask that we give very serious attention to the retention of this formula for the fixation of prices, namely cost of production plus entrepreneur remuneration, but I also think that the time has come when a cost-of-living allowance for the farmer should be incorporated in this entrepreneur’s remuneration.

Business suspended at 6.30 p.m. and resumed at 8.5 p.m.

Evening Sitting

*Mr. H. G. SWART:

Mr. Chairman, may I claim the privilege of the half-hour? When business was suspended the hon. member for Wolmaransstad (Mr. G. P. van den Berg) had just completed his speech. He said one or two things that I should like to deal with. I am sorry that the hon. member is not here, but I think he made a fine and reasonable speech. He stated, inter alia, that he visualized that the time would come when the whole of South Africa would have to be planned on a regional basis in agro-economic units and that he hoped that a stop would be put to the removal of trees and the ploughing up of our pastures. He went on to say that he thought that the State should make this obligatory. I do not want to go so far, Mr. Chairman. There is a great deal in what the hon. member said, but we are 30-35 years too late to carry out that plan. The finest pastures in the Union of South Africa, in the Eastern Transvaal, in large areas of the Free State and in large areas of the Western Transvaal, have already been ploughed up. I cannot imagine that the plan suggested by the hon. member will ever materialize, because I do not believe that that idea will appeal to the farmers of this country. They will not be prepared at this stage to allow the State to impose that obligation upon them, however sympathetically one may be disposed to that idea. The hon. member said another thing that I think is important. I am pleased to hear that there are members on that side who are now becoming converted to the attitude that we on this side have adopted over the past two years …


Come, come!

*Mr. H. G. SWART:

Yes, the hon. member can say “ come, come ”, but the hon. member for Wolmaransstad said that the time had come when more attention should be given to the risk factor in determining prices under the Marketing Act. That is what he said, but when I advocated it here last year one member after another on that side of the House attacked me. I am pleased to see that I now have succeeded in converting members on that side of the House with regard to the risk factor in the agricultural industry.

The hon. member for Ladybrand (Mr. Keyter) also said something to which I feel I must reply. One must take notice of what that hon. member says because he is one of the people occupying a key position in this country. He is the Chairman of the Maize Control Board, a commodity which keeps alive a large section of the population of this country. I was surprised to hear the hon. member for Ladybrand putting forward a new proposition here this afternoon. He said that everybody will understand that the price must be low when there is a surplus. That is the new proposition that he advanced here this afternoon. It is a new proposition, Mr. Chairman, because when we supported the Marketing Act we all understood that the basic factor in price determination would be production costs plus. The question of surpluses was not regarded as a decisive factor. I think the hon. member has simply introduced this new doctrine as a red herring to protect this Government since the Government refuses to give sufficient attention to the risk factor in determining prices under the Marketing Act now that the time has come when surpluses will have to be sold at a loss on the external market. The Chairman of the Maize Control Board, who is probably the main representative of the farmers on that Board, is now being used to say things which are in direct conflict with the true interests of the maize farmer in South Africa.

The hon. member for Somerset East (Mr. Vosloo) also propagated a new doctrine here. I am surprised to hear a practical farmer, a good farmer, like the hon. member say what he did. In his zeal to defend the Minister and in his zeal to defend the Nationalist Party he stated here this afternoon that an increase in prices was not the only way to overcome the farmers’ problems. Why does he say that? It looks like an innocent statement. We know that an increase in prices is not the only way to resolve the farmers’ problems, because there are many problems which are part and parcel of farming in South Africa, but it passes my comprehension that a responsible member in this House should come and emphasize it here. He said it as though he meant that a reduction in prices would be the solution. Is that what the hon. member meant? The hon. member also tried to make out a case for the abolition of the permit system as far as meat is concerned. That also surprised me, because I have not come across one responsible farmer in South Africa, who has anything to do with agricultural organization, who has said in so many words, as the hon. member for Somerset East did, that it would be a good thing if the permit system were abolished. I do not know whether that is the attitude of all the farmers on that side of the House, but I think it is far-reaching to make the unqualified statement that it would be a good thing if the permit system in the meat market were abolished.

I want to say a few words about the question of meat control. I do not think anyone will allege that hitherto the control of meat under the Marketing Act has been a success in this country. I do not think anybody could make that allegation. The scheme as it was originally introduced was abolished by this Government and by this Minister, and it was replaced by the system of auctions on the hook with a minimum floor price. I should like to hear from the Minister—I think he owes it to the farmers of this country—what the policy of the present Government is in connection with meat control. I do not think there is any sensible person who would say to-day that the present position should be allowed to continue. Nobody in this country is satisfied with the present situation. I think the farmers were satisfied with the changeover to the system of auctions on the hook with a minimum floor price on a temporary basis, but the idea of regarding it as a permanent scheme will not appeal to any meat producer in this country. There is nobody in the whole of the meat industry who is satisfied with it. The consumers are not satisfied with it and neither are the butchers and the farmers. I think the onus rests on the hon. the Minister and on the Government to create order out of this chaos which has existed in the meat industry, because it is important that that should be done. The scheme hitherto has not been one of full control. There has been control over 12 large areas of consumption, and for the rest the country has been left to the free play of supply and demand. In other words, ever since the introduction of the meat scheme, there has been a dual scheme. It is very doubtful whether we will ever be able to make a success of meat control under such a scheme. I think the Minister owes it to this country and to the farmers to tell us whether they want to carry on in that way or whether they want to carry on in this country with this scheme of partial control. If the permit system is abolished—the hon. member for Vry-burg (Mr. Labuschagne) stated it very clearly this afternoon—the result will be that in the controlled areas the markets will be temporarily over-supplied with stock, followed by shortages the following week. Mr. Chairman, that cannot be a healthy state of affairs and it is not in accordance with the spirit of orderly marketing. The onus rests on this Government to create order out of the situation which prevails in this country in the meat industry.

The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (West) (Mr. Streicher) has mentioned figures here this afternoon to indicate how our stock population has diminished. To-day there are fewer head of cattle in this country than there were a few years ago.


Fewer United Party supporters too.

*Mr. H. G. SWART:

If that hon. member wants to treat this as a joke, I can tell him that I do not regard it as one. If a situation arises where your stock population systematically diminishes, then there is only one conclusion to which you can come and that is that there is something wrong with the marketing of that commodity, something which does not make it advantageous for the farmer to farm with stock, because if 15 years ago this country could carry 48,000,000 sheep, there is no reason why it should carry fewer to-day if the conditions in the marketing of beef are right. I say therefore that it is time this Government told the country and the meat producers and the stock farmers what its policy is for the future in connection with meat. It owes it to the country. This Government has been in power for 13 years. When the United Party was in power, they criticized the United Party. They criticized the United Party Minister of Agriculture about his meat scheme. We thought that if they came into power we would have a heaven on earth as far as the meat industry is concerned. What do we get after 13 years, Sir? Greater chaos than under the United Party régime. [Interjections.]


Order! Hon. members must give the hon. member an opportunity to make his speech.

*Mr. H. G. SWART:

I think the time has come to institute an exhaustive inquiry into the whole question of the control of meat and to devise a scheme that will create order in the meat industry and in the marketing of meat in South Africa, in the interests of the country and in the interests of the future of this country.

Mr. Chairman, then I should like to say a few words about the dairy industry. We notice that in the past few years there have also been periodic surpluses in the dairy industry. There are surpluses of cheese and butter. I do not want to blame anybody for that. But, Mr. Chairman, I foresee that these surpluses in the dairy industry are going to become greater in the future because the dairy industry is going to form an essential part of mixed farming in those areas of the country where the farms have become small and where they have concentrated almost entirely up to the present moment on crop farming. We find that position particularly in the maize triangle where the farms have become smaller and smaller as the result of sub-division and where the production of a cash crop is no longer a payable proposition and where the farmer can no longer make a living on a small farm. If we want to apply a new system of farming there so as to keep the farmer on the land, then the dairy industry will have to form an essential part of that mixed farming. If that is so, then I can foresee one thing only and that is that in the future we are going to have more and more over-production and surpluses in the dairy industry. We are exporting our dairy products, but that is also a danger because the countries to which we are exporting our dairy products in the main, countries like Britain and Europe, are themselves building up surpluses, or they themselves will be saddled with surpluses in the near future, as I see the position, as the result of artificial insemination. In a report that I have read on this subject, they say that both in Britain and certain parts of Europe the dairy industry is heading for a period of surpluses, due mainly to artificial insemination which is enormously increasing their stock population, including their dairy herds. If they also have to contend with surpluses, where are we going to find a market for our surpluses in the dairy industry? I think the Minister and his Department will have to give their serious attention to this because I cannot see how we can solve this problem except by means of export. It seems to me that we are going to produce more and more surpluses in the future as far as dairy products are concerned.

Mr. Chairman, I want to come to the question of price fixation under the Marketing Act. I want to say here this evening what I said last year, namely that this side of the House stands by the Marketing Act. We stand for the stabilization of farming. But there are certain aspects in the practical administration and in the implementation of the policy which are beginning to affect the farmer detrimentally, particularly the question of price fixation. I said a moment ago that the whole factor underlying this whole set-up is that the price of a product which is controlled under the Marketing Act should be determined on the basis of production costs-plus. I think in the main they have always been determined on that basis. The cost of production as such, Mr. Chairman, is an average figure. The people who are charged with the duty of working out the cost of production figure, particularly in the case of mealies, are people in whom I have confidence, and I know that they are doing good work. I think the average figure that they have fixed in the case of mealies has always been a reasonable figure. One must bear in mind that the production cost figure is an average figure. There will always be farmers whose cost of production will be higher than the average figure, but there will also be farmers whose production cost will be lower. We cannot get away from that, and the only basis on which we can work is on an average figure. But having determined the cost of production, one is faced with the question of the entrepreneur’s remuneration. What should the farmer’s profit be and what are the factors which should be taken into consideration in determining that entrepreneur’s remuneration? I have always been reasonably satisfied with the way in which the entrepreneur’s remuneration has been fixed in the past. It is not a hard and fast figure. As far as I know, not one of the boards or the Department has worked out a scientific formula up to the present moment in terms of which the entrepreneur’s remuneration can be fixed. It has always been an arbitrary figure. I agree with the hon. member for Wolmaransstad that in fixing the price of products which are controlled under the Marketing Act, insufficient attention is given to the risk factor in farming, and the time has come when that should be done. There is no other sector of our economy, in our industries and in the professions, in the secondary and tertiary industries, where the risk element plays such a great rôle as in the farming industry. In South Africa particularly with its varying climatic conditions, where we have droughts in one part of the country, accompanied by crop failures, and successful crops in other parts, it is essential, after having determined the costs of production, to make more ample provision for the risk factor in fixing prices. I do not want to put forward a plea here for higher prices for agricultural products. I know what the hon. the Minister’s difficulty is; I know what the difficulty of the boards is. I know it is essential to keep down the cost of living in this country, but after all one cannot close one’s eyes to the facts. If there are certain factors to be taken into account in determining the entrepreneur’s remuneration, then those factors must be taken into consideration. There were years, Mr. Chairman, when the farmers made sacrifices so as to be able to keep the cost of living down. Nobody can dispute that.


They did so for many years.

*Mr. H. G. SWART:

Yes, there were many years when the Marketing Act was used to keep down the cost of living in this country, and I do not want to quarrel with that. I suppose it was essential, but then I say that it is also essential now for the consumer to make sacrifices. As far as maize and wheat are concerned, particularly in the northern areas, it never happens that there are good crops over three successive years. That is why I say that when it appears that it is necessary to take a certain factor into account, so as not to prejudice the farmer, then that factor, the risk factor, must be taken into account in fixing prices, otherwise the farmers in South Africa are going to find themselves in trouble in the crop farming areas. I am not pleading for impossible prices; I am urging that we take into account a factor which must be taken into account. Have you ever realized, Mr. Chairman, that if a grain farmer, whether it be a wheat or a maize producer, has a crop failure one year, he needs good crops for two years just to make ends meet. I am prepared to prove that. Where a farmer has a total crop failure in one year, he has already incurred all his pre-harvesting expenses, and the pre-harvesting costs are much higher than the post-harvesting costs. They amount to practically three-quarters of his total costs. Let us take maize. Let us take the production costs of maize at £1 per bag, more or less; I think that is about right; I do not know what the figure is for this year. In other words, if the farmer has a total crop failure, his loss is 15s. that year, because he has already incurred three-quarters of his expenses. If he has good crops over the next two years and the entrepreneur’s remuneration is 10s.—which is the figure to-day—he makes a profit of £1 over these two years. He then has the loss of £I to wipe out, with the result that he is left with a profit of 5s. over a period of three years, which amounts to 1s. 8d. a year. That is an unhealthy state of affairs. In fixing prices under the Marketing Act more attention should be given to the risk factor to enable the farmer, when he has a crop failure, to get over that lean year and so that he can build up a reserve for himself to be able to live and to be able to keep his farm going. Surely hon. members will realize, in the light of the example that I have given here, that it is impossible for a farmer to come out on a profit of only 5s. per bag over a period of three years. He cannot make a living out of it. I therefore appeal to the hon. the Minister and to the control boards to give more attention in the future to the risk factor even if it pushes up the cost of living to some extent. After all, the cost of living cannot be kept down at the expense of the farmer in this country alone. That will not do. And the cost of living would not rise a very great deal if a little more attention were given to that factor. This would enable the farmer to build up a reserve so as to tide him over the lean years.

Then there is another matter that I want to bring to the Minister’s notice and that is the question of the predicament in which the farmers find themselves with regard to the cost of the tools of production. The general trend throughout the world to-day is that there is an increase in the cost of the tools of production and a downward trend in the price of primary products. The gap between the two is becoming smaller and smaller. Everybody in this House who is a farmer knows that, particularly the grain producers. During the last few years in particular since the grain producers have started to mechanize, they have felt the pinch more and more. The cost of the tools of production are increasing and there is a downward trend in the price of primary products. I do not know what is to be done to check this, but if this position is to continue, we will reach the stage where there will no longer be a gap at all between the two and then the farmer will no longer be able to produce.

I want to ask the hon. the Minister whether he has perhaps discussed this matter with the hon. the Minister of Economic Affairs? Is it not possible to arrange for a conference of representatives of the control boards and representatives of the dealers in production implements to discuss this question? Has the hon. the Minister discussed this matter already with the Minister of Economic Affairs? Because it is clear to me that something must be done to bring the price of the tools of production—machinery and tractors, etc.—in line with the price of agricultural products. [Time limit.]


I would like to confine myself to the question of the marketing of meat, seeing that the marketing of meat in South West Africa is linked up with that in the Union. I want to refer to what the hon. member for Florida (Mr. H. G. Swart) said, namely that he was dissatisfied with the present meat scheme and that this Minister and this Government are responsible for it and that they should create order out of the chaos. I would like to put this question to the hon. member for Florida: When did we have greater chaos in regard to the marketing of meat in this country than during the régime of the United Party Government? Can the hon. member remember how the consumers queued up in order to obtain a bit of meat? Can he remember how the farmers pleaded with the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Strauss, for an increase in prices? It is since 1948, when the Nationalist Government came into power, that prices increased from 61s. 6d. per 100 lbs. for first-grade meat to the present price of 107s. 6d. That is an increase of almost 100 per cent.

I now come to the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (West) (Mr. Streicher), who alleged that our cattle had decreased in numbers because the Government did not sufficiently encourage production. If the price increased by approximately 100 per cent and the number of cattle had remained constant, I can assure the hon. member that it would not have helped to try to encourage production by increasing the prices. The reason why the number of cattle remained constant is not to be found in the price, but elsewhere. Mr. Chairman, cattle farming has literally been ploughed under in large areas of the Free State and the Western Transvaal, where formerly there were large herds of cattle. I say it has been ploughed under because the farms became smaller through subdivision, etc., and the farmers could only make a living on the smaller farms because they switched over to cash crops. One cannot farm with cattle on a small farm. One can only do so if one speculates in cattle, but one cannot breed cattle there, and that is one of the main reasons. We cannot stop that process now. One cannot increase the size of those farms now, and we shall have to adopt other methods to increase our herds of cattle, and we can only do so by applying better farming methods. We can, for example, do so by increasing the percentage of calves born. If hon. members study the statistics they will find that the percentage of calves born in some areas is as low as under 50 per cent, and one cannot farm in that way. There are methods by which an improvement can be effected.

However, I want to confine myself more particularly to the abolition of permits. The hon. member for Florida blamed the hon. member for Somerset East (Mr. Vosloo) for saying that the abolition of permits is a good thing. I want to agree with the hon. member for Somerset East. The abolition of permits, as the system was applied in the Union, was a good thing. There is nothing wrong with a permit system, but when it is applied in the way it was applied in the Union it is a failure. I have said that before and I repeat it. Why was it a failure? Because this system of control by means of permits did not comply with its object. Permit control is instituted to regulate the supplies reaching the markets and as far as possible to ensure that the markets have regular supplies. But when permits are issued in such a way that less than 50 per cent of the permits are made use of, as happened in the Union, it amounts to nothing. I want to request the Minister to go back to permit control, but to control it—and now I am going to say a very unpopular thing—as it is controlled in South West Africa. There, if a permit is issued to one to send cattle to the market, one must load the cattle on the specified day, and one must load the number specified in the permit, and the cattle must be loaded at the place specified and they must go to the destination indicated in the permit. In the case of South West we used permits to the extent of over 90 per cent, and one could ascertain almost every day where our cattle went, to Cape Town or to Johannesburg, and how many cattle had gone to market. I know that there are also disadvantages, but then one at least knows how many animals arrive at that market. If the permit is cancelled, it must be done timeously so that it can be replaced, and if it is not done timeously the permit-holder’s name is deleted; he does not get a turn again and he must go to the bottom of the list of applicants and wait until his turn comes round again one day. Mr. Chairman, when the permit system was abolished in the Union we in South West decided to retain our permit control, because unless we had done so I would have pitied the hon. the Minister in regard to what would have happened on the market here. May I say that there were applications for 50,000 head of cattle per month for April and May, and if we did not have some measure of control, in the way we still control it, 12,000 to 14,000 head of cattle per week would have arrived at the Cape Town market. They could not have been slaughtered; they would have had to wait there and the farmers would have suffered losses. We are controlling it now but we cannot continue to control it effectively because the farmers are shrewd people—I almost said dishonest—and also the speculators. Now cattle are sent from South West Africa to the open market, and the animals are being kept here somewhere, we do not know where. When once they are in the Union that permit is no longer necessary, and when cattle from South West arrive here under permit the market is flooded with South West cattle which arrived here without a permit. That sort of thing is increasing and it is going to land us in trouble. It has the effect that the market is always over-supplied. We must have control in regard to the consignment of cattle from South West. Unless that is done it will cause chaos on the markets here. Earlier on we had a limited factor, namely, railway transport, but the hon. the Minister of Transport has now modernized the rail transportation of South West to such an extent, particularly by dieselized trains with more trucks, that appreciably more animals can be transported, and as the result of the fact that the transportation of animals in the Union due to the drought has now come to a standstill, I have the assurance of the hon. the Minister of Transport that he can transport just as many cattle from South West as we want to load every week. In view of the fact that our marketing season is brief, it is obvious that farmers want to market their cattle as fast as possible while they are still in good condition. I want to ask the Minister please to consider this matter seriously. We know that permits have been abolished temporarily as an experiment, but I want to ask him seriously to consider reinstituting permit control, but in such a way that it will be nearly as watertight as possible. I am afraid the farmers will not accept it. We know the farmers. They ask for control and when they get it they are annoyed. As soon as the farmer is told that he must load on a certain day and consign the cattle to a certain destination, and he neglects to do so, and he is pulled up for it, he is angry. But if we want orderly marketing and regular supplies to reach the markets, we must subject ourselves to these things. [Time limit.]


I am not going to take part in the discussion of meat schemes. I hope, however, that I will be able to deal with that a little bit later.

I should like to refer to certain remarks made by the hon. member for Graaff-Reinet, when earlier this evening he dealt with the Wool Commission and paid that commission some deserved compliments. I should like to associate myself with what the hon. member has said in that regard, because I know how difficult their task was. I want to say however, that notwithstanding that, at some time in the future some of us might feel that we may have reason to offer some criticism. But what I am concerned about at the moment is the matter of wool packs, on which the hon. member touched so lightly. I think we must realize that wihout wool packs we cannot ship wool. Those farmers who have experienced the difficulties we had when India introduced sanctions against us, I think in 1946, will well remember how difficult the position was. We had to pack wool in cotton packs, paper packs, secondhand packs and all kinds of packs. As a matter of fact, as a seller of wool on behalf of producers, I must say that it was a very distressing position, because the clothing of your wool was unattractive, and the result was that we always feared that our wool was suffering. But the position is that we must come down to facts. The price of wool packs was fixed during the last wool season at 15s., but the new price which has not yet been quite established is likely to be considerably higher, and the prospect is that from I July, farmers will have to pay 23s., and possibly 25s., as the hon. member for Graaff-Reinet said. Mr. Chairman, we require 1,000,000 packs to clothe our wools. If the price is increased to 25s., it means R1,000,000. Now tell me whether the wool farmers can stand this sort of increase? I myself have pleaded in connection with certain charges which have been going up and about which we have heard complaints to-night. But here you have a position that your market is declining and you are faced by the position that the farmer is suddenly called upon to bear this extra burden. I do not think our farmers have realized this fully. They perhaps say, “ Well, I will have to pay so many rand more ”, but the globular sum is an enormous amount, and I think the time has arrived when this matter can’t be treated lightly. We know that following the imposition of sanctions, mills were established here in South Africa and I was one of those who served on the Jute Advisory Board and I have always expressed the view that we should be independent of countries who might bring about boycotts on us. This is a long time ago, Mr. Chairman. The position was this, that India as such declared sanctions on us. We could not buy any wool packs from India, and we had to resort to buying secondhand wool packs, because we could not get new ones. The position of course improved in so far that once we got mills established here, we were able to secure jute from Pakistan, but we were and still are at the mercy of one country. Mr. Chairman, you can understand that to produce jute wool packs in this country is far more costly. I do not want to embarrass the hon. the Minister or anybody because I know that this is considered to be rather a delicate subject, but to-day you have the position that the wool packs manufactured in this country are costing you a large amount of money. Forty per cent of our wool packs are manufactured here and 60 per cent are imported and then we sell them at an average price. Now my complaint is not so much on the question of support to these mills. We entered into this arrangement because we saw in this policy the possibility of ultimately making ourselves self-supporting, by keeping these mills going. My quarrel is that ten years have passed if not more, and what have we done? We are still in the same position, unless the hon. the Minister has a lot up his sleeve, a lot of new fibres that are being manufactured.

We are still in the same position of keeping mills going here manufacturing expensive wool packs and expensive bags. But what have we done to produce fibres which will be suitable? I have seen samples, but we don’t seem to make any progress. Ten years is a long time. The farming community is a patient community if they know they are heading in the right direction, and they would probably tolerate this, but the time must come when you can’t expect them to remain patient. It is just too expensive, and I say now that it is incumbent upon the Minister and the Government to show us that they are setting about to produce fibres in this country so that we can manufacture not only our wool packs but also our grain bags. If we fail— and the Minister can tell us what progress has been made—and if he continues to fail, is it right to expect the farmers to carry the burden? I think that is a matter that has got to be brought home to the people, because sooner or later the procrastination on the part of those responsible must be brought to an end. And since we are now in the position that we are out of the Commonwealth and have changed our Constitution, the position might well arise that we might have Pakistan, which has been friendly enough to export jute to us, stopping that export. What will happen if all of a sudden, due to the fact that we are out of the Commonwealth, Pakistan were to stop exporting jute to us? I hope Pakistan won’t do this, but if it should happen, what would be our position? Would we have the same old problem of secondhand bags; are we going to clothe our wool again in packs that have been used over and over again? Is it fair, is it correct? I can only say that there has been tremendous neglect on the part of the Government in not being far-seeing enough to develop this side of the industry and to produce sufficient fibre for us to be able to manufacture our own wool packs and be absolutely independent, and not being put in the position where if sanctions are imposed against us, we are in such a difficult position. India has never changed her mind. What is going to happen if Pakistan takes up the same position?


We will have to buy in the black market again.


I hope hon. members will realize that I put this forward in a sincere attempt to meet a position which to me is very obvious. I don’t withdraw any accusation that I might have levelled against the Government or the Minister, because I think it has to be brought home to the farmers on both sides of the House who are sufficiently interested in the welfare of the wool industry, that if there is no change, we will be back in the old unfortunate position again. [Time limit.]


I think that I should now deal with a few of the points which hon. members have brought to my notice during the course of the day. The hon. member for King William’s Town (Mr. Warren) has asked one or two questions about the fact that the report of the Marketing Council as well as the report of the Department has not yet been laid upon the Table. To a certain extent I want to apologize for the fact that the report of the Department is not yet available. The report was handed to the Government translators as long ago as 15 November last year, but there has been such great delay in the translation of this report that it has not yet been possible to lay it upon the Table. Ever since February this year we have been repeatedly urging the Government translators to have the report translated as soon as possible. We always try to make the report available as soon as possible.

Then the hon. member has discussed the difficulties experienced in exporting surplus agricultural products. Mr. Chairman, in the case of agricultural products any surplus is of course a problem, particularly at the present time when other countries are also faced with large surpluses. Various countries have used various methods to dispose of surpluses. America has tried to limit production and to reduce the accumulated surpluses by this method. But seeing that we have these surpluses we unfortunately have only one method by which we can dispose of such surpluses. Apart from giving maximum encouragement to domestic consumers by even paying subsidies on products such as mealies and dairy products in order to expand our domestic markets as far as possible, the only alternative is to export. But on the export market we have to compete with other countries in the world. There are industries where we in South Africa find it difficult to compete with other countries elsewhere precisely because we in this country under the protection of the Marketing Act have an agricultural price structure which in many cases is far higher than the cost structures found in other countries. In the case of our dairy industry for example we are faced with this difficulty because that industry as a result of conditions in our country cannot produce dairy products as economically as countries such as New Zealand and other countries with whom we have to compete abroad. I say that we cannot produce as economically because of our long distances, and because of the areas served by our factories—in New Zealand for example a factory may serve 20,000 cows within a radius of 15 miles while in our country it may scarcely serve 150 cows within a radius of 15 miles. Our costs of production are higher and our whole price structure is higher, with the result that when we have to export, we must compete with countries whose costs of production are lower than ours. It is obvious that if we want to maintain our domestic prices at above world prices, it means that losses will be suffered on the export market. That being so, we are trying to arrange these exports under the Marketing Act in such a way that we are able, by means of stabilization funds and by means of contributions which the farmers make and their production as a whole, to export the surplus portion of our production at lower prices.

It is of course very easy to make such a submission and also to make such arrangements when a large proportion of the country’s production is consumed locally. In the case of any product of which the local market absorbs 80 per cent or 90 per cent, it is easy to export the remaining portion at a lower price and still obtain a reasonable remuneration for the producers. But, of course, when one is dealing with products such as that to which the hon. member for Albany (Mr. Bowker) has referred, the major proportion of which is sold abroad, the position is far more difficult. There is for example the case of canned fruit, and the hon. member has referred to pineapples, 90 per cent of which has to be sold abroad and of which only 10 per cent are absorbed locally. In such instances it is obvious that the external price must have a tremendous effect on the price structure as a whole because one is almost exclusively dependent on the export market. In such cases a subsidized price which is carried by the small proportion which is absorbed locally is of very little assistance and a levy on that portion which is consumed locally is apt to be so high that it creates an impossible position. But seeing that we have these surpluses to-day, hon. members are inclined to ask what the Government is doing and what attention the Minister and the Government are giving to the problem of surpluses. Mr. Chairman, we introduced the Marketing Act for the very purpose of providing for such eventualities. The Marketing Act was in fact introduced so that surpluses could be handled on an orderly basis when periodical or regular surpluses arose. I now want to put the matter to hon. members in this way: Assuming that the Marketing Act had not been in operation to-day and that we had produced 50,000,000 bags of mealies in one year, and assuming that those 50,000,000 bags of mealies had been offered on the free market without control and without a levy, etc., can hon. members imagine what would have happened to the price of mealies? Take dairy products. For a long time past large surpluses have been produced, and particularly over recent months, despite the drought, a further surplus has been built up. If we had not had an ordered marketing system for our products—even if there are many instances where storing must be resorted to—what would the position have been?


We are not criticizing that.


No, but the hon. member has asked what is being done to dispose of the surpluses. It is obvious that the only way we can sell these surpluses is at a competitive world price and to sell at such a price, we must suffer losses, or at any rate we must sell at a far lower price than the domestic price. In this regard we are using the Marketing Act to cope with the surpluses in such a way disruption is not caused on the domestic market. That is the most effective method of dealing with such a surplus. On the other hand it is also unthinkable if large surpluses are repeatedly produced that we shall always be able to keep the domestic price of a product at such a high level which results in production being further encouraged and the export losses becoming so great that an ever-increasing levy has to be imposed on the domestic market to cover those export losses. The Mealie Board has always been able to export its surplus mealies, and it has been able to do so precisely because we have the marketing system and the mealies are exported under the control of the board. With the assistance of a small additional contribution by the producer, a small contribution to the Stabilization Fund, the Mealie Control Board has been able to dispose of the surpluses. The same applies to dairy products. Fortunately it is the position in this industry that a very large proportion of our dairy products are consumed locally and we have also hitherto succeeded, with the assistance of a comparatively small contribution to the Stabilization Fund, in disposing of our surpluses while the domestic price has been kept at a reasonable level. But on the other hand everything is being done to develop especially our domestic markets to their maximum capacity and to expand our markets to the maximum possible extent.

The hon. member has also said that we are exporting our highest quality products while the lower quality products are being placed on the domestic market. Mr. Chairman, that is done by all exporting countries, particularly countries which want to export on a regular basis. One of the most important aspects is the quality of the product which is delivered to the overseas market. Once the quality of the product supplied to the overseas market declines, it has a detrimental effect on sales, because on such markets we have to compete by supplying our highest quality products. And everyone knows after all that as soon as the quality of our export product declines there is also a declining demand and it can have an extremely detrimental influence if a consignment consisting of a product of poor quality is sent to such a market. Hon. members know what has already happened in the past. Then it is extremely difficult to build up the market again and it takes a very long time to regain such a market. It is therefore essential that we should export our best quality products. But as far as butter and certain other products are concerned, it is not only the best quality product which is being exported. Other grades are also being exported which are in turn being sold abroad in other forms.

The hon. member has gone further and has discussed the marketing of our meat. The hon. member has made a submission with which I agree completely, namely that much of the stock which arrive at the controlled markets and which are slaughtered at those markets are not suitable for slaughter. It is not to our credit when such stock arrive at our markets. Unfortunately that is the position. The solution which the hon. member offers is that he says that the Minister has the power under the Marketing Act to determine the grade of meat which can be sold. In other words, the hon. member suggests that we should prohibit such stock which in his opinion is not suitable for slaughter in controlled areas from entering such controlled areas. He wants the Minister to prohibit it. Well, Sir, I think that under normal circumstances it is not an easy task for anyone to be Minister of Agricultural Economics and Marketing, but I do not want to be the Minister of Agriculture who forbids certain farmers from sending their stock to the controlled markets. If we were to be faced with circumstances such as we have had during the past year when there were serious droughts in large parts of the country and 50 per cent of the animals which arrived in the Union from South West were third grade and lower and the whole north-west had thousands of sheep which were in danger of dying as a result of fodder shortages, and the Minister of Agriculture should then try to prevent such animals from being slaughtered at the controlled markets, it would not be long before his head would roll.


What about fodder banks?


His head would very soon roll, long before the drought was over. I am merely mentioning this to show that it is very easy to offer a solution to our problems. However I agree with the hon. member that if we could bring all these slaughter stock which are marketed in South Africa to the markets in good condition, there would be no shortage of meat in South Africa. If we could only succeed in bringing all the stock which are being offered at present, to the markets in the condition in which they should be marketed, we need have no fear of a shortage of meat because then the quantity of stock now being slaughtered would provide sufficient meat to supply all the requirements of South Africa. Here I agree with the hon. member that we should make an appeal to our farmers to send their stock to the market in the best possible condition. For that reason we are also trying to encourage the production of super and prime meat, but on the other hand we are faced with a factor which in turn is hampering this attempt, namely, the fact that our own consumers in South Africa are for some reason or another—I do not know what, but I have my own ideas—are not prepared to pay for such super or prime beef. We are even going further and subsidizing first-grade meat. But we cannot subsidize meat prices to such an extent that the levy becomes unduly high nor can this be done exclusively at the expense of the other slaughter stock. But take the mutton position. We in South Africa are so ready to talk about meat prices, but it must be remembered that a very large percentage of the sheep which are slaughtered in South Africa, are sheep which have been sheared for three, four or even five years and are then sent to the market when they are old. Then the farmers are dissatisfied when they do not receive good prices for such sheep as slaughter sheep. That is our attitude. We then say that it does not pay us to supply meat, and if we were to allow the importation of meat, the meat obtained from such sheep would have to compete with New Zealand and Australian fat lamb which would be sent to this country. If we have a surplus of such meat, we cannot in the first instance export it because we would not find a market abroad. In the second place, if we were to precool the meat it would be of even less value and the price would be still lower. If we were to fix prices on that basis and if we were to use the argument that the whole industry is going to collapse if the price remains at its present level, then we would make the whole position impossible. I am merely mentioning the fact because it is easy to see many solutions for problems, but it is not so easy when one has to implement such a solution in practice. When one tests these solution, one finds that they are hopeless failures.

Other hon. members have also discussed our meat scheme or our method of marketing meat, as well as the permit system. Certain suggestions have been made as to how we should control the supply to our markets. Mr. Chairman, I have appointed a fact-finding committee to inquire into the whole question. It has submitted a report to the Minister which deals more specifically with the permit system. I just want to tell hon. members one or two things. It has been quite clear to me for a very long time that the permit system as such has done very little to ensure the supply to the markets because when we compare the figures showing the number of permits which have been issued for the supply of cattle to our markets, and the numbers which have actually arrived at the markets, we find that in every instance the applications exceed the number issued during restricted periods by 50 per cent to 100 per cent but only from 40 per cent to 45 per cent of the stock for which permits have been issued actually arrive at the market. I have here an analysis of certain examples and I just want to give the figures. On the Witwatersrand application was made for permits in respect of 116,000 head of cattle in one week. The number required is 23,000 per week. There have been cases where the board has granted 50 per cent and more of the applications but it became apparent that the number of stock arriving on the market remained more or less constant. I just want to give the figures relating to the number of sheep which have arrived on the Cape Town market under permits. I shall give the figures for the second week of 1958. Permits in respect of 57,000 sheep were applied for; permits were issued for 15,900 and 9,800 arrived at the market. During the third week applications were made in respect of 27,000 sheep. All the applications were granted and the number which arrived was 11,000. During the fourth week applications were made in respect of 55,900. All were granted and the number which arrived was only 7,000. During the fifth week applications were made in respect of 33,000; all were granted, and the number which arrived was 11,000. During the sixth week, applications were made in respect of 27,000; all were granted and the number which arrived was 9,000. During the seventh week applications were made in respect of 25,000; all were granted and the number which arrived was 9,000. I am giving these figures to show that the granting of permits, as the system has worked hitherto, has had absolutely no bearing on the number of stock supplied to the market. The cost to the board alone of keeping this permit system in operation has been R166,000 per annum, excluding the expenses of agents and others. If one is convinced that this permit system has done nothing or very little to control the supply to the market, one asks oneself whether it is then worthwhile maintaining such a permit system. That is why we have abolished the permit system. Since the abolition of permits there have been instances where the market has been over-supplied, as happened for example at Johannesburg over the Easter week-end.

In March the Johannesburg market was also over-supplied with cattle and sheep to some extent on two occasions. The argument was then used that this was the result of the abolition of the permit system. However, when we analyse the position during February of last year, we find that we had exactly the same position under the permit system. During one week under the permit system more cattle and sheep were supplied to the market than during that particular week to which I have just referred. At the Easter week-end the market was over-supplied once again which is normally the position at that time although the position might not have been quite so acute under the permit system. There is also a very good reason for this. The Easter Show was being held with the resultant increased demand for beef and a consequent rise in prices. When the farmers saw that prices were rising they all unloaded their cattle on the market during the next week and there were three or four holidays during that week including 6 April. I do not say that exactly the same position would have arisen, but to a very large extent we would have had the same position even if the permit system had not been abolished. Under the permit system the position would also have been fairly serious.

Many solutions have been offered. The hon. member for Windhoek (Mr. van der Walt) has also discussed a system of compulsory permits. It is not as easy to have a system of compulsory permits in the Union as it is in South West. South West has a quota on the Union market, but there have been occasions when South West has been faced with unusual conditions as a result of droughts, and we had to give South West special permits to allow their cattle to come to the Union and we had to curtail deliveries by Union farmers. When we analyse the weekly arrivals from South West we find that in the course of one week during 1958, for example, 5,000 cattle arrived under permit on the Union markets; a year later, during the same week, 7,500 to 8,000 arrived—in other words, 2,000 more. The position therefore is simply that if we allot an increased number under the permit system to one area, we have to curtail supplies from another area to an equivalent extent. Let us assume that we decide to make the system obligatory in the Union and that the farmers are prepared to accept a system of compulsory permits. We could then arrange under the permit system that a market would receive its exact requirements. The market would then receive its exact requirements every day. Hon. members are so apt to say that the market fluctuates from day to day. The fluctuations can only take place from the floor price upwards. The price cannot go below the floor price. I now want to ask hon. members: If compulsory permits were to be introduced and an adequate supply reached the market every day, what would be the position in practice? Every buyer operating on the market would know that 2,500 cattle would be available on a certain day, that the market required 2.500 and that that would be the position every day—do hon. members think that the price would ever rise above the floor price? If the buyer has the assurance that exactly the number of cattle required by the market will be available on the market every day, do hon. members think that the price will ever rise above the floor price? I cannot imagine for one moment that a buyer on the market would be so foolish as to buy meat at a price higher than the floor price because he knows that the market will receive its exact requirements every day. In other words, we might eliminate those fluctuations, but we would peg the price to the floor price. It is also very easy to say that we should introduce a permit system which would supply the exact daily requirements of meat. The Cape Town or Johannesburg market does not merely absorb 2,500 head of cattle weekly, just to take a figure as a basis. The market takes 2,500 head of cattle of various grades. It takes a number of super grade, a number of prime grade, and then a number of first, second, third and fourth grade carcases. If we arrange by means of permits that 2.500 head of cattle will be supplied to a market and most of those cattle are third grade, and a small number are first grade, the price of the first grade meat will shoot sky high. But if on the following day there is far more first grade meat and a very small quantity of third grade meat, the price of the third grade meat will rise in turn. It is therefore not merely a question of controlling the numbers. The market does not only take a certain number of cattle; it also takes certain grades of meat, and if we cannot introduce a permit system whereby we can control the grades of meat supplied, so that the various grades also arrive on the market as and when required, we shall still have these fluctuations. And, Mr. Chairman, for that reason it is a good thing that we have these fluctuations because the market then attracts the type of meat it requires. If the fluctuations were absent, the market would not attract the meat it requires.


Will you then encourage fluctuations?


I do not say that I shall encourage fluctuations, but the floor price constitutes the protection and the scheme has been so devised that the price can fluctuate above the floor price, in accordance with the demand experienced on the market. That is surely quite clear. I want to put the position to the hon. member in this way. If the Cape Town market requires 2,000 sheep weekly, and 4,000 are sent from an area which is drought-stricken and where the sheep are thin, and in the same week 50 high grade fat sheep are delivered, the price paid for those fat sheep will rise far above the floor price, even though there are 4,000 other sheep on the market, and even though there is far more meat available than the market requires. But if the position should be the reverse in the following week, then exactly the same position will apply as regards the floor price. I am merely mentioning this to show that there is not a simple solution which can be offered across the floor of the House.

Hon. members say that we should have a permit system which will ensure that the exact requirements of the market are provided. Only the number required by the market should arrive on the market.


I did not say that.


I do not say the hon. member said so; I am saying that hon. members have said so. It has been said on all sides of the House and it is not only members of this House who are saying so; farmers outside are saying the same thing as well. The argument is often used that we should have a permit system which will supply the market with its exact requirements. I now want to ask hon. members: What is to happen to the other stock which is surplus to the requirements of the market at that stage? What will happen if there is a drought in one or other part of the country and the farmers are told that their stock cannot be marketed or slaughtered at that stage? Then that stock will die. Must we then tell those people: Let the stock die. There is a further aspect. Let us take the Cape Town market as an example and let us assume that we give preference to the Karoo areas which can only market their stock at certain times, as was done under the permit system. The best marketing periods in the case of Namaqualand and Calvinia is October and November; then their stock is ready for marketing. They say that they cannot market at any earlier or any later stage and that they should be given preference during that period. Let us assume that we then give them preference in granting permits to supply the Cape Town market. We must then refuse permits to the hon. member for Green Point (Maj. van der Byl) for example. But he is breeding fat lambs. He is told that he cannot have a permit to supply the market during October and November; he can send his stock in February of the next year. By that time his fat lambs are no longer prime or super grade, then they are scarcely first grade. I am merely giving this comparison to show that the solutions which have been so readily offered across the floor of the House and which people are so ready to offer around the conference table are not always acceptable. Sometimes they are more of a hardship than a help.

I therefore say that I am convinced that the best time to sell an animal is when it is in prime condition. We must therefore so arrange our system of marketing, and particularly our arrangements for receiving animals, that we can cope with those animals at the time when they can be marketed to the best advantage for the producer. Over the years we have as a result of the permit system brought many of the abattoirs and municipal markets under the impression that we can arrange their facilities for them by means of a permit system. I am not saying that that is right or wrong; I am merely making the submission. We have brought them under the impression that they can have their facilities and we can so arrange matters by issuing permits that their facilities will not be exceeded. We can do so, but then it means that we cannot slaughter and market the stock at a time when they are in the best condition and this will be to the extreme disadvantage of the farmer. I am convinced that our whole system of marketing should be so arranged that when the animals arrive, whether they arrive at the market under the permit system or under some other system, our slaughter facilities and storage facilities will be such that we can cope with those animals. I have now appointed a commission to investigate the whole position regarding our abattoirs, the financing thereof, etc., and to report on how our abattoirs should be controlled in future. Hon. members will understand that when the municipalities have to erect large abattoirs to-day, it involves them in heavy expenditure. It costs millions of pounds. Seeing that we have a large area where abattoirs are already available—we have the Newtown Market in Johannesburg for example, where there are old abattoirs at which the charge is 8s. or 9s. per head—I forget what it is exactly—if a new abattoir were to be erected in an area such as Germiston where the present abattoirs are obsolete and the tariff at the new abattoir were to be £1 or more per head, it is obvious that this would result in competition between the two. What farmer will send his cattle to Germiston if he can have them slaughtered at half the price at Newtown? That abattoir will be over-supplied because the necessary facilities are not available. For that reason it is necessary that this whole matter should be investigated so that we can ascertain to what extent the abattoirs should be financed, how they should be controlled and whether we can devise a system under which the cost of our abattoirs and storage facilities as a whole will be more evenly distributed. I have appointed a commission to go into this matter—I am convinced that if we try to control the supply to our markets by means of permits and if we keep stock away from the markets by means of permits, we shall always be faced with the position that we cannot market a large proportion of our stock at the most appropriate time. I do not want to enlarge unduly on the meat position but I just want to remind hon. members that many of the proposals which they have made and advocated in connection with meat are not practical. If these suggestions were to be applied in practice many hon. members would be the first to say that what we are doing is wrong and that we should change the system. I have had delegations from farmers who have come to me in the October of a particular year and said: You must now refuse permits for the supply of sheep to the Cape Town market; you must restrict the supply as far as possible. Next year the same delegation has come to me and said: In heaven’s name you must now grant us permits for the Cape Town market because our stock are dying as a result of the drought. This shows that circumstances are such that we cannot have a strict law of the Medes and Persians in respect of these matters.

I now want to refer to another matter which one or two hon. members have raised, particularly the hon. member for Florida (Mr. H. G. Swart). They have discussed the determination of prices under the Marketing Act. The hon. member for Florida has submitted that in the past Minister of Agriculture and the Department of Agriculture have said that control under the Marketing Act means a price based on the cost of production plus a reasonable profit for the producer. I do not quite know which Minister made that statement. I was never aware of the fact that this was one of the objects of the Marketing Act. What I do know is that the object of the Marketing Act is to give the producer as reasonable a price as is possible and a price which is stabilized as far as possible, and to eliminate the short-term fluctuations as far as possible. But if anyone thinks that the Marketing Act together with a price structure can cope with any surplus or any production without prices falling in many respects, and that only the costs of production and the entrepreneur’s wage can be taken into account, I say that that person is rut in touch with reality.

I now want to say a few words about the so-called costs of production about which we have heard so much. What are actually the costs of production? Hon. members say that the price of the product should be based on the costs of production plus. But what are the costs of production? I maintain that we have never fixed the price of any product in South Africa on the basis of the costs of production.


That is why so many farmers have gone bankrupt.


I say that we have never fixed the price of any product on the basis of the costs of production plus. What has in fact been done in the case of one or two products, such as for example mealies and wheat, is that we have taken certain recognized areas which are suitable for the production of the product concerned in order to get some basis of calculation and in those areas we have carried out cost surveys to see what the costs of production per bag are in such an area. But in areas outside those areas calculations of costs of production have never been made so far. Hon. members have now mentioned all the other products, such as for example milk. What are the costs of production of milk? Just take industrial milk—we do not even need to mention fresh milk. Take the costs of production of milk in Vryburg, or in the North-Eastern Free State or Natal, or any of those areas. How are we to calculate those costs on the basis of the overall total in order to reach an average? It is impossible. In the second place there are so many differing aspects which determine the costs of production. In the first place the price of land determines the costs of production because it must earn interest. In the second place the yield of the cow determines the costs of production. The number of gallons or pounds of milk which one produces determines the costs of production. In the third place there is the cost of fodder. In the fourth place there is the efficiency and the cost of labour. In the fifth place the farmer determines the cost of production by his efficiency or inefficiency. When we talk about calculating the costs of production, then it is such a relative term that for certain purposes, to form an approximate idea, we take certain reasonably efficient areas and if there is an area which is reasonably suitable for the cultivation of certain products, we try to use such an area to find an approximate basis for determining the costs of production. But make a determination which calculates the costs of production …


Will the Minister tell us how he decided on the price which he has laid down under the Dairy Control Act, if he did not have an approximate idea of the costs of production of milk?


The hon. member has put the position quite correctly when he referred to “ an approximate idea ” of the costs of production. That is exactly what I have just said. To know more or less what price should be laid down, we take areas which are suitable for the cultivation of a certain product, areas where the yield over the years has been reasonably consistent, and where the industry is reasonably efficient. An approximate calculation is made of what it costs to produce a bag of mealies or of wheat for example in such an area. In the case of wheat we take a part of the Boland and we take the Caledon-Bredasdorp-Rûens area but the wheat producing area is far larger than the area in which the cost survey is undertaken. But to form an approximate idea we take such an area which is a recognized wheat-producing area and we establish what the costs are approximately. We do exactly the same thing in the case of mealies.


I was not referring to fresh milk. In the case of industrial milk the price is fixed for the whole Union and not for separate areas. In the case of butter fat the price is laid down for the whole Union. How does the Minister fix the price if he does not know what the costs of production are?


Exactly the same principle as I have just discussed in the case of wheat and mealies applies in that case. Surveys are carried out in various regions in order to determine the approximate costs of production. The price is determined on that approximate basis. What I am saying is that there cannot be a price on the basis of cost-plus, as hon. members have proposed. The reason is that in the case of most of our products we cannot determine the average costs of production. It is impossible. Does the hon. member want to tell me that he can calculate the average costs of production for the industry in the case of industrial milk and that we can determine an average price on that basis? It has always been arbitrary to a very large extent. That is surely quite clear. On the other hand, if hon. members are saying that the price of any product which is produced in this country should be based on the costs of production plus, then it will mean that one can produce such a product in the most unsuitable area and one will then be paid a cost-plus price. That would after all be possible and no one can expect that. To refer to the hon. member for Green Point once again, if he produced mealies in Caledon and he wanted a cost-plus price for those mealies, he would regard himself as not being quite normal. I have taken the matter to absurd lengths just to show that we can never arrive at an average price based on cost-plus because there are so many other factors which we must take into account.

Then the hon. member for Florida has said in discussing the determination of prices that the risk factor is not taken sufficiently into account. When we are determining the prices of the two main products which fall under the Marketing Act, where we do more or less have the system of cost-plus, the average production over five years is taken into account. The production over a period of five years is taken as a basis and every year the first year of the period is dropped and another year added. On the basis of this five-year period the production is determined. If we take the production over a period of five years, we are after all making reasonable provision for fluctuations and we are therefore allowing a reasonable risk margin. Should we take a ten-year period? But even if we were to take the production over ten years, then we can take mealies and meat and we shall find that if we take the yield per morgen over five years or over ten years, it will make very little difference in the long run. In other words, even if we were to extend the period to ten years in order to reduce the risk factor, we shall reach approximately the same conclusion in the long run. The risk factor is in fact taken into proper account in the case of the products, the prices of which are fixed on such a basis.

I now want to tell hon. members this. To imagine that we can lay down a price which is determined on the basis of the costs of production of the farmers together with a profit margin, would mean that in many cases that we would have tremendous surpluses which we would have to export at vast losses. If the farmers do not bear those losses themselves, the Government and the taxpayer will have to do so. I now want to ask hon. members whether we can follow such an unrealistic policy. No, I think that all the farmers in South Africa who are in their right minds will realize that in determining prices under the Marketing Act we must take into account all the factors which are present at that stage. If we have an exceptionally large mealie crop and a large proportion of that crop has to be exported, then the farmers must realize that they must make larger contributions to the stabilization fund in order to make such exports possible. If we are faced with similar surpluses in the case of dairy products, the dairy farmers will have to make bigger contributions so that the surpluses can be exported if they do not want to suffer further losses. They will have to make bigger contributions in order to make the industry more stable. If the tobacco farmers are over-producing, or are producing far more than the domestic market requires, they will have to make bigger contributions to stabilization funds so that they can export. Another alternative is for prices to be reduced to discourage the production of such products. We cannot dispose of surpluses by waving a magic wand, while still paying the same price to the producer. Mr. Chairman, I therefore make this submission. Hon. members say that the Marketing Act will be tested, but over the past few years, when we have been faced with reasonably large surpluses, the Marketing Act has proved that it can absorb these temporary sudden shocks, that it can absorb short-term shocks to a reasonable extent, and that it can bring about stabilization for a reasonably long period.

The hon. member for Albany (Mr. Bowker) has discussed the production of pineapples and the problems involved in selling those pineapples. He has asked what we are going to do in this regard. This is yet another case which I want to take as an example. The main difficulties with which our pineapple farmers are faced are in fact due to the price position. Hon. members are so apt to say that the price is the main factor. The hon. member for Somerset East (Mr. Vosloo) has said that prices cannot remedy everything. He is quite correct. Prices can very often cause a great deal of difficulty and the pineapple position has in fact been caused by the prices. Because the overseas prices of pineapples rose disproportionately, as the hon. member will readily concede, the price of pineapple land shot up tremendously in the areas in which the hon. member lives. The price of land which was worth £3 and £4 per morgen, shot up to £100 and £150 per morgen. And because pineapples became so expensive as a result of the very high land prices, the farmers got into difficulties, because when the prices fell they were left with a heavy capital investment and low prices. This shows that the hon. member for Somerset East is quite correct in saying that price is not always the solution but that sometimes causes difficulties. The hon. member knows that the pineapple market has recovered reasonably in recent times and those people who have not made unnecessarily high capital investments have reasonable prospects for the future. Unfortunately we were faced with a surplus of pineapples, at a time when other countries such as Malaya and Australia also had surpluses. When one lays down disproportionately high prices for any product, one is storing up trouble for the producers. If one fixes the price at too high a level, it causes surpluses and land prices rise, and then one is storing up marketing problems for the future. It is clear after all that the product which is cultivated on that land should at least earn the interest on the investment on the land. That is one of the very difficulties which we are experiencing to-day to a very large extent in our cattle industry, namely that the price of land is disproportionate to the earning capacity of the land. If one has land which carries one head of cattle to ten morgen, and that land is sold at £15 per morgen, it represents an investment of £150 to keep one head of cattle. If it is a cow and the percentage of calves is 30 per cent or even 50 per cent, it means that one has to keep two cows to get one calf, and that calf has to graze for three years. In other words one must have seven head of cattle on that land, an investment of £150 per animal. Then it is not difficult to calculate that the animal is costing one £45 before one even earns the interest on the investment on one’s land. Then there would be no demand for the product. Always raising prices is not the solution. The solution for our farmers is to introduce more efficiency into our farming activities. That is the main solution. I do not say that the price factor should not be taken into account, but as long as we do not have increased efficiency in our farming, we shall always have farmers who are producing just below the average and who will suffer. For that reason we must seek the solution not only in price increases, but also in guidance and efficiency, and to a very large extent we have been successful. If our farmers had not achieved an increased yield per morgen in the case of wheat and mealies, the price would have been far higher. One hon. member has referred to an entrepreneur wage and cost of living allowance which the farmer should also be paid, but as a result of the increased yield per morgen which has been achieved in the case of mealies and wheat, while the entrepreneur’s wage per bag has remained more or less constant, the income per morgen has increased and the price has therefore kept pace with the increase in the cost of living.

I do not want to discuss all the less important matters. I think that I have dealt with the most important points.


You have not yet told me whether you will grant permits on a more evenly distributed basis?


The hon. member is referring to the export of cheese. Yes, the hon. member has brought the matter to my notice and I have taken it up with the Board. In reply to what the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Mr. Dodds) has said he has discussed the woolpacks and the development of our own fibre industry. As the hon. member knows, tests have been carried out from time to time and factories have already been established to produce bags made from locally-produced fibre. The Department is once again engaged on an experiment on their farm at Roodeplaat aimed at investigating the possibility of producing fibre and machinery for processing the fibre is being tested. The main problem is transporting the large quantities of fibre and that is very expensive indeed. It is almost as expensive as transporting sugar cane. Various machines have been developed for processing the various fibres, such as pineapple fibre and “ stokroos ” fibre and we are trying to develop a machine which can carry out the decorticating process on the land. The Department has also contributed financially to the designing of this machine and I understand that reasonable success has already been achieved. This will reduce the costs. In the same way the Department is making a special effort at Roodeplaat to cultivate fibre and is undertaking decortication experiments. The question of the production of fibre in South Africa so as to make us more self-sufficient is receiving the attention of the Department and of the Government and tests are being carried out. But because the costs are high and because a certain measure of failure has been experienced in the past when farmers have undertaken the cultivation of fibre, the interest of the farmers has waned and we shall have to give special encouragement in that regard.


I want to tell the Minister that I agree with much that he said, but I cannot omit to mention that numbers of farmers are disappointed because the permit system has been abolished as far as the meat industry is concerned. It will be remembered that when meat control was originally introduced during the war years an appeal was made to farmers to make this sacrifice for the benefit of the State, and they were given the assurance by the Government that if times should change and the farmers found themselves in difficulty they would be assured of an economic price. They were promised a long-term scheme. I do not want to reproach this or any previous Government, but I just want to mention that the farmers made great sacrifices during those years to get the stability which they considered they were entitled to. I agree with the Minister that from the day it was conceived, without making it compulsory, the permit system was doomed to failure. In my opinion, it was impossible to think that one could regulate the supplies on the market by means of permits without compelling the farmers to carry out the conditions of the permits. I agree with the Minister that under present circumstances it is probably best to abolish the permit system, but I must also say that unless the margin of profit of the farmers is calculated more carefully I foresee a gloomy future for the farmers.

I want to deal with the production costs referred to by the Minister. I concede that it is very difficult to determine it, but notwithstanding this difficulty it still forms the basis of any price fixation, and the trouble with the farmers to-day is in fact that the margin of profit allowed for the farmer, for the risk factor, etc., is too low in my opinion. I agree that it is difficult to determine the cost of production, but unless one can determine it one cannot control the price. That is the fundamental basis on which all prices must be fixed. If the Minister says that it is merely an arbitrary figure which is taken, I agree with him, but the figure taken is too low and the farmers are going insolvent and the Minister knows it.

The hon. member for Florida (Mr. H. G. Swart) spoke about the risk factor. Not only is it impossible to determine the costs of production, but the figure allowed in relation to the risk taken by the farmer is far too low, and that is the whole difficulty in agriculture to-day. I agree with the Minister that all these difficulties can be eliminated, provided the farmers are efficient and use their labour efficiently and bring down their production costs. The Minister will agree with me that that is a very long-term policy. [Interjection.] Yes, 50 per cent of the farmers perhaps do so now, but the other 50 per cent are going insolvent because they cannot manage to survive on that basis. It can only be done in the way suggested by the Minister when agriculture is organized in such a way that we have done so much research in regard to the production capacity of every farm that the farmer can be told what he should plant, as they did in America and Canada. Before a man buys a farm, he is told what the production capacity of that farm is, but here, particularly under the present system, the farmer has to invest his capital and then see whether he can perhaps make a success of it. Therefore I say it is the risk factor which is the norm for the farmer, and the plea from this side of the House is that the risk factor should be taken into consideration, that the costs of production should be calculated more accurately and that the margin of profit should be greater.

I now come to the difficulties we have in regard to the marketing of meat, and here I want to include the so-called surplus of maize. The Minister quite correctly explained the difficulties in regard to the permit system. Hon. members on both sides of the House have made it clear that the meat producers find it difficult to make a living. The Minister has told us that it is difficult to fix the price in such a way that the producer can consume the profit. We admit all that, but it is an indisputable fact that the greatest difficulty facing the farmers is that they have to produce to satisfy the consumption of only a third of our population, because the purchasing power of two-thirds of the population is so low that they cannot buy and consume what the farmers produce.


We must just give them the vote and then they will eat more, according to your policy.


No, do not let us talk about votes now. We will only be able to increase the demand for the products if we can increase the purchasing power of the ordinary man. But it is peculiar that we should talk here about surpluses, because in fact there is not a single farmer who will not agree with me that all the meat we can produce in this country can be consumed here if we increase the purchasing power of the people, and the same applies to the surpluses of maize. We must put the population in a position to be able to purchase these products at a price they can afford and which is profitable to the farmer. That is why we have these surpluses. They are not really surpluses, but are only due to the fact that the purchasing power of the population is confined to one-third of the people. It is an artificial surplus. We are not asking that these surplus products should be given away gratis. All we ask is that the people should be enabled to develop their own potentialities so that they can produce to the maximum, which will enable them to buy enough butter, meat and cheese. [Time limit.]


The hon. member for Queenstown (Dr. Steytler) has now raised a very interesting point. He says our surpluses will disappear like dew before the morning sun if only we increase the purchasing power of the people. Now I just want to test this economic law of his; a person should be paid exactly what he is worth. If he is paid too much it leads to inflation, and if he is paid too little it causes a depression. Before the hon. member for Queenstown proves that proposition, he must prove that the service we get to-day is efficient and that the man is being paid too little for what he does. Then he will have an argument, but otherwise one will just have a vicious circle, because the moment one increases the salary of the worker one gets the whole vicious circle and one gets back to the prices again, and they will still be too low, because it will increase the production costs and one is back where one started from. The argument of the hon. member has proved nothing.

It is interesting to note that the hon. members opposite now keep so quiet after the Minister has dealt with all the points raised. I thought the big arguments were really in regard to only two things, surpluses and stability. But then the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (West) (Mr. Streicher) dragged in the question of jute bags and also the Commonwealth and Pakistan, and he said that because we were no longer a member of the Commonwealth we would not get bags from Pakistan, but the hon. member forgets that for many years the greatest producer of jute was India, and I wonder when last we got bags directly from India which is one of the members of the Commonwealth. Now he says that Pakistan will not supply us with bags because we have left the Commonwealth, whilst India has been doing so for years already.

To come back to the surpluses, I am not so concerned about the surpluses, particularly in so far as crops are concerned. It is a temporary factor which causes trouble, but how long will it last? The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (West) expressed his concern and referred to what the Minister of Agricultural Technical Services said in the Other Place the other day, and he said that in 1938 there was a shortage of cattle, and he quoted figures to prove it. Like him, I am concerned because this country is faced with the danger of having shortages within the near future, rather than surpluses. I repeat that there is a temporary period which has to be bridged, but to what extent can we still increase our crops unless science helps us to get bigger yields? For how long will the farmers be able to feed the population with the available arable land? We have heard much criticism that we should expand our internal market to absorb the surpluses. I think we have succeeded in doing so in many respects. In regard to maize, we have succeeded during recent years in increasing the internal consumption by about 7 million bags per annum. That is a real achievement, but there is little prospect of increasing the human consumption of maize much further, unless there can be industrial activity in other directions in regard to which research is now being done. The only chance we have is probably the animal factor, but at this stage the consumption of maize for the feeding of animals is very small. It is really disappointing that it is still so low, but in general tremendous progress has been made in regard to the consumption of maize during recent years, and if we continue like that I repeat, in view of the fact that crops can be grown on only 15 per cent of the soil of our country, of which 8 per cent to 10 per cent is already being used and therefore the opportunities for cultivating further land are very few, that the danger is very great that within a certain period we will not be able to produce enough food for the country.

I want to come back to the determination of prices. I just want to refer to this point which was also raised by the hon. member for Florida, namely the surpluses and the determination of prices. We accept that during the course of the years prices have been determined on a sample taken over the main production areas of both wheat and maize, at an average cost. Therefore the position is that the farmer, if he works on an average basis of 10 bags per morgen, which is estimated to be the average yield of maize, and he produces only those 10 bags per morgen, he will find it difficult to make a living, but that is exactly what we are trying to do, to achieve higher yields, because the man who to-day gets a yield of 20 to 25 bags per morgen is not necessarily the big farmer but if he can get more than 10 bags per morgen by cultivating his soil properly can make a profit. He must make a reasonable profit if he gets 10 bags per morgen, whereas the other man gets 6 bags. There is nothing which encourages the farmer more to improve his farming methods than this method which is now being applied. [Time limit.]


In reply to the hon. member for Christiana (Mr. Wentzel), I want to say that I do not quite share his optimism in regard to shortages in connection with most products. There is the meat shortage I have mentioned, which was developed still further. In most other cases, through better production methods, we ought not to have shortages for the next 20 to 40 years, but enormous surpluses. We on this side of the House put to the Minister quite a few problems which beset the farmers. For every problem we mentioned, the Minister gave an excuse but did not offer any solution. The Minister tells us that there is only one way of solving the problems, viz. by having greater efficiency in our agriculture. I do not believe that there is a farmer in South Africa who is not at pains every day to evolve methods of applying greater efficiency in his farming operations. I am convinced that they try to make the best possible use of their labour force. I believe that they try to make a tractor or a plough or any piece of machinery last as long as possible. I believe that the farmers to-day try to acquire all the knowledge possible in order to increase their efficiency. I do not think the blame can be laid on the farmers. But what the Minister has evidently completely forgotten is that there are many factors over which the farmer has no control which affect his efficiency and increase his production costs. But the Minister did not give us a reply to that. For every problem he mentioned the Minister had an excuse but no solution. The Minister said that it was quite impossible to determine the cost of production, but if it is impossible to determine it, surely we know that the farmer will not be so foolish as to go and plant mealies, for example, in the Caledon district. It is just as unlikely that the people at Vaal-Hartz will try to grow pawpaws, or the onion farmers of Caledon will try to grow tomatoes. They know from experience which product is best suited to their area.


If the price of one product is better than that of another, do you think they will not go in for it?


Yes, if it is suitable for that area, but if it is not they will not be so foolish as to do so. The Minister surely knows that there are certain methods by which this can be ascertained. [Interjections.] No, I did not miss the point. Wheat, for example, is sown at Vaal-Hartz, but also in the South-Western Districts. Is it so impossible more or less to determine what the product would cost in a place like Bredasdorp, as compared to what it would cost in Vaal-Hartz? [Interjection.] Yes, precisely, it remains more or less the same, and that is our whole argument. If it remains more or less the same, surely it is possible to determine the production costs.


Is the hon. member advocating that wherever a product is produced, it should be calculated on the average cost?


I quite realize that in certain areas there will be factors which play a greater role than in other areas, but it is wrong for the Minister to say that it is impossible to determine the cost.

At 10.25 p.m. the Acting Deputy Chairman stated that, in accordance with Standing Order No. 26 (1), he would report progress and ask leave to sit again.

House Resumed:

Progress reported and leave asked to sit again.

The House adjourned at 10.27 p.m.