House of Assembly: Vol107 - WEDNESDAY 26 APRIL 1961
Mr. N. F. Treurnicht, introduced by Mr. M. J. de la R. Venter and Mr. van Staden, made, and subscribed to, the affirmation and took his seat.
Bill read a first time.
First Order read: House to go into Committee on Marketing Amendment Bill.
House in Committee:
On Clause 1.
Will the Minister give us an explanation as to why he wants to bring cold storages as defined in Clause 1 (a) under control, and does he want to register them so that he will have full control over the products stored there?
Unless there is control over the cold storages, malpractices will take place, and this is being done to eliminate the malpractices. That is the only reason, to be able to control eggs stored in the cold storages, so that malpractices will not take place.
Clause put and agreed to.
On Clause 2.
This is one of the clauses we objected to in the second reading and I wish to move the following amendment—
The objection we have to Clause 2 is to the words which the Minister now wishes to insert in the principal Act, “ The recognition of any body which in the opinion of the Minister is representative of persons engaged in agricultural pursuits ”. The rest is consequential. We dealt with that in broad outline in the second reading. I now want to say why we object to it in this particular clause. It is because we feel that it is not only not necessary to have this amendment, but we think it is objectionable.
I will tell hon. members why we think it is objectionable. We say that the Marketing Act was brought into being to give the producer the control under any scheme over his own product, to control his marketing, and to control it in all the phases from production to sales, but particularly the marketing side of his own product. The producer is the man who should be the only one who has the right to decide whether he wants his product, which he produces, to be controlled under a proper marketing scheme, and how that control should apply to him and to the other phases of his marketing. To suggest that any other body than the producers concerned should have the right to introduce a scheme to control that particular commodity is wrong in our opinion. If there is one man who is interested in the orderly marketing of his product it is the primary producer of that particular product. Here we understand that the Minister wishes to recognize the South African Agricultural Union for instance, because it is interested, in agriculture as a whole and represents all phases of agriculture, as a body entitled to submit a scheme. Here I want to make it quite clear in view of what has been said by certain members on that side during the second reading debate, that we are not attacking the South African Agricultural Union in any way whatsoever, but we do say that the producers of a particular product are the people most concerned in the marketing of their product and they are the only people who should be able to say to the Minister, “ We want our product to come under a control scheme and we want a control board to market our products ”. It is those people whose very livelihood is at stake, and those are the people who should be able to decide whether they are going to have control or not. Here the Minister takes unto himself the power to bring a scheme into being whether the producers want it or not. There are other clauses, of course, which dovetail into this and with which we will deal in due course, under which the Minister can disregard the producers’ vote and say by proclamation, “ I want a scheme brought into being for this particular product and I am not going to ask for a vote from the producers of that product ”. If that scheme is put forward by any agricultural body, even a provincial or a district union, or any body which is not even a farmers’ association, the Minister may recognize that body as one interested in that particular primary product. We say that that is entirely wrong. As I said just now, we do not intend to reflect in any way on the S.A.A.U. We say that the S.A.A.U. is a body representing all phases of agriculture, and it is impossible for the producers of one particular product to have full representation on that body. Sir, one of the principles enshrined in the original Marketing Act is that the Minister, through the Marketing Council, should call meetings of the producers, who then have the right to decide on a vote whether or not their product should come under control. Under the original Marketing Act, which is looked upon as the farmers’ Magna Charta, that is one of the main principles of that Act. We decided as farmers that it was necessary for us to control the sale of our own product. The producer himself has all the worries and troubles of production. He has his investment to safeguard; he has his very livelihood tied up in that production, and yet now the Minister wishes to take the power to recognize any other body as an agricultural body interested in production, and he can accept their views and any scheme put forward by them. Admittedly that scheme then has to be examined by the Marketing Council, but whether the Marketing Council recommends that scheme or not, under this clause and the other clauses of this amending Bill the Minister can then disregard the producers’ vote and he can apply a scheme to them which they as producers of that particular product do not want. It may be to the detriment of those individuals and affect not only their livelihood but their whole capital investment. We say that that is against the spirit of the original Marketing Act and the principles en-shined in the original Act.
The Minister has always had those powers.
He has not always had those powers. Sir, that interjection only proves that the hon. member does not know the history of the Marketing Act. Hon. members opposite make these interjections without knowing the first thing about the original Act.
And you know all about it!
Yes, I was on the SA AU. Executive at the time when the original Marketing Act came into being. I was one of those who stumped part of the country; I went to one farmers’ meeting after the other in Natal to persuade them to accept the original Marketing Act and we discussed it in detail in the S.A.A.U. because we felt that that was the right and only way to give the farmer a full say in the marketing of his own product. [Time limit.]
I am surprised at the attitude adopted by the hon. member who has just sat down. He says that he knows the Act very well. I am surprised that he has not read the original Act properly, because if he had done so he would have seen that the Minister has the right to do this.
To do what?
To declare a board to be a control board. Since the farmers are spread out over a wide area and it is difficult to bring them together, the best way to act is through their organized agricultural organizations. Surely the hon. the Minister is not, as the hon. member suggests, simply going to recognize any body. When has the Minister ever said that he is going to do so? What he did say is that it will be possible to constitute such a board, with the approval of the S.A. Agricultural Union, in order to expedite matters. I do not believe that the hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District) (Capt. Henwood) ever had anything to do with the Marketing Act. I at least had the honour of being one of the members of the Marketing Commission. This Act was placed on the Statute Book to bring about orderly marketing. My hon. friend over there is now beginning to meddle with something that was brought into being by the Marketing Act. The Minister is simply asking for the right to-day to be able to expedite matters, because it frequently happens that these people take so long to get together in order to ask the Minister to introduce such a scheme, that it is necessary to entrust him with this power. Surely it is much easier, since the S.A. Agricultural Union has its commodity committees, to ask them whether a particular product should be placed under the control of the Marketing Act. I cannot understand my hon. friend’s attitude. He may have gone all over Natal; we do not know which places he visited, but it is clear that he does not know the provisions of the Marketing Act.
Sir, there was nothing in the Minister’s reply that persuaded me that I should accept this clause as it stands. But there in one thing that we do resent on this side of the House. The moment we start discussing or criticizing clauses of this kind, we are told that we are casting reflections on the S.A. Agricultural Union. Sir, we have as much respect for the organized agricultural bodies as any member on that side of the House. Why that argument is used, I do not know. I view this clause as an extremely dangerous one. Sir, “board” in this instance is going to mean whatever board the Minister cares to recognize. The Minister can recognize any board, and that removes for all time the right of private producers of a commodity to submit a scheme. The Minister may introduce a scheme … The Minister shakes his head. Sir. He may not do so to-day, but we are thinking of the future of farmers in South Africa. I say that they should retain this right that they have to-day.
I think perhaps I can eliminate a good deal of discussion by replying at once. The position is this. There are certain ways in which a scheme can be introduced. In the first place a scheme may be submitted to the Minister by certain bodies. After consideration of the scheme, the Minister can decide whether or not he is going to instruct the Marketing Council to investigate the scheme further. In other words, the Minister need not even go further than merely to acknowledge receipt of the proposed scheme. He can decide whether or not he wants the scheme that has been submitted to him to be further investigated. The Act lays down which bodies and persons are entitled to submit schemes—not to introduce them but to submit them. The Act provides that schemes may be submitted by a co-operative society consisting of producers of a certain product and by any body consisting of producers of a particular product. It has always been accepted in the past that that is the position, and quite a number of schemes that were eventually introduced were submitted by the South African Agricultural Union. At least four schemes which are in operation at the moment were submitted by the South African Agricultural Union. The fresh milk scheme on the Witwatersrand, Pretoria, Bloemfontein and Cape Town was also submitted by the South African Agricultural Union, and one of the objections raised before the court was that the South African Agricultural Union is not a competent body under the Act to submit a scheme, although it had always been recognized as such. It has not been tested before the court. All we are doing here is to make sure that the South African Agricultural Union will be recognized as a body which is entitled to submit schemes, as it has always done in the past. Quite a number of schemes, to which I have already referred, were introduced after having been submitted by the South African Agricultural Union. But I want to show hon. members what they are really objecting to. The Act provides that any co-operative society which is representative of producers may submit a scheme. In other words, a small little co-operative society in some remote part of the country, consisting of seven members— because a co-operative society may consist of seven members only—and producing a particular product, may in terms of the Act submit a scheme to-day. Let me put this question to hon. members on that side: If such a cooperative society were to submit a scheme, do they think for a single moment that the Minister or the Department or the Marketing Council would recommend that such a scheme be made applicable to the whole country before he has caused it to be thoroughly investigated and before he has made sure that the producers of the product concerned are in favour of such a scheme? Surely it is unthinkable, but at the moment the Act does provide for that power. Furthermore, I want to point out to hon. members that there are many cases where the producers of a particular product have not organized themselves into a body that represents the producers of that particular produce only. Take the case of pineapples. Most pineapple producers belong to the Bathurst Farmers’ Union. They have no special Pineapple Produers’ Association. If all the pineapple producers belonging to the Bathurst Farmers’ Association wanted a scheme to be submitted— not introduced but submitted—then the Bathurst Farmers’ Union, unless this amendment is made, would not have the power under the Act to submit the scheme. In other words, it would mean that those pineapple producers would first have to establish a special body to be able to submit such a scheme; they cannot, however, do so through their existing association to which producers of other products also belong. Mr. Chairman, after all the South African Agricultural Union is representative of all the various branches of South African agriculture. They have commodity committees that they have appointed for the various products. They are advised by those commodity committees. Can hon. members imagine for a moment that the South African Agricultural Union would propose a milk scheme, for example, if the commodity committee which specifically represents the dairy producers are not convinced that the dairy producers want that scheme? In other words, I cannot see what objection hon. members can have to this amendment. But if a scheme is submitted to the Minister by a small co-operative society consisting of seven members, or by any other body, or by the Marketing Council, or by the South African Agricultural Union (after this amendment) then the Minister can still say: “ I think this is a ridiculous scheme; I am not even going to refer it to the Marketing Council.” The Minister may even refuse to refer it for investigation. But if he thinks that it is in the interests of the producers and that they want it, then he refers it for investigation to the Marketing Council, and then it is for the Council to investigate it. The Marketing Council may then recommend certain amendments. The Minister may accept the amendments, and after having accepted the scheme and the amendments, he has to publish the scheme for the information of the producers of that particular product, and he must convince himself that the producers are in favour of the scheme. It is only when he has done all these things that he can introduce the scheme. The South African Agricultural Union is not being given the right to introduce a scheme. The only right that it is being given here is to submit a scheme. In these circumstances I am not prepared to accept this amendment. I think if hon. members think this matter over carefully, and bear in mind how such a scheme is introduced in practice, they themselves will realize that their objection to the amendment contained in this Bill falls away completely.
May I use the very argument that has been used by the hon. the Minister in respect of the Bathurst Farmers’ Union whom he suggests might be a body representative of the pineapple industry. Supposing they did submit a scheme. They are in a minority as far as pineapple production is concerned. Will they ultimately be allowed to vote on any scheme that is put forward? May I refer the Minister to Clause 10? This clause says—
What is the position there? I want to use that argument because the Minister himself used it, and I still say that the Bathurst Union is not representative of the pineapple industry.
I do not want to argue with the hon. member across the floor of the House the whole day. The hon. member says that the Bathurst Farmers’ Union, to use the example that I used a moment ago, will be in the minority as far as pineapple production is concerned. I admit that, and it is for the very reason that they are in the minority that such a scheme would not be introduced on their recommendation only. It would be investigated. But if seven members of the Bathurst Farmers’ Union were to establish a co-operative society, and those seven members were then to submit a scheme as a co-operative society, then they would still represent a minority of the producers—to an even greater extent—but then they would have the right to submit such a scheme as the Act now reads. Surely the hon. member realizes that. But no Minister is going to introduce a scheme simply on the recommendation of seven producers who have established a cooperative society. Similarly he would not introduce a scheme submitted to him by producers who produce only a portion of the total production of a particular product. They may submit their scheme, but those same 140 minority members of the Bathurst Farmers’ Union, even without this amendment, could establish a co-operative society with 140 members, and they would then be entitled to submit the scheme. They would be able to submit it through a co-operative society established by them, but to-day they cannot submit it through the Bathurst Farmers’ Union, of which they are members. This shows how ridiculous the whole objection of hon. members on the other side is. The fact still remains that in many cases it is a minority that submits the scheme. Let me mention just a few examples. There are many products that are produced throughout the country. Take a product like beans, for example. Beans are produced not only in one area but on a small scale throughout the whole country. A small co-operative society that consists of seven producers of beans would be able to submit a scheme, but the commodity committee of the South African Agricultural Union, which represents the farmers throughout South Africa producing that particular product, would not be able to do so. I just want to show hon. members how ridiculous their argument is. I simply cannot understand how hon. members can be prepared to give the right to submit a scheme to a minority of seven producers who have established a co-operative society while 150 or 170 of those same producers belonging to a farmers’ association or to the South African Agricultural Union are not to have the right to submit it. I hope that hon. members now understand the position.
Sir, using the Minister’s own argument, I would like to ask him this: Does the South African Agricultural Union represent the citrus industry of South Africa for instance? I do not think there is one commercial grower of oranges on the executive of the South African Agricultural Union to-day, and yet they can put up a scheme to control oranges. Certain conditions of that scheme may be to the detriment of the producers, but if the Minister cares to recognize them as a body for the purposes of this clause, they can put up such a scheme. The citrus growers may hold a meeting and, by an overwhelming majority, vote against the scheme—not only the producers engaged in the commercial production of oranges, but producers controlling perhaps two-thirds of the production. The Minister, under certain powers vested in him under this amending Bill, may then disregard their wishes altogether. I want to go back to a point to which this clause has particular reference. I asked the hon. the Minister, during the second reading debate, whether this was the exact Bill which he placed before organized agriculture, before the boards that are already in existence under the marketing scheme, but he did not answer. My information is that this clause was not contained in the Bill submitted in 1960 to the citrus-growers. I want to ask the Minister again to make a statement in this regard. I asked him in the second reading and he just talked around the subject. Were all these clauses and all the powers that he is taking here to recognize certain bodies and to accept schemes, contained in the Bill when he placed it before the Citrus Control Board and other organized bodies? We hear in this House on numerous occasions that the producers or the interested parties have been consulted, but we want the Minister to assure us that this was the Bill on which they were consulted, and that no other clauses have been introduced into it subsequently. In the case of tobacco, I asked the Minister how many growers are represented on the South African Agricultural Union, not only on the executive, but how many go to the congress as a whole? They are allowed a very small proportion at the congress, and yet the hon. the Minister can recognize the South African Agricultural Union as a body entitled to bring in a scheme to control the whole of the tobacco industry. And what about milk production? I dealt with milk production and a fresh milk scheme in relation to Natal and the Witwatersrand. We know that in Cape Town there is a scheme which suits this particular area. It has, I understand, been successful as far as the vast majority are concerned. This scheme, however, is not suitable for Natal, the areas from which fresh milk is drawn for Durban and Pietermaritzburg. The producers of Natal have over and over again voted, by a majority vote, against a compulsory scheme being introduced for the Durban fresh milk market and the Pietermaritzburg market. The same applies to the Witwatersrand.
Yes, the same applies to the Witwatersrand. That interjection only shows that the hon. member does not know the Act. Certain people have asked for it. If the producer wanted it, there would be no difficulty in bringing in a scheme under the Marketing Act as it is in force at present. The hon. member for Cradock (Mr. G. F. H. Bekker) dealt with certain aspects just now, but he was wrong. He says that the Minister has the power to introduce a scheme and to recognize bodies. Under the present Marketing Act the Minister must get a majority of the producers of that particular product to agree to the scheme before he can introduce a scheme which controls them completely in the marketing of their product. This particular clause allows him to recognize a body for the purpose of putting forward a scheme, but not the producers concerned. That is what we do not like, and that is what the producers are against, and if the Minister wanted the producers to accept this amendment, I ask him why did he not put forward this particular Bill to all organized agricultural bodies plus all the control boards which exist at present under the Marketing Act? Why did he not submit this Bill as it now reads, with these powers, instead of introducing a clause such as this after having discussed the matter with them? Surely we must have the full facts of the law as it will be applied to them discussed with them, and not a Bill which is subsequently altered and into which clauses are introduced which change the picture completely as far as the producers’ products are concerned. Under the present Marketing Act the producers, by majority vote, can refuse to have a scheme applied to their products, and the Minister cannot force that scheme on them. Under this amending clause he can do what he jolly well likes; that is what it amounts to.
Read the clause.
If you have 1,000 producers of one particular product and 50 members in one section of the area, controlling perhaps 10 per cent of that product, establish a small co-operative society, the hon. the Minister may recognize that body and accept the scheme put forward by them. But before that scheme can be applied to the producers, he has to call a meeting of all producers interested in that product, and he must get a majority of them or at least sufficient producers controlling 50 per cent of that product, and then the scheme is enforced. Sir, we find no fault with that. That is the position to-day. Why does the Minister want to recognize other bodies? Why, under other clauses, does he want to force the producers to accept a scheme that they themselves do not want? We are against this, and that is why we move that (a) and (b) be deleted so that no body other than the producers of that particular product shall be recognized as a body having a say in any scheme applying to that product.
The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District) (Capt. Henwood) is really in reverse gear this afternoon. He knows that the position at the moment is that any small group of persons who have established a co-operative society—and it may consist of seven members only—and who produce a certain product, may submit a scheme, not introduce it but submit it.
But it cannot be forced down the throats of the producers.
At the moment, although they may submit a scheme, the S.A. Agricultural Union is not allowed to submit a scheme. The Minister now comes along and makes provision for the S.A. Agricultural Union to be recognized as the mouthpiece of the producers of that commodity. Hon. members opposite have no confidence in the S.A. Agricultural Union. That is our problem here to-day. They believe that the S.A. Agricultural Union does not represent the farmers and their interests. At the moment the S.A. Agricultural Union cannot submit a scheme to the Minister.
That is what the court says.
The court says so. The only thing that the Minister is doing now is to say that the S.A. Agricultural Union will be entitled to submit a scheme. That is all that this clause means. The S.A. Agricultural Union will not introduce the scheme; it will only be able to submit a scheme to the Minister, and then the Minister, in accordance with the usual legal procedure, will cause it to be investigated and then he will make his final decision. But the hon. member who has just spoken says that the S.A. Agricultural Union does not represent the citrus growers, or that he does not represent the tobacco farmers of South Africa. Surely that is a clear admission that that hon. member does not recognize the S.A. Agricultural Union as the mouthpiece of the producers in South Africa. Is the hon. member not aware of the fact that the S.A. Agricultural Union has formed various commodity committees? Those commodity committees represent every single product that is produced in South Africa, and it is for the citrus grower and for the tobacco farmer to ensure that they have representation on the S.A. Agricultural Union in those commodity committees and that they make use of their representation by using the S.A. Agricultural Union as their mouthpiece. The S.A. Agricultural Union with its commodity committees is organized in such a way that it can act for and be representative of all the farmers in South Africa, and here the Minister is simply making it possible under the Act for the S.A. Agricultural Union to submit a scheme to him for introduction. But hon. members opposite refuse to allow it. It is perfectly clear that either they have no confidence in the S.A. Agricultural Union or that they have not read this Bill or are too stupid to understand it.
I think the hon. member for Wakkerstroom (Mr. Martins) has stated the position very clearly in the argument which he has just advanced. I stated yesterday that I would have no objection (that is my personal opinion) if one of the commodity committees of the S.A. Agricultural Union which is responsible for a particular agricultural product, were to submit a scheme to the Minister. I would have no objection to it. But that is not what this amendment says. The amendment says—
Not persons who have anything to do with that particular product. In other words, as the amendment reads—I speak subject to correction and the Minister can correct me if I am wrong—a number of sheep farmers who have organized themselves into a body, which is also interested in agricultural pursuits, as the sheep farmer is, can come along and submit a scheme to the Minister in connection with maize.
Then he would reject it.
Can the hon. the Minister deny that that is the position in terms of this wording? If he tells me that that is not the position I will be satisfied. But as it stands here any group of persons interested m agriculture, whether they grow that particular product or have anything to do with it or not, may submit a scheme in respect of that product. That is why I feel that this clause has been worded too widely. I went on to say yesterday that we may not always have a sympathetic Minister of Agriculture. Why is it necessary to frame this amendment in such wide terms? I can well understand that it may have been necessary to amend the existing provisions so as to include the S.A. Agricultural Union as it is split up to-day into various commodity committees. But then the definition must not be so wide that it opens the door to any number of people, any body that has anything to do with agriculture, with the result that one branch of agriculture may submit schemes which are to be applicable to another branch.
The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District) (Capt. Henwood) has asked whether this clause was discussed with the various control boards and with the S.A. Agricultural Union when the amendments to this Act were under discussion. It was not discussed with them on that occasion, and the reason is that at that time they all accepted the S.A. Agricultural Union as a body which is entitled to submit schemes. As I have already said, at least four schemes under the Marketing Act have been submitted in the past by the S.A. Agricultural Union. There was never any doubt therefore in the minds of the control boards or the S.A. Agricultural Union or any agricultural organization on this question as to whether they had the right to submit a scheme, neither am I convinced, as the Act now reads, that they have not got this power. But an application was then made to court on this specific point, and there is some doubt in the minds of our law advisers whether, if such a case were taken to court, it might not be held that the S.A. Agricultural Union is not representative of certain groups of producers. It is for that reason that we are amending the Act. But the citrus growers and the tobacco farmers and their organizations and the S.A. Agricultural Union never doubted that the S.A. Agricultural Union did have this power under the existing Act. We are simply making sure now that that is the position. The hon. member for Florida says that these powers are too wide. But the Bui clearly states “or any body, which in the opinion of the Minister, is representative Can hon. members imagine for a single moment that the Minister would regard them as representative if a number of meat producers were to come along with a scheme for the tobacco farmers? Apparently they think that Nationalist Ministers are more stupid than United Party supporters. That is the only conclusion to which I can come. All legislation is drawn up in this way. One might just as well argue that because the chairman of the S A Agricultural Union, for example, is not a’ dairy producer, the S.A. Agricultural Union cannot submit a scheme in connection with milk; or that because the vice-chairman of the S.A. Agricultural Union is not a kaffir-corn producer they cannot submit a scheme in connection with kaffir-corn. That is why it is being stated in this way. The Minister has to go through the whole of this procedure before a scheme can be introduced and he must take all these things into consideration. How then can the Minister act in the way that they suggest? Do they think that if the wool growers of the Karoo were to submit a milk scheme for the dairy farmers in Durban, the Marketing Council would even investigate such a scheme? Surely it is unthinkable. And would the Minister accept such a scheme without consulting the people who produce that product? Surely that is also unthinkable! Hon. members opposite are raising a hullabaloo about a danger which really does not exist. I repeat that the citrus growers and others have been under the impression that the S.A. Agricultural Union has the right to submit schemes. It is only now that the Bill has been introduced that they suddenly come to the conclusion that there is a certain amount of doubt in that regard. All we want to do is to remove that doubt.
The hon. Minister is trying to simplify the matter too much, just as the hon. member for Wakkerstroom (Mr. Martins) has done. The hon. member says that the S.A. Agricultural Union is representative of organized agriculture. We agree on that, and in respect of general matters where all agriculturists are interested as a body, they are organized agriculture. Yet, I have heard this Government disregard their voice in very major matters. But here is a product which is going to come under control, not only in respect of production, but especially in regard to marketing, and nobody should have the right of bringing in a scheme and to control and to regulate prices as well as the flow of the market by force, unless the producers themselves so determine, by a majority. What has been found wanting in the Marketing Act in the past? I know that, as far as the S.A. Agricultural Union is concerned, you have commodity committees, and a commodity committee goes into details and it feels that it would be a good thing for instance to introduce a fresh milk scheme somewhere, for that potatoes should come under a scheme, they can through the South African Agricultural Union submit a scheme. And talking about potatoes, we know that the Potato Control Board is not operating in detail to-day. Why? Many people do not feel happy about these schemes. Why then does the hon. the Minister take these powers? Under the existing Act the Commodity Committee of the S.A.U.U. can call a meeting of the producers of a particular product which they feel should be under control in an area, and they themselves are then presented with a scheme which, if they care to adopt same, can be brought under the law through the ordinary process of the Marketing Act. The original principle enshrined in the Act was of course that the producer should control his own product and see that it is marketed to his own advantage.
That is still the case.
No. The hon. the Minister did not reply to us during the second reading when we pointed out that, under other clauses, which we oppose, he can disregard any vote of the producers of a particular product. He can even by proclamation in the Gazette say: These people want a scheme. Let us take walnuts, a product that is not on the cards at the moment. The walnut producers want a scheme. They can get a scheme, but the producers must come together and by a majority vote of those controlling 50 per cent of the product, that scheme comes into being, they lay down the conditions of the scheme. But here the Minister takes powers that by proclamation in the Gazette he can say: “ I am having no voting by the producers.”
You don’t know the law.
I do. The present Act says that they must vote and there must be a majority. We want it to remain that way. But under the amendments in this Bill, the Minister can disregard the voting by the producers. He can say that he is disregarding the vote of the producers of that commodity. He can recognize the body who suggests a scheme and he can say that the Marketing Council shall examine the scheme and submit recommendations to him. But he can disregard even that and by proclamation he can enforce a scheme. Will the hon. the Minister categorically say here, so that it goes on record —and if he says so, I’ll feel much happier— that under no circumstances will he proclaim or bring into being a scheme for fresh milk in Natal unless the producers themselves by a majority, controlling 50 per cent of the product in the milk area of Pietermaritzburg and Durban, ask for the scheme? Now the hon. the Minister is quiet, because he knows that that is what he wants to do. Will the Minister get up and say categorically that he will not apply a fresh milk scheme to the Witwatersrand area, unless the majority of the producers who control over 50 per cent of the fresh milk entering those areas, at a meeting vote for a scheme? Now we are coming to the point. Will the hon. the Minister give us that undertaking?
But that has nothing to do with the clause under discussion.
You see, Mr. Chairman, he will not give us that undertaking, because that is what he intends to do. Under this clause he can recognize any other body to bring forward a control scheme for fresh milk in Natal or any other part of the Union where the producers in that area through their organization do not ask for such a scheme. You see, we cannot get a categorical answer, because the hon. the Minister knows that there is an intention to depart from the present Act. Why otherwise have these amendments? Hon. members opposite are not looking after the interests of the people in those areas. I am looking at these things objectively. I am a farmer and have made my living all my life out of farming. I have been on farmers’ organizations, and have represented them over the years, and I want to see that this thing is dealt with on its merits and not as a political issue. Will the hon. the Minister give us a guarantee that he will not bring a scheme into being in any part of the Union where the bulk of the producers at a special meeting do not approve of the scheme?
When one listens to speech after speech by the hon. member, one can only gain the impression that the Marketing Act has always provided that no scheme may be accepted unless the majority of the producers under that scheme have given their approval to it; and then the hon. member comes along and says in the same breath that the Minister is now abolishing all those powers. The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District) (Capt. Henwood) is engaged in conversation at the moment and when I sit down he will probably get up again and repeat the same arguments that he has used before because he takes no notice of the Minister’s explanation or of the explanation given by any other person. He knows all about it and no Nationalist knows anything about the Marketing Act. That is the attitude that the hon. member adopts. I want to read out this section to the hon. member in English, because then he may understand it better perhaps. The section that we are amending here says—
The other bodies are mentioned, and after the words “ Marketing Council ” we are now inserting “ or any body which, in the opinion of the Minister, is representative…. They may submit a scheme to the Minister. But then sub-section (2) of Section 17 goes further, and it still reads as it has always read—
It states precisely what the Minister may do, and the only thing that is now being done in this clause is to give the right to submit a scheme to a body other than a co-operative organization or a company or association. The hon. member now interprets this as meaning that here the Minister is assuming a great many powers and that he wants to throw overboard the whole idea of the Marketing Act, and that the woolgrowers will now be able to come along and submit a certain scheme for the dairy farmers in Durban. The hon. member wants the Minister to get up and to say that no scheme will be accepted unless it has been approved by the producers by a majority vote. How can the Minister give such a reply in the light of the old Section 17 (b)? Here it is laid down precisely how a certain scheme may be introduced, how it has to be considered and how it can be accepted or rejected or referred back. Surely the hon. member does not want to tell us that he cannot understand it; that he cannot understand that this simply deals with the submission of a scheme.
And then the hon. member associates himself with the statement of the hon. member for King William’s Town (Mr. Warren) that they have the fullest confidence in the S.A. Agricultural Union, but they hold it against us when we say that they are not giving their support to the S.A. Agricultural Union. Surely then they should also support what the agricultural unions ask for. But the position is that because they do not support the agricultural unions, the agricultural unions are no longer supporting them either.
I am sorry but I can only interpret the representations of the hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (District) (Capt. Henwood) as meaning that for some reason or other he has no confidence in the S.A. Agricultural Union. This amendment to Section 17 grants no new powers to the hon. the Minister, neither does it take away any of the Minister’s power. All that this amendment does is to add that a body which is concerned with agricultural pursuits may submit a scheme to the Minister. In that respect the hon. member for Florida is correct because strictly speaking, theoretically, what he said may happen, may in fact happen. But which Minister, in practice, would accept a recommendation from a church council consisting of farmers to introduce a scheme in connection with any agricultural pursuit in the area in which the church council operates? It is unthinkable. The hon. member laughs, but that is what it practically amounts to. Strictly speaking the hon. member for Florida is correct, but the only way in which the S.A. Agricultural Union can be given an opportunity to submit a scheme to the Minister is to word the clause in the way in which this clause is worded, unless the S.A. Agricultural Union is to be mentioned specifically in the Act. But can you imagine that in practice the woolgrowers’ commodity committee, which is affiliated with the S.A. Agricultural Union, would put forward a pineapple scheme? And if it were to happen, the Minister would be under no obligation to accept such a scheme. The Minister causes every scheme that is submitted by interested parties to be investigated, and this amendment does not seek to give the Minister greater powers—the Minister has these powers to-day—but we want the S.A. Agricultural Union to be able to submit a scheme. The S.A. Agricultural Union will now be able to do so. I cannot see why these objections are being raised. This simply gives a body like the S.A. Agricultural Union an opportunity to submit a scheme to the Minister, and the Minister can then cause the scheme to be investigated. No outside body can introduce a scheme. And I do not think that we will ever have a Minister of Agriculture in the future who would be so stupid as to have a scheme introduced that is recommended by a group of people other than the producers who are interested in that scheme.
The two previous speakers have not replied to the arguments put forward by this side: Do they or do they not agree that the producers of a product are the people who should have the right to decide whether they want a marketing scheme applied to them or not?
That has nothing to do with this clause.
Another body can be recognized, other than the producers. The Minister now can accept a scheme from other people except the bodies specifically mentioned in the existing Act.
Only to present a scheme. This clause has nothing to do with the acceptance of a scheme.
No, Sir, I am not talking about the acceptance of a scheme, but they can put forward a scheme, and then of course a scheme put forward by another body can be accepted by the Minister, and I am pointing out the dangers if another body is recognized as a body which can submit a scheme, other than the producers themselves. The hon. member for Somerset East (Mr. Vosloo) who quoted from the existing Act proved my point that there is an adequate number of bodies who are recognized to-day by the Marketing Act to put schemes before the Minister. The Marketing Act was an Act agreed to objectively by all parties. It was put forward by the United Party but the original Act was accepted by the farmers of South Africa as their charter and we do not want to see the principles enshrined in that Act to be watered down by recognizing bodies other than the producers of a particular product as bodies who can put forward a scheme. What has been said by the last two speakers on the other side has not answered our objections as farmers to this particular amendment.
Question put: That paragraphs (a) and (b), proposed to be omitted, stand part of the clause,
Upon which the Committee divided:
Ayes—76: Badenhorst, F. H.; Bekker, H. T. van G.; Bekker, M. J. H.; Bootha, L. J. C.; Botha, M. C.; Botha, P. W.; Coetzee, B.; Coetzee, P. J.; De Villiers, C. V.; Diederichs, N.; du Pisanie, J.; du Plessis, H. R. H.; du Plessis, P. W.; Erasmus, F. C.; Froneman, G. F. van L.; Greyling, J. C.; Grobler, M. S. F.; Haak, J. F. W.; Hertzog, A.; Heystek, J.; Hiemstra, E. C. A.; Jurgens, J. C.; Keyter, H. C. A.; Kotze, G. P.; Kotzé, S. F.; Labuschagne, J. S.; le Riche, R.; Malan, W. C.; Marais, J. A.; Maree, W. A.; Martins, H. E.; Meyer, T.; Mostert, D. J. J.; Muller, S. L.; Nel, J. A. F.; Nel, M. D. C. de W.; Niemand, F. J.; Otto, J. C.; Pelser, P. C.; Potgieter, J. E.; Rall, J. J.; Sauer, P. O.; Schoeman, B. J.; Schoeman, J. C. B.; Schoonbee, J. F.; Serfontein, J. J.; Smit, H. H.; Stander, A. H.; Steyn, F. S.; Steyn, J. H.; Strydom, G. H. F.; Treurnicht, N. F.; Uys, D. C. H.; van den Berg, G. P.; van den Berg, M. J.; van der Ahee, H. H.; van der Merwe, J. A.; van der Merwe, P. S.; van der Walt, B. J.; van der Wath, J. G. H.; van Niekerk, G. L. H.; van Niekerk, M. C.; van Staden, J. W.; van Wyk, G. H.; van Wyk, H. J.; Venter, M. J. de la R.; Venter, W. L. D. M.; Verwoerd, H. F.; Viljoen, M.; Visse, J. H.; von Moltke, J. von S.; Vorster, B. J.; Vosloo, A. H.; Webster, A.
Tellers: W. H. Faurie and J. J. Fouché.
NOES—38: Barnett, C.; Basson, J. A. L.; Bloomberg, A.; Butcher, R. R.; Cope, J. P.; Cronje, F. J. C.; de Beer, Z. J.; de Kock, H. C.; Dodds, P. R.; Fisher, E. L.; Frielinghaus, H. O.; Gay, L. C.; Graaff, de V.; Henwood, B. H.; Higgerty, J. W.; Horak, J. L.; Lewis, H.; Miller, H.; Moore, P. A.; Oldfield, G. N.; Plewman, R. P.; Radford, A.; Ross, D. G.; Shearer, O. L.; Smit, D. L.; Steenkamp, L. S.; Steyn, S. J. M.; Steytler, J. van A.; Suzman, H.; Swart, H. G.; Swart, R. A. F.; Tucker, H.; van der Byl, P.; van Ryneveld. C. B.; Warren, C. M.; Waterson, S. F.
Tellers: A. Hopewell and T. G. Hughes.
Question accordingly affirmed and the amendment negatived.
Clause, as printed, put and agreed to.
On Clause 3,
To Clause 3 we have the same objection as we had to Clause 2, that is, the recognition of any other body or board by the Minister apart from the producers of a particular product. I am not going to go over all that ground again. The Minister knows our objections, but we do feel that it should be on record that we have lodged this objection. We have thrashed this matter out but the hon. the Minister is not prepared to listen to those people who represent the producers, or to ensure that those people who speak on behalf of the producers of a particular commodity or product are the recognized mouthpieces of those producers. We feel it is entirely wrong that the Minister ask for this power and that he should amend the present Act, quite unnecessarily, to give him greater power which enables him to recognize people other than the producers of that particular commodity. We are opposed to this clause and we shall vote against it. Can the Minister give us any reasonable reason why he should recognize other boards or other bodies of agriculturists except the producers of that particular product? If not we will oppose this clause.
Clause 3 put and the Committee divided:
Ayes—74: Badenhorst, F. H.; Bekker, H. T. van G.; Bekker, M. J. H.; Bootha, L. J. C.; Botha, M. C.; Botha, P. W.; Coetzee, B.; Coetzee, P. J.; de Villiers, C. V.; Diederich, N.; du Pisanie, J.; du Plessis, H. R. H.; du Plessis, P. W.; Erasmus, F. C.; Froneman, G. F. van L.; Greyling, J. C.; Grobler, M. S. F.; Haak, J. F. W.; Hertzog, A.; Heystek, J.; Hiemstra, E. C. A.; Jurgens, J. C.; Keyter, H. C. A.; Kotze, G. P.; Kotzé, S. F.; Labuschagne, J. S.; le Riche, R.; Malan, W. C.; Marais, J. A.; Martins, H. E.; Meyer, T.; Mostert, D. J. J.; Muller, S. L.; Nel, J. A. F.; Nel, M. D. C. de W.; Niemand, F. J.; Otto, J. C.; Pelser, P. C.; Potgieter, D. J.; Potgieter, J. E.; Rall, J. J.; Sauer, P. O.; Schoeman, B. J.; Schoonbee, J. F.; Serfontein, J. J.; Stander, A. H.; Steyn, F. S.; Steyn, J. H.; Strydom, G. H. F.; Treurnicht, N. F.; Uys, D. C. H.; van den Berg, G. P.; van den Berg, M. J.; van der Ahee, H. H.; van der Merwe. J. A.; van der Merwe, P. S.; van der Walt, B. J.; van der Wath, J. G. H.; van Niekerk, G. L. H.; van Niekerk, M. C.; van Staden, J. W.; van Wyk, G. H.; van Wyk, H. J.; Venter, M. J. de la R.; Venter, W. L. D. M.; Verwoerd, H. F.; Viljoen, M.; Visse, J. H.; von Moltke, J. von S.; Vorster, B. J.; Vosloo, A. H.; Webster, A.
Tellers: W. H. Faurie and J. J. Fouché.
NOES—37: Basson, J. A. L.; Bowker, T. B.; Butcher, R. R.; Cope, J. P.; Cronje, F. J. C.; de Beer, Z. J.; de Kock, H. C.; Dodds, P. R.: Fisher, E. L.; Frielinghaus, H. O.; Gay, L. C.: Graaff, de V.; Henwood, B. H.; Higgerty, J. W.; Horak, J. L.; Lewis, H.; Miller, H.; Moore, P. A.; Oldfield, G. N.; Plewman, R. P.; Radford, A.; Ross, D. G.; Shearer, O. L.; Smit, D. L.; Steenkamp, L. S.; Steyn, S. J. M.; Steytler, J. van A.; Suzman, H.; Swart, H. G.; Swart, R. A. F.; Tucker, H.; van der Byl, P.; van Ryneveld, C. B.; Warren, C. M.; Waterson, S. F.
Tellers: A. Hopewell and T. G. Hughes.
Clause accordingly agreed to.
On Clause 4,
I have only one short observation to make. The hon. the Minister knows of the heavy obligations, financially and otherwise, that are imposed upon the farmers under any scheme. I want to ask the Minister this: If representations are made to him in future for separate schemes in respect of the same product, will he give due consideration to them and not lightly accept a division of a scheme unless it is absolutely necessary that that scheme should be set up for the purpose of administering that particular product?
I can give the hon. member this assurance: Even if there are different products, the policy is that when they can all be included under one scheme, we do so instead of having separate boards—in the first place so as to keep the administration costs as low as possible. The hon. member will realize that where the same product has to be controlled under two schemes, it will only be done in exceptional cases where the particular product does not lend itself to administration under one scheme. But where it can be placed under one scheme, we are not going to have two schemes, because we cannot see that any useful purpose can be served by having a second scheme. However, when we deal with an industry that we cannot control under one and the same scheme, there will have to be a separate scheme.
Clause put and agreed to.
On Clause 5,
I should like to ask the hon. the Minister to give us the reasons for this amendment which empowers him to bring two boards into being in relation to one particular product? Is is envisaged that he needs two boards to deal with one product in different areas?
We have already passed that item.
Order! The hon. member is referring to Clause 4. The assurance was given to the hon. member for King William’s Town (Mr. Warren) in that respect.
There was such a row going on I did not hear it.
I should like to say a few words about Clause 5 (1) (b). This sub-clause provides for differential levies between, mainly, the controlled and the uncontrolled areas. I know that there is a practice now that differential levies are, in fact, being applied, and I understand that there is some doubt as to whether that practice is legal, so that the reason for the introduction of this sub-clause is to legalize the practice. Now I want to say there are quite serious misgivings, particularly in commercial quarters, as to the advisability of this practice. As far as I am concerned, I feel that this sub-clause should be omitted from the Bill. It would be much better not to have this practice of differential levies because it actually places factories in the uncontrolled areas, where there is a differential levy, very often at a great advantage over factories in the controlled areas. While I am not suggesting for a moment that the practice of differential levies will necessarily be deliberately unfairly applied, it can operate to the disadvantage of the main urban areas. The best example, which has been given by the Associated Chambers of Commerce is that of the bacon industry where factories in the larger towns such as Johannesburg are placed at a disadvantage as against factories in rural areas.
The point I want to make is that it is not, I feel, a wise practice to have these differential levies. It is better to have the same levy applied throughout and for that reason I would like to suggest that sub-clause (b) be omitted. I therefore move an amendment as follows—
I just want to show the hon. member why it is necessary to have differential levies under the same scheme. Take the fresh milk scheme, for example, if it is accepted and comes into operation. It will then mean that it will operate in various areas such as the Rand and Pretoria, for example, in Bloemfontein and Cape Town—to mention three. If there is going to be no differentiation in the levies, it will mean that the levy in all the areas will have to be the same. And in the nature of things the implementation of the scheme is not the same in every area. In the one area the quota system may operate and in the other area the pool system under the scheme. It is essential therefore to have differential levies, because if we are to have a general levy we may find that it is too high in the one case and too low in the other case. We must have the power therefore to differentiate. There is another reason as well. We have certain products which are largely produced in one area and a small proportion in another area—such a tiny proportion that control would not make much difference there. If we are to introduce the same levy for the whole scheme, then that levy will have to be paid in areas where it is not really necessary. I hope the hon. member will appreciate the problem. It would create great problems if we had Union-wide schemes because unless we differentiate it may result in a higher levy having to be paid in some areas than is necessary.
I thank the hon. the Minister for his explanation and I fully understand the reasons he set forth. The point is simply this, that it would be very much better if he left the situation as it now is rather than have this written in the Act. One appreciates there has to be a little elasticity in regard to this situation, and this elasticity has been made use of in as much as the Minister has to some extent applied differential levies. But there is some doubt as to whether that is legal. Nevertheless there have been no legal actions instituted, but there has always been that sense of restraint in the background owing to the doubt as to its legality. That has ensured that it was not applied indiscriminately, and the fear now is that once this Bill is amended the door will be open to applying these levies indiscriminately. One realizes that at the moment there is very great discretion for the reasons the Minister has given, and no one is suggesting that he is not going to apply discrimination. He needs a little elasticity, and the feeling is that if he leaves the situation alone and carries on with the Act as it now is he will have that elasticity. The fear simply is that serious discrimination could be applied once this goes on the Statute Book. That is why it would be better not to write this into the Act. However, in view of the Minister’s explanation I will not force this to a division. With the leave of the House I will withdraw my amendment.
With leave of the Committee, the amendment was withdrawn.
Clause, as printed, put and agreed to.
On Clause 6,
Will the hon. the Minister tell us his reasons for deleting all reference to the Audit Act in this clause? We feel that where there are financial obligations and responsibilities in terms of the Act we would like to know that they are properly audited. But there is a reference here to the deletion of the audit and I would like to know why that is.
This clause is being replaced by a new section which conforms to the new Treasury and Audit Act of 1936. It is not necessary to retain it in this form in the Act, because legislation has been introduced subsequently which automatically makes auditing essential.
Clause put and agreed to.
On Clause 7,
I should like to say something about Clause 7 (a) and (b). These two sub-clauses make it possible to discriminate between one group of producers and another, and between one group of traders and another. I rise simply in order to ask the Minister to tell us in greater detail why he particularly wants these two sub-clauses. Is it wise to have this discrimination? Does it not open the door to favouritism and practices which should be avoided? I would be grateful if the hon. the Minister could give us in more detail the reasons why he wants these two sub-clauses because, as they now stand, lacking such explanation I say that they are open to the doubts I have expressed.
Mr. Chairman, in my second reading speech I explained fairly fully what the reason for this is. In terms to the present Section 19 (1) (b) producers of a product may be prohibited unless they are registered with the board. In practice, however, it may be sufficient for the purpose of the scheme to register only certain classes of persons. The Egg Control Board, for example, expects producers who keep more than a certain number of fowls to register so as to have a record of all producers who produce a substantial quantity of eggs. The proposed amendment will make it possible to draw this distinction. In the citrus industry too the Citrus Board may perhaps want to exclude for registration purposes producers who have fewer than a certain number of trees because they are not in a position to influence the overall estimate of the crop materially, and it is unnecessary to include these small producers in order to get an estimate of the crop. We simply want to have the power to be able to exclude such people.
Clause put and agreed to.
On Clause 8,
This is one of the clauses which this side of the House took exception to in the second reading. We are very perturbed by the provisions of sub-section (1) (e), where it says—
Then it goes on. An amendment was introduced by the Minister in the Other Place…. [Quorum.] Mr. Chairman, when I was interrupted by the call for a quorum by a member on that side of the House, I was most surprised because I thought that was the farmers’ government. In relation to this particular section I was dealing with, there are heavy penalties that could be enforced on a producer if he delivered short supplies of his estimated crop. The Meat Control Board issues permits to a producer to deliver so many sheep and so many pigs, or in the case of fruit, so many crates of bananas; penalties are imposed if he fails to do so, and they can be very severe if you read the Act carefully. If it is in short supply he can be made to pay for the difference between what he delivers and the total amount he consigns. If he delivers more and it is surplus it can just be refused, and if it is returned to him it can go to waste on the return journey, for which he will also have to pay the freight. We feel that these penalties are very severe in this country where we as producers are subject to droughts and floods and to general climatic conditions which make any estimate very difficult indeed. I say it is quite impossible for any producer to give an estimate for a year’s crop, especially if he is called upon to do so some months in advance. The Minister shakes his head, but there is nothing in the Bill which says that if he says he will deliver next week, or the Board calls upon him to give an estimate-no period of time is fixed; and should the Board say that they are making provision for marketing, or the control board has contracts to fulfil, and they ask the producers in that area to give an estimate of their production, what they can produce three months ahead, then you have to give that estimate. Otherwise, if you have a good season and get more than you expected, you are not in a position to give anything like the right estimate. But if you have given an under-estimate and there is a shortage of that product, you are prohibited from selling it. We feel that that is a hardship on the producers. I feel that the Minister has to give very good reasons before we accept this amendment, because it is against the interests of the producers and I feel that it is unreasonable in this country, with our climatic conditions, to do that, and apart from climatic conditions we have all the diseases to which stock are liable. If you have a milk pool and a man has had a quota for years to deliver so much milk, he can be hit by the outbreak of lumpy skin disease and his milk production may drop from 300 gallons to less than 50 gallons, as I know has happened in some cases. I myself was milking 60 cows in full production and I had to dry up all but ten to save their lives. I had my own contract, but if I had to deliver to a pool it would have been very unfair if I had had to pay the full difference if they had to go to another province to get the milk, which they did in that instance. I think that is a real hardship on a producer. I would ask that the Minister should firstly give the full explanation of why it is necessary to have these powers and to impose these penalties. Up to now most of the schemes have been successful without it. There may have been difficulties here and there where people delivered in short supply. I believe there is one co-operative which is paying something like three-fifths of the ordinary market price for a particular commodity, and that concern has had some of its suppliers supplying elsewhere because they had to live. It seems to me that if there is a pool and the pool is badly run and by supplying it the farmers will go to the wall, it is better that the Minister should have a complete investigation into the running of that pool rather than to apply harsh penalties to the producers who find it practically impossible to make a forecast of the crops and be penalized if he falls short.
Listening to the arguments of the hon. member in connection with compulsory product returns, one can only come to the conclusion that he is under the impression that the people serving on the board are lunatics. I cannot imagine that people with common sense would penalize producers if they do not deliver the full quantity set out in the returns submitted by them.
Why does the Minister want this clause then?
Because there are producers who want to cause mischief and they must be punished. But the hon. member’s argument is that because of weather conditions people may be unable to deliver the quantity stated in their returns and they are then penalized. I say that only lunatics would do that. People with common sense would not do it. The difficulty is that if you want orderly marketing and if you want regular supplies to be delivered in order to obtain a regular distribution, you must be in a position to ask the producers for some indication as to what they are going to deliver at a given time, and the board should have the power to demand that these returns be furnished. The Citrus Board works on that system. It receives returns from all the producers before the season setting out the quantities that they are going to deliver, and in those cases particularly where there are co-operative sheds the producers are asked to submit returns and they are then given their quotas. You cannot have orderly distribution unless you have those powers. I say again that people with common sense would not penalize people who are unable to fulfil their obligations because of weather conditions. But there are definitely many producers who do not want to co-operate, and where they hamper the workings of the board, the board should have the power to punish them.
We all agree with the trend of the last speaker’s remarks. Naturally we want orderly marketing and to ensure that there is orderly marketing we want to be able to apply punitive measures to people who do not co-operate. But the hon. member talked about the Citrus Board. I personally produce three types of products in respect of which returns have to be submitted. The Citrus Board wants an estimate beforehand as to the number of oranges that you expect to pick as well as the date. The K.W.V. wants a return showing how much you are going to press, and while the system of meat permits was still in operation, the Meat Board also wanted to know when you wanted the permits and for how many head of cattle. The Wheat Board also expects a return. This is all very well, but nobody is going to tell me that you can determine precisely at the beginning of the year what the size of your crop is going to be. All sorts of factors come into the picture, and I think the Minister will agree that it is impossible to give anything but a very vague estimate. The estimate given to the Citrus Board is usually out by 20 per cent. I myself have never succeeded in being out by less than 20 per cent.
It is just an estimate, and surely you agree that an estimate is essential.
Yes, but it is equally necessary to see that innocent people are not going to be punished under this clause. All I want to ask the Minister is this: If he agrees, as he said in the Other Place, that where a farmer is unable to deliver the quantity that he estimated and then says a few days beforehand that he is sorry but that it has rained and that he is unable to pick his fruit, for example, then I say that no fine should be imposed. Is the Minister willing, however, to put that into the Act? Because when the Minister was attacked in the Other Place, somebody said that this scheme could also be applied to meat, and he then stated that he could not imagine that meat would ever be frozen, but he did not know what might happen in the future, and the Minister went on to say that nobody liked these punitive provisions. All I want to know now is whether the Minister will not be willing to accept an amendment that will make provision for these three cases, in the first place where the person concerned is not in a position to deliver the particular quantity; secondly, where he is unable to deliver on the specified date, and, thirdly, where he has to deliver more than the specified quantity because his crop is bigger than he estimated, that those people will not be punished where there has been no malice on their part but he finds himself in that position due to weather conditions.
Now you are opening the door.
No, because the Minister has said that where a producer gives the board three days’ notice, he will not be punished. I want to make it even easier for him, because here we are dealing with two cases, in the first place with perishable products which are sold locally, and in that case I can understand it if the Minister says that if three days’ notice is given it will not cause much difficulty. But in the case of perishable products for export where shipping facilities have to be booked in advance, I want to go so far as to say that the Minister should make it 21 days. I hope that the Minister himself will move this amendment. I hope he will discuss it with his officials and, if necessary, that he will allow this clause to stand over, because what I have said here is precisely what he said in effect in the Other Place.
I move as an amendment—
“(c) recover for the benefit of the pool from any producer who has delivered to the board a quantity of the product—
- (i) which differs from the quantity of which such producer so gave notice; or
- (ii) in respect of which such producer failed so to give notice,
With reference to the remarks made by hon. members on this clause, I agree that this provision is of a far-reaching nature, and something which one does not like to lay down in legislation. But on the other hand this power must be taken if we want to make a success of a scheme and 75 per cent of the producers want to make a success of it but it is foolishly opposed by a small number, particularly a scheme dealing with a perishable product, because otherwise they could hamper the board in its functions. I just want to read out this clause, which has been drafted as carefully as possible. Clause 2bis says this—
In other words, there are four requirements really with which the scheme has to comply before a penalty can be imposed. Firstly, it must be a pool scheme. Secondly, it must be a scheme which prohibits producers from selling except to that particular board. Thirdly, the power must be written into the scheme itself; and, fourthly, the Minister must approve of it. Hon. members will realize that if all these things proposed by the hon. member were to be written into an amending Bill such as this, it would have to be a very long clause. The hon. member himself has said that three days should be fixed for certain products and 21 days for others. He suggested that in the case of oranges 21 days’ notice could be given. I want to put it to hon. members in this way that in the first place it is not the intention of the board dealing with the scheme to wreck it; its intention is to apply the control as successfully as possible, and if in the application of control it did certain things which were in conflict with the interests of the producers, how long would such a scheme remain in force? Let us assume that you want to control bananas. In order to arrange for the marketing of bananas, producers are required to give notice in advance of the number of bananas that they are going to supply to the market on a certain day. What happens is that a person gives notice that on a certain day he is going to supply 150 crates of bananas, and without giving any notice of a change in his plans he sends 250 crates, without the board’s knowledge. If his lorry were to turn over, making it impossible for him to deliver the bananas, surely it is unthinkable that the board would prosecute him. But in the Act itself one cannot set out all the things that might possibly happen. Where the person has a reasonable excuse and gives timeous notice of his difficulty the board can make the necessary provision, but if he says nothing and sends much more or much less than he undertook to send, hon. members will realize that it hampers the board. I personally am not very happy about the insertion of such a clause in the Bill, because I feel that it is far-reaching to penalize people, but unless this is done, unless we take these powers, we may find that a handful of producers set out deliberately to wreck the scheme or to cause trouble. If one wants orderliness, there must be control, and that is the only reason for this provision. I can assure hon. members that where those powers are included in any scheme that operates a pool, it will only be done with the greatest degree of circumspection. These are difficulties which the boards experience in practice and which make it impossible for them to exercise control. If for example, they expect 3,000 crates of bananas to arrive on the Johannesburg market on a certain day and 6.000 crates arrive, their marketing plans are upset, because bananas cannot be stored. On the other hand, if they expect 3,000 and only 150 arrive, they are also in difficulties. That is why there must be a reasonable supply, and if the producers do not want to co-operate, powers must be assumed so as to be able to compel them to a certain extent to comply with the requirements. That is the reason for this amendment. I can understand why the hon. member for Sea Point moves certain amendments, but it is very difficult to fix the, period of notice because circumstances may vary from place to place. We may say perhaps that the producer should be allowed to give two days’ prior notice that he is unable to deliver, but on the same day his lorry may turn over, and because he has not given notice he is then punishable. Nobody likes this clause, because one does not like taking these powers, but in the circumstances this is the only way to bring about orderly marketing of perishable products.
I quite understand the Minister and I think he is trying to be fair, but what he does not realize is that our fear is that there is no safeguard against an intransigent board or even an official. I know how difficult it is to estimate accurately what your crop will be. I am thinking of six years ago. The Minister farms in the same area as I do and he knows what happened at that time. I know wheat does not come under this because it is not a perishable product, but I mention it as an example. In that case we had the finest wheat crop we had ever had. If I had to give an estimate on I December of what I would reap it would have been a very high figure. The combines went in to reap a few days later. At 11 o’clock a gale blew up, and within three hours I estimated that £17,000 worth of wheat was lost. That happened without any warning at all. Now had that been a perishable product under this clause, it would have been impossible for me to give notice that I could not deliver my estimated crop. We realize the Minister’s difficulty that you cannot put all these safeguards into the Bill, but surely some means can be found of giving a safeguard that some intransigent board or official will not take action unnecessarily because this Act gives him the power to do so. We want to get that safeguard, which does not exist now. This shows how necessary it was for this matter to have gone to a Select Committee before the second reading. Then we would not have had this trouble.
The whole question is whether we want to have orderly marketing control or not. It is quite clear that no board can function without power. We have that in the case of the Mealie Control Board, the Wheat Board, etc. All these control boards must have powers, and the moment the board does not have those powers every member will do precisely what he likes, and in order to have orderly marketing it is absolutely essential that the board should have these powers. To come here now with imaginary objections …
Do not talk nonsense now.
I am talking of the example given by the hon. member for Green Point (Maj. van der Byl). Coming here with imaginary cases does not help us at all. If a man has made his estimate honestly and something goes wrong, I still want to hear which control board in the country will penalize him. The Co-operative Act contains exactly the same powers. Can any hon. member tell me where any co-operative society abused its rights? Surely that is absolute nonsense, and I really think that hon. members are just delaying the Committee now. That is what it amounts to; our time is being wasted. It is something imaginary which can never and will never happen. It is quite clear what the object of the Act is. It does not take it any further to raise imaginary difficulties. It is necessary for the boards to have this power, and in the final result it is for the Minister to give the decision.
The remarks made by the hon. the Minister this afternoon have convinced me that we are now right up against one of the root difficulties of this kind of legislation. What the Minister is trying to do with this amendment and with the additional amendment is in effect to control the uncontrollable. That is the trouble; that is the problem. I personally do not know enough about the banana trade but there is a strong impression in the trade that the Minister will go on having problem after problem in his attempt to control the marketing of bananas on these lines and that he will never reach a solution. The feeling is that the amendments proposed are not going to solve the problems facing this board in regard to the distribution of bananas. Because what is happening now is that we are trying to control an uncontrollable situation. The uncontrolled factors are so great that a rigid board operating according to rigid rules is simply not going to solve the difficulty that the Banana Board is up against. Here you have an example where this sort of thing is much better left to private enterprise.
But when we left it to private enterprise there was absolute chaos.
With great respect, I disagree absolutely. I want to say that particularly from the consumers’ point of view, ever since the Banana Board has been operating there has been chaos for the consumer; the consumer has had the greatest difficulty and the producers too are still in trouble. Their situation has not improved in any marked way. In regard to the marketing of bananas there are so many imponderables, so many varied and difficult factors that you cannot control. I repeat that the Minister is trying to control the uncontrollable. Private enterprise has to make its own estimates, to work out the market conditions that operate—supply and demand and other factors—and while there are certain difficulties under private enterprise, there is no sign that the hon. the Minister is going to solve the problem either with this amendment or with a further amendment on the Order Paper. My suggestion is that other and different methods be sought to deal with this problem.
But while dealing with private enterprise I want to touch on another aspect of this clause. I want to ask the Minister whether he has given sufficient consideration to the implications of sub-section (2), that is to say the prohibition on placing articles in cold storage. Here too this is regarded with a great deal of suspicion in trade circles, an an unwarranted interference in private enterprise. It is felt that this clause can be used to stop private enterprise in regard to cold storage and I ask whether this is wise. Are there sufficient safeguards to prevent unwarranted interference by the Minister and by any of the boards concerned? While we all know what the Marketing Act is trying to do in principle, and while we approve of the broad principles and aims or the Act, nevertheless we always have to be extremely careful to hold the balance fairly between private enterprise and the operations of the various control boards and of the producers’ organizations. Here it does seem that this is an unwarranted invasion of private enterprise, and I ask the hon. the Minister to tell us whether he has given sufficient consideration to that aspect of this particular subsection.
I want to ask the hon. member who has just sat down whether that argument was not used previously when the control boards were established? Did commerce not use precisely the same argument when the Mealie Control Board was established?
Yes, that is correct.
On whose behalf does the hon. member for Parktown (Mr. Cope) talk?
The Chambers of Commerce.
Did the producers ask for a Banana Control Board or not? The hon. member is just talking on behalf of commerce. We are dealing here with a Marketing Board, and the hon. member says we are doing an injustice to commerce, but what about the producer? The producer found himself in such difficulties that he asked for a control board under the Marketing Council, and that is all we want to do this afternoon in amending the Act in this way, to strengthen their hands so that they can carry on their business. Do we want orderly marketing in South Africa or not? Let me again go back to the case of maize, and I can do the same in the case of the Wheat Control Board and the Oilseed Board and all the other boards. Let me give this assurance to the Committee—end members opposite who are farmers know it—that the only branches of agriculture which are in any way economic to-day are those which are being controlled. Let me put it in a different way to the hon. member. Will he deny that the moment a Banana Control Board was established yoke pins were broken in the team and all kinds of attempts were made to break this control board? Will the hon. member deny that Mr. Brass resigned and did his best, as he is still doing, to break the Banana Control Board? Does the hon. member deny that?
That being so, the hon. member is condemning himself. Then I do not understand his argument at all. Here we established a control board because the producers demand it. Here we are making an attempt to amend the Act to help the control board to carry on its business in order to promote the interests of the producer. The hon. member admits that and he admits that the control board should have those powers. That being so, there is not substance in his argument. The hon. member now wants to intimate that we are restricting private initiative when we ask for more powers for the control boards. The control board asks for these penalties. Unless it has this power, precisely the same thing will happen as happened in the Banana Control Board in the case of the person I mentioned. One does not like to mention names, but this board had hardly been established when attempts were made by commerce to wreck it in order to promote their own interests. We had the same position in the case of the Mealie Control Board and all the other boards. The farmers organized for years to ge these control boards. I repeat that the only economic forms of agriculture are those in which there is proper control, and those penalties to which the hon. member now objects are included in the framework of every one of these boards. I repeat that the time of the Committee is being wasted by pleas of this nature.
The sort of argument that we heard here this afternoon I have personally listened to for years now. It is peculiar that an hon. Minister who already has so many burdens on his shoulders now wants to put his head into another hornet’s nest. Mr. Chairman, there are other ways than applying penalties to farmers and my advice to the hon. the Minister is rather to persuade the boards to educate the people. It is after all a matter of education. Knowing the farmers as I do I can imagine the number of occasions where the board would have to act as a Judge to decide whether a farmer had a sound reason or not for having failed to deliver what he promised to deliver. It would result in endless trouble and I want to predict to the hon. the Minister that as soon as the first farmer is penalized a rebellion would virtually result. The hon. the Minister should not listen to the stories which the board tells him. The United Party also tried to apply penalties to farmers during the war years. The United Party even went so far as to commandeer the farmers’ cattle and I can assure you, Mr. Chairman, that if ever there was nearly a rebellion then it was when those measures were imposed. In my opinion the principle in itself is wrong. It is wrong in principle to threaten farmers, who are subjected to 101 unpredictable conditions, by legislation that they will be fined unless they do this, that or the other. I believe it to be a wrong step and if I may give the hon. the Minister some advice then I advise him to delete that clause. Let the boards educate the farmers and they will themselves in time to come realize that they should act more conscientiously in connection with the dispatch of their products to the market. But I advise the hon. the Minister to leave this punitive measure. The hon. member for Pretoria (District) (Mr. Schoonbee) alleges that the farmers desire it. I say that he is not speaking as a banana grower. I am sure that if the same measure was applied to his products then there would be trouble.
But I give a statement of all my products.
I believe that there must be penalties where one has to deal with people who are deliberately busy destroying a scheme. If there are such people—the hon. Minister said it was about 25 per cent of the farmers—then they should be punished. I have no objection to that. The hon. the Minister told us that he intends writing into the scheme what I want written into the Act. Did I understand him correctly? The hon. the Minister wants to put these words into the Act—-
The hon. the Minister said in the Other Place, and also here this afternoon, that if the board is notified in advance that it is impossible to deliver that quantity then no steps will be taken against the producer—this afternoon he said it was not possible to determine any period, but in the Other Place he said three days. At the moment he only has the Banana Board in mind. I know nothing about the Banana Board; I am not a banana grower. But I know that there was a time when the citrus growers in the Western Province, those with fewer than 300 trees, were strangled by a number of large magnates from Pretoria who tried to do all sorts of things to them.
Not from Pretoria.
A lot of magnates from the north. The hon. the Minister is acquainted with the conditions under which those farmers with fewer than 300 trees were exempted. All I ask here is this: The hon. the Minister can still have all the powers he wants but let him write this provision into the Act. It will then prevent any unreasonable action being taken deliberately against a minority group in a particular area and a particular industry. If that is the intention of the hon. the Minister, as he says it is, then I cannot see why he does not want to amend the Act accordingly, because he says it is his intention to do so. I simply cannot understand it, unless the hon. the Minister has other plans up his sleeve which he did not reveal here this afternoon.
That is a terrible insinuation.
The hon. the Minister’s legal advisers can quite easily put him right by telling him that he will do no harm to the scheme he has in mind by putting this proviso into the Act; it cannot affect the penalties imposed. What is behind it if he refuses to accept it? That is a fair question. The hon. the Minister got a fright when he was asked in the Other Place whether possibly this scheme would be applied to meat.
Order! The hon. member cannot refer to discussions in the Other Place during the same Session.
I will then put it that when the hon. the Minister spoke about meat he said that meat would not be brought under this scheme because he did not believe that the sheep farmers would be so stupid as to allow pooling. What is the implication? The implication is that the hon. the Minister foresees dangers in it if they are to be so stupid as to allow pooling. This idea of pooling mutton is nothing new. The hon. member for Cradock (Mr. G. F. H. Bekker) has several times pleaded for the pooling of mutton. My question is just this: If there is nothing else up his sleeve then what is the hon. the Minister’s objection to inserting this proviso in the Act? I shall be glad to hear the hon. Minister’s reply.
I just want to reply to the hon. member for Park-town (Mr. Cope). The hon. member said that the prohibition on placing a product in cold storage except when authorized to do so by a permit is aimed at commerce. It is really to meet them that this clause is there. The Egg Board has the sole right to sell chilled eggs. This clause is there only to enable traders to store chilled eggs in cold storage, eggs which they need for certain purposes, by way of a permit issued by the Egg Board.
In connection with the other points raised by hon. members, I just want to point out again that there are no sinister motives in regard to this clause. I clearly said that one does not like this type of legislation much. But the hon. member wants a whole number of things to be written into the Act. That is impossible in practice. Hon. members should remember that there are several provisos before one gets to the penalties imposed. Supposing that a pool scheme is established in regard to meat, and that it is provided in that scheme that this clause will be applicable to that scheme, then it cannot be applied to it. It must be provided for in that scheme, and in order for that to be done it must be approved by the Minister. The penalties are defined in this clause. It is also provided, further, that the penalties can only be applied with the approval of the Minister. I agree with the hon. member for Germiston (District) (Prof. Fourie) that this does not facilitate the task of the Minister. It gives him and his Department more unnecessary work. There I agree with him completely, but the Department and the Minister are not there just to see how little work they can do and how little trouble they should face. If circumstances demand that the scheme should be successful, it is the duty of the Department and of the Minister to ensure that that scheme is applied as successfully as possible after it has been established. Here we have a special type of penalty, to which the hon. member for Germiston (District) objects. He says that one should rather educate these people instead of applying penalties. But in all the control schemes where there are certain requirements in connection with the delivering of products, there are penalties provided in the law. If, for example, under the maize scheme a man does not deliver his maize to the board but delivers it to someone else, he is penalized.
That is a different matter. There you have control over it. We are talking about a case where there is no control.
I am just saying that under all these schemes there are penalties, and those penalties are there simply because one has to take human nature into account. But one could just as well have said that the farmer should be educated to deliver all their maize to the board. Here we have precisely the same principle. In regard to bananas, we have a scheme, and according to the hon. member’s advice one can try to educate the members, but will it be easier to educate them if they are aware that they can be penalized for not complying with the requirements, or will it be easier to educate them if there is nothing to compel them to comply with those requirements? Surely one will educate them more easily if there is some means of penalizing them under certain circumstances if they do not comply with the requirements. I again say that, unless we have these penalties, this type of scheme will not be a success, particularly where a highly perishable product is concerned.
But why do you want to retain the right to penalize people who do not deliberately fail to comply with the requirements?
There you retain the full right to exclude such people, but supposing it is provided that unless he gives notice within two or three days or within a day …
It is not necessary to put that in. Just take the first part.
One must fix a period if one wants to provide that he will be subject to a penalty unless he gives notice within a certain period that he cannot deliver. Unless one inserts it, what does it mean? One must set a period, and that period can vary. One man may perhaps find himself in a position three days before the date on which he has to deliver where he cannot deliver, but another man may find himself in that position an hour before the time. The period should therefore be left to the discretion of the board, and they must be able to impose those penalties subject to the approval of the Minister. If the Minister then approves of the imposition of the penalty, he must convince himself that this person deliberately committed the contravention. Otherwise it is obvious that he will not approve it. But it is impossible to provide a period within which he can give notice without being liable to the penalty.
I am very sorry but, in principle, I am against this sort of clause. One is now giving officials of a board the powers of a Judge to penalize people—that is what it amounts to. One would expect this to be done by a court only. If the clause said that in such a case the board could institute a case against the farmer concerned and that he would then be liable to punishment by the court one could perhaps still concede it if one stretched one’s imagination a little. But, Mr. Chairman, the idea of empowering officials to impose fines is being extended further and further. However well it is intended, South Africa is busy developing more and more bureaucracy which will eventually land the country in a very position. Even if 100 per cent of the farmers should demand it I would still object to it because it is a measure which does not blend with the background of the nation’s history and its entire character.
But we have a new system of farming now.
That may be so but I say that principles which have always been maintained cannot be altered so easily just because there happens to be a banana marketing scheme. The hon. the Minister will have to go further and further; this will not be the end of it. One cannot compel farmers to do the right thing through using force of this kind. The only way to do it is through education so that the farmer will realize what is actually in his own interest. I cannot imagine that a farmer will be so mischievous as deliberately not to deliver his products and to harm a scheme, as the hon. member for Pretoria (District) (Mr. Schoonbee) said.
But you have that position now. The hon. member for Park-town (Mr. Cope) admitted it.
I do not believe that a farmer will put his product into a pool merely to upset a scheme. But it is a principle that is at stake here. Do we want to continue making Judges of our officials with the power to apply penalties to farmers and to fine them?
It is still subject to the approval of the hon. the Minister.
Even if the hon. the Minister is the judge of appeal in the matter I will still object to our hon. Ministers having to fulfil the function of Judges. Let us examine what advantages can be derived from this. The advantages will be minimum. The hon. the Minister dare not penalize any farmer—or the board, rather—but here one is sacrificing a principle on which the entire system of State once rested and which is now being deviated from more and more. Dangers are being created and in my opinion it is not worth while. The hon. the Minister has not advanced a single argument which I have not heard a hundred times before, and it is high time the hon. the Minister should tell the boards which come to him with recommendations of this kind that this sort of thing will not be tolerated and that they have to find other means of making a success of their scheme.
It was not the board which suggested it.
This kind of method will only harm the board and will place the hon. the Minister in an increasingly difficult situation. He will have to give a verdict of not guilty in practically every case that comes before him and just for the fun of it I would like to see the day when the hon. the Minister convicts a farmer and he must be punished by the board because he did not comply with the regulations prescribed by the board. Must the farmer now come along every time and make out a case why he could not deliver his products? I hope that the hon. the Minister will still have second thoughts about this before proceeding with this clause.
What the hon. member for Germiston (District) (Prof. Fourie) has said is like the curate’s egg. It is good in parts and there are some with which I agree and much with which I do not. With regard to the question of powers given to officials, all of us have suffered at different times because of the fact that officials have certain powers which they sometimes use without any justification. However, I do not propose to go into that at the moment, but I know that I have suffered because of it. But the Minister has told us that he cannot put all this into the Act, and if he is expected to put in the period and all the different circumstances, I think he is being reasonable in adopting that attitude. Sir, I am not a legally trained man, but I could draw up an amendment in a few words that would meet the position adequately. All he has to do is to say that anybody who fails to comply with the provisions of this clause will not be penalized if he can show that it was due to a cause over which he had no control. You would then have the whole thing tied down. It boils down to this that what the man did must be reasonable in the eyes of the ordinary, normal man. Surely it would cover the whole situation if the Minister inserted words here to the effect that he must prove that his failure to deliver was due to some cause over which he had no control. That would not require a very long amendment. Let the Minister insert words to that effect just to give us some control over a certain official who very often uses his powers most unfairly. I know that we have all suffered from the same sort of thing.
It is obvious to me that the Opposition wants to make a mere rubber stamp of the Marketing Act. It should not mean anything and should have no powers. It is well known that the Chambers of Commerce have always tried to harm the Marketing Act and here is a further attempt to make it useless. If there are no regulations and certain powers under the Marketing Act, which has been approved of by the organized farmers of South Africa, then the Act will be useless. How can something which we have been fighting for for years be destroyed now?
We want to protect the farmers.
No, they do not want to protect the farmers but they want to make the Act so wide that it will be a failure. Without regulations and provisions in terms of which a person who does not do his duty can be dealt with the Act means nothing. The hon. the Minister merely wants to strengthen his hand so that he can take steps when there is wilfulness. He could not do it in the past, and I ask why this attitude is being adopted now. Why do the hon. members now want to act against the interests of the producers? The producer is after all the master of his product and why must the powers taken to protect the producers now be destroyed? No, the whole object is to render the Marketing Act so useless that the hon. the Minister or the boards cannot take any action at all. If the hon. members believe in the Marketing Act and in the system of boards—and the boards have done good work already and have never abused their powers— then they should stand by the Act. The hon. the Minister has already said that it is a perishable product and that one must know that one can take action. There is no need to take action if there is no wilfulness but if it is necessary to act in order to make the scheme efficient then there must be certain powers to deal with people who want to evade their responsibilities. There are of course many people who say that the Marketing Act should disappear. The whole purpose of the Marketing Act is to protect the farmers in an organized way. It should be remembered that the banana does not belong to commerce but to the producer and hon. members prefer to see that those people make a living. I do not understand the arguments of the hon. member for Germiston (District) (Prof. Fourie) at all. The whole idea seems to be to make the Marketing Act so ineffective that it will be of no further use. I ask the hon. the Minister to stand firmly by his standpoint and not to let the Marketing Act be undermined by people who want cheap food. The whole idea is again to obtain cheap food, cheap bananas, etc., without any protection to the farmer who produces it. My hon. friend over there, an old goat farmer, has always been opposed to the Marketing Boards and has always criticized them and he is doing it again. But I hope that the hon. the Minister will be firm.
I want to make an appeal to the hon. the Minister to consider the suggestion made by the hon. member for Green Point (Maj. van der Byl). This is a very wide clause covering some two pages of the Bill, and if the Minister feels that he cannot accept an amendment at this stage, will he give us an undertaking that he will go into it and that he will introduce a saving clause such as suggested by the hon. member for Green Point at the Report Stage? If he would do that we would feel much happier about it. We are talking objectively on this matter, and we do hope that he will introduce a saving clause so that the bona fide farmer who is already perhaps hit by hail or drought is not affected by a heavy penalty unnecessarily.
I am prepared to have a clause drafted, to the effect that where persons through circumstances over which they have no control cannot supply in accordance with their statements, will not be penalized. But it is difficult to consider all the implications in a few moments, and therefore I move—
On Clause 10,
This is a clause which we on this side of the House are going to oppose, because here is the crux of the matter in as much as the producer himself should have the right to determine whether a scheme should apply to him in relation to his own product. I think we have covered the subject very fully under other clauses which dovetailed in with this Clause 10, the one which says that the Minister may enforce a scheme, irrespective of the result of the voting on a scheme to control any particular product. During the second reading and in this Committee I did plead with the Minister that he should under no circumstances proclaim a scheme where the producers by a majority, controlling more than 50 per cent of the product, voted against such a scheme being applied to them. As I said, it covers their livelihood and the Minister should not proclaim such a scheme and it should be left, as it is in the present Act, to the majority of the people producing that particular product to decide (a) whether a marketing scheme should be applied to them at all, and (b) the terms of that marketing scheme.
The hon. Minister says that he can introduce a scheme. He can bring forward a scheme and submit it to the producers, but if the bulk of the producers vote against that scheme, that is the majority controlling more than 50 per cent of that particular product, then such a scheme should not be made law. I appeal to the hon. the Minister once again to be reasonable, as he was in regard to the last clause. We are once again dealing objectively with the clause when we say that if the majority of the producers producing more than 50 per cent of the product are not prepared to accept the scheme, nobody else should have the right to enforce that scheme on them, a scheme which will affect the whole of their livelihood. The primary producer himself is the man who should have that say. The Marketing Act was brought into being to protect the farmer in his living, to give him a reasonable opportunity to make a living in farming. If you are going to start enforcing schemes on producers which they do not want themselves and which may harm them in their returns from that particular line of farming, you are going to have a still greater drift of farmers from the land to the towns.
I am very unhappy about this clause and I want to ask the hon. the Minister what he has in mind in bringing about this state of affairs. It says here “ ir-respective of whether or not such proposed scheme has previously been voted upon in terms of the provisions of paragraph (a) and irrespective of the result of such voting ”. I should like to know from the hon. the Minister what state of affairs must exist to apply this provision. In the first place, if a substantial majority has voted in favour of a scheme or against a scheme, the Minister irrespective of the voting can apply a scheme. What has the hon. Minister got at the back of his mind? Why is he taking these powers?
In my second reading speech I explained the reasons for this clause. Hon. members object to this clause and say that we are now abolishing the provisions of the Act to the effect that there should be voting in regard to a scheme. But this provision in the Act which requires voting in regard to the establishment of the scheme was already lifted in 1951. I quoted to the hon. member the report of the Marketing Commission, which studied the Act at the time, and in which they say that the provisions in regard to voting contained in the Marketing Act was a dead letter in practice because they could not be implemented. That is why they recommended the complete deletion of these provisions. When we amended the Act at the time, this provision was not deleted, but the Governor-General was given the power in that amending Bill to lift the provisions in regard to voting when a scheme was established. But in so far as the implementation of the Act is concerned, it goes still further. If the Minister is convinced, as the result of the meeting held by the producers, that the majority of producers want a scheme, then he can establish it if he is convinced both that the majority want it and that it is in the interest of the industry. But there has never yet been voting in regard to any scheme instituted under the Marketing Act, except once. No voting was done because it was practically impossible to comply with the voting requirements of the section, because those provisions require producers to have produced a product for three years, and the quantity produced over that three-year period must also be ascertained. It was an impossible provision, because if one wants to institute a scheme one cannot ascertain which producers have been producing for three years or longer and what their production was for those three years. That has always been found to be impossible. The legal opinion we obtained on each of these occasions was to the effect that even though it should be accepted that one applies certain standards in regard to such voting, as we in fact did in the one case where voting did take place in regard to a scheme, viz. the institution of a fresh milk scheme, then according to the legal opinion the data on which the people vote would be so unreliable that no court would accept it if objection was lodged with the court. All that this clause now does is not to give the Minister a new power, but in view of our legal advice that it is doubtful whether one can again institute the same scheme in regard to which there was voting once, by virtue of the powers already provided for in the old Act, we now say that even though there was voting in regard to a scheme in the past, and even though that scheme was rejected as the result of the vote, the same scheme can be reinstituted if the Marketing Council investigated it and if it has been advertised and if the Minister is convinced that it is in the interest of the industry and if he is convinced that the greater majority of producers want it. The requirements of the Act remain the same in this respect, but all that this clause does is to say that if a scheme has been rejected as a result of the voting, the same scheme can be reinstituted without voting. This Bill does not give the power to do so without voting. As the Act stands it already gives that power. Perhaps I should put it this way: If one wants to institute another milk scheme, not the same one, one would be able to do so without voting, but we just want to make sure that if one wants to institute the same scheme the court will not be able to say: “That one has already been rejected by means of voting and therefore it cannot be reinstituted.”
We know that if a new scheme comes into being for a product that is not under control, the hon. the Minister can introduce a scheme. He said that and we know that. But in respect of most of the products that are under control to-day, where voting has taken place, as for instance in relation to the milk scheme in Natal, or the milk scheme on the Witwatersrand, where it was put to the vote and where the majority of the producers of that product voted against the scheme, the Minister cannot then introduce a scheme. The hon. the Minister is pretty sure that if he were to enforce a scheme and he were to be taken to court, that scheme would be declared ultra vires. Otherwise why is he asking for these powers? At the second reading I dealt with milk in particular, and I said that it looks as if the Minister is seeking these powers under this clause to enforce a scheme on the Witwatersrand (and perhaps in Natal, I am not sure) and in order to over-ride the voting where voting has taken place on a scheme by the producers of that particular product. Surely the Minister must be reasonable and admit that where a scheme has been properly investigated and the scheme has been put to the producers at a properly advertised meeting and he cannot get the bulk of the producers controlling at least 50 per cent of that product to support that scheme, the Minister should not have the power, which he is seeking under this clause, to enforce such a scheme on the producers. That is not the way to look after the interests of the primary producers. Give the producers a say over their own product and an opportunity to stay on the land and to make a reasonable living there. If the scheme is such that it does help the producers to market their products they are going to vote for it. But if more than 50 per cent of the producers are not prepared to vote for that scheme, then that scheme should not be applied. On behalf of the primary producers I will register my protest by voting against this clause.
I will explain it once more. The position is that when at the time we subjected the milk scheme to voting we would also have complied with the requirements of the Act, and that scheme could then have been instituted by the Minister without any voting taking place. The hon. member admits that the Minister has that power, without this amendment. In view of the particular circumstances of the fresh milk producers, we felt at the time that we would rather put it to the vote. There are quite a number of regulations in connection with taking a vote, inter alia that 66 per cent of the producers of that product who have been producing it for three years and who produced 50 per cent of the product for those three years, have to vote for a scheme before it can be instituted. Now in the first place it is very difficult to determine who produced that product for three years, but it is even more difficult to determine the amount produced by those producers in those three years. When in that case the voting became known, 85 per cent of the producers who voted in fact voted in favour of the scheme, but they produced only 49.7 per cent of the product, according to the figures we have available, and according to those figures they therefore were short of .3 per cent. But our legal advice was that even though we were to go to court on those figures we would not succeed because the court would not accept that these people produced that quantity of milk for three years, because that could not be proved before the court. Nor did the producers themselves have the proof. It is impossible to prove it, and for that reason the commission which dealt with the Marketing Act recommended even before the amendment of 1951 that this voting procedure should be deleted from the Act, and that amendment was passed at the time just because it was so impossible to follow this voting procedure, and it was then made unnecessary to take a vote. Since the time that voting took place a terribly chaotic position arose on the Rand in regard to fresh milk, and numbers of producers who at the time for their own reasons voted against the scheme, in the meantime urged that the scheme should be instituted. Even some of the distributors who at the time persuaded producers to vote against the scheme and who themselves raised objection to the scheme, are asking to-day that the scheme should be instituted. But because it is impossible again to vote in regard to the same scheme, we are simply making provision here that where voting already took place the same scheme can be instituted if the Minister is convinced that it is in the interest of the industry and that the majority of producers want it. Surely it is ridiculous to think that the Minister will enforce that scheme on Natal if Natal does not want it. For what reason would he do so? It is obvious that he must convince himself that the majority of producers are in favour of the scheme, otherwise it will not be instituted. This amendment is being introduced merely in order to get past that legal difficulty, and I hope hon. members will accept it like that, because it is necessary to accept it if we want to establish such a scheme when it becomes necessary to do so.
Clause 10 put and the Committee divided:
Ayes—73: Badenhorst, F. H. Bekker, G. F. H.; Bekker, H. T. van G.; Bekker, M. J. H.; Bootha, L. J. C.; Botha, M. C.; Botha, P. W.; Coetzee, B.; Coetzee, P. J.; de Villiers, C. V.; Diederichs, N.; du Pisanie, J.; du Plessis, H. R. H.; du Plessis, P. W.; Erasmus, F. C.; Fouché, J. J. (Sr.); Fouché, J. J. (Jr.); Froneman, G. F. van L.; Greyling, J. C.; Grobler, M. S. F.; Haak, J. F. W.; Hertzog, A.; Heystek, J.; Hiemstra, E. C. A.; Jurgens, J. C.; Keyter, H. C. A.; Kotze, G. P.; Kotzé, S. F.; Labuschagne, J. S.; le Riche, R.; Malan, A. I.; Malan, W. C.; Marais, J. A.; Martins, H. E.; Meyer, T.; Mostert, D. J. J.; Muller, S. L.; Nel, J. A. F.; Nel, M. D. C. de W.; Otto, J. C.; Potgieter, D. J.; Potgieter, J. E.; Rall, J. J.; Schoeman, B. J.; Schoonbee, J. F.; Smit, H. H.; Stander, A. H.; Steyn, F. S.; Steyn, J. H.; Strydom, G. H. F.; Treurnicht, N. F.; Uys, D. C. H.; van den Berg, G. P.; van den Berg, M. J.; van der Ahee, H. H.; van der Merwe, J. A.; van der Merwe, P. S.; van der Walt, B. J.; van der Wath, J. G. H.; van Niekerk, G. L. H.; van Niekerk, M. C.; van Staden, J. W.; van Wyk, G. H.; van Wyk, H. J.; Venter, M. J. de la R.; Venter, W. L. D. M.; Verwoerd, H. F.; Viljoen, M.; Visse, J. H.; Vosloo, A. H.; Webster, A.
Tellers: W. H. Faurie and J. von S. von Moltke.
NOES—36: Basson, J. A. L.; Bowker, T. B.; Butcher, R. R.; Cope, J. P.; Cronje, F. J. C.; de Kock, H. C.; Dodds, P. R.; Fisher, E. L.; Frielinghaus, H. O.; Gay, L. C.; Graaff, de V.; Henwood, B. H.; Higgerty, J. W.; Horak, J. L.; Lawrence, H. G.; Lewis, H.; Miller, H.; Mitchell, D. E.; Moore, P. A.; Oldfield, G. N.; Plewman, R. P.; Radford, A.; Raw, W. V.; Ross, D. G.; Shearer, O. L.; Steenkamp, L. S.; Steyn, S. J. M.; Steytler, J. van A.; Swart, H. G.; Swart, R. A. F.; Tucker, H.; van der Byl, P.; Warren, C. M.; Waterson, S. F.
Tellers: A. Hopewell and T. G. Hughes.
Clause accordingly agreed to.
On Clause 12,
Here we have the same objection to the clause as we had to Clauses 2 and 3, that is, the recognition of any other body than the producers and the producers’ organizations in regard to that particular product. We have said a lot about this but the hon. the Minister has not seen fit to accept our objections which we make on behalf of the primary producers. I do not therefore intend to say very much more in that regard. I must however tell the Minister that we intend to vote against this clause unless he can give us a better explanation than he has given up to now in regard to the recognition of representatives or persons engaged in agricultural pursuits. Why should he recognize them as such a body when they perhaps represent other interests than the actual producers of that particular product? I have said over and over again in relation to this particular provision which has run through several clauses since Clauses 2 and 3, that other bodies and other boards, apart from those specifically interested in the products which fall under any scheme under the Marketing Act, should not be recognized. We think that this is taking away the rights of the primary producers to control the marketing of their own property and we shall vote against this clause.
I just want to point out to the hon. member that this clause to which he objects refers to the case where an amendment is proposed to the scheme, and who proposes the amendment. The hon. member will see that, as the Act reads now, the Consumers’ Committee, established under the Marketing Act, may suggest an amendment to the scheme. The hon. member is prepared to allow the Consumers’ Committee to propose an amendment in a scheme established for the producers, but he is not prepared to allow the South African Agricultural Union to propose an amendment. The hon. member poses here as the protector of agriculture, and I want to ask him whether he has less confidence in the Agricultural Union proposing amendments to schemes in regard to products produced by agriculture that in the Consumers’ Committee, on which no farmers serve. Is that what the hon. member wants to intimate? I want him to give me a reply. He said he was not opposed to the South African Agricultural Union. I do not want to make political capital out of this matter. But when the hon. member says that he is acting in the interests of agriculture and of the producer, I want him to tell the House unequivocally that he has less confidence in the South African Agricultural Union when an amendment in a scheme dealing with agricultural products is proposed than he has in the Consumers’ Committee which does not produce any agricultural produce. I hope the hon. member will now get up and say that that is his standpoint.
I explained the position to the hon. the Minister very clearly under Clause 2, and that is one of the reasons why I wanted to thrash this thing out before the second reading, by taking it to a Select Committee where we could go into all the alternatives.
Order, order! The hon. member must come back to the clause.
I am trying to answer the hon. the Minister in relation to the South African Agricultural Union. I am not casting any slur on them. They represent the farmers over the whole of agriculture, but they do not represent either the citrus industry, the tobacco industry or the fresh milk industry. We made it clear to the hon. the Minister that the present Act which allows the primary producers of any particular product the right to vote for any scheme, so that that scheme shall apply to his product, was very satisfactory. No other body should be recognized as such. If the hon. the Minister says that the S.A.A.U. as such should introduce a scheme to control tobacco or to control citrus, then we object to it. There is not, as I understand it, one citrus producer on any large scale on the Executive of the S.A.A.U. That is why I say you must deal with the specific product.
May I ask the hon. member a question?
I am answering the hon. the Minister. The hon. member may ask me a question when I have finished, but I want to make this point to the hon. the Minister: I have said over and over again that we recognize the S.A.A.U. as speaking on broad lines for agriculture, but not as being the producers of any one particular product, and not as representing the producers of any specific product, particularly in connection with any scheme which may apply to, for instance, tobacco, fresh milk or citrus.
The hon. member has gone very far now. The chairman of the Tobacco Board in the Transvaal is also the chairman of the South African Agricultural Union, namely Dr. Fred Campher. And then he says that the tobacco farmers have no representation. Then he also names other products. I am really and truly surprised at the hon. member. I got to know him in the past as a champion of organized agriculture, on behalf of the Natal Agricultural Union. Now he says that tobacco has no representation there, and neither has citrus and milk. I am talking about Dr. Campher, president of the Transvaal Agricultural Union, who is also chairman of the M.K.T.V. and of the Transvaal Tobacco Board. One could continue like this and name all these people. Now the hon. member makes all these allegations. I think it is going too far. The Transvaal Agricultural Union and the South African Agricultural Union, which make nominations and submit names to the hon. the Minister, obtain those names from a list which is provided by that union and which is representative of that industry. The panel of names is submitted to the hon. the Minister …
The hon. member must come back to the clause under discussion.
I only wanted to point out how incorrect the allegations of the hon. member were.
In answering the hon. member for Pretoria (District) (Mr. Schoonbee) I want to point out that I did not say there was not one tobacco grower on the S.A.A.U. I said the S.A.A.U. as a whole represents all agriculture, but I said I understood to-day—and I know I am right—that there is not one large citrus grower on the Executive. If that Executive can bring a scheme into being and if it is accepted by the Minister then I say that it will be wrong because the S.A.A.U. does not represent, specifically, the tobacco growers as such. They may put forward a scheme which may appear all right to one or two representatives on the S.A.A.U., but which may be turned down by an overwhelming majority of tobacco growers. In the fresh milk scheme we have a Commodity Committee on the S.A.A.U. Executive, but there may be one or two people interested in one or two particular concerns who are in favour of that milk control being applied to the Witwatersrand or Natal. The producers in those areas have already voted against the scheme which was produced for them, and the producer is the man who should have the say. The S.A.A.U. is representative of all farmers and should not be a body to say that a scheme should apply in relation to a specific product, against the will of the producers of that product.
Clause 12 put and the Committee divided:
Ayes—72: Badenhorst, F. H.; Bekker, G. F, H.; Bekker, H. T. van G.; Bekker, M. J. H.; Bootha, L. J. C.; Botha, M. C.; Botha, P. W.; Coetzee, B.; Coetzee, P. J.; de Villiers, C. V.; Diederichs, N.; du Pisanie, J.; du Plessis, H. R. H.; du Plessis, P. W.; Erasmus, F. C.; Faurie, W. H.; Fouché, J. J. (Sr.); Froneman, G. F. van L.; Grobler, M. S. F.; Haak, J. F. W.; Hertzog, A.; Heystek, J.; Hiemstra, E. C. A.; Jurgens, J. C.; Keyter, H. C. A.; Kotze, G. P.; Kotzé, S. F.; Labuschagne, J. S.; le Riche, R.; Malan, W. C.; Marais, J. A.; Martins, H. E.; Meyer, T.; Mostert, D. J. J.; Muller, S. L.; Nel, J. A. F.; Nel, M. D. C. de W.; Otto, J. C.; Pelser, P. C.; Potgieter, J. E.; Rall, J. J.; Schoeman, B. J.; Schoonbee, J. F.; Smit, H. H.; Stander, A. H.; Steyn, F. S.; Steyn, J. H.; Strydom, G. H. F.; Treurnicht, N. F.; Uys, D. C. H.; van den Berg, G. P.; van den Berg, M. J.; van der Ahee, H. H.; van der Merwe, J. A.; van der Merwe, P. S.; van der Walt, B. J.; van der Wath, J. G. H.; van Niekerk, G. L. H.; van Niekerk, M. C.; van Staden, J. W.; van Wyk, G. H.; van Wyk, H. J.; Venter, M. J. de la R.; Venter, W. L. D. M.; Verwoerd, H. F.; Viljoen, M.; Visse, J. H.; Von Moltke, J. von S.; Vosloo, A. H.; Webster, A.
Tellers: J. J. Fouché and D. J. Potgieter.
NOES—36: Basson, J. A. L.; Bowker, T. B.; Butcher, R. R.; Cope, J. P.; Cronje, F. J. C.; de Kock, H. C.; Dodds, P. R.; Fisher, E. L.; Frielinghaus, H. O.; Gay, L. C.; Graaff, de V.; Henwood, B. H.; Higgerty, J. W.; Horak, J. L.; Lawrence, H. G.; Lewis, H.; Miller, H.; Mitchell, D. E.; Moore, P. A.; Oldfield, G. N.; Plewman, R. P.; Radford, A.; Raw, W. V.; Ross, D. G.; Shearer, O. L.; Steenkamp, L. S.; Steyn, S. J. M.; Steytler, J. van A.; Swart, H. G.; Swart, R. A. F.; Tucker, H.; van der Byl, P.; Warren, C. M.; Waterson, S. F.
Tellers: A. Hopewell and T. G. Hughes.
Clause accordingly agreed to.
On Clause 17,
This clause contains the principle that a person is presumed to be guilty and has to prove his innocence. From time to time we tend to introduce this principle into our legislation, but always, I think, with very considerable misgivings. I rise to ask the hon. the Minister whether it really is necessary to introduce this principle into the Marketing Act? It appears to be rather drastic. This is a principle which we always try to avoid in our law wherever we possibly can.
In his second-reading speech the hon. the Minister devoted quite a lot of time to explaining why he wished to introduce this principle and the difficulties that can exist in securing a conviction. The suggestion was that while it was very difficult to prove guilt, in this regard it would be comparatively easy for an accused person to establish his innocence. Well, Mr. Chairman, that may be so, but at the same time I do feel it is a fundamental principle in our law to assume innocence, however difficult it may be to produce a conviction. I simply want to go on record to-day as having raised an objection to this, and to ask the hon. the Minister once again whether he and his advisers are really absolutely certain that this is necessary? Does he not feel that a step of this kind should not be taken except under the most serious and urgent circumstances?
I just want to tell the hon. member that during the second reading I said that one does not like passing legislation like this where the onus of proof is put on the accused person, but in this case circumstances are such that it is necessary to do so. There are controlled and uncontrolled areas, and hon. members will understand how impossible it is, if somebody takes produce from a controlled area to an uncontrolled area, to prove that he did not obtain the produce in the uncontrolled area. It ought to be very easy for any person who is accused to prove where he obtained the produce. If the onus is put on the prosecution, it will be an impossible position, whilst it will be very easy for the accused person to prove that, in fact, he acquired these products in an uncontrolled area. None of us likes this principle, but there are circumstances in which we cannot avoid putting the onus on the accused, and unfortunately this is one of them.
Clause put and agreed to.
On Clause 19,
This clause, too, contains a principle which seems to be harsh, and that is the principle of, as part of the penalty in these circumstances, a court being empowered to order the seizure of the machinery concerned. In his second-reading speech the Minister made it clear that he wanted these powers to deal mainly with conditions in the baking industry, where unregistered bakers frequently transgressed the law and were convicted, yet continued to transgress. In those circumstances the court has an additional penalty which can be applied, the seizure of the machinery. Mr. Chairman, a penalty of that kind should not lightly be imposed. I do feel that the Minister should make out a better case in favour of it than the one he has done. He should give us some indication of the kind of transgression he has in mind. How many times does he want a conviction before they seize the machinery?
Well, three times is very little. Three times over what period?
It is not compulsory; the court may do it.
Yes, the saving grace is that it is left in the hands of the court. That we accept. Nevertheless, this is something which, I think, we should not grant very lightly. It should be very seriously probed.
In his second-reading speech the hon. the Minister patted himself on the back because the restrictions that have been placed on the baking industry, which have led to amalgamations, to monopolies and so on, have produced, as he said, healthy results. And, of course, this clause fits into the picture because it is to enforce these conditions. The hon. the Minister said …
Order! What is the hon. member reading from?
From the Senate Hansard, Sir.
Order! No member shall allude to any debate in the current Session of the Senate.
Well, Sir, the hon. the Minister made the same speech in this House and justified the restrictions in the baking industry, and prided himself on the fact that these restrictions had led to amalgamations and so forth, and to the lowering of costs. I said in my second-reading speech, and I want to repeat it, that that might be so, but it had other effects. It led to greater profits being made and to poorer bread in many areas. Now the Minister wants the powers he is seeking in this clause in order to enforce these restrictions. I say that the argument that the Minister has given us is not sufficient for the granting of such drastic powers. I feel we must hesitate, that this House should give more consideration before lightly conferring powers of this kind. Once again I want to say that people in the trade are worried about it. They do not like this clause, and that is why I have risen to object to it.
The hon. member alleges that it is the Minister who takes these powers, but it is not the Minister. The position is that under the Act contraventions are committed from time to time by people who do not comply with the requirements in regard to registration, particularly in the baking industry, but also in other industries, or rather outside the baking industry. They are taken to court and fined a few pounds. They simply carry on this practice and are fined for the second, third and fourth time. It pays them to carry on with it, because the fines are not so severe as to act as a deterrent. The only thing that is being provided in this clause is that the court, after having convicted a person three times of such a contravention, can confiscate the ovens, etc., used by the baker. That is all. It is just intended as a deterrent in cases where people deliberately continue to contravene the regulations. That is why we give the court this power. It is not the Minister who takes the power. It is left to the discretion and the judgment of the court.
May I make it clear that I did not say that the Minister was to apply the power: I know it is for the courts. I said the Minister in justifying the position was not making a good case. That is all I said. But I want to point out how this will operate. You get a bakery which is not licensed to bake bread; it bakes cakes and that sort of thing. The temptation occasionally to bake bread may arise, the bakery does that and is caught and fined. Now after three convictions it is going to lose the whole of its machinery and equipment as a result of an order by the court and as an additional punishment. I think that is too drastic. I feel that this is a principle which could be extended very widely over other fields in regard to court proceedings. But the legislature very carefully does not do that sort of thing. I know that occasionally there the provisions where, for instance, a car can be taken away from a persistently fined offender for dagga trafficking or something like that.
Or an illicit still.
No, that is quite different. I feel that this is too drastic and I want to register my protest.
Clause put and agreed to.
On Clause 20.
Mr. Chairman, I move the following amendment standing in my name—
- (a) by the insertion after paragraph (d) of sub-section (1) of the following paragraph:
- (d) bis the fees to be paid for the inspection by a person designated in terms of Section 37 of any product, in respect of which a national mark or grade has been prescribed, the persons by whom and the times at which and the manner in which such fees shall be paid.”
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 21,
I would like to ask the Minister whether this clause is brought in to deal with certain registrations as the result of a decision of the Supreme Court. If it does, it does appear to be somewhat unfortunate that when a man has acted legally under the existing law, the Minister should come to the House to move an amendment to the Act in order to discriminate against that man. In this case we are dealing with registrations which were allowed before the law was amended. In other words, the Minister has now made the law retrospective and I think it is unfortunate that where a man has legally done what he was entitled to do and has made certain investments he should not be discriminated against by a retrospective law. It is unfortunate that the Minister should do this. Amend the law by all means, but make it applicable from the date it is promulgated.
The reason for making the provision retrospective is obvious. It has always been accepted that the various control boards have the power to refuse registration on the grounds of overtrading in certain industries. When the court decided that the Marketing Act did not provide those powers, it was necessary, in order to prevent a chaotic position arising in certain industries, to issue a statement that the position would be restored. In any case, this still does not mean that a person can erect a factory without registration. All it says is that the boards cannot refuse registration on the ground of over-trading. They must grant registration, but every person who applied for registration to some board or other was informed in a special letter that this Act would be made retrospective to a date before the date of the judgment of the court. Therefore persons who incurred financial obligations to erect factories did so with full knowledge that this House would be asked to make it retrospective. Therefore I do not think that in the circumstances anybody suffered loss, because they all knew about it, but it was necessary to give this notice because otherwise there might have been chaos in certain industries.
Clause put and agreed to.
Remaining Clauses put and agreed to.
The Committee reverted to Clause 8 standing over.
On Clause 8,
I want to refer to paragraph (f) where power is now being taken to enable the boards to refuse registration if in the opinion of the board there are already enough people manufacturing the article. In other words, as the Minister explained, this is a provision to prevent over-trading. I wonder whether the Minister realizes that this provision is in conflict with the policy of the Minister of Economic Affairs, who in 1955 in the Monopolies Act described this type of thing as a monopoly. The Act says that any action which prevents or limits any producers or distributors from entering the industry, is a monopolistic condition if after investigation the Board of Trade and Industries does not consider it to be in the public interest and regards it as undesirable. It is of course true that that Act excluded the control boards, but only in regard to agricultural products which had not been subjected to a process of manufacture. In other words, the control boards were exempted from the Monopolies Act when they deal with agricultural products which are not being processed, but now the Minister is taking powers which tacitly amend the Monopolies Act. Is that the way to do it? Did he consult the Minister of Economic Affairs, because we now find that the Government has two economic policies. When it comes to the ordinary economic activities in which agricultural products are not concerned, they are great protagonists of private initiative and competition.
Order! That is not relevant.
It is relevant, because a monopoly is being created here and that is against the existing Act.
We are not discussing the economic policy of the Minister of Economic Affairs now.
I am just pointing out that it is in conflict with his policy. It is the general policy that it should be left to competition to determine whether there are enough manufacturers or not. Competition has to determine whether there is over-trading or not in all spheres of life and in all the other economic spheres, but we now suddenly find that if an agricultural product is concerned this principle is abandoned. Now a board consisting mostly of farmers can decide. Being a farmer myself, I ask whether they are really competent to decide whether there is over-trading in the processing of agricultural products? We are dealing here with a Government which has two policies. They have one policy when agricultural products are not concerned, and another when they are. I therefore want to suggest that before the Minister continues with this clause, he should consult with the Minister of Economic Affairs because this is the tacit amendment of an existing Act, as I have already said. Then there ought also to be an amendment to the Monopolies Act to remedy the provision. There are no limits to the consequences of such a policy.
The hon. member is not as stupid as he pretends to be. In the first place, restricted registration to pre vent over-trading in an industry does not create a monopoly. It is not only one factory which is allowed to operate, but because it is in the interest of the industry not too many are allowed, because that would unnecessarily increase the costs, and this is a product which affects the cost of living to a large extent. In the second place, the Monopolies Act does not provide that there should be no monopoly at all; it refers to harmful monopolies. Now the hon. members talks about the policy of the Minister of Economic Affairs, but he administers Iscor and Sasol, which are monopolies, but not harmful monopolies. Here, in the first place, if it is a monopoly, it is not a harmful one that is being allowed, but in the second place it is not a monopoly and a sufficient number of factories are registered in the various branches of industry to enable them to function economically. All we want to prevent is the establishment of uneconomic activities which will unnecessarily increase the price of food. Where there is restrictive registration, such as in the case where the Government pays large subsidies on bread, one wants to see that the bakeries deliver the cheapest bread possible to the consumer, and therefore there should not be unnecessary competition which increases costs. This is not a question of a monopoly, and secondly the hon. member is quite wrong in trying to play off the Minister of Economic Affairs against the Minister of Agriculture.
The hon. the Minister should study the Act on monopolies before making statements like that.
Order! That Act is not under discussion at the moment. The hon. member can only discuss the contents of this clause and had he wished to discuss it on a broader basis, he should have done so during the second reading.
The Minister says it is not a monopoly but the Act describes it as a monopoly. He also says it is not harmful. Who decides whether it is harmful or not? The law says the Chamber of Commerce and Industry must decide, but interested people will now decide. If the Minister is right in what he says, the costs are always too high when there are too many factories but who decides whether there are too many factories? I had always thought that the theory of private initiative was that there should be competition, but the Minister now appoints a number of farmers to a board and they have to decide whether it is a monopoly or not. It is peculiar that no measures are introduced to limit overproduction on the part of the farmers themselves, but the farmers on the board will now judge whether there is over-trading. That is contrary to the entire economic philosophy to which we have always subscribed. The Minister says the costs will rise if there are too many producers in a particular branch, but his Department fixes the margin, doesn’t it? And it is based on the average alone. It may be based on the profit margin of the more economical factories and he can place a restraint on a number of factories in that indirect way rather than in this arbitrary fashion. If the Minister fixes the margin at a sufficiently low level and anybody still wishes to enter that industry, why not give him a chance, because such a newcomer may be more successful than the established manufacturer and he may bring down the costs. The two things have nothing to do with each other. The fact that it is a controlled product and the fact that the margin is fixed, have nothing to do with the fact that there is over-trading. You may use the argument in reverse, Sir, and say that because the margin is fixed it is not necessary to combat over-trading, because you can use the cost figure of the most efficient industry as your guide. From whichever way I look at it, I cannot see why this new principle is being introduced, because it is contrary to the entire policy of the Government.
I wish to withdraw the amendment which I have moved.
With leave of the Committee, the amendment proposed by the Minister of Agricultural Economics and Marketing was withdrawn.
I now move—
“(c) recover for the benefit of the pool from any producer who has delivered to the board a quantity of the product—
- (i) which differs from the quantity of which such producer so gave notice and provided such difference is not due to circumstances which, in the opinion of the board, were beyond the control of such producer; or
- (ii) in respect of which such producer failed so to give notice,
I think hon. members will be satisfied if we provide that the board may penalize producers if the board is convinced that there were circumstances beyond the control of those producers.
I appreciate the Minister meeting us on this point. I think this covers the plea we made to him and it does give the bona fide farmer an opportunity to put his case to the board.
Amendment put and agreed to.
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
Title of the Bill put and agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Second Order read: House to resume in Committee of Supply.
House in Committee:
[Progress reported on 25 April, when Votes Nos. 2 to 4, 10 to 24 and 27 had been agreed to; precedence had been given to Votes Nos. 45 and 46, and Vote No. 45.—“ Agricultural Economics and Marketing (Administration) ”, R1,435,000, was under consideration.]
I want to deal briefly with some of the remarks that fell from that side of the House last night. Let me start off with the hon. member for Somerset East (Mr. Vosloo), who suggested that an increase in prices can only bring about an increase in production. I asked a simple question, and that is not the reply. My question was not in regard to raising prices. I asked whether mealies were not too highly priced and beef too lowly priced, and whether you could not use the one product to bring about an improvement in the price of the other. Now we have the capacity to absorb meat in this country, but we cannot make use of it because a section of the population cannot absorb the product. The hon. member for Ladybrand (Mr. Keyter) rather destroyed his own argument and I will leave it at that, but I was extremely interested in the hon. member for Windhoek (Mr. van der Wath), who told us that the South West farmers were very methodical and sent their stock away on due date and that they were very punctual about everything, and he praised the Minister for removing the permit restrictions from our own market, but in almost his next breath he complained about South West African cattle arriving in the Union and finding our own markets cluttered up with excessive stock. Well, he cannot have his cake and eat it.
Let me deal with this question of surpluses. We have our own price structure in this country and we are trying to keep it. It is for that very reason that I raised this question of surpluses existing in the country to-day. No less a person than the hon. the Prime Minister warned us of the dangerous times ahead. Here we are sitting with enormous surpluses at the moment. One of them is forecast to be in the neighbourhood of 25,000,000 bags. As I said last night, we are faced with a possible saturation of the markets overseas and there are still surpluses in America where they have 77,000,000 bags of surplus maize. What I am after is this. Let us search for avenues as to how we can absorb that should we get into trouble. Supposing we are only able to dispose of 15,000,000 bags of our surplus and we are left with a perishable product, how best can we absorb it? That applies to quite a number of surplus products. What contribution are we making towards solving that problem for ourselves? We have to decide for ourselves and we have to dispose of these surpluses somehow. Other countries are able to do it in a measure, and I want to suggest to the Minister this. Has he put it to the South African Agricultural Union that we might investigate the possibility of quotas where we have surpluses and the utilization of part of these surpluses for the production and the improvement of another commodity? I want to assure the Minister that if prices are right, some of those products might be better used in feeding animals which can be taken away on their four feet rather than carting the surpluses away in bags. I think it is most important to agriculture and it has to be investigated at the first possible opportunity. I again ask the Minister what he is doing. There is almost an emergency. What are we going to do to dispose of these surpluses?
The Minister made rather an extraordinary remark on the question of the fixation of prices for the various commodities. I think he told us that no investigation had ever really been made into the prices of the various commodities. Is that correct?
No, I never said that.
May I ask whether the prices of the various products have at any time been investigated for the purpose of fixing a price. [Interjections.] They have? The Minister even quoted Bredasdorp and Caledon and other parts of the Cape as the basis taken for fixing the price of wheat, and he applied that to the whole of South Africa regardless of whether the rest of the country can produce at a higher or a lower figure. What products have had their fixed prices established on the same basis as wheat? We know, e.g., that in the North-West wheat can be produced at a low figure, and we know that there are other areas where wheat can be produced at a higher figure, but what basis was taken to fix the price?
The hon. member for Wolmaransstad (Mr. G. P. van den Berg) raised the question of risk capital. I want to put it to the Minister that the fact that there is such a terrific risk in agriculture is one of the reasons why agriculture is not healthy to-day. In previous debates in this House we tried to thrash out why agriculture was not healthy. There is no bigger gamble than farming to-day. Notwithstanding all the control boards we have, it is still one of the worst gambles. I go to the races sometimes and I am more sure of getting some result there than most farmers. I put it to the Minister that we have to attend to the matter of surpluses, and how will we do that? We cannot lower our prices, but what we really want is a serious investigation of how best we can deal with the surpluses we have.
Business suspended at 6.30 p.m. and resumed at 8.5 p.m.
It seems to me that the United Party is trying to make an impression on the farmers in South Africa. But what a failure! Do they honestly think that the farmers have forgotten what they did during the war? There was a shortage of meat. The farmers will not forget how they had to plead for an increase in the price of their meat. The United Party said at the time: As soon as the war is over we will introduce a long-term policy in respect of meat. But what was their policy during the war? The people had to go hungry. Many women fainted from hunger. There were times when the country did not have any food. The United Party did absolutely nothing for the farmers. After the war, where they had promised to introduce a long-term scheme there was a slight increase in the prices overseas and what did they do? They sold our mealies and instead of paying the £5,000,000 into the stabilization fund, they put it into their own pockets. That was the thanks we got for the fact that we had kept the whole country alive during the war.
On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, the hon. member said that “ they put it into their own pockets”. Is that in order?
Order! Did the hon. member for Cradock (Mr. G. F. H. Bekker) say that?
I don’t know …
The hon. member said: “ They … (the United Party) put that money in their pockets.”
Mr. Chairman, what I meant was that the United Party paid it into the Treasury, I did not mean into their personal pockets.
May I ask you, Sir, to order the hon. member to withdraw that remark. The insinuation is that the United Party …
Order! The hon. member for Cradock has explained what he meant. The hon. member for Cradock may continue.
Mr. Chairman, I notice that they are very touchy when we remind them of their crimes. I remember the days when they went so far as to commandeer the farmers’ stock at the stock sales. That was the policy of that party. That is why they are to touchy to-day and now they want to know what the Government has done during the past 13 years. They went so far at that time that they sold our wool to the British Government. I do not mean they did so personally, but the Government of the day did it. We received 10. 1d. for our wool at that time. The United Party was very clever at the time. They did not adopt the scheme which was in operation in Australia. No, they said they preferred a “ type basis ”. But that “ type basis ” of theirs cost the farmers £400,000 and the following year that amount increased to £600,000. They even went so far after the war as to allow British interests to buy our wool at the old prices. The only profit the farmers made was the small profit they made on the wool they sold on the open market. The most we ever received under the United Party was £16,000,000. And to think that those people are trying to stage a “ come back ”! We must remind them that the memory of the public is not as short as all that. When we came into power they were the people who said that the banks would close. I do not think the United Party has a hope of getting the farmers on their side by pin-pricking the Government like this.
What have they been doing over the last few days? They have only criticized; why do they not suggest something? I will tell you why not, Sir. They have no policy. Let me show them what a good Government this is. Since we took over in 1948 the turnover in the farming industry has increased from £61,000,000 to £343,000,000. The farmers improved their farms after the war and this £343,000,000 provided work to many people. In the days of the United Party there was nothing but shortages. They could not even supply the country with enough potatoes; we had to eat bran bread. That has never happened as yet under the National Party Government.
We remember what the position was in the case of meat. The most the farmer received for his meat was 10ÿd. I should like hon. members opposite to compare that with the present position. However, I do not want to enlarge upon that except to say that it is not for them to criticize.
I want to remind hon. members of the quantity of maize that has been exported under this Government, and the farmers did not have to sacrifice their profits. The profits were ploughed back into the maize industry. We created facilities under the Marketing Act to assist the farmers in their farming operations. There was a time when this country received £15,000,000 in the way of foreign exchange on our maize exports alone. After the war, in the case of wool, £16,000,000 came into this country and the least we received since 1948 was £36,000,000. To-day the average is in the vicinity of £50,000,000. My hon. friend for Albany says that this Government has been asleep for 13 years, but he is wrong. It is the United Party who has never woken up. And because they are not awake they are sitting where they are sitting to-day. They should not try to deceive the farmers by telling them that they are their friends. When they had the opportunity to befriend the farmers they did not avail themselves of that opportunity.
The meat position has been criticized. Mr. Chairman, we know that meat is a very difficult product to control. The hon. member for King William’s Town (Mr. Warren) insulted me the other day and said that I had made certain statements. But I stand by what I said and if the hon. member had listened to the Minister when he replied he would have realized that the Minister had taken the advice of this side of the House. There is going to be a great improvement in the meat position. We cannot introduce a slap-dash meat scheme. A scheme like that takes time. We inherited nothing from the United Party. The Government is trying to establish a proper scheme to-day. They are testing the scheme. The Minister has said that no fewer than three members of the Meat Board were going overseas to make a study of the meat position over there. The Minister went further and said that in future he would exercise physical control over meat. [Time limit.]
The hon. member for Cradock (Mr. G. F. H. Bekker) has criticized what I said about the poor progress which the Nationalist Party Government had made in regard to a meat scheme. All I indicated was that they had criticized the permit system as one of the evils which the United Party had introduced. I then said that, if it were so bad, why had the Nationalist Government kept it in operation for 12 years? Not only that, Sir, one of the members on the Government benches has advocated that the permit system should be re-introduced. It does not pay to go back too far. The hon. member for Cradock raised the question of wool. He can go back to the days of General Hertzog and say how little we received for wool then. He may even say that the United Party was responsible for the contract with the British Commission to buy our wool during the last world war, whereas he advocated that we sold it to Japan. That is true; that was what the hon. member for Cradock advocated.
On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, that is not true.
Order! That is not a point of order!
The hon. member also said that the highest annual total obtained for wool during the régime of the United Party was £36,000,000. The hon. member must remember that since then money has depreciated in value and that there has been inflation. I feel that if I say that the farmers of this country have never been in a more flourishing position than they are to-day, the hon. member for Cradock will contradict me. He will then demonstrate to me how the liability of the farmers to the Land Bank and to the State Advances Recoveries Office has increased; he will remind me of what this Government has done to help these farmers out of their difficulties. Let us face up to their position, Sir. We realize that on account of increased cost of production, on account of the change-over to mechanization, a great number of farmers—except the large-scale farmers—find themselves in financial difficulties to-day. That is why we appeal to the Minister to try to do something to ease the position of the small farmer in this country. I was pleading for the small farmer. I think of the small farmers in Holland, Denmark and Belgium who have cultivated the British market, who have stabilized a market in Great Britain for their products, who went over to the Stirling bloc, when that bloc was created, in the interest of protecting their markets. I am sure we all appreciate the value of the British market, the same as Britain appreciates the contribution of South Africa to the wealth of Great Britain. That is also appreciated. All farmers are in doubt to-day as to whether our position will remain stable in future. There may be a change in imperial preferences on account of the change in our form of government. Those things do cause anxiety, and we would like to know whether the Minister is conducting negotiations in this regard; is he probing the markets to find an outlet for the surpluses which this country produces? No country can progress unless it aims at producing surpluses. Our population is increasing and we must have surpluses to meet increasing demand. We are increasing the spending power of all types of our population in this country and we must have food supplies for them. I agree that the surpluses which we have to-day would not have been there if everybody in this country could have afforded to buy the food required. We must have surpluses and in the meantime, while that is our policy, we probe the Minister to ascertain whether he is exploring markets. I would like to ask the Minister whether he has given consideration to the institution of a barter agreement with other nations as regards our surplus products. A barter agreement may be to our advantage. The Minister informed us that he was going out of his way to see that the farmers were assisted by the Government. What did the Minister say last night? He said that the farmers had the Marketing Act. I would like to remind the hon. member for Cradock that the Marketing Act was introduced in the days of the United Party. We said at that time, and we still say so to-day, that it is the Magna Charta of the farmers of South Africa, but that does not mean to indicate that it is the be all and the end all as far as the farmers are concerned. Other countries also have their Marketing Acts but they come forward and help their farmers in times of surpluses. Many American farmers are paid to stay out of production. I do not say that we in this country could provide a privilege of that nature to the farmers. The American farmers are regarded as the most progressive in the world but they could not exist if their costs of production were not subsidized. In Great Britain they subsidize the cost of production and the small farmer is kept in production. The stock of the farmer in Great Britain is of show standard whereas in this country the majority of our stock are scrub. The farmers should be encouraged, in that regard, to support agricultural shows, to join in competition with the people who are producing a far better standard of animal and we should also encourage the farmers to produce products of a higher quality. On account of our variable seasons it is difficult for the farmers of this country to produce a standard quality as far as grain is concerned. In times of drought our wheat, corn, or oats or any other grain product suffers and becomes inferior in quality. We realize that, but I think it could be organized that grain of an inferior quality should be used for pig production and not be foisted on the public and used as rations to servants. We should do everything in our power to improve the standard of our products. We all want to be proud that anything branded “ South Africa ” should enjoy a particular standard of recognition in the markets of the world. We have always endeavoured to attain that. The hon. member for Cradock knows the reputation our wool has attained on account of the efforts of the farmers to produce the best wools and to pack it in the most satisfactory way.
But it does not get us anywhere at all to argue across the floor of the House as to which Government is the greatest friend of the farmer. It is the privilege of an Opposition to criticize a Government and healthy criticism is all to the good in this country. And it is to no advantage the Government sitting back and saying: Other governments do not operate as well as we do. Hon. members like the hon. member for Cradock and Somerset East who do know what the Government intends doing, should rather tell us what the Government’s intentions are and this side of the House will come forward with constructive criticism. [Time limit.]
Mr. Chairman, after the lusty speech of the hon. member for Cradock (Mr. G. F. H. Bekker), we had the reaction of the hon. member for Albany (Mr. Bowker). He said that it was the duty of the Opposition to criticize but he did not criticize; he just babbled. I cannot do better than to devote the few minutes available to me to another branch of agriculture which I know both sides of the House support and consequently they will not differ from me, namely, the tobacco industry. [Interjections.] Mr. Chairman, that just shows how right I am. The great majority of the hon. members in this House are smokers, and I immediately want to recommend that they should buy South African and smoke South African. That will greatly assist the tobacco industry. That is the least the consumer can do to assist the industry. Even the Minister is interested in this industry, because I have often seen that when he deals with tobacco problems he has developed a taste for the pleasant aroma of tobacco smoke, and it has a very beneficial and calming effect on the Minister’s mood.
I think the time has arrived for us once and for all to put the tobacco industry on a sound basis. I want to say that that is of course not merely the task of the tobacco growers. I think it is the common task of all the shareholders in this industry, viz. the tobacco growers in the first place, secondly manufacturers, thirdly the State, and fourthly the smokers. I want to ask: What have the tobacco growers done to put this industry on a sound basis? I think they did the following things which were of great importance. There was a time when the growers grew the wrong type of tobacco. Then the manufacturers and even various Ministers of Finance, and also the Ministers of Agriculture, indirectly said that they should switch over to the correct type. That is the great service the growers did for the industry, viz. that they concentrated on the most suitable type of tobacco, hence the fact that they switched over from the old type to the Orinoco type, which is very suitable for cigarettes. That is the first great service rendered by the tobacco grower to put the industry on a sound basis. In the second place they were at pains to produce a high leaf. I think the third thing they did in the interests of the industry is that they themselves asked that the levy on their product should be increased. I think in 1958 the increase on certain types of tobacco—I think it was the light air-dried tobacco—was 182 per cent. These growers went in for a long-term policy. They wanted to make the funds of the tobacco industry so strong that when there was a crisis they could develop the export market which they had built un during the course of time, with the funds of the Tobacco Board. I say that in order to put the industry on a sound basis the tobacco grower ensured that he would produce the most suitable type of tobacco; secondly, that he delivered the best possible quality, and thirdly, that he increased the levy. What is more, he also tried to overcome the risk element in the industry. The hon. the Minister will know that excessive rain, drought and heat constitute a serious risk factor. They eliminated the risk factor to a large extent by way of hail insurance. Then through their co-operatives they helped to create facilities for effective research into the tobacco industry, as well as making a financial contribution. I have mentioned these four points to show that the tobacco grower has done everything in his power to put the industry on a sound basis. But what are the manufacturers doing? Let me say immediately that I am one of those who consider that the manufacturer, who is also a shareholder, should co-operate with the producer to put the industry on a sound basis. That reminds me of a report of the Board of Trade and Industries on the tobacco industry. I would like hon. members to note what evidence the manufacturers gave at that time before this Board. The manufacturers then made the following suggestions—
I want to tell the manufacturers of the Union that it was due to their urging that the farmer switched over to the right type of tobacco. Now when the growers are faced with a chronic surplus they ought to stop the importation of all tobacco from Rhodesia as a gesture of loyalty towards this tobacco industry of which they are a vital part. They no longer need it for blending. I want to say that the manufacturers at the time showed a very sound spirit of goodwill towards the growers. Hon. members who represent tobacco-growing districts will remember that we held a conference in Pretoria where the manufacturers conferred with the growers and the representatives of the organized tobacco industry and that they then promised to import increasingly less Orinoco tobacco from Rhodesia every year. But what do we find now? We find that, apart from the 2,000,000 lbs. of excise-free tabacco leaves which we import into the Union in terms of the Rhodesian agreement, they imported approximately 6,000,000 lbs., including cigarettes. That amounts to the loss of about a quarter of the internal consumption in South Africa. I do not want to make reproaches, but the manufacturers are not doing the right thing and they should co-operate with the growers in order to protect the tobacco industry which is facing difficult times. I am not reproaching the manufacturers. Just as they did at that time, I am sure that they will now also in a spirit of goodwill reduce the imports of tobacco, apart from the 2,000,000 lbs. of excise-free tobacco, and further concentrate on manufacturing the correct and popular types of cigarettes, and in that way they would be rendering the growers a great service.
I also want to draw the attention of the third shareholder, the State, to its duty. The State is undoubtedly the largest shareholder in the industry. It has already happened that the State has made more out of tobacco by way of excise than out of the gold mines. The State collects millions of pounds by way of excise duty. Hon. members should not ascribe political motives to me. Under various Governments the Treasury has always regarded excise duties as the best form in indirect taxation. I always sounded a warning note. Already in 1944, in the days of Mr. Hofmeyr, I warned that they should be careful because if they levy excise duties injudiciously those duties could reach saturation point eventually. I also told that to Mr. Havenga and to Mr. Naudé and to all the other Ministers of Finance. I want to state to-night that, under the present Government, it is clear to me that the excise duties have almost reached saturation point. These duties have affected our consumption to a large extent, because consumption has remained static to some extent. It is not like in earlier times when, after a short period of a few months, consumption increased again. I therefore want to say that to some extent the State is also responsible for the permanent surplus we have, in the sense that in view of the Rhodesian agreement the excise duty is not high enough on cigarettes and tobacco which we import from Rhodesia and elsewhere. At the same time the excise duties resulted in consumption remaining static. What do we find now? The growers have millions of pounds of surplus tobacco on their hands and we now have to try to find an export market. I want to tell the House that last year we had about 9,000,000 lbs. By building up an export market the tobacco grower is earning foreign currency for us, but it also results in great losses, because to some extent he must abandon his own internal market, which gives him economic and profitable prices, in order to build up the export market. Now the growers have put a levy on their product which has strengthened the funds of the Tobacco Board. They thought that by doing that they would cover the losses, but it will not be long—perhaps next year—and there will be a deficit in the funds of the Tobacco Board and they will not be able to cover the losses. That is why I want to ask the Minister to make representations to the Minister of Finance and to the Government. Where the farmer is doing his duty and the manufacturer will also do his duty in future, the State, as the greatest shareholder in the industry, should also take steps by which we can maintain our internal consumption for the benefit of the growers and when we have surplus tobacco an export market can be built up by strengthening the funds of the Tobacco Board. [Time limit.]
I feel very sorry for the Nationalist Party. I see hon. members opposite are all congratulating the hon. member for Brits (Mr. J. E. Potgieter). I do not know why they are congratulating him. The hon. member was in a difficult position, Sir. He had to plead for the tobacco farmer and what did he do? He told us what the tobacco farmer had done to help the industry. He appealed to consumers to smoke more South African tobacco. I would like to know how much he smokes. But he did not tell us what the Government had done and this Government has done nothing to help the tobacco farmer.
Let me tell the hon. member who has just interjected that this Government has entered into an agreement with Rhodesia whereby it allows 2,000,000 lbs. of tobacco to come into this country free of excise. The Chief Whip has asked the Government not to allow tobacco to come into this country. He does not want tobacco to be imported at all. But he did not ask the Government to stop it; he made an appeal to the manufacturers to stop importations. Why does he not tackle his Minister and his Government? Why does he appeal to outsiders all the time?
I did so in a friendly spirit.
In a friendly spirit? The farmers know to-day that this Government has done nothing for them. It is supposed to be a farmers’ Government but it is not. The hon. member for Cradock (Mr. G. F. H. Bekker) has compared the position of the farmer during the war with the position of the farmer to-day. I would like to ask him and to ask any member opposite were the farmers happier during the war than they are to-day or not? Of course they were. What was the price of land at the end of the war? What were the prospects of the farmers at the end of the war? They had wonderful prospects, Sir. The hon. member for Cradock said that the consumer could not get meat. Why couldn’t he get meat? Because all the meat had been sold! The farmers could not produce enough. What is the position to-day? The farmers are producing too much; the whole meat scheme has collapsed. The farmer cannot dispose of his meat on a profitable basis. During the war the farmers did not have problems like that, Sir. The farmer could sell all his meat. I would like to ask the hon. member for Cradock what his Government has done to help the meat farmer? The Marketing Act was introduced by the United Party. Soil erosion was commenced under the United Party. This Government has done nothing to improve those measures. There was criticism during the war of the meat scheme and what was that criticism? I think the hon. member for Cradock was one of the members who called for more “ koelkamers, meer koelkamers, meer voerbanke That was the call then. Now the Minister tells us that he is going to establish “meer koelkamers”. Now after 13 years. What has this Minister or his predecessor done to improve the position of the meat farmer? The whole thing has collapsed after 13 years and now he tells us he is sending people overseas to go and study the position in order to improve the situation locally. Now after 13 years they are sending people overseas to find out how they can improve the position. They have had 13 years to do something and they have failed to do it. As for the member for Cradock complaining about the wool prices …
On a point of order, Sir, is the hon. member entitled to refer to the hon. member for Cradock as “the member”? [Interjections.]
Sir, the Government is so touchy to-day. Everybody is touchy on the other side. The hon. member for Cradock was discussing the position of the wool farmers and went back to the war, and he complained that the United Party Government in those days sold the wool to the British Government. I would like to ask the hon. member for Cradock what would have happened to our wool had the British Government not taken it? I remember that the hon. member was the man who in Bloemfontein asked that we should sell our wool to Japan instead of Britain. When he was asked how we would get our wool to Japan he said that the British Navy would protect us. Sir, I defy any hon. member to get up and tell us of any other government in the world that would have treated the farmers better than the British Government treated the South African wool farmers. They were all very thankful to get the “agterskot”, to get the profit made on that wool, and had it not been for the British Government and the United Party there would not have been any profits. Had General Hertzog and the Nationalist Party won the neutrality vote, there would have been no market for our wool. It was because of General Smuts and the United Party that we had a market for our wool. And talking about the “ aartappelboere ”, the vegetable farmers made a fortune during the war. Why? Because they were selling their vegetables to the troop ships, to the convoys coming through. And Mr. Macmillan said, they “never had it so good” as during the war. And now after 13 years of Nationalist Government, we find ourselves in this parlous position that our farmers are going insolvent. The Land Bank cannot get enough money to advance to them. They are all making demands on the Land Bank, everybody is looking to the Government for help, to find better markets. Why have we got into this position? Because of the Nationalist Ministers of Agriculture. They have all failed and this Minister is not doing any better than the others. Until this Minister can get up here and announce to the country, to the farmers of South Africa that he has got a solution now for the meat problem, and the problems of surpluses of the citrus farmers and all the other farmers, it ill-becomes the hon. member for Cradock to get up and criticize the United Party. The farmers are in the position they are in to-day because of the Nationalist Party and this Government.
I shall try to deal with what was said by the hon. member who has just resumed his seat, but there are two hon. members opposite who spoke last night and to whose speeches I want to refer. The one is the hon. member for Florida (Mr. H. G. Swart). He referred to the speech for the hon. member for Wolmaransstad (Mr. G. P. van den Berg) and said it was a pity that that speech in regard to regional agriculture had not been delivered 30 years ago. On the one hand this is an admission that such a speech could only have originated on this side of the House, and secondly, that the hon. member was propounding a principle with which nobody is able to agree, namely that because there has been deterioration in a certain method of farming and because that has been going on for quite a time already, nothing should be done to remedy it. That is what his speech amounted to, because he said the speech of the hon. member for Wolmaransstad was made 30 years too late. In other words, we must just carry on farming as we are doing at present because the land has already been ploughed and cannot be rehabilitated. He further spoke about surpluses. I do not want to go into that matter because the Minister has effectively replied in regard to surpluses, but I do want to tell the hon. member that during the week there was reference in the Press to the fact that the population of the world was increasing by 30,000,000 per annum. In other words, in ten years’ time there will be 300,000. 000 more people to feed in the world. If that is the case, surpluses will be something of a temporary nature. But, thanks to the Government we can deal with our surplus today in the most effective and the most profitable manner for the farmer. I would have expected the hon. member to realize that for himself.
The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (West) (Mr. Streicher) is unfortunately not here now, but he referred last night to our cattle and sheep population. I tried to follow him, but I am not quite certain whether he said that our cattle population according to the latest figures he could obtain amounted to 7,000,000. Perhaps the hon. member for Florida can tell me whether I heard correctly. But I think the hon. member spoke about a total of 7.000. 000 head of cattle. That figure is quite wrong. The latest available figures in regard to cattle are for the year 1958 and then the Union had 12,622,042 cattle. The hon. member said that the number of cattle did not increase because meat prices were too low. That is wrong also. If one compares the number of cattle in 1958 with the number in 1957, we find that there was an increase of 20,637 in that one year.
What was the percentage increase?
The figures quoted by the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (West) were wrong. He also referred to the number of sheep and said that it was 32,000,000 in the year he mentioned. That is also wrong. In 1958 we had 43,241,545 sheep, and these are the official figures, because I took them from the report of the agricultural census, No. 32 of 1957-8. Therefore the figures mentioned here by the hon. member are quite unreliable, and the position in regard to stock in the Union is not as bad by far as the hon. member wanted to pretend. There is more than enough meat for the population and to carry on our farming operations. I want to point out that where we had 43,000,000 in 1958 it should be borne in mind that already by that time hundreds of thousands of sheep had died as a result of drought, and also large numbers of cattle. It is therefore clear that the figures used by hon. members opposite are quite unreliable.
Now I would be neglecting my duty to the farmers of the Northern Cape if I did not convey their thanks and appreciation to the hon. the Minister for what he said last night in connection with the slaughtering of their stock. The Minister clearly stated that he was convinced that the correct time to slaughter stock was when the animals were in prime condition. Nobody can criticize that. That would be most profitable to the farmer, and it is something to which the farmer has long looked forward. The Minister also held out the prospect that facilities would be established to preserve that meat properly for the use of the public. I want to express my sincere thanks to the Minister on behalf of the farmers in the Northern Cape. But there is one point about which I am concerned, viz. that I do not know what will happen in future in regard to our meat. I do not know whether a permit system will be reinstituted. It was suggested last night that possibly a permit system would again be introduced, and the Minister was told that if that takes place, if a person obtains a permit to deliver stock and he does not do so he should be fined. I want to ask the Minister not to consider that suggestion and I shall give my reasons for it. Stock is not only sold in the controlled areas, but there are stock sales in the rural areas where buyers and speculators buy up the stock which the farmers do not send to the controlled areas. If the permit system is applied again, these people will have to apply for permits beforehand, because when they go to the stock sale and they first have to wait until they have bought the stock, there is the danger that they may suffer heavy losses. Therefore, because they do not know what they are likely to buy at the sale, one cannot go so far as to say that if they have a permit to deliver a certain number of animals in the controlled area and fail to do so they should be fined. If this were to happen it would simply kill the rural stock sales, and the smaller farmer simply cannot afford not to have the rural stock sales. [Time limit.]
I do not want to be frivolous, but I was listening to-night to the hon. member for Brits (Mr. J. E. Potgieter) and I think at the rate that he speaks about tobacco, he should be handicapped because he can say in 20 minutes what I can say in five.
Sir, the matter I want to talk about is quite different. The hon. member for Cradock (Mr. G. F. H. Bekker), I believe had a bit to say about the wool position, and I would like at this stage just to refer the House to a matter that I raised last year. I raised it in connection with topmaking wools which at that time were being produced in South Africa and being shipped direct to China. Sir, in the Cape Times of Friday, 4 March 1960, there was an article under the caption “ Reds best buyers of South African wool tops in the world ”. Now, for South Africa to have done what the report claimed, and what I am going to substantiate, was one of the things that I was delighted about. You will remember, Sir, that I continuously have appealed to the hon. the Minister of Transport that certain concessions should be made in respect of railage on topmaking wool from the various ports to Port Elizabeth where we have three mills. I think the hon. the Minister eventually as a result of pressure from the hon. member for Somerset East (Mr. Vosloo) made some concessions. In these mills at Port Elizabeth, two of them established with foreign capital and a third largely supported by farmers’ capital, some excellent progress was made. What is the position to-day? In May last year, I saw a statement in the Press, after all the upsets and revolts we had in this country, that China and Russia had withdrawn their competition from our market. Sir, I have studied the position and know something about it. All their orders were cancelled and the result is that the only wool that has been shipped to China now have been 29 bales of scoured wool and on investigation I found that that was a delayed part of a previous order. But what was the position when last year I pleaded for these concessions? China had actually bought 30,510 bales of grease wool, but she also took 5,140,200 lbs. of tops processed in this country, which meant quite an amount of foreign exchange to this country apart from the work it provided. Russia bought no less than 30,233 bales of wool and just for a measure of luck they took 26,567 lbs. of sheep skins. That was last year. Well, anybody who knows anything about the wool market will know that when you lose competition of that volume of business in your own market, it makes a tremendous impression, because that volume of business is not done at one sale, it is competition spread over a long period. What was the result? We are the only country producing merino wool that has a supporting scheme. What happened? We had to buy in a tremendous amount of wool. Now don’t make a mistake. I am not talking against the scheme, but can you imagine what the result was of the loss of all this competition? And let me tell hon. gentlemen over there that you do not get this business by advertising. A lot of buyers went over to China and Russia getting orders. Having lost this competition in your market, prices dropped.
Whose fault was it?
I would probably say to the hon. member that it was his fault, but I do not think his influence would amount to much. I am, however, not introducing the political angle here. I am merely telling you what the loss of that volume of competition meant. I said earlier on that we have three mills in Port Elizabeth entirely dependent on the processing of wool. One has had to close down and the bulk of the money in that undertaking was money of our producers. Our producers lost a tremendous amount of money here, and anybody who wants to deny it can do so, but that is the position. I happen to know that that is the position. The other mills, in which foreign capital has been invested, and which were working night and day last season, are now just managing more or less to keep things going.
Last year I pleaded that the industry in this country should be efficient and become independent, but when conditions are such that it becomes impossible for these institutions to carry on processing here, you will realize what may happen.
I want to go on to another aspect of the position which is disturbing me somewhat. The Commonwealth of Nations, as we all know, established what is probably one of the finest organizations. I refer to the International Wool Secretariat. I have seen their work, I have been with them and I know that they have played a tremendous part in popularizing our wool, to promote the sale of our wool and the present chairman of the Wool Board has told us that their plan is to sell our wool to every country in the world. What is our position now? Now that we are out of the Commonwealth is our position still the same? I do not know whether the hon. Minister can tell us.
Of course it is.
I am addressing the Minister. As I see the position, there is a possibility that this organization, with all its goodwill and all its good intentions may not be able to maintain the present position. I have been associated with the trade probably longer than some of the hon. members here have lived, and I am proud of that fact. South Africa has played a tremendous part in this International Wool Secretariat and to-day, due to the fact that we are out of the Commonwealth, it is a sad position to feel that possibly, due to that fact, countries which are not friendly disposed towards us might make it difficult for our partners in the Secretariat to go along with us. Perhaps the hon. the Minister can clear up the position and tell us something about it. When we look at the wool position, we realize that it is very serious. You had these fluctuations and I have given you some idea of how sensitive this market is and what the effect was on our wool market when we lost the Chinese and Russian business. I know that nobody is concerned about the question who buys our wool as long as they buy it, but I have indicated here, and I have taken the details from the “ Statistical Review of the South African Wool Clip ”, which is issued by the South African Wool Commission, and hon. members can verify what I have said. That is the actual position. According to the last report we were again down some R11,000,000. [Time limit.]
I do not think I should waste time replying to that speech. If there is time available later I will do so, but I want to ask the hon. member to forgive me if I do not have sufficient time to do so. I also want to reply to the hon. member for Transkeian Territories (Mr. Hughes) and I shall do so if I have a few minutes left.
As the representative of one of the biggest tobacco-growing districts in the country, I feel compelled to say that I think that the tobacco grower should receive special protection in this country. I want to support my claim for special protection. I want to give the reasons for saying so. The tobacco grower is a small farmer, who makes a living on the smallest units in the country. There are no agricultural areas where the units are smaller than in the tobacco-growing areas. As a result of this fact it is practically impossible for the tobacco grower to do anything else but grow tobacco. Tobacco growing is also for the most part concentrated on the type of soil which does not easily lend itself to the cultivation of other crops, but its production is such that the farmer can make a living by growing tobacco on that bit of land, which he would not be able to do with any other crop. I say that the tobacco farmer is a small farmer, but still he is a man who can stand on his own in every respect. I do not think there is any other group of people more independent than the tobacco farmers. The tobacco grower stands up for himself through thick and thin and I do not think that in any other part of the country there is any land of the same size from which the State gets a bigger contribution than it gets from the land planted to tobacco. It is a fact that the tobacco farmer is independent and can look after himself and gives the State an income which is far bigger in proportion than that produced by any other type of agriculture, and one feels entitled to say that this group of farmers are entitled to protection. Hon. members opposite who laugh when one talks about tobacco owe much to the tobacco farmer. I want to invite any hon. member opposite who speaks so sneeringly when we plead for the tobacco farmers to produce figures which can compare with the production of the tobacco-growing areas. There are no two districts in the Union which make a larger contribution to the upkeep of the country than the two districts of Rustenburg and Brits. Therefore the hon. members opposite should not laugh when I talk about tobacco growing. They should realize that they make a contribution and that they deserve protection. Therefore I say that the tobacco grower can claim special protection, and I emphasize the special protection for the simple reason that if the tobacco grower is not properly protected by the whole country and not only by the Government in the way he deserves, it will cost more to place him on land where he can make a living than the State now gets from his crops. It will cost more to put that farmer on his feet again than it will cost to help him not to go under. In other words, if we allow the tobacco growers to be forced to try one crop after the other, as the result of over-production and the difficulties with which they have to cope, we can be quite sure that we will have to rehabilitate those farmers in future, because they have nothing else to fall back on. I can point out big tobacco farmers in my constituency who have stopped growing tobacco simply because the farmers’ associations in the neighbourhood got together and said: If a man has enough land to go in for any other branch of agriculture, he should please not plant tobacco. There are dozens of farmers along the Crocodile River who are to-day growing other crops in order to assist the smaller tobacco growers, the man who farms on six or eight or ten morgen, to survive.
Now I would like to say thank you, although I believe that is something we should not do in this House. I have already discovered that when one thanks the Government hon. members opposite burst out laughing. But I am going to dare to thank the Minister and the Government heartily for what they have done for the farmers also in the Rustenburg district. I want to thank them for the splendid research station which is partly the reason why the farmers can still make a living on the small bits of land. I also want to thank the Government for the buildings which will be erected this year, again to assist the farmers to raise their production and to grow better tobacco, so that they can make a living on their small plots. I also want to say thank you for the money voted for research in order to grow tobacco in the most efficient way. Now what about the hon. member opposite who said that the Government has done nothing? I want to invite the hon. member for Transkeian Territories to come and see how the Rustenburg tobacco growers work, and if he tells those farmers that the Government gives no assistance they will hang him on the first thorn tree they can find. Those farmers would not allow him to say that. Perhaps they complain about the taxes, but if you tell them that the Government has not assisted them you must run. You will not be able to remain in Rustenburg for long unless I am there to assist you. That hon. member opposite had much to say about our wool and that sort of thing. Let us now for the moment take the income of the country during those wonderful days of the United Party régime and let us take the income of the tobacco growers, the citrus growers and of all the farmers in those wonderful days, and compare it with the income made by the farmers today. But the hon. member for Transkeian Territories is like a cat that has had its tail stepped on. It scratches the first leg it sees. He is so ashamed of his own Government that he just scratches the leg of Minister Uys and the leg of that hon. member. As long as he can scratch he is satisfied. But I have not yet heard a constructive word from members opposite, something which is worth while. The noise they made when the hon. member for Brits was speaking was hollow and there was no substance in it, and the hon. member knows it. He just scratched the first one at hand. I think that when we discuss agriculture we must do it on such a level that it will be of value to us and to the country. I can give the assurance that the farmers outside are not so green that they do not know when hon. members are unreasonable and when they are being reasonable. [Time limit.]
I think a few things are clear to us to-night. In the first place, it is clear that this Government has made much money available for farmers who find themselves in financial difficulties. I want to associate myself with the hon. member for Rustenburg in thanking the Government for that. But when does the farmer find himself in financial difficulties? Only when he has a Government which is so bad as to neglect the economic interests of the farmers to such an extent that they find themselves almost bankrupt. The prosperous farmers are not assisted. I want to give the hon. member for Rustenburg (Mr. Bootha) a few facts and then he must tell me whether I have any reason to thank the Minister. As a farmer, I do not ask the Government for charity; all I ask is to be enabled to compete with farmers in other parts of the world. When I say that, I want to ask whether the Minister will say that the farmers in South Africa should receive the same opportunities as farmers in other parts of the world to be able to compete in so far as prices are concerned.
The hon. member knows nothing about farming. He was a poor advocate and he knows nothing about farming. Let us take, in the first place, the way in which the farmer in South Africa is discriminated against …
By this Government. I will give hon. members the facts and they can judge for themselves. Let us first take the position in regard to fertilizer. The hon. the Minister is a wheat farmer and he knows the position in regard to fertilizer.
What kind of manure?
I am talking about fertilizer and not of manure. Now take the position of the farmer in England. What subsidy does he get from the Government there? Ammonium sulphate costs £20 9s. 6d. a ton in England. But the British Government subsidizes the farmer to the extent of £9 9s. a ton, and consequently the farmer pays £11 Os. 6d. a ton. Now what is the position in South Africa? Here ammonium sulphate costs £20 1s. 6d. a ton and the Government gives the farmer the grand subsidy of £1 a ton. In other words, the South African farmer has to pay £19 1s. 6d. a ton, or £8 1s. a ton more than the English farmer, although the South African farmer has to farm on less fertile soil; and then he is told that he has to compete with the other farmers in regard to prices. I have not finished with the Minister yet. Take the position in regard to superphosphates. After the English farmer has received the subsidy of £6 9s. it costs him £7 6s. Here in South Africa I have to compete with that farmer and then the Minister says he gives me £1 subsidy per ton and I must pay £10 3s. 8d. per ton. That is already bad enough, but do you know what is the worst of all? The Government does not even subsidize the farmer because it has a special contract with the fertilizer factories whereby the Government forces the factories to buy 50 per cent of their requirements from Sasol in the case of ammonium sulphate, and at the price of between £3 and £4 a ton more than the price at which they can import it.
Now you are talking nonsense.
Ask the Minister whether that is the truth. Let the Minister speak, and I will apologize if it is not true. In the case of superphosphates, the factories are forced to buy their phosphates from Foscor, also at £1 a ton more than the price they can buy it for overseas. In other words, the Government does not even subsidize that farmer, but he subsidizes Sasol and Foscor. That is the first discrimination.
Let us go a little further, and let us take wool. South Africa is a wool-producing country. We find that the tariff on wool is R17.5 per ton over a distance of 500 miles, viz. approximately from De Aar, but when we come to cotton … [Interjections.] Yes, I know those hon. tobacco farmers who do not smoke and only chew have no interest in wool. They want us to become impoverished because their experience is that the poorer a man is the more easily he can be incited to vote for the Nationalist Party. Our object is to make the South African farmer prosperous and independent, and not to make him dependent on the charity of the Government. What is the position in regard to cotton? In the case of cotton it is R2.75. In other words, to transport wool from De Aar to Cape Town costs four times as much as to transport the same weight of cotton. Here we now have a Government which says they are looking after the interests of the wool farmer in South Africa!
I now want that hon. member opposite to tell me when I must thank the Government. I will give him another opportunity. South Africa is a wool-producing country. Our great fear to-day is that artificial fibres will be imported to compete with wool. Wool is purchased here, goes overseas, is processed there, then comes back and what do we find? That wool is discriminated against as compared with artificial fibres. Let the Minister get up and say that is not so.
By this Government. I will give hon. members the facts. On woven wool goods the customs duty is from 20 per cent to 50 per cent. We now come to artificial fibres, and what is the position there? I must say there is one exception. There is an appendage of the Nationalist Party, a so-called clothing factory which makes blazers, and if it is woollen goods or blazers the duty is not between 20 per cent and 50 per cent, but only a matter of 5 per cent, or perhaps 25 per cent. Let us take the case of artificial fibres. Although there is import control on woollen worsteds, of between 25 per cent and 50 per cent, we find that artificial fibres and cotton goods carry a tariff of 5 per cent to 15 per cent. Must I thank the hon. the Minister for that? Now the hon. member opposite sits dead quiet chewing tobacco in his cheek. Let us regard this matter in the right perspective. Let us give the hon. member another opportunity. When we asked for an increase in the floor prices of mutton, the Minister and the Marketing Council refused. At that time the Minister was not in the Cabinet yet and he and I together asked that the price of meat should be raised a little. But then they came along with all kinds of clever stories and said yes, but the production of the whole unit must be taken into consideration; the wheat is perhaps not so remunerative, but the sheep and the other things raise the production of that unit high enough and for that reason we should not complain. When we asked for an increase of 1s. that was the reply we got. But what did we do on the other hand? There are many Nationalist Party members who are interested in fishmeal and fish canning factories. We as farmers have to buy feed for our animals and poultry, of which fishmeal is a very important constituent. And what did we find overnight? Fishmeal was £29 per ton, and practically overnight the price was increased by this Government to £37 per ton. The production costs of eggs and things like that shot up, with the result that the housewives in Sea Point and elsewhere have to pay the increased prices, just because the fishmeal factories led the Minister by the nose and said that their profits were low. [Time limit.]
I just want to reply briefly to the few remarks which have been made, although there is not much to which one can reply. But hon. members opposite, particularly the hon. members for Sea Point (Mr. J. A. L. Basson) and Transkeian Territories (Mr. Hughes) have made one or two points. On various occasions to-day they have advocated the expansion of our markets both inside and outside the Union. The hon. member has now put forward his so-called criticisms and he has criticized the Government because of the protection being afforded our local industries which provide employment to our people and which also create a market for our agricultural products. In his great supposed wisdom the hon. member has now made a speech which is aimed directly at our local market, while other hon. members opposite have asked that the local market should be expanded. He says that local industries should not enjoy protection through the imposition of import duties, because such duties increase the costs to the producer. I now want to ask the hon. member this question. If the South African industries had not been protected and if we had not had an industrial protection policy, what does he think would have been the position as regards the market for agricultural products in the Union? Hon. members are always advocating increased wages for the Natives. I agree with them that the better we can pay our people, the better it will be for the country. But I now ask how we are to pay higher wages to the Native people if it is not by means of industrial development? If our industrial development is not protected, I ask them what prospect they see for any expansion of that development. When hon. members put forward criticisms and ridiculous arguments such as the hon. member has just used, by comparing a subsidy in one country with a subsidy in another country, such arguments do not hold water. I could reply by using the same arguments. In Britain no rebate is paid on the transport of fertilizer while we in South Africa grant a rebate of 75 per cent on the transport of fertilizer. The type of comparisons which the hon. member has used is meaningless. They have no bearing on the economic structure of the country, and it is pointless comparing what the one does with what the other does.
What is the price of wheat in England?
The wheat price in England is lower because we can import wheat into this country at a price which is lower than the domestic price, and the hon. member knows it. Despite that the price of bread in England is far higher than in this country. I do not think that we should use that type of argument in a debate of this nature. I am quite prepared to listen to criticism, but I do at least expect reasonable and constructive criticism.
The hon. member for Transkeian Territories has made the accusation that the Minister and the Government do not have a solution for our major problems. But I just want to describe the solution which he has offered. He says that we should simply do what the United Party did when it was in power; he says that we would then get high prices and we would then have no surplus problems. Of course not! If one in the first instance does not have the means of production, how can one have surpluses? During the war years we could not get fertilizer. In the second place there was no meat and they had to introduce meatless days. And then the hon. member says that that is the ideal position. There was no bread and on occasion we had to do without bread on Wednesdays. We could not get bread. After all, the hon. member knows that.
You could at least sell everything.
I do not want to discuss their agricultural policy tonight, but I must do so now that the hon. member has held their policy up to us as a model policy. They paid a low price to the producer of a product which is produced in our country, namely mealies. They then exported it to Rhodesia at that price and imported other mealies at three times that price because the consumers in our country required those mealies. Is this the type of agricultural policy which the hon. member now presents to us for emulation? No, Mr. Chairman, the hon. member’s solution is this: Close all the colleges which are providing training to the farmers. That is what they did, and the hon. member has held up the policy of the United Party to us. Close all the colleges and do not give the farmers training; then they will not have sufficient knowledge to cause over-production! Provide them with fertilizer under permits so that they can only obtain a certain quantity and then they cannot produce surpluses. Ensure that they cannot obtain tractors and implements in sufficient quantities to be able to produce, and then they will not produce surpluses. Take their beef at a fixed unprofitable price, and then one is not encouraging them and they will not produce surpluses. The hon. member’s solution is: Ensure that the research institutions dismiss all their staff and then there will be no research aimed at increasing agricultural production in South Africa and we shall then solve South Africa’s agricultural problems. This is not something I have said; this is the policy which the hon. member has submitted here to-night as the solution for our problems.
Then he asks what the position of our farmers was at that time? The position of our farmers was simply that the little income they earned during those years, could not be spent. There was nothing on which they could spend it.
I shall tell the hon. member why. In the first place there was no fertilizer for the farmer to buy because the Government was faced with a shortage and there was not sufficient fertilizer to meet the needs of the farmers. I also want to give the hon. member yet another reason. The farmers could not spend their money because they simply could not get tractors and implements; nor could they buy lorries and motor-cars. If this Government had adopted as its policy that to keep the position of the farmers sound, they should be prohibited from buying tractors, motor-cars or lorries, then the farmers would have had money in their pockets. Yes, they would perhaps have had money in their pockets, but then we would have had shortages and the consumers of the Union would have been queuing. No. I want to tell the hon. member that he should rather examine the comparative figures. Let him examine what sums have been spent over the past 13 years in the form of investments in tractors, implements and lorries for agricultural purposes, and then the hon. member will be surprised to see what the total is. In 1948 there were between 20,000 and 30,000 tractors in South Africa. To-day there are 130,000. Over the years the numbers have increased tremendously and capital has been utilized for that purpose. I now want to ask the hon. member where he thinks the money which was used for the development of the agricultural industry and for this large-scale mechanization came from? Just think of the development of our farms; think of the soil conservation work; think of the land prices which have risen—does the hon. member think the money for all this grew on trees?
It did not come from the Nationalist Party.
The hon. member should not contend that the Government should follow the policy of the United Party and then there will be no surpluses. It is clear that there will be no surpluses, but the poor farmers will not be able to produce half our requirements. I now want to tell the hon. member something else. Has he ever tried to analyse how many farmers have started farming on settlements and elsewhere over the past 13 years; and how much more it costs the individual to-day to start farming because farming is so completely mechanized and because the standard of living of the farmer has risen so greatly? Everyone knows it. But that is not the solution. If the hon. member wants the Government to follow a policy that there should not be surpluses and that it should for that reason abandon research and ensure that the farmers do not have the necessary means of production— well, that is a very simple solution. But I say that that is one of the main reasons why his party is sitting over there.
Can the hon. Minister tell us what the Government has done over the past 13 years to solve the meat problem?
The Government has at least done one important thing. The Government has at least ensured over the past 13 or 14 years that the public has not been faced with meat shortages whereas 13 or 14 years ago they had to queue and there were also meatless days.
We were supplying meat to the passing ships.
That is still worse. But three years after the war they were no longer supplying the ships.
What is the position of the stock farmer to-day?
The position of the stock farmer to-day is better than it ever was under the régime of the United Party, and I shall tell the House why. In 1945-6 under the régime of the United Party, the price of the best grazing land for cattle was £2 and £2 10s. per morgen. Today that same land costs £10 and £15 per morgen. Why? Because it is so much more remunerative for the farmer to keep cattle. That is why the price of land has risen. That is after all a simple comparison. But beef prices rose by practically 100 per cent in the last years—I am now referring to the régime of the United Party—and then I shall refer to the régime of the National Party—and since the days of the United Party those prices have risen by far more than 100 per cent. Then the hon. member asks what the Government has done for the stock farmers. The stock farmer has been given the protection of a floor price and he is assured of that price. That floor price is still nearly double the fixed price which hon. members opposite paid the farmers during their régime; and in addition we give the farmers the opportunity to receive more than the floor price.
Can the hon. the Minister tell me why in recent times the farmers have had to take out so many Land Bank and other mortgages?
It is quite obvious. In certain parts of the country certain circumstances have arisen as a result of droughts, excessive rains and crop failures. The hon. member knows that. That is the first reason, but there is another important reason as well. This period of successive crop failures followed immediately upon the period of mechanization during which the farmers made tremendous capital investments. Immediately thereafter drought conditions arose in parts of our country. But I want to tell the hon. member that the percentage is not nearly as high as he is trying to imply. If hon. members will analyse those figures, they will see that such farmers only represent a very small percentage of the farming population. Furthermore, hon. members should remember that in recent years a large part of our country has experienced one of the worst droughts we have ever had. During such periods of drought, everyone knows that incomes fall and that from time to time assistance must be provided to the people affected. That is quite clear. But there is another reason as well. It is precisely that on occasion prices have been too good and this has also caused people to get into difficulties. I now want to refer to the hon. member for Albany (Mr. Bowker) and the plea he has made on behalf of the pineapple farmers. There are farmers who have gone under precisely as a result of the high pineapple prices because they made unduly high capital investments. Hon. members know that as well as we do. They now want to turn these matters into a political issue and they are claiming that the Government is doing nothing for the farmers. I welcome all the constructive criticism which they can put forward on agricultural matters. I am in earnest and I believe that we are all in earnest in believing that our agricultural industry should be a stable industry and that it can give an assured livelihood to those concerned in the industry. But we shall not be able to give these people that assurance by the type of behaviour we have seen here today. When hon. members do put forward solutions to some of the problems facing us, they suggest solutions which will aggravate the problems instead of easing them. They do not simplify these problems but they aggravate them. As regards the political capital which the two hon. members opposite have tried to make, I just want to tell them that the farmers of South Africa know the United Party and they know this Government. They know what this Government has done for them, particularly over the past four years, and in all the various spheres. They also know what the position is as regards their markets as compared with the position which prevailed in the past. They also know about the research projects and all the steps which this Government has taken on their behalf in an attempt to improve their farming methods.
The hon. member for Brits (Mr. J. E. Potgieter) has discussed the tobacco position. At the time when the tobacco industry could not produce sufficient quantities of the right types of tobacco the Government established a research station in co-operation with the Tobacco Board, and it is as a result of that step that our tobacco production has increased so tremendously. Because these desired grades were in short supply at that time, the farmers were paid a high price. Hon. members have tried to make political capital out of the representations the hon. member has made on behalf of the tobacco farmers. Compare the prices being paid to the tobacco farmer of South Africa with those being paid in Rhodesia—I do not even want to mention the overseas position. Then hon. members will see that the prices being paid to our farmers are at least 15d. higher than those being paid in Rhodesia. Then hon. members have criticized the Government merely because the hon. member for Brits has made one or two remarks in respect of tobacco. The Government none the less made £500,000 available last year for further research in connection with the tobacco industry.
What the hon. member for Brits has said is true, namely that the tobacco industry at the moment is also faced with large surpluses, and that these surpluses will have to be exported and will have to be exported at a very big loss as a result of our local prices. Seeing that the tobacco industry in this country has a comparatively high price structure, if the industry continues to produce at the present high level, then the producers will also have to make increased contributions towards stabilization in the future. That is avoidable. In view of the fact that the industry is continuing to produce more than the domestic consumption, they will have to make increased contributions. But I agree with the hon. member that, as the tobacco industry and the tobacco farmer are closely linked in South Africa and as they need one another in the industry, it is essential that the industry should absorb as much of our own South African tobacco as possible for its purposes. This is in the interests not only of the tobacco farmer, but also of the tobacco industry because it is in their own interests that they should ensure that a sound tobacco industry exists in this country.
The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Mr. Dodds) has discussed the wool market. Of course we always welcome any competition on the South African wool market no matter from what country it may emanate. But experience has taught us that Russia especially enters our domestic wool market sporadically. In one year she makes large-scale purchases and then in the next year she makes very limited purchases. The hon. member has also referred to China which has always bought the “ topmakers ” and I did not quite follow whether he was saying that it was the railway tariffs which were hampering the exportation of such wool. He can explain the matter further at a later stage.
The hon. member for King William’s Town (Mr. Warren) has again discussed possible ways in which we can sell our surpluses. I just want to tell him that the various control boards send missions abroad from time to time to see whether they can sell part of our surplus production. The hon. member has made another submission regarding which I want to say a few words. He has said that while we have these surpluses, quotas should be laid down for the farmers.
I asked the Minister whether he would investigate the proposal that quotas should be laid down in the future if it should appear that we are producing surpluses which we cannot dispose of.
That is exactly what I have said. The hon. member has said that we should investigate the possibility of laying down quotas for agricultural production if we are faced with surpluses which we cannot export or which we cannot dispose of by some other method. But in the same breath he has said that we cannot produce at lower prices than the present prices. Even if we were to introduce a quota system, it would have exactly the same effect on the price of the total production if we were to produce a surplus over and above that quota which could be placed on the market. It will have exactly the same effect on the price. But I want to put the matter to the hon. member in this way. If we were to lay down quotas for the various branches of our agricultural industry which are faced with surpluses, or if we were to limit people to the delivery of certain quantities, we would reach the position that eventually no new farmers would be able to come into production.
Then it would be a communistic state.
Yes, then every individual would be told what he could produce.
Is America communistic? After all, it is being done there.
The K.W.V. does the same thing.
Hon. members can clearly see what the result would be if we were to provide protection to all branches of the agricultural industry by means of a quota system. The hon. member says that the K.W.V. is doing so. Well, they have done so and they have scarcely been using the quotas for a year and they are already heading for a shortage. When these quotas have to be extended, who is to receive them and who not? That is a problem, and if we were to apply this system to other branches of agriculture, it would mean that no new farmers could enter the agricultural industry. And it would not only mean that, but it would also mean that we would be protecting inefficient producers in the agricultural industry. We cannot accept this system which the hon. member has proposed, nor can we seek a solution along those lines.
In the first place I wish to refer to the speech made by the hon. member for Transkeian Territories (Mr. Hughes). His speech has clearly proved how weak and ineffective the agricultural policy was which they followed during their régime. They had to seek refuge behind the fact that there was a world war on in order to give the agricultural producer anything like a price on which he could make a living. Can a position be more hopeless and rotten than the position in which you have to shield behind a war and refer to troop ships, sailors and governments who were engaged in war and who paid a good price for our products. I cannot imagine anything more hopeless and rotten than that.
But I want to return to a more important and more positive matter affecting our agricultural economy. Price levels and the fixation of prices for agricultural products play a very important rôle in the profitability or otherwise of farming. However difficult it may be to calculate the cost of production, that remains the only basis on which a reasonable and profitable price for the various products can be determined. I am convinced that hitherto we in South Africa have not given sufficient attention in the first place to all the factors which have to be considered in determining the production costs of the various products; and in the second place to isolate the various causes for that high cost of production, and not only to isolate but to tackle them one by one, to study them and to neutralize them. I think hon. members, particularly from this side of the House, have very effectively proved during this debate how necessary it was that there should be an increase in prices. I wholeheartedly support the plea for a substantial increase in the price of meat. Auction prices definitely fluctuate too much and the gap between the price which the producer gets and the price the consumer pays for meat is too wide. In order to ensure a healthy future for the meat industry, it is urgently necessary that prices should be adapted more realistically. I want to say, however, that fixation of prices in respect of agricultural products is not the sine qua non for a farmers’ Utopia. There were days when a slaughter ox sold at R20 and a sheep at RI. The position of the farmers was bad at that time. Times have changed, however, and today on the average a slaughter ox fetches R60 up to R100 and sometimes R150, and more, a slaughter sheep sometimes fetches R8 to R15 and a bag of maize more or less R3, whereas it used to be 60 cents and what is the economic position of the farmer? I put it euphemistically. His position remains difficult. It is clear to me that more than anywhere else in the world, there is a legion of additional factors in South Africa which influence the farming industry adversely, factors which consume the farmer’s profit and reduces his security. These factors are ruining the farmer, no matter how well he is equipped for his farming operations. He is faced with elements such as cold weather and wind, just as the cold, the wind and the weather destroyed Napoleon’s army in Russia from all angles and enabled the Cossacks to annihilate them from the flanks, they could not stand up to it no matter how well equipped they were. That also applies to the South African farmer in respect of the risk element and the set-backs that he has to weather. No matter how hardy he is, no matter how well equipped he is, he has to give way sometimes. I want to mention a few of the factors which I think should be isolated and which should be tackled in all earnestness and determination. The first one is drought, the biggest single cause for our difficulty. I mention that merely in passing, the Minister also referred to it. As far as that is concerned I only have the one suggestion which I have already made in my Budget speech, namely that a specific sub-department of the Department of Water Affairs should be established which should make a special study of this problem and devise plans to combat droughts, not to eliminate them but to minimize the effects of droughts by means of water schemes on a more intensive basis and to establish schemes beforehand under which food can be distributed when necessary.
The second factor is the high cost structure as a result of high land prices. R16 up to R30 is being paid for pasture land and R80 to R180 for dryland in the maize triangle and R200 to R600 for irrigable land. I have no solution to offer in this regard and I doubt whether any hon. member has. That is determined by the spirit and the demands of the economic structure of the entire country and simply balances the farmer’s assets and those of the other industries. We may be able to combat the tendency to over-capitalize uneconomic small farms by making preference loans available to the co-heirs or co-owners of farms that have been cut up through the Land Bank and the Land Board so that they may buy each other’s share. Another reason for these high costs is the ever-increasing price of farm implements and the high maintenance and running costs. There are approximately 120,000 tractors in the country to-day belonging to the farmers and according to the Minister this figure has increased to 130,000, apart from a great number of farming machinery, of which many have become obsolete or are out of action. It is interesting to study the increase in the price of implements since 1938 when the index figure was 100 with the price which obtained in 1960 and thereafter. There has been a 269 per cent increase in the price of tractors, 406 per cent in the case of lorries, 203 per cent in the case of other implements, 213 per cent in the case of spares, 106 per cent in the case of fuel, 433 per cent in the case of bags. I admit that the price of agricultural products has increased over the same period, but I maintain that these factors together with the risk element, consume such a large portion of the profit of the farmer that he cannot meet those increases and establish his own position. I repeat the recommendation which I made during my Budget speech, namely that farming machinery, implements, including tractors and spares, must be standardized. With the assistance of the Bureau of Standards uniform machinery should be designed. Such implements and spares that have been tested and adapted should be manufactured in South Africa so that they will be more readily available and cheaper. As far as the high maintenance costs are concerned, I say that more facilities should be made available to young and potential farmers to acquire a practical and workable knowledge of farm machinery. The farmer who farms on a highly intensified basis has not got the time to run into town every second day to fetch spares or to fetch a mechanic. He has not got the time and it sends up his production costs. That is why more short courses in farm mechanics should be introduced to the benefit of our farmers. [Time limit.]
I am glad the Minister has again given me the opportunity to discuss this case of the wool position. Quite frankly, I hoped that the Minister would have understood it. I was distressed to find that farming members on the other side did not give it their support and I particularly have in mind the hon. member for Wakkerstroom (Mr. Martins), because I know of his association with the wool business, which is close and intimate.
What I wanted to convey to you, Sir, was that last year for the first time, through the ambassadorship of the buyers, and no doubt through the help of the International Wool Secretariat, China came into the wool market. With regard to her greasewool purchases, it was 35,110 bales, but she took in tops, 5,140,000 lbs. Where the Minister said he was not clear in regard to the position of railway concessions, I want to say that when the Chinese were interested in this market I pleaded for a reduction in the cost of transport of top-making wools from the three ports so that we could get them to the mills and enable our buyers to sell in competition with the world. They were successful and we did an excellent business. I can take this matter further. I said also that after the disturbance in this country in April last year, I saw in May a report in the Press that Russia and China had decided to withdraw their business and that they would place all their business with Australia. The point I want to stress here is that it is very significant that we lost the competition of Russia, which also bought 30,000 bales of wool, and we lost the competition of China. Both these countries are no doubt taking all their supplies from Australia. We have a supporting scheme in this country and we did not have the competition of China and Russia, and we bought a lot of wool. Well, work that out if you know anything about the wool market. I feel that this is not a matter which can be lightly dismissed. The farmers must take note of it. We are out of the Commonwealth. Then I went on to ask the Minister what he felt our position was with regard to our standing in the International Secretariat, and I hope the Minister will give us some reply to that. So much for wool. I am sure the Minister understands my point now, but recently I had the occasion to put a question to the Minister dealing with meat, actually with beef, and I asked the Minister why we, in the four big centres, received such a very low percentage of super beef. In his reply the Minister gave as the reason that the low percentage of super prime beef is probably due to the high standards required, and especially that in respect of age. He said that drought in certain production areas may also be a reason, and as the result of auction-on-the-hook the supplies are brought into line with demand; better farming practice and breeding are being promoted, and consumers and producers are being encouraged to take an interest in the higher grades, which are being subsidized. Sir, the one question I want to ask the Minister is how these higher grades are being subsidized. But I want to put this position to the Minister. We have all these surpluses and if the Minister was good enough to visit me and I wanted to give him a good bit of steak, I think it would take me a week in advance to ring up and check up whether anything good enough had arrived in our market. Sir, these areas are our biggest markets. It seems to me that what is happening is that we are going for quantity and forgetting about quality, because it does not matter how you look at it, surely our experienced farmers must know that it is better to produce three animals whose skins are full of all the beef they can carry than to send us five under-fed animals or medium-fed animals, and that is what is happening. The transport costs to the farmer are high, because he has a lot of animals and sells a lot of poor meat. That makes me think of the conditions in the Native territories, where they have plenty of animals but they are all poor. I do not want to upset anybody, but I just want to give my criticism. Why should we in the big centres, which are your best customers, be supplied with meat of this type? If you go back into the records even earlier—I have records here for 1956 and 1955 and I find that the same position obtained then. If you look at the Kimberley records, you find that they have lovely beef, all super types, but in these areas that are far away we seem to get the poor beef. I am inclined to think that we are lagging behind and that we are over-stocking. I think we are carrying far too many animals on the land, because otherwise we would not be in that position. I think the Minister in his heart will agree that that probably has a lot to do with it, because he has told the farmers so. Let us go for more quality and less quantity.
There are also other problems in connection with this matter. Examine the position with regard to any beef which is bought inland and sent down to these areas. We are subject to all the delays on the line. The passenger trains run through on time but the animals have to wait and probably are not even watered sufficiently or fed when they come down to us. I think it is high time that the farmers stood up and demanded that the conditions in regard to the transport of our beef should be improved. [Hear, hear!] I have not been to America, but I am sure many hon. members opposite have been there, but they should see how beef is transported there. The animals are not all bundled into one truck together. Each animal has its stall, with the result that there is no bumping, and the animals are fed and watered inside the truck. If we did something like that here it would be in the interest of all of us. The hides will be better and the beef will be better and there will not be so much wastage. To-day beef is sent to the big cities and the farmers want us to support them, and we want to support them, but we want good beef. I think the time has come to do these things. We have all kinds of surpluses, and the Minister’s Department has to buy in meat at the floor price which he says is so high, but what kind of meat can he buy? If he takes in super beef, how happy he will be!
It is mostly super beef.
Then what do you do with it? Do you export it, because we do not get it. All I can say is that if we want super beef in our markets—and we have fairly decent butchers—we really have to plead for it.
Change your butcher.
That is all very well, but when I listen to the farmers and hear them grouse, I think it is high time that we explored other avenues. I do not think we can blame the people because it seems to me that in the large centres they think that there are a lot of Bantu to feed and they can just send in any sort of stuff, but you are doing yourselves down, because if you produced fewer animals and sent them down in better condition your prices would be better. [Time limit.]
I do not want to say much in regard to what was said by the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central] (Mr. Dodds), except this. It is true that China and Russia disappeared from our wool market in May, but the only reason is that those countries buy where they can buy cheapest. That is the first aspect, and the second is this, viz. the fact that Australia following in our footsteps in regard to our wool scheme, is also instituting such a scheme, which proves that our wool industry is sound and is setting an example. That is proved by the fact that Australia now has a wool scheme based on ours, and the Wool Board of South Africa has done very good work.
I do not want to say anything more about wheat now. I shall return to it later. I am afraid that this whole debate on agriculture has lost perspective. Recriminations are made across the floor of the House which have no substance unless the statistics are produced to prove what has been done. I want to say without fear of contradiction that if one takes the period from 1939 to date and one sees what phenomenal progress was made in our economy and in our industries in South Africa, one finds that right throughout this period the percentage contributed by agriculture to the national income still remains the same, about 12 per cent. In other words, the revenue derived from agriculture has kept pace with the economic development of South Africa from 1939 until now. That being so, what right has the United Party to say things have gone so badly in the agricultural sphere during the past 13 years? Let us take another figure. We find the capital invested in agriculture in 1939 was £426.5 million. In 1958 it was £2.095.3 million, and if one takes the contributions made by agriculture to the net national income, it was £45.1 million in 1939, and in 1958 it was £236.3 million. In other words, that 12 per cent was maintained. Agriculture retained its place as compared with the rest of our industrial development. But the hon. member at the back has said to-night that the farmer is following an up-hill road, and why? If one takes it that in South Africa we have 143.000. 000 morgen of land, of which only 10,000,000 morgen is arable, and which will never become more than 15,000,000 morgen as the result of climatic conditions, the mountainous character, droughts, etc., we find that we have very little arable land in South Africa. Unfortunately, we still have the position— and I want to put it on record—that from this small acreage of arable land must still be deducted the Bantu areas, mostly in the eastern parts of the country, which are free from frost and which have the most favourable rainfall, with the result that our agricultural population is confined to a small area. We have 112,000 farmers in the Union and they have to provide food for the whole of South Africa. They must ensure the continued existence of the country. When we look back to past years, what interest did the United Party have in the farmers? The Minister has already told us how people had to queue up to get a piece of meat, and how they had to be satisfied with yellow mealie meal and fortified bread containing bran and soya beans, just because the United Party was not sufficiently interested in the producers, in these 112.000 farmers. We can just think of the maize prices. When there was a shortage of maize the United Party reduced the price, whilst they could make large profits as the result of exporting maize.
I want to refer to statistics to show how this Government in past years looked after the farmers. I have already mentioned that agriculture contributes 12 per cent to the national income, but let us look at the production. In regard to wool, I find that in 1948 196.5 million lbs. of wool was produced. In 1959-60 it had increased to 279.1 million lbs., in spite of all the droughts and all the other climatic vagaries. There was an increase of 82.6 per cent in the wool industry alone, just because the wool grower realized that there was a better future for him under this Government. Let us look at meat production. In 1948 the production of meat was 646.1 million lbs., and in 1959 it was already 677.9 million lbs., an increase of 31.8 per cent. Similarly, in regard to mutton, we find that in 1948 it was 226.3 million lbs. and in 1958-9 it was 279.7 million lbs., an increase of 53.4 per cent. In regard to butter and dairy products, we find that butter increased from 59,000,000 lbs. to 100.8 million lbs. In the case of condensed milk, we find that its production increased from 32,000,000 lbs. to 78.3 million lbs. That increase was due only to the fact that the farmer realized that this Government made it profitable for him and therefore he produced more on the same acreage, because this Government provided him with better means of production and with better technical services and gave him more economic prices. Now hon. members say that prices are not right and that things are not going well with the farmer. Let us look at the prices, and I am not going to refer to the wool prices about which the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) spoke.
Very well, I shall do so. In 1948 the prices for all types of wool was 26.6d. per lb. and in 1959-60 it was 40.88d., a tremendous increase. But let us look at the prices of products which are controlled. Beef, fresh milk, cheese milk and condensed milk. In 1948 beef was 60s. lid. and now it is 122s. 9d. Look at the difference—61s. 10d. So one can also take milk and condensed milk and butter. In 1948 butter was 30.3d. per lb. and now it is 42.7d. There was increased production and the prices remained constant. In other words, my statement that agriculture contributed 12 per cent to the national income was correct—it remained constant. In the 13 years this Government has been in power, as compared with the splendid economic progress, there was no deterioration in our agriculture. [Time limit.]
The hon. member for Wakkerstroom (Mr. Martins) gave us a number of interesting figures.
Yes, you can call them facts too. I am always prepared to admit that when anybody quotes statistics. Let them be facts. I like that, and that is why I think the standard of the speech made by the hon. member for Wakkerstroom was much higher than that of any other hon. member opposite, even the Minister. He quoted figures to show that there has been an increase in production since 1948 to 1961, as well as an increase in prices. It would have been surprising had that not been the position, Sir, and if the hon. member wished to use that in order to prove how badly the United Party looked after the farmers up to 1948 and how well the Nationalist Party looked after them from 1948 to 1961, he was trying to prove something which I would have thought his own intelligence would have told him he could not do, because you cannot make that kind of comparison in a country where the population has increased and where the farming technique has improved. I cannot see what the hon. member hopes to achieve by making such a political comparison. He overlooked one cardinal factor, however, namely that the value of money has dropped considerably since 1948, and as a result of the decline in the value of money price levels had of necessity to rise. Had the hon. member wanted to make a correct comparison he should first have reduced the present-day value of money to the 1948 value. But, surprisingly enough, he himself has admitted that the one factor that ought to be the barometer, namely what portion the farming industry has contributed to the national income, has remained constant from 1948 to 1961.
No, in proportion.
I want to say something in connection with what the hon. member for Marico (Mr. Grobler) has said. I think he is in trouble with his own Minister. He pleaded to-night that we should continue to use production costs as the basic factor in determining prices, exactly what I said last night, and then the hon. the Minister told me that production costs plus was no longer a factor as far as he was concerned in determining prices under the Marketing Act. [Interjections.] He has repudiated his own Minister. He went further and complained about the increase in the price of production aids and he said that the increase in the price of products had not kept pace with the increase in the price of production aids. That was exactly what we said last night and the Minister doubted that. We on this side of the House are pleased to see, therefore, that there are sensible members on that side of the House after all who agree with us sometimes.
On a point of personal explanation …
I am sorry, I only have ten minutes and the hon. member will get a further ten minutes. I want to go further. I was surprised at the attitude adopted by the Minister. After the Minister had spoken last night—and I think he reacted exceedingly well to the representations which have been made to him—I was surprised to find to what extent the Minister has the problems which confront his Department under control and to what extent he tries to keep himself informed, but the speech which he made to-night was nothing but a political speech. I would have expected a speech like that from his backbenchers, but not from him.
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.
Progress reported and leave asked to sit again.
The House, adjourned at