House of Assembly: Vol108 - TUESDAY 16 MAY 1961
Mr. SPEAKER, as Chairman, brought up the First Report of the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders, as follows:
H. J. Klopper, Chairman.
Unless notice of objection to the Report is given before the next sitting of the House, the Report will be considered as adopted.
For oral reply:
asked the Minister of Health:
- (1) Whether his attention has been drawn to a statement made by the Medical Officer of Health for the Cape Divisional Council, and reported in the Press, that the 2,300 gallons of separated milk being dumped in Table Bay daily could, if processed, be used to reduce the death rate among small children due to gastro-interitis;
- (2) whether he will take steps to have this wasted protein utilized for health purposes; if not, why not; and
- (3) whether he will have the matter investigated; if not, why not.
- (1) Yes;
- (2) and (3) investigations have revealed that no milk, either whole or separated, is being dumped in Table Bay or otherwise wasted, but that 4,000 gallons a week of pasteurized, sweetened and flavoured separated milk is being sold by the Cape Town Milk Board to the Cape Peninsula School Feeding Association at 7 cents per gallon for distribution to 87 Bantu and Coloured schools in the Cape Peninsula. This price very little more than covers handling costs, including the cost of distributing the milk.
asked the Prime Minister:
- (1) Whether his attention has been drawn to a report in the Cape Times of 8 May 1961, of a speech made by the Minister of Bantu Education at a meeting at Kempton Park on 6 May, in which he, inter alia, stated the reason why the Government was spending money on Bantu education and development; and
- (2) whether this statement represents the policy of the Government.
(1) and (2) My attention has been drawn to the unfortunate impression which a very much abbreviated report and its heading may have conveyed, and perhaps was intended to convey, by prejudiced reporting.
The gist of the Minister’s statement was that it is unwise to criticize Government expenditure on Bantu development and Bantu education. He had in mind, amongst others, opposition speakers who seek unfair advantage with such attacks during elections in rural areas in spite of their party’s policy and support for such expenditure in Parliament. He therefore stated that everyone should realize that any expenditure on the separate development of the Bantu is not to his advantage alone, but also benefits the White man. Only the proper satisfaction of the needs of both, each amongst his own people, can further progress and goodwill. Aid to the Bantu is essential for the survival of the White man. Even if it should only be for selfish reasons, the White electorate should therefore not oppose such expenditure.
There is nothing wrong in seeking support for a policy of separate development on reasonable lines by advancing either altruistic or selfish arguments, or both, according to what might weigh most with those with whom the matter is discussed.
asked the Minister of Justice:
(a) How many persons in each race group have been sentenced to death in terms of Section 330 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1955, as amended by Acts 9 of 1958 and 16 of 1959, for (i) robbery (including an attempt to commit robbery) and (ii) housebreaking or attempted housebreaking with intent to commit an offence, with aggravating circumstances, (b) (i) in how many of these cases and (ii) with what result were the convictions and sentences taken on appeal to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court and (c) how many of the death sentences were (i) commuted and (ii) carried out.
- (i) 16.
- (ii) In four cases the sentences were set aside and the cases remitted to the trial court for reconsideration of sentence. The trial court did not again impose the death sentence. All the prisoners in the cases concerned were Bantu.
In three cases the convictions and sentences were set aside. Two of the prisoners were Bantu and one a Coloured.
In four cases the appeal was dismissed. All the prisoners were Bantu.
In five cases application for leave to appeal was refused by the Appeal Court. All the prisoners were Bantu.
- (i) One; a Bantu.
- (ii) 12; 11 Bantu and one Coloured.
asked the Minister of Justice:
- (1)Whether his Department has received a request from ex-Chief Albert Luthuli to be allowed to travel to Port Elizabeth on 31 May 1961; if so,
- (2)what is the purpose of the journey as stated in the request; and
- (3)whether the request has been acceded to; if not, why not.
- (1) Yes, addressed to the Chief of Police, Pretoria.
- (2) To receive a Christopher Gell Memorial Award and to deliver the Memorial Address.
- (3) No, not under present circumstances.
—Reply standing over.
asked the Minister of Economic Affairs:
Whether he will consider limiting the importation of structural timber to the same extent as the importation of textile goods and motor spare parts which can be economically produced in this country; and, if not, why not.
The importation of structural timber is already being controlled to the extent that import permits therefor are only granted in order to make up the difference between the estimated local production and the estimated local consumption. Import allocations for this year will amount to only 53i per cent of the total allocations for last year and are further being qualified in the sense that only 15 per cent thereof will be valid for the importation of short length soft timber, whilst the balance must be used for the importation of lengths of 16 feet and longer.
asked the Prime Minister:
- (1) Whether he has recently received a letter from the South African People’s Congress; if so,
- (2) whether he has acknowledged the receipt of the letter; and, if not,
- (3) whether he intends to reply to the letter; if not, why not.
I have already replied in the House of Assembly to several such inquiries concerning letters written to me by agitator organizations, but do not intend to continue doing so since such inquiries are now obviously intended as part of the propaganda campaign. I am surprised that some Members of Parliament are lending themselves to cooperation in that direction.
asked the Minister of Labour:
(a) For which industries have industrial councils been set up in terms of the Industrial Conciliation Act, according to (i) provincial and (ii) national regions, (b) what are(i) the names and (ii) the race of the members of each industrial council, (c) what revenue is derived by each industrial council from contributions by wage earners in respect of each race group and (d) what is the amount standing to the credit of each industrial council according to the latest returns.
It is not clear what the hon. member means by provincial and national regions. There are 94 registered industrial councils with areas of jurisdiction ranging from the Union of South Africa to small local areas. The details asked for in paragraphs (b), (c) and (d) are not immediately available. The collection thereof would be a lengthy process and without some information as to the purpose which would be served by obtaining the exhaustive details asked for, I do not feel that the time and labour involved in obtaining the information from industrial councils would be justified.
The Minister of Bantu Education replied further to Question No. *VI, by Mr. Moore, on 7 April.
Whether permission has been granted to any clothing firms to visit Bantu schools to discuss the sale of school blazers; and, if so, (a) when and (b) to how many firms has permission been granted, (c) what are the names of the firms and (d) how many schools have been visited.
Mr. Speaker, with the leave of the House, I wish to give a further reply to QuestionNo. VI asked by the hon. member for Kensington on Friday, 7 April 1961, in regard to school blazers for Bantu schools. Arising out of my reply given on the aforementioned date the hon. member directed my attention to an article in an edition of the Bantu Education Journal containing contradictory information to what I gave. I have consequently caused the matter to be investigated and established that permission was in fact granted to the firm Veka Ltd., Johannesburg to visit Bantu schools. When the firm in question approached my Department it was agreed that school blazers can be of educational value, and it was decided to furnish the firm with written permission as is done in the case of booksellers who wish to visit Bantu schools and offer their services.
I may add that the firm in question does not sell blazers to schools directly. It only caters for the manufacture of the blazers after schools have decided upon the colour schemes. It is not the concern of the manufacturers where blazers are purchased.
I regret having furnished incorrect information in the first instance. This was due to the fact that the professional division of my Department originally dealt with the matter on an inappropriate file, whilst the administration division, which should have dealt with the matter, compiled the original reply without reference to the professional division.
I should like to thank the hon. the Minister for his statement.
For written reply:
asked the Minister of Labour:
(a) In which areas have regional Native labour committees been set up in terms of the Native Labour Settlement of Disputes Act, 1953. (b) what are the names of the members of each of these committees, (c) how many disputes have been referred to each of these committees since their inception, (d) in how many cases did the committees secure improvements in wages and working conditions, or otherwise settle disputes in favour of employees, and (e) what were the improvements in each particular instance.
(a) and (b):
This information was supplied by me in reply to a question by the hon. member for Houghton on 17 March 1961.
(c), (d) and (e):
The Committees have been in existence for nearly seven years and have dealt with a large number of matters.
In effect the hon. member’s question calls for a complete survey of the functioning of the committees, and this not a matter which can conveniently be handled within the normal compass of a reply to a parliamentary question.
First Order read: Adjourned debate on motion for second reading,—Electoral Laws Amendment Bill, to be resumed.
[Debate on motion by the Deputy Minister of the Interior, upon which an amendment had been moved by Mr. Horak, adjourned on 15 May, resumed.]
During the course of this parliamentary Session the hon. The Prime Minister said on an occasion that he hoped no accusations would be made about corruption during the referendum campaign seeing that that would only harm South Africa and I was glad at the time that he said that, because that most certainly stopped me from saying certain things that I personally knew of. But after the hon. member for Malmesbury (Mr. van Staden) said by implication last night that because Sea Point had succeeded in showing a 96 per cent poll during the referendum, there must have been a ghost vote in Sea Point …
Yes, that was very clearly reported in this morning’s newspaper as well. That is why it has unfortunately become necessary for me to give the other side of the story. What is the position? I take it that this is an honest attempt on file part of the Deputy Minister of the Interior to improve the electoral laws of this country and I am pleased that he has introduced this measure. I am pleased, because I think he and I both started our political careers in the same area and in the same capacity as party organizers and the first seat that I contested was against the Deputy Minister personally and on that occasion he discovered that both of us knew enough about the electoral laws with this difference that the people had more confidence in me and he was severely defeated. However, I say that in passing. Where the hon. The Deputy Minister is now making an honest attempt to change the electoral laws in such a way that dishonesty will no longer be possible, I trust he will agree to accept the amendment of the hon. member for Sunny-side (Mr. Horak) so that Parliament can investigate the whole position and perhaps effect further improvements which are not covered by the principles contained in this Bill. Various improvements come to my mind at this stage, which you, Mr. Speaker, will unfortunately not allow me to discuss because they are not covered by the principles of the Bill, but I trust that in his attempt to present us with the best possible Act, the hon. The Deputy Minister will refer this whole matter to a Select Committee before the second reading and not thereafter.
I want to return to the hon. member for Malmesbury: He has made a number of peculiar accusations. In the first instance he said that his election costs were paid by a political party, and when I told him from this side that as far as the United Party was concerned the position was not that it was taken for granted that the costs would be paid he refused to accept my word. The main reason why we succeeded in obtaining that high percentage poll at Sea Point is probably because the antirepublican agent, myself, gave his services free of charge, he received no remuneration for the work which he did and he was not a paid organizer of a political party. Those services were rendered voluntarily and when you work voluntarily you do much better work than when you are paid for it. That was the main reason why the percentage in the hon. member’s constituency was not as high as in mine. The hon. member goes further however, and says that because there was a 96 per cent poll in Sea Point there must have been a ghost vote. How does the ghost vote operate under the existing Act? I shall tell you where the ghost vote comes in, Sir. You usually have the ghost vote as a result of the postal vote, and fewer than 1,000 people voted through the post at Sea Point whereas at Malmesbury where the hon. member was the republican agent, more than 2,000 people voted through the post, a fact of which the hon. Member was very boastful according to the report that he published in the Burger a week before the referendum was held when he said that the National Party organization had already received 2,000 applications for postal votes. What does that mean? What is the implication? The implication is that in a platteland constituency like Malmesbury where there are never more than about 4,500 to 5,000 Nationalist votes, one out of every two Nationalists was absent on that particular day, under the guidance of that hon. member, with or without his knowledge. Why? Why? Why did the organization of that hon. member send its agents twice to a certain person, who is known to me—and that person was an official of the United Party and they knew that he would vote against the republic—and why did the agents travel a distance of nearly 12 miles there and back that is 24 miles, on two occasions to say to that person “ Old chap, we know you are ill, give us your postal vote. Why should you go to the trouble of letting the United Party ask you?”
That is not true.
Order! The hon. member must return to the Bill.
May I ask the hon. member a question?
No. What happened to the postal votes? I am sorry that I have to speak about this, Sir, but the hon. member for Malmesbury was the person who raised the question of the oath of secrecy.
Order! The hon. member must now return to the Bill.
Mr. Speaker, may I talk about postal votes and point out what corruption is possible under the existing law, and may I give examples?
The hon. member may continue.
I want to give you an example, Sir, of what is happening to-day. You enter the voting chamber and you are under an oath of secrecy. You may not tell outside what is happening there. If the hon. the Deputy Minister makes inquiries in connection with the Sea Point election he will find the following: At my request the postal votes at Sea Point were sealed, signed by me and I also gave the republican agent the same opportunity of signing once they had been sealed. I did that because I had received a sworn statement and complaints to the effect that a certain voter who had voted against the republic had reason to believe that her ballot paper had been interfered with. I had that statement in my pocket and I took it to the electoral officer and I asked the republican agent for his permission for the electoral officer, and he alone, accompanied by another senior magistrate who happened to be present at the counting, to examine that ballot paper and ascertain whether it had been interfered with. The republican agent walked out and said that he did not want to have anything to do with the matter.
What happened? There were no more than about a hundred republican votes and amongst those there were various ones from people who had first voted against the republic and had subsequently ruled out the cross opposite “ against the republic ” and made their cross in favour of the republic. That is normal; that is possible. But the peculiar aspect of the matter was this that from what I saw there that evening, I got the impression that those people did not make the decision not to vote against the republic alone but that all of them also decided to change it in pencil and all of them used the same pencil.
Order! What has that got to do with the Bill? The hon. member must obey my ruling and confine himself to the Bill.
On a point of order, Sir, the hon. member is trying to draw attention to the defects in the legislation.
I want to repeat that the big danger connected with postal votes is not that the wrong people get hold of the ballot papers, but the big danger that exists under the existing law and that is not eliminated in this Bill, is that postal votes can be interfered with after they had fallen into the hand of one or other political party.
Is that your conscience talking?
No, it is not I. It is no good the hon. member talking. I as the election agent invite the hon. the Minister to examine the documents relating to Sea Point. As far as Sea Point is concerned my conscience is clear. Neither I nor one of my sub-agents have on any occasion interfered with any vote or committed any irregularity, but few members opposite can say the same.
I am asking the hon. member for the fourth time to return to the Bill.
What improvements does the hon. the Minister suggest? Whereas in the past there had to be two witnesses when anybody voted through the post, that is no longer necessary. We know, of course, that in practice, particularly at Sea Point, the Nationalist Party have never taken witnesses along, the witnesses sign in the office.
Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?
The one improvement that the Minister suggests is that the person who acts as electoral officer must place the ballot paper in the envelope and the voter has to sign on the back. What does that mean? It simply leaves the door open to intimidation as for example in the case of railway workers, civil servants or parents of children in the Civil Service, etc. Such an agent will now be able to say to such a person: On this occasion you must sign your name on the back so that I can know for whom you have voted. [Laughter.] Hon. members are provoking me but with your permission, Mr. Speaker, I shall give them further proof. [Laughter.]
Thus far you have only talked nonsense.
The hon. member for Malmesbury has had an opportunity to make a speech and he has made good use of it.
What does this amendment mean? It will give further opportunity to the unscruplous party organizers on the Government side to intimidate people and to say to them “ If you do not vote for our candidate we shall kick you out of the Civil Service”. You know how nervous and scared people are that they will be victimized during an election, Sir. I do believe that the hon. the Deputy Minister is sincere in his attempt to make the legislation as effective as possible and I trust he will use his influence with the Cabinet and tell the Cabinet that this whole question should be referred to a Select Committee before the second reading. Those of us who have been concerned with politics for a long time can give many examples of intimidation and this Bill, as it it before us to-day, still lends itself to improvement and the Minister will get a better measure if he accepts our amendment and in that case everyone will know that South Africa’s electoral laws are such that there is no room for dishonesty. I trust the hon. the Deputy Minister will see his way clear to accept it.
The hon. member who has just sat down had to go to such lengths to find excuses for what happened at Sea Point that I believe that where there was suspicion and where people thought there could be no ground for suspicion, they will now feel that there is indeed ground for suspicion. The hon. member accused National Party candidates of having committed irregularities on a large scale during the past referendum. But the hon. member knows as well as anybody else does what to do in such cases. He could simply have brought such cases to the notice of the police and they would have taken action. The hon. member ought to know what to do n such cases. I want to know from him why he did not report those cases to the police. That was the obvious course. The hon. member also said that their candidates paid their own election costs. I do not doubt his word, but I should like to ask the hon. Member whether he remembers the Trust Fund which his party established a couple of years ago.
Yes, but the Trust Fund has nothing to do with this Bill.
Mr. Speaker, this Bill provides that it is no longer necessary to make a return of the expenditure incurred during an election and that Trust Fund was an election fund and we should like to know what they did with that £1,000,000. Were the expenses of the candidates not paid out of that?
What has happened to your Republican Fund of £1,000,000?
We are not ashamed to say that the costs connected with the referendum were paid from that, but why do those hon. members refuse to tell the world what they have done with their £1,000,000?
On a point of order, may the hon. member over there say “ Hy is ’n meid ”?
I withdraw it.
I just want to ask the hon. member this: He said that in cases where corruption or malpractices were suspected it was easy to report those to the police. I now want to ask the hon. member whether he is aware of the fact that no less than three complaints were lodged against a Member of Parliament who sits two seats away from him, but that the Attorney-General did not prosecute in any of those cases?
I am aware of that, and I think the fact that the Attorney-General did not take any notice of them proves the innocence of the hon. member.
The hon. member for Turffontein objected to the provision that in future it would no longer be necessary for a candidate to make a return of his expenses. He strenuously objected to that and he said a host of things with which I cannot agree, Sir. For example, he said that a poor man was now placed in this position that he would not be able to fight an election. I want to know from the hon. member whether it costs a poor man more to bring his voters to the polling booth than it costs the rich man? It costs every candidate exactly the same to bring his voters to the polling booth. To say that we are leaving the door open to bribery—that was what the hon. member insinuated if I understood him correctly—and that a rich man will now be able to bribe people as much as he likes, is surely not a reasonable argument. There is room for bribery under the existing Act. There is nothing to prevent a person from bribery to-day if he thinks he can get away with it and the provisions which make bribery a punishable offence are retained in this Bill. If the hon. member knows of cases of bribery and he is opposed by a person who is too rich for him to compete with, and who bribes people, he can simply report that to the police.
A great deal has been said about postal votes and the elimination of irregularities in connection with postal votes. I think the Select Committee will eventually find a solution to this problem, perhaps not a solution that will satisfy all of us, but a solution none the less that will limit abuses to the minimum. But I want to add something to that; I think that the penalties for offences in respect of postal votes should be made more severe. That may have a deterrent effect on prospective offenders.
Then we have the case of people who are suddenly notified that they have to leave. It does happen that some electoral officials are very accommodating in such cases. You can take such a person to the electoral official, he signs his application form and the electoral official immediately issues that person with a postal vote before his departure. But there is nothing in the law to compel an electoral official to do so, and you sometimes come across electoral officials who refuse to do so, quite rightly so. I think the hon. the Minister should remember something and that is to make provision so that people who have to leave suddenly may vote before their departure.
The hon. member for Namib (Mr. J. D. du P. Basson) is not present. He had a great deal to say last night. I differ from him in many respects but there are certain respects in which I agree with him. He described our present registration system as clumsy. I agree with him that it is probably clumsy to-day, but he made a suggestion which I do not think will find much support. He said that he saw it operate in America. It may be effective there and in countries overseas where the people are more election conscious. But where you are dealing with voters such as ours, voters who are not at all as election conscious as they should be, I think it will be difficult to make that idea of his popular. He suggests that four or six weeks before the election an office should be opened in each electoral district. That may prove successful in large rural constituencies where there are not many voters, particularly in South West where there are only 3,000 to 4,000 voters in a constituency. It may work successfully there, but what about the urban constituency where there are 14,000 or 15,000 voters and you can only start registering them a month before the election? That will mean that you will have to register more than two voters per minute in order to get the name of every voter on the roll before the election. When will those voters’ rolls be available, Mr. Speaker? You need them in order to fight an election. The hon. Member may propagate this idea of his, but I do not think the time is opportune to give serious consideration to this suggestion.
The hon. member raised another matter, namely, that the elections for the Provincial Council and Parliament should be held simultaneously. I am sorry time did not permit the hon. member to expatiate on that point. I am greatly in favour of that idea of the hon. member for Namib. For years now the voting public of South Africa has gone to the polls every five years, twice in succession. The people are getting tired of it. Apart from the fact that the people are getting tired of the elections, it means terrific expenditure on the part of the Government and also on the part of the political parties. Millions of pounds are probably spent on every election. I believe that a plan can be devised and a method evolved whereby the two elections can be held simultaneously. The hon. the Deputy Minister will remember that in 1950 when he and I went to South West Africa to assist to get the hon. member for Namib elected to Parliament that was the case there. It went off very smoothly. The argument will be advanced that in the Free State and in Natal the borders of the constituencies are not the same in the case of the Provincial Council as in the case of Parliament. That is so, but the borders of a polling district remain constant and what does it matter if a polling district in the case of the Provincial Council slightly overlaps the border of the polling district in respect of Parliament? I do not think this is an insurmountable difficulty and I want to make an earnest appeal to the hon. the Deputy Minister. I know he said there were difficulties connected with it and that they had already gone into the matter and decided that it was not possible. I think the money that will be saved by holding the two elections simultaneously will warrant the trouble that we will have to go to to achieve it. I want to ask the Deputy Minister once again to give serious consideration to this matter.
What was done at Wakker-stroom in 1952?
Wakkerstroom is a different matter, because there the borders of the constituency are the same both in respect of the Provincial Council and Parliament. It should be easy in the Cape Province and in the Transvaal. The difficulty will arise in Natal and in the Free State, but I do believe it can be done.
In conclusion I should like to bring another matter to the notice of the hon. the Deputy Minister. I think this is something which flows from the defects in the existing Act. I am referring to the investigation which the police are conducting at Uitenhage at the moment in regard to postal votes that have been rejected. In that case the Attorney-General gave instructions that the electoral documents should be opened and the ballot papers concerned taken out. An investigation is being conducted. All of us know how easily it happens that the signature on the application form differs from that on the declaration form. The presiding officer may get to a house where the husband and wife have to vote and the documents relating to the one are inadvertently placed in the envelope relating to the other, with the result that the signatures differ. There is no motive behind that. It can also happen easily in another case. The one minute an elderly person may sign his name in the ordinary way and the next minute he may print his name. When it comes to the counting stage those votes are simply thrown out. The Attorney-General for the Eastern Cape has now issued instructions that these documents should be examined at Uitenhage. I do not know why they have selected Uitenhage in particular, and I want to ask the hon. the Minister to go into the matter and to ascertain why Uitenhage has been selected in particular. I do not know how the matter was brought to the attention of the police….
Order! That is a totally different matter which the hon. member ought to raise under the Interior Vote.
I am raising it now, Sir, because it is as a result of the defects in the law.
The hon. member may refer to the defects in the Act, but he cannot ask for an investigation at Uitenhage.
In that case I want to ask the hon. the Deputy Minister please to investigate these defects in the law and to see if anything can be done to remedy them.
I do not intend going into the difficulties mentioned by the previous speakers, who were mostly party organizers, but I want to say that if it is the intention of the hon. Deputy Minister to remove by this legislation some of the irksome restrictions on Coloured voters to make it easier for them to be registered as such, we must and will obviously welcome it. I would also like to endorse the appeal made by the hon. Member for Karoo (Mr. G. S. P. le Roux) in regard to the registration of Coloured voters and to stress once more that the time is long overdue where it should be made much more easier for the Coloured people to become registered. I sincerely hope that the recommendations in this respect brought forward by that hon. member will not only be accepted, but that others will be added entitling a Coloured man to be registered in the same way as the European. Mr. Speaker, whilst we are dealing with legislation amending the Electoral Act, may I ask the hon. Deputy Minister whether he does not think the time has arrived to consider seriously the question of Coloured women in regard to the franchise.
Order! That does not fall under this Bill.
I will obey your ruling, Mr. Speaker, but you are spoiling a very good speech, Sir. I have made the point about Coloured women, and I sincerely trust that the House will allow this Bill to go to a Select Committee before the second reading, so that this very matter might receive attention. Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, I think it should go to a Select Committee also in order to consider the question of the 18-year-old Coloureds.
Order! That also does not fall under this Bill.
With all due respect, Sir, and with all seriousness, this Bill has been introduced to amend the Electoral Act and several other Acts, including Act No. 46 of 1951, the Separate Representation of Voters Act, to which reference is being made in Clause 52 of this Bill. My submission to you, Sir, is that once legislation is brought into this House to amend a certain Act, I am, with due respect, entitled to ask the hon. Minister to bring in further amendments to that same Act.
Order! I cannot allow the hon. member to proceed with that matter.
Then I would like to refer to another matter. The hon. Deputy Minister has brought in the question of the introduction of identity cards at elections. Now, I can probably deal with this matter more fully under the Vote of the Minister of the Interior, but at this stage I would like to ask the hon. Deputy Minister what the position of those people will be whose classification is still under consideration at the date of an election.
Read Clause 54.
I have done so, but there is nothing in that clause which answers my point. As I was saying, Sir, there are many of us who know that there are still thousands of people who claim to be Europeans but still wait for a decision on their classification and who cannot be registered until such time as they have been issued with identity cards. I even know of people whose classification was re-opened after years, even though they were already issued with identity cards. Again, I can deal with this under the Vote of the Minister of the Interior, but at this stage I would like to ask the hon. Deputy Minister: If a man, or a woman, comes on election day and says: “ I am a European, but I have not received my identity card although I have made application for it ”, will he or she then be refused a ballot paper? Will they be allowed to vote? I would like the hon. Deputy Minister to tell me that. Those of us who had experience with cases such as this, could assist the Minister greatly if they bring to his notice those cases they have dealt with. I know that at the last election many people were refused a voting paper because they were removed from the voters’ roll merely by notification from the Department, without any proof that that notice was justified and without any proof that these people were anything else than what they claimed to be, namely, Europeans. I hope. Sir, that the hon. Deputy Minister will once and for all clarify this particular point for us.
If there is one thing which this debate has made very clear, then that is the urgent necessity for an amendment to the Electoral Act. One thing has been shown up by all speeches from both sides of the House, namely, the many loopholes in the Act, and the many ways in which the Act can either be evaded or is not serving its purpose of giving to the electorate a free opportunity for exercising a free and full choice in the election of the Government. But what is even more significant, Mr. Speaker, is that there was not one speaker so far from the Government side who, while failing to react to it, did not implicitly support the request made by this side of the House that the Bill be considered by a Select Committee before any principles have been laid down by this House. Not one speaker has got up to say that the principles incorporated in the amending Bill are satisfactory and all that needs to be amended, so that we could merely consider the detail. Every speaker has, in every speech made from both sides of the House, pointed out weaknesses in the Act, weaknesses which cannot be dealt with by a Select Committee if certain basic principles are first going to be laid down by the House. The hon. Deputy Minister has explained the three sections into which the Bill falls, viz. registration, identification, and postal votes. These are the three basic issues which are dealt with in the Bill. But there are many other issues which have been discussed in this debate and many other things which have been brought forward which should also be dealt with. There have already been suggestions for four separate instructions to the Select Committee. I will deal with these instructions when I deal with the particular issues, but already in this short debate, four different things which cannot be dealt with if this Bill is not dealt with by an unfettered Select Committee, have been raised in this House. I hope that the hon. Deputy Minister will, even at this late stage, be prepared to show his sincerity to the country to make a proper job in cleaning up the Electoral Act. I am sure that is his desire, because he, as Deputy Minister, has to carry the responsibility of the administration of this Act, and it will make this task easier, as it will make the task of everybody in this House, if we could close the loopholes and streamline or smooth out the rough edges of the existing legislation. There are many sound suggestions which could be considered if the Select Committee has unfettered powers. For instance, I am sure that the hon. member for Cradock was going to make a sound suggestion the other day when he started to interject when we were dealing with the question of identity cards. I am sure he was about to interject that you should merely clip the ears of voters in order to have a good method of identification. Apart from this, however, that is one of the real problems which we face in this Bill, viz. the question of identity. I will deal with that in a little more detail in a moment. Now I would like to deal with certain points raised by speakers from the Government side in connection with the amendment. Firstly, I want to deal with arguments of the hon. member for Pretoria (Central) (Mr. van den Heever) in regard to Clause 2 dealing with the exemption of certain persons from the treason disqualification, and I want to make the point that what we are dealing with here is a principle and not a question of individuals; it is not a question of whether what they did should be forgotten or forgiven or not, but it is a question of principle. By this amendment in the Bill we are, in fact, saying to people that they are quite free to commit treason, provided that the Government which they support ultimately comes into power and by implication condones and agrees to that treason. No matter whether it be this Government or another Government of the future. What would be the position if, for instance, people had been found guilty in the recent treason trial, guilty therefore of trying to upset the form of the State in South Africa? Would this hon. Deputy Minister be prepared to come forward in ten years’ time and to say “ let bygones be bygones ”? It is not an individual instance, it is not why those people were convicted, but it is the principle: You commit treason against the State and not against the Government in power, and if you were convicted by the courts, they have found you guilty of committing treason against your motherland, against your country, and against your State, and not against a particular Government. Ife very Government is to come along and say that it disagrees with the Government of that time, and with the policy it was taking and that it is on those grounds prepared to condone any treason committed by persons who also disagreed with that Government, what respect will we then have for the State or for the rule of law? Therefore, I would like to ask the hon. Deputy Minister to reconsider this issue. I accept the need to forget many things which happened in the past and I accept the necessity of trying to live in the future and not in the past, but I do not think we are going to achieve that object by condoning an act of treason as something which can be linked to a political policy.
Now. Mr. Speaker, having dealt with this point which was raised by a number of speakers, I want to get down to the detail of the proposed amendments and to the proposals made from this side of the House which a Select Committee will not be able to consider if it is going to be bound by a decision on the second reading. The three important issues I want to deal with are: the question of registration and the form of registration, identification, and the form of the postal vote procedure. In regard to registration, the Deputy Minister himself has admitted the difficulties which will arise from having a five-year general registration starting with a completely clean book. Here we must balance the issue of whether it is better to disenfranchise—as you would certainly do—many thousands of voters by not transferring the original registrations to the new roll, or whether it is better not to have a clean roll knowing that by achieving that you are going to disenfranchise many, many thousands of people. Because that is the choice. Assuming that you do not carry forward registrations from the old roll to the new roll at the general registration you must—you cannot avoid it—disenfranchise people. It must happen. The hon. member for Pretoria (West) (Mr. van der Walt) I think said that it would be a good thing to train the voters of South Africa to register, to train them that this is something which they had to do. But he lives in an urban area! Has he ever tried to carry out a registration two or three months after a municipal election registration? Every house you go to they say they are registered, only to find that they refer to the municipal registration or that they have been registered for something quite different. It will not take years, but generations, for the public as such to register themselves and so to fulfil their obligations. In practice it is the political parties that achieved the present level—even though unsatisfactory —of registration of voters. It is due to the efforts of political parties that so many people are registered to-day. So I say that if you start by not bringing forward registrations, many thousands of people through ignorance or through lack of interest, or through being away on holiday or through one of a hundred reasons, will in fact not be registered— through change of address, through living with other people where forms are left for the householder but not for other residents in the house, such as boarders or relatives, etc. Thousands of people will be omitted in this way. But if you are going to achieve a clean roll, that in itself is something, and I want to ask the hon. Deputy Minister to consider the question of no residential qualification at a general registration in relation to the problem which I have pointed out, allied as it must be with the abuse which can take place if there is no residential qualification at a general registration. You are starting with a clean roll and with nothing to go by. You are starting with a blank piece of paper and every voter must now register.
Whether we like it or not, you will get people in a marginal seat trying to register a few hundred extra people in order to boost up the strength of one or other political party and in terms of this proposed amendment there is nothing to stop them from doing that. A commercial traveller can stay at an hotel and say that, as he is now resident there at the time of the general registration, he is going to register as a voter of that constituency. He then becomes a registered voter while there is nothing in the Act which necessitates that person notifying a change of that address during the succeeding five years. For five years, therefore, he can remain registered in a constituency where he stayed for one night and merely because he signed the card to say that he was resident at that address. And he has not thereby committed an offence, because he was in fact resident at that address at the time of the general registration. He was, in fact, present at that address and residing there and, therefore, he was not committing an offence. But his name remains on the list while thousands of others who are legitimately entitled to be registered as permanent residents may be left off. I would like, therefore, to suggest to the hon. Deputy Minister that he should reconsider the suggestion made from this side of the House that, if he is going to start with a clean roll without a residential qualification, then he cannot avoid introducing a compulsory change of address at the same time.
The hon. Deputy Minister may say that people may re-register. They may, but it is not compulsory—they may re-register if they wish to do so, and there is nothing which anyone can do to force those people to reregister. I have heard the arguments used that other sections of this Bill—Clauses 13 and 30 —entitled the electoral officer to remove the names of persons who are wrongly registered in a certain constituency. But that is not so, Mr. Speaker. Section 13 of the Electoral Act lays down—and it is even clearer in the Afrikaans than in the English—the following—
It is a disqualification for registration. Once he is on the roll, nothing compels him to change his address or entitles any other person to remove his name from the voters’ roll of that constituency. Section 30, on the other hand, gives the electoral officer the permissive right to investigate the qualifications of a person. It says that—
He may, but he is not obliged to do so. He does not have to do so, and even if he gets the information, he is not obliged to remove a person’s name from that voters’ roll. So you have the double evil of on the one hand persons legitimately entitled to be registered, not being registered because they have been removed from the roll, and on the other hand persons who are wrongly registered, deliberately in many cases, and who cannot be removed for five years. I would like to plead with the hon. Deputy Minister that if he wishes to have a clean voters’ roll, then he must change the wording of Section 30 from “ may ” to “ shall ” to start with, so as to make it obligatory for an electoral officer to investigate, upon request, the qualifications of persons to remain registered in a particular constituency, and obligatory for a person who moves out of the constituency after three months, to register at his new permanent address. If the hon. Deputy Minister does not do that, then he cannot blame us if we say that we cannot see the sincerity of his desire to have a clean voters’ roll. It is a simple thing to make it compulsory to change your address. It is compulsory to register, so why should it not be compulsory to notify a change of your address if you move permanently? If you must register, then surely you must register at your residential address, and the hon. Deputy Minister cannot blame us if he leaves this deliberate loophole, a loophole in regard to which we warn him now, a loophole which in the past has been, and in future will again be, exploited for political ends. If he leaves that loophole in the Act, then we will be entitled to say that we doubt his sincere desire to have a clean roll. He is taking radical steps to clean up the roll, radical steps which will disenfranchise many people, but in taking those steps he is leaving open the door which, as he knows and as the electoral officer and everybody who has had anything to do with elections, has been and will again be abused through the registration of persons who no longer live in their constituencies. There is one small village in Natal where 16 stationmasters were registered on one voters’ roll. Over a period of five years there had been that number of changes and they were all entitled to stay on that roll, and they all voted in the election—15 of them by post and one in person. That is the sort of abuse we pointed out. We reported to the electoral officer that these persons had moved, but he was not bound to investigate and said: I have no power to change them unless they apply for re-registration at their new address. So I come back to the point that if we are to have a clean roll then let us accept that people will be left off. They can be put back again, but let us not allow people to be incorrectly registered. Registration is the basis on which every election is fought. Unless the voters’ roll is correct, everything else becomes a farce. You can have the finest election machinery in the world and everything can be foolproof, but if the voters’ roll is wrong the whole election becomes a farce. I agree with the Minister that this is something which must be tackled, but I ask him to tackle it wholeheartedly and not halfheartedly and leaving the door wide open for abuse. Now, that is the question of registration as such, but it ties up with the question of identification, identifying a voter when he applies for registration by his number on the population register, and his identification at the time of voting by the production of his identity card.
Mr. Speaker, I agree, and I think everyone who has been concerned in an election agrees, that impersonation is something which requires attention. If I believed that it were possible to stop the evil through these amendments. I would probably support the Minister’s point of view, but the use of the identity card will not stop the evil. In the first place, let me remind the Deputy Minister that in March this year I asked him how many identity cards had been posted to persons by the Registrar and had not been delivered, and the answer was 266,147, over 125,000 identity cards, 8.9 or a little under 10 per cent of the total number posted were not delivered. When I asked the Minister last year what steps were taken he said that inquiries were being made. I have here a letter from a person to whom, according to the Population Registrar, an identity card was posted three times by registered post. That person has never left that address and has never been away for more than two weeks’ holiday, and only on 7 March this year was a card eventually delivered, and then it was made out in the person’s maiden name and not in her married name. I have a thick file of identity card queries where persons have had difficulty in getting their cards. According to the Minister’s own Department, over 125,000 have been posted but not delivered. Now what sort of opportunity will we give to the electorate of South Africa to vote if it is so difficult in many cases to get identity cards and where many thousands have not yet got them? A year ago there were only 1,300,000 cards issued to White persons, but 110,000 people had died from the start of the issue of the cards up to last year. We assume that a larger number had become 16 and qualified for identity cards, and taking no notice of that wastage we still had less than half of the White adults with their identity cards. Yet we are now asked to pass legislation which will determine a person’s right to vote by the production of an identity card, which I am sure the Minister cannot assure this House is available at short notice to every single voter. I think the Minister will find that instead of promoting the object which he said he had set himself in this amendment, of making it easier for people to vote, he will in fact disfranchise a very large proportion of the electorate. I will take it no further, other than to emphasize that if we pass the second reading we are committed to the use of identity cards. I am sure that the Minister himself would like to hear further evidence on this issue. But we all know that the Select Commitee will have a Government majority, and if he is determined then to push it through that is his right; he is not stopping himself from getting this legislation, but he is leaving it open to the Select Committee to consider the matter unbound by a decision of this House if he allows the matter to go to the Select Committee before the second reading. I will leave that there because I think it is clear to everyone that we are creating for ourselves electoral difficulties in this issue alone which we will find it very hard to overcome in practice.
I do not want to deal with the question of the voters’ roll at length, because it is not a matter of principle, other than to agree with all speakers on both sides of the House who said that it was essential to have the Christian names on the voters’ roll. I think that is vital, but the other amendments to the voters’ roll are welcome. But now I want to come to the availability of the voters’ roll, the question of the roll now being available at the Minister’s pleasure and not two months before an election, as hitherto. We raised this issue in the referendum debate and I raise it here again. I believe that any person who has fought an election will agree that you must have your voters’ roll at least two months before the election. You cannot fight an election unless you have the voters’ roll. This amendment leaves it at the whim of the Minister to have the voters’ roll available whenever he wishes. I plead with him not to accept this amendment but to leave the existing provision of two months. If an election must wait two or three weeks because the voters’ roll is not ready, the world will not come to an end, but if you proclaim an election and do not have the voters’ roll available you are creating untold difficulties for the candidates and an injustice to the voters. I know what the Minister’s answer will be. He will say that he will not be unreasonable, but if he is not going to be unreasonable, why not make it law that there should be this two months’ period?
Now I turn to postal votes, because here, too, the Minister has recognized the need for cleaning up the system, but he has not given us the answer. The specific provisions which I wish to bring to his notice are those requiring no witness to an identity declaration for a postal vote. The Minister said that the production of an identity card would make the use of witnesses unnecessary. Of course it will not, Sir. It will make it doubly necessary, because if a person wants to, any unscrupulous person can register 500 people on any voters’ roll and produce identity numbers for them, and a previous address, as has happened on many occasions which, when investigated, did not exist. And when the card is examined and the previous address is looked up it is found that they were not registered there and they are put on the new roll. So you can have from 100 to 500 people registered with an identity number and an identity card, and they can be registered elsewhere as well. They need no residential qualification if it is at the time of a general registration. All that needs to happen is that one person can sit down and sign 500 E.F.33s, submit applications for postal votes, get them back, cast the votes, sign as commissioner of oaths, and submit that vote without any witness and without any other person having any control. It would be impossible to produce evidence or to go to court to deal with such malpractices. At least if you have witnesses you could get three people before the court and cross-examine them and make sure that their evidence tallies, but if there is only one person his word becomes the sole test upon which the legitimacy of a vote is judged. I agree that if one wished one could make it one witness because invariably there are two people available, usually a husband and wife or a commissioner of oaths and a driver, but it is sometimes difficult to find a third witness. But I submit that you must have at least one witness and that the production of identity cards will not solve the problem.
Now comes the real issue which I think the Minister has tried to solve with his proposal that the voter should sign on the back of the small envelope containing the ballot paper. But I want to emphasize what was said by other speakers on this side, that that signature on the back of the ballot paper is opening the door to intimidation such as we have never known before. Even now the existence of a number on the ballot paper and the fact that the number is recorded on a counterfoil is used by unscrupulous canvassers, and the Minister knows it because it has been reported to him and allegations have been made in this House. He knows that that is one of the objections raised over and over again, that a senior official in the Public Service says to a man junior to him: We will know how you voted because there is a number on your ballot paper. I have tried to get sworn declarations, but people are too afraid to give them. Persons whom I visited gave the names of the canvassers who said: “ As jy Sap stem sal jy jou pensioen verloor” but when you ask them to give a sworn affidavit they say: “No, then I will lose my pension, because then they will know.” All we are doing is to ask those people who are already afraid of intimidation to sign on the back of the envelope so that anyone can say: Now we will know how you voted. It is so simple. It is one of the weapons not open to any party except the Government Party, and therefore the responsibility rests doubly on the shoulders of the Government to remove that opportunity for intimidation. If necessary, let there be two envelopes so that, as before, the envelope containing the ballot paper will be unmarked and will be unidentifiable before it is opened. When you take the ballot paper out at the count and hold it by the corner it will flap open and you can see how the vote was cast, and on the envelope is the name of the voter. I would plead for the Minister either to find some other method or rather to leave the Select Committee unfettered to consider this matter, because I think there is an answer to it. There is an answer to all these problems if we get together and discuss them calmly in the interests of clean electioneering. But there is no answer if the members of this House go to the Select Committee with their hands down by the instructions of the Government. I ask that this Select Committee be given the opportunity to clean up this Act in a way that will satisfy everyone and which will eliminate the houses which take place.
There are also other matters with which such a Select Committee could deal, e.g. the question of obstruction at the polls. That is a matter which I feel could be dealt with. Intimidation by shouting and by grabbing people by the arm as they get out of cars should be dealt with, by the Select Committee. There are other minor issues. For instance, I notice that there is reference in the Bill in Clauses 47 to 54 to the Governor-General and the Clerk of the House of Assembly. Those must obviously be changed under the new constitution to the President and the Secretary. But there are other matters not touched on at all in the form of an amendment which I would ask that the Select Committee be allowed to consider. There is the question of the compulsory notification of change of address. There is the question of the closing of bars and bottle-stores which the Minister touched on, the case of a by-election perhaps at one end of the city, and yet every bar and bottle-store in the whole of the city must close. Last Wednesday we had an example. For the by-election in Constantia every bar and bottle-store in the whole city had to be closed, and again the next day, two days of no business, for the sake of a by-election at one end of the area. I trust the Minister will deal with that, too. I also support the hon. member for Namib (Mr. J. D. du P. Basson) on the question of the use of licensed premises for meetings. There are many constituencies in which halls are not available, and that is one of the matters which I feel the Select Committee should consider, and whether relief should be given.
There were other issues raised which are worthy of consideration, like the question of provincial elections being held on the same day as the general election. I know the Minister’s problem. There is the question of the different seats in Natal and the Free State mainly, but there is nothing to prevent consideration being given, e.g., to one parliamentary seat electing two Provincial seats, so that the two would have the same seat. In the Free State it would mean having 28 Provincial Councillors instead of 25, and in Natal 32 instead of 25. History has proved, and I do not think there is one exception to this, that no provincial election has ever gone contrary to the result of a general election which preceded it. Whenever there has been a general election, the provincial election following it has been a replica, within a matter of 2 per cent or 3 per cent, of the parliamentary election. So you will not eliminate the opportunity of the electorate to express their views. You will not change the trend of politics. It would be idle day-dreaming to think that a provincial election would be fought on nonparty lines because the two elections are held a year apart. These elections are fought by political parties on political issues, and so the objection that you are separating the political from the non-political election is day-dreaming. These are things I put forward for consideration, not as concrete proposals, because we cannot consider them. But a Select Committee could well consider them, and it could give to the House a Bill which would eliminate the evils and close the loopholes pointed out so eloquently by hon. members with haloes round their heads which must have been pressing very tight at times, and here I think of the hon. member of Malmesbury (Mr. van Staden). But it does my heart good to think of members having a genuine fear and worry about some of the abuses, and I hope they will stand with us on this side in our genuine desire to eliminate these abuses. I am sure that they do not take advantage of these defects, except the hon. member for Pretoria (West) (Mr. van der Walt), who made an admission in regard to election returns. That was a minor issue, but otherwise I am sure that they would be the first to deny that they ever take advantage of the loopholes of this Act. Therefore we ask them to support us in our desire to close those loopholes so that unscrupulous persons will not be able to abuse our electoral machinery. Let me say this. This Government is making the rules. If they make laws that you can drive a cart and horses through, they must not expect the opponents to fight by the Queensberry rules. They pick the weapons and they will find that there are enthusiastic persons who will take advantage of any loopholes on this side just as well as on their side. So I warn the Minister that if he wishes to make this a decent law and to eliminate abuse he must close the loopholes. If he consciously refuses to close the loopholes he should not ask others to fight with kid gloves or by the Queensberry rules. I think he has found by experience that others are rapidly learning from the electioneering methods members on that side have practised over the years. We are not always slow to learn, but up to now we have resisted the temptation. [Laughter.] I ask the Minister to close the loopholes.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Durban (Point) (Mr. Raw) raised quite a number of matters which were also raised by other hon. members and I shall come back to them in the course of my reply. I just want to refer to one point he made, viz. that the identity cards will not be available and that he had put a question on the Order Paper as to how many identity cards had been sent back through the post. I can merely say that in spite of the number of cards he mentioned which were returned because the addresses could not be traced, since then, most of the addresses have been ascertained and they have been delivered.
I spoke about one in my own constituency.
It is odd that the hon. member’s constituents have no addresses. The hon. member asked how long it would take the Department to supply these people with identity cards. If he looks at the reply given to the hon. member for Houghton (Mrs. Suzman) on 7 March, he will see to what extent they have already succeeded in making the identity cards available, and that for Whites approximately only 144,000 more have to be made available.
That is ten constituencies.
Yes, but they are not all voters.
But they are all 16 years old and they can vote at 18.
The point is that Clause 54 clearly says that if the Bill comes on the Statute Book to-morrow, it does not mean that the very next day the identity cards will be used. Power is taken to determine when that can be done. Why does the hon. member argue as if it is the law of the Medes and the Persians that it will be forced on the country within 24 hours? I will reply to the other matters in the course of my speech.
I want to thank those hon. members who largely discussed this matter on its merits. Unfortunately that is not true of everybody who participated in the debate. There is one exception, and I shall deal with that hon. member later, but generally it was a good debate in the sense that hon. members tried to make suggestions to improve the electoral laws. The main criticism from the Opposition was particularly in regard to two points, the use of the identity number and the question of compulsory notification of change of address. Now I just want to tell the hon. member for Sunny-side (Mr. Horak) that those two points, the identity number and the compulsory notification of change of address, are matters on which he was personally consulted on the occasion when a conference of party secretaries was held. I have the minutes of that conference.
Were they confirmed?
If the hon. member wants to doubt it, he may do so. I cannot help him if he wants to run away. These minutes were drafted by an impartial official, and everybody present was aware of the fact that every word spoken was being recorded. I find that when we were discussing the matter of identity numbers, the chief electoral officer, who was also present, expressed his opinion in regard to identification and he was strongly in favour of the use of the identity number as being the only method by which there could be proper identification. After he had spoken, other speakers spoke and then the chief secretary of the United Party spoke and said the following—
I now want to give the hon. member the opportunity to say whether these minutes are false or not.
But that is not the point.
Did the hon. member agree at the conference that the identity number could be used?
Yes, to clean the list.
If the hon. member is in favour of the use of the identity number, how else can we apply it than by making use of the provisions of the Population Registration Act? The point is that the hon. member for Sunnyside as Chief Secretary of his party agreed that we should apply the principle of having proper identification.
To clean the list.
Yes, and if one wants to clean the lists by means of the identity number, then one must have a list which is connected with the identity number. In other words, what the hon. member now opposes he agreed to at that conference.
How can you say No?
This is playing politics.
No, I am not politicizing. I am merely saying that the hon. member in a sober moment accepted a sound principle. I am not trying to play him off against his party. I believe that the hon. member still feels that way, because he knows it is the only sound thing to do.
Of course, in this case, but not to use identity cards at elections.
My point is that the hon. member was consulted, and through him his party was consulted. Secondly, in regard to the other objection in connection with compulsory notification of changes of address, there were also discussions at that conference. We discussed the matter from all angles and there already the hon. member adopted the attitude that we should again introduce compulsory notification of changes of address. That is on page 7 of the minutes. There he said that he had no objection to the five-yearly registration, but he felt that it should go hand in hand with the compulsory notification of change of address. And when it was pointed out to the hon. member that the system of compulsory notification of change of address, as we knew it, had been a failure, he went further and said that it seemed to him that an objection clause should be put into the Act in order to make that provision effective. The fact is that for years we had experience of an Electoral Act with an objection clause which made provision in respect of compulsory notification of change of address, and the hon. member knows that this caused the greatest consternation and bitterness amongst the electorate.
As the result of your actions.
The hon. member should not now try to allocate the blame, because then I can also do so. I do not want to do that. We can do so if it becomes necessary, but I do not think this is the time for it. The fact is that one found unscrupulous people who, if a voter had only been absent on holiday for five or six weeks, actually walked around in the streets to select the voters who were away from home temporarily, or who had gone on holiday, and as many as 600 to 700 objections at a time were handed in in respect of voters who had lived at those addresses for years; and this made that system so unpopular and brought the voters up in arms to such an extent that we abolished it, but now the hon. member wants us to introduce it again—something which had been tried and had been proved to be a failure, something which has caused bitterness on the part of the voters and of which misuse had been made on a large scale in the past. Why should we go back to such an inefficient system?
With a sworn affidavit.
Mr. Speaker, there were court cases about these matters and a sworn affidavit will not help when one is dealing with unscrupulous people who, on the eve of an election, want to cause consternation.
But the old Act nullified sworn affidavits.
Everything was falsified.
I just want to deal with a second point before I go into more detail. The hon. member said in connection with these two differences in principle which he mentioned, that it was wrong to send this Bill to a Select Committee after the second reading, and that it should be done before the second reading. But now the hon. members have already adopted a standpoint on the question of the identity number and in regard to compulsory notification of change of address. In other words, they have already shown us that in principle they are not prepared to support these measures proposed by the Government and to which the Government is committed.
The Government is not committed to it.
Why should we go to a Select Committee before the second reading in connection with two matters of principle of such a fundamental nature? Let us first settle the principle, because the Government wants to take the responsibility for introducing the identity numbers, and, in the second place, it wants to take the responsibility for introducing mechanization after a general registration, which has to take place on a different basis than hitherto. In respect of these two matters, the Government wants to shoulder the responsibility.
Mechanization has nothing to do with it.
Of course it has everything to do with it. When the Bill was introduced, we told hon. members that we could not introduce the mechanization we envisaged unless we used the identity number. We have a very thick report about it. In the second place, I told hon. members that we could not introduce mechanization until we had first had an absolutely new general registration. That is the basis on which this whole Bill rests. I said that in my introductory speech, but hon. members pretend that I never said it, and that the point was never raised. That is the whole basis.
In the third place, we want to take these steps because we believe that not only will this new system result in tremendous savings, but because we believe that we will be able to provide a much more effective voters’ roll; that we will be able to make them available sooner, and that they will be more accurate. After having instructed our experts thoroughly to investigate this matter and we having received a report about it, and after we had demonstrations about it and holding conferences with the various electoral officers—people who work with these things every day (and they agree with it)—then surely the Government must accept, if all the experts agree that it will be a better system, that that will be the case.
But let us discuss it.
But we have discussed it. The hon. member says that he wants to have nothing to do with identity numbers and identity cards. He does not want to have identification by that method. He wants to revert to an old system which experience has proved to be obsolete. What in heaven’s name must we discuss in so far as the principle is concerned?
Then the further objection of the hon. member for Sunnyside was the question of the central index. Clause 14 has intentionally been drafted in such a way that it does not mean the compulsory abolition of the central index. The hon. member for Namib (Mr. J. D. du P. Basson) actually pleaded that it should be abolished. This matter also was thoroughly investigated, and the O. & M. officials who brought out the report on mechanization tell us that it is their honest opinion that this central index, which is an expensive system which has involved high costs, and which is very cumbersome and requires a large staff, is not essential if one mechanizes. But, because we do not want to go so far as to abolish it unless experience absolutely proves that the other system is watertight, it was decided to word this clause in such a way that the Minister will have the right to abolish the central index when he considers it practicable to do so, and, at the moment, it seems to me that we should retain the central index in order to have a double control, in order that we will retain the necessary control, and in order that we can properly test our mechanization, which will also be a new experience for the officials. If it should appear that we can do without the central index, we can consider abolishing it, but then we have the power to abolish it when it suits us to do so without again having to introduce legislation to that effect. That is what is envisaged in this amendment.
Then hon. members raised the point in regard to Clause 13 that, as in the case of the Referendum Act, it should be left in the hands of the chief electoral officer and the Minister to decide on the printing of the voters’ rolls. That is done for purely technical reasons; and if it is important to the Opposition parties that voters’ rolls should be available timeously, it is just as important to the Government party. One cannot make voters’ rolls available to the Government party before making them available to the Opposition parties.
There must be a minimum period.
That is not necessary, because the preliminary voters’ rolls are available in order to commence the preliminary work. We hope that, by means of mechanization, we will be able to make the voters’ rolls available sooner. That applies to all parties, whether it is the Government party or the Opposition parties. Therefore, there can be no idea of this being abused in any way.
No, that was not the objection.
Therefore this is not such a serious objection. We now come to the question of the postal vote. The hon. member for Sunnyside quoted an article here from some newspaper.
Your Prime Minister’s newspaper.
As far as I am concerned it can be the King’s newspaper. The fact remains that it is a newspaper. Because it is the Prime Minister’s newspaper the hon. member acted as if it was a suggestion with which I personally was connected. How he associates the two things I do not know. The fact is that we had various proposals before us, and not just one, because I invited all the party secretaries and everybody who spoke to us about the electoral laws, more than a year ago, to send us any suggestions they wanted to make in writing, with the result that we had various suggestions. We even considered other ways and means of dealing with postal votes—not because I personally believe that everything which is being said about postal votes is the truth. I already said in my second-reading speech that many of the stories about so-called abuses in regard to postal votes are exaggerated. It is bragging on the part of people who want to show what they did. But there are abuses by unscrupulous people, and those, one will always have in elections. For that reason we considered various methods, and one of them was, inter alia, a proposal which was more or less the one referred to by the hon. member. It is not quite correct to say that it was that proposal, but the proposal was, inter alia, that postal votes should be taken out of the hands of the political parties completely. The point is simply that if one wants to introduce such a system one will have to accept one thing, namely, that the State will have to spend thousands and thousands of pounds extra just for a start.
Because the State will then have to have a representative in each polling district in the country for at least two months or six weeks.
Of course it will have to.
What about the post office?
Is there a post office in every rural voting district?
There is one within reach.
We will have to have a representative in each polling district to represent the electoral officer there, and he will have to be enabled to go to the people who are sick in bed, the aged and the crippled.
With a Government car.
Of course. Does the hon. member want the old people and those who are sick to go to him?
They can get a doctor’s certificate.
Mr. Speaker, that shows the absolutely unpractical attitude adopted by hon. members opposite. Does the hon. member know that a constituency like Namaqualand is bigger than the Free State? Or does he think that there are no postal votes in Namaqualand?
There will be fewer; to that I agree.
These proposals were considered, and it was found that, in the first place, it will cost too much money, and, in the second place, the State will have to withdraw public servants from other Government Departments to do this work, which will harm the administration of the country. Other proposals which I do not like to go into now were also discussed, and finally it was decided not to do it. You see, postal votes were originally instituted with one object only, namely, to give the less privileged voter the opportunity to cast his vote.
Why the less privileged voter?
The voter who, in respect of transport or in respect of his place of residence or in respect of his health or age, is in a less privileged position than other voters—not only the poor people, but the less privileged voter who finds himself in circumstances which make it difficult for him to get to the polling station in the ordinal way. That was the original object of having postal votes, and we dare not tamper with that principle. It was then decided that we should try to provide methods to ensure that when that voter has made his choice it will not be negatived.
Made it voluntarily.
Of course. The hon. member is obsessed with intimidation.
He feels guilty.
He told us a story here about a senior official—just imagine a senior official —who threatened voters. I am very sorry that the hon. member did not mention the names, because that casts a serious reflection on numbers of senior officials in the Public Service, and it is the sort of story which does more harm than good. My experience is that in the elections we have had hitherto, and particularly in the referendum last year, our electoral officers, our magistrates, acted in such a way—99 per cent of them—that they can only be congratulated and thanked for the way in which they ran the election. That applies to every senior or junior official of the State who had anything to do with the work. If the hon. member has that kind of complaint, he should get up and have the courage to mention the name of the official concerned. Then we will institute investigation. The Public Service Commission has rules in terms of which such an official can be dealt with. But the hon. member should not cast reflections on public servants here without being prepared to prove his accusations.
Is it correct that Railway officials were appointed as party appointees, by the Nationalist Party, as commissioners of oaths whilst they were in the service of the Railways? That happened in my own constituency in Durban.
I thought it was a well-known fact that Railway officials take part in politics on both sides in every election. That is nothing new.
Is it a sound principle? That is the point.
Now I just want to say this in connection with the envelope. The objection was raised that identification is so much easier. But can hon. members who have objections on this ground tell me for a single moment that when the counting takes place, where the electoral officer is present in the room, he will sit at a table and allow the people who have to open the postal votes to open every one of them there and to compare them and then to look at the ballot paper to see how the particular person voted? Any hon. member who has ever been present when the counting takes place surely will not for a moment talk such nonsense as to say that it is possible, having regard to the speed at which the people work, for a man to check every one of these ballot papers to see how the voter cast his vote. That is nonsense. But of course it is possible for the Select Committee, if they want to make doubly sure, to say that a second envelope must be used. But we have just incorporated the idea here because there must be some measure of control, but it must be ensured that the envelope is closed before it leaves the voter. Because it is my personal opinion that most abuses do not take place by means of steaming open the envelopes, but in regard to envelopes which were not properly closed. We must evolve some means of ensuring that this envelope, before it leaves the voter, will be closed in such a way that it is clear that the voter was the one who handled it last.
That will not stop it.
Therefore a second envelope may be considered, but it is for the Select Committee to consider it.
The hon. members had a further objection in connection with the six person to whom I referred, who had been convicted of high treason and whom we now enable to get the vote again. I have the names here. I do not want to read them out. I do not think that is fair towards those people. They served their sentences and those persons, all of them, have once more taken their places in life as self-respecting and valuable citizens of South Africa. Most of them to-day occupy high posts, mostly in the private sector. They are people who live decent lives and are useful citizens of the country. Hon. members now object to that. They do not want us to implement this principle. But in 1931 that principle was embodied in the electoral laws of the country by no less a person than a Prime Minister such as General Hertzog, who was personally responsible for the fact that people who had been convicted of high treason through the unfortunate history of South Africa got their votes back—men like General Manie Maritz. The hon. member for Durban (Point) says: No, we must accept the principle that if a man has been convicted of high treason he should never get the vote. According to that recipe of his, the late Generals de Wet and Kemp would not have got it either.
The circumstances were quite different.
I say that to-day most of these six persons concerned are good and useful citizens who are esteemed in their immediate vicinity and in large parts of the country, and it is no more than right that we should do this for them also.
What about rehabilitated murderers?
If the hon. member wants to compare political cases of this nature which are similar to the cases of the late Generals de Wet and Kemp with rehabilitated murderers, he may do so if he likes.
The circumstances were quite different.
The circumstances were the same in regard to these people.
Then the hon. member for Pinelands (Mr. Eglin) also objected to the use of the population register and the means provided by that register to link the voters’ roll to it in future. He pretended that this was a grave sin and he spoke about hardships and I do not know what else. We specially instituted an investigation to find out in which other countries the voters’ roll is linked up with the population registers, and we found that in France the voter must prove his identity by producing certain prescribed papers, in particular his identity card. In Italy he must produce his identity card or any other document like a driver’s licence on which his photo appears. In Belgium: “At the actual polling booth the voter must present his identity card”, and the same applies to Austria. In other words, it is nothing new. On the contrary, it is rather the modern tendency to link up the electoral administration with the system of identification and to ensure it in that manner.
The hon. member was also concerned about people who went abroad and who would not have the opportunity to be registered at the general registration. What we envisage here is that we will fix the date for the general registration—no longer, as in the past, a date which stretches over weeks, but that a date should be determined, say 16 May. On 16 May everyone is registered at a particular address, and then we grant a period of 30 days thereafter, and an announcement is made long before the time. I hope that we will be able to make greater use of the radio and the Press, as was suggested by the hon. member for Parow (Mr. S. F. Kotzé). I hope that to a much greater extent you will have a propaganda campaign to bring it to the notice of every voter that a definite day will be the day for the general registration and that they will make themselves available to give the State the necessary information. But thereafter the man is still given 30 days’ time, and when the general registration has been completed, generally within a short time, there is an interim registration. If he misses being registered in the general registration because for reasons of business or pleasure he is absent abroad, he can be registered at the first interim registration.
But he still remains disfranchised for four or six months.
Yes, but it has always been the practice in this country that after every general registration an interim registration is first held before there is a general election.
The person might be overseas.
Can the State help it if the man is in England?
Is it the intention that acknowledgment cards will be sent to every voter who will now be registered under this new registration?
Yes, I think so, if it is administratively practicable. That has always been the practice.
Then the hon. member for Karoo (Mr. G. S. P. le Roux) made a suggestion in regard to the appointment of further commissioners of oaths. The Select Committee can consider that. I can see no objection to it. But I think we should understand each other clearly on one point, namely that we cannot make it applicable to every single commissioner of oaths.
The hon. member for Parow referred to the R.G.1 cards and said that they should be made available at post offices. That is the case, and if there are post offices which do not have them available they should just complain to the chief electoral officer, but there is an arrangement which was arrived at with the Postmaster-General in this regard.
Then the hon. member for Turffontein (Mr. Durrant) firstly argued here that one finds a number of names on a voters’ roll—the same surnames and the same initials. I do not know precisely what he is trying to prove, but eventually I drew one inference from it only, namely that he was really advocating the introduction of the identity number, because I cannot understand what other method can be evolved to identify the voter.
I pleaded for the full name to be given.
But often the names are precisely the same. There are many Magrietha Jonannas—a whole number of them. If the hon. member comes to my constituency and lands amongst the Gerbers and the Standers he will not know where he is. Then the hon. member and also other hon. members also spoke about the maximum expenditure which a candidate could incur in an election, and which we have now abolished. They really made a plea here for the poor candidate. Well, all I can say in regard to the poor candidate is may God save me from my friends, because the fact is that this maximum which has existed hitherto was not adhered to by a single person in the country. The fact is that at every election more money was spent in every constituency than was allowed by the Electoral Act. All that happens is this: When a candidate has spent the maximum amount there is an election committee or a party organization which continues to spend more money. In other words, it is really a system by means of which we bluffed ourselves. Why should we have a provision in the Act by means of which one assists people to contravene the law? That is really what it amounts to.
But it is necessary under present-day conditions.
The fact remains that if a candidate is mad enough to want to spend £50,000 in a constituency he can do so. But why should he put something into an Act which we know cannot be applied? Then the hon. member discovered a terrible thing, viz. that we are busy making preparations here for all kinds of sinister things.
Yes, the hon. member said that the opportunity was being created for corruption at elections. That part of the hon. member’s speech was just a repetition of the old cry we had last year in connection with the Referendum Act, when the amendment of the Opposition, inter alia, said this—
It is the old story that we are creating opportunities for abuses.
It was aimed at something quite different at that time.
The hon. member says that the one proof for his allegation is that we are inserting Clause 28 (a). The hon. member said it was Clauses 20 and 21, but he should have said Clause 28 (a). But the fact remains that Clause 28 (a) was inserted because we want to delete something from the Electoral Act which is unnecessary, because if the hon. member looks at Section 85 of the Electoral Act he will see that sub-sections (1), (2) and (3) deal with the safe custody of these documents, and it has always been the practice for these documents to go to the chief electoral officer. They do not remain with the electoral officer. In the second place, it has always been the procedure that the ballot papers remain with the electoral officers and that the counterfoils go to the chief election officer. How can one identify them if these two things are 1,000 miles apart? That shows how ridiculous the hon. member’s argument is.
Why are you taking it out then?
Because it is unnecessary. It is clear from Section 85 (1), (2) and (3) and from Section 64 what should be done with these documents. But to that the hon. member is now attaching sinister motives on the part of the Government to tamper with these things.
I did not say that.
If that is not what the hon. member wanted to intimate then I do not know what he said.
I said it was dangerous.
I am sorry. The hon. member for Sunnyside and even the hon. member for Durban (Point) and others discussed this matter on its merits, but last night we had from the hon. member for Turffontein just one attempt after another to sow suspicion and to try to cause trouble and to create the impression that there are sinister motives behind this amendment of the Electoral Act. That is what I blame him for after all the attempts made from this side to obtain the co-operation of the other parties.
The hon. member for Namib (Mr. J. D. du P. Basson) definitely raised a few important points. Firstly, the hon. member pleaded for the position in South West in regard to the use of hotel premises. I just want to tell the hon. member that I have already received representations from the chief secretary of the National Party there and from the other hon. members representing South West, and I think it is a matter which, together with what I held out in prospect in regard to the liquor position, may be considered. I am aware of the difficulties there and that is a minor matter which can be remedied.
Then the hon. member referred to the question of the provincial and parliamentary elections and the desirability of holding them simultaneously. Of course that is not a new idea and it has been thoroughly considered for a long time already, not only by this Government but also by the previous Government. I think it was the late Mr. Hofmeyr, when he was Minister of the Interior, who already had investigations made in this regard. One comes up against certain difficulties. In the Cape, the Transvaal and South West it is easy for obvious reasons, but in Natal and the Free State it is very difficult because one will have to evolve a system whereby one ensures that the parliamentary constituencies do not increase to such an extent that eventually one also has a doubling of the number of provincial constituencies, and to keep the proportion right if there is a reshuffling of parliamentary and provincial constituencies. But there is a second difficulty, viz. that the borders of the polling districts do not correspond; they overlap. Then one has the position that on the same day there will be a clash between elections for the same constituency in various polling districts.
What about my suggestion?
But I have just replied to that, that the problem is that one will then have to peg it, because supposing the number of Free State parliamentary constitutions increases to 30, one will eventually have a Provincial Council of 60 or of 90.
Then he deserves it.
I think it would be quite illogical simply to carry on in this way and to allow an increase to take place there without any limitation in the same way that a one-cell animalcule multiplies. This is something which cannot be remedied by an Electoral Act. It is a matter which has to be dealt with on a different basis. But there is a second argument against it, which weighed heavily with the previous Government, namely that one does not want to put the official stamp on provincial elections and parliamentary elections being held on precisely the same basis every time. It is not good for democracy and for the administration of the country that the same points of policy should be raised every time at two elections which really have nothing to do with each other, and it will be made worse if the elections are held jointly.
To some extent I agree with the hon. members. I think the late Mr. Hofmeyr was right in this regard, because the Provincial Councils do good work in regard to many things, and that good work they do should be brought to the notice of the voters to a greater extent than it is now because it is overshadowed by the parliamentary elections.
Then the hon. member pointed to the American system. He asked why we could not follow that example. Well, to some extent we are moving in that direction, although not in the same form. In the first place we move in that direction by introducing mechanization in regard to our electoral divisions, which is a forward step, by the use of quite a different system and by the elimination of much of the manpower hitherto used there, the elimination of typists and the elimination of the human element, the introduction of modern machinery, the filing system, etc. That increases efficiency. But in the second place we are also moving in a more modern direction by now holding our general registration once every five years, thereby ensuring that before the general election which takes place every five years we have a fresher voters’ roll. In the third place, we move in the direction by now fixing a definite date for the general registration, whereby more people can be enrolled at the general registration than has hitherto been the case. Therefore we move in that direction, but now the hon. member should remember that South Africa is different from America. Our political dividing lines and divisions are much sharper, because in America, as far as I know, the political quarrels between the parties really fall away in the period between the elections, and the organizations only get into full swing when there is an election, but in South Africa one has the continual political organization of all parties, and that is a point of difference between us. In the second place, I think that in every country the election system develops in such a way that it fits in with the national character, and I think it would be illogical to transplant the American system holus-bolus to South Africa, just as it would be illogical to transplant our system to America. But hon. members use these arguments, and I do not blame them for it, in order to prove that our electoral system is really a rotten old system, but still the fact remains that during the past two years we have had one inquiry after another from other countries to explain our system to them in order that they might improve their system where ours is better than theirs. So everybody is looking for a better system.
I do not think I should delay the House longer, but there are a few more points I have to deal with. The hon. member for Malmesbury (Mr. van Staden) spoke about the insertion of the word “ shall ” in the application for a postal vote. He wants us to say that if a person applies for a postal vote he must say “ I shall be out of the constituency ”. That was considered also and the objection to it is that if one uses the words “ I shall be out of the constituency ” and not “ I think that I shall be absent ”, the result will be that all the applications for postal votes will be handed in just before election day, because all the people will then be afraid to say that they have reason to think that they will not be there. They will sit and wait and the postal votes will mount up until just before the day of the election. These persons will first make sure that they will be away. Then there will be a flood of applications just the day before the election.
The hon. member for Pretoria (West) (Mr. van der Walt) raised an interesting point. He wants a voter to be able to cancel his postal vote, or rather a postal vote taken out in his name, practically at the polling station on the day of the election. That was also considered. I do not say that we cannot consider it again, but I just want to mention the objections to it, namely firstly that it can lead to victimization. If a big employer knows that his employee has taken out a postal vote and he is not sure how he voted, or he suspects that the man voted differently, he can call him in and say that he must go and cancel that postal vote. That can lead to victimization. But the second objection is that on the day of the election, when the votes are counted, one is to a large extent in an uncertain position in regard to the postal votes, practically until the voting stops, because there can be continuous cancellation which may result in much work having been done for nothing. In that regard I want to say further that I still think that if we introduce the identity number and the identity card we have an effective method of ensuring that wrong postal votes will not be issued.
I have tried to reply as completely as possible on the various points raised. I just want to say that there are provisions here to which we are not wedded, but there are certain provisions to which the Government is in fact wedded, and for that reason this Bill must go to the Select Committee after the second reason. In the final result it is the Government’s responsibility and remains its responsibility to provide a proper election machine, and if the Government does not want to shoulder this responsibility it will eventually have to face criticism. Therefore it is no more than right that it should lay down the principles according to which it wants to organize the best possible election machine, but we are invoking the assistance of the Opposition and of every member to make a contribution within the limits of these principles, in order to assist us in building up an effective election machine by means of which we can improve still further the good Act we already have.
Question put: That all the words after “ That ”, proposed to be omitted stand part of the motion,
Upon which the House divided:
Ayes—89: 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.; Botha, S. P.; Coertze, L. I.; Coetzee, B.; Coetzee, P. J.; de Villiers, C. V.; de Villiers, J. D.; de Wet, C.; Donges, T. E.; du Pisanie, J.; du Piessis, P. W.; Faurie, W. H.; Fouché, J. J. (Sr.); Greyling, J. C.; Grobier, M. S. F.; Haak, J. F. W.; Hertzog, A.; Hey-stek, J.; Hiemstra, E. C. A.; Jonker, A. H.; Jurgens, J. C.; Keyter, H. C. A.; Knobel, G. J.; Kotze, G. P.; Kotzé, S. F.; Labuschagne, J. S.; le Roux, P. M. K.; Louw, E. H.; Luttig, H. G.; Malan, A. I.; Malan, W. C.; Marais, J. A.; Maree, W. A.; Martins, H. E.; Meyer, T.; Mostert, D. J. J.; Mulder, C. P.; 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.; Rall, J. W.; Sadie, N. C. van R.; Sauer, P. O.; Schlebusch, J. A.; Schoeman, B. J.; Schoeman, J. C. B.; Scholtz, D. J.; Serfontein, J. J.; Smit, H. 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 den Heever, D. J. G.; 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 Eeden, F. J.; van Niekerk, M. C.; van Nierop, P. J.; van Rensburg, M. C. G. J.; 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.; Vorster, B. J.; Vosloo, A. H.; Webster, A.; Wentzel, J. J.
Tellers: J. J. Fouché and J. von S. von Moltke.
Noes—49: Barnett, C.; Basson, J. A. L.; Bowker, T. B.; Bronkhorst, H. J.; Butcher, R. R.; Connan, J. M.; Cronje, F. J. C.; de Kock, H. C.; Dodds, P. R.; Durrant, R. B.; Eglin, C. W.; Fisher, E. L.; Frielinghaus, H. O.; Gay, L. C.; Gorshel, A.; Graaflf, de V.; Henwood, B. H.; Higgerty, J. W.; Holland, M. W.; Horak, J. L.; Lawrence, H. G.; le Roux, G. S. P.; Lewis, H.; Lewis, J.; Malan, E. G.; Miller, H.; Mitchell, D. E.; Moore, P. A.; Oldfield, G. N.; Plewman, R. P.; Radford, A.; Raw, W. V.; Ross, D. G.; Russell, J. H.; Shearer, O. L.; Smit, D. L.; Steenkamp, L. S.; Steytler, J. van A.; Streicher, D. M.; Swart, H. G.; Swart, R. A. F.; Tucker, H.; van der Byl, P.; van Ryneveld, C. B.; Warren, C. M.; Water-son, S. F.; Williams, T. O.
Tellers: N. G. Eaton and A. Hopewell.
Question affirmed and the amendment dropped.
Motion accordingly agreed to and Bill read a second time.
That the Bill be referred to a Select Committee for consideration and report.
Mr. SPEAKER communicated the following Message from the Hon. the Senate:
By direction of Mr. Speaker the Admission of Persons to the Union Regulation Amendment Bill was read a first time.
Second Order read: House to resume in Committee of Supply.
House in Committee:
[Progress reported on 5 May, when Votes Nos. 2 to 27, 34, 36 to 46 and the Estimates of Expenditure from Bantu Education Account had been agreed to.]
Precedence given to Votes Nos. 28 to 33 (Interior and Labour).
On Vote No. 28.—“ Interior ”, R3,578,000,
Mr. Chairman, I ask for the privilege of the half-hour.
We have, Sir, under this hon. Minister a number of Votes, some of which for administrative purposes fall under the Department of the Interior and in so far as the Minister’s policy is concerned, we naturally will have to touch upon some of those questions.
One of the first points I want to raise here to-day is that concerning the status of the Asiatic in South Africa, and particularly I would ask the Minister to inform us concerning the policy of the Government in regard to the Asiatic. We have progressed a long way since 1948 when the then Minister of the Interior, now the Minister of Finance, in dealing with that question forecast the return to their homelands of the Asiatics in South Africa— that is to say the land from which they or their forefathers were derived. It was a policy of repatriation, with these people leaving South Africa for good. As the years have gone by we have found not only that the number has increased by natural means in South Africa, but that immigrants have been coming in under various provisions of our laws. Now, Sir, I am not for a moment concerned with that aspect at the moment. No doubt the law is there and has to be complied with. But, Sir, we have had statements recently by responsible members on the Government side, including the hon. the Prime Minister, dealing with the future of these people, and it seems that perhaps one should ask this hon. the Minister, under whose portfolio the matter falls, to inform us precisely what the Government’s policy is. We had for example recently suggestions by certain municipalities in my province that municipal franchise might be accorded to the Asiatics living here permanently in South Africa. I think the hon. Minister will agree that the Asiatic population is a permanent part of our population and that repatriation, for which an amount of R5,000 has been placed on these Estimates, is not going to take place. The amount provided is indicative of the belief held by the Government that the Asiatics are not going to take advantage of the provisions of the law which allows them to draw a bounty if they decide to go back. They are here, and I think the Government accepts that they are here to stay. Now, these municipalities that are seeking guidance in the matter of granting municipal franchise, are in the position that they can appeal to the provincial council in the matter which has, amongst its powers, the right to legislate in regard to municipal franchise. But a provincial council cannot legislate in regard to provincial franchise or in regard to Parliamentary franchise, but merely in regard to municipal franchise. Now, in this respect a municipal ordinance can only be valid and can only have the force of law if it is assented to by the Governor-General-in-Council—or, I take it, after 31 May by the President. It is in the circumstances useless for provincial councils to set afoot inquiries—which at the best of times are expensive things—to investigate the whole of the question of municipal franchise for Asiatics in South Africa and as a result perhaps making some provision in an ordinance for some franchise, if in the end the Government can turn round and through the State President either refuse its assent or withhold its assent, thereby rendering the relevant ordinance of no force and effect. This matter has, I understand, been referred to the Government and I hope the hon. Minister will put us in the picture and tell us, quite frankly, what the Government’s intention is in regard to this matter, and also what the Government’s intention is in regard to the matter concerning the future for Asiatics in South Africa. If we see the Asiatics as a permanent part of our population, will we see them gradually building up separate homelands of their own on the lines of the proposed Bantustans? I do not want, Mr. Speaker, to pass beyond the realms permitted, but I want to refer briefly to a letter which has come from a civil servant overseas, which deals with this particular matter, and which has been published in a South African newspaper. That letter recommends the virtual carving up of South Africa for the different races which is, presumably, in line with the policy of the Government, because, I assume, that particular civil servant would not have written a letter of that kind unless he felt that he was on safe ground and had the backing of the Government for his proposal. But whether he has or not, I was very interested to see what he proposes for my own province. Perhaps the hon. the Minister will explain to us just what line the Government is taking in this regard. Does he see the Group Areas Act—which is dealt with under this Vote also—being so applied that new Hindustans are going to be built up in South Africa, and is the major portion of my province either to be a Bantustan or a Hindustan with a small area and a sea port being left to the Whites perhaps? Will there be sandwiched in between a Colouredstan? Mr. Chairman, we want to have from this hon. Minister, as the Minister who is in charge of the Vote of the Ministery of the Interior ranging over the population register, Asiatic affairs, the Group Areas Act and Board, etc., is a clear statement so that we shall know what is the Government’s policy in these matters. We are getting it to-day, Sir, in bits and pieces from various sources. One of the most pressing problems for us in Natal—and I think it will also apply to our colleagues in the Transvaal—is to know what the Government’s policy is in regard to this particular matter and I hope, Sir, that the hon. Minister will be very frank with the House in that regard.
I would also like to deal for a moment with the population register. The population register is, of course, the basic piece of administrative machinery on which not only race classification is founded, but on which the whole of the Government’s development of separate racial areas—the areas for the Bantu people, for the Coloureds, Asiatics, Whites— rests. This entire statutory edifice can only be created if it is based upon the population register and upon the division of the people of South Africa into various racial groups in terms of the documents issued by the population registration registrar. You cannot provide areas for the sole habitation of a racial group, unless you can, first of all, find the members of that particular racial group. To be able to have an area in which the Bantu, for instance, will live, you must be able to define the Bantu. In order to have an area in which the Asiatics can live, you must be able to define and identify the Asiatics. I want to say at once, in regard to the population registrar, that it has created probably more heartburning and bitterness in South Africa than any other piece of legislation which we have ever placed on the Statute Book. Last year, Sir, I had a case under the portfolio of the previous Minister of the Interior, which was one of the most shocking cases that I had seen for a long time. The then Minister afterwards wrote a personal letter of apology to the people concerned. I had not under the circumstances laid any accusation against the Minister in person, but he accepted the responsibility for the Department. I want to repeat that the population register is the basis upon which racial apartheid for Government purposes is constructed for the whole of South Africa. It is the foundation to that structure. If you see the population as a multi-racial population, carrying on their normal avocations without particular reference to race—accept for the purposes of particular laws such as we may have in regard to the mining industry, etc.—then you see a situation where you cannot build up Bantustans, Colouredstans, Hindustans, etc. To see South Africa divided up and balkanized and cloven into small pieces, you have got to see the population register functioning effectively in dividing the people up. As the hon. Minister will know, provision is made there in the case of a married couple for the partner in the higher racial category to take the race of the lower-ranking partner. So that if a White man has married a Coloured girl, he becomes a Coloured person for the purposes of that particular provision and for the Group Areas Act and for the purposes of all other legislation flowing therefrom. Now, let us look at some of the bitterness that has already led to. Where group areas have been proclaimed under the Act for Coloured people, the married couple to whom I have just referred, will live in that area. Now, if the Coloured partner dies, the remaining partner has to get out of that group area and to get into another group area. Where a group area has been proclaimed it is an offence for a White person who has married a Coloured to stay in the White proclaimed area, and a criminal offence for the surviving White spouse to stay in the Coloured area which the law compelled him to occupy, if the Coloured spouse dies. Sir, this is not something that can be worked out on a blackboard. This is not an academic argument in a classroom! It is the lives and well-being of human beings, of men and women and their children. I think I am right when I say that the law says that, at the age of 16 years, the children of such a mixed marriage who will themselves be Coloured—although I understand a certain latitude is being allowed today in order that such children may, under certain circumstances, be classed as Whites— or whatever they may be, will be separated from their father if he is a widower and a White person. This population register I say is the basis upon which the whole of the Government’s apartheid policy, as applied in South Africa, is being based. But that is not the end of it, because classification once established, can again be changed and while it may be argued, as has been done in many instances, that that is fair to the people concerned— people may, for instance, appeal and ask for a higher classification than that accorded to them—it is still a very dangerous thing under the circumstances because it can also work the other way and a person having been classified originally in a higher race group can be reduced to a lower race group. I would like the hon. Minister to go into this matter and tell us whether it is not possible to find a better method altogether for dealing with this question of population registration. Why does the hon. Minister not go back to what is called the administrators’ memorandum of 1947 and deal with the matter in the way suggested therein? A review of that memorandum might possibly offer a way out of the difficulties we are faced with, and out of the heart-breaking and bitterness which are being created at the present time by the population register.
But I want also to deal with another aspect of the matter. I have already asked the hon. Minister to deal with the question of the Asiatics. The hon. Minister will remember that, under the Separate Representation of Voters Act, Coloured people in my province, who were on the voters’ roll at the passing of that Act, were left on the roll, and that no fresh Coloured voter could be added to that roll. These Coloured people have, therefore, even less franchise than the Bantu. But let us take the position of an Asiatic who comes to the Cape Province. While in Natal, he is given a card showing that he is an Asiatic and as such he has no franchise of whatever nature at the present time, but the moment he gets a permit from the Minister to change his place of domicile to the Cape Province and comes and lives here, he becomes a Coloured man for the purposes of that Act and as such acquires a franchise. He will be able to go on the voters’ roll and vote for hon. members here who represent the Coloured people. He, in other words, becomes a Coloured man for the purpose of that particular law, notwithstanding the fact that his card says that he is an Asiatic. While in Natal he was, in fact, an Asiatic and remains an Asiatic for the purpose of his population registration card in the Cape, although he goes on the roll of the Coloured people. This, Sir, surely is a most incomprehensible state of affairs with which we have to battle, because if that man, after perhaps half a lifetime in the Cape, for some reason or other can make a good case to the Minister and return to Natal, he loses his franchise rights he has enjoyed in the Cape as well as his status as a Coloured man and becomes an Asiatic again without any franchise rights at all. These are matters, Sir, which are causing burning discontent and bitterness in the minds of people. In every one of these cases, however interesting it may look as an essay in the illogicality of our laws in South Africa, we are, in point of fact, dealing with people, with human beings having exactly the same feelings as other human beings. You have the position that Coloured people who were not of the required age at the time of the passing of the Separate Representation of Voters Act to be registered as voters, are to-day without any franchise whatsoever, while their brothers in the Cape Province have such franchise; you have also the position that an Indian leaving Natal for the Cape Province, on arrival here gets the franchise as a Coloured person.
Would you like to see the franchise extended to the Coloureds in Natal?
I do not know whether that hon. member is listening or not, because what I am trying to find out is what the Government’s policy is in regard to the matter. We are not the Government! I am showing how the law is operating at the present time.
Tell us what is your own policy.
I am certainly not going to answer interjections like that, but surely I have made it clear enough that the hon. member’s party came into power on the broadcast policy of getting rid of all the Asiatics in the Union, and that they have not succeeded in doing that but, on the contrary, have allowed the numbers to increase through immigration. Now they are passing laws of this kind, laws that are creating bitterness and not only amongst the Asiatics. Now they are being compelled by force of history to accept the Asiatics as part of the permanent population of South Africa. We would like to know, as South Africans, where we stand in regard to this matter in so far as Government’s policy is concerned. Where the Government has accepted that policy as the basis for its laws, it is making it a more bitter pill for the Coloured people in Natal to swallow, because they are now no longer capable of being placed on any kind of voters roll for elections to Parliament or the Provincial Council. They are no longer in a position to be registered. Is it any wonder that that is creating bitterness when they see the Asiatics under certain circumstances acquiring the franchise which they as Coloureds are not entitled to? These are some of the difficulties—human difficulties —which we are facing to-day. If we are going to stand up to the mounting pressure in South Africa then the least we can ask from the Government in regard to these matters is that it gives us a clearcut statement of its policy. Let us know precisely where we stand. The Government, I submit, must accept the Asiatic as a permanent part of our population, and let it tell us what exactly it is going to do about it. If Mr. Steward’s letter in so far as it relates to my province is Government policy, then let it tell us what to expect. Are we going to have only one quarter of the land of my province available to the White people, because that is what the claims which are being put forward in certain official quarters amount to—that about one quarter of the land in Natal is going to be left for the White man? I think the hon. Minister will remember that that letter suggested, if my memory serves me correctly, that Natal and the Free State should have the right to secede from the Union and then come back again as independent states along with Bantustans and Hindustans, etc. Is there any such idea in the mind of the hon. Minister? Is the Minister anticipating that there is going to be such a breakup of Union that the provinces are going to be free to come together in a new Union altogether? Or is it merely a civil servant whom we have sent overseas to represent not only the Government of South Africa but to represent South Africa, writing to a public newspaper in South Africa and voicing opinions and views of that kind? This is the opportunity, Sir, which I hope the Minister will take to tell us what the view of the Government is in regard to these matters in order that we as South Africans, can know where we stand.
I think the hon. member who has just sat down raised one point that I wish to put right, the way I see the position. That is the question of the vote of Indians and Coloureds in Natal. The hon. member said that the Indians in Natal did not have the vote and that the Coloureds did not have it to-day either. He also said that the Indians from Natal could come to Cape Town and register here as Coloured voters. As far as I know the position is as follows that before the Separate Representation of Voters Act was passed any Indian in Natal could appear on the voters’ roll as a Coloured person.
Till the Act on the Separate Representation of Voters was passed but he had to state on the card which he had to complete, that he was a Coloured. The Indians refused to do that. The Indian in Natal refused to register as a Coloured voter and that was the reason why his name did not appear on the roll. There was nothing to hinder them from completing the card as such and to get on to the roll in that way, together with the 1,100 Coloureds who were still on the roll when the Separate Representation of Voters Act was passed. Then the hon. member said that the Indians came to the Cape Province; that they completed a card here and registered themselves as Coloured voters. I want to ask him whether he really thinks that if an Indian in Natal has consistently refused to regard himself as a Coloured and to appear on the voters’ roll as such, that he will not mind saying he was a Coloured when he comes to the Cape Province?
He need not say that.
No, that is not the law.
Mr. Chairman, he has to vote on the Coloured voters’ roll. He does not vote on another voters’ roll. He votes on the Coloured voters’ roll, in the case of the few who vote. But the hon. member wants to create the impression that the Indians of Natal have never had the vote. They have had it, provided they were prepared to say they were Coloured. In the Cape Province they had it together with the Coloureds. Whether or not the Indians stated on the card that he was a Coloured, the fact remained that as a voter he was classified as a Coloured, and as far as I know, very few of them did so. I merely wanted to put this matter right for the sake of the record. The hon. member brought the House under the impression that the Indians in Natal did not have the vote. They did in fact have it, provided they stated they were Coloured. I think there were three or five of them on the voters’ roll in 1951 who were prepared to regard themselves as such but the others refused to do so.
The hon. member for Pretoria (Central) (Mr. van den Heever) is delving into the past again in order to deal with the question raised by the hon. member for Natal South Coast. The point of the hon. member for Natal South Coast is, Sir, that neither the people of Natal, nor I believe the Government itself, know exactly where they stand with this intermingled problem of the population register and the Group Areas Act. I would like, in this connection, to bring to the notice of the hon. Minister a problem with which I have been concerned and which will show to the hon. Minister how true this statement is. I am referring to a group of people in my constituency who has now already been classified as belonging to three different races. This will also illustrate to some extent the point the hon. member for Natal South Coast was trying to make. In my constituency lives a group of people whom the hon. Minister probably knows has been referred to as the “ lost tribe ” as well as by many other names, but the fact is that they were settled in an area on the Bluff some 70-odd years ago. They were slaves that were rescued and eventually settled there. They have been settled on a piece of land purchased for that purpose by a group of Muslims, because these people are of the Muslim faith. The White areas grew up around them and some solution had, in due course, to be found to their problem. The view was taken that they could only be classified downwards, and when I came to be concerned with them in 1958, they were actually classified as Bantu. Because they could not be uplifted, they had to be pushed down. I went into the question, because that classification was going to scatter and break up this group of people who had kept together over the years and after seeing the then Minister in 1958 for the purpose of enabling us to retain and move these people as a group, it was agreed that they should be classified as Coloureds. That seemed to have solved all the outstanding problems and everyone was happy about it. The registrar of the population register himself was very pleased that a solution had been found. I myself received letters from the latter source thanking me for helping to have a census taken of the people and to have the matter placed in order. Now I hear that, because the land which has been bought for the purposes of resettling these people, by the same trust at their own expense, an intervention was made before the Group Areas Board, because somebody wanted to use the land for some other purpose, with the result that the entire question of the classification of these people was again thrown into the melting pot. You now have this group first having been classified as being Bantu, then as Coloureds with identity cards being in the process of issue to them as Coloureds, and now everything is again in the melting pot. I again contacted the then Minister of the Interior and he agreed to see me in Durban in July of last year. This he did. I had an interview with him and at that interview he agreed that one of two things could happen to these people: Either to retain their classification as Coloureds and be resettled in terms of the Minister’s special permit on land bought for them and which has now gone into an area proclaimed for Indian settlement, or that they could be classified as Indians and as such go automatically into that area. He accordingly requested me to call a meeting of these people in order to establish what their wishes were in the matter, and indicated that whatever they elected to be he would honour. That meeting was called and at that meeting these people unanimously elected to remain classified as Coloureds, and to be resettled under the Minister’s special permit. This decision was then conveyed to the Minister by means of a telegram and a letter. The first reply I got to that was one stating that the Minister was away but that my letter would be placed before him on his return. I wrote to him in August but had to write again because nothing transpired and eventually—on 7 January this year—I reached some finality in the matter when I received the following reply—
The notice of their reclassification as Indians was gazetted after the present Parliament assembled. The points I would like to make with the Minister are these: First of all, here is a group of people who under the population register has been classified in three different ways—as Native, then as Coloureds and now as Indians. Secondly, because of the difficulties of combining the population register with the Group Areas Act, these people—who have been given the opportunity of electing what they would like to be; they were not classified as Coloureds on their own wish but to fit in with the population register and the Group Areas Act—were given a further opportunity of deciding whether they would like to be classified as Coloureds or as Indians and go into an Indian group area. When they elected to remain as Coloureds, in spite of their choice, because I was the man who was asked to consult with them on behalf of the Minister, what has happened is that they have now been re-classified as Indians. What is the reason? It is because neither the Population Registration Act nor the Group Areas Act is working. These people have been re-classified; they have been double-crossed, if you like to put it that way, so that they will fit in with the Group Areas Act. It is as simple as that. Otherwise, why has it been done? Why could they not remain as Coloureds? The Minister undertook to do it. It is because the Group Areas Act has become so complicated and because these things were not taken into consideration when the areas for their resettlement were declared, that these people have now been classified into three different races. [Time limit.]
Mr. Chairman, I want to raise an entirely different matter, namely, the regulations which determine the remuneration for returning officers. I hold the view that the remuneration which returning officers receive is not adequate in relation to the responsible position which they occupy. I know that I am not allowed to plead for increased expenditure here and neither do I intend doing so but as a matter of principle I would like to see something done in this regard. If my information is correct then an official in an unopposed constituency receives R4.50. I find no fault with that but in a contested constituency the remuneration is R30, and if he is not a member of the staff of the electoral officer he is entitled to the approval of a clerical post plus R20 which he can devote to staff, particularly to compensate them for overtime in connection with postal votes. If one compares it with what an ordinary presiding officer at an election receives, in a constituency where between 2,000 and 5,000 votes are polled, then he receives R8 plus another R4 if he is a teller. This means that for the day’s work he receives R12 and if more than5,000 votes are polled then he receives R10 plus R4. This means that he gets R14 for a day which is not very strenuous while a period of at least 28 days and a maximum of 35 days may pass between nomination day and election day. In other words, the returning officer receives R30 for practically a month’s additional work. From nomination day the returning officer is charged with the receipt of postal vote applications and for 21 days before the election he must issue postal votes daily. In constituencies where between 2,000 and 3,000 postal votes are tendered the work of the returning officer has become virtually full time. It may be argued that the returning officer is usually a public servant, a magistrate, who receives this remuneration over and above his normal salary and that it is therefore sufficient. But the fact remains that in most cases, especially where the returning officer is a magistrate, he is expected still to do his ordinary work in the court and his other office work as well as that of a returning officer. This creates definite problems in the urban areas, especially when the returning officer is a magistrate and he cannot obtain enough clerical staff. The position is that in the city courts are so overloaded with cases that the chief magistrate finds it impossible to exempt a magistrate who is a returning officer from his normal court duties and there is no one to take his place. The result is that the candidates and their organizations must simply accept the fact that the returning officer is not available when he is needed most, because when he is needed most he is engaged on the bench. Secondly, one has to arrange one’s affairs to suit the magistrate, when he is available, and often votes are lost through this and it makes it very difficult for the candidates and their organizations. When the people have sufficient clerical assistants to arrange matters for them it is not so bad but my experience at a few elections is that unless the political parties assist the magistrate with typists and staff he cannot cope with the work and one cannot blame him either. I ask whether it cannot be considered to give these people better remuneration in order that they may appoint more staff, or else the State must provide staff for them. It is the duty of the State to ensure that the electoral machinery functions smoothly. One has enough problems during an election and if one has to have extra worries because one has to adapt oneself to the impossible times of a returning officer who tries his best but who simply cannot cope with the extra burdens placed on him, then one feels that life is being made very difficult. I would appreciate it if the hon. the Minister would give his attention to this matter.
I urge that the hon. the Minister should immediately suspend all proclamations under the Group Areas Act and appoint a commission of inquiry to investigate the provisions of the Act and the manner of its administration. I do so against the background of the growing volume of world criticism directed against this country on account of our policy of apartheid. I bear in mind also our expulsion from the Commonwealth and the fact that we are now in a minority of one at UN facing the possibility of expulsion and that the Governments of India and Pakistan have lodged a complaint against South Africa about the treatment of Indians here. The whole world realizes that we are outcasts because of our racial policy and they are waiting to see whether we will have a change of heart or whether we will continue to ignore world opinion. I believe it is very necessary to review our policies and to take a positive and dramatic step to restore our prestige and standing amongst the nations of the world. I believe that the first measure to be reviewed is the Group Areas Act. The principle of the Act was laid down quite clearly by the present Minister of Finance in 1950 when he introduced the Bill. He made it quite clear that the purpose was to legislate for separate areas for the different race groups by compulsion if necessary and by providing the machinery for doing so—and I quote the Minister’s own words—
I want to deal particularly with the Minister’s claims that the Act will be administered in a fair and equitable manner. He made those comments on more than one occasion in the debates, and concluded his remarks by saying—
During the course of the debate he also said—
I cannot believe that even the most unregenerate Nationalist would claim that this Act is administered with justice, equity and impartiality between all racial groups and that there is no discrimination. I do not have to remind the Minister of the manner in which this Act is being applied, particularly in the case of Indians in the Transvaal—I instance Piet Retief and Rustenburg—and in Natal, where there was recently the proclamation of Cato Manor and Queensborough and also the case of the Coloured people in the Cape. But let us face the fact that it is quite obvious from the statistics given by the hon. the Minister in the House that the great burden of this legislation falls on the non-Whites, and particularly on the Asiatics and the Coloureds. In other words, it falls on those sections which have either only token representation in this House or none at all; in other words, on the racial groups that are politically completely defenceless and who therefore in my opinion have a much greater claim to look to us as privileged Europeans for the most scrupulously fair treatment. The complete repudiation of the Minister’s assurances in the second reading debate in 1950 has recently come from a judgment of the Appeal Court in the case of Minister of the Interior v. S. M. Lockhat & Ors., reported in S.A.L.R. 1961 on page 602. The judgment was delivered by Mr. Justice Holmes and Chief Justice Steyn and Judges Ogilvie Thompson, Botha and van Winsen concurred. It is therefore a unanimous judgment and I want to quote certain passages from that judgment, because it will prove that this Act is not administered with impartiality—
That is a very clear and unshakeable statement, and this judgment is to my mind irreconcilable with the assurances given by the then Minister of the Interior in 1950, and it is completely contradictory of the numerous assurances we have been given in this House by Prime Ministers and other Ministers over the last ten years. Moreover, this judgment by the highest judicial body in South Africa confirms that the Group Areas Act permits racial discrimination and inequality to a very substantial degree, and it provides irrefutable confirmation of the basic criticism of this legislation voiced by the various nations of the world at UN. This Act legalizes injustice as between racial groups. The Government is constantly complaining that they are the victims of misunderstanding abroad, that we are isolated and that we are being victimized because of false impressions created abroad by biased Press reports. But if the Supreme Court of South Africa can deliver a judgment in such unmistakable terms, how can we possibly be misunderstood? After all, the Supreme Court is not a political body but an impartial body, whose only concern is to interpret and apply the laws that this House passes. For the Minister to claim that this Act is administered fairly, equitably and justly and in a non-discriminatory way is simply not true. When the Minister introduced the Bill in 1950, I am sure he made those statements in the utmost good faith. I cannot believe that die smooth and comforting statements he made were made insincerely or with a desire to mislead. I believe that the Minister at the time believed that that would be the case. To suggest anything else would surely be to accuse the Minister of the grossest and crudest form of deception of the non-Whites. Not only is the good faith of the Minister of Finance in question as a result, but also that of the Government. I believe that this position is quite intolerable. I do not believe that this Government can possibly afford to allow this judgment to stand without taking any steps to remedy these injustices either in the Act itself or in its administration, because either the Government intends to administer the Act fairly and justly and without discrimination or it does not. I think we are entitled to ask the Minister to make a statement to let the country and the whole world know exactly how South Africa stands in regard to this legislation which has been so universally condemned on a moral basis by the nations of the world. It is for that reason that I plead on behalf of those of us on these benches that the Minister should consider the advisability of suspending all group area proclamations for the time being and appointing an impartial judicial commission to ascertain the facts of the case, whether the discriminations and inequalities are justifiable and whether it is not possible to eliminate the injustices and the grievances which stem from them. [Time limit.]
I want to bring a matter concerning public servants to the attention of the hon. file Minister. The institution of holiday savings bonuses is welcomed by all but there seems to be an anomaly in this connection and I am sure that the hon. the Minister will look into it once it has been brought to his notice. In terms of Treasury Circular No. 7 of 1959 in connection with the holiday bonus, £60 is paid to an official who is legally married and receives a salary of not more than £2,850, and £30 for others, i.e., I presume, a person, male or female, with a salary not exceeding £1,560. It appears as if the words “ legally married ” cause all the trouble. A man who is legally married and has five children loses his bonus when his wife dies, while the single man continues to draw his. There is also the case of the husband and wife both being in the service of the state and both being entitled to the bonus. My plea is that a widower with children has more responsibilities than a single man, but the widower loses his bonus upon the death of his wife, even if he has five children. I think it is reasonable to accept that such a widower because of the death of his wife has a greater burden to bear because he now has to get someone to care for his children and he is therefore entitled to the full bonus. I do not think I need emphasize the matter any further, and that the hon. the Minister will give the matter his sympathetic consideration. I can assure him that the entire Public Service will be most grateful to him.
Unfortunately we again had the old story from the hon. member for Berea (Mr. Butcher). One really regrets that hon. members opposite cannot get away from the old tactics of putting their heads into the sand and not facing the fact of what is taking place to-day and what has taken place in past years. The hon. member will not face the fact that no party, not even his own, advocates a policy which will satisfy the world. The Opposition parties must admit that the policy which they advocate will not satisfy the world and therefore one regrets the attitude which the hon. member adopted. Let us examine the history of the so-called discriminating legislation. There has never been a government in this country which has not adopted such legislation. The forefather of the legislation on the Statute Book to-day was the legislation adopted in Natal, in the first place, and secondly in the Transvaal in file days of the Republic, and perpetuated by every government thereafter. No one less than Gen. Botha’s government passed that discriminating legislation in 1919, viz. the Asiatic Land Tenure Act; and none other than the government of Gen. Smuts continued with that legislation in the Pegging Act of 1943 and the Asiatic Land Tenure Act of 1946. In 1946 the world already sneered at it. When the legislation was proposed in this House, the Asiatic Land Tenure and Representation of Indians Bill, Gen. Smuts saw fit to draw the attention of the House to the propaganda being made in the world and he said it was an attempt to frighten the Government but that he was not going to run away from it, and the House adopted it. During recent months the non-Whites have on various occasions declared that they did not accept the policy of the Progressives. Leading non-Whites said it and they even walked out from a meeting addressed by the hon. member for Maitland (Dr. de Beer). It therefore will not help the hon. members opposite to continually put their heads in the sand’ and to criticize this side of the House. Let us rather get together and get clarity on how far each party is prepared to go. I ask hon. members opposite how far they are prepared to go with repealing this sort of legislation which protects the rights of certain groups, or how far they are prepared to go towards eliminating all dividing lines. We must be honest with each other otherwise we undermine the position of the White man in this country. It is not only this side of the House which is supposed to be undermining the position of the Whites, but also that side. I think we should get clarity from the Progressive Party as to what their standpoint is and what their aims are if they should ever come into power.
I wish to raise another matter under Vote 28. It is seldom that thanks and appreciation are expressed towards officials but I want to take this opportunity of doing so, and in particular towards the officials of the Bureau of Census and Statistics. According to this Vote a total of R1,135,750 for 1960-1 is made available to the Bureau out of the grand total of R3,500,000 for the whole Vote. The Director of Census and Statistics and his very capable and hard-working staff really deserve thanks and appreciation and I want to congratulate them on the excellent work they are doing.
This Bureau last year had the enormous task of compiling and making available the preliminary details in connection with the Census. The staff worked with devotion and I know that many of them worked overtime to complete that enormous task. The statistics of any Department must of necessity be new and up-to-date and I want to congratulate the hon. the Minister on a Bureau of the standard of the Bureau of Census and Statistics which complies with this requirement. I also wish to refer to the Jubilee edition of last year which the Bureau published on Union statistics over the past 50 years. It was issued to coincide with the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Union. That publication contains more than 400 pages of statistical tables covering all aspects of the Union’s social, industrial, economic and even political development. The latest edition of the official Year Book of which we have received copies is the 30th edition, and just like the previous ones it is an excellent reference book. The general details and statistics are really fresh and new and have been adjusted to the latest developments. All conceivable subjects—economic, social and even the industrial development— are covered. This Year Book is a wonderful reference book for the high school pupil, for the student, for the ordinary members of the public and also for Members of Parliament. The contributors have acquitted themselves excellently of this particular task and they are undoubtedly also authorities on the various spheres in which they tackled the different subjects. Our grateful thanks are also extended to the Departments of State, other public and private organizations and other institutions which made contributions to this Year Book. To demonstrate how modern and up-to-date the contents are I wish to refer to the chapter dealing with the decimilization of our currency, which again proves that the Year Book is adjusted to the latest developments in the country, and also in connection with the new coinage. In conclusion I also refer to the loose-leaf indexes included in this edition; the one index shows the results of the referendum of last year and the other shows the results of the population census of September last year. There are also beautiful coloured maps which are of great value to everyone. What strikes me in particular is the exceptionally low price of R1.50 at which this book is being sold. I think the Department must have given a big subsidy to be able to make an edition of this magnitude with all this information, an edition with 375 pages, available to the public at such an exceptionally low price. As one who takes an interest in education I strongly recommend that if schools have not already got it in their libraries they should place it there for reference purposes. Every person, even outside of this House, can derive great benefit from possession of this excellent book. Once again I wish to express my personal thanks and appreciation to those particular Departments and congratulate the hon. the Minister on a division like the Bureau of Census and Statistics which performs its work so excellently.
I wish to raise one or two matters with the hon. the Minister, but before doing so I shall be glad if the Minister can give an explanation for the new item appearing under Miscellaneous Expenditure. I refer to the amount of R200, “ Commission for Technical Co-operation in Africa ”. I understood that these contributions usually appeared under the Vote of the hon. the Minister of External Affairs. This appears to be a new item and I shall be glad if the Minister can give us some details when he replies.
Then I would like to ask the Minister if he can make a statement of policy in respect of that group of South African citizens who are of Chinese extraction. We have a considerable Chinese community on the Witwatersrand who are experiencing considerable difficulty and uncertainty in the planning of then-daily lives. They are probably one of the most law-abiding sections of the non-Whites in this country. There is no group area set aside for these people. They are accepted everywhere else in the world as Europeans. We have the example where people of the same extraction as the Chinese, namely the Japanese, are accepted on a par with the European community in South Africa, in terms of a statement made by the hon. the Minister of External Affairs and where their ambassador is accepted here. Is it the Government’s policy to draw a distinction between the yellow races of the world? Because the Chinese and the Japanese races are of the same extraction. This very law-abiding section of our community on the Witwatersrand is experiencing such uncertainty in their business and their private lives as to their future, that I think the hon. the Minister should if at all possible, make a statement of policy in respect of the destiny of these South African citizens. Are they going to be accepted as part of the White community, with the same privileges as those enjoyed by the White community, in view of the paucity of their numbers, or are they going to be classed with the Bantu or the Coloured or some other non-White group under the Government’s plan? I think it would be appreciated by that community if the Minister could make a statement of policy in respect of their eventual destiny under the group areas plan.
Then I want to ask the Minister what the Government’s policy is in regard to deportations. In the past 12 months a number of people have been deported whom the Government have not seen fit to allow to continue to reside on a permit in this country and in practically every instance the Government’s action has received world-wide adverse publicity. I have a particular reason for asking what the Government’s policy is in this regard. Here I want to refer to Bishop Reeves, and let me make it quite clear that I hold no brief for the views of Bishop Reeves, none whatsoever. Personally I consider him a bit of a crank. But at the time Bishop Reeves was deported by the Government, the Government were approached by a deputation of the Dutch Reformed Churches to allow Bishop Reeves to attend the World Council of Churches, and at that time a statement was made to the effect that the Government relied on information from reliable sources for any action taken in regard to deportation orders and their execution. I should like to know from the Minister on what sort of reliable information the Government base their actions, because here was a well-known cleric whose statements were widely publicized in practically every instance; he made no secret of his views and his dislike of Government policy, but I can hardly imagine that Bishop Reeves was involved in any action designed to undermine the State or that he headed any communist agitator organization or anything of that sort. I would like to know upon what sort of information the Government rely when taking action against persons such as Bishop Reeves. I think it is necessary for the Minister to make such a statement because we see that these deportation orders are increasing. They are made against apparently harmless people and one would like to know upon what sort of information the Government acts and what attempts are made to check the reliability of the Minister’s sources of information before deportation orders are issued.
Then I want to ask the Minister what his policy is in regard to Press censorship. Here I want to refer to a statement made by a member on the Government benches, a member who, I think, aspires if not to full Cabinet rank then to deputy Cabinet rank. I refer to the hon. member for Vanderbijlpark (Dr. de Wet) who made a certain statement in October last year in addressing a public meeting. He put forward the view that he considered that it should be Government policy, in order to effect adequate Press censorship in South Africa, effectively to control, if I understood the report correctly, the English-language Press. I think he said that a Press commissioner should be established with two assessors and that they should have power to discipline the Press if they find that the Press has been guilty of incorrect reporting. Sir, we have had a Bill before us which has now been withdrawn, and we are being called upon here to vote certain moneys for censorship. Is it the Government’s intention to follow up these ideas of the hon. member for Vanderbijlpark who has expressed these opinions on more than one occasion in public? Is there any justification for these views of the hon. member; has he any authority from the Government for stating them, and is there any justification for the repeated statements by the hon. member for Vanderbijlpark that it is possibly the Government’s intention to take steps to curb the Press in this regard?
I never said that.
If the hon. member says that he did not say it, I can only say that he implied it on more than one occasion. I think we are entitled and the country is entitled to an answer from the Minister on this point because this falls pertinently under the Minister of the Interior; he is responsible for censorship. Let me put this direct question to the Minister: Has the Government any intention to take steps to set up a separate Press censorship organization? Does the Minister consider it necessary, and if he considers it necessary, does he intend to take any steps in that regard? I think it is time that these statements which are made by Government members and these veiled threats against the Press of the country should be exposed once and for all. If there Is no intention on the part of the Government to control the English-language Press or the Press as a whole, then the Minister should take this opportunity to state the Government’s policy clearly and categorically.
The hon. member referred to certain remarks which I made in connection with the Press. Let me say at once that I made it specifically against the English-language Press in South Africa. Last year I expressed the idea that a Press commissioner with possibly two assessors should be appointed to ensure in the first place that the Press does not print lies and secondly that they do not publish inciting reports. The hon. the Prime Minister has made a statement in connection with the Press. He asked the Press to put their house in order themselves, and when he did that he did not stand alone. He did it in company with other world heads of state, among them being President Kennedy of the U.S.A. and also Mr. Macmillan, the Prime Minister of Britain who recently wrote a letter to the Press asking them to ensure that certain things are done to the Press.
But where did they also threaten the Press?
I want to point out that conditions in South Africa in regard to the Press differ entirely from conditions in other countries and after what I have seen in the English Press lately I wish to withdraw the idea I expressed at that time because it is far to timid. The English Press is conducting a propaganda campaign and a handbill campaign for the agitators in South Africa. I want to give an example of it. I may apparently not talk about this, judging by the way the Chairman is looking at me.
The hon. member must not go into too great detail about the Press. The Vote concerns interior only.
I hope the hon. the Minister of the Interior will not say that nothing will be done to the Press in future because the hon. the Prime Minister has expressed his concern very clearly, and in a manner befitting a Prime Minister, about the way in which the Press in South Africa is behaving. Since the hon. the Prime Minister has asked the Press to put their own house in order I feel one is justified in at least inferring from that that the hon. the Prime Minister and the Government are concerned to some extent about the way in which the Press in the country is carrying on. I just want to mention one example. The Star of last Wednesday, when the State President of South Africa was elected, published a double-column report on the election of the State President. On Friday afternoon they devoted a whole page, apart from the advertisements and one small item, to a big propaganda article about Mandelo, together with a picture, who is described by the Star as the new leader of the Black people in South Africa who want to cause trouble on 31 May. That was an absolute propaganda campaign and I know why they are doing it. The English-language Press in South Africa can no longer get any new readers among the Whites. This source has been exhausted. They can only increase their circulation by getting non-White readers but then they must write for the non-White readers and that is what they are doing. Mr. Chairman, there will be fewer repercussions in South Africa if during a period when trouble is expected some of these newspapers are shut down for a week or two than when a few people are shot dead as happened at Warmbaths or at Sharpeville.
Do you want to shoot the editor?
Hon. members may say what they like. The position of the Whites will not be maintained in South Africa if the English-language Press is allowed to continue as they are doing to-day.
Order! I have asked the hon. member not to go into too great detail about the Press.
I make a friendly appeal to the hon. the Minister of the Interior to at least express his concern, like the hon. the Prime Minister did, about the tremendous role which the English-language Press plays in South Africa in specifically undermining the position of the White man.
Apparently it has become the tradition in this House that the hon. the Prime Minister has to apologize every Session for a speech made by the hon. member for Vanderbijlpark (Dr. de Wet). He has already done so once this year and he will possibly have to do so a second time after this latest attack that the hon. member made on the Press.
On a point or order, the hon. member says that the Prime Minister apologized. I myself apologized, but when is the hon. member for South Coast (Mr. Mitchell) going to apologize?
However, I want to reply to a few points which have been raised by the hon. member, and I do so in view of his recommendation that the Board of Censors should be given greater powers, particularly in connection with internal Press matters. I was shocked to hear the hon. member’s suggestion that certain newspapers—he talked about the Star and the Rand Daily Mail and I take it that he meant those newspapers—should be closed for 12 days in the event of trouble in South Africa, simply because he does not like the reports that have appeared in those newspapers.
I did not talk about 12 days.
We must have clarity with regard to the sort of report that the hon. member mentioned here.
Order! May I ask the hon. the Minister whether he is responsible for the Press?
No, fortunately not.
In that case the hon. member cannot discuss the Press.
Are you not going to allow me then to reply to the hon. member’s remarks? I hope you will allow me then just to talk in general terms about the way in which censorship is being applied increasingly in this country, censorship as applied by the hon. the Minister of the Interior under the sub-head “ Board of Censors ” which appears on Vote No. 28. Mr. Chairman, we are deeply shocked at the scope of censorship in South Africa at the present time, and we are shocked even more deeply over the fact that this censorship is being applied more and more, and when we hear threats such as those we heard here this afternoon, we cannot help facing the future with anxiety. I should like to hear from the hon. the Minister that we are going to be rid of the Publications and Entertainments Bill that was submitted to us last year. I should like him to tell us precisely what the Government’s plans are in that connection.
Order! The hon. member cannot discuss legislation.
No, I do not want to discuss the contents. I merely wanted to ask the hon. the Minister what his plans are in connection with that Bill itself. To-day there are no fewer that 21 Acts and Ordinances under which books and magazines can be banned in South Africa.
Since when have they been there?
South Africa has practically established a record in that connections. Some of those Acts and Ordinances already existed in the days of the old Cape Colony, but the worst of these laws were placed on the Statute Book under this Government, and it is under this Government that we have seen the most stringent implementation of these laws. Has there ever been such a large list of banned books in South Africa as there was in July 1956 when there were no fewer than 4,000 titles on the list of banned books? That list has grown from time to time, and I think the list of books and magazines appearing on the Nationalist Party’s index to-day exceeds 6,000. A list that was published on 15 December 1960 contains no fewer than 351 banned books. It is essential, particularly under the conditions under which we are living to-day, that we should not further restrict freedoms of that kind. As far as censorship is concerned, we ought to reduce it and not to increase it, and it is particularly important that there should be no threats in connection with internal censorship, as contained partly in the Publications Bill and partly in the utterances of the hon. member for Vanderbijlpark.
It is not a question, as the hon. member for Vanderbijlpark stated, of conditions in South Africa differing so much from conditions in other countries. Right and wrong remain the same in every country. We find that publications issued by UNESCO are banned here. Some of those publications are possibly not of great scientific value, but large numbers of them are. Why should those publications be banned simply because they contain certain facts in connection with race matters and racial differences; why should their contents not be divulged to us in South Africa? If the information contained in any of those UNESCO publications is wrong, we need only issue one little pamphlet, and that ought to be sufficient to destroy all that propaganda, if it is wrong. When Prof. Einstein made known his theory of relativity to the word, there was a group of, I think, a dozen learned professors in Germany who each wrote an article trying to disprove the theory of relativity, and those 12 articles were then bound in one book. Einstein’s reply to this was: “ Why 12 articles; why such a thick book on the theory of relativity? A single short pamphlet would have been sufficient to prove that it is wrong in fact it is wrong.” The same applies to replies to UNESCO publications.
To me it is also a fantastic idea that if one wants to study one of the most dangerous systems of government, in order to get down to the roots of it and to learn why it is an evil system, a system such as the communist system, one finds it practically impossible to get books dealing with that political doctrine. Apparently all knowledge of all foreign political doctrines, however wrong they may be, is to be withheld from us here in South Africa.
I maintain that the present laws and ordinances that we have in connection with censorship in South Africa are more than adequate. A very interesting article appeared in the Burger, by Judge Marais, in which he pointed out that we had a surfeit of ordinances and laws in connection with censorship and in which he stated that it was absolutely unnecessary for us to go further and to introduce a further measure in that connection. He said: “ Let us first see to what extent we can apply the present ordinances, and let us first have conclusive proof that they are totally inadequate, and then we can go further in connection with that matter.” We have too many laws that place restrictions on our freedom to read what we like and to think what we like. I appeal to the hon. the Minister not to proceed with these restrictive ordinances, with the Cronje report and the recommendations contained therein, but rather to set these things aside. They only harm our country in the eyes of the rest of the world. These are things to which we should put a stop and we should do so as soon as possible.
In the short time available to me I would like to add just one query to the queries put forward by the hon. member for South Coast (Mr. Mitchell) on the question of the acceptance or otherwise of the Asiatic population by the Government. The hon. the Minister may be able to deal with this matter at the same time. The position is that whilst the policy was one of repatriation, with the introduction of the population register the Department of the Interior took the line that, where there was any doubt at all in the case of certain Indians, many of whom had spent their lives in South Africa, they were in due course classified as stateless persons. Sir, that has built up until I believe there is quite a large group of these people who are classified as stateless. They pay taxes, they own property; they enter into the general life of the Indian community. I understand that in many cases they are very active in charitable work and work for their own community, but because of certain technicalities which have cropped up in the process of registration these people have been issued with identity cards classifying them as “ Asiatics, but stateless ”. The position is most difficult for some of these people. I do not know the history of many of these cases but I do know of one case where hardship has been brought upon a particular individual who has quite large financial interests and who does a good deal of welfare work for his own community. I think the hon. the Minister can understand the hardship which follows upon this particular classification as “ stateless ”. Here we have a man who must enter into discussions on his business interests; he has to participate in discussions with the various authorities on the question of administering charities and school or educational organizations and the like, but who is classified as stateless because of some doubt as to whether he was brought here after birth or whether he was born in South Africa. There is no doubt at all that he has been here since childhood, and by any other standards he would qualify for citizenship, as many other Indian residents in South Africa have done. He is a man who cannot be repatriated. Obviously it does not seem to be the intention of the Government to repatriate him and the group to whom he belongs, and I would suggest to the Minister that he should consider the position of this group particularly. I do not think it is a very large group but I think they feel this hardship quite intensely. I think the hon. the Minister can perhaps sort that out while he is sorting out the whole of this Indian question and either give those people a home here or let them know where they stand. I think if he did that he would be doing quite a service to a group of people who, I think, have done quite a lot of good in their own communities.
Business suspended at 6.30 p.m. and resumed at 8.5 p.m.
As a young Minister in the Department of the Interior, a portfolio which I have occupied now for the past four months, I should like to thank hon. members very sincerely for their contributions and the gentle way in which they have dealt with this young Minister. Up to this point it is anything but a difficult task to reply to the various points which have been raised here. I want to express my appreciation even of the criticism that has been put forward, as the result of which I shall now try to throw further light on various matters.
In the first place the hon. member for Durban (Berea) (Mr. Butcher), on the strength of one single court judgment, has damned everything that we have said and done in connection with group areas as something entirely evil. There has been one point of agreement in this Committee this afternoon and that is that everybody admits that we have a very complex society in this multi-racial country of ours, with many difficulties to overcome. As far back as 1950 the Government made an attempt to make this complex society one in which all races and all groups in our country will be able to live. It is a good thing that this Government did so, because otherwise nothing would probably have been done. There is not a single racial group in our country which is not proud of its origin and which is not concerned about its survival and which is not anxious to continue to exist separately. There is a tendency amongst all nations to recognize that the national pride and national sentiment of the various races cannot be suppressed under any circumstances, and the attempts which are being made to convert multi-racialism into uni-racialism will never succeed in my opinion. All that we can do therefore, if we really want to co-operate and if we really want to make an attempt to find solutions, is to put our shoulders to the wheel, to suggest plans and not to come forward with negative criticism only. In a country like South Africa where this is a natural phenomenon and where the position has always been that each of the various races has its own traditions, its language, its religion and way of life, its origen and its hopes for the future, it is impossible to try to divert all the different streams into one Western stream and to think that in doing so you are going to get the greatest measure of co-operation. That is why the Government has constantly continued to build on this pattern. The Group Areas Act, together with everything that goes with it, is a unique Act. There is not another country in the whole world which is saddled with the problems that we have. Hon. members on the other side cannot mention another country in the world where the Whites and the other groups have remained apart, where they have not thrown everything together and lived cheek by jowl. The South American States are typical examples of this. We in South Africa want to maintain and retain what is our own and we also want to continue to exist separately as a race. With these few introductory words I just want to say that as far as the Group Areas Act is concerned, there has always been this constant evolution of the Act, and because this is a new concept which is not based on the experience of other nations, we have necessarily had to proceed experimentally very often, and very often some of these experiments have not succeeded. But now that we are seeing more and more light, the time has arrived when the Government is able to announce that it takes so much interest in this matter and attaches so much importance to it, that re-organization is contemplated. The Group Areas Board as it now exists and the Group Areas Development Board, with its various divisions, are to be converted into a separate Department. The Group Areas Board and the Group Areas Development Board, together with the National Housing Office, which has always fallen under the Department of Health, complete the whole picture. The view has always been held, incorrectly, that group areas exist only for people of other colours and not for the Whites as well. But the White man also has his group area and the area in which he lives, and what we visualize is a coordination of the whole thing without directly sacrificing the identity of Housing; it will still be looked after by the Housing Commission as before, but it will be placed under the same Ministry. We want to place development of group areas on a basis where it will receive the full attention of a Minister and where it will not be looked after only by the Department of the Interior, as the position is at the moment.I hope that this will be welcomed, for the simple reason that this is a forward step which will make it possible for the Group Areas Board and the Group Areas Development Board, which has been administered in the past mainly by boards, as the name also indicates, to be looked after by a departmental head as secretary.
Not a separate Minister?
That I am unable to say at the moment. It will possibly be given to a Minister as an additional department; it may be a combination. We have only a limited number of Ministers, but it will become a separate Department whose specific function it will be to develop these group areas to the fullest extent and to make them really useful, with the assistance of Housing, so that all these matters will receive attention under centralized control. I hope that the stigma which has always attached to the Group Areas Act as being a terribly unfair and oppressive measure will be removed once and for all when it is understood that eventually this whole development will fall under one department. In my opinion even the Natural Resources Development Council ought to fall under that Department, and all development in that connection should be concentrated in that Department.
For all races?
A good deal has been said here to which I should like to reply as briefly as possible. The hon. member for South Coast (Mr. Mitchell), who was the main speaker, began by discussing the Asiatic Division as well as the Population Register, and he asked me what our policy was and what we were heading for. The hon. member will remember that as far as the Coloureds are concerned it has already been announced, and the prospect has been held out, that there will be a re-organization and an extension of the Union Council, with more elected members. I would also remind hon. members that the hon. the Prime Minister held out the prospect as far back as 7 December 1960 that the Indians would be able to develop along the same lines. I hope hon. members have not lost sight of the fact that I announced in February what the Government’s decision was in connection with a Division of Asiatic Affairs, where it is contemplated that the necessary channels and machinery will be created through which the legitimate demands and requirements of the Asiatic community can be brought to the notice of the Government, just as in the case of all the other racial groups whose interests are already being looked after by separate Government departments. The Division of Asiatic Affairs will make it its task to look after and to promote the interests of the Asiatic community in the various phases. I made an appeal at that time to the Asiatics who are inhabitants of the Union, to co-operate with this Division in order to ensure that the greatest benefit is obtained for the greatest number. This Division will sympathetically tackle the task entrusted to it and there will be ample opportunity for consultation and the submission of constructive proposals which are calculated to realize the objects of this Division. The necessary preparations for the establishment of this Division have already reached an advanced stage, and I am pleased to be able to inform the House that every possible step is being taken to open the Division’s various offices in the large centres of the Union as soon as possible. In the past the Asiatics were justified in feeling that they were being regarded as a foreign group that did not belong here. The blame for that view cannot be placed entirely at the door of the present Government. That was the view of all Governments. As a matter of fact the repatriation scheme, which had received attention since 1914, was maintained throughout by all governments as a voluntary scheme under which Indians who wished to leave the country could do so with the assistance of funds made available by the Government for that purpose. But gradually people came to realize and it became clearer—and to-day we say so unequivocally—that the Indians in this country were our permanent responsibility. They are here and the vast majority of them are going to remain here, and although the repatriation scheme is used on a very small scale we must realize that the vast majority of them are South African citizens and as such they are also entitled to the necessary attention and the necessary assistance. The control over this Division has been entrusted to an experienced official. Let me just say that this is not something new; it is implicit in the whole of the group areas concept. The Group Areas Act makes provision for group areas for Indians, where Indians are given the right of occupation and the right to acquire and to purchase land; and surely one is going to give that right only to the permanent section of the population and not to temporary residents who are going to leave this country again. Mr. J. H. van der Merwe, the Under-Secretary of the Interior, a person who has been connected with the Department of the Interior for more than 30 years, has been placed in charge of this Division. He spent the greater part of his career in the office of the Commissioner for Immigration and Asiatic Affairs in Pretoria and he was also Chief Immigration Officer in Cape Town. I want to make an appeal here. At a certain stage, if one is in earnest, one must start making use of a rubber and rub out what has been done in the past. One gains nothing by continually trying to play politics. I can tell the Committee that as far as the Indian community is concerned it is going to be a difficult struggle to get them to co-operate. It is a difficult race and one must first win their confidence. There are various religious views and all sorts of other problems which make it difficult even to spot the leaders, because there are separate leaders for each little group. But we are tackling this whole matter courageously in the belief that we are going to get these people’s co-operation, and once we have obtained their co-operation, we hope to assist them in the sphere in which they should receive assistance first. We are holding out to them the prospect that we have also held out to the Coloureds, that if there is co-operation they will be able to develop along the same lines.
The hon. member for Durban (Umlazi) (Mr. H. Lewis) dealt with the position of stateless Indians, and the hon. member for Turffontein (Mr. Durrant) talked about the Chinese. The principle on which the whole of the Population Register is based is the principle of acceptance. People are not classified into different nationalities, and it has been proved that, where a person has claimed that he is White and he has not been classified as White (just to mention an example), that person has the right to appeal to various bodies, and even to the highest court in the land, if he is not satisfied with his classification. As far as the application of this classification is concerned, there certainly was cause for serious complaint in the past. There were certain problems. My predecessor recognized these problems, and I want to say to-day that I am grateful for the fact that we have not had any criticism from any side of the House that the matter is not being dealt with in a human way, and that human feelings are not taken into consideration. We want to hurt people as little as possible and, as far as the Population Register is concerned, we are making progress, and all the cases that we have had to deal with will probably be disposed of in the near future.
The hon. member for South Coast also mentioned the case of a mixed marriage that may exist and the children born of that marriage, and the possibility that there may then be a re-classification. We must realize that in this complex society of ours we will often come across exceptional cases, but I want to repeat what I said a moment ago: People are not classified on the basis that they belong to a certain race; they are classified on this principle: Which group of the community accepts them? If they are accepted as Whites, then it naturally follows that they will be classified as Whites. It is for that reason that the small number of Japanese we have here are classified as Whites, because the Whites accept them. And the reply to the question as to what will become of the Chinese is that it all depends on whether the White group is going to accept them as a White community.
They have been doing so for years.
That is not true. There is a section that is accepted as White, and there is an arrangement with that racial group that in those cases where they are accepted as Whites, travelling facilities, hotel accommodation, etc., will be given to them as though they are Whites. But the whole of the Chinese group has not been accepted as White. If it should appear later on that the acceptance of the Japanese or any other group is not subscribed to by the Whites, they will not be accepted as such. I think that that is the right principle. What difference is it going to make to us as Whites if we accept these people?
I put a question to you in connection with the policy with regard to the Chinese in respect of the Group Areas Act.
Surely the hon. member knows that there are various groups. I shall deal with that in a moment. The position of the stateless Indians has also been raised, and I just want to point out what the consequences are going to be when we start dealing with stateless persons. We also have in this country many British-protected Bantu who are stateless. We are seeking the co-operation of the Indians to-day, but we are certainly not going to come to the stateless persons who have been stateless all these years, and who are really disappearing as a group, because the children who are born here become citizens of South Africa. As far as the stateless Indians are concerned, everything depends on the degree of support and the co-operation, the actual wholehearted cooperation, that we get from this group. The position is certainly not that we can start tackling the problem there. My own feeling is that one does not like people to remain stateless, particularly when they have spent a great part of their lives here, but we must realize the consequences, and we would also be saddled then with many of those people.
Now I come to the Zanzibaris. The hon. the Deputy Minister of the Interior attended all the discussions that were held at the time with the Zanzibaris. And while I am referring to him, I want, with your permission, to express my gratitude and appreciation towards the hon. the Deputy Minister, who is really of great assistance to me in a very difficult Department. As far as the Zanzibaris are concerned, I want to point out that I think the hon. member for Durban (Umlazi) made one mistake in his argument, and that is that no promise was made that these people would be classified as Coloureds. It was simply intimated that this group of Indians—that is the information I have—would be classified under the group areas arrangements with one class or another.
That is not correct.
That is my information, and thereafter they were classified in a different group. I want to reply now to the question of the hon. member for Turffontein. As far as the Coloureds are concerned, there are the following groups: Cape Malays, Griquas, Cape Coloured, Indians, and then also the other Coloureds and the other Asiatics. There are six groups. The Zanzibar group, who were then classified as Coloureds, have not been accepted by the Coloureds. There we have the whole principle. I have said that acceptance is the principle, and if the Coloureds wish to object they have the same right to object as the Whites, because we adopt the principle that every race, whether they be Coloured, Asiatic or White or Bantu, has the right to say: “ How can you group those people with us? They are not our people; they are descendants of Arabian tribes.” They were then classified in the sub-group “ Other Asiatics ”. They have now been classified, and they know where they stand. They are not in a position of uncertainty. They know precisely where they stand, and there is not the slightest cause for further concern in that regard. It would have been very wrong for us to insist that they should remain classified as Coloureds if the Coloureds were not prepared to accept them. The only way to classify them, therefore, is as I have indicated.
The hon. member for Parow talked about the electoral officers. I just want to say that if an electoral officer finds it very difficult to do his work, he can, of course, make the necessary representations for more assistance. But I agree with the hon. member that the remuneration of electoral officers is disproportionately low and that, under present conditions, with their many obligations, as well as the many responsibilities which rest on them, it is not adequate remuneration. I promise the hon. member that I shall go into this matter, and I hope I shall be able to persuade the Treasury to do something about it.
To the hon. member for Pretoria (Rissik) (Mr. de Kock), I want to say at once that the note I have been handed says that I must tell him that nothing can be done in regard to the question of holiday savings bonuses that he raised. But for my part I say to the hon. member that I am not going to take any notice of this note. I agree with the hon. member. I do not think it is right, where a married public servant becomes a widower and he still has children whom he has to support, that he should receive the same holiday savings bonus as an unmarried official. I just want to say here that I understand that there is some difficulty with the Treasury, but I shall do my best. I did not know that that was the position. I think an injustice is being done there.
The hon. member for Orange Grove (Mr.E. G. Malan) talked about the censors. He referred to censorship difficulties and the tremendous increase in the number of books and magazines banned under this Government. The hon. member is fairly faithful in attending the debates, but in all probability he is so hostile towards the hon. member for Houghton (Mrs. Suzman) that he did not take any notice of a question that the hon. member put some time ago. She asked specifically how many books had been banned in the period 1938-48 (ten years of United Party rule) and in the period 1950-60 (ten years of National Party rule) respectively and my reply to her was that from 1938 to 1948 7,721 publications had been banned and that 6,718 publications had been banned from 1950 to 1960—1,000 fewer therefore.
Books and magazines. I went on to say in the reply that these figures included magazines, but that it was impossible to furnish separate figures in respect of books. I just want to point out to the hon. member that this is another of these “ sweeping statements ” made by him without his having acquainted himself with the facts, and that if he had seen the reply he would not have made such a mistake. The hon. member for Turffontein (Mr. Durrant) has also asked what we propose to do in view of the fact that the hon. the Leader of the House has announced that a Bill is going to be laid on the Table, which is then going to be read a first time only, after which an opportunity will be given to everybody to express their opinion about it, without first referring it to a Select Committee. The Bill will be laid on the Table before Parliament is prorogued for the information of all members. This is not the time to discuss the details, but generally speaking I may say that the whole intention of this legislation is to eliminate all the criticism that there has been in regard to the banning of magazines and books. Instead of having an appeal board, as recommended in the Cronjé Report, an opportunity will be given to appeal to the highest courts. In other words, all the constructive criticism that we have had, together with what Judge Marais, to whom the hon. member referred, said with regard to this matter, will be taken into consideration in re-drafting the Bill which will be introduced for the information of members generally, and we hope that attention will be given to it because there is no doubt that something should be done, because what we are having to-day is no longer the exercise of freedom but untrammelled licentiousness.
May I ask the hon. the Minister whether he agrees with the proposals made by the hon. member for Vander-bijlpark (Dr. de Wet) in connection with Press censorship and, amongst other things, the appointment of a Press commissioner and two deputies for Press censoring?
I have already stated in reply to a question by you, Mr. Chairman, that the question of Press censorship does not fall under my Department. I am concerned with the ordinary Censorship Board, which was not appointed by this Government initially but which has been functioning since 1931 and which has been doing this work in connection with films, etc. and ordinary reading matter. As far as the censorship of news and the Press is concerned, my Department has nothing to do with it under this Vote. The hon. member will simply have to wait for that question to be answered at the appropriate time.
Will the hon. the Minister also reply to the question that I put to him in connection with the municipal franchise for Asiatics?
As far as the municipal franchise is concerned, I want to say to the hon. member that I have not gone into the matter and that I am not in a position to give an answer this evening. I have my own opinion in that regard, but at this stage I would prefer not to reply to that question. It is a local affair. As far as the Vote is concerned, the hon. member knows that our attitude is that at this stage we do not want to give the Indians or the Coloureds the vote on a Common Voters’ Roll, but as far as the municipal franchise is concerned, that is a local matter and I do not want to go into it at this stage. As far as deportations are concerned, deportations take place in terms of Section 22 (3) of Act No. 22 of 1913. That is the section under which persons are deported, and it is only done in cases where the Minister considers it to be in the public interest to deport people. That has always been the position. We act on the basis of information, but in the nature of the things the source of such information cannot be divulged. The hon. member made the same blunder as the hon. member for Orange Grove by saying that the numbers of deportations were increasing under this Government. The figures do not prove that that is so. However, the hon. member may rest assured that we act with the greatest degree of circumspection and caution. But where a person is deported, hon. members must bear in mind that it is done in the interests of public safety in South Africa. The margin of safety is sometimes a little narrow; at other times it can be stretched a little; at times more latitude can be allowed; at other times perhaps less; but the hon. member knows that it is a very great responsibility to deport a person, and we must make sure of the circumstances. One’s conscience dictates that that should be done, and I want to give the hon. member the assurance that we act with the greatest degree of circumspection and caution.
I regret that the hon. the Minister dealt with this question of the municipal franchise in the rather off-hand and brief manner which he adopted. I want to say that as far back as my experience goes the Minister of the Interior has been the official connecting link between the Provincial Administrations and the Government of the day. That has been the case for very many years, 25 years or more. This is a matter affecting the right of the Provincial Council to legislate in matters of this kind. It is a matter of particular importance to know the view of the hon. the Minister of the Interior. I want to put this position, once again, quite plainly, and I hope the hon. the Minister of the Interior will be frank with us. Suggestions have been made, not that there shall be legislation in the Provincial Council dealing with Provincial franchise rights or Parliamentary franchise rights—rights which have been dealt with by Governments in other legislation. One does not refer to that now. I refer purely to the municipal franchise rights. That is a matter which can be legislated upon by the Provincial Council concerned, the right of the municipal franchise is not legislated upon by this House but by Provincial Councils. But before they embark upon all the necessary preliminaries and investigations which may proceed such legislation, and before they proceed upon the passage of such an ordinance through the Provincial Council concerned, they must know what the Government’s policy is. The final determination must rest upon the official advice given by the Minister of the Interior, through the Executive, through the Governor-General-in-Council or the President—as to whether the ordinance shall be signed
Should we not leave it to the Provincial Councils to get in touch with the Minister and ask him about it? Why discuss it here?
No, I am sorry. That is the whole point. If that is the Minister’s point then we are concerned that the Minister should declare his policy here.
I have not been asked by the Provincial Councils to do so.
No, Mr. Chairman, we are stopped in this House from raising matters which are of interest to Provincial Councils. We are dealing here with the Minister’s policy in regard to this group of people. This is a case where legislation can be invalidated, if it is passed, or validated, according to the desires of the Minister. The Minister is the man who has the last word. Assuming that he is acting in accordance with the rest of the Executive— which he undoubtedly would do, he has the last word. As an individual it is the Minister who says that his policy follows this line or that line. That is for him to say. It is not for us to wait until a Provincial Council has gone through all the motions of passing legislation and then, for whatever the reason may be, you can have this position: The Governor-General may simply withhold consent and nobody is any the wiser. It is not necessary that the Governor-General refuses his assent, he can merely withhold it, and after 12 months that ordinance becomes null and void. I want to suggest to the hon. the Minister that he has an official opinion in this matter; he has an official policy and we want to know what that is. We know the official policy of the Government in regard to the franchise for the Provincial Councils and Parliament.
May I ask the hon. member a question? Can the hon. member please tell us how it came to pass that the Coloured people lost the municipal franchise in Natal?
The question of the Coloured franchise in Natal has nothing whatever to do with this point. And there are Coloured people with the franchise in Natal— what is the hon. member talking about? He does not know what he is talking about. And when some did lose the franchise it was because of Government policy and Government legislation. I am asking the Minister about the Asiatic Municipal franchise. Will he tell us what his policy is and if they have any policy at all? If they have not will they please tell us?
What is your policy in Natal?
Will the hon. the Minister of Bantu Education deal with his little Bantu children. [Interjections.] What an idiotic interjection by an hon. Minister. Why does he not attend to his own portfolio? We will deal with him on his portfolio in due course. I am dealing with the Minister of the Interior at the moment, and I am seeking his policy. And I hope we are going to get a frank reply from the hon. the Minister.
The hon. member for South Coast (Mr. Mitchell) has now treated us to an excellent piece of play-acting. To think that an experienced politician such as he should pretend not to know what milk looks like, even when it is in a saucer. To think that he has tried to lead the hon. the Minister of the Interior into the trap of announcing in advance what the Cabinet’s attitude will be towards provincial legislation! If the hon. member can rise and give me one example— he has restricted himself to 25 years, and in that regard I can at least meet him on equal terms—where an announcement has been made in advance in the Union Parliament at the request of the Opposition as to what the Cabinet’s attitude will be as regards provincial legislation, then I shall congratulate him most sincerely. But I know he cannot do so. What the hon. member is now trying to do is this: Natal is considering certain steps in connection with the municipal franchise of the Indians, and he has now taken the Government to be so naive that he has tried to set this trap. If the Minister were to say: “ We shall approve of the legislation.” then they will have a piece of propaganda with which they will go to the country and say: “ The Government approves of the municipal franchise for Indians and we in Natal have refused to approve of such a principle!” Or, alternatively, if the Government says: “ We shall not approve of it ”, then they will have a new propaganda story, in which his party’s friends on the Progressive benches will be able to share, namely, that they will say how oppressive the Government is.
May I ask the hon. member a question? Does the Transvaal Provincial Council have a policy regarding the municipal franchise of the Asiatics?
Mr. Chairman, at the moment I am discussing the policy of this Government as regards provincial ordinances. I now just want to demonstrate the stupidity of the hon. clever member by pointing out that the decision of a Cabinet in respect of a provincial ordinance obviously depends on the terms of that ordinance. Let us say, for example, that Natal were to be so ingenious and sensible that their legislation was to provide that the Indians would have the right to vote in the Indian group areas in respect of a local authority which is established in such group areas, then I can quite foresee this Cabinet giving favourable consideration to such a proposal. But I find it almost impossible to foresee such a proposal coming from Natal because if this stupidity is characteristic of the attitude of the Natal leader, what will the deputy leaders of Natal do in respect of such a problem? Mr. Chairman, is it not foolishness to say to this Government: Prophesy now what you are going to do in respect of an ordinance, the terms of which are not yet known. Would it not be the utmost foolishness on the part of the Government if it were to do such a thing? Let us please drop this matter. Let Natal submit its ordinance, as has been the custom over the past 25 or 50 years, and let the Government consider the actual legislation, and then, alas, no longer the Governor-General but the President will decide in future whether it pleases him to promulgate that legislation or not. There is no precedent for this request. There is no inherent substance in the request, but it is a very simple trap which does not befit the status of that hon. member.
It is no good the hon. member, who was an M.E.C. in the Transvaal Provincial Council, trying to draw red herrings across the trail like this. He ought to know what the position is. He could not answer my question, which was a straightforward question. We on this side of the House are not the Government; they sit over there. And the hon. the Minister has got to determine this issue. I am not trying to trap the hon. the Minister, but let me take this point a little further. The basis for the municipal franchise in Natal is the right to vote in a parliamentary election. That is a matter for this Parliament, it is not a matter for the provincial council. It is not for the provincial council to legislate, it has not the power to do so in regard to provincial or parliamentary franchise.
That was a provincial ordinance.
For Heaven’s sake, will you shut up!
Order, order! I must ask the hon. the Minister not to interject so constantly. And the hon. member must withdraw the words “ Shut up ”.
I withdraw those words. May I suggest to the hon. the Minister that if he will listen a little he will learn something. The position then is this, that this is a matter which hinges upon parliamentary legislation in the first place. If the hon. the Minister is unable or unwilling to state the policy of the Government—and I can quite understand that he is probably very unwilling to give it at this time in our history—if that is so then the hon. the Minister has simply to say so. So long as that legislation rests, as it does to-day, on a parliamentary franchise right then, quite obviously, the Asiatics in the municipalities cannot obtain a municipal franchise. That is understood. But I put it to the hon. the Minister that he cannot hide behind an attitude of “ I am not going to deal with this question, either to say yea or nay ”. Either the Government has a policy or it does not have a policy. If the Minister is not prepared to say yea or nay in this matter then we have to assume that either the Government has a policy of which it is ashamed, or it has no policy at all, and it is still waiting to make up its mind.
In regard to the policy of the repatriation of Indians, to-day, after 14 years, the hon. the Minister came forward and said the Indians are now a part of the population of the country. That is the first time we have had that policy of the Government stated. Now let us have this policy in regard to the municipal franchise determined for us by the Minister with the moral courage that is necessary to come forward with it, to make the necessary statement, whatever it may be.
I am sorry to interrupt this debate, but I want to get back to the question of Group Areas. If I understood the hon. the Minister correctly he said that it was intended to create a separate Groups Areas Department. May I say that the elevation of the Group Areas Administration to a Department will not be welcomed in South Africa. On the contrary, it will be viewed with dismay because, to most people, it means increased attention to the removal of people from areas where they at present live quite legally. Insofar as it means that increased attention is to be given to housing, then clearly we commend it. But it seems that the emphasis is to be placed on the Group Areas aspect, the removals aspect; the restriction of living in areas where, otherwise, people might live. And to that extent it will not be welcome. If there is to be a department then surely it should be a Housing Department. Let Group Areas be placed under that, if there has to be a Group Areas, if there has to be this system of removal of people from areas where they live. At any rate let it be subordinate to the main purpose of new housing. But to bring in a Group Areas Department and to make housing merely a subordinate part of that seems to be placing the emphasis completely incorrectly.
I want to support the plea made by the hon. member for Durban (Berea) (Mr. Butcher) to the Minister to suspend the proclamation of new Group Areas. The Group Areas Act is. doing incalculable harm to relations between the Government and the Coloured and Indian people—I might almost say between the Whites and the Coloureds and Indians. Even the hon. the Minister’s own Union Council for Coloured Affairs has referred to the Group Areas legislation as a major grievance. In a resolution which was passed unanimously in April this year, it was stated—
It is quite clear that those people who are not supporters of Government policies regard Group Areas as a burning grievance, and so it is with the Indians as well.
This evening the hon. the Minister has again given the impression that this applies equally to all racial groups. During the debate on the Group Areas Amendment Bill I put the figures of people to be removed in terms of the Cape Town proclamation to the hon. the Deputy Minister of the Interior in order to show that a completely disproportionate burden was being thrown on the shoulders of the non-White people. And the hon. the Deputy Minister gave an explanation for it. I want to deal with that because I regard it as completely unacceptable as an explanation of why so many more non-Whites are removed than White persons. In terms of the proclamation in the Cape some 79,000 Coloured people have to be moved as against some 7,000 Whites and 3,600 Indians. These figures are based on the 1951 census. In tems of percentages it means that 2.6 per cent of the White people in the metropolitan area of Cape Town are to be moved as against 51 per cent of the Indians and 26 per cent of the Coloureds. So in terms of percentages too a disproportionate burden is placed on the shoulders of the non-White people. Nor are these final figures, because no sooner had the proclamation been proclaimed than notice was given of further areas to be investigated such as, for instance, the Black River area of Rondebosch which is an old established Coloured area with good Coloured homes. That area is now to be investigated with a view to declaring it a White area.
The hon. the Deputy Minister said that it was true that the figures of Coloureds and Indians to be moved are much larger than White, but the reason was, firstly, that slums had to be cleared, and most slums were inhabitated by Coloured people and, secondly, it was much cheaper to move the Coloureds.
I never said that.
He said the capital expenditure required was much less.
No, you must give it correctly, the way I gave it.
May I read the hon. the Deputy Minister’s explanation. He said—
That is exactly what I am referring to.
But surely that is the point? If the hon. the Deputy Minister would give an explanation of that I would be so glad. To me it seems that the Minister is saying that more Coloured people are moved because it is cheaper to move the Coloured people.
Now as regards the clearing up of the slums, I approve of the clearing of slums In so far as the Group Areas Act is used to clear up slums and create housing for those people, one must commend it. But I say it should not be done in terms of the Group Areas, but in terms of the Slums Act. Nevertheless we approve of the clearing up of slums.
As far as the other argument is concerned, that less capital expenditure is involved, I cannot accept that as a reason why a greater number of Coloured people are to be removed. The hon. the Minister cannot have it both ways. If he says that he does not discriminate against Coloured people he cannot say that he only moves more Coloured and Indian people because there is less capital expenditure involved. The two things cannot be reconciled. As far as the Coloured person is concerned he certainly does not see it that way; his home is just the same to him as is the home of a White man to that White man. I therefore repeat my plea in support of the hon. member for Berea that the Minister should suspend any further proclamations until the effect of existing proclamations can be seen. For instance, the inquiry into the Black River area of Rondebosch should not be proceeded with until the effect of other proclamations has been seen.
I now want to deal briefly with another point, also in connection with the group areas. And I want to thank the hon. the Minister for something which he did, namely, for giving the Indian golfer, Papwa Sewgolum, permission to play in the Open Championship in East London. There was some doubt as to whether a permit in terms of the group areas was necessary and application was not made until very late. The hon. the Minister dealt with it speedily and granted permission, and I want to thank him for doing that. We believe that permission should never be necessary in terms of the Group Areas Act but, nevertheless, so far as it was necessary I want to thank the Minister for his action. It did a great deal of good for relations between Whites and non-Whites not only in East London but everywhere else. Non-European sportsmen are very keen on their sport, and they took the greatest interest in what was happening in East London and followed the progress of the Indian golfer, Papwa Sewgolum, keenly. I believe the White people in East London and elsewhere were also glad that he was given the opportunity to play. It did a good deal towards creating goodwill between White and, Black. I hope the hon. the Minister will not regard this as an exception, as he indicated at the time. When some other association comes with a similar application I hope he will consider it favourably. After all, this kind of decision should lie in the hands of the sporting body concerned and if they wish to allow a person of another race to compete in some national championship or competion I hope the Minister will not stand in their way.
There is another aspect I hope the hon. the Minister will consider. If South African teams are to participate in international competitions then, clearly, the fact that they exclude non-Whites completely means that our participation may be debarred. For instance, the Olympic Association has the principle that no member shall be debarred on grounds of race. The South African Olympic Association has given an undertaking that non-White athletes will be considered on their merits, and if they should choose a non-White South African to go to the next Olympic Games I hope the Minister will not refuse that person’s passport. We are pleased that the hon. the Minister granted this permit for Papwe Sewgolum to play in the national championship; we think it did a great deal of good and we hope that the hon. the Minister will favourably consider similar applications by other sporting bodies if they should arise.
I have risen to reply to quotations which the hon. member for East London (North) (Mr. van Ryneveld) has made regarding the contention which I have supposedly made to the effect that it is cheaper to move the Coloureds. By so doing the hon. member has created a completely wrong impression because if he had gone on reading my speech he would have seen what else I said.
I read it out.
Then he read it very poorly. When I made the point relating to capital expenditure, I meant, and I said so as well when I used the example, that it was in the interests of the Coloureds. I said that if we were to allocate a part of the Constantia valley to the Coloureds for example, then we would actually be doing them an injustice because the Coloureds do not have sufficient capital to be able to afford that land nor to afford the type of house which should be built there. I therefore said that we had to regard the matter from the point of view of capital expenditure, because eventually it was the White group, or the Coloured group, or the Indian group which would be placed in such an area, which would have to carry the burden. If such a person acquires land and a house in such an area he must eventually pay for it, whether by means of a loan or not. For that reason we must follow such a course that when one is dealing with a weaker economic group, one does not place a burden on such a person which he cannot carry. That was my whole approach, not that indicated by the impression which the hon. member has tried to create.
The hon. member then advanced a second argument, and he has supported the hon. member for Berea (Mr. Butcher) in saying that the proclamation of group areas should now be stopped. Allow me just to give the hon. member one example of what the Government has been doing in the meantime. In the Cape Peninsula alone—not the Cape municipal area —I am referring to the Cape Peninsula which includes various municipalities—a programme is being undertaken which entails the construction of 8,000 houses which have already been approved and a major proportion of which are already under construction. If we should start pegging the group areas and if we were to halt this process of removal as the houses become available, it would mean that this Government would be investing large amounts of capital in housing schemes and that it would in the meantime have to abandon its group areas development programme. The hon. member can argue as he likes, but that is what his proposal amounts to.
In the third place I said that it was the poor housing conditions under which the Coloureds particularly lived, which had to be improved and that was why it was essential. We have now advertised District Six for example for investigation as regards Coloured occupancy. There the Whites will have to move. In other words, the distorted picture which the hon. member depicted here, is not correct.
The hon. member has also referred to the announcement by the hon. the Minister, and he then asked why he had not placed emphasis on housing. He did not listen to what the hon. the Minister said. The Minister said clearly that this proposed department would have three sections. In the first place there would be an administrative section which would have to deal with the administrative work. To a large extent legislation making this possible has already been adopted. In addition there is the Group Areas Board as a deliberative body. Then there is the Development Board which is concerned particularly with the conditions affecting advertised property. Then the Minister added that the Housing Commission in its present form and with its present administrative set-up would merely be attached to this department in the same relationship as exists to-day in the case of the Department of Health.
It is interesting that it is to be called the Group Areas Department.
But the Minister has not announced a name. Now the hon. member is once again incorrect. The Minister has not announced any name. All the Minister said was that a re-organization was being undertaken, and that he was now able to announce that this scheme would be carried out on that basis. The emphasis is in fact placed on development. I think the Minister in fact used the word development.
Now I cannot see what the hon. member for East London (North’s) object was in creating the impression which he tried to creately, namely that this was merely a further attempt to deprive people of their rights. Because that is also what he has in fact said. He has said that it will not be welcomed because it is merely an aggravated method of pushing people around arbitrarily and on a larger scale. He has said this while he knows that the intention is precisely to achieve improved planning, i.e., to co-ordinate the housing schemes with this development and to develop these areas along such lines that there will not only be residential areas, but that they will have their own identity, as the hon. the Prime Minister has already said in a public statement. The hon. member is quite off the mark, and to think that he is sending out this type of story at this time in which we live! Because it will only create greater unrest.
The hon. the Minister and the Deputy Minister can never see the question of Group Areas in the same light as we see it, because the Government sees it in the light of a plan and a policy whereas we see it from the humanitarian point of view. I wish to say that we who represent the Coloureds in this House will deal with matters affecting the Coloured people under the Vote of Coloured Affairs, and probably we will deal more fully with the question of Group Areas then. However, I must say that the statement made by the hon. the Minister to-night in regard to Group Areas and the Department that is proposed is a startling statement. The Coloured people will stand aghast at the fact that far from there being a lessening in the implementation of the Group Areas, despite all appeals to the Government, despite the protests which we read about even in to-night’s newspaper from Pietersburg, from Oudtshoorn and other places-—despite all the appeals made to the Government by every section of the Coloured community there appears to be no lessening in the determination of the Government in regard to this Act. I say that the Coloured people will regard this as further evidence if needed at all—of the refusal of the Government to recognize the plight of the Coloureds.
I agree with the hon. the Deputy Minister when he says we are living in times when the relations between the Coloureds and the Europeans need careful consideration. I will not go any further into that aspect but I do want to draw attention to the question of race classification. For some considerable time now, I agree, it has been much easier for people to obtain classifications, and I think that everybody is very thankful for the new policy in that regard. I have had many occasions to deal with the Department in Cape Town, and I want to pay tribute to the gentleman who is at the head of affairs of that Department in Cape Town for his very sincere approach to the many and varied problems I have brought to his notice. I am sure that other people appreciate it equally. However I want to ask the hon. the Minister a question which I hope he will answer. What exactly does an identity card mean to the person who holds it? What benefit is it to him? The hon. the Minister looks surprised but I am going to quote to him certain cases—which I do deliberately in public in order to draw attention to this position. And upon the Minister’s reply will depend how people will react. Let me give the Minister a few instances and he will have the purport of my question. I want to quote one case particularly, and I know of several, where people who have had their identity cards for years have again been asked to prove what race they belong to. Now that is a very serious matter. What does it mean when a man is issued with a White identity card? Does it mean security, and is that the final classification? Let met give the Minister just one case. Some years ago a farmer whom I have known for 30 years received a notification from the Group Areas Board that certain properties of his in an area outside Cape Town were declared to be affected properties in terms of the Act. He was most surprised to find that his properties were so affected and he made inquiries, and he was told that his properties were situated in an European area and that he was a Coloured. He then had to prove to the Group Areas Board that far from being Coloured, he was a European farmer and had been accepted as such and had served on farmers’ committees, and then they withdrew these properties because they were satisfied that the man was a European. Thereafter he made application for his identity card and was issued with a card saying that he was European. But four years later, only about four months ago, he again received notification from the Population Registrar in Pretoria which said that there appeared to be some doubt as to his race and he had better prove it again. This is a very serious matter, because it does not only affect this one man but several whom I know. I am not blaming the Minister, nor the Deputy Minister. I do not want to blame officials who are not here to defend themselves. I do not think the Minister knows about these cases. I would never had brought it up in the House if there were only one case, but there are several, and I know of several attorneys who have had the same experience. I therefore want to ask the Minister whether this card, when once issued, is final, or are people to live in fear and trepidation that at some future date some official will again scratch into the files and find out something, and the man has to go through the whole procedure again of proving that he is White? I wish to ask the Minister to allay the fears of the people who have their cards, and particularly those who have in the past found that in their birth certificate their father was declared to be of mixed blood but who have been classified as Europeans. It is a serious matter. The Minister laughs, but I know whom to blame. It is some official who is not in Cape Town, but some officious official in Pretoria, who apparently scratches around in the covers of these people …
Can’t you be a little more definite?
As to who it is?
No, about the whole issue.
I will tell the Minister what I will do. I will bring him these cases personally but by that time, of course, the debate will be over and the Minister will not have a chance of telling me and the public that they need not fear that once they have their cards it is their passport to their race classification, and that is the point I wanted to make. I realize that there may have been some mistake, but there have been very many of them. I do not want to embarrass the Minister, but I feel that many people—the hon. member for Salt River is not present, but he will be able to bear me out because I know he has had some cases, too —have been distressed, and I think it will allay the fears of these people when they are told that once they have the card it will be final. I think the Minister should give instructions that once a man has been issued with his identity card, no further steps should be taken in regard to it. [Time limit.]
Hon. members are making themselves guilty of gross misrepresentations as far as the proclamation of group areas is concerned, and particularly in so far as it affects the Coloureds. Recently a letter from a certain Coloured leader appeared in one of our newspapers which referred, inter alia, to the suffering of 60,000 Coloureds who would be expelled from their homes as a result of the proclamation of group areas. To-night we have heard again of the suffering which the proclamation of group areas is causing amongst the Coloureds. In the first place I want to say that when reference is made to 60,000 Coloureds, as in this letter, it is not mentioned that the majority of these Coloureds are people who do not own their homes but are people who are living under deplorable conditions, in many cases in shanties in the slums of our cities. They are often being exploited by unscrupulous landlords. It is an irrefutable fact that the majority of the Coloureds are being provided with better housing than they previously had as a result of the Group Areas Act.
The hon. member asks: When? Recently the tempo at which houses are being provided has been greatly accelerated. Plans have been drawn up for thousands of houses. The hon. the Deputy Minister has just said how many houses are being built. There are cases of hardship; I admit that, and this applies particularly to the better-off Coloureds who live in White residential areas. They are suffering hardship, just as Whites are suffering hardship. Hon. members will say that the number of Whites affected is far smaller, but it must also be remembered that the percentage of Whites who in fact own their homes is far higher than the percentage of Coloureds who are home owners. I say that the great majority of the Coloureds who are affected by the Group Areas Act will be provided with better housing. Hon. members should go and examine the housing conditions which still prevail as a result of the laxity of the local authorities, the shanty towns which still exist and which the Group Areas Act will remove. Apparently they are unaware of that position. I say that it is necessary that a little more attention should be given to this aspect of the matter.
After 13 years.
It is not only the houses which have to be provided. The Minister has pointed out and I want to emphasize that together with the development of the group areas, there are also the other services, facilities and opportunities which are being made available to the Coloureds in their own areas. I probably cannot enlarge unduly on this point, but there are the opportunities for the establishment of their own local authorities and of holding posts in their own areas, etc. It is not only we who say that the Coloureds will be in a better position as a result of the group areas and if hon. members doubt my word, I want to call in another witness, namely, Ds. J. A. J. Steenkamp, the secretary of the Peninsula Mission Council of the D.R. Church. In the Burger of 8 February 1961 he stated the following—
And, as I have already said, they only represent a small percentage—
This is data which he collected for a thesis and he is convinced that most platteland town councils have improved their plans for Coloured accommodation as a result of the Group Areas Act. I call him in as a witness to testify to the accuracy of what I have just submitted, namely that misrepresentations are being sent out into the world. A small group who are suffering hardship are being taken as the yardstick, but the great mass of Coloureds who are benefiting are not mentioned.
The hon. member who has just resumed his seat spoke about the advantages to the Coloured people in regard to group areas. We on this side agree in regard to slum clearance when an improvement in housing is being undertaken. However, I would like to mention the fact to show that in a number of instances the effects of being moved are detrimental to the Coloured people. In the constituency which I represent there are a number of Coloured people and they are being moved from this area to another area, and this one particular instance which I would like to mention is that of a Coloured ex-serviceman who did business as a chimneysweep, and it was essential for him to be on the telephone and to live close to an industrial area. He was living in a decent dwelling, in a flat, and he was quite happy and making a living because he was close to an industrial area and hotels. However, when this person was moved he was moved to an area some five miles out of town and there were no telephones available, and immediately this small one-man business started to decline. The position to-day is that this Coloured person who made every possible attempt to get telephone services laid on to that area was told by the Government Department that it would be another two years before a cable could be laid there. Consequently this man finds himself in a position to-day where his loss of business has put him into grave financial distress, where his life is being regimented and he has had to move to an area and of course in terms of Government policy his children will never qualify for the vote although he still remains on the voters’ roll. When one makes these laws one seems to forget the effect it will have on the lives of a number of people. This unfortunate aspect was stressed by the hon. member for South Coast (Mr. Mitchell) this afternoon, and I would like to bring to the notice of the Committee certain severe hardships and anxiety experienced by persons when they receive notification that they are to be classified as Coloureds. Every representative in this House perhaps found during the recess last year that he had to deal with a large number of cases of this kind. In such a colour-conscious country we find that the shock and anxiety created cause great unhappiness in the lives of these people. I would like to quote an instance where a father of a family was notified that he was classified as a Coloured, whereas three of his adult children were classified as White. This had a great effect on this family of seven children, who had always been accepted as White, when they were suddenly confronted with the position of having to return the cards of their children and having to prove that they were accepted as White persons. The return of the card in so far as one son was concerned had a serious effect on him, because shortly after he returned the card he was unemployed and was unable to draw his unemployment benefits due to the fact that he could not present his identity card. All these things have a detrimental effect and bring about unhappiness in the minds of these people. I appeal to the Minister to give this Committee some assurance that he will see that these persons are not so classified without a thorough investigation, because on receiving such a notice the shock and anxiety are such that some families, such as the case I have just mentioned, have decided rather to emigrate to the United Kingdom, a family which is required to develop South Africa, a young country which needs immigrants. I know I cannot discuss immigration under this vote but one of the most serious problems facing our country is the emigration of young people, the future mothers and fathers of the country, who must develop the country. I do not wish to pursue that matter any further now, but I would like to ask one other concession of the Minister and that is that in connection with the issue of identity cards we find that people sometimes have to submit sets of photographs on three occasions to obtain an identity card, and the cost of submitting these photographs falls on the applicant. In a number of cases where aged persons are concerned, they need every penny to eke out an existence, and when they have to submit three sets of photographs it is a burden on them.
The other matter I wish to raise with the Minister is in connection with certain dissatisfaction that exists in regard to persons holding posts as immigration officers. An inquiry was held in regard to these posts and in terms of the report, Public Service Inspection Report No. 21, whereby an inspection into the structure of the general division of the Public Service was held into the post of immigration officers. It comes as a great shock to these people to find that as from 1 March they now hold non-prescribed posts; in other words, the position of an immigration officer Grade II has now been regraded to become a non-prescribed post. These immigration officers have to play an important part in the future plan of immigration because the first contact these people will have with anybody on arriving in the country is with the immigration officer and they should therefore be greeted by persons who are fully qualified for the job. However, we find that the inquiry which was held has proved to be detrimental to the post of immigration officer and that the ceiling in regard to their salary scale is to be reduced. Previously it was £1,260 per annum and it will now be £1,200. The hours to be worked by new persons joining the service in that capacity are 48 hours a week instead of 44. There will be further dissatisfaction where persons working more than 44 hours will receive overtime, whilst others will only qualify for overtime after working 48 hours. [Time limit.]
I wish to come back to the issue from which the hon. the Minister is trying to escape, but before doing so I want to ask him two questions. The first is whether he gave authority as the Minister in charge of the Civil Service for Government offices to close or to allow staff off in order to welcome the Prime Minister when he returned from his defeat in Britain. [Interjections.] Yes, hon. members may squeal, but I want to tell the Minister that the staff of almost every Government office in Johannesburg and Pretoria was almost denuded and there was only a skeleton staff left in almost every Government office so that members of the staff could go to Jan Smuts Airport to welcome the Prime Minister when he came back from a diplomatic defeat at the hands of the non-White states of the Commonwealth in March. I want to know whether the Minister gave permission for civil servants to take time off and to be paid by the taxpayer in order to attend a National Party Stryddag at Jan Smuts Airport when the Prime Minister returned to South Africa.
I want to deal also with the hon. member for Vasco (Mr. C. V. de Villiers), who said that the Group Areas Act was producing better housing for the non-Whites. I want to place it on record that that hon. member is more interested in the advantages which the Act may be bringing to a small group of people and closing his eyes to the hardships caused to the mass of people, including the White people of South Africa. I want to quote one particular case where one of my own family is to-day desperate—and I saw the Deputy Minister about it and he promised me the world; he promised to go into it …
I said I would go into it, but your facts were all wrong.
My facts were not wrong. The position is this. There is a White man with young school-going children and he is being forced to live amongst Coloureds because this Government is not prepared to buy the house of a White man but is forcing him to live amongst Coloureds. They are forcing his teenage daughters, White children, who walk to school because there is no bus service, in an area which is being sold to Coloureds and which is proclaimed as a Coloured area, and a White man’s children are being forced to walk to and from school through an area populated by Coloureds, because the Group Areas Development Board is not prepared to buy that White man’s house. [Interjections.] I have all the correspondence here and I can prove every word I say. This man’s teenage daughters, one of 11 and one of 13, are being forced to walk to school through a Coloured area because the Government is not prepared to buy a White man’s house. I leave it at that, but I wanted to deal with the effect of the Group Areas Act on the people of South Africa who have been placed in areas proclaimed by the Government.
Now I want to come back to the matter from which the Minister is trying to escape, and I want to quote to him what his own newspaper says about the question of the rights of Asiatics in South Africa. I quote from the Burger of 15 March this year, which said the following—
The Minister’s own newspaper recognizes that the Government has now established a policy for the Asiatics, and it says that that policy is equivalent to the policy for the Coloureds politically and administratively. Politically the Coloureds are represented in this House by four members. They are entitled to vote on the municipal voters’ roll in the Cape, but I want to know whether the Minister will now repudiate the Burger, or whether he will give a clear answer to the hon. member for South Coast who asked for the policy of the Government in regard to the Indian franchise. It is not for us to make the decision, but for the Government. I challenge the Minister to stand up and to repudiate his newspaper which says “ dat die Indiérs dieselfde sal kry as die bruinmense ”.
Are you in favour of it?
What I am in favour of makes no difference. I stand for a policy of harmonious co-existence in South Africa. According to this statement, the Minister is also in favour of a policy of harmonious coexistence. I want to know whether he will repudiate his own party, which issued a pamphlet with a map of Natal scratched out and written over Natal are the words: “ India in the year 2,000 ”, a pamphlet not issued a long time ago but in the 1954 Provincial elections. I would like to see the hon. the Minister of Bantu Education denying it. It says this is the problem and it states the problem, and then it goes on after two pages to give the solution as repatriation—
Here is a National Party pamphlet which says the solution is repatriation, and the Burger says—
The Burger says that not only have we now got a final repudiation of repatriation, but we can forget it even as a partial solution of the Asiatic problem. Now I would like to hear what the Minister of Bantu Education, the hon. member for Vryheid, and various other members have got to say, members who stood on platform after platform and said: “ Die kaffer in sy plek en die Koelie uit die land”. That was their policy. I want to know what these members say now that they are repudiated by their own Minister here to-night and by their own newspaper, which says that not only is it not realistic to repatriate the Indians but it is not even a partial solution.
If I may conclude on this note, this hon. Minister is responsible for the compartmentalization and separation of South Africa into racial classifications, and I want to quote to him another of his own newspapers, which on 17 March this year said the following. It is the Nataller, and it says the following—
That is the answer to this Government’s policy. [Time limit.]
When the hon. member for Durban (Point) (Mr. Raw) takes part in a debate, the level of the debate is immediately dragged ten degrees lower. At the very outset the hon. member made the most irresponsible allegation that the public service offices in Johannesburg and Pretoria were empty because the officials had gone to welcome the Prime Minister at the Jan Smuts Airport. [Interjections.] I say that I issue a challenge. The hon. member for Sea Point was not even near there. I challenge the hon. member to tell me which offices were empty and where there was only a “skeleton staff”. Furthermore I challenge him to tell me in which offices in Johannesburg and Pretoria this was the position. In any case I want to tell him that no responsible Minister issued permission and that the Public Service Commission did not do so, and if officials were absent from their offices without leave, they were absent wrongly and I shall be very glad if the hon. member can give me the name of just one official who was absent without leave because these cheap soap box allegations which the hon. member has used and by which the hon. member thinks he will make an impression, do not make any impression at all. The hon. member is well known as someone who merely talks and shouts. No one takes any notice of him and he causes his own supporters to hang their heads in shame, with the exception of the hon. member for Sea Point because they are like two peas in a pod. [Interjections.]
I want to discuss one or two important matters. The first relates to the challenge of the hon. member for South Coast which I am supposed to be evading. The hon. member for Kempton Park who was a member of the Executive Committee, just as I was, gave the correct reply to the hon. member for South Coast. Sir, it is unheard of that the Government can prescribe to a Provincial Council, and then moreover the Provincial Council of Natal of all Provincial Councils, the Council which is the most jealous of its rights and privileges, what it should do as regards the question of the municipal franchise in the case of Asiatics. That has never been done. The hon. member for South Coast (Mr. Mitchell) who has been the Administrator of Natal would have been the first to get on his high horse if such an instruction had been issued to the Provincial Council or the Executive Committee. The normal procedure which is followed is to pass an ordinance in the Provincial Council; the ordinance is sent to the Minister of the Interior who must obtain approval in the ordinary way by submitting it to the Governor-General for his approval before it acquires the force of law. I now want to tell the hon. member this. The Government has laid down its policy through the hon. the Prime Minister.
What is that policy?
The policy is as follows. The Government has laid down its policy in respect of the granting of rights which these Indians will eventually be able to exercise. We have said that when the Coloured areas are developed and when the necessary townships have been established, they will have to accept the responsibility for their own local bodies and affairs as soon as they are able to do so and as far as they are able to do so; that while the position in the cities to-day is that the voters are on a common municipal voters list, as in Cape Town for example, that position will gradually fall away and the Coloureds will elect their own municipal councils in their own areas. We are proceeding with the development of this policy and to discuss the municipal franchise of Indians and our policy in that regard is nonsensical. If the Natal Provincial Council cannot pull its own chestnuts out of the fire, I should like to see what they are going to do. They are in difficulties. [Interjections.] We are not in difficulties, Sir. Let hon. members tell their supporters: “Act in accordance with your convictions ”, and let them submit their resolution to us and we shall show them whether we agree with that policy or not.
The hon. member for East London (North) (Mr. van Ryneveld) considers that this is the occasion to make political capital out of the case of the golfer, Papwa. I want to refer the hon. member to the statement I made at that time regarding Papwa to the effect that this case would be regarded as a most exceptional case. This is a person who has gained world renown. This is a person whom we have not allowed to participate in a mixed golf tournament but who was merely allowed to make use of the facilities provided on the course. That is all. This was really the golf club’s own responsibility which they wanted to shift on to the Government. But that is not as important to me as the policy of the Government. I do not want the hon. member to be in the slightest doubt as to the policy of the Government in connection with apartheid in sport. I should like to refer to what one of my predecessors, the hon. Dr. Donges, laid down in June 1956, as being the policy of the Government—
On my policy motion this year in the Other Place I stated the following—
I hope that is quite clear to the hon. member for East London (North). That is the unequivocal policy of this Government. Talking will only do harm. We shall not deviate from this policy.
The hon. member for Boland (Mr. Barnett) has discussed the question of identity cards. He has asked what the value of an identity card is if it can be changed later—if the classification can be changed. The hon. member wants to know what the position of the person concerned is if an identity card is issued and it is later changed. There are two sides to this matter and I am glad the hon. member has mentioned the cases. He has said that he has many such cases; if there was only one case he would have approached the Minister personally. I shall in any case be glad if he will bring these cases to our notice so that we can determine where there is any question of mala fides. On the other hand I want to say that we cannot do so because the principle on which we work is the principle of acceptance. If a person is classified as a White and after two years mixes with Coloureds and lives amongst them, if he associates with them and if the White community rejects him, and the Coloureds accept him as one of them, then his classification can be changed. That must be the position and that position must remain. But under normal circumstances the original classification will stand. If the picture is as the hon. member painted it and that represents one side of the picture, then I agree with him that there is reason for complaint. However, if the hon. member can give us proof, then we shall be very pleased to establish whether we have only seen one side of the picture and whether he has concealed the other side from us. That is what we must know in the first instance.
The hon. member for Umbilo (Mr. H. Lewis) has discussed the “ hardships ” which these people are suffering. We should like to help him in that regard. As far as the immigration officers are concerned, these persons are now being classified as passport control officers and I am unaware of the fact that these persons will now be classified on a lower scale. Apparently the hon. member has more information than I or my Department. I am informed that my Department knows nothing about it at this stage and I shall go into the matter immediately because I consider that it would be quite wrong in principle if someone has received a certain salary, to reduce his salary on reclassification.
I do not think there is anything else to which I need reply.
What about the Whites in the Coloured areas?
The hon. Minister now asks us to vote R8,000 for his salary. Then he says he has no policy; he will not tell us what his policy is. He asks what our policy is. Until the hon. the Minister rises and tells us what his policy is, I do not think he is entitled to receive any salary. Because what does he want? He wants us to give him a salary but he is not prepared to give us a policy. [Interjections.] Yes, that is exactly the position with which South Africa is faced to-day. As a result of the pressure exercised by the Broederbond, his supporters are prepared to pay him any salary without his rendering any service for that salary. Before he spoke, 22 of his supporters were here. The Minister then went to the Whips and said: “ Look, the Broederbond says they must come; the United Party is making things hot for me.” What has he done? The Minister must give us replies to the questions put by the hon. member for South Coast (Mr. Mitchell). He must answer those questions. He will not get away by making the type of jokes he has made here. The taxpayers of South Africa are expected to vote an amount over …
May I ask a question?
No, the hon. member does not know what we are talking about. If the people of South Africa are asked to vote an amount of R3,578,000 for this hon. Minister and his Department, they are entitled to know where the hon. the Minister is leading us. He will not get away with this type of excuse, namely by asking what our policy is. In the near future when we sit on that side of the House he will be told what our policy is. [Interjections.] It will not help hon. members to laugh.
Order! I appeal to hon. members to give the hon. member for Sea Point (Mr. J. A. L. Basson) an opportunity to make his speech.
We are entitled to know from the hon. the Minister what his policy is. Why does he think we pay him a salary?
Who pays his salary?
This House. It is not the Nationalist Party or the Broederbond who pay his salary.
It is our supporters.
The Nationalist Party after all only consists of party political organizers.
The United Party fired you as a political party organizer and I helped them to do so.
Order! The hon. member must come back to the Vote.
We want to know what the Minister’s policy is as regards the municipal franchise. There is something else I want to ask the hon. the Minister. What is the policy of the hon. the Minister regarding the type of publication which is published by the hon. member for Vereeniging (Mr. B. Coetzee)? These are scandalous publications which he is trying to sell; I don’t know whether he is able to do so. These are publications in respect of which the hon. the Minister has appointed a commission which has stated by implication that this type of publication is not good for the people of South Africa.
Now you are lying.
Order! The hon. member cannot use that type of language. He must withdraw.
But, Mr. Chairman, he is talking such nonsense.
Order! The hon. member must withdraw.
I withdraw, Sir.
I say, Mr. Chairman, that you will remember the commission which the hon. Minister’s predecessor appointed at the time and which referred to the publications of the hon. member for Vereeniging. I want to know what the policy of this Minister is. What is he going to do in future if the hon. member for Vereeniging continues to issue this type of publication? [Interjections.] Sir, you will remember that the hon. member for Kempton Park (Mr. F. S. Steyn) instituted a libel action against the hon. member for Vereeniging when the hon. member for Vereeniging published articles such as the “Trade Routes of Shame”. That resulted in a court case, and I understand that the hon. member for Vereeniging paid a large sum. I do not know what the amount was.
You are now lying more than usual.
I should like to ask the Minister what exactly is his policy. Because he is asking that we should give him £4,000 because he provides us with certain services. What are those services? What is his policy? The Minister is shaking his head so vigorously that I can hear it over here. In all fairness and in all honesty I do not think that the hon. the Minister got his job on merit; he does not have a reputation as a hard worker …
Order! The hon. member must now come back to the Vote.
What I am discussing is this R8,000 which the taxpayers must pay. That is the amount we must pay to the Minister for the services which he provides to South Africa and the service he must provide is in fact to carry out his policy and he refuses to tell us what his policy is.
Order! The hon. member is now repeating; he has already said that several times.
But the Minister refuses to reply. I shall now resume my seat and give the hon. the Minister an opportunity to tell us what his policy is.
I cannot reply to the hon. member for Sea Point (Mr. J. A. L. Basson) and still retain my self-respect. Nor do I intend replying to him. I just want to say one thing, that the Minister gave a very explicit reply to the question of the hon. member for South Coast (Mr. Mitchell). The Prime Minister has already repeatedly stated in public that for the non-Whites for whom separate residential areas have to be established, as the development takes place there and as they develop the capacity to undertake it, a form of local government will be instituted. That has already been laid down in principle in Section 25 of the Group Areas Act.
For local government?
Yes. That applies to every person who lives in his own residential area and has property rights there, and that is what the Minister said. He added that the hon. member for South Coast should not offload on the Minister’s threshold the problems the Natal Provincial Council is experiencing without they themselves saying definitely what they want to do. The Prime Minister gave a very clear lead on that point, and that is contained in the principle laid down in the Group Areas Act.
I rise to correct something just for the sake of the record. I hope the hon. member for Durban (Point) (Mr. Raw) will give me his attention. The hon. member made an accusation here after I had received him very courteously in my office. I deplore the fact that after he received this courtesy from me, he made himself guilty in this House of behaviour which I did not expect of him.
That solves no problems.
The hon. member made an appointment with me and I now want to give the facts, to expose the absolute falseness of the allegation.
Give the facts.
The hon. member came to me and told me that in a certain area in Durban, Duikerfontein, which had been declared a Coloured area, the Whites had the problem that the Coloureds could not afford to buy that type of house, with the result that those Whites now had to remain living there. I told him that I would investigate the matter and that I would inform him as soon as possible as to what we could do about it. But the hon. member did not mention a specific case to me.
No. The hon. member did not give me a single name.
I gave the address.
The hon. member did not give me a single name. I had witnesses. The hon. member will not get away with this. I had witnesses, because I do not meet the type of member the hon. member is without witnesses. I immediately had investigations made and I wrote him a nice little letter in which I informed him that the office in Durban reported that the Coloureds were anxious to buy property in Duikerfontein and that there were enough Coloureds who wanted to buy there. What did the hon. member do then?
That is not so.
I wrote the hon. member a courteous letter. What was now the decent thing for the hon. member to do if he was not satisfied? He sees me every day. In the past he knew that my office was open to him. He could have come to me with this particular case and said: In this case the facts are not in line with what is contained in the letter. But he did not do that. He got up here tonight, after I had treated him decently, and created the impression that I had made a lot of promises to him—which I did not do—and did not keep those promises. I say I deprecate that, but one can expect it of him, and that is why he has the status in this House which he has.
I want to deal with the statement by the hon. the Deputy Minister, and I want to deal with it immediately. The hon. the Deputy Minister, as he quite correctly stated, received me courteously. [Interjection.] I am not worried about the gaggle of giggles going on there, I am worried about matters …
Come to the point.
I am coming to it.
Order! I must appeal to hon. members to assist me to maintain order. If I have to call on hon. members again I shall have to take drastic action.
Sir, as the hon. member stated, he received me courteously in regard to a problem which I posed to him in connection with White persons who owned homes of a value which placed them beyond the reach of the average Coloured buyer. The hon. the Deputy Minister, as he correctly stated, offered and agreed to go into the matter. The hon. the Deputy Minister told me, and if he kept minutes—which he apparently does when he has an interview with anybody—then those minutes would show that he told me that it was the policy of his Department that where a person was unable to sell his property the Group Areas Development Board would purchase that property. He asked me for the area and I gave him the street, which was Allanby Street, and I mentioned that it was a relative of mine and I gave him the number which was 68. I said it was a relative of mine who lived at 68 Allanby Street and the letter which I have in my office upstairs refers specifically to Allanby Street. Now if I did not mention that, Sir, how could the Minister, in his reply to me, have stated that Allanby Street and the surrounding area was an area where out of 40 transactions five persons had bought houses over the value of £3,000. That was the Deputy Minister’s letter to me and he mentioned the street. Yet five minutes ago he said that I did not give him the street, that I did not give him the name. He said that I did not give him the particulars. I gave him the particulars, I gave him the street and the number of the House. But that is not the issue Sir. If every individual in South Africa who is in difficulty has to come through his Member of Parliament and as an individual seek a favour from this Deputy Minister, then what is happening to government in this country? I stated a principle to the Deputy Minister. I specifically did not mention the name because I was concerned with the principle. I gave an address. If this country is going to be governed by favours to the individual, then God help South Africa. I came with a principle to the Deputy Minister of an injustice done to a White man in South Africa. The Deputy Minister said I was wrong and that the Group Areas Development Board bought houses Group Areas Development Board bought houses where a person could not sell. I have copies of the correspondence where the Group Areas Development Board has refused to buy this house on the pretext that the purchase price is too high. When they were approached and asked “ what will you pay; I am prepared to accept any reasonbale price for this house ” they said “ we are not interested in buying it”. I say again, Sir, that if South Africa is to be governed by favour then we have got away from the basic principles of democratic government. That is the fundamental point that I am making. The principle of democratic government is that every citizen, high or low, shall get fairness and justice from the Government which controls him. I am not prepared to come with an individual case and ask a favour for a single person. I came with a principle. I stated the area, I stated the street and I stated the house number, and I said “ that is an example of the hardship that is being occasioned ”. The Minister and this Government are creating hardships, bitter hardships. It is breaking up the morale, it is breaking the faith of people, it is breaking their spirit. I have seen with my own eyes people whose spirit has been broken, broken by this sort of legislation. I know of a case in Durban where a man has invested his life savings, where he has to retire in two years’ time, and the home that he has built over 40 years is now worthless to him, because the area has been proclaimed a non-White area. I have given the House a specific personal example and the Deputy Minister attacks me. He accuses me of falsity, he accuses me of falsification, he accuses me of abusing the courtesy which he has shown to me. But Mr. Chairman I do not want courtesy from this Government. I want justice and decency. I want the decency which is due not to me as a Member of Parliament, but the decency which is due to the people whom this Government governs. They are the people with whom we in the Opposition are concerned. We as Members of Parliament can look after ourselves. We do not want courtesy and nice words, a pleasant reception and a cup of coffee—which the Deputy Minister gave me, I admit that-—we want justice towards the man and the woman in South Africa who is governed under laws which this Government passes. I want to ask now whether the hon. the Deputy Minister will deny that his Board has refused to purchase White properties in an area that was proclaimed a Coloured area and that it has forced White people with White children to live amongst the Coloureds because it has refused to make any offer for properties owned by White people in an area that has been proclaimed a Coloured area. It says to them “You wait, until the valuation rolls have been prepared or until you get an offer from somebody, and then we reserve to ourselves the right to accept or reject that offer ”. They are forcing people to break the law; they are forcing people to fake offers for their houses. I know of a case where a man went to his friend and said “Offer me £1,000 less than the value of this House and I will force the Group Areas Development Board to make me a bid for it ”.
So you are getting completely false and unreal offers made for properties and they are accepted at a sacrifice, because this Government is forcing White people and Black people and Coloured people and Indian people to live in areas that have been proclaimed for a specific race. I say that the hardship is not confined to one or other race. I quoted an example to-night from which this Deputy Minister cannot escape, an example of a specific, cold, hard fact. The answer I get is that the Deputy Minister was courteous to me; he was friendly to me; he was nice to me and so I must fold my arms and say: “ Dankie mnr. die Minister ” you were nice and pleasant to me, therefore what does it matter what happens to the people whose case I am trying to plead; what does it matter what happens to the rights of the people of South Africa.
All the hon. member needs is a pair of wings.
You mean a tail.
The hon. member complains and what does he complain about? He complains and says that at Duikerfontein a certain area has been declared a Coloured area and now the Government is forcing White people to live in an area that has been proclaimed a Coloured area. That is his complaint. He is the hon. member who has been fulminating against the Group Areas Act morning, noon and night, an Act whose very object is to put an end to that position. That is the hon. member who belongs to a party who for years have allowed Whites, Indians, Bantu and Coloureds to live together. Then he sprouts a pair of artificial wings and plays the role of an angel. And what an angel, Sir! In the first place the fact is that after I had instituted inquiries in the case of Duikerfontein—and I have no reason to doubt the correctness of the information which the Development Boards furnished to me—I was informed that there were Coloureds who were able and anxious to purchase houses in that area. In other words, it is merely a matter of time and Duikerfontein will be occupied by Coloureds who are in a position to purchase there. On the other hand the Government is being accused of throwing people out of their homes onto the street in an injudicious manner but when we try to convert an area slowly into a group area, as we are doing in the case of Duikerfontein, we are also attacked for doing so. What does the hon. member want? To return to the more personal matter: If the hon. member had acted in the spirit in which I acted towards him he would have come to me and said: I have received your letter; thank you for the information, but I am not satisfied with this particular case and I should like you to investigate this specific case. I would have done that. But he sits here and waits. After the courteous way in which I have treated him, he sits and waits for an opportunity to blow off a lot of steam and to behave in the way in which he behaved himself this evening in this House.
The hon. the Deputy Minister has tried to reply to the hon. member for Sea Point.
At 10.25 p.m. the 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