House of Assembly: Vol112 - MONDAY 13 FEBRUARY 1984


Bill read a First Time.


Mr Speaker, the officiating Whip of the governing party, the hon member for Geduld, has informed me that unfortunately the hon member for Virginia is unavoidably absent today. I am sorry to hear that. I am also sorry that the hon member for Virginia cannot personally hear my reply to the matters which he raised here last week. I assume, though, that the hon member will read this speech of mine. We shall therefore be able to discuss this matter again during the Third Reading stage.

When the original South African Teachers’ Council for Whites Bill was discussed in this House in 1976, I took cognizance of it with acclamation, and I also set my seal of approval on it. I believe that that legislation was passed with every justification.

When we received this amending measure, my party and I had no objection to it after we had read it. As it is worded here, the present measure is quite a good improvement on the existing Act. In fact, one can understand that after the council in question had been in operation for six years or so, an amending measure of this nature would in fact follow.

Of course I must add that the SA Teachers’ Council for Whites has done good work. Those who are members of the council concerned, have, I think, been a credit to the existing legislation with the way in which they have endeavoured to achieve the object of the legislation. In this respect, therefore, we have no problems.

The object of the principle Act, as contained in section 3, is as follows:

The object of the council shall be to uphold and promote esteem for education and the teaching profession and the prestige of those who are engaged in the teaching profession.

Naturally we ourselves also cherish this object. In fact, I believe it is also part of the policy of the CP to protect and enhance the professional status of the teacher and the lecturer.

Having said all this, I nevertheless want to tell the hon the Minister that we in the CP are not going to support this measure. Of course this is not owing to what is contained in the Bill itself. That we do not mind; we support the contents of the Bill.


You people are merely being wilful.


No, we are not being wilful either. The hon member for Brentwood is now saying that we are simply being wilful, Mr Speaker. However, he is the last person who should talk about matters of this nature. He should rather have been in Soutpansberg to help clear up the mess left behind by Mr Fanie Botha. [Interjections.]

Mr Speaker, it seems to me hon members of the governing party are very uncomfortable today. They quite probably have reason to be uncomfortable. [Interjections.]

The hon the Minister said in his Second Reading speech that in view of the publication of the White Paper on the provision of education in the Republic of South Africa, it was essential for the council, together with other bodies, to give urgent attention to the matter of working out further details with a view to drafting legislation, especially for the establishment of a professional registration body in respect of teachers of all population groups, as well as professional councils for each specific population group. Here, of course, the hon the Minister only touched on certain aspects which would apparently emerge later from the White Paper on the De Lange Committee. I want to put it to the hon the Minister at this stage already that when we discuss that White Paper later, we shall again juxtapose the opposing standpoints of these two parties very clearly. Then we will be able to give more detailed attention to the points of difference in our respective policies.

The hon member for Virginia, however, took the matter a great deal further than the hon the Minister did here. If it had more or less remained at what he had said, we would perhaps have supported the hon the Minister. In his reply to the speech of the hon member for Bryanston, the hon member for Virginia said inter alia the following (Hansard, 9 February 1984, col 749):

This side of the House still stands by the policy of separate development although the CP will not want to accept that.

There the hon member for Virginia hit the nail right on the head of course. [Interjections.] Yes, the hon member for Innesdal too does not want to accept it any more. [Interjections.] It is because we do not want to accept it that we are sitting here. After all, it was the governing party that deviated from its policy of separate development. [Interjections.] However, the hon member for Virginia went on to say the following:

Our philosophy, as it has already emerged in all the various types of legislation, is in fact based on that principle.

That is to say, the principle of separate development.


Why do you not make your own speech?


I shall indeed make my own speech. It is a very good speech. The hon member should simply keep quiet and listen. [Interjections.] The hon member for Virginia went on to say:

We also find this in our education legislation, in the recognition of the right to self-determination, in the recognition that education is part of the culture of a specific national group, in the recognition that for that reason one must have separate schools, and in the recognition that for that reason one must have separate professional councils.

When the original legislation was discussed here in this House in 1976, the hon member for Virginia also participated in the debate. If we compare what the hon member said at the time with what he now says, however, it is apparent that there is a clear difference between the Government’s approach to education then, and its approach now.

On Monday, 24 May 1976, the hon member for Virginia was speaking about the same subject here in this House, and I quote him (Hansard, vol 62, col 7369):

Surely it is clear, Sir, that one cannot have various races together in a single council when the content of a code of conduct has to be decided. Surely it is inconceivable that such a code of conduct would satisfy the Whites as well as the Blacks and Coloureds. The different races have their different cultures and traditions and their different customs, which must inevitably have an effect on the code of conduct that is drawn up. Therefore I cannot but reject that argument…

He was referring to the argument by the hon member for Yeoville—

… with the contempt which it deserves.

That is what the hon member for Virginia said at the time.

In connection with the amendments contained in this Bill, however, he came forward with different arguments. When the hon member for Bryanston asked him: “Is that not apartheid?”, he said the following (col 750):

No, it is not apartheid in the sense in which the hon member for Bryanston sees it. I in fact want to try to draw this distinction. We say that the caricature of apartheid is dead. What was hurtful to other population groups is dead.

The hon member for Virginia also said (col 750):

I am sure the hon member has already read the White Paper which the Government published with reference to the De Lange Report and that he is fully conversant with it. That White Paper has the new constitution as its basis. The new constitution was approved with acclaim … If the majority of the people accepted the constitution it is logical that other legislation will also have the new constitution as a basis.

Now, Sir, I come to the reason why we cannot support the amendments contained in this Bill. The hon member referred to the White Paper. The hon member for Virginia went further and said that the principles of the White Paper which proceeded from the De Lange Report were in fact inherent in the new tricameral Parliament which the Government wishes to establish for us. I want to state categorically that we, the members of the CP, are not prepared to support legislation such as this amending Bill in which the Government clearly indicates that its education policy has the new constitution as a basis, with its power-sharing in the new tricameral Parliament.

On the occasion of a previous education debate the hon the Minister said that that debate had taken place in a very peaceful atmosphere. I agree with the hon the Minister. It was a calm atmosphere in contrast to the debate held the previous year. I also want to tell the hon the Minister that we do in fact differ very seriously and urgently and sometimes emotionally with the hon the Minister. With the background which he has, with his knowledge of the South African circumstances and the standpoints which he once adopted, we could become very emotional about the hon the Minister because he, who once followed a different course as far as the education of our people is concerned, is now prepared to make education subordinate to this new tricameral political dispensation the Government wishes to create. That is the reason—we pointed this out on Friday—why we say that the Government, in education as well—is systematically dismantling the policy of separate development, as professors Piet Cillie and Sampie Terblanche wrote.

The Government has now begun to dismantle the structure of separate development, and is doing so at a point where people on the everyday level are least able to perceive it. Then the Government wishes to work through to the heart and the foundation of separate development in order to destroy it. Consequently I want to tell the hon the Minister right now that this is merely the start of the integration of education in the top structure. The position is not going to be as we initially intended it to be, where each of the population groups would have its own teachers’ council—the Whites, the Coloureds and the Indians—and in which these teachers’ councils could liaise with one another. We in the CP have no problem in connection with liaison between the various population groups by means of its organizations, its structures or its councils. However, we are not prepared to have umbrella bodies, which are in fact implied in this legislation, where there can be integrated structures at the pinnacle, from which one can gradually work down to the foundation, just as the hon the Minister has now begun to do in respect of the universities in South Africa. Tertiary education is being integrated and from there the process shifts to secondary and primary education.

That is why I told the hon the Minister that we would not support this Bill, because it formed a part and plan of the political dispensation of the Government in South Africa, and is gradually going to contribute to education becoming integrated and to the Whites losing their control in respect of education as well. For that reason we in the CP do not support this Bill.


Mr Speaker, with all due respect, the hon member for Rissik said very little in connection with the Bill to which one could react. In the first place he himself said that he could not find any fault with the contents of the amending Bill before this House. To tell the truth, he said he was not opposed to it; he said he supported it. Then why did he kick up such a fuss here?

I could arrive at no other conclusion that that he was trying, two days before the by-election in Soutpansberg, to say something about a topic which had nothing to do with what he wanted to say.


He was warning you.


He was entertaining us; he was not warning us.

He wanted to say something which might just as well have remained unsaid. If the hon member for Rissik had made this speech last Thursday, he would most probably not have said what he did. I am saying this in consequence of what he himself said. He himself said that he was not opposed to the Bill. He said that having read through the legislation he was not opposed to it and that he would have supported it. But because the HNP would seem to have blown a little wind into the CP’s sails as far as Soutpansberg is concerned, it seemed to him that he could get a little mileage out of this, and that is why he used it.

What do we find in this legislation? The hon member said this himself. In the legislation we find two things: An amendment in connection with the period of office of the Teachers’ Council and an amendment in connection with the disciplinary powers of the council. That is after all what the legislation deals with.

What is also strange is that the hon member for Rissik made a tremendous fuss about what the hon member for Virginia had said last week, as if it were something new that the education policy of the future would be in line with what was stated in the constitution. That is after all why it is stated in Schedule 1 to the Constitution Act that education is an own affair with everything that that implies. Surely the hon member is well aware of this. He should not now make a fuss here about what the hon member for Virginia had said, as if this were something quite new. After all, everyone is aware of this. He should not try to make political capital out of it; that does not hold water.

I maintain that what is incorporated in the Bill, in so far as it concerns the period of office of the Teachers’ Council and what the legislation is seeking to achieve, should be examined in the White Paper of the Government which we are going to debate at a later stage. It is not necessary to go into the merits of the matter today, because it should after all be read in context, as should what is stated in the Constitution. That is why we cannot but support what appears in the amending Bill before this House, namely the two matters which are primarily at issue as set out by the hon the Minister in his introductory speech.

I cannot react any further to what the hon member for Rissik said, because if I were to do so, I would be guilty of precisely what he was guilty of namely introducing arguments which were totally irrelevant to the discussion of the Bill before this House at present.

I therefore want to say that I support the Bill before this House. I support its contents. There will be an opportunity later to debate the White Paper of the Government. To tell the truth, on 24 February of this year a private member’s motion in this connection will be moved in this House and we can debate it then. It is not necessary for the hon member for Rissik to argue now about matters which are not relevant at this stage. In this respect he is making the same mistake as the hon member for Bryanston made last Thursday when he tried to drag irrelevant matters into the discussion of this Bill. It gives me pleasure to support this measure.


Mr Speaker, we in these benches have no objection to the amendments contained in this Bill to legislation which has now been in operation for about six years. There have been two previous amendments to the principal Act. The object with the principal Act of course was to confer statutory professional status on teachers. While the professional status of teachers have always been acknowledged it was never done on a statutory basis. Their organization did not enjoy the status of a juristic person and as such they could not act on a disciplinary level. This matter has a long history, going back into the early forties. Various drafts were passed between the Government and the provinces. At one stage the teaching profession despaired of ever seeing their status statutorily recognized. However, when ultimately it did come before Parliament it was welcomed, although with reservations in certain quarters. A member of the predecessor of the NRP at the time told the Minister who handled the matter then—the present Minister of Co-operation and Development—that he could not grant him an A for his test but that he would give him at least 33⅓%—a mere pass.

It is interesting to see the hon member for Rissik displaying a tremendous ability to read into pronouncements of the Government certain things that he says are going to take place in the future.


We do not hold out any hope for you on Wednesday. [Interjections.]


Mr Speaker, this humorous aside gives me the opportunity to quote a humorous paragraph from the speech of the spokesman of the then United Party on education. He was Mr P A Pyper, and he said on 21 May 1976 (Hansard, col 7328):

While no member of the public can ever claim to have an intimate knowledge of the professional aspect of the work of a doctor, an engineer or an architect, every member of the public, including the proverbial Koos van der Merwe who spent his five best years at school in Std 2, does claim that he knows what a job of a teacher is by virtue of the fact that he has attended school for some years.

So, Mr Speaker, the forecasts of hon members of the CP as to who are going to vote for us on Wednesday we must take with a pinch of salt. The hon member for Rissik himself said that they had nothing against the amendment, but as a result of the speech of the hon the Minister they now feel they have to reverse that decision because what is going to come about here, the hon member says, is the recognition of all qualified teachers of all the races in this council. If that is what the hon member for Rissik sees on the horizon then we have all the more pleasure in supporting the Bill because we in this party feels that any profession should have one standard throughout and should have one ruling body which is suitably recognized by the Government.


Mr Speaker, may I ask the hon member: If there is a teacher in a Black school who received the same education as a White teacher in a White school, is the hon member prepared to allow him to teach in a White school?


That was not the implication. The implication is that suitably qualified professional people are registered by the same body, not where they should teach. The point at issue is his qualifications on which is based his professional status.

I agree with the hon member for Johannesburg West that this is not the time and the place to debate the White Paper on the De Lange Commission. The Bill contains amendments brought about by the functioning of this council for five years. Changes in method have become necessary in respect of technical registration and disciplinary measures, as well as to bring about continuity by increasing the period for which the present council remains in office.

We in these benches have much pleasure in supporting the legislation.


Mr Speaker, I should like to thank the hon member for Virginia and the hon member for Johannesburg West for their support; and also the hon member for Bryanston and the hon member for King William’s Town, who pledged the support of their respective parties for the measure.

I should like to join hon members in emphasizing what an important stature and role the SA Teachers’ Council for Whites has acquired in our education scene. It is a body which, for the first time, has succeeded in laying down acceptable norms in terms of which members of the teaching profession, like those of other professions, can be registered professionally. It is a body which has laid down a very worthy code of conduct for its profession and which has in a highly responsible way applied—and still continues to apply—disciplinary measures in the profession in terms of that code of conduct. It is also a body which has in various ways, for example, by means of seminars, public guidance and communication with other parts of the teaching community and the outside world making use of education, concentrated efficiently and purposefully on enhancing the image and the prestige of education and the teacher as such. I should like to join previous speakers by conveying the gratitude of this House to the chairmen who served on the Teacher’s Council and the persons who represented the profession and the various education departments on it.

Reference was made here to what was stated in the White Paper in connection with the Government’s policy on the De Lange Report which dealt with the provision of education. I want to state clearly and unequivocally that the policy in connection with professional registration was stated in the White Paper by the Government with the support of the SA Teachers’ Council for Whites, which is representative of all the various professional teachers’ associations among the Whites. It was also done with the support of the Federal Council of Teachers’ Associations. In the White Paper the Government concurred with the virtually unanimous comment on the De Lange Report that, in the first place, in respect of all categories of teaching staff up to the secondary level, a professional teachers’ council should be established for each population group.

The SA Teachers’ Council for Whites will therefore be preserved as the Professional Teachers’ Council for the Whites.

In the second place, a central registration body composed of representatives of the various professional teachers’ councils should be established, which body will determine the minimum requirements for the registration of teaching personnel, and deal with such registration. Not only was this principle introduced with the support of the entire organized teaching profession, but it was also affirmed in that it was provided in the new constitution that general legislation on professional registration of teachers could be passed by way of general affairs. This provision was confirmed by the voters in the referendum with an overwhelming majority.

I want to make it clear that I find it ironic every time one is accused by the one side of the House that one is dealing here with deadly, total apartheid, while being accused by the other of dealing with integration. The decision of the Government, as contained in the White Paper, gives clear expression to the basic principle of self-determination over own affairs in that each population group will have its own professional teachers’ council which, as is further stated in the White Paper, will be responsible for the formulation of the code of conduct of the profession of that specific population group, and for the application of disciplinary measures. On the other hand the central registration body will prescribe the joint minimum requirements for professional registration which will apply to teachers of all population groups. This is necessary, for since we are entering an era in which equal conditions of service and remuneration in the teaching profession apply to all population groups, it is imperative, and also a responsible action as far as the interests of the Whites are concerned, that there should be certainty that the standards being complied with by the teachers from the various population groups are equal. That is why it is necessary to state those common standards by way of control by means of co-responsibility, as expression is being given to it in this central registration body.

Therefore I wish to state unequivocally that this side of the House says with pride that its education dispensation, including the innovations which are going to be made to it, is based on the constitutional dispensation that has already been accepted by way of the referendum. In that constitutional dispensation provision is in fact being made for self-determination by separated decision-making on the part of the various population groups on those matters which are their own, such as education. However, there is no flinching from or fear of exercising co-responsibility in a responsible way over those aspects which are necessary in the interests of everyone, particularly with a view to proper standards in education.

The extremely opportunistic remark by the hon member for Rissik, who said that he had no objection to the Bill and its contents…


Do not add any adjectives; if you do, you will be looking for trouble.


He said that he did not really have any objection to my speech, except for something which he saw where he peered around the corner. It was an opportunistic speech, and he can expostulate as much as he likes; that is the way it is. He even said that the case, on its merits, was a good one, but he then said that the mentality of his party was such that they could not support an education matter which, on its merits, was a sound one. They must turn it into a political issue and a political ploy, with a view to the slight puff of wind in their sails which they received from a previous speaker on this side of the House. I deplore that. It is a pitiable about-turn, away from the positive direction which the hon member for Rissik displayed in the debate on the previous Bill.

I should like to address a few brief words to the hon member for Bryanston, who unfortunately is not present at the moment. He gave notice that he would move an amendment in respect of clause 6 of the Bill during the Committee Stage. Inter alia he has objections to the fact that according to that clause, a teacher who causes his registration to be cancelled while disciplinary proceedings are being taken against him and by so doing in fact makes it impossible for those disciplinary proceedings to continue, is deemed to be guilty. Unfortunately I will not be able to accept such an amendment, because we cannot allow any person to abuse a right, in this case the right to cause his registration as a teacher to be cancelled in an effort to evade or thwart the normal course of a disciplinary process which has already been set in motion. I therefore hope that, upon further reflection on the part of the hon member for Bryanston, we shall have his support for this provision in the Bill as well.


Mr Speaker, may I ask the hon the Minister whether it is contemplated at this stage that, when a person hands in his resignation, he is fully aware of the charges against him in terms of the code of conduct?


Yes. If the hon member reads the proposed new section 17(2) carefully, he will see that it states:

For the purposes of subsection (1) any person whose name has been struck off the register in terms of section 15(l)(c)(ii)…

That is the section which empowers him to request that his name be struck off—

… before any inquiry into any complaint, charge or allegation … instituted against him at the time …

In other words, it will already have been instituted—

… had been dealt with finally …

It will not have been dealt with finally had the inquiry not been completed. In other words, the clause only provides for a case where a clear charge has been brought against a person, he has been notified of that charge, and the procedure of inquiry has been set in motion. Then he tries to frustrate the process by having his name struck off the register. I think the hon member will agree with me that it would not be unfair in such a case to introduce the amendment as contained in the Bill.

*Consequently I hope that we shall receive the support of the official Opposition as well.


Mr Speaker, may I ask the hon the Minister why it is not possible rather to amend the Act in such a way that the investigation can proceed even if the man has had his name struck off the register, so that there will be a finding in relation to any action he may have been involved in.


There are two replies to the question the hon member has asked. In the first place the SA Teachers’ Council argues that if the person in question is given the opportunity, by having his name struck off the register, of summarily being found guilty, he is thereby being given an opportunity to summarily terminate an unpleasant court case or trial, the details of which might be unsavoury for him and others. Of course he also has the right to plead guilty, whereby the process will also then be terminated. He therefore has a choice. He can plead guilty; he can have his name struck off the register, through which action he will be deemed to be guilty, or he can allow the law to take its course. This could lead to a proper investigation, followed by a finding of guilty or not guilty at the end of it.

The second reason is that the various provincial education departments, as well as the National Education Department, through the agency of the Committee of Educational Heads, adopted a co-ordinated procedure for disciplinary investigations in a departmental context which was in line with this. Actually, this new provision is related to that procedure. We considered the other alternative, but decided to follow this course.

Question agreed to (Conservative Party dissenting).

Bill read a Second Time.


Mr Speaker, I move:

That the Bill be now read a Second Time.

For quite some time trade inspectors of my department appointed in terms of the provisions of the Price Control Act, 1964, have experienced problems in the execution of their duties particularly during the criminal prosecution of persons who contravene the provisions of the said Act by unlawful overcharging in respect of the prices of prepacked goods subject to price control. In this regard one calls to mind in particular a product like sugar.

Although the Trade Metrology Act, 1973 (Act 77 of 1973) provides for certain tolerances or limits of inaccuracy in respect of the amounts of prepacked goods, because it is impossible, in practice, for the manufacturers/packers of prepacked goods always to place an absolutely correct amount in each packet, it is nevertheless customary of certain manufacturers/packers rather to put too much of a product in the packets to ensure that those packets, when offered for sale on the retail market, will at least still contain the minimum permitted amount of the product.

†As a result of this practice retailers who are being prosecuted for charging a higher price than the maximum controlled price, are regularly being acquitted due to the fact that the packet concerned contained more than the specified quantity, and that they are entitled to charge a price which is proportionately higher than the controlled price for the quantity indicated on the packet.

In order to be able to prosecute any retailer successfully in these circumstances, price control, inspectors of my department are obliged to attach every packet concerned, have it opened and have the contents determined in the presence of the accused. This procedure has to be followed in every instance where inspectors intend prosecuting retailers for overcharging in respect of certain goods like sugar. The result has been that each inspector collected up to more than 100 packets of sugar as corpi delicti during one specific inspection tour.

The proposed amendment to the Act entails the insertion of an assumption that if it is stated in a charge in a criminal proceeding that any goods alleged to have been sold or purchased are goods of a specific quantity as indicated on the container, such statement shall be sufficient proof of the quantity until the contrary is proved.


Mr Speaker, the existing Act already creates a presumption in the case of criminal proceedings that goods allegedly purchased or sold are of a certain class or kind. We believe the Bill before the House now has the effect of extending this undesirable procedure further and we consequently will not be able to support it.

It is a principle of Roman-Dutch law that the onus of proving all the constituent elements of a crime rests squarely on the State. The official Opposition is well aware that there are many instances where this cannot be allowed and where one has to depart from it. An example that comes to mind is the situation of pollution of our coastal waters by passing vessels. If this presumption was not allowed in a case like that it would be impossible for the State ever to bring a prosecution to the courts. One can hardly say that that is the situation with the Price Control Act. It should not be too difficult to establish quantity, in spite of what the hon the Minister says. When we create statutory offences in this House there is a tendency to facilitate their enforcement by allowing these presumptions. Opposition parties must be convinced on their necessity before they can go along with accepting the principle of moving away from the situation where the State has the responsibility of establishing all constituents of any alleged crime. This principle is accepted and approved by the Supreme Court and by the legal fraternity. We therefore will not be able to support the Bill before the House.


Mr Speaker, I have no difficulty in supporting the hon the Minister at the Second Reading of this Bill. However, I find it strange that, as in the past, the spokesman of the official Opposition, the hon member for Walmer, once again could not see that they had gone off the rails completely. In this connection there was a certain acknowledgement of Roman-Dutch law, but there were certain exceptions he did not refer to. In this case the exception is based on the principle that the person concerned is guilty until he proves his innocence. The hon member now expects the opposite to apply. However, this legislation concerns goods which are, inter alia, perishable, and when inspectors of the department are on their rounds of inspection, they have to be able to seize such goods. When the court case has been concluded, those goods have to be repacked and sent back to the relevant dealer, and this is an impossible task.

The consumers in our country are frequently exploited in that dealers frequently make them pay too much for some commodity or other. The consumers will, therefore, hold it against the PFP that they were not prepared to protect the consumer in this connection. Because it is an impossible task to prevent all these goods from getting spoiled on an inspection tour it is essential for this legislation, in the interest of the consumer, to be formulated in such way that this kind of offence can be summarily eradicated.

This is briefly what the legislation is concerned with, and it therefore gives me pleasure to support the Bill in its present form.


Mr Speaker, it is very difficult to run a business, particularly when it involves packaging. Packaging is one of the most difficult facets of business, because scales are involved and it sometimes happens that one has larger or smaller amounts of a commodity in a package than is actually needed. In the case of snacks, for example, vacuum packs are used and this also creates a major problem. Without one being aware that one is committing an offence, there may be problems in connection with the weight of such a package. The person is therefore not deliberately committing an offence. A mistake in the weight of an item usually occurs when it is being prepared. I myself have come across cases where we had to add as much 5% to a package for its weight to be correct. Sometimes it is only a matter of three ounces, but the price of the item includes those three ounces.

However, the Minister has a real problem. One cannot, for example, expect his inspectors to follow up every one of these matters that occur in the business sphere in order to inspect the goods and then return them after the matter has been settled. When the department has an opportunity, however slight, to support the consumer, one of its most difficult tasks possibly involves the purchase of household items for example, and then one has to support legislation in that connection.

It therefore gives me pleasure to support this Bill and I agree wholeheartedly with the hon the Minister’s explanation. However, it may happen that if we extend this legislation too much, it could lead to an increase in the price of commodities. However, it gives me pleasure to support this Bill, because its only aim is to give the consumer a better chance and to make it possible for the inspector to win court cases which gave him sleepless nights in the past.


Mr Speaker, in the first place we express our thanks to the CP who, through the hon member for Langlaagte, pledged their support to this measure. I have to add that it was truly a pleasant experience for me. After all, they are normally opposed to everything. However, since it is a new day—Monday—I want to thank the CP for their support in this connection. The hon member for Parys has already referred to the problem which the official Opposition has with this legislation. I therefore do not want to elaborate on this any further. As a matter of fact I feel we covered that aspect very thoroughly. However, I hope I shall be forgiven if I cover a somewhat wider field. This legislation also reminds me of a few other principles in our economic legislation. These days we hear so frequently about the free market system. As far as I am concerned, this legislation is associated with the free market system because it deals specifically with price control. We believe the Government is sincere in its efforts to stabilize a free market system in South Africa. Unfortunately it is of course also true that everybody is discussing this these days. However, I have discovered inter alia that the amount I believe of noise made in this connection is frequently in inverse proportion to people’s knowledge of and insight into this particular subject. South Africa is a complex country with many unique problems. That is why I personally do not think there can be a totally free market economy in this country. On the other hand, however, I also believe that we should take care not to let the idea of a free market system get completely out of hand, or of course want to exercise too much control. Here we are dealing here with a Bill on price control, which we want to make even stricter. The hon member for Langlaagte referred to this. This can create problems, of course. I believe that it is the duty of a government—perhaps the primary duty of every government—to protect the consumer. After all that is what this legislation is concerned with—to protect those things which have to be protected within the limits of the endeavours the country and its government to bring about a free market system, and to do so to the benefit of the consumer. The underprivileged will always be with us and it is also our duty to protect them.

In this connection I should like to make a few further observations, and perhaps also issue a warning or two. In this free and democratic country of ours, which has a relatively open economy, we are of course endeavouring to bring about a free market system in so far as this is possible. Of course this “in so far as this is possible” can, as far as I am concerned, only go as far as the best interests of South Africa allow. But as I have already said, South Africa can never be a country with an absolutely free market system. There are too many complexities for this. Of course what is essential now is the delicate balance between an absolutely free market system and a fully controlled system, including price control, and control over that price control. I believe the Government has to maintain this delicate balance, which is so essential to our complex economy.

Perhaps we should admit that we do not always succeed in doing so. However, I believe that anyone who knows anything about this subject will concede that we make every endeavour to do so. As far as I am concerned, the warning in this regard is that I do not think people should get carried away by the idea of control on the one hand and a totally and absolutely free market system on the other. As we know, the free market system is extremely beneficial when someone else’s product is involved, but no one likes it when they are personally affected. Generally speaking, that is when people approach the Government with pleas for more and more control. That is why I am advocating understanding, including understanding for the measure under discussion, in which all that is at issue is a government’s desire to protect its people. It is also true that this legislation will not be popular in certain circles. However, we know where those circles are. Without those circles, however, legislation of this kind would be unnecessary in any case. After all, if everyone was honest, we would not have needed legislation of this kind.

In this broad South African context it should always remain a commendable concept to introduce as little legislation as possible control. However, I maintain that this praiseworthy legislation will not eventually be cloaked in a haze or a cloud of suspicion, and that we also have to be practical at all times as regards those things we want from the Government.

For that reason I want to conclude by saying that the legislation under discussion, although it will certainly not be popular, will nevertheless be effective in that it will assist the Government in helping its people so that the underprivileged and the public—the voters themselves—will not be prejudiced.


Mr Speaker, I am pleased that you saw the hon member for Wellington before you saw me because what he had to say is, I do believe, extremely relevant to this rather small and innocuous looking amending Bill.

Certainly this is a dilemma that we as legislators have, those of us who believe in the free market system namely not only to have a free market system but also to protect the consumer, especially the underprivileged. I am sure the hon member for Walmer is very sympathetically disposed towards this view. His party is certainly always thumping the drum in regard to the fact that the consumer has to be protected and that therefore there should be some form of price control. It is for this reason that I am somewhat surprised at the stand that the PFP has taken in regard to this particular Bill. While that there has to be some measure of price control I also believe that price control, as the hon the Minister I am sure has found during his term of office as Minister, can distort an entire economy.

The hon the Minister raised the question of sugar. Let me declare my interests immediately and say that we in the sugar industry are a price-controlled industry. We would love not to be. We should like very much to compete freely with other sugar producers because we firmly believe that we can compete effectively. Our technology, productivity and so forth are of such a standard that we can certainly compete internationally. However, as we see it, the problem of the free market system, especially when we move into the international markets, is that some sugar producing countries are following a policy of subsidizing local consumers without restricting production. This has led to a point where these producers are producing far in excess of local demand. This has resulted in the surplus supplies being dumped on world markets to the disadvantage of other producers—I refer again to the case of sugar—in Third World countries who are suffering today because the EEC subsidizes its beet sugar producers heavily. Because there is no control over production, excess sugar is being produced and the EEC is paying producers to dump it on the world market at a price that is possibly one third of their cost of production. This practice is destroying the international sugar market for the producers in the Third World countries who require that market in order to survive. This is not only the case in regard to sugar. It is happening in respect of many products today.

It is also interesting to note that this subsidization of agricultural products in Europe eats up about 70% of the total budget of the EEC, a practice which is likely to bankrupt that budget as Margaret Thatcher is trying to prove to her friends in the EEC. Therefore, while we strive for a free market system, a nation such as ours that is trying to compete internationally in respect of certain products has to cope with this problem.

Getting back to South Africa, it is our considered opinion that certain food products should be price controlled so as to ensure that the consumer, especially in the lower income groups, is to a certain extent protected. That is the reason why we have assized scales in our factories packing sugar for the market. The inspectors of the Department of Weights and Measures visit these factories and examine the scales to ensure that the mass of sugar that is indicated on the packet is correct. This is a very difficult matter and I am pleased that the hon member for Langlaagte made the speech he made. I have had personal experience in this regard when I managed a sugar company and we introduced the packaging of brown sugar for the first time. We initially experienced great difficulty in packing an accurate weight within a very narrow percentage of error margin. It is a very difficult problem because one has to contend with such variables as the temperature and the moisture content of the sugar and if it is brown sugar then one has molasses to contend with as well. Existing legislation requires that the packers ensure that the public receives the correct mass of sugar that is written on the packet. As the hon member for Langlaagte said, this is a very difficult problem indeed. However, we have to do it because it is a price-controlled product. This amending Bill is designed to assist the very inspectors which the hon the Minister’s department sends out to ensure that the public is not taken for a ride. That is why I cannot understand the attitude of the hon member for Walmer.


You have missed the point.


This is a practical problem, and if there are loopholes and if the problems are so great that…


What about the presumption?


This is another contradiction of that hon member. They are quite happy to have a presumption clause when it comes to pollution, but when it comes to the public being ripped off and the protection of the public, then they do not want that presumption clause.




No, it is not nonsense.


You do not know the legal point at all.


I say what I say is true; it is not nonsense.

Therefore we in these benches will support the Bill because we realize that the hon the Minister has a very difficult problem to deal with. His staff too have a very difficult problem, and we believe that this legislation will assist them in trying to achieve the objectives which I know the majority hon members of the House are trying to set for themselves in trying to protect the public from being ripped off by unscrupulous traders.


Mr Speaker, I find it very disappointing that the hon member for Walmer does not see his way clear to support us on this matter. He argues that a rebuttable presumption can be accepted in exceptional cases, but the fact is that in this very Bill the principle of rebuttable presumptions has already been accepted.

*Section 16 of the Act in fact makes provision for various rebuttable presumptions in order to facilitate the task of the inspectors. I thought that when we were dealing with consumer protection, we could at least count on the support of all the parties in the House. Here we are dealing with a small minority of dealers who unscrupulously raise the prices of commodities under price control. It is an impossible task for inspectors to take effective action against such people within the scope of the present legislation. What is therefore involved here is the effective application of price control in those cases where prices control is necessary.

Various hon members, such as the hon members for Wellington and Amanzimtoti, pointed out that under ideal circumstances the market should be left to determine price levels for itself. This is a standpoint we on this side of the House endorse very strongly. We believe that as far as it is possible under sound, effective competitive conditions, the market is best able to determine prices, but this is not always possible because we are not dealing with a perfect situation and for that reason, irrespective of how undesirable it may be, it is necessary for the Government to intervene for various reasons and support the market, and endeavour to deal with the market’s problems and protect the consumer.

Here we have the position that in terms of the Act it is compulsory to print the volume on pre-packed goods. However, we find that a very small group of unscrupulous dealers are still charging a higher price than the maximum price fixed. The problem the price inspector is having is that, owing to problems inherent in packaging, there is a tolerance factor in packed goods which enables dealers to claim that the higher price they are charging, is due to the larger quantity of the product contained in the package. In order to eliminate this, to plug this loophole, the inspector has to weigh the quantity in the shop in the presence of the accused to determine whether the quantity agrees with the quantity indicated on the package. Then the inspector has to take that commodity with him to court to be able to prove that an offence was committed.

As I indicated in my introductory speech, it sometimes happens that inspectors have to transport a large number of commodities to serve as eventual evidence in court. There are cases in which perishable products are involved, for example margarine, where the inspector has to purchase their products because they cannot be returned to the dealer later and it is virtually impossible for inspectors to apply the law effectively.

To ensure the effective application of the law we are merely asking for the principle already embodied in the Price Control Act, namely the principle of a rebuttable presumption, to be extended to provide that in such cases the quantity indicated on the package, is accepted as the quantity contained in it. In such cases the dealer will have to prove to the court that the package contained more than was indicated on it.

I do not think we shall quarrel with each other if we want to control that small minority of unscrupulous dealers in this way so that they cannot exploit the consumer, frequently the uninformed consumer, by asking more than they are entitled to. After all the retailer pays for that commodity according to the quantity written on the package. If he asks the consumer to pay more, he is exceeding his rights and this is surely only aimed at exploiting the consumer.

I thank the hon member for Langlaagte and the hon member for Amanzimtoti for their support. We are dealing with a practical problem here.

†The hon member for Amanzimtoti referred to the practical problems involved. We would like to see the prices of more commodities being determined by the market and it is for that reason that the department has removed price control from a vast range of commodities. Unfortunately, however, we have to retain price control in certain instances, and that being so, it is necessary that we apply it effectively, otherwise there is no sense in price control.

*The purpose of this measure is to make the application of price control as effective as possible.

Question agreed to (Official Opposition dissenting).

Bill read a Second Time.


Mr Speaker, I move:

That the Bill be now read a Second Time.

The present provisions contained in sections 10 and 11 of the Trade Practices Act, 1976, in terms of which the issuing of trade coupons is regulated, were occasioned by an undesirable situation which prevailed during the 1930s with regard to the issuing of trade coupons in connection with the sale of goods. The undesirable aspect of this situation was the fact that this form of marketing strategy—in terms of which, as hon members know, a number of coupons had to be collected which then entitled the holders of those coupons to receive some sought-after article, or, alternatively, authorized them to participate in a competition for such an article—served to influence people, especially the less sophisticated consumers of that period, to buy articles which they did not need and could not afford at all, often at the expense of their families, who then had to do without the necessaries of life. This situation forced the Government of the day to pass the Trade Coupons Act, 1935, in terms of which the issuing of trade coupons was prohibited. However, certain exceptions, as defined in that Act, were permitted.

In the formulation of the Trade Practices Act, 1976, those provisions were taken over virtually intact and embodied in sections 10 and 11 of the above-mentioned Act. Although some people argued that these provisions were no longer necessary because the situation which had prevailed in the 1930s no longer existed, my predecessor did not see his way clear to omitting the relevant provisions. The reason for this was that there were still consumer groups which had not attained a high level of sophistication and which were vulnerable to certain undesirable situations which are characteristic of this form of marketing. To some extent, therefore, these consumers have to be protected against themselves. However, in order to ensure that any benefits which this form of marketing might hold for consumers would not be lost, and to avoid interfering unnecessarily with the functioning of the free market economic system, the exceptions which applied in respect of the repealed Trade Coupons Act, 1935, were considerably expanded. During the Committee Stage of the Trade Practices Act, 1976, an amendment to section 10 was also accepted, to the effect that apart from the admissible exceptions referred to in section 11, the prohibition on the issuing of trade coupons was only applicable if it was a condition of a trade coupon that its holder should make further purchases in order to obtain the benefit mentioned on the coupon. In practice therefore, there are few restrictions on trade coupons. However, it has consistently been the intention that there should not be any conditions explicit or implied, attached to trade coupons to the effect that a person has to make further purchases after receipt of a trade coupon in order to benefit from the coupon. For quite some time, however, the department has been experiencing problems with the interpretation which should be given to these provisions. The uncertainty which prevails in legal circles concerning the correct interpretation of the relevant provisions is reflected by the fact that the various Attorneys-General have held different views in the past concerning the question of whether or not prosecutions are possible under certain circumstances. In the light of this legal uncertainty, the department is finding it almost impossible to institute proceedings against parties that have issued trade coupons in apparent contravention of the statutory provisions to which I have referred.

†In view of these circumstances I instructed the Trade Practices Advisory Committee some time ago to investigate the interpretation difficulties which are presently being experienced in connection with the relevant sections in the Act and to make recommendations to me in regard to the amendments which are required in order to obviate these difficulties. The recommendations of the Committee are contained in the Bill which is now before this House.

In its deliberations on the matter the Trade Practices Advisory Committee subscribed to the view that trade coupons have become an acceptable element of marketing and advertising strategy within any free market economic system. The evils attached to a trade coupon from which consumers should be protected indeed only relate to those instances where benefits offered on trade coupons are not readily available or where a series of trade coupons have to be collected in order to qualify for a benefit. In the formulation of the amendments contained in the Bill which is now under consideration, the committee has taken the view that the evils which I have just mentioned must be eliminated whilst at the same time any benefits for the consumer, and in particular, discounts attached to trade coupons should be permissible. It has furthermore been decided that the principle of full disclosure of the benefits offered by way of trade coupons and the conditions on which is could be obtained should at the same time be embodied in the amendments.

In order to give effect to the principles which I have just dealt with, section 10 has now been phrased in a more positive manner, legitimising the use of trade coupons provided that conditions are complied with. In this regard hon members are referred to the proposed new section 10(1) of the Bill. Subsection (2) in turn makes provision for the prohibition of certain conditions which are regarded undesirable, such as the acquiring of additional trade coupons by successive purchases in order to obtain a single benefit. As hon members will note, these subsections seek to achieve the goals to which I have referred earlier. In view of the positive manner in which section 10 is now phrased, the need for exceptions falls away and it is therefore suggested that the entire section 11, as it is presently contained in the Trade Practices Act, 1976, should be done away with. The remaining clauses of the Bill contain a few minor consequential amendments resulting from the amendments to sections 10 and 11 which I have just dealt with.

*Finally, I should like to point out to hon members that the amendments contained in this Bill represent the unanimous recommendations of the Trade Practices Advisory Committee. This committee is of course appointed in terms of clause 2 of the Act, and includes representatives of, inter alia, marketing, advertising, commerce, industry, consumer affairs, etc. I furnish these facts in order to indicate that due consideration was given to the interests of all these groups in formulating this amending Bill and that in fact they agreed to the proposed amendments.


Mr Speaker, the official Opposition will be supporting this Bill.

The purpose of the Bill is to regulate the use of trade coupons to ensure that malpractices do not occur and that the trade coupon schemes, which are badly designed, do not affect the consumer adversely. In the existing Act, section 10 completely excludes the use of coupons, while section 11 provides for a whole series of exceptions. In this Bill the new section 10 phrases much more simply and more effectively the protections which are required. The elimination of section 11 of the present Act does no harm whatsoever. The one provision which is eliminated, is that previously somebody who issued coupons could not give a benefit if it was not in his own manufacture. According to this Bill he can do it now. This was something which was previously done quite frequently. The law was honoured more in the breach than the observance and we see no reason why this situation should not obtain. We therefore endorse the removal of that section.

We therefore support this Bill, although we will introduce a minor amendment in the Committee Stage.


Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the hon member for Walmer for his support of this measure. I must say that it is quite contrary to the situation in 1975 and 1976, when this measure was first brought before this House. Then there were long discussions on the Second Reading and on the Committee Stage of this measure.


We have improved!


Indeed. It is in fact a different Opposition from what we had in 1975.

*The hon the Minister pointed out that this Bill was the result of the recommendations of the Trade Practices Advisory Committee. I want to say on this occasion that it can only result in very good legislation when that advisory committee, which is in fact representative of all the interested parties, produces an amending Bill.

This amendment to the original Act, the 1976 Act, actually effects an improvement to a subsection of that Act. For the sake of interest I just want to point out that the 1976 Act provided for the establishment of the advisory committee to which I have just referred. It also dealt with the regulation of advertisements, especially with regard to the fraud which often occurred and perhaps still occurs today in respect of advertisements. Thirdly, it dealt with undesirable trade practices, specifically in sections 10 to 12. These sections dealt with trade coupons. It is interesting that when the Act was debated in 1975 and 1976, a debate which literally took days, the Opposition, as well as the precursors of the PFP, did not have any problem with most of the aspects of the Act and indeed referred to it as a model Act. With regard to the question of coupons, however, there were serious misgivings. As the hon the Minister pointed out, trade coupons were not a novelty even then. The matter went back to the 1935 Act. That Act specifically dealt with this matter. The purpose of the 1976 Act—and to me this is the essence of the whole matter—was to maintain a healthy balance between marketing methods on the one hand and consumer protection on the other. In a previous debate, the hon member for Wellington spoke about the very fine balance, the very fine distinction, between normal business practices on the one hand and exploitation of the public on the other. That is why the 1935 Act was welcome; so was the 1976 Act and so is any improvement to it.

In my opinion, the question is: Who is responsible for ensuring that people are not exploited? The reply to that, I think, is that it is the responsibility of the consumer to make sure that he is not exploited. However, I am afraid that one has no other choice than to help protect the buyer, the consumer, especially the underprivileged consumer, often against himself.

I looked up the debate on the 1976 Act in Hansard and found that some very interesting examples of fraudulent advertisements had been quoted in that debate. Among the hon members who quoted those examples were the hon member for Klerksdorp, who is a Deputy Minister today, and the hon member for Wonderboom, who is a Minister at present. One still sees examples of fraudulent advertisements today. One sees an advertisement of a beautiful coastal resort and beautiful girls, for example, but when one arrives there, one finds neither of these, and there is only a wind-swept plot where one cannot build because the roof of one’s house would be blown off. So much for advertising.

With regard to coupons, too, there are some very interesting examples: People used to keep on buying cigarettes, for example, with the idea of collecting coupons and eventually winning a gold watch. To be able to win it, however, they would have had to smoke more cigarettes than anyone has ever smoked in his life. In this way, the underprivileged were actually exploited.

However, I think one should also look at the positive side. Advertising is strictly controlled today to ensure fairness and honesty, and I think coupons could also serve a very good purpose. I remember very clearly how my father used to smoke C to C cigarettes when I was a child. Inside those-packets of cigarettes there used to be cards with beautiful pictures of flowers, animals, etc. These one used to collect.


I still have my album.


So do I do not believe there is anything wrong with that kind of coupon. However, there is something wrong with the coupons which are aimed at exploiting people.

I saw an advertisement in yesterday’s Sunday newspapers which I believe could have appeared 30 years ago. It was quite a big advertisement and consisted of a statement issued by the Cigarette Manufacturers’ Association of South Africa. Under the heading “Openbare Aankondiging” one read:

Van tyd tot tyd doen gerugte die ronde dat lede van die publiek waardevolle pryse kan wen deur sekere sigaretsoorte te koop of pakkies of gedeeltes van pakkies bymekaar te maak. Hierdie gerugte is vals en van alle waarheid ontbloot want ingevolge die bepalings van die Wet op Handelskoepons…

There is no such Act. They mean the Trade Practices Act which is in force at the moment—

… word sigaretfabrikante verbied om koepon-of aansporingskemas te gebruik om die verkope van hul produkte te bevorder. Persone wat gerugte van hierdie aard versprei, tree kwaadwilliglik op en stel hulself bloot aan optrede deur die fabrikante.

I find this a very interesting advertisement. It looks like an advertisement that could have appeared 30 or 40 years ago.

The hon member for Walmer pointed out that the problem with the 1976 Act is that section 10 of that Act actually prohibited coupons, while section 11 provided for certain exceptions. As the hon the Minister had already said, this in fact led to legal uncertainty. The result has been that in recent times the various Attorneys-General have consistently refused to prosecute. The fact is that trade coupons are a very important component of the modern marketing strategy if—and this is important—they are correctly used and regulated. The Trade Practices Committee, to which I have referred, has laid down certain principles in this connection. Four principles have been laid down, and I should like to mention them.

Firstly, benefits offered by way of trade coupons should be easily and readily available to the holder of the trade coupon. Secondly, the collection of a series of trade coupons in order to qualify for a particular benefit is considered undesirable. Thirdly, any benefit to the consumer, more specifically any discount offered by suppliers by way of trade coupons, should be allowed. An example of this is the packet of washing powder which gives a buyer a 10 cent discount on a subsequent purchase of the same product. Fourthly, the principle of full disclosure should apply in respect of the benefit which is offered and the conditions on which it can be obtained.

The committee realized that in order to achieve this, a more positive approach had to be adopted. That is why the Act is now being given a more positive thrust by means of this amending legislation.

I may sum up the position by saying that this amending legislation recognizes the principle of the free market mechanism and of trade coupons as an integral part of good marketing. This legislation tries to streamline the attempt to preserve a healthy balance between the efforts of the seller on the one hand and the interests of the consumer on the other, with the emphasis on the consumer, who cannot always be expected to possess sound judgment. Finally, I wish to convey my thanks to the Trade Practices Committee which investigated this matter and produced a unanimous recommendation.


Mr Speaker, when one looks at the trade coupon and the way it is dealt with in this legislation, one understands that it is merely a sales technique. The trade coupon is used as a marketing strategy. It is not necessarily a bad marketing strategy. The value of the trade coupon is included in the cost of the commodity. There is no doubt about the fact that the trade coupon forms part of the price paid by the purchaser.

A few very important matters come to mind in this connection. The product which the purchaser buys, as well as the sight value of the coupon, must be advertised. Take, for example, the case of the cap of a cooldrink bottle, on the inside of which there is a picture of Superman. Children will often buy that kind of cooldrink although they cannot really afford it. It may not be good for them either, but because the cap contains a picture of Superman or some other person, they buy it. However, that child, or anyone acting on his behalf, has no real proof or anything concrete to show what he is going to get. Now there will be full disclosure of what the benefit will be and the onus is being placed on the marketing body to disclose exactly what the buyer can expect. This is extremely important.

When I was a child, we did not have money for buying Christmas presents. However, there was a system of Christmas coupons. I am not saying that those people were dishonest but many people are doing something similar today and sometimes their conduct is not quite honourable. One still gets Christmas coupons today, although they are called something different. They are sold among the Black people in particular. There is an advertisement showing a Black child of one year next to a teddy bear which is almost as big as he is. By Christmas-time in December, however, the child has grown quite a lot bigger and the teddy bear has shrunk. [Interjections.] Meanwhile the price of the teddy bear has increased by about 20%, the value of money has decreased by 15% and the little Black boy has grown bigger. So the teddy bear they are now going to receive is going to be completely different from the one which the parents and that little boy pictured to themselves.

The amendment which is now being proposed will be applicable to advertisers and it is being brought home to them that they will have to be more faithful to the truth. In the past, the Trade Practices Act provided for trade coupons, with certain exceptions, and some things are still excluded in terms of this measure. In my opinion, however, it is not the intention with this legislation drastically to curtail people’s activities. Slowly but surely, however, we are making it clear that we have a free market system in South Africa but that traders and advertisers should bring their practices and their advertising into line with practices that are acceptable to all. In my opinion, these amendments are essential because a tendency has developed in our advertising which borders on irresponsibility. Something which I always find shocking, for example, is the dishonesty in liquor advertising. The consumer is told, for example: “When you have had one glass of this kind of drink, you are ready for anything; then you see the world better.” It is shocking that the advertisers should assure the consumer that he will have a better future when he has had four glasses of a certain kind of liquor or that he should be told that if he keeps a certain kind of drink in his house, he will receive more visitors. Shocking and fraudulent advertisements are shown on television, too, and I submit that we should put an end to these. I hope that the new Trade Practices Act will provide guidance in this respect and that advertising will eventually become better and more truthful.

We have no fault to find with this legislation and we welcome the fact that full disclosure is now required. In no business can a person be protected against himself; if he wants to buy something he will buy it, but if there is full disclosure the State has at least done its duty. The State cannot protect a man any further than by providing in legislation that there shall be full disclosure of exactly what he is going to gain. There has not been much legislation regulating trade coupons in the past. Therefore we gladly support this legislation because it is an improvement on the existing Act.


Mr Speaker, I should like to thank the hon member for Langlaagte for his support of this Bill. I agree with the hon member for Paarl that the Trade Practices Advisory Committee is to be congratulated on the amendments proposed in the Bill. The 1976 Act was definitely too negative in its approach to trade coupons. This is a technique which is universally accepted today as one of the most important marketing strategies when a new product is introduced. From a study undertaken in 1971 by the American Department of Agriculture, it appeared that 58% of all American households made use of trade coupons in one way or another. This figure rose to 80% in 1979. It is clear therefore, what an important role this marketing technique plays in the Western World today. Our 1976 legislation was negative and opposed to this kind of marketing technique. Trade coupons are used in particular with regard to processed food, cleaning agents, health products and cosmetic products. According to reports in the USA, a household can save up to $40 a week by making use of trade coupons. It is also interesting to note that there is a tremendous struggle going on at the moment in the aviation industry. What it boils down to is that when passengers fly at a certain time in the evening, they obtain coupons which they can subsequently use on other flights. Perhaps the hon the Minister of Transport Affairs could also make use of this idea if he wants hon members to make use of late night flights. It is against the law, of course.

Unfortunately, there are also malpractices. We have the problem, of course, of a large number of undeveloped people, as well as people with an inadequate education. The problem is aggravated, of course, by misrepresentations, fraudulent concealments and defective goods. These are things which people must be protected against. The history of trade coupons has been dealt with by several hon members. The situation originated with the Trade Coupons Act of 1935, of course. A problem arose when that Act was incorporated unchanged into the 1976 legislation. When the legislation was taken over at the time, it was found that certain adjustments had to be made. This applied in particular to section 10, which was amended in such a way that the function of section of section 11 of the old Act was embodied in section 10 of the 1976 Act. When we compare the addition to section 10 with the wording of section 11 in the principal Act, it is clear why that legislation has increasingly come under fire, especially the two sections I have mentioned. The criticism is directed at section 11 in particular, because, as a result of poor and uncelar definitions of certain concepts in that section, for example a trade coupon, benefits, etc, conflicting interpretations have been given to the wording and terminology of certain subsections of section 11. It is also interesting to note that certain subsections of section 11 do not even contain any reference to trade coupons.

Leon Louw of the Free Market Foundation points out, indeed, that many of these deviations or exceptions were of no value in practice. The hon member for Yeoville has also pointed out a few of these deficiencies. For example, one cannot give a coupon to a person who is still going to buy; he first has to buy the product before he may receive the coupon. So a coupon cannot, for example, be sent to a person. In terms of section 11, a coupon which has been issued can only be used for the purchase of the same class of product.

When we look at the number of prosecutions which there have been in terms of the present legislation, it appears that up to 1975, there were only three such prosecutions, in 1956, 1968 and 1970. All three judgments conflicted with one another, and it was not possible, therefore, to impose a penalty commensurate with the seriousness of the offences that had been committed. It is also very interesting to note that the complaints had not been received from consumers in the first place, but from trade competitors, and that in terms of the 1976 Act, very little could actually be done about the matter, because this is legislation which is aimed at protecting the consumer.

One can see, therefore, that we are faced here with legal uncertainty, as the hon the Minister also indicated. It is an uncertainty which exists in legal circles in particular, and which is making it impossible for the department administered by the hon the Minister to prosecute parties that are abusing trade coupons.

Finally, I want to mention that this more positive wording of section 10 of the existing Act and the omission of section 11 from the principal Act will, I believe, result in a great improvement to this legislation. For that reason, I support this amending measure.


Mr Speaker, it is very encouraging to find so much consensus in the House this afternoon especially in regard to this particular Bill. I think the hon member for Paarl was the one who summed up the matter best when he said that there had to be a healthy balance between the free market system and consumer spending.

I can vaguely remember the debate that took place in 1976 when this subject was discussed. I remember that at the time much concern was shown in regard to the fact that this sort of advertising method was first of all very costly. All advertising is costly and there is a school of thought which is in favour rather of reducing the price of a commodity to enable the consumer to obtain it at a lower price by cutting or reducing the expense of advertising and coupons.

The second concern was in respect of the unscrupulous trader who takes advantage of the consumer by promising all sorts of wonderful prizes and not always fulfilling those promises. There had, therefore, to be this consumer protection aspect which, as we know, is now embodied in this legislation. I think it was the hon member for Waterkloof who said that trade coupons are now a most important marketing technique. I think that that is something which we certainly have to accept. We cannot stand still. With changes in attitude and techniques in business—especially, as we hope, when moving into a more competitive economy—one has to take cognizance of these various techniques that are developed from time to time. It was therefore to be expected that the hon the Minister would have introduced this amending Bill which we in the NRP wholeheartedly support.

There is one thing that does, however, concern me. Much has been said about the advisory committee. In fact, the hon members for Waterkloof and Paarl congratulated the members of the advisory committee on the work that they had done to enable this Bill to be introduced. I have no doubt that they have done a considerable amount of work in this regard. If I heard him correctly, the hon the Minister in his introductory speech stated that there were representatives on this committee from organized commerce, trade and so forth. Now, I am sure the hon the Minister has received the same telex that I received.


Never mind, I saw them afterwards.


The hon the Minister says that he saw them afterwards. I know that the hon member for Walmer received it and I know that the hon the Minister himself received it. The amendments which have been submitted in this regard are quite clearly the result of these representations that came through on the telex machine today from Assocom. I should like to ask the hon the Minister what went wrong with the advisory committee. Why is it that at this very late stage we have these representations asking us to reconsider certain provisions of the Bill? Obviously there must be some merit in these representations because both the hon the Minister and the hon member for Walmer have submitted amendments, as indeed, I intended doing at the Committee Stage. Perhaps the hon the Minister would like to tell us what happened in this regard. We congratulate the advisory committee on the work that it has done but it appears as though somebody slipped up somewhere. We shall support the Bill.


Mr Speaker, I wish to thank hon members for supporting this Bill.

Perhaps I should deal with the last point first. The hon member for Amanzimtoti asked me what happened to the unanimous recommendations of the Trade Practices Advisory Council if at the last moment we find that an organization like Assocom which is represented on the committee has sent telexes to various hon members in order to try to get certain amendments effected to the legislation. This is very easy to explain. I may tell the hon member that I was in contact with representatives of Assocom over the weekend and I think we have ironed out most of our difficulties. What happened was that the advisory committee agreed on a draft Bill. However, once that Bill was in the hands of the law advisers, they chose their own legal terms. The problem that Assocom identified relates to a number of words chosen by the legal people to embody the principles agreed upon but which differ from the wording to which the members agreed. I think we have in my proposals and amendments tried to iron out the difficulties which might have existed between Assocom and ourselves on that particular matter.

Talking about the Trade Practices Advisory Committee I should also like to extent a word of sincere thanks to them. They have worked very hard. I can tell hon members that this Bill is the result of many, many hours of discussion, consultation and proposals, and I think we are all delighted by the fact that in many respects it is model legislation that we are passing today. There are few countries in the world I believe which have legislation on this particular issue as clear cut and well defined as the Bill before us. I thank the hon members for their support. I believe this is a major step forward in orderly and responsible marketing as several members have said here this afternoon. I thank the hon members for Walmer, Langlaagte and Amanzimtoti for the support of their parties as well.

*To the hon members for Waterkloof and Paarl, too, I convey my thanks for their very solid contributions and interesting remarks. Their remarks once again served to illustrate clearly the sound principles that have been embodied in the legislation, which can indeed make the trade coupon a very useful marketing instrument which will be of benefit to the consumer as well. The hon member for Waterkloof rightly pointed out that in countries such as the USA, it is an instrument which is very commonly used in the interests of the consumer.

By means of this legislation we have tried to get away from the negative approach followed in the 1976 legislation, which began with a prohibition and then spelt out certain authorizations. The approach in this legislation is to begin with an authorization. The coupon is authorized, and then the rules of the game are laid down, as it were, to determine under which circumstances the use of the coupon is undesirable. Several hon members have referred to aspects of these rules. There must be full disclosure. The consumer must be informed of where he can obtain the benefit and how he can participate in the competition for obtaining the benefit.

The aspect of the principles contained in the legislation has been very clearly underlined and highlighted by the hon members, and I am grateful for the degree of consensus which has been achieved on the legislation, so much so that I hope the hon members are going to support the other stages of the legislation as well this afternoon.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a Second Time.

Committee Stage

Clause 1:


Mr Chairman, I move the following amendments:

  1. (3) On page 3, in line 27, to omit “immediately on demand” and to substitute “within 14 days”.
  2. (4) On page 5, from line 23, to omit sub-paragraph (iv) and to substitute:
    1. (c) That person, after having acquired a right to receive the relevant benefit or to participate in the relevant competition for a benefit, is obliged to comply with any further condition before he may receive the relevant benefit.

I have sent copies of the amendments to hon members. The reason for the first amendment is simply that the word “immediately” could in fact give rise to different interpretations. “Immediately” could also be interpreted to mean that the benefit which is to be obtained in terms of the coupon should be made available there and then. Now we can conceive of many cases where a trade coupon may authorize a person to receive a benefit which is not available immediately on demand. It has to be mailed to him or fetched from a certain place. In order to overcome that problem, therefore, I am moving this amendment.

The purpose of the second amendment is to spell out quite clearly what the restrictions are that should exist with regard to obtaining a coupon, which is more in agreement with the recommendations of the Trade Practices Advisory Committee. It is therefore aimed at removing any uncertainty and at wording the provision in a way which is as far as possible in agreement with the intention formulated by the Trade Practices Advisory Committee. In my conversation with Assocom I discussed this matter with them and they agree with the wording of this amendment.


Mr Chairman, we will be supporting the first amendment of the hon the Minister. However, we will not be moving the two amendments to this clause which we initially intended to move, because we believe that the sort of situation we wanted to provide for will now be covered.

With regard to the hon the Minister’s second amendment, we would like him to explain something to us. The amendment provides that a person, after having acquired a right to receive some benefit, cannot be obliged to comply with any further condition in order to receive such benefit. In the case where somebody buys a magazine, for example, which contains a coupon entitling that person to a benefit, let us say that he can purchase a certain item for 25 cents less, that is a quantifiable and fixed benefit. However, it still means that he has to comply with an additional condition, he has to go somewhere to buy a certain product. Is that permissible or not?


Mr Chairman, what we are trying to avoid is that a consumer may be enticed to involve himself in several acts, for example, to participate in a competition and, if he wins, to take part in a further competition. The present legislation provides for one act of buying or participating in a competition but rules out any further participation in either a competition or any other action.

*It is the intention to allow the consumer, by means of the coupon, to participate in a competition or to obtain a specific benefit. What we want to prevent, however, is a requirement in terms of which the person must perform a series of successive actions. This is very clearly defined in this new clause.

†This clause provides that after having required a right to receive the relevant benefit or to participate in the relevant competition for a benefit, it is not necessary to comply with any further condition before he may receive the relevant benefit.

*The hon member for Paarl pointed out that one of the principles contained in this legislation was that the trade coupon had to be easily and readily available. This is one of the conditions. If the person qualifies for a benefit, therefore, he must not be expected to perform any further acts in order to obtain that benefit. This is spelt out very clearly by the new wording. If hon members would look at the existing wording in the Act, they would see that it says:

… which cannot reasonably be expected to be performed or rendered by the ordinary consumer.

“Reasonably” is fairly wide and it admits of the possibility that a coupon does not imply only one act, but further acts. On the basis of the existing wording it could be interpreted as being not unreasonable towards the consumer. We want to exclude this possibility, so that a coupon will enable the consumer to obtain the benefit by performing only one single act.

Amendments 3 and 4 agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

House Resumed:

Bill, as amended, reported.

Bill read a Third Time.


Mr Speaker, I move:

That the Bill be now read a Second Time.

Import control is an indispensable instrument for effective action in particular circumstances. In this regard reference can be made to the import of various sensitive commodities as well as possible sanctions and boycotts. However, in the current legislation a number of shortcomings are evident which have to be rectified in order to ensure effective action.

The legislation makes provision for the Minister to cancel an existing import or export permit without prior notice to a permit holder, and the prescribed grounds on which such cancellation may be effected are being deleted. It will be realized that in the case of sanctions, for example, the macro-economic interests of the Republic could not be served effectively if the power granted to act in this regard were limited.

†Furthermore, provision is made for the designation in terms of the Act of inspectors and the provision of powers of inspection for such inspectors and the “director” as defined in the Bill.

Experience has shown that some unscrupulous individuals who fail to obtain import permits for the importation into South Africa of goods which are not allowed approach neighbouring states within the customs union area for such permits and then sell these goods, after the importation thereof, in South Africa.

To investigate and curtail this unlawful practice successfully, provisions as provided in the Bill to designate inspectors and to provide for suitable powers of inspection are necessary.

Furthermore the Bill contains some minor or consequential amendments which, if need be, can be discussed during the debate.


Mr Speaker, the official Opposition will be supporting this Bill. It brings the relevant provisions up to date. Obviously, we have no objection to that. It enables the Minister to cancel or withdraw any permit, but he has these powers at the moment in any case.

Clause 2(b) adds subsection (6) to section 2 of the principal Act. This entitles a person performing the relevant functions to authorize permits. We have no objection to that. It is perfectly reasonable.

The new clause 3A places the responsibility of administering this Act in the hands of the director. It gives him powers which are very far-reaching and wide. They involve being able to enter upon any premises, to seize any goods or documents and to make copies of such documents. We believe, however, that he actually needs these powers if he is to carry out his job. In addition he falls under the jurisdiction of the Minister and obtains a certificate from the Minister. He must also furnish receipts.

Apart from that, the maximum fine for a contravention has been increased to R2 000. The official Opposition has no objection to the Bill and will be supporting it.


Mr Speaker, although import control is being reduced at present, the Bill contains many important aspects if we should have to deal with import control again one day. We hope that we will not have to implement strict import control in South Africa again in the near future. However, if one looks at our balance of payments and the gold price, one sees that, on a volume basis, our imports constitute only 17% of our gross national product at present, which is particularly low, since we find ourselves in a recession. We do have a surplus in the balance of payments, however. To a certain extent, this surplus was achieved through high interest rates and the decrease in the value of the rand against the dollar. The question arises whether, when we are experiencing better economic conditions, we will not once again have problems with the balance of payments if the gold price does not rise considerably. During my years with the department, we reduced import control a number of times and then increased it again shortly afterwards. Consequently I think this is a particularly sound adjustment, for if problems crop up, the Minister will have the right to cancel permits that have been issued. To a certain extent, according to common law, the Minister must give the holder of a permit notice and afford him the opportunity to make representations if his permit is cancelled. However, when one issues up to 80 000 permits, it is, of course, not possible in practice to give everyone notice. In this case, an element of common law is really in conflict with public interest. That is why this adjustment is necessary. In addition, I want to mention that we also have sensitive imports and exports. I am thinking of an interesting case recently when computers entered and left South Africa without our knowledge. The danger of this kind of activity lies in the fact that South Africa is accused of being the thoroughfare for highly technological products to Russia and other Eastern European countries. In the event of a cold war it is very important to have sound control over this kind of import and export.

The third point to be mentioned is boycotts and sanctions. When one is dealing with boycotts and sanctions and, at the same time, one has problems with the balance of payments, the question arises as to how one should alter one’s import package, since one’s foreign exchange is restricted. An attempt will also be made to place restrictions on the importing or exporting of certain luxury items, thereby obtaining sufficient foreign exchange to import certain equipment in order to manufacture the boycotted products locally. In any case, common law is still important, and as far as natural justice is concerned, a holder of a permit can always make representations, ie when he feels that he has been unjustly prejudiced.

Clause 3 is very interesting. Until now the Minister could only ask a manufacturer for information on imports or exports. However, it is not necessarily only the manufacturer who imports or exports. There are also importers who only import. Consequently, this made it very difficult for the department to obtain the necessary information on their imports from bona fide importers. Consequently, I support the proposed amendment, although I hope we will have no need to implement it.


Mr Speaker, as the hon member for Waterkloof said, this legislation is a timeous red ight. It is a distress call for something which has not yet occurred. However, I have a problem with this. I do not wish, to refer to what took place during the referendum campaign, when the hon the Minister of Foreign Affairs told, everyone that hens would not lay eggs, that cows would not give milk and that foreign countries would boycott us if the result of the referendum was “no”. I do not want to talk about that today. However, it seems to me that the hon the Ministers friends abroad no longer support him.

This is contingency legislation. At present we are confronted with one of the biggest problems in the country. By the way, I support this legislation. When a country owes R29 000 million and it has a budget of less than R18 000 million, there is a tremendous problem. There is no possibility that there will be a complete about-face in the price of gold within the next three or four months. There is a reason for this. As long as South Africa is friendly with America there is no chance that the price of gold will soar overnight, for then there is no factor to arrange a shortage of gold. The better South Africa’s relations with America, the less chance there is that the gold price will rise. [Interjections.] Hon members can laugh if they wish. Ignorance makes many people laugh. It is like a man who laughs when his wife has birth pains because he does not know why she is experiencing pain. [Interjections.] This is the case with hon members on the Government side. As long as we ensure that there is a flow of gold into the monetary system and we have the protection of the USA, there will be no shortage of gold on the market. As a matter of fact, it is for this reason that I want to ask the hon the Minister of Finance, just by way of a change, to withdraw 30% or 40% of gold from the political system, since the monetary system is after all, nothing but the political system. I suggest that he withdraw 50% of the gold and transform it into commodity sales. Then the price of gold will soar. If he were to do that, it would not be necessary for us to take emergency measures of this nature, since these emergency measures are going to cause problems for us.

The result of this measure will be that our trading partners will be more careful. The issuing of a point and the cancelling of a permit are two different things. If one issues a permit to someone, one is building up a business around that permit. If one cancels that permit within 24 hours, however, one is prejudicing the entire business and all the facets linked to it. For example, how does one withdraw a permit for shoes? Are all permits for shoes to be cancelled or are 10% or 30% cancelled at all levels? Is the permit of the smaller or larger importer cancelled? These are all problems.

The fact that provision is made in the legislation of the Department of Industries and Commerce for the problems of a trade balance means that we are now bringing the third factor in the economy into operation. We are not dealing with fiscal methods in this sense, but we are going much further, and there is the danger that we have greater problems in our economy than are being envisaged. For that reason we have no choice but to support this legislation. There are no problems with the legislation as such, since it makes provision for times when major problems may arise for our import and export trade.

Another important point the hon member for Waterkloof mentioned is the fact that 17% of the national product is, in fact, in competition with imports. In our case, this is not a good thing. Domestic prices are increasing in an almost uncontrolled way, and if we are still going to place a restriction on competitive imports, we are creating an increasing domestic problem as regards inflation, although we keep our foreign balance of payments in order because we also have problems as a result of the difference in the prices of the dollar and the rand. I am extremely concerned about the fact that the increase in domestic prices has taken on abnormal proportions, and I really cannot say that this legislation is not going to contribute to that increase.


What about the share market?


When a committee of the stock market can suspend a share and remove it from the market three months later, it is a sign that there are tremendous problems in the country concerned, It proves that there is no control over that trade. It also proves that such a person get away with this unpunished. This bring me back to the important matter I referred to earlier, the question of expropriation without legal compensation. As far as I am concerned, a normal price increase also amounts to people being deprived of the money in their pockets illegally. We should also be giving urgent attention to this matter instead of sitting here making jokes. [Interjections.]

Mr Speaker, we support this measure because we believe that the hon the Minister has no choice but to introduce this measure, particularly in view of the circumstances the country finds itself in today. However, we also want to congratulate him on introducing this measure timeously. Although I am not someone who believes that people should deprive others of their rights at will, I nevertheless believe that this measure is unavoidable.


Mr Speaker, the hon member for Langlaagte did, in fact, indicate that his party supports the present legislation. Unfortunately, he did it in such a way that it is difficult for one to determine why they are supporting this measure. After all, he expressed so many doubts regarding our trade balance and other matters …


One should not simply echo everything without thinking; one should sometimes try to reflect on things.


Mr Speaker, the hon member for Rissik is very talkative now. However, today I want to admit openly that if he did not belong to that party, I think the whole lot of them would have gone to pieces long ago. As a matter of fact, he is the leader of the CP by implication. [Interjections.] He is the leader of the CP, since, after all, the real leader of that party has no political flair. [Interjections.]

However, let me come back to the legislation under discussion, Mr Speaker. When the hon member for Langlaagte spoke in a negative way about the position of our trade balance and about what the hon the Minister of Foreign Affairs was supposed to have said, I thought for a moment that the hon member was, in fact, referring to the financial position of Die Patriot. I later realized that this was not what it was about. [Interjections.]

The hon member for Langlaagte also pointed out that this legislation could possibly … [Interjections.]


Order! If the hon member for Rissik wishes to make a speech, he can ask for a turn to speak. The hon member for Langlaagte has already had his turn to speak. The hon member for Welkom may proceed.


Mr Speaker, the hon member for Langlaagte further pointed out that this measure could also give rise to an increase in domestic prices. Of course, he did not explain or motivate that statement, but I suspect that he was implying that this would be the result if competition between products from abroad and our own domestic products should decline. Now I just want to point out to the hon member that his party is always loudly acclaiming that they are the champions of the workers of South Africa. I want the hon member for Langlaagte to realize that the manufacturing industry and the exporting of goods provides thousands of workers in this country with a livelihood. If, by his plea, he is indicating that there should be more competition from imported products from abroad, I do not think that he is really so loyal towards the workers.


I can only recommend a suitable Psalm: “Straf tog nie in ongenade my onkunde”.


Mr Speaker, the hon member for Langlaagte is thinking aloud. Unfortunately I cannot hear what he is saying. However, it is probably not important. [Interjections.]

The importing and exporting of goods is an important facet of every country’s economy. In particular, the export industry in South Africa provides a number of employment opportunities for thousands of people, as I have already indicated. However, because one finds the J R Ewings of this world in practically every field of the economy—clever, sly people, who are adept at allowing irregularities to go by unnoticed—it is necessary to have measures of this nature. I shall not elaborate on all the cases that have occurred. However, as we are all aware, there have been irregularities involving millions of rand in various fields over the past few years. The fact of the matter is that the fat want to become fatter, and I think we should have measures to eliminate this. By the way, we even have the J R Ewings in politics, but I shall leave it at that for the present. The authorities should curtail these malpractices as far as possible. The hon member for Waterkloof dealt in detail with the important measures that could be implemented in critical circumstances, and I shall therefore not elaborate on that any further. However, goods are also smuggled. The hon member for Langlaagte spoke mainly about what happens when international crises arise. However, many goods are smuggled and this is therefore relevant. The officials concerned can only combat this evil successfully if they have the necessary powers in performing this very important task.

The amendments contained in the six clauses of this Bill are aimed at enabling the hon the Minister and his department to bring offenders to book.

I think all the speakers in the debate thus far have emphasized the importance of this legislation and have supported it. I, too, am privileged to support this legislation.


Mr Speaker, I rise to inform the House that we in the NRP will also be supporting this measure.

The hon member for Welkom mentioned just how important this measure is. It is a measure that is going to give the hon the Minister far greater powers to monitor our imports and exports to and from South Africa. I believe that its implications are quite considerable especially after having listened to some of the speeches that have been made this afternoon. The hon member for Waterkloof mentioned the case of computers which originated in the United States and ended up on their way to Soviet Russia. The fact that this could have happened without the authorities being aware of it does I think give cause for some concern. I wonder too whether the hon the Minister did not also have in mind recent events when, so I believe, powdered milk was brought into South Africa illegally through a neighbouring state to the detriment of our dairy industry. No doubt, once he has the organization he is seeking, this sort of thing can be monitored.

However, I think that there is an area for even greater concern, and I sincerely hope that once the hon the Minister has this organization at his disposal we will be able to obtain far greater detail in regard to our trading patterns. Certain matters are of great concern to those of us sitting in these benches because of late we have heard that some of our primary producers in South Africa who produce in excess of our local demand and therefore have to export, have been exporting those commodities at world prices, which, because of overproduction mainly in the Western World are at a very low level. These South African producers are forced to export at a low export price which is far lower than the domestic price, and often well below production cost.

It is also a cause for concern that we find that some of our customers overseas, especially those in the Far East, are purchasing our exports at a low price, processing them and then selling the final product in South Africa. Let us take the example of South Africa’s export paper. I believe that Far East printers process our own paper through their printing works and then export to South Africa printed material or books at a price far lower than that at which our local printing industry can produce. Despite the fact that South Africa’s printing industry, by virtue of the quality and efficiency of its machinery, is amongst the most efficient in the world, it cannot compete with the imported product because it is produced from cheap South African paper. I am sure this does not only happen with paper; it probably also happens with steel and many other base products which we are exporting at a very low price because of our over-production.

I sincerely hope that once the hon the Minister has this directorate and inspectorate, this will be another function which they can perform, or another area which they can monitor to see exactly what effect it has on our economy. I take this opportunity to make a suggestion to the hon the Minister. Perhaps our local industry could quite easily use those products in their own manufacturing processes here in South Africa with a view to exporting. Perhaps there might be a case to enable them to purchase those products at the export price. After all, if we are going to sell a product to our competitors on the world market at a low price, why not sell it to our local producers at the same price provided they utilize that product for export purposes? Perhaps we in South Africa could export books, for example, at a competitive price provided our local printers could obtain paper at a price at which we are exporting it.

Mr Speaker, there is one matter that has not been discussed. I wonder whether the hon the Minister can tell us what effect this measure is going to have on his budget in future. Clause 4 clearly indicates that the hon the Minister will appoint a director and inspectors. I would imagine that this would result in a growth in his staff. Often we are inclined to pass measures through this House, all well intentioned, but regrettably we never really know what they are going to cost the taxpayer. I know the matter under discussion is in the interest of the country, but I should be rather interested to know what it is going to cost and whether the hon the Minister and his departments have worked out a cost benefit study on this to find out whether it is really worthwhile. I am sure it will be worthwhile, but I am just passing on this thought to the hon the Minister. With those few words we shall support the Bill.


Mr Speaker, with this law amendment we have ranged far and wide this afternoon, though in truth it is a very limited measure which, I clearly want to reiterate, is intended to enable an emergency situation to be handled in terms of the Minister’s powers concerning imports and exports. It has very little to do with short-term situations, but is an instrument that is necessary for action in an emergency situation. The hon member for Water-kloof remarked upon the fact that we all supported the measure, but that we all probably hope it need never be used. It is a drastic measure with which to simply curtail or completely abolish permits once they have already been granted.

The hon member for Langlaagte asked whether, if the powers were to be used, this would mean that a certain percentage of the permits issued would be withdrawn or whether the permits would, as a whole, be withdrawn. This would—like the conditions under which the measure would be employed—depend on the nature of the crisis. It is truly a crisis measure which may result in merely a certain percentage of a specific class of permits being withdrawn, or which may result in its being employed even more drastically. So it does not relate to all the short-term balance of payment problems, although as the hon member for Waterkloof, who was in the throes of these problems during his days in the department, himself remarked, in the past there have been similar drastic measures adopted in regard to balance of payment problems. It is therefore a contingency measure which must prepare us for each and every circumstance. I do not think that the fact that we foresee the necessity for dealing with an emergency situation means that we wish to imply, as the hon member for Langlaagte tried to intimate, that the emergency situation is already at hand. We are very positive and optimistic about our international trade, notwithstanding the difficult international conditions being experienced at present. The indications, however, are that in this sphere there are better days ahead.

The hon member for Welkom and the hon member for Amanzimtoti spoke about smuggling that was going to be or could be further restricted.

†A number of importers of, for example, powdered milk and second-hand cars, use neighbouring states as a base from which to circumvent South Africa’s import regulations. We are trying to close that loophole but we do not envisage a whole inspectorate. We have inspectors and I doubt whether we will have to appoint many more. These measures are aimed more at empowering them to act efficiently in this respect.

With regard to the question of competition it is true that many of our exporters are at present exporting at lower than production costs. We are experiencing overcapacity in many fields. I can assure the hon member for Amanzimtoti that his suggestion has already been put into practice. We offer exporters the advantage of cheaper prices, even of local commodities if it is the intention to export their production. In the case of steel and other commodities South African manufacturers are in many cases offered the international price, even by the local producers of raw or intermediate products. In cases where it is not possible for the local supplier to meet the need or the requirements of a manufacturer, we are also prepared in terms of existing customs regulations to allow that manufacturer to buy the raw materials at world prices, to import them and to manufacture his product, as long as his production is aimed at the export market. However, I agree with the hon member that a first option of refusal should be given to a local supplier of raw materials. We are trying to assist not only our exporters but our manufacturers in this respect as well.

*I just want to make a few remarks about several hon members’ references to the alleged movement of computers through South Africa. I recently pointed out, in reply to a question, that specific investigations into this had not yet been concluded. I hope that we shall be able to conclude those investigations shortly. I want to make it very clear, however, that if it can be proved that anyone is using South Africa as a cover to export goods, which can be used for military purposes, to Russian-orientated countries, he will get no sympathy from us.

I think I have now replied to the few remarks hon members made. I thank hon members for their contributions and their support. This legislation will undoubtedly place us in a better position to act purposefully in times of crisis and also to take purposeful action in regard to imports and exports and the administration of the legislation.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a Second Time.

Bill not committed.

Bill read a Third Time.


Mr Speaker, I move:

That the Bill be now read a Second Time.

The Government’s acceptance of, amongst other things, the recommendation of the Committee of Inquiry into the Sugar Industry, the Rörich Committee, that cane growers must accept full responsibility for the transportation of their sugar cane to the mills, has necessitated an amendment to the Sugar Act, 1978.

The Sugar Industry Agreement, 1979, promulgated in terms of section 4 of the Sugar Act, makes provision for the regulation of all matters involving cane growers, millers and refiners, but as a result of the envisaged establishment of a new cane transportation scheme from 1 May 1984 it is necessary to terminate certain contracts between sugar millers and outside transportation contractors. For this purpose section 4 of the Sugar Act, 1978, is being amended, as per the amendment Bill, to empower the Minister to make the necessary amendments to the Sugar Industry Agreement.

†Contracts existing between sugar millers and third parties for the transport of sugar cane to mills will not be terminated outright but such contracts will be allowed to remain in force for the remaining life of the contract or five years, whichever period is the shorter. The cost to be paid for cane transport under such contracts will be borne by the growers concerned as part of the new scheme. I should like to point out that the existing scheme for the calculation, apportionment and recovery of costs of cane transport is exceedingly complicated and has resulted in inefficiencies and dissatisfaction in the sugar industry. The new scheme, however, the implications and implementation of which I have discussed with representatives of the sugar industry at length, and which is acceptable to them, will now correct these inefficiencies and will result in substantial savings for the industry as a whole.


Mr Speaker, the official Opposition will be supporting this Bill.

The Bill makes the transportation of cane from grower to miller one of the matters for which the hon the Minister may provide and control. There is a very longstanding debate surrounding this subject and it is an example of the anomalies that can develop in a situation over a period. They result from competition between millers for cane from different growers and the encouragement of growers in remote areas so that they can be offered and subsidized with different rates in bringing their cane to the mills. Changes in the structure and location of mills have also taken place.

The Van Biljon Commission recommended that a gradual move from the subsidization of sugar take place and that eventually there should be no subsidization. I believe that the Rörich Committee should be congratulated. Its approach to this whole problem was extremely forthright and the way they set about it was an example. They said that it was essential to explore radical changes. They did not concern themselves with tinkering with a messy situation. There were the three major alternatives which they gave themselves. Firstly, that the growers pay all the costs, secondly that the millers pay all the costs and thirdly that the costs be shared between the two parties. The objectives they wanted—I do not believe one can actually take exception to them—were letting economic forces determine where cane is grown and leaving the responsibility of economizing on transport and undertaking it in the cheapest possibly way in the hands of the people actually involved in that transport. Further objectives were reducing administrative costs and avoiding distortions and unfair advantages to create the most effective cost structure possible.

We believe that this is an example of how tangled and messy a situation can become over many years in a complex bargaining situation. It shows that sometimes it is necessary for a third party to come in and cut through all the mess as if with a knife. We quite enthusiastically support this Bill.


Mr Speaker, there is probably no single aspect of the sugar industry that has elicited so much debate than the transport costs of sugar cane and the recovery of the costs attached to this. Of course, the reason for this is obvious. It is that no clear cut-off point could be determined as regards the distribution of costs in respect of cane growers on the one hand, and millers on the other. The result of this problem was that over the years, in a process of evolution, these solutions found substance in the present scheme for the transportation of sugar cane.

In its report the Rörich Committee, to which the hon member for Walmer, as well as the hon the Minister referred, amongst other things, singled out some of the disadvantages of the present scheme as follows:

(1) It does not play a proper function in the location of new cane production in the most economic areas; (2) it does not provide maximum on-going incentives to adopt the most economical means of transport within the context of practical circumstances and existing mill-receiving facilities; (3) it does not lay the full burden of cane transport costs at the door of those who control the transport; (4) it has entrenched privileges including some undesirable ones applicable prior to the introduction of the scheme such as tramline subsidies which should have been reviewed at five-yearly intervals but have not been reviewed or adjusted since 1951.

Thus a number of other problems arose with the evolution of these adjustments until, eventually one was dealing with a very complicated formula for determining these costs.

The basic principle in this statutory amendment is that in future the cane growers will have to accept full responsibility for the transportation of their sugar cane to the mills. As the hon member for Walmer said, the Rörich Committee looked at various alternatives. They considered the new solutions on the basis of certain goals. The conclusion this committee reached—and this is the most important aspect—is “that the cane growers accept full responsibility for the transportation of their sugar cane to the mills”. This is the precise amendment being proposed to the Sugar Act of 1978.

As the hon the Minister said, the present contracts between millers and third parties will remain in effect for the duration of those contracts, or for five years, whichever period is the shorter. I have pleasure in supporting this statutory amendment on behalf of this side of the House.


Mr Speaker, we on this side support this amending Bill. The reason is that we believe that it could perhaps effect a major improvement.

There are, however, a number of matters I should like to bring to the hon the Minister’s attention. There has been strong criticism from certain quarters. I do not know whether the hon the Minister is aware of this. For example, I refer to a report which appeared in Die Kouter under the headline, “Suikerkans bederf deur ’n koue skouer”. I shall give this report to the hon the Minister with pleasure if he does not have it. In any case, one gains the impression that this Bill may eventually be in the interest of the entire sugar industry and may improve matters. Consequently, we support it. I should also be pleased if the hon the Minister would keep a watchful eye on this matter. I understand that he is going there to conduct further talks in the near future. I assume he will inform us further when he returns. We are very interested in this matter. We also received a number of letters from that area, amongst others from a farmer who expressed his concern as follows:

Ons voel baie bekommerd oor die sui kerprys asook oor die transporttoelae wat glo van die boer weggeneem sal word.

I do not know whether this farmer had all the information at his disposal, but we did, in fact, receive letters of this nature. In addition, there was sharp criticism.

We support this legislation and we shall give it a chance.


Mr Speaker, we are grateful that the hon member for Nigel supports this legislation. I should like to point briefly to two further points on the basis of the report of the Rörich Commission, on which this statutory amendment is based. It is true that this legislation creates the opportunity—the hon the Minister referred to this in his Second Reading speech—to save on transportation costs. It is also true, as hon members opposite said, that certain farmers are going to be prejudiced. At present there are farmers who grow sugar cane by way of internal subsidization and who are situated far from the nearest mills. Here we are thinking of farmers in Melmoth and the surrounding areas who have to transport their sugar cane over long distances.

Another interesting point emanating from this is that in future the hidden costs for certain farmers, and the hidden subsidy for other farmers, will be removed. I think the principle that the most economic unit will produce sugar is a sound one. It is also a good thing that an effort is being made to make a five-year contract applicable. Provision is made in the contract for compensation to farmers who initially grew sugar cane and who are no longer able to do so as a result of higher transport costs. I want to ask the hon the Minister to consider this matter when he negotiates with these people next week. Do those farmers now fall outside the provisions of this five-year contract? These farmers will have to switch to new products, which will make new demands on the agricultural community in Natal and the Transvaal lowveld. The report points strongly to the possible consequences if this decision is accepted. The decision has been accepted by the Cabinet, as well as the Government, since we now have the amendments before us.

I have a further question in this regard. Benefits which amount to savings will arise out of this. Who will benefit from these savings? Will they go to the cane growers, the farmers; will they go to the miller; will a large part revert to the transport sector, or to the consumers of sugar? This is an important point. It is a point which will be debated again in the future when it comes to increases in the price of sugar. The question is: Who gets what from these benefits?

I am also of the opinion that certain mills are going to be prejudiced. The Rörich report indicates very clearly what the effect on certain mills is going to be, viz that their unit costs are going to increase because their production volume is going to decline. That is why the unit price is regarded as being higher at certain mills. In turn, this will have an influence on the industry as such.

There is another point I want to ask the hon the Minister to clear up in his negotiations with the representatives of the sugar industry and when a new sugar industry agreement is concluded, viz the question of what is to happen with the roads. Thus far there has been a very clear indication as to who is responsible for certain roads in the sugar cane area. Some of those roads are national roads and a large number are not provincial roads. Who is going to be responsible for these roads? This matter could cause arguments in the future, and it should be spelt out very clearly in the sugar agreement who is responsible for which roads so that the benefit gained will not be lost when the roads no longer exist or when sugar cane can no longer be transported due to high transportation costs.

I take pleasure in supporting the Second Reading of this legislation.


Mr Speaker, I do believe that I have to declare my interests as a sugar cane farmer because this legislation is going to affect my pocket from 1 April or May. Be that as it may, I should like to comment on one or two remarks that have been made.

The hon member for Nigel said that this piece of legislation is considered to be in the best interests of all. That, I think, one could say is a generality. I can tell the hon the Minister that half of the cane farmers are happy and the other half are unhappy. I suppose that is to be expected, human beings being what they are, and this was the difficulty that the Rörich Committee had, namely to try to rationalize the various vested interests of the various members of the sugar industry. However, I am sure that the Minister is very happy indeed to know that when it comes to matters of this kind he does have the SA Sugar Association and its two members, the SA Cane Growers Association and the SA Millers Association, to assist him. I stress this because the decisions that have been taken have not been taken by the hon the Minister alone. They were the result of a tremendous amount of negotiation within the sugar industry itself, among the cane growers and the millers. Meetings with growers were held all over the cane belt at which this matter was discussed at length and, as a result of these investigations and deliberations, the Cane Growers Association, the Millers Association and also the Sugar Association came to the conclusion that this legislation was in the best interests of the sugar industry.


In the long term.


As the hon member for Umhlanga says, it is in the best interests of the industry in the long term. I agree with him because in the short term the implementation of the recommendations and the effect of this amendment are going to cause considerable problems for certain members of the sugar industry.

Some hon members have gone into some of the background history in regard to this matter but I think that one could say that the transportation of sugar cane in the industry at the present time is really a huge mess. It is in a huge mess because of historical reasons and because concessions were made to people in the past and carried into the present. As a result of this there are many inequities within the industry when it comes to the transportation of sugar cane. Some of the reasons why and how this position developed have already been mentioned. In the early days, going back 40 or 50 years, the tremendous competition for sugar cane by the various millers resulted in certain subsidies or perks being given to certain groups of growers, and this started the inequities in the cost of transportation of sugar cane.

Then there was the encouragement of cane farmers who were a long way from the mill to grow sugar cane. Just 20 years ago I personally got a quota at the encouragement of my miller who offered me a subsidy to haul my cane 57 kilometres to the mill. At that time the subsidies that were granted go growers were being paid for by the millers themselves; they were not being paid by the industry as a whole. One could accept that principle because when one considers the effect of the economy of scale in a highly capitalized industry such as a sugar factory, it would pay the miller to pass over some of his milling profits to a far distant grower in the form of a transport subsidy so that he could get more throughput in his factory and so reduce his unit costs and thereby create a further profit. However, as time went by some smaller mills were closed down and there was established what was called the mill site concept which meant that if a grower was just a few kilometres from a certain mill and then a larger, more distant mill bought out that smaller mill and it was decided to close it down as an economic measure, the grower had his transport costs fixed at what was called the old mill site. This has been entrenched in the sugar industry for many years, as was the old tramline growers. This related to sugar cane farmers who delivered their cane on little trucks which used to run on tramlines. As time went by, and better methods of transportation of cane developed, and road transport advanced, and the cost of operating and renewing the tramline system was seen to be quite exorbitant, it was decided to scrap the complete tramline system and to introduce road transport in its stead. In order, however, to encourage cane growers to do this—because the tramlines used to belong to the millers—the millers agreed to entrenching the transport costs of the tramline growers, as was stipulated in section 45 of the Act which was passed in 1943. Accordingly we had this tremendously inequitable cost to farmers when it came to transport. In the early 1970s it was decided to try to rationalize this whole system, and the present transport payment scheme was introduced.

In order, however, to give the hon the Minister an example, and to give hon members an idea of how the recommendations by the Van Biljon Commission affected the transportation of sugar cane, I must quote from the actual report of the Rörich Commission. From this report we see that under the present scheme those mills that still have their tramlines and are hauling cane over distances greater than 50 kilometres are being paid out of the transport pool that was established, an amount of R19,75 per ton, whereas someone hauling his cane on a heavy road vehicle over the same distance receives only R5,41. In order to give the House an idea of how the present scheme distorted the economy and the cost structure of transport I must point out that what was before the introduction of the scheme a totally uneconomic form of transport, namely tramlines, and which, as a result were scrapped in many areas of the industry, suddenly became a most profitable form of transport.

I believe that fact by itself indicates that something had to be done. The result was that the commission was set up in order to rationalize the entire transport problem. For the interest of hon members I should point that at the present time the transport pool, as it is called, from which the funds paid out to the growers for additional transport costs are forthcoming, is today running at a figure of around R90 million a year. This is a considerable sum, and if there is any way at all in which one is able to reduce the costs of transportation and to reduce some of these anomalies, I believe, everybody would favour such a development.

The Rörich Commission set as a first objective for its cane transport sub-committee, and I quote:

The new scheme, if it could be established, should assist in letting economic forces determine the location of cane production areas.

This, Mr Speaker, is a very important principle. In this respect I could quote the case of the Melmoth area, where cane is being grown and where quotas were granted by a previous Minister on the assumption and on the condition that a mill would be set up close to that cane producing area. Quotas were originally granted on that condition. Then because the millers found that to construct a huge mill in that area would be too expensive, and perhaps uneconomical too, an amendment was effected and a decision was taken to subsidize those growers on the transportation of their sugar cane over a distance of 115 kilometres to the Amatikulu mill.

As a farmer, Mr Speaker, I must state that what sticks in my craw is the fact that a fanner will plough his land, prepare the soil, grow his best seed cane, employ the best planting techniques he has, see to disease control and proper fertilization, will weed his cane, or spray it with expensive herbicides, will irrigate it—if it is irrigated land—and will look after it for between 15 months and two years, after which he has to cut the cane, transport it to a loading bank and load it onto a vehicle, for all of which he receives R22 a ton, after perhaps 24 months of sweat, blood and tears. The transporter on the other hand, hauls this cane with his vehicle over a distance of perhaps 115 kilometres to the sugar mill where the cane is offloaded and the transporter receives R11,50 a ton. That is something which is very difficult to understand, and which clearly indicates that the cost of transportation of sugar cane has increased out of all proportion relative to cane production costs. [Interjections.]

Those hon members may laugh, Mr Speaker. They are the Progressive Federal Party. They are not interested in the grass roots. They do not care for those who sweat to produce the wealth of the country. They are only interested in spending that wealth, Mr Speaker. [Interjections.] Be that as it may, the first objective was to assist in letting economic forces determine the location of cane production areas. I think this is a very important point. The second was to create and direct powerful incentives to economize on the method of cane transport. I think that this is an extremely important objective because under the present system cane transport operates on a price control basis which inevitably results in cost plus operation. The big transporters come in and establish their costs which often includes very heavy overhead costs. A nationwide committee of transport experts has been set up to determine these costs of transportation which includes a set return on capital. I ask then: Is there any incentive to economize on the methods of cane transport? I am sure my colleague, the hon member for Umhlanga, remembers what the position was about 25 years ago when we were in Zululand working on cane transport. At that time, certain growers in the Tugela area were responsible for their own cane transport to the Darnall mill, and we assisted them in designing up to 16 ton tractor-trailer haulage units for use on main roads. We had to work with a maximum cost of 1,40 cents per ton mile to haul sugar cane to the mill because the cane price just did not allow for a higher figure.


George, are you supporting the Bill?


Yes, I am certainly supporting the Bill, because this objective set by the Rörich Committee to create powerful incentives to economize on the method of cane transport is must needed.

The third objective was to place the burden of transport costs directly on the party responsible for providing and controlling the transport. This is another extremely important principle. Perhaps a number of farmers are unhappy now because in the past they did not have to worry about the transport. They did not care how much it cost as long as someone else was responsible for transporting, their cane to the mill. However, the new system is placing the responsibility on the farmer and therefore there will be a powerful incentive to reduce transport costs. The objectives also recommend the reduction of administrative complexity and cost and that there be sufficient flexibility to accommodate future changes and developments in the industry. I think that as far as the question of transportation in the sugar cane industry is concerned, the decks should be cleared in the industry so that we can move into the future.

The fifth objective was to avoid distortions and unfair advantages through subsidization and other factors. I agree with that. At the present time I am a subsidized cane farmer but I do believe that the subsidization of cane transport has lead to a distortion in regard to costs of production and this is something that needs to be rectified.

The final objective was to give the industry and the consumer the most effective cost structure. That is possibly the most important objective and I should like hon members of the PFP to consider it carefully—to give the consumer the most effective cost structure.

Out of this has come the new system that is going to place the onus of transporting cane upon the farmer himself. However, one must realize that as a result of all the past subsidies and so forth there are at the present time in the sugar industry large vested interests. By this I mean that there are growers who enjoy certain subsidies at the present time. The new scheme has been so designed as to pay out these vested interests over a period of about five years. This means that these financial benefits which many farmers enjoy at present will not be prejudiced by the amendment that is contained in this Bill. I think this is only right. However, having paid them out, it will then be a case of every man for himself when it comes to the question of cane transport costs. I am sure that the efficient farmers will survive. However, I want to predict that certain cane farmers will, in time, fail. This is because costs being what they are and people being what they are, some will not be able to cope with high costs over great distances, while others will take the capital payment they have received and buy a Mercedes motor car or travel overseas with the money. If they do that, they are being very foolish. They should rather reinvest that money in their farms or reduce their loans or bank overdrafts. However, in time I certainly can see certain farmers ceasing to be sugar cane growers. On the other hand, however, it may well be that there will be greater emphasis on the industry for vertical expansion, ie to increase the unit production per hectare of land under cane so that we can produce more cane from the land closer to the mills or, alternatively, there will be greater incentive to develop the land in kwaZulu. There is plenty of good cane land in kwaZulu close to existing mills there and future expansion could come from those areas.

Having said that, I want to say that we as a party and I personally as a cane farmer welcome this legislation. However, there is one point I should like to make to the hon the Minister and that is that I believe that further amending legislation has to be forthcoming in regard to taxation. Perhaps the hon the Minister will come to discuss this matter when he replies. The way in which this new scheme is going to work is that the losers in future are going to be paid out of a fund which is going to be created by levying the future gainers. Those who are going to gain in the future are therefore going to have their cane cheques levied for certain sums in order to pay out the losers over this period of five to seven years. We cannot expect those cane farmers who are going to be levied to pay taxes on the money they are going to pass over to the losers. [Interjections.] I see the hon the Minister says that this is no problem. Well, if he has no problem on that score, then neither have I.

This is a milestone in the sugar industry. It is a very, very short Bill—in fact, it has only 12 lines—but to the sugar industry it is of great importance. The SA Sugar Association computers are buzzing at the moment preparing for the change over on the first of April. One can say that there is a hell of a lot of work—if that is a parliamentary expression—being done but I think out of it will come a system which is not only in the best interest of the cane or sugar industry itself, but certainly also in the interest of the consumer in the long term. We support the Bill.


Mr Speaker, this is certainly a milestone, a major event in the sugar industry and an important structural change. I am very grateful to all the hon members of the various parties for supporting this piece of very important legislation as far as the sugar industry is concerned.

It is obvious that the sugar industry must also become more cost effective and must find a more cost effective economic basis otherwise they will be outpriced in the local market and overseas. The international sugar market is not very encouraging at the moment. The sugar producers in the world are trying to find a formula or an agreement on the quotas for the various producing countries, but they have been unable to do that for a number of years. In the meantime the international sugar price is at its lowest. The South African sugar industry is burdened by debts and ever rising costs, and it is absolutely necessary for us to find a sounder economic basis also in terms of transport.

As the hon members know, that is a very old and a very sensitive subject. It was addressed by the Van Biljon Committee who made certain recommendations very similar to what the Rörich Committee eventually decided upon, but it was considered too drastic in 1970 to implement and I think gradually the position worsened over the next decade.

*That is why this is very important legislation on the sugar industry and the placing of that industry on a sound footing. Mention is frequently made of the costs involved in the present unsatisfactory system of transport. I have here an article from the Financial Mail of 2 September 1983, and I quote:

Insiders claim that the present system of subsidization has bred inefficiencies. Among its shortcomings is the absence of an incentive to change to cheaper modes of transport.

†It then continues and the actual sentence to which I want to come is the following:

Natal University agricultural economist Gavin Chatwick has estimated that the industry could save itself R8 million per year by rationalizing the cane transport system among others.

There is a lot to be saved, and this corresponds with the figures of my department as to the amount that could be saved for the industry if a better and more economically sound basis could be established for cane transport

*In their report last year the Rörich Committee submitted recommendations. I want to give the industry an opportunity to examine thoroughly all possible aspects of this reasonably far-reaching new measure.

†I therefore appointed a further committee, the Cane Transport Feasibility Study Committee under Dr Eggers, on which both the growers and millers were represented. They investigated all aspects in this regard and in each and every case decided by majority vote that the scheme be implemented.

*We have now progressed to the point where the new system can be put into operation. The hon member for Amanzimtoti now says, however, that one half are in favour of it and the other half opposed to it. I can tell the hon member that the growers are in favour of it in principle. It is true that there are differences about how it should be implemented and to what extent it should be implemented. And that is the reason why the growers have come forward with proposals which, in point of fact, embody a compromise between the old and the new systems. Having given very thorough consideration to the proposals made by the growers, we did not see our way clear to accepting them, because it would mean reverting to the old unacceptable system of subsidies by means of which some benefited and which would, in the long term, again merely burden the system with the unacceptable aspects of the present system.

†This is a clean break. In some respects it is certainly a radical measure but those who will be adversely affected will be compensated. This is one of the most important aspects of the new scheme. The compensation is quite substantial. Some speakers referred to certain cane growing areas and for their information I will refer to just one or two of these areas in relation to distance and compensation.

Let us take the Melmoth area and the Amatikulu mill. The outlying farmers use heavy road vehicles to transport their cane over a distance of approximately 109 km. Under the new scheme they will lose R7,40 per ton because if they transport their own cane in future it will cost them R12,19. They will be paid compensation of R54,81 per ton. The intention is that this R54,81 per ton at 13½% will provide for the shortfall so that they will actually be compensated. For a production quota of 5 270 tons a total compensation of R288 848 will be paid. We are just about buying his farm. What is the going price per hectare of cane land in that area? What we are virtually doing is in many cases buying the farm by way of the compensation and then offering the farmer an opportunity to continue with cane growing or gradually to change over to other crops.

The hon member for Amanzimtoti referred to an area where he had something to do with the transport system, namely the Darnell mill in the Doornkop area. This is in regard to transport by trainline or heavy road vehicle. Over a distance of 31 km farmers will lose R4,10 per ton. The future cost will be R8,39, but the compensation will be R30,97 per ton. For a production of 24 200 tons the compensation will be R749 474. There can therefore be no doubt that the compensation is substantial. As the hon member said, it will certainly cause certain farmers to consider whether they want to continue farming sugar cane or whether they want to change to other crops. Basically we will establish a sound economic basis for the industry. It will save the consumer and the industry a lot of money. It will make the industry more efficient and, as such more competitive in the local market. It will also trim them for the great potential that still lies in the export market, perhaps not within the next few years but in years to come.

I thank hon members for their support. The hon member for Walmer supported the measure because of the sound economic basis of the new system. That is correct, although one does find farmers in many of these areas who are uncertain of certain implications of the new scheme. There is no question that the industry will benefit from it. We have appointed an appeal board knowing quite well there will be many details on which we cannot give off-the-cuff answers. So we have appointed this appeal board and on it will be representatives of the growers as well as of the millers and they will address themselves to the various problems which might crop up in the implementation period.

*The hon member for Newcastle also pointed to certain sound principles contained in the Bill and also to the payment of the considerable compensation to persons who are detrimentally affected.

The hon member for Nigel also expressed support on behalf of his party, and I thank him. It is true that there is some criticism, but no changes of this nature can be painless ones. There is, as I have already indicated, considerable compensation, however, and if the hon member has any representations, he can contact us and we shall help him, in the relevant cases, convey the necessary information to those who have made the representations so that they can see the matter in its full perspective. In many cases there is a lack of information. Growers are not quite certain what the extent of their compensation is going to be and are concerned about the fact that without sufficient compensation they will not be in a position to continue with their production.

In conjunction with the Sugar Association I hope to meet again, next Wednesday, with all those who have any objections. Perhaps I should call them people who have objections, but rather people who have particular problems. We welcome the opportunity to inform them of what the system really entails.

The hon member Dr Welgemoed touched upon a few aspects. I have already dealt with the case of Melmoth where the compensation is quite considerable. It is indeed true that the producers who are far removed from the mills will be adversely affected as far as transportation costs are concerned. They are, however, being offered considerable medium-term compensation. It is capitalized, which means that for the rest of their production lives they will receive a subsidy.

The problems relating to road and other aspects will also be examined in detail by the appeal committee if problems of that nature crop up. The hon member also referred to the savings. To the extent that we have an economic transport system, the benefits will immediately be available to both the industry and the consumer. As the hon member for Amanzimtoti has said, in the past it was actually a cost-plus action, because transport costs were given as fixed costs which simply had to be offset against price adjustments. It now rests with the farmer. By cutting costs himself, he can improve his income considerably. This is an incentive for the farmer to immediately begin transporting his cane by more economic methods. The initial benefit to nearby farmers is the source for the financing of the compensation. For a period of five to seven years an ebb-and-flow fund will be created from the contributions taken from the nearby farmers who will actually be benefited by the new scheme. The full benefit will only percolate through the system over a period of five to seven years. By that time, however, the new dispensation will be firmly established and the sugar industry as a whole will be functioning more economically.

†The hon member for Amanzimtoti also referred to the historic developments. We certainly do not blame anyone for the present anomalies and iniquities in the existing transport system. That is, quite correctly, due to many agreements and historical developments over the years. It resulted in inefficiencies, anomalies and iniquities which cannot be allowed to continue.

The hon member referred to the sugar industry. At this stage I should like to express my sincere appreciation to the Sugar Association which, while it may have differed with us in many respects, acted very responsibly throughout the negotiations. On behalf of all the members I should like to say that I think they set an excellent example of how such a body can deal with difficulties and with differences within its own ranks. I am therefore grateful to the industry for the way it has approached and addressed this problem and for the way it has co-operated right to the end regardless of the difficulties and differences there may have been between us from time to time.


Perhaps you will sweeten things by looking at the price of sugar.


Well, we have looked after them and after the consumers. We have managed to marry the two so far.

The hon member for Amanzimtoti has certainly spoken from his heart. He almost got carried away when he spoke about sugar. We do not blame him for that. I have no doubt in my mind that in the long-term these changes will be to the benefit of the industry as such. I hope that hon members with constituencies in that area will also assist us in the transitional period so that we can reach the promised land. Certainly, if the industry functions on a sound economic basis, it will be in the interests of all.

I should like to thank all hon members very sincerely for their support. This includes the respective parties.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a Second Time.

Bill not committed.

Bill read a Third Time.


Mr Speaker, I move:

That the Bill be now read a Second Time.

The SA Inventions Development Corporation was established in 1962 to provide for the promotion of the development and utilization of certain discoveries, inventions and improvements.

During the past five years the corporation has already spent R6 million on the development and patenting of new South African technology. Most of this was made available to industrialists for the development of new products in the interests of the country, for example: Advanced mini computers which, for various reasons, were not easily obtainable and which were consequently of strategic importance; passive electronic identification systems applicable to railway wagons, underground train control in the mining industry and security, identification systems that have considerable export potential; and high-energy batteries to propel vehicles, which could possibly result in considerable fuel savings in the future.

One of the other important and far-reaching projects tackled and completed by the corporation, is the development and licensing of the Scheffel bogey which is already being manufactured under licence in various countries outside the Republic.

During the same period more than R3,8 million was earned in licence fees from inventions and levies on the sale of products developed with corporation funds.

†To date the funds for this development aid have been provided to the corporation by the State in the form of loan and share capital. The need for additional funds for investment in new projects has increased continually as the activities of the corporation expanded and became known. It is confidently expected that these investments in new technology will yield substantial earnings in the long term.

The position has now been reached where the State cannot provide all the funds needed to enable the corporation to realize its full potential. The proposed amendment of the Inventions Development Act, 1962, provides that the corporation can turn to the money and capital market for obtaining part of its financial requirements. This approach is in keeping with declared Government policy.


Mr Speaker, the official Opposition will be supporting the Bill. Anybody who has read the Kleu report and studied the section on the question of innovation and the research and development of local techniques and technology, will appreciate how critical he thought it that our country do much of this research itself. There are dangers attached to this. Everybody likes to be an inventor and every institution very much likes the prestige that comes with research. Frequently that is uneconomical and dangerous. The cheapest invention that we can get is normally one that we buy from overseas where facilities for that development are much greater. Nonetheless, we appreciate the necessity for doing a lot of this research in our own context, in our own special environment, but there is the danger that people will want to re-invent the wheel, something that was invented a very long time previously.

However, the corporation must be able to finance itself. It has been decided that this will be done by means of raising money by loan. There are dangers here too. Increasingly as a matter of policy we are delegating the authority to borrow money down the line. Control of this finance does become a problem. Nonetheless the money which we are giving the corporation power to borrow will be under the control of the Minister of Finance in all its detail, and this side of the House will therefore be supporting this measure.


Mr Speaker, it is a pleasure to support the principle of this legislation at the Second Reading. I also wish to thank the hon member for Walmer for what he said. I have no fault to find with it.

The principle at issue is whether this corporation should be able to look to the capital market for part of its capital requirements. This is by no means a new principle. This House has already approved this method in the case of other State corporations. The question is merely whether it is a wise step to do the same in the case of this corporation.

I wish to motivate briefly my support of the Bill.

The achievements of this corporation since it was established in 1962 show that it has rendered a valuable service by developing technology originated by inventors to the benefit of our industry. I have before me the 1982 annual report of the corporation, and according to this report, approximately 3 000 proposals have been submitted to it, only 240 of which were accepted. Of these 240 accepted proposals, only a small number led to licensing, and very few provided the corporation with revenue of more than R10 000.

I should like to mention a few examples of inventions that were successfully developed. In the field of electronics one calls to mind immediately the very first invention that the corporation dealt with, viz Dr Wadley’s tellurometer in the sixties. In the mechanical field there was the wellknown Scheffel bogie that is used by the South African Railways. It enables wheelsets to be selfsteering at a very high speed. In the medical field a fastening method has been developed for carbon fibre tows used in the repair of knee ligaments. In the security field an invention has been to improve fire detection. In the field of earth compaction a simple impact roller has been developed. Thus this corporation has operated across a very wide technological spectrum over the past 20 years.

Of course, the development of inventions is a high risk enterprise and over the years there have been certain inevitable failures.

As far as the financial side is concerned, it is important to know that this corporation receives no annual vote from Parliament. The corporation is operated on business principles and derives revenue from investments in technology and skills, and pays for its own current expenditures.

I wish to indicate briefly that the financial affairs of the corporation are sound, but that the capital flow, and its annual profits, are relatively small. This corporation, like other enterprises, is finding it very difficult to finance capital investment out of current revenue, and as far back as 1974 the Government approved the principle that a long-term loan could be granted by the department up to a maximum amount of R5 million. Up to the present the corporation has taken up only R3 284 million of this amount by negotiating ten loans between 1977 and 1982. The policy is that interest is payable annually after ten years.

As far as revenue and profits are concerned, the turnover is small. In 1981, revenue was just over half million rand, viz R515 696, and the profit was R3 790; thus revenue and profits were minimal. In 1982 revenue was R845 266, representing an increase in revenue of 60%; the profit amounted to R279 000. In 1983 revenue was R1 436 727, representing an increase of 70%, while the profit amounted to R659 463. Therefore I just wish to put it to hon members that we have reached a situation in which the corporation is yielding very healthy profits despite its small turnover. At present there are accumulated profits of R516 586.

The corporation’s revenue averages 5% of the value of the end products sold. The total turnover of the industry that developed, during the first 20 years, from 1962, is approximately R86 million.

In its early years until about 1972 the corporation emphasized the development and utilization of technology by way of the transfer of technology to industry. From 1974 the emphasis was shifted somewhat and a start was made with assistance rather than merely transferring technology to South African industry.

The hon member for Walmer referred to the Kleu Report which stressed the importance of the development of technology in our own industries and the adjustment of foreign technology for utilization in our own country. Over a period of more than 20 years this corporation, under sound management, has acquired experience and has paved the way for expansion. At this stage they are requesting additional sources from which to finance their capital requirements, and I support the principle that the corporation should be able to look to the capital market for funds.


Mr Speaker, the way in which this legislation has been worded, gives us yet another indication that for the Government it has become a matter of urgent importance to obtain money. Looking at the wording of the proposed amendment of section 4 of the principal Act by way of insertion of paragraph (hA) after paragraph (h) of subsection (1), we read inter alia:

… to borrow money from time to time on the stipulations and conditions approved by the Minister, with the concurrence of the Minister of Finance, from any source …

The moment money is borrowed from any source for the purposes of a service of this nature, it ought to serve as a warning that there are no financial resources that are freely available. I listened attentively to the hon member for Pretoria East. He spoke about more than 3 000 people who had been under the impression that they could register an invention, whereas in the end their efforts came to nothing. Of course, all the attempts made to ascertain whether those inventions could indeed be regarded as such, required an enormous number of man-hours.

This inevitably raises certain questions. In this regard I have in mind, for example, Armscor, an organization which has unique achievements to its credit. How did it happen that Armscor was able to register so many inventions independently? For example, we recall how the new Scheffel bogie for trains was eulogized here at the time it was invented, as if it was something wonderful. However, there is one thing we must not forget, and that is that Dr Scheffel developed his invention in the railway milieu. According to my information, at the time Dr Scheffel’s invention was perfected in the Administration’s own workshops with the approval of the General Manager of the SATS. Only subsequently was the invention itself transferred to the Development Corporation, which was to administer it further. I should of course like to know from the hon the Minister what amount of money is involved here. In the Bill mention is made of the acquisition of capital. However, no amount is mentioned.

Then, too, I should like to know what amounts have been spent over the past number of years, perhaps since 1974, on the expansion of the Development Corporation.


What development corporation are you speaking about now?


Oh really, Mr Speaker, if the hon member does not know what legislation we are talking about, why does he not remain silent? [Interjections.] The problem of the hon member for Roodeplaat is, of course, that since he … [Interjections.]


What is all this about me? You have the wrong end of the stick; I did not say a word.


Well, if the hon member for Roodeplaat has not yet said anything, then he was intending to say something, in any event. [Interjections.]

Mr Speaker, all I can say here in favour of the development of inventions, is that it does indeed bear an impressive sounding name. It is of course of tremendous importance that every patriotic person should be willing to support it. However, the money devoted to an investment of this nature remains the taxpayer’s money; and therefore it is money on which the taxpayer expects a return. Therefore I certainly do not wish to oppose this legislation. However, I request the hon the Minister to see to it that the justification for this is thoroughly investigated. I also wonder whether it is not perhaps necessary to subject even the developments for which Armscor has been responsible over the past number of years, and the knowledge acquired as a result, to an investigation. When it is a matter of inventions and their development, it is, after all, necessary that we combine all our available forces and that we concentrate on limiting our expenditure to a minimum.

For example, reference is made here to the amount of R2,4 million borrowed during a certain period. A few years later, however, we are speaking of R500 or R15 000. Even at a low interest rate an ordinary financial investment can yield this return. Therefore I should say that merely by making a good investment one sees to a good “invention”. That will at least yield a good income.

For example, when 3 000 so-called new inventions are submitted, only 240 of which are ultimately accepted—and only very few of those are successful—and each of them individually yields a return of R10 000 per annum, the question necessarily arises as to whether the development of inventions is the kind of thing on which we ought to spend increasing amounts of capital. Therefore I wish to know from the hon the Minister what amount of capital he envisages in this instance. The legislation provides that that capital is not to be encumbered. It is also provided that assets purchased may not involved the encumbering of the assets of the corporation. This indicates to me that there is already a problem with regard to finance as regards the capital that is requested. I appeal to the Minister to reply to these questions.


Mr Speaker, I should like to make a few remarks about what the hon member for Langlaagte said when he referred to the urgency of the money and pointed out that it could be derived from any source. However, he forgot to add that it could only be obtained with the approval of the Minister, who, in the nature of the matter, is responsible to this House, and that means that hon members can have their say about this matter at any time.

We must note that the total net domestic product of this country amounts to R60 milliard annually, and we have here a body that does development work with regard to patents, and this little body, on this little corporation—unfortunately I have to call it that—has a share capital of less than R1 million. In fact it only amounts to R970 000. Apart from that it has loan capital totalling a mere R3,8 million. Taking all these facts into account one realizes how essential it is that more money should be found, because such a small corporation cannot support such a large industry. The hon member erred with regard to another point as well. In the course of his argument the hon member spoke about the inventions and pointed out that the design of the bogie that was invented, was completed before the development work was done by the corporation, That is correct, of course, but what is the title of the legislation? The title is the Inventions Development Act. Therefore this is another blunder by the hon member. Then, too, the legislation provides that money is to be found on the open capital market to carry out the work of development we require in this country, and I shall indicate why in a moment. The hon member says: How can the taxpayer pay for that? Surely it is not the taxpayer who pays for it, because the legislation specifically provides that the money is to be found on the open market. Where does the hon member get that from? Earlier today the hon member delivered himself of a wonderful financial theory. At that point I left the Chamber. [Interjections.]

The reasons why the corporation needs more money can be summarized briefly as follows. In today’s world the development work relating to inventions is no longer done in a backroom. Due to the tremendously advanced technology that is nowadays the order of the day, the work of development is becoming increasingly expensive as a result of expensive apparatus, expensive laboratories and long-drawn-out processes. Moreover, money is essential because, as the hon member for Pretoria East pointed out, one’s chances of success in development work are limited in the extreme. If the hon member had gone into the matter further he would have found that only 1,7% of patent proposals were successful in obtaining patent rights leading to production.

The world is increasingly ill-disposed towards us and our access to outside technology is dwindling. This means that we have to rely on ourselves for development work to an increasing extent. It must be agreed, therefore, that it is imperative that we establish a strong structure of laboratories, schools, expertise and planning to be able to meet our own technological needs in the future.

The final point I want to make relates to development in the new industrial countries. Here I refer in particular to Japan. Looking at that development one is impressed by the fact that the development there can largely be ascribed to the co-ordination and planning among the Ministry of Industries, industry itself and academia that we encountered there. Looking at the council of this corporation we note that provision is made for closer co-operation, because that council consists of industrialists, experts in the financial field and men such as, for example, the former manager of the corporation, as well as academics. Therefore it is a council capable of co-ordinated planning. It is an organ that is of vital importance because due to the diversity of the professions the members of this council will be able to plan effectively with regard to what we shall require in the future.

Therefore it is a privilege for me, too, to support this legislation.


Mr Speaker, the NRP will support this Bill. We believe that research and development are vital for our economic future. We also believe that advances in technology are necessary in order to enable us to keep pace with our competitors on the international market as well as to solve new problems that may arise from time to time simply in regard to Living and surviving. We are therefore in favour of this measure that will enable the hon the Minister to tap new sources of finance so as to assist the SA Inventions Development Corporation to get on with its work.

I sometimes feel that we spend too little money on research and development in South Africa as a whole. I know that many big corporations spend millions of rand in this regard and that industry spends tens of millions of rand in this connection. At the same time, however, if we had to compare the percentage of our income that is spent on research and development with that spent in other countries such as the United States and Japan, we will probably find that we are spending too little. I want to make an appeal to the private sector to consider pumping more of their own funds into what in some parts of the world is referred to as venture capital in respect of the development of new ideas and inventors who have new ideas that could in the long term prove to be very profitable indeed. I was reading just recently of what is happening in the United States. Certain people there have made hundreds of millions of dollars over the past ten years by seeking out inventors, people with new ideas especially in the micro-electronic or microcomputer field, and backing these people with venture capital in order to enable them to put their ideas into practice. This has been very successful indeed. Perhaps we need a new brand of entrepreneur or capitalist in South Africa namely the venture capitalist, a person who searches out these individuals and is prepared to back their ideas.

It is very difficult for inventors to put their ideas into practice as their financial resources are often limited, and it is also very difficult for them to raise this money from normal financial institutions. I believe, therefore, that the development corporation is serving a very useful purpose and I believe that it should be supported. We therefore have pleasure in supporting this legislation.


Mr Speaker, I must admit that the hon member for Walmer set a very fine example here this afternoon. He started off the afternoon somewhat on the wrong foot by opposing the first piece of legislation but in the case of the last five consecutive pieces of legislation he has supported us. I think that that is probably the reason why the hon member for Houghton moved into the back bench. [Interjections.] That is a fine example of constructive engagement and I hope that the style of the hon member for Walmer will rub off on the rest of the hon members of his party. I thank him for his support and that of his party. He is quite correct when he says that high technology is of great importance. It has been said in the Kleu report and in so many speeches and we are all aware that that is the growth area of the future. Unless we can keep up with developments in the technical field our industries will suffer.

*I am particularly grateful for the contribution by the hon member for Pretoria East. This hon member is a leading natural scientist and that is why he speaks not merely from knowledge but also with great appreciation for the work of the corporation. The annual report of the corporation is, of course, tabled annually in Parliament. I want to bring to the attention of the hon member for Langlaagte in particular the fact that many of his questions would be answered if he were to page through the report. The hon member for Heilbron has replied in full to what the hon member for Langlaagte had said. We are concerned here not with money, a donation or a contribution, but with loan facilities.


And who repays it?


As one who has been involved in the business world himself the hon member will understand what it is all about. The corporation is not always able to identify in advance when it is going to need funds or how much. In many cases the corporation is involved in the development of inventions in co-operation with the private sector and with research that could in a very short period lead to money being needed. Apart from that there are many interesting developments for which more money will probably be needed in future. This is the kind of money which the taxpayer is not being asked to provide but for which provision is being made by empowering the corporation to borrow money. Strict control will be exercized over this authorization, through the conditions stipulated by the Minister of Finance to bring the negotiation of those loans into line with his broader economic and financial policy.

†I also thank the hon member for Amanzimtoti for his contribution. I just want to tell him that although we cannot supply the kind of venture capital available in countries like the United States for the Sunrise In-tries, the IDC does provide venture capital. We have therefore already made a facility available. I think with the work of the corporation South Africa is in many respects in the forefront in terms of research and other interesting and important fields as far as the application of ideas in industry in concerned.

*I am convinced that in future, with the aid of more funds, the corporation is going to make a contribution of which all of us are going to be very proud and which will certainly mean a lot to the South African scientist and to industry.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a Second Time.

Bill not committed.

Bill read a Third Time.


Mr Speaker, I move:

That the Bill be now read a Second Time.

I wish to point out that the amendments proposed in the Community Development Amendment Bill which is now before the House, are of a technical nature and are needed to enable the Community Development Board to fulfil its duties under the Act.

The Community Development Act provides that if a tenant of immovable property belonging to the board fails to pay his rental or to vacate the property on or before the date on which he has lawfully been required to do so, the board may take the necessary steps to have such a tenant evicted from such property. This provision is interpreted by the Courts of law as not applying to occupiers who are not or were not tenants of the board. For instance, where the Community Development Board acquires a property and the owner or his tenant or any other occupier refuses to vacate such property, the board is not entitled to act in terms of the relevant provision of the Act. The Community Development Board may, however, approach a court of law in terms of the common law for an eviction order but the procedure contained in the Community Development Act is preferred because it is a more expedient and cheaper process. The principal Act is therefore being amended to provide for persons other than tenants who illegally occupy property belonging to the board to be removed from such property.

*A further shortcoming in the Act which is now being removed relates to persons who move into or occupy property of the Community Development Board without the consent of the Director-General. Whenever a person claims to have the oral consent of the Director-General or an official, it is difficult to refute that claim and it can take months to get rid of that illegal occupier. Now it is being put clearly that the written consent of the Director-General or a person authorized by him is required.

A final aspect to which I should like to refer deals with those cases in which a local authority has to expropriate property as the agent of the Community Development Board. The object is to make the relevant provisions of the Expropriation Act of 1975 applicable to such expropriations. Therefore, when a local authority acts on behalf of the Community Development Board a uniform procedure has to be followed. There is, however, a technical problem in this regard in that the Community Development Act does not clearly state that this has to be so and in order to remove the uncertainty in this regard the adjustments, as embodied in clause 3 of the Bill, are being proposed.


Mr Speaker, we decided to listen very carefully to the hon the Minister to see whether he would advance satisfactory arguments that would persuade us to support this Bill. However, we have listened carefully and this glorious spirit of consensus which existed for a little while, has ended as a result of the hon the Minister’s speech.


I will give you an answer in my reply.


It is no use the hon the Minister giving answers in his reply. He must put his cards on the table. What kind of a situation is it…


Put your questions to me.


No, the hon the Minister introduces a Bill and tries to persuade the House to support it. Then he says that he will give the answers in his reply. That is trifling with the House and the Opposition.

There is a certain character to this Bill. The hon the Minister has certain problems. He is now not acting as the Government, but as a landlord; in other words, the State is acting as a landlord in respect of these properties. The hon the Minister has certain problems with either tenants or occupiers just as the private sector has problems with tenants and occupiers.

When we say we want to move in the direction of private enterprise, because he has problems, he says we must tighten the law. He says we must give ourselves more power and authority so that we can evict people. He does not say that in the private sector we have the same problems. When it comes to the private sector he says quite correctly that the law must take its course and one must get an eviction order. However, when it comes to the public sector, as soon as he has a problem he says that the law must be tightened and that he must have more power, even if it means nullifying the common law rights of individuals. In our opinion the whole style is wrong and we will oppose this because it widens the gap between the rights of the State as a landlord and the rights of an ordinary individual or an ordinary private sector landlord.


That is looking for a nigger in the woodpile.


No, it is moving further and further away. At the very time when the hon the Minister’s select committee makes recommendations that there should be greater certainty in law for tenants, this Minister comes along and reduces certainty in law as far as tenants are concerned. It also says there should be greater protection for tenants in terms of the private sector, but the hon the Minister comes along and says there is going to be less protection for tenants in terms of the public sector. I shall come to the relevant clause. The Minister skated over a very important part of the second clause of this Bill. He referred only to one aspect of that clause, but he did not refer to another very important aspect and, when the hon the Minister does not refer to aspects of a Bill, I know he has a very good reason for not referring to them.

When there is a problem relating to tenants—this is what we are talking about—we do not believe that the best procedure is to tighten the law and give the State more authority. We believe that as far as possible the ordinary laws of contract, the ordinary common law rights of individuals, the ordinary procedures by which individuals can have their rights determined by a court, should be applied. It is correct that the parent Act we are amending does give the State considerable authority. It does give it authority to evict. What we are arguing, however, is that what gets, this is not the appropriate time to give the State more authority, to give it more powers, and to undercut some of the rights of the individual tenant.

Let me refer specifically to the three clauses in the Bill. The first one deals with “a tenant or other occupier”. The words “or other occupier” are added. The Minister has given some illustrations of who this “other occupier” may be. This does not merely say that this other occupier who is not the tenant has defaulted in that he has not paid some money. Without a judgment or an order of court being obtained, it can now be declared by resolution that such property may be entered upon and taken possession of. It does not concern a person who has gone in there illegally, but another occupier who has defaulted on payments. Without a court order being obtained, this property can now be taken over by the State. We think this is wrong. Where are these other categories of people, why can one not have the normal procedure of going to court?

The hon the Minister has indicated what his reply to this is. He says it is more expedient and it is cheaper. I do not believe that good law should be tested on the grounds of what is more expedient and what is cheaper. One pays for what one gets. The cheaper the law, the less effective it is. It may be cheaper for the hon the Minister and the State, but consider the injustice which is perhaps going to be done to the individual. The courts are basically there to hold the balance between the rights of the State and the tenant, between the rights of the landlord and the tenant. Here we have a situation where the hon the Minister openly admits that we could go to the courts and get a judgment, but we are not going to do that: It is cheaper and more expedient for us to have the right without having to obtain a court order. This is the wrong approach.


He has that right already.


That is what the hon the Minister has said.

The next matter I want to deal with concerns clause 2. The hon the Minister dealt only with one aspect of it. He dealt with the fact that now a person who alleged that he had permission will have to have written consent. Before he could argue that he had verbal consent. I presume that this is to remove the uncertainty in the law. Sir, let the court decide. Not every contract has to be a written contract. Since when is there a rule in South Africa that every contract must be a written one?


There is the sale of immovable property.


We are not talking about the sale of immovable property. We are talking about a tenant or occupier. Here we have the situation that the Minister in this instance requires that the contract has to be in writing. That does not apply in general. So here he is making an exception. He is elevating this particular provision by stipulating that the contract must be a written one so that he can be protected because it is cheaper and more expedient that way. We argue that the validity of the contract should be determined by the law. If in fact the absence of a written contract militates against the tenant, good and well, but he still has to prove it. Let the courts decide, however, whether the contract is valid or not, whether an assurance was given, and let us not stipulate that it must necessarily be in writing.

The hon the Minister did not refer to the next insertion in this clause, namely to add the words “notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any law or the common law”. The hon the Minister is saying that he shall have the right to evict, the right to take any action, but he adds the words “notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any law or the common law”, to which he did not refer in his speech. Here we have the hon the Minister coming to the House saying: “I want to have rights in terms of this amending Bill to make a ministerial decision to evict somebody irrespective of what stands in any other law or irrespective of what that person’s common law rights are”.


It is scandalous.


We say it is scandalous. I think it is iniquitous.


You do not know what it is all about.


What the hon the Minister is saying is that he has problems and that he does not like going to court. He finds it expensive and he does not find it expedient. People who are facing eviction by the Minister are arguing that they have certain common law rights. What the hon the Minister is saying is: “To blazes with their common law rights. I want to be able to come to a decision irrespective of what stands in the law and irrespective of any common law rights”. We believe in the main the common law is basically the best protection for the individual. In fact, common law is built around the right of the individual. The more one invades common law rights, the more one waters them down, the more one negates them, the more one tips the scale away from the individual towards authority, away from the small man towards the big forces. We argue that common law rights should not be tampered with and that they should not be tampered with just because it is cheaper or more expedient to do so.

Finally, we just do not like clause 3 although we do not have the same strong feelings about it as we have in regard to the first two clauses, particularly clause 2. Clause 3 deals with the question as to whether the local authority should be able to have the powers to act for the Minister or the board in matters of expropriation. Expropriation by its very nature involves the invasion of someone’s property rights or property ownership, which can only be done if it can be shown that it is the public interest to do so. It is correct that in our law, especially in our Expropriation Act of 1975, there is a whole range of safeguards. These safeguards are numerous in relation to the procedures, in relation to the compensation, in relation to the inspection of property, etc. We hold that if the Minister or a board wants to expropriate and wants the local authority to act as agent to get on with the development scheme, that is fine. However, the responsibility for the expropriation should not be passed on to the local authority. The responsibility for the expropriation of a particular piece of land should remain with the Minister and the board. This clause means in effect that if the local authority is acting as an agent for the Minister or the board in respect of a resettlement scheme the Minister and the board will no longer be taking the responsibility. The responsibility will be passed on to the local authority. We believe the law of expropriation has been very carefully thought out. It has been built on years and years of practice and there is a very good safeguard that when it comes to expropriating for public purposes, this must be done by the Minister or the board. We believe that responsibility should continue to rest with the Minister. Let him accept the responsibility, the legal costs and all the expertise that is required in order to see that the expropriation goes through. If he is successful, if he has paid the compensation, then he can ask the local authority to carry on as his agent. Do not let the Minister pass the buck to the local authority and tell the local authority that it must be responsible for initiating the process and for the cost that may be involved in respect of an expropriation.

Dr H M J VAN RENSBURG (Mossel Bay):

You want him to have the responsibility but you do not want him to have the rights.


I do not know what the hon member is talking about. We are talking about the expropriation of land in terms of this legislation on behalf of the Minister or a board. This legislation extends that expropriation by saying that a local authority can also do it on behalf of the Minister. We hold that in a case of an expropriation it should be done by the Minister or his board. If he wants the local authority to carry on with the development when the expropriation is completed, he should do so, but he should not pass his responsibility—and it is a very onerous responsibility—on to a local authority. He should carry it himself.

We would, therefore, be surprised if the hon the Minister advances more cogent reasons when he replies at the end of this debate, but based on his introductory speech and on his reactions so far to what we have said, at this stage we have no hesitation in opposing this measure.


Mr Speaker, the hon member for Sea Point referred to the Bill as scandalous. However, his lack of knowledge of this matter and his speech in the House today were in fact scandalous. We know, however, that the hon member made a petty political speech because there is a by-election in the offing.

The hon member for Sea Point advanced as one of his reasons for opposing the Bill that he had hoped that the hon the Minister’s introductory speech would have assisted him to understand the Bill. Whose problem is it, however, if the hon member reads the Bill and he cannot understand it? [Interjections.] The hon member for Sea Point does not understand the Bill and is therefore opposing it. If he has problems in understanding the Bill, there are channels available along which it can be explained to him.


Do not distort what I said.


That was what the hon member said. He said specifically that he was hoping that the hon the Minister in his introductory speech was going to explain the Bill to him. The hon member had the opportunity of reading and studying the Bill and if he had any difficulty with it, there are people who could have advised him on it.

Furthermore, the hon member for Sea Point displayed abysmal ignorance in this matter. There are decided court cases in this regard and, if the hon member had looked at those court cases, he would have understood very well why the introduction of this Bill is justified. He did, however, not mention those court cases, and it is clear that he has not gone to the trouble to study this matter in depth. He made a superficial speech today in which he merely grasped at straws. Had he looked at just one court case in regard to this matter, he would have been aware of the problems and difficulties and he would have realized that an owner has certain entitlements. In fact, his last argument that the hon the Minister was passing the buck to local authorities is absolute nonsense. The hon the Minister is devolving further powers on the local authorities. Is the hon member against the decentralization of power? Is he opposed to the fact that local authorities are getting substantial powers in terms of this Bill? I have always been of the opinion that the hon member for Sea Point’s party was in favour of the devolution of power, but now when a Bill makes provision for the devolution of power he opposes it. [Interjections.] I think the hon member is only interested in the revolution of power and not in the devolution of power.

I should like at a later stage to refer the hon member for Sea Point to particular court cases that took place. However, he started speaking about the Select Committee on Rent Control, but that committee has nothing whatsoever to do with the Bill. So, once again, the hon member for Sea Point showed his abysmal ignorance in this matter. [Interjections.] I think the hon member really had nothing to say; he was merely filibustering.

The hon member said that this Bill dealt with tenants, but he is only partially correct because it actually emphasizes the position of occupiers and tries to rectify the situation by placing the emphasis on occupiers rather than on tenants. Yet the hon member for Sea Point emphasized the question of tenants, thereby once again showing that he had not read this very short Bill properly. Once a property has been expropriated a date is fixed in that expropriation notice whereby the board becomes the owner on a specific date. Does the hon member for Sea Point know that the board becomes the owner on a specified date fixed in the expropriation notice, or does he not know that? If he knows that, why will he not allow the board to exercise the options that are open to an owner of property? I do not think that the hon member for Sea Point is even aware of the fact that in terms of the expropriation notice the board becomes the owner on a certain date. One does not have to take transfer as is the case in a normal transaction. The hon member for Sea Point obviously does not know what is happening in this particular Bill and he also knows very little about this subject.

In accordance with Standing Order No 22, the House adjourned at 18h30.