House of Assembly: Vol115 - FRIDAY 29 JUNE 1984
Mr Speaker, I move:
We are on the threshold of a new constitutional dispensation for Whites, Coloureds and Indians. In less than three months from now, if we are spared, we shall come together here again in entirely different circumstances.
In recent months various implementation actions have been launched. Attention has been given to the establishment of the necessary administrative structures for a new dispensation and to the transferring of functions with reference to the distinction between own and general affairs.
Various legislative steps have also been taken recently. The Acts relating to Parliament have been duly amended and this House still has to agree to the new Standing Orders. We shall also be considering the amendment of the Exchequer and Audit Act and other financial measures.
In the interim arrangements are being made in connection with the provision of the necessary temporary as well as permanent accommodation.
In the coming weeks elections for the two new Houses will increasingly begin to dominate the scene. The necessary steps in this regard are proceeding according to plan.
When these various steps have been completed we shall put the constitution into operation on 3 September 1984. The directly elected members of the House will meet on 4 September to constitute the electoral college and on 5 September the electoral college will elect the State President. He is inaugurated on 14 September, after which he will appoint his Cabinet and the Ministers’ Councils. The official opening of Parliament will take place on 18 September.
Therefore the new dispensation is becoming a reality. Over the past session we have had the opportunity on various occasions to state our attitude to this new dispensation. Some have reservations about the new system. Some have no desire to take part in it, and are clinging desperately to the old one. Others are only entering the new dispensation with a view to amending or destroying it.
However, in spite of all this it is clear to me that the majority in this House is eagerly awaiting the new dispensation. We have made our choice and we are going forward to meet 3 September without hesitation in order to make a success of this new dispensation.
Personally I believe that half-heartedness does not bring success; only conviction can do that. Because I believe that, I also believe that we shall achieve success, by the grace of Providence.
It is this attitude and approach, I believe, that has increasingly become evident in the ranks of the Coloured and Indians, and that we ought to nurture and encourage. The various political parties are making outstanding progress in difficult circumstances and I want to take this opportunity to wish all parties and members that will take part in the coming elections, every success. I appeal to all voters to exercise their civil duty and right, and to become part of the new dispensation by means of the election process.
Last year there was the excitement of debating the new Constitution and conducting a referendum campaign. As far as the new dispensation is concerned, the session has run its course fairly quietly this year. In the meantime, however, hard work has been done behind the scenes in various spheres to enable the new Constitution to be put into operation. During the discussion of my Vote I reported on this. I also mentioned that the process of implementation had brought to the fore certain essential amendments of the new Constitution. For the most part the Bill embodies those essential amendments.
The Bill also contains provisions relating to the termination of the old dispensation. It is with the utmost respect and appreciation that I wish to refer to the State President and Vice State President.
Five years ago the State President was elected to the highest office in South Africa. He occupied this office with honour and dignity, and after it became known that this office would no longer exist in the new dispensation he continued to carry out the duties of his office with the utmost dedication and correctness. Indeed, it has throughout been characteristic of his approach, in his public appearances and otherwise, that he emphasizes the one factor that is so important to the success of any new dispensation, namely healthy intergroup relations. The role he has played in making his office central to the endeavour to bring about sound ethnic relations cannot be over-estimated. I think the words of the oath he took provide the best comment on the way in which the State President exercised his functions and played his part in public life. I quote:
I need say no more than that the prayer in the final sentence was heard, and that he fulfilled his promise.
In the majority of countries, and more specifically in our own, leaders do not tread well-known paths, but have to blaze new trails. It is not given to everyone to be able to say that they have broken new ground and blazed new trails. If there is one person who has opened up the way to the new dispensation it is the Vice State President. No one—including him—had a vision of what lay ahead when he assumed the chairmanship of the President’s Council in 1980. Under his guidance, however, the President’s Council developed into a prestige advisory body that won respect for its sober, balanced and well-considered contribution to decision-making. Apart from that, the Vice State President succeeded in joining 60 people of different population groups and convictions into a close-knit unit with one aim in view, viz co-operation to the benefit of everyone in South Africa. In one respect he proved the Government right, viz the belief that it is possible to make real progress with peaceful constitutional development by way of honest negotiation and consultation. Contributions made to the constitutional debate by the council, and particularly the role played by the council in breaking down prejudices and building up sound relations were also to a large extent responsible for the Government’s success in launching its guidelines for a new dispensation.
What I have said about the Vice State President, I also say to every member of the President’s Council. Some of them sacrificed their careers to make a contribution for the sake of South Africa and its people. We shall always be grateful to them for the momentum they gave to reform in South Africa.
Therefore it is with appreciation and the highest respect that we make provision in the Bill for a continuation of the salaries of these persons for the unexpired parts of their respective periods of office. I refer in this connection to clause 13.
In clause 1 the position of present members of the President’s Council is also being brought into line, with retrospective effect, with those of members of the House of Assembly as regards linkage of their salary adjustment to that of the public service.
The Bill also incorporates amendments of the new Constitution.
According to the provisions of the Constitution the State President will occupy a unique office, comparable with the office of neither the French, say, nor the American President. The Government has repeatedly stated that we shall not take over either of these models but will utilize elements from other systems that suit our circumstances in order to build up a democratic dispensation.
This also applies to the post of State President. The approach adopted was not to follow the French or the American system or to introduce a true executive presidential system. The point of departure was that the offices of the existing State President and Prime Minister be combined in order, firstly, to be able to do away with the office of ceremonial Head of State, which does not really have a place in a republican form of government, and, secondly, to adapt the post of Head of Government such that it need not become a point of conflict between the three participating groups.
It has therefore been provided that the State President takes over an important characteristic of the office of ceremonial State President, viz that after his election he may not be a member of Parliament; in other respects, however, he must play exactly the same role as the Prime Minister, with the same responsibilities but also, specifically, with the same duty of accounting to the parliamentary institution.
In order to eliminate any uncertainty that may exist in this regard, amendments are therefore being proposed in terms of which it is expressly provided that the State President, like the present Prime Minister, may be in charge of the administration of a Department of State for general affairs (clause 3); that when he occupies such a portfolio he will do so in all respects like a Minister (clause 4) and that for those purposes he must therefore be able to appear in Parliament (clause 9). This also confirms the concept of collective responsibility when he occupies such a post.
Therefore, as far as the handling of a portfolio is concerned, we are bringing the position of State President wholly into line with that of the Prime Minister. We are therefore not adding any new powers and I anticipate that this cannot add any substance to the accusation that unlimited powers are being vested in the State President.
†In the course of the implementation process a number of matters which are dealt with in this Bill arose.
Firstly, clause 2 provides for temporary chairmen of the Houses when the Houses designate members of the electoral college before they have elected permanent presiding officers.
Secondly, four amendments result from the revision of the rules and orders which we have undertaken during the past months and which will be submitted to this House for consideration.
Since it will be proposed that the joint rules and orders shall provide, amongst others, for the lodging of a general Bill with the Speaker in order to facilitate the referring of such a Bill to a joint standing committee during a recess, clause 5 contains an amendment of section 32 to the effect that, in addition to a proposal for introducing a Bill in a House, a proposal for consideration of a Bill can also be taken into account when it must be determined whether a House has rejected a Bill.
In the course of our deliberations on the joint rules and orders, it became evident that the joint rules could not only be confined to rules regarding joint standing committees as envisaged in section 64, but that it should have a wider scope in order to cover general matters and Bills thereon and other matters affecting all three Houses as well. This is proposed in clause 8.
It is also envisaged in the draft joint rules and orders that Second Reading speeches could on appropriate occasions take place before a joint sitting of the Houses. It would be impractical for the State President to call all such sessions by formal message to the Houses, as prescribed in section 67 and clause 10 therefore provides that the Speaker of Parliament could call such a sitting in terms of the joint rules and orders.
The provision in section 102(6)(b), to the effect that the new rules and orders shall be published in the Gazette, is deleted by clause 11, since the rules and orders are freely available for public scrutiny. Formal publication seems therefore to be unnecessary.
Clause 6 provides that an incidental vacancy in the seat of an indirectly elected member of a House, shall be filled by the same party to which the member who has vacated that seat and belonged at the time of his resignation or death. This will result in a more equitable state of affairs than the present position in terms of which the majority party is in a position to fill such a vacancy.
Formerly a Parliament had not been constituted fully before all its members, ie including the indirectly elected and nominated members, had been elected nominated. Clause 11(1)(c) now provides that the first Parliament shall only consist of directly elected members from the coming into operation of the Act until all members have been designated or elected.
Clause 12 provides that members of the President’s Council and the South African Indian Council may participate in the forthcoming elections before the coming into operation of the Constitution and without vacating their seats.
*Mr Speaker, the Bill is aimed chiefly at ensuring the more efficient functioning of the new dispensation and enabling a smoother transition from the old to the new system.
If this Bill is accepted we shall be virtually prepared to set the Constitution in operation.
Mr Speaker, in the course of his introductory comments the hon the Minister referred to the present State President and the Vice State President in person. We would like to associate ourselves with the comments he made about the manner in which these two gentlemen have held office and executed their duties over the last give years. We believe that they have done it not only with skill, but also with the dignity which is not only befitting the post, but also sets a tone which is very important when it comes to these two offices.
The Bill under discussion is a very early amendment to the constitution which we passed last year and which has not yet come into effect. I suppose that some people might raise eyebrows because the constitution is amended before it has even been introduced. I am not criticizing this fact, because a constitution can have one or two forms. It can either be a solemn compact which has been evolved between a number of groups in a society and forming the ground rules for a new dispensation, for example the American type of constitution, which sets very basic rules which are very difficult to amend. Or else it could be by way of a working document. In a sense this is the case with our constitution. In the South African circumstances it is perhaps necessary that it should be so because we are in a period of experimentation, adaptation and innovation. I do not believe that anybody can see the 1983 constitution as the end of the road, and we must therefore anticipate constant adjustment of it as the political scene in South Africa unfolds.
As regards the manner in which this should take place, we want to thank the hon the Minister on the one hand for making the draft of this Bill available to the Leader of the Opposition at a relatively early stage and also having supplied us with an explanatory memorandum. That is the plus side of this. There is a parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution and I believe that not only in this case, but also in the case of future amendments it would be prudent if it could be discussed collectively. Whatever the wisdom may be between the hon the Minister and the hon the Leader of the Opposition, between two parties, I think one always gets greater wisdom when a number of parties talk collectively about a Bill.
In principle, when the Constitution has to be amended it is more likely that a better Bill will result from the collective consideration of a select committee than from all the wisdom of the hon the Minister and his advisers. I make this point for the future, without necessarily knocking this particular Bill.
In the main this Bill is necessary for the purpose of good housekeeping and for the practical implementation of the Constitution from 3 September this year. In the main we are supportive in a positive way of most of the clauses. We do, however, have modest reservations about some clauses. We will oppose one. Those are the circumstances under which we will consider this Bill.
Of those clauses which we think are quite reasonable and acceptable the provision that if the House meets for electoral college purposes it can meet without having elected a chairman, is a sensible and reasonable one.
There is also the whole question as to how one should replace indirectly elected members. The old constitution in practice defeated the object of proportionality once the elections have taken place. Clearly if one has a situation where it is desirable that the Houses should be represented in proportion to the strengths of the parties of the House, I do not think that as a result of the demise or resignation of a member of a particular party he should be replaced only by a member from the governing party. As the old constitution operated, and as indeed the old Senate operated, if any of the minority parties lost a representative he was replaced by one from the majority party. We think such a member should be replaced by a member from the party from which he has his support. We think that is a reasonable and appropriate suggestion.
Now that is what I call going from the conflict style to the consensus style.
I suppose when the Government has a majority as large as it has it can afford to be generous. I have no doubt, however, that if the Government is in trouble it will find some other ways of amending the Constitution which will be more advantageous to it. The Government should be generous while it can. In terms of principles, this is a better principle than the old one.
There is also the question of not publishing the Standing Rules and Orders. They are available for those people who are directly involved. I think it was unnecessary to publish them in the Government Gazette.
The provision which would cause people to raise eyebrows in the first instance is the question of existing members of the President’s Council and the SAIC being able to be elected. There should be no objection to their being allowed to be nominated as candidates. The clause further provides that they may not only be elected but that they shall not resign because of their election. Read on its own this would indicate that they can carry on having two offices for some period of time. However, one has to read it in the context that the President’s Council and the SAIC have been established under the old constitution and will fall away on 3 September. Provided that is the interpretation we would support it.
These are clauses which we think are necessary. I am sorry we did not think of them before on the select committee. Be that as it may, someone else has been working at them in the meantime.
I want to refer to another clause which we will support, although we must once again express our reservations in this regard. The hon the Minister today repeatedly said that we are really equating the State President with the Prime Minister. If one reads the President’s Council’s report and the debates on that in this House the intention was to move away from that. It was to get as great a degree of separation between the State President and the party political structures as one could. While there was a compromise in the sense that the State President presided over the Cabinet meetings he was not seen emotionally to be right in the warp and weft of South African politics or party politics. The reality is that perhaps on an interim basis, while the restructuring takes place, it may well be necessary for the State President, in a sense as the Prime Minister in absentia, to look after certain portfolios. However, we would hope that that does not become the pattern for the future. We all along have been opposed to the concept of a formal symbolic head of State being the head of the executive. Now he is not being the head of the executive but he is being brought right into party political disputes at the level of a Cabinet Minister. I do not say that in any derogatory way, but we are changing his position right through the line, bringing him into the party political dispute and the party political debate. We accept that this may be necessary in the transition stage. Of course, we do not accept this constitution as final and we must anticipate that even the Government will review it from time to time. So we will therefore not oppose these provisions. However, we do not want it to go unnoticed. That we think that while the State President is Head of State and head of the executive, it would be far better for South Africa if he did not become embroiled in party politics at the level of administering departments. In that sense we are unhappy but we accept that it may be necessary in the transition stage. Obviously, if the State President is going to administer a portfolio, it is also necessary that he should be able to come to this House so that this House can hold him accountable for his activities and he in turn can account to this House. The clause allowing him to sit in this House and not vote is therefore an essential corollary of the clause that confirms that he can head a department. As I have said, we are unhappy that it is necessary to make this provision and we would hope that as this position unfolds, the State President will become more aloof from the cut and thrust of party politics and will become the head of the executive and of the State on a more multi-partisan rather than a bi-partisan basis.
The clause on which we are sufficiently unhappy to say that we will not be supporting it is clause 13. This is the clause that allows the State President, the Vice President and the President’s Councillors to enjoy not only full salaries but full tax-free reimbursable allowances for the unexpired portion of their office. We have considerable sympathy for the State President and the Vice State President but we have also checked on the Act and we are satisfied that the State President and the Vice State President will receive a pension equal to their full salaries from the time that they cease to hold office. We therefore do not believe that the State President and the Vice State President will suffer any financial loss. If they retire tomorrow, they will get a 100% salary for life and their wives will also enjoy the security that goes with a pension that is equivalent to 100% of their husbands’ salaries. With all our love and respect for those two gentlemen, we do not believe it is a correct principle that they should get tax-free allowances to perform certain functions while in fact they are not doing them. It is one thing to get salary for a job, but to get a travelling or entertainment allowance tax free when one is not doing that job, we do not think is reasonable. Had the State President or the Vice State President been at any disadvantage as far as their salaries were concerned, we would have supported them in this matter. However, we are happy that under section 15 and 15(a) of the Constitution Act the State President and the Vice State President will get a pension equal to 100% of their salaries and we do not believe that they are going to be at any disadvantage financially as a result of a termination of the office.
As far as the President’s Council is concerned, it has only emerged in recent times and perhaps we should have been more diligent in looking at Proclamation 63 of 1981. I think, quite frankly, that the President’s Councillors have been extraordinary generously treated. Secondly, I believe that their kind of office should have no greater security of tenure than the office of members of Parliament. When the hon member Mr Van Staden was nominated for five years as a nominated member of this House by the State President, there was no guarantee that he was going to be here for five years. In fact, if there had been a general election it would have been the end of his tenure. To say therefore that because the President’s Councillors were nominated for five years they should receive their full salaries even after the council has been abolished is in our view not appropriate nor is it fair on the taxpayers of South Africa. We believe that President’s Councillors have to take the same kind of risk as anybody else who enters a parliamentary office and we do not believe that it is in any way appropriate that they should get a 100% salary and the advantages that go with it, even after the President’s Council has been dissolved. We will certainly oppose this provision.
When one examines Proclamation 60 of 1981, one finds that it sets out the terms and conditions of office of members of the President’s Council. I believe that these were extraordinarily generous. I say this because many of those councillors were retired Cabinet Ministers and members of Parliament. When they were appointed to the council those individuals enjoyed a full pension either as a Minister or member of Parliament. They did not lose their pension. While they were serving as councillors they received the equivalent of a full parliamentary salary in addition to their pensions, and if a councillor served as a chairman of a committee—three of them were ex-Cabinet Ministers—he received a salary equivalent to that of a Cabinet Minister. Therefore that individual was receiving a pension as a former Cabinet Minister and a Cabinet Minister’s salary besides.
There were also certain other features. Every member who had been a member of a provincial council or the CPRC or SAIC could automatically convert every year of that service into a year of pensionable service in the President’s Council. This is unheard of because even members of Parliament at that stage could only convert 50%. Therefore, everybody received 100% service at that level of salary and pension in terms of his level of service in those other bodies.
The final point is that provided a President’s councillor had had two and a half year’s service and he did not resign from the council of his own free will, until the body was abolished his two and a half years’ service would be deemed to be seven and a half years’ service for pension purposes. The magic of the seven and a half is that unless one has seven and a half years’ service one does not qualify for a pension. Therefore, in this situation everyone who became a councillor knew that if he could stand the pace— the bait was that he should not resign too soon—he would be credited with seven and a half years’ pensionable service when the council was dissolved. I understand that when this body is abolished on 3 September all of those councillors will in fact be credited with seven and a half years’ service.
May I suggest that we discuss the pension question when that Bill comes up for discussion?
No, Sir, I think this is very important. We are being asked to vote here that when the President’s Council is dissolved these councillors should continue to receive a full salary for a further one and a half years, while in fact they are already in the situation that when it is dissolved they will be credited with seven and a half years’ pensionable service. All we are saying in this regard is that we believe that these councillors have been extraordinarily well treated. We also believe that they will not be at any significant disadvantage when the council is dissolved, and we therefore feel that it will be quite wrong for the taxpayers of South Africa to continue to pay people for a further one and a half years when that particular office has been abolished. We believe that the President’s councillors should be treated as members of Parliament would have been treated, taking the rough with the smooth and, if in fact their term of service is less than five years, they will receive less than five years’ pay. The only difference is, however, that even if that service is less than five years they are still going to be credited with seven and a half years’ pensionable service.
For all these reasons, while we were not opposed to the Second Reading of this Bill— in fact, we believe it to be necessary—we shall be voting against that particular clause.
Mr Speaker, I thank the hon member for Sea Point for expressing the support of the official Opposition for the Second Reading of this Bill in spite of their reservations in respect of certain clauses of the Bill.
The hon member stated correctly that the present constitution should be regarded as a working document and that it will be necessary to amend it from time to time.
The hon member also indicated that his party would be opposing clause 13. I suggest that we take up this argument at the Committee Stage because this Bill is basically a measure that should be debated clause by clause at the Committee Stage.
*There is little one need say about the principle of the measure at present under discussion. Last year the new Constitution, Act No 110 of 1983, was discussed here at length and we conducted an extended debate on the principles that are embodied in this measure. It would therefore make a little sense to debate the principles of the Constitution again at this point. Indeed, the Third Reading of that Bill, No 110 of 1983, was agreed to in this House with a majority of 119 votes to 35. Subsequently the White voters pronounced their opinion in a referendum, and two-thirds voted in favour of it.
Therefore it would hardly be meaningful to conduct another debate about that now.
We have before us at present a measure which, as the hon member for Sea Point rightly said, is essential in order to rectify a few shortcomings found in the existing Constitution and to eliminate certain points of doubt that arose and, in addition, to make certain procedural arrangements and effect consequential changes. Basically, that is what is at issue, and if there are any of the provisions contained in these clauses about which there is a difference of opinion, we can debate the matter in the Committee Stage.
I refer in conclusion to the remark of the hon member for Sea Point relating to the Select Committee on the Constitution. I believe that there is no fault to be found with the principle that measures seeking to amend the Constitution be referred to that select committee. I do not believe that there is anything wrong with that in principle. However, the circumstances must also be taken into account, and when there is a time factor involved, as I believe was the case here it will probably not always be possible first to refer the measure to the select committee. Where speed is essential it will be necessary to come directly to Parliament, as we have in this regard, with amending proposals.
We on this side of the House have no problems with any of the clauses contained in the Bill and we therefore support the measure.
Mr Speaker, I move as an amendment:
It goes without saying that we have been, and still are, vehemently opposed to the Constitution of 1983 and what it represents. That is why we are also opposed to any amendments being brought about to that Constitution. I think we can rightly say that nothing has yet happened, in the course of the entire constitutional process, which has been any surprise to us or which has been anything other than we expected. What is more, what we have said and what we foresaw have systematically been realized to the very last detail. It is very significant that the Constitution is being amended even before it has been implemented. It is a highly significant amendment which does, I think, prove a few things.
Firstly it proves that the Constitution was not properly discussed by Parliament in the Committee Stage. Only about a third of the clauses were discussed in the Committee Stage before use was made of the guillotine. The fact that the majority of the clauses being amended today fall into the category of clauses which were not discussed, is proof of the fact that two thirds of the Constitution is the Cabinet’s Constitution and not Parliament’s Constitution.
The amendments now being proposed merely confirm a further statement we made, and that is that political power-sharing and integration cannot work. In South West Africa there was a Turnhalle conference. On that occasion consultations were also held on a certain constitutional dispensation. There the same phenomenon presented itself. Differences arose before that dispensation could be implementated itself. As a result of differences, ideas began to change, so much so that, when all was said and done, the whole thing was never implemented. Here we have the same phenomenon of a Constitution, not even implemented yet, but already having to be amended to make provision for certain differences that are beginning to manifest themselves.
We have seen how the Government in South West Africa eventually made so many concessions that it was eventually prepared to give away the administration of South West Africa. [Interjections.] If this Constitution is fully implemented by the Government, we shall yet see the Government also being prepared to give away what the Whites have today, ie their own fatherland. [Interjections.]
In the amending Bill two things come to the fore. The first is the granting of more powers to the State President. The excessive powers being granted to the State President specifically constituted one of the objections when the Constitution was discussed at that time. Before the Constitution is implemented, even greater powers are being requested for the State President. That is also extremely significant. Firstly I think that the fact that the State President is being placed in a position to handle a portfolio is a reversion to the Westminster system. The Government was so eager to get away from the Westminster system, but with this measure, which is now being proposed, we find a reversion to the Westminster system. Secondly, the fact that the State President can handle a portfolio detracts from his present and future image.
I therefore think that the fact that the State President is being granted more powers, and is also being placed in a position to handle various portfolios, means that the Government foresees problems cropping up. I want to ask the hon the Minister why a measure is being introduced in terms of which the State President is not only able to administer a single portfolio, but can also take over all portfolios and appoint people to administer those portfolios on his behalf. I think they foresee one or two boycotts and must therefore make the necessary provision. In order to resolve such a problem, the Government is in the process of reverting to the Westminster system and is also in the process of tarnishing the image, status and the dignity of the office of State President.
These amendments also presage another very important development, which is actually being perpetuated by these means, and that is joint sittings for the Second Reading of Bills. That is exactly what we in the CP said: In the future increasingly more emphasis will be placed on collectiveness, with separateness increasingly falling by the wayside. In spite of it being said initially that the three Houses would only convene jointly on ceremonial occasions, it is even now being envisaged that in the case of a Second Reading Mr Speaker …
Where do you see that in the Bill?
It is in the Bill. It seems as if the hon member has not read the Bill. The Bill provides for the Speaker of Parliament being able to convene the three Houses.
Does it make any difference whether Mr Speaker or the State President convenes the three Houses?
Initially it was only the State President who could do so. Now Mr Speaker will also be able to do so. That is consequently an extension of collectiveness, something that is consistently on the increase. This Bill is a step in that direction, and one cannot escape that fact.
So two things are clearly taking shape, greater powers in the hands of the State President and increasing emphasis on joint sittings. In a system of political integration and political power-sharing, that is exactly what one finds. The top level of authority tries to get hold of increasingly more power. A second manifestation in such an integrated system is increasingly more or a greater degree of integration. Even before the commencement of the Act, the hon the Minister has firmly charted that course. That is exactly what we predicted.
I should also like to say something about the compensation of the State President and the Vice State President whose terms of office now come to an end. That is a source of great concern to us. In this connection I also want to refer to the members of the President’s Council. I am referring to the provisions to which the newspapers allude as the “golden handshake”. Whether we disagree with one another politically or not, in South Africa we have always wanted to see the highest posts in the country occupied by people motivated to serve the fatherland. Even though we disagree with one another, that can and ought to be the chief motivation for those occupying such a post. In no way do I want to prejudice the present incumbents, but what I want to say is that what Parliament and the government must do is to attach a certain connotation to those posts. I think we are now doing the wrong thing by making such ample provision for those who now have to relinquish those posts. If the normal laws and rules applicable in South Africa were to have been applied, this would have been sufficient. The question that now arises is why this extraordinary provision is being made. As far as the State President and the Vice State President are concerned, I think that the normal provision is quite sufficient and that no one is being adversely affected.
In this Bill extravagant provision is being made for members of the President’s Council. Clause 1 provides that it be regarded that the President’s Council came into operation on 1 July 1983. The term of office of the President’s Council is therefore being extended. To be paying people their full salaries after this body has been dissolved and they will no longer be doing anything, is completely excessive. We know that a member of the President’s Council receives the same salary as a member of Parliament, even though he has no constituency and, in reality, has far fewer obligations. So already that is extraordinary and very good remuneration. To continue that remuneration after the posts have been vacated is, in my opinion, an unprecedented and excessive step. This does not created a positive spirit in the council chambers where the future of the country is determined and where motivation, service and a spirit of sacrifice to the father-land are the decisive factors. Unfortunately the predominant impression being created is that ample provision is being made for people occupying certain posts, even after they have vacated those posts. That is why I want to tell the hon the Minister that I do not think this measure is good for South Africa. Apart from all the other differences, I want to ask the hon the Minister to make some or other plan in that connection. If the normal procedures were to come into operation, the majority of those people would be well cared for. For the others who would not be cared for, the Minister could make some or other far more respectable plan than he is doing in this case. He could give the few who would be in a difficult position some or other little job somewhere else. Then they could also carry on and would at least be working for their money. The proposal being made here is an unprecendented one, and a very unsound one as far as South Africa’s image is concerned. I therefore want to advocate, in all seriousness, that the Minister make some or other plan, because this proposal cannot do South Africa any good.
Because this entire Bill related to the great Constitution that we cannot support, we are opposed to it in the strongest possible terms. We believe that what is to be amended here is a set-up that unquestionably cannot work in South Africa. We know that there is no example anywhere of such a system having been a success. We do know that we were successful in South Africa when we adopted the course of various people having full control over their own affairs and being entitled to have it. We do not begrudge the Coloureds and the Indians also having full political control over their own affairs. Nor do we begrudge them the experience, in future, of working in and building up their own fatherland, and of having the satisfaction of developing an ethos in their people that can bring the finest and most beautiful aspects to the fore in building up that fatherland. That is why we are opposed to the Constitution and believe in an alternative that will allow the finest in all the peoples in South Africa coming to the fore, being the only alternative that would bring about harmony and peaceful co-existence amongst the various peoples of South Africa.
Mr Speaker, one finds it amazing that an hon member like the hon member of Lichtenburg stands up and says that the ideal is to obtain the utmost cooperation and harmony between all the groups in this country, whilst holding the view, as he stated in his opening remarks, that he and his party would oppose all the amendments affecting the Constitution. For him it is a matter of principle. They are not prepared to see whether there are any measures bringing about basic improvements. In that connection I want to issue a challenge to the hon member. He says they are going to oppose all amendments to athe Act. So is he also going to oppose clause 6 of the Bill? I am referring specifically to the proposed subsection (2)(b) which relates to the procedure to be adopted when a vacancy occurs in the seat of an indirectly elected member. That could, for example, be applicable to the hon member Mr Theunissen. Is the CP, in such a case, going to take the opportunity to fill the vacancy? Are they therefore going to oppose this clause in the Committee Stage?
Can you not wait until we reach the Committee Stage? [Interjections.]
That is a very good idea. We shall discuss it on that occasion. I want to say that if one reads this provision correctly, one sees that it serves only one purpose—I think one could also call it the Connie clause—and that is …
You are altogether on the old track.
I do not know whether the hon member is singing a little song, but I do not understand his reference to “The old track”. Let me just indicate what the effect of this is. I just want to question the wisdom of a certain aspect of this. If the hon member Mr Theunissen were to vacate his post, that vacancy, as the clause now stands, would be filled by another CP member. The clause provides that the vacancy shall be filled by the party of which the previous holder of the post was a member at the time the vacancy occurred—not at the time of his election.
You people have denigrated me so often …
I am not fighting with the hon member Mr Theunissen. He knows I am very fond of him, and I hope he is going to be very happy in the President’s Council. [Interjections.] I want to submit to the hon the Minister that he should have another look at the wording of this clause and tell us whether the intention, in principle, was really that the vacancy should be filled by the party of which the member, who is vacating the post, was a member at the time the vacancy occurred, or by the party of which he was a member at the time of his election. This would mean, in effect—I do not want to mention any names now, because then I might embarrass certain people—that any indirectly elected member could cross over with any other member and form an independent party. Such a member could then resign and his colleague, who crossed over with him, could then fill that vacancy. That is the actual effect of clause 6. I wonder whether that is a wise thing to do, and I would be glad if the hon the Minister would give it some consideration when we discuss the Committee Stage.
The hon member for Lichtenburg referred to a number of matters. He made a great fuss, for example, of the fact that amendments are now being brought about to the Consitution prior to its implementation. If the hon member were to read the Bill—this is also confirmed by his speech—he would find out that virtually all the provisions are procedural adjustments. They are merely interim measures. No principles of the Constitution, which we passed last year, are being changed.
The hon member also complained of the possibility of the State President being able to handle a portfolio. He then made the interesting remark that we were thereby reverting to the Westminster system. What he is really alleging, in truth, is that the mere fact that the State President may handle a portfolio, and as such function as part of the Cabinet, means that he would not have these tremendous powers. His so-called dictatorship is therefore being limited because he is now part of the Cabinet, functioning in the same way as other Cabinet members. According to him we would then be back to where we are now. The hon member contends that we are moving away from the Constitution, back to the Westminster system, because the State President may also have a portfolio. If that is his standpoint, he must concede that the stories about his supposedly being such a dictator do not hold water, or he must say that in the Westminster sytem we also have a dictatorial system.
The hon member for Lichtenburg also complained about Second Reading speeches being dealt with in joint sittings. He alleged that that was an extension of power-sharing, these rules, however, relate only to the procedure and not to the substance of a debate. A structural amendment would have to be submitted for that purpose. The hon member’s standpoint is, in other words, that he is opposed to the procedure. I accept the fact that he is opposed to it, but then he must not imply that it is part of so-called mixed or joint debating. It certainly has no bearing on that.
Another interesting point to which the hon member referred was the question of the remuneration of the State President and the Vice State President in terms of clause 13. The CP is opposed to it, but if the hon member for Lichtenburg had listened to the hon member for Sea Point’s speech, he would have realized that in regard to those two posts there is no change and that the same approach is basically being adopted. If the hon member is opposed to the two gentlemen occupying these posts being remunerated as is proposed, he is actually opposed to a system that has always been in existence, and this means that he actually wants to deprive them of existing rights in contrast to giving them any additional rights.
The hon member also referred to the members of the President’s Council and linkes this to the provisions of clause 1. I think that the fact that he did so was wrong. As far as the principle is concerned, he is right, but reference is made to that in clause 13. Clause 1 merely relates to the scales no longer being linked to those of the Public Service.
Do you not want to mix?
That hon member should go and read the hon member for Lichtenburg’s speech. Then he might perhaps understand what I am trying to say. The hon member for Lichtenburg does understand.
Read clause 1(2).
One could read clause 1(2) a hundred times. All it provides is that from 1 July 1983 the remuneration of members of the President’s Council are no longer to be linked to those of the Public Service, as in the case of members of Parliament. The hon member should have another look at that. The point I want to make is that in terms of clause 13 members of the President’s Council are, in fact, being placed in a position to receive remuneration up to the date on which their term of office expires. The hon the Minister has already submitted, by way of an interjection, that we should discuss the matter further when we come to the question of pensions. We can also have a look at that in the Committee Stage. The intention embodied in this clause is one I would support, and likewise, I think, the majority of other hon members in the House. Many of these people placed their careers on the line. Many of them left their professions, and the feeling is that they should at least be compensated for that. If that would amount to their being placed in a better position than that in which they would otherwise have been placed, it is something we could indeed examine, and I am also prepared to pursue that debate.
I should like to turn my attention to the hon the Minister in the light of the principles embodied in a few of the clauses. I shall not be discussing all of them, because other hon members on this side will also be referring to them. I particularly want to refer to the principle embodied in clause 6, which I just happen to have touched upon already. I want to appeal to the hon the Minister to give renewed attention to the formulation of this clause. The intention here is to fill the vacancy that happens to occur. I do however, want to question a few aspects relating to the procedure that is prescribed. Firstly, is the test that applies that of support or membership at the time the vacancy occurs or at the time of the election of the previous member?
At the time the vacancy occurred.
Then I should like the hon the Minister to give it his further attention. I do not think I would very much like to see Dr Connie Mulder coming to the House in that fashion. [Interjections.] We can discuss that further at a later stage.
The second point I want to raise relates to paragraph (b) of clause 6, in which the concepts “member” and “supporter” are used synonymously. The question that comes to mind is whether we should not look at some other formulation of these concepts, because at a specific point in time the concepts “member” and “supporter” can differ. One can formally be a member of one party although one has already crossed over and become a supporter of another party, for example the CP, whilst waiting for the NP to terminate one’s membership because one does not want to do it oneself.
I should also like to refer to the procedure in the case of nomination, as contained in paragraph (c). I have already referred to this in my reaction to what the hom member for Lichtenburg said. This means that one single member can complete the nomination form. We have four different alternative methods, depending on how many members there are. I want to suggest that it ought to be sufficient if only the leader of the party or the remaining member were to sign the nomination form.
I shall not discuss clause 11, because I am in agreement with it.
Clause 12 creates a problem as far as I am concerned. Clause 12, as it reads at present, aims at meeting the situation of a member of the South African Indian Council being prohibited from being elected in terms of section 55 of the Constitution. Section 54 relates to the President’s Council and provides that a member may not be nominated. In the last line of clause 12 mention is made of “so elected”. This would mean, in effect, that a member of the President’s Council may be elected, but that in terms of the provisions of section 54 he may not be nominated. I think the terminology is wrong. I think that instead of speaking of “elected”, we should rather look at the idea of his “nomination as a candidate for election”. In that way the problem would be resolved.
On the surface it would appear as if there could be a dual payment in terms of clause 13, but this is obviated on the one hand, as the hon member for Sea Point has said, by the fact that the 1961 Constitution is being repealed and, on the other hand, by the hon the Minister of Internal Affairs’s legislation which was passed recently in the House and which boils down to the fact that the persons elected as members of the House of Representatives and of the House of Delegates will be regarded as having been elected on the date of commencement.
On the whole I am satisfied with this measure because it contains essential amendments being brought about for the implementation of the Constitution. Here we are not entering the straight, but are on the point of breaking the tape in our record-breaking effort to work towards and build up harmony, peace, co-operation and a happy society in this country. I think this is the last chance we have of discussing the Constitution as such. The next step is for all of us to function in terms of that Constitution.
Mr Speaker, I think the hon member for Randburg is wrong when he says that this may possibly be the last opportunity that we may have to discuss the Constitution. I somehow have the feeling that next week is going to be quite hectic in respect of constitutional matters, because I am sure that certain gentlemen in this House will manage to drag the “nuwe bedeling” into just about every debate that we will have during the closing stages of this Parliament.
I am sorry that the hon member for Durban Point is not able to be here today as he is this party’s representative on the Constitutional Committee. He has, however, apologized to the hon the Minister because he, together with certain other gentlemen, is away on a defence trip. It is for that reason that I rise in his stead to speak on this Bill.
I am very grateful for the time that I personally have spent on the committee that has been looking into the Standing Rules and Orders. That time has certainly given me a tremendously useful background to the contents of the Bill that is before us and there is much that emanated from that committee that has found its way into this Bill. There is also a tremendous amount in this Bill that will be vitally necessary to the smooth working of the new Constitution when it comes into effect.
Let me say at the outset that we will support this measure, but, in common with the hon member for Sea Point, we certainly have reservations about clause 13 and minor reservations about another clause about which I will talk in a moment.
We feel that the clause that deals with the right of Mr Speaker to call joint sessions is a very necessary one. We have no argument with it and I fail to understand the hares that have been set running by the hon members of the CP, although, it is their right to express their feelings.
We also welcome the scrapping of the need for publication of joint rules and orders in the Gazette. I think the hon the Minister has adequately motivated that by pointing out to the House that the rules and orders and certainly the new joint rules and orders will be available to the public. I think he said they will be freely available and therefore there is no need for them to be gazetted.
The interesting provision of course is the one in clause 6, which provides for the reelection of an indirectly elected member. I must confess that I find this tremendously interesting because the Government is introducing something—and let me hasten to say that it does not often do this—that is not exactly in its favour. A case in point has already been highlighted by the hon member for Randburg. I do not wish to be derogatory to the hon member Mr Theunissen but his case is indeed one that we can talk about. Should he move to a higher plane—I am not referring here to a higher plane in the sky but to possible elevation to the President’s Council—then this party will be able to elect a member in his stead. I think that this is a very magnanimous gesture and you know, Sir, when the hon the Minister begins to become a little magnanimous I become a little suspicious. I should just like to know what the rationale is behind this. [Interjections.] I think possibly that this is where the hon the Minister is making his Bill something like the curate’s egg. This would appear to be where he is putting in some of the good parts but I want to have a look at some of the bad parts.
I am not quite so enthusiastic about clause 12.
But you are about clause 6?
Oh, I like clause 6. However, as I say, I cannot wax quite as lyrical about clause 12. I have no argument with the fact that a member of the President’s Council should be able to stand for election to Parliament under the new Constitution. I think there are some outstanding individuals there who could serve our country well in the House of Representatives or the House of Delegates, and possibly that some of them may even find their way back or be newly elected to the House of Assembly. However, while we are providing here for that eventuality—I have no objection to this at all—I say again that it will only show the unfairness of our attitude towards people particularly in the Coloured and Indian communities in certain occupations whom we should like to attract as members of either the House of Representatives or House of Delegates but who, by virtue of the fact that they are afraid of losing their jobs, will not stand for election to either of those two Houses. I feel that this is an unfair situation. We have raised this matter and we have been denied the right to give assurances to the members of the teaching profession that they may offer themselves for election and their jobs will not be in jeopardy. The hon the Minister of Internal Affairs has denied us that right. Here the hon the Minister of Constitutional Development and Planning is allowing us that right in respect of individuals who are in far better positions financially and in every other respect to stand for office, individuals who have enjoyed far more public exposure and who therefore, for the purpose of attracting votes, have a head start over, say, members of the teaching profession. I want to put it to the hon the Minister that it is this situation that concerns us.
You are not opposed to this clause? You are in favour of it but you say that we should do this in the other case as well?
That is correct. I am asking the hon the Minister whether he really appreciates what he is doing in that he is favouring some and not others. I say to the hon the Minister that he is showing his administration up in a bad light by doing this sort of thing. I am not opposed to what he is doing but he is showing his administration up in a bad light by doing it.
However, when it comes to clause 13 then I definitely believe that the hon Minister is showing up his administration in a very, very poor light indeed. I want to say in this regard that I was very impressed by the quiet manner in which the hon member for Sea Point and the hon member for Lichtenburg discussed this point. These gentlemen highlighted their objections, just as I intend to do mine, in a very calm manner indeed.
Like the hon member for Sea Point I do not want to touch on the position of the State President or the Vice State President. We all know that those two gentlemen are more than adequately catered for and, like the hon member for Sea Point, I agree that 100% salary, and no allowance, is more than adequate to cater for those two gentlemen and they are entitled to what they will be receiving as a result of pension arrangements.
But now we get to the President’s Council. The hon member for Randburg said that those people put themselves at risk when they went into the President’s Council. Mr Speaker, no more than any of the gentlemen who sit before you today did those people put themselves at risk. As we sit here today the hon the Prime Minister could walk through that door, take his seat, rise in this House and announce a general election. And that would be the end of it. There would be no hand-outs. There would be nothing. We all accept that and know that. As far as those gentlemen in the President’s Council are concerned, let us be fair and reasonable. The majority of them are gentlemen of means. A great number of them came out of this House, some with ministerial rank, so that they will enjoy the best as far as pensions are concerned. Every single one of them after two and a half years service achieved a 7½year pension rating. There is not one gentleman in this House who can enjoy that sort of arrangement. It is no good the hon the Minister saying that we are going to discuss pensions in another Bill. We cannot legislate like that. We have got to discuss what is before us now. What is before us now is that every member of the President’s Council who goes out at the end of the life of that council…
Will retain his salary.
… and will receive at least 71 years worth of pension until the day he dies. This is as we stand here at the moment because they have all been there for two and a half years. Is that not sufficient in itself?
Not all of them.
Perhaps they have not all been there for two and a half years. Anyway, that is what applies to those who have. Why should a President’s Councillor be treated in any different way from a nominated member of Parliament? I see no reason why. There is the hon member Mr Theunissen sitting there. We have the hon member Mr Van Staden sitting opposite. Then we have the hon member Prof Olivier sitting over there. These gentlemen have been nominated to this House. Should the hon the Prime Minister walk through that door and call on election, that is it. Why should the President’s Council be any different? Nobody is going to turn around to either Prof Olivier, Mr Theunissen, Mr Van Staden or Mr Aronson and say: “Gentlemen, we are sorry about this; we have called an election, but as you know it is our right to call an election. Your term of office expires sometime in 1986 so we are going to pay you a full salary until then.”
Mr Speaker, it is not morally right to do this sort of thing. It is more than a golden handshake. It is a platinum and diamond encrusted golden handshake. Furthermore, I want to point out that we voted last year for a new Constitution for South Africa. We debated it in this House; it was passed publicly and it was circulated. Everybody knows about it. I am sure that every member of the President’s Council got a copy of it. Does the hon the Minister want to tell me that everyone of those gentlemen has not known for at least a year that his term of office is going to expire? Does the hon the Minister want to tell me that everyone of those gentlemen has not known since it was announced—which must have been at least two months ago—that we were going to be summonsed in September and that the new President’s Council would be elected on 26 September? Is that not reasonable and sufficient notice to people? I wish in my political life that I had a year-plus notice of the hon the Prime Minister’s intention to call a general election and to say: “Right, now you are out to grass, old man.” It is very easy for the hon member for De Kuilen to sit there grinning away because he is an “I am all right, Jack” sort of merchant. He thinks he is sitting in a safe seat. I want to say to the hon members who are sitting in “safe” seats that after the events in Potgietersrus, they should all scratch their heads and think again, because their seats are not so safe, and that they can take from me.
What about your own safe seat?
At least I am realistic about it.
We shall support this measure, but I make the urgent request to the hon the Minister to reconsider clause 13. He should not insist on clause 13 going through in its present form. He should rethink it. Let us think in terms of possibly incorporating a period of 90 days. Let us think of something sensible, but please let us not do something here that is going to bring us ridicule. I mean that, because it is going to bring us ridicule and we are going to be condemned for this. We are going to be criticized for this, and quite honestly I do not think it is the right thing for a Government, particularly in this economic climate, to be distributing this sort of largesse.
Mr Speaker, it seems to me as if the only contentious clause in the Bill is clause 13. I shall talk about that in a moment, and then I shall be linking up with what the hon member for Umhlanga said.
Before doing so, I first want to associate myself with the hon member for Randburg by telling the hon the Minister, by way of recapitulation, that although there is no clause in the Bill to which we on this side of the House fundamentally object, there are nevertheless specific particulars that we should like to have a brief look at in the Committee Stage.
Having said that, let me come back to clause 13, and here I should like to associate myself with the hon members for Umhlanga, Lichtenburg and Sea Point. I think the hon member for Umhlanga did, in a certain sense, summarize things very well when he asked why it was necessary to place members of the President’s Council in a position different from that of any nominated or indirectly elected member of this House. I think that in doing that he summarized the question, and I do think one can give an answer to that question. It goes hand in hand with the fact that at this stage South Africa is in a transitional phase in which Government bodies such as the President’s Council come and go and in which other Government bodies can also come and go. They do not come and go because they are unnecessary; they come into being because they are vital at a certain point in time.
In looking back, we find that it was indeed vital for the President’s Council to have existed. It was also vital to have had, as memembers, people of good calibre. If those people had, from the outset, been uncertain about their future, it would have been impossible to have attracted people of that calibre. Some of those people were perhaps in a good position in the sense of previously having done pensionable service in this House, but others made sacrifices, in regard to their careers, for the sake of becoming members of the President’s Council. That is why it was necessary, at an early stage, to tell those people: We do not know what the future of the President’s Council is going to be, but we shall be looking after you. Please help us to perform this extremely important task now.
The hon member for Umhlanga said that those people had had more than a year’s prior knowledge. If one were to have regarded that more than one year’s notice that they had as such, and if one had therefore told them a year ago that in a year’s time they would be without a job, some of the members of the President’s Council would, in all probability, have had to seek some other livelihood, even though the council still had important work to complete, and it would then not have been possible to get proper replacements for the remaining portion of the term.
Are you suggesting by that that those members of the President’s Council were told a year ago that this Bill was to be introduced to give them that extra pay?
No, nothing of the kind! What I am saying, however, is that we engendered a feeling of confidence in the members of the President’s Council by telling them that in spite of the abolition of the body in which they were serving, they would indeed be looked after. It is very important for that assurance to have been given to them. I do not know in what form and at what stage it was given. If it was not given it should, in my opinion, have been given. At this stage it is important for the Government to keep that articulated or unarticulated promise, since in future it will again be necessary, in a transitional stage, to give people similar assurances in connection with their work. There is a big difference between the security of the position of someone who is a member of a body that is going to be abolished and someone who is a member of a body like the House of Assembly, where the only uncertainty is whether, in the next election, he is going to make the grade. A member of the President’s Council cannot become a member of the President’s Council again, even if he stands on his head, because that body is being abolished. That is a situation quite different to the one in which I find myself, a situation in which I could possibly lose my seat tomorrow or the day after, after a general election, merely because I was not able to mobilize the electorate once more. That is quite a different matter. I think it was necessary to give those people more than the normal occupational assurances in regard to their work in order to get those people to do the job and to carry it through to the end. The hon member for Lichtenburg said, amongst other things, that if merely normal rules and procedures had been adopted, that would specifically have placed those people in a favourable position or would have been sufficient. The mere fact that he referred to the custom known in the business world as the “golden handshake” proves that in our society this principle is an established one. When someone’s post is abolished he is given a specific benefit to compensate him for the fact that his post has been abolished. That is not a new principle, but an established one, and there is consequently no problem in this connection.
I now want to come back to a point the hon member for Lichtenburg made, commenting at the same time on the CP’s whole approach to this Bill. The hon member for Lichtenburg initially said that their opposition to the Constitution was absolute and that they were consequently totally opposed to this Bill. The hon member for Randburg has already pointed out that this opposition of theirs does not quite make sense. On the one hand we are here moving slightly towards the older system, a small step backwards, if one can put it that way, whilst there is a clause which could definitely be of benefit to Opposition parties and which could place the CP in a better position to give effect to their opposition to the Constitution than would otherwise have been the case. Yet even that they are opposing.
This actually brings me to the fact that throughout the session it has been clear that opposition to measures relating to the Constitution was not based on the merit attaching to those measures, but merely on a blind principle of opposition to the Constitution. It made no difference whether it was in the interests of the country or not for a specific measure to be adopted. If the CP could relate it, in any way, to the Constitution, there were opposed to it. One would be able to mention a dozen or more examples, from this session, of the CP opposing specific pieces of legislation, even in opposition to their own party’s principles, because they related them to the Constitution.
I can do so, but I do not want to go into that now. A good example of a blunder on the hon member for Lichtenburg’s part or, to put it more euphemistically, an example of the hon member for Lichtenburg having adopted an untenable standpoint merely for the sake of being opposed to something, related to clause 13 of the Bill. He said that if there were people in the present President’s Council who did not, in any event, find themselves in a favourable position, the Government could surely give them a little job somewhere. What was he implying? He was implying that we should place people in positions which they would not otherwise obtain. [Interjections.] Merely with a view to looking after these people financially, we should place them in a job somewhere, a job which they would otherwise certainly not have found themselves in. We should thus accept the fact that they were destitute as a criterion rather then their merit. This Government, however, says it does not want to do that; we shall give the people what they deserve when it comes to financial remuneration for the services they have furnished in the past, but when we want to fill a post, we do not look for a poor beggar to appoint to that post, but rather the man for the job. So by way of this measure the Government is specifically keeping to its promise of clean and sound administration. If we accepted the hon member for Lichtenburg’s advice and placed people in little jobs—as he put it—for which they were not suited for some or other reason, we would specifically have been doing the opposite. The Government is therefore coming to the fore with a sound administrative measure, but the CP is opposed to it, merely because it is related to the Constitution.
This brings one up against something of the dilemma in which the CP is increasingly going to find itself. This relates to their whole attitude to the Constitution. It is common knowledge that during the referendum the CP adopted the standpoint that they would participate in the new dispensation with a view to coming into power in the White House of Assembly, the object thereby being to destroy the dispensation. The hon the leader of the CP took the matter further this week, in reply to a question of the hon the Minister of Internal Affairs by saying that the CP would take action within the parliamentary context. It is interesting to ascertain what it would actually require for the CP to take action within the parliamentary context to change this dispensation. The only manner in which they would indeed be able to do so would be to obtain the approval of the other Houses to change certain provisions in the present Constitution. They would therefore, in short, have to convince the Coloured and Indian leaders that independent homelands were acceptable to them so that legislation could be piloted through here to convert the three Chambers into three separate Parliaments. I am asking hon members of the CP whether that is the action, within the parliamentary context, by which they envisage doing away with this system. If that is not the case, they owe us an explanation. On the one hand I see no evidence of the CP already having tried to convince Coloured leaders to accept their homeland policy. The conclusion I must therefore draw, at this stage, is twofold: Either their resistance to the new constitutional dispensation is in the process of crumbling, or their undertaking about taking action within the parliamentary context is merely lip-service. I should like hon members of the CP to throw more light on this problem. I am not trying to drive them into a corner, but am merely trying to understand what their standpoint in that connection is. Possibly the discussion could then be taken further.
In conclusion I want to express my thanks to the official Opposition and the NRP for their support of this Bill. This side of the House also gladly supports this Bill. In my view there are good reasons why clause 13, being opposed by all the Opposition parties, should indeed be accepted, and I therefore have pleasure in supporting this Bill.
Mr Speaker, the hon member for Sea Point has already intimated that we on this side of the House support this Bill. At the same time he expressed certain reservations, particularly in respect of three clauses in the Bill, viz clauses 3 and 4 seen as a unit, and clause 13. We shall come back to this later, and during the Committee Stage I shall refer the hon the Minister to a few technical aspects in this regard.
To a large extent I go along with what the hon member for Helderkruin said about the attitude of the CP. What constantly amazes one is the use of the term “own fatherland”. The hon member for Lichtenburg again referred to that today. One has to be honest and point out that the Coloureds, Indians and Blacks also regard this country, South Africa, as their fatherland, just as much as I or any other hon member does. To me it does not seem correct that one should adopt the standpoint that South Africa is solely the fatherland of the Whites.
Did he say that?
Yes. He said that we were giving away the fatherland of the Whites.
But he did not say that South Africa was the fatherland of the Whites alone.
That, in any event, is the implication of what the hon member for Lichtenburg said. I want to emphasize that we accept that South Africa is not the fatherland of the Whites alone.
In the second place the hon member for Lichtenburg referred once again to the sovereignty of the Whites which was supposedly being forfeited by way of the Constitution. In this regard it seems to me as if it is impossible to make sense of that. One cannot speak of power-sharing on the one hand and the sovereignty of the White people on the other, because surely there is no reason why English and Afrikaans-speaking people, together with the other minority groups such as the Portuguese, can be regarded as one people. Surely at some stage we must reach the point where we use unambiguous terminology. Therefore there has always been power-sharing among the Whites. We find, therefore, that when all kinds of fine-sounding terms are used, they are in fact used only as a pretext for separation on the basis of race of colour. In this regard the CP should rather not say that separation is based on peoples, but instead that it is based purely on colour and race. Then we can debate the matter; otherwise we miss the real points of difference in our discussions.
The hon member for Lichtenburg referred to the Westminster system to which are supposedly reverting, with reference to certain things. I want to say once again—and I also say this to the hon the Minister of Constitutional Development and Planning—that we here time and again in this House—particularly during this session—that we are moving away from the Westminister system. My problem in this regard is that we are using terms that are not defined. The Westminster system, as has already been indicated, can mean several different things. In the first place, it can mean that the majority party has the right to exclusive formation of the government. That is part of the Westminster system. It can also mean that the parliamentary system is legislatively sovereign. It can also mean that the executive has to account to the legislative authority, as in the traditional Westminster system. Accordingly my plea is that when we say that we are moving away from the Westminster system, it must be clear what we mean by that, or else we shall constantly be lapsing into the kind of confusion that we have encountered here today as well.
After all, the Westminster system has many characteristics in common with other systems.
Yes, that is right, but that is not my point. One then still has to define what institutions one regards as unique to the Westminster system. That is all I ask. [Interjections.]
The point mentioned by the hon member for Sea Point with reference to clauses 3 and 4 is indeed one that troubles us. One of our objections to the original Bill was that by combining in one person the conventional and traditional powers of the State President and those of the Prime Minister, the State President is being made a far more powerful person, with far more extensive powers, than when the functions are separated. We do not wish to repeat that debate at this stage but the problem is now being exacerbated by the provisions of clauses 3 and 4. In his explanatory memorandum that the hon the Minister sent us he made the statement inter alia that due to the nature and extent of the Prime Minister’s functions, it has not often happened in the past that the Prime Minister himself has been in charge of the administration of the departments. I want to say to him, in all honesty, that that statement is historically incorrect.
What did you say I said?
I am referring to what the hon the Minister said in the explanatory memorandum.
Very well. I just want to say that with reference to the fact that the Prime Minister has on occasion in the past had several other departments …
In fact this means that the fact that the State President can be in charge of all kinds of ministries could create problems in the light of what I have said. I shall take the hon the Minister’s remarks here to heart and will accordingly not go into this further.
I should have been able to understand it if the State President were to exercise the powers of a Minister in a temporary capacity in the light of his powers in terms of sections 25 and 26 of the Constitution. I can understand that situations could arise in which the State President would have to take over certain functions temporarily, in cases where someone was not available or was ill, etc, and did not wish to transfer the functions temporarily to another Minister. I can understand that. In terms of the present wording of clauses 3 and 4, however, there is no reference to the temporary assumption of those functions by the State President. If I understood the hon the Minister’s Second Reading speech correctly, the State President is treated like a normal Minister when exercising those powers. Therefore he takes a seat in this House and is responsible to this House. He does not have the right to vote because he is not a member of the House, but for the rest the House can address him on that matter. If I understood the hon the Minister correctly then he, too, is bound, in the exercise of this function as Minister, to the provisions of section 19 of the Act. Therefore he must act in consultation with the Cabinet. However, there is a technical problem, and I should be obliged if the hon the Minister will attend to it. In terms of section 19(2), section 26 has been excluded from the provision that he must act in consultation with the Cabinet, and since the amendments to the Constitution are now being made possible by the amendment of section 26 it seems to me as if there is conflict between the two. I reiterate that my interpretation of what the Minister said is that when he acts in his capacity as Minister he is bound by section 19. Therefore, he has to act in consultation with the Cabinet, because then he is essentially a member of that Cabinet. In section 19(2) it is specifically provided that:
It is very clear that it is not the intention that in this instance the State President need not act in accordance with that; that is to say, if I understood the hon the Minister correctly. I merely want to say that it seems to me as if there is a conflict with section 19(2), and that this must be rectified by inserting a cross-reference in section 19(2) or in the proposed section 26, or else the situation could arise in which these clear aims could not be given effect to.
I shall explain that.
Thank you, I should appreciate it.
Then I want to refer the hon the Minister to the final sentence of the proposed section 26(2), viz:
In terms of section 25 and 26 the State President does have the right and the power to nominate anyone to exercise those functions and powers. As far as I am concerned that provision in the clause is superfluous.
A great deal has already been said about clause 6. The hon member for Sea Point has stated our standpoint and we had an interesting discussion about it. I must admit that the considerations advanced are important for various reasons, but I do just want to ask whether the terms “nominated member” or nomination” in clause 6 will not give rise to confusion with the nominated members to whom reference is made in clause 40. Would it not be better to refer to a “designated member” than to a nominated member in order to eliminate this confusion? The two categories we are acquainted with are “nominated” members and “indirectly elected” members, but in the case of a vacancy the word “nomination” is now also being used. Perhaps we could think of a different term in this regard.
As far as clause 11 is concerned I just want to ask the hon the Minister in passing how it will affect the situation in which the Prime Minister acts, say, as chairman of a body—I am now referring to the old constitution—and here I have in mind in particular the State Security Council. It is specifically provided that the Prime Minister must be the chairman of that council. How do the possible powers in the proposed section 26 affect that situation? I ask merely for my personal edification.
In a certain sense I initially thought that the comments advanced by the hon member for Randburg concerning the final part of clause 12 were correct. The hon member for Sea Point also referred to that. This concerns the issue of serving members of the President’s Council and their right to be nominated as candidates. I think that the hon member for Sea Point stated our standpoint in this regard and expressed reservations about the final part which reads:
At that stage the hon the Minister shook his head, and therefore I take it that he has a specific explanation on that point.
This is quite simply because the constitution will only come into operation on 3 September, whereas the election for the Indian Chamber precedes that.
That seems to be correct, because in terms of section 102(11) the President’s Council then ceases to exist. Therefore the words “said President’s Council” refer to the President’s Council that exists at the moment. Accordingly it seems to me as if the problem can be dealt with in this way.
I associate myself with the ideas and the objection advanced by the hon members for Sea Point and Umhlanga with regard to the payment of salaries and so on to the members of the existing President’s Council. I do think that when one enters politics and becomes a member of a political body, one knows that one is running a risk. One resigns one’s job and goes into politics full-time. That is what I myself and other hon members have done. Due to circumstances beyond one’s control an election may occur long before one expects it, and this affects one’s entire situation in more than one respect, but one accepts that risk with one’s eyes open. It seems to me that this undoubtedly also applies to the acceptance of membership of a body like the President’s Council, the old or the new.
The hon member will realize that that depends on how one sees the matter. In the new dispensation the President’s Council will be dissolved together with all the other Houses.
But there is one qualification, and I think the hon Minister will realize it.
Yes; that, and if a motion of no confidence in the Government is accepted.
There is something else too, and if I am wrong the hon the Minister must assist me. I also think that provision has been made in the Constitution that if one House requests the State President to dissolve that House …
But I said …
It is not merely a question of no confidence.
If a motion of no confidence is accepted then surely the House in question asked for that.
Then we have a new situation once again as far as the nominations in that House are concerned.
I just want to refer to the arguments advanced by the hon member for Helderkruin when he said that this assurance had been given in order to obtain people of high calibre in the President’s Council. Surely people’s calibre or quality does not disappear in the course of 18 months. I want to point out, in all humility, that the caucus of the NP has the right to nominate 20 people as members of the new President’s Council. In addition the State President has the right to nominate a further 15. Therefore, if it was primarily a matter of quality and calibre, then I believe it must be the function of the NP or the State President to prove to those people that they were in earnest as far as they were concerned by nominating them afresh in the new President’s Council.
Mr Speaker, the hon member Prof Olivier raised a few technical points, and they will definitely have to be looked at, particularly as far as cross references are concerned. As regards his arguments in connection with the President’s Council, a great deal of what he said is totally unfounded.
†I am surprised that the hon member used the argument that he did. He said that a person who has gone to the President’s Council is surely of such calibre that he will be nominated again for the new President’s Council.
I was reacting to the hon member for Helderkruin.
The hon member made the statement that surely those parties who sent the people there in the first place should now look after them and use these people of calibre again.
After all, he said, the NP can elect 20 members and the State president can appoint 25 members and so on. Let us take the example of Mr Japie Basson or Mr Dan Neser. Here we have a display of the courage that the hon member for Helderkruin was talking about. They cut themselves loose from the safety net, from the organized body of opinion that carried them along in their careers. They were members of parties and they could not act in isolation. They cut themselves adrift in the national interest.
What is your position?
I happen to be independent, and I am very happy that I am. I do not have to sit in this House, and the hon member knows it. That is my safety net. I have created my own safety net. Unhappily the hon member has not created his own. But I am now addressing the hon member Prof Olivier. I shall talk to the hon member for Umhlanga later.
Why do you not go and write a pamphlet?
The hon member Prof Olivier in fact endorsed the arguments of the hon member for Helderkruin by virtue of the one example that I have given him.
The other thing is that hon members talk about members of the President’s Council, and distinguished people came from all sides of this House. However, the fact of the matter is that those people who went to the President’s Council did not only come from this House; they came also from other walks of life. Some came from organized political parties outside of this House and others came from normal walks of life. People of colour in particular were often in the prime of their careers. When one cuts oneself loose at that age it is very difficult to return to private life, and the hon member knows that. I do not know whether the hon member would like to go and look around now for a job as a professor. I say this with respect, but the fact of the matter is that once one has cut oneself adrift for a few years, it is difficult to start again.
Who says that they are not in your fortunate position?
It is very easy for us to talk with the benefit of hindsight about the President’s Council. It is very easy for us now to look at what has happened, but we must try to put ourselves back into the position that those people were in when the President’s Council was formed. I do not want to speak with rancour of this now, but the fact of the matter is that hon members of the official Opposition tried to make it absolutely impossible for people to serve, not only for our people to serve. They made it impossible for people from this House, as was the case with Mr Japie Basson. They put enormous political and social pressure on other people not to serve. How many of us would have said then that the President’s Council would be the success that it was? We knew that there were enormous risks. I myself had misgivings. A situation was created where people who had been political and antagonists for years were thrown together. People like Mr Sonny Leon and other members who came from this side of the House were put together in a crucible, and very few people would have put money on the success of the President’s Council. Very few People would have put money on the fact that they would achieved the success that they did in the time that they did it. It was only in January 1981 that those gentlemen came together for the first time.
It seems like yesterday in this House that the hon the Minister who was then Minister of Internal Affairs—in this regard I want to quote from the first report of the President’s Council which in turn is quoting from a speech the hon the Minister made—had this to say:
It seems like yesterday that we heard the hon the Minister say that. When we consider the evolution of constitutions worldwide, even in the case of the American constitution in regard to which the founding fathers sat for 11 years, the fact that the President’s Council could deal as effectively, expeditiously and as quickly with the situation as they did, is remarkable. The fact that we are entering the new constitutional dispensation in the confident way we are is because we talked about consensus. Hon members of the NRP have also over the years said that consensus is possible. The fact remains, however, that because of the skill of the members of that council it was proved that consensus-seeking was possible. Within that council they created mechanisms which we are now carrying over in the way of standing committees and so forth. They broke new ground, they took great risks and displayed great courage, and I am disappointed that the sort of thing that has been said in this House particularly by the hon member for Lichtenburg has cast aspersions on the value of those councillors and their work and the kind of people they are. I think it is reprehensible to say: “Ons kan vir hulle joppies kry” as though they were people of no standing at all. If there is an element of a golden handshake in this, that is nothing unusual. One only has to look at the denationalization of nationalized industries at the moment. I have just been reading Sampson’s latest book on denationalization under the Thatcher Government since 1979. In case after case, nationalized industry after nationalized industry has been disbanded, and the same thing has happened here. There has been the element of a golden handshake because something has been terminated that it was thought would continue.
In conclusion, I should like to draw attention to one particular truth that has flowed from the work of the President’s Council and which is brought out by what we are discussing today. I refer here to the positive indication that the constitutional logjam in our country has now been broken. The feature of this Government and of the departments of this hon Minister in particular has been their contribution towards breaking up that logjam in this country. The hon the Prime Minister has broken up other logjams in Africa and in Europe, and also on the labour front. On the constitutional front we are dealing today with legislation that once again proves that the constitutional flow of history which has been dammed up for some time is flowing again. The President’s Council and this hon Minister himself have played brilliant roles in bringing this about.
Sir, we support this legislation.
Mr Speaker, the hon member for Maitland referred to the President’s Council. He said that he himself had reservations when people like Mr Sonny Leon and others with divergent political standpoints were gathered together in the President’s Council. The hon member also said that this President’s Council in which Mr Sonny Leon and these other people with completely divergent standpoints sat, proved that they could reach consensus on certain subjects.
I want to tell the hon member that in its present form the President’s Council consists of people appointed by the hon the Prime Minister.
Fanie Herman, too.
Yes, Mr Herman, too, who continued to adopt his own standpoint, and he had every right to do so. The new President’s Council is being composed of representatives of different political parties.
Are you going to be there?
Yes, we are going to be there. Those representatives are bound to certain fundamental standpoints and the policies of their various parties. The President’s Council is the body which, if there is a clash between the three Houses, will take the final decision on those conflicting standpoints between the three Houses. Those members will have to maintain the standpoint of their various political parties.
Where does it say that?
Surely that is only logical. Would the hon member throw the principles of the NP overboard if he goes and sits in the President’s Council? [Interjections ]
Then I just want to tell the hon member that if members of the CP are going to sit in the President’s Council, they will not throw their principles overboard either. If Rev Hendrickse’s people are going to sit in the President’s Council, those members will not throw the principles of that particular party overboard either. Nevertheless the President’s Council has to make the final decision.
May I put a question?
No. Conflicting standpoints of the various political parties are now being taken into the President’s Council and the days of love and peace in the President’s Council as it was are past. If there are conflicting interests which affect the interests of the Whites in South Africa and they are submitted to the President’s Council, I assume the members of the CP will not sacrifice the interests of the White man for the sake of consensus, but that they will continue to maintain their standpoint. The days of love and peace to which the hon member for Maitland referred are therefore past.
The hon member for Randburg tried to rebuke the CP about clause 6 and he referred to the position of the hon member Mr Theunissen. The hon members for Umhlanga and Helderkruin also referred to the CP’s standpoint in respect of clause 6. However, as Whip of the CP I want to say that the hon member Mr Theunissen is a valuable member of the CP caucus. He is a hardworking and thorough member who means a great deal to our party. We would not exchange the hon member Mr Theunissen for any 10 members opposite. It is true that clause 6 could benefit the CP, since if the hon member Mr Theunissen should decide to retire, which we hope will not happen, the CP can appoint another CP member in his place in terms of this clause. However, that is not the reason for this provision in clause 6. The hon the Minister of Constitutional Development and Planning is not that fond of the CP. The real reason for this clause is that the NP has to designate candidates for the President’s Council, but they do not want by-elections. [Interjections.] Listen to the noise they are making now, Sir. Say the hon member for Potgietersrus develops the urge to go to the President’s Council after Wednesday. The NP would then say to him: “No, Sampie, you must rather not go to the President’s Council. We should rather send the hon member Dr Pieterse, the hon member Mr Vermeulen, the hon member Dr Odendaal or the hon member Mr Kritzinger to the President’s Council.” That is the real reason for clause 6, viz that the NP does not want by-elections.
This amending Bill amends section 46, 60, 64, 65, 67 and 102 of the Constitution of 1983, all sections which the Committee of this House did not have the opportunity of discussing last year during the Committee Stage of the Constitution because the guillotine was implemented. We said as far back as then that the Government was introducing a Constitution full of failings and shortcomings.
The NP said that once this Constitution had been passed it could only be altered with the permission of all three Houses. The question on the ballot paper in the referendum was:
South Africa had to say “yes” or “no” to that. It is true that the Whites said “yes” to the Constitution. The NP says the will of the people is laid down democratically in the Constitution, the people themselves approved the Constitution. Before the Constitution has even been implemented, we already have 13 amendments before us in this Bill. The Coloureds and the Indians have not even had the opportunity of holding a referendum to express an opinion on the Constitution. The Coloureds and the Indians simply had to take what they got. The Coloureds and the Indians, like everyone in South Africa, were given the impression that the Constitution, as approved by way of the referendum, could only be altered with the concurrence of the Coloured and the Indian Houses. The Government has now taken the liberty of effecting changes to the Constitution of 1983 by way of this Bill. The Government was given a mandate by the White voters for the implementation of the Constitution, Act 110 of 1983. However, the Government was not given a mandate by the Coloureds and Indians for the implementation of that Act. Now I want to ask: Does the Government have a mandate for altering Act 110 of 1983 before it has been put into operation? The Act is being altered by a Bill which gives the State President further dictatorial powers, since he can even be in charge of a Ministry. The Bill also takes the unprecedented step of determining that members of a body which is being dissolved before its allotted time will receive salaries until the period of service expires normally. This is being done at a time when the Government does not have money for an improved salary package for teachers. I now want to refer to clause 10.
Mr Speaker, on a point of order: With all due respect, all that is relevant in this debate are the particular clauses of the Bill, clauses 1 to 13. The arguments the hon member is raising now are arguments he should specifically have raised when the Constitution as such was debated. There is not one clause of this Bill in respect of which he is adopting a standpoint with a view to the Second Reading of the Bill.
I have been listening carefully to the hon member. I have allowed him a little latitude by way of introduction and have permitted him to comment on speeches of other hon members. The hon member then turned to the Bill and wanted to know whether there was any authorisation to alter the Constitution now. He is conducting a general debate on the clauses. However, I now want to call him to order, since I am not going to permit him to discuss matters relating to education.
Sir, clause 10 amends section 67 of the Constitution in regard to joint sittings. I wonder whether it would not have had an effect on the result of the referendum if the voters had known about this amendment of that section. That is why I asked the hon the Minister about it. I wonder whether the decision of the White voters in the referendum would not have been different if they had known about the joint rules and orders to which reference is made in clause 11(1)(b). During the referendum the voters were given the impression that the members of the three Houses would have a joint sitting on highly exceptional occasions, for example, at the official opening of Parliament. However, provision is made in clause 10 of the Bill for holding more joint sittings of the three Houses. As the Government’s intentions with the new multiracial dispensation unfurl, one realizes more and more what its intention is. At first only the opening would have been a joint sitting; then it was the opening and the Second Reading of the Budget, and still later the opening of Parliament, the Budget speech of the Minister dealing with the general Budget, as well as the Budgets of the Minister of Transport Affairs and the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications. In terms of clause 10 the Speaker is now being given the right to call more joint sittings. This means that all Second Reading speeches of general laws can be made at joint sittings.
The hon member for Krugersdorp says: “Hear, hear!”, since he knows that that is the intention. Did the hon member for Kimberley South tell the voters that?
Yes, and much more.
I shall come to the “much more” to which the hon member referred later.
For practical reasons and to eliminate time-consuming procedures, Second Reading speeches of all Bills concerning matters of common interest will take place before joint sittings. [Interjections.] The Constitution provides that the chambers should vote separately, but for practical reasons and to avoid time-consuming procedures, all Second Reading speeches and debates will eventually be dealt with at joint sittings.
Where does it say that?
As the Constitution and the Government’s plans for reform come to life, the eyes of the hon member for Mossel Bay will be opened.
Does the hon the Minister of Constitutional Development and Planning foresee that the debates on Bills of common interest will take place at joint sittings? The loquacious Minister is now dead quiet, since he knows that what I am saying is true.
Jan, why do we not have one House?
The hon member for Pinelands is asking why we do not have one House. I am going to explain to him in a moment what is on the way; he must just be a little patient.
I predict that the multiracial tricameral Parliament will not work. I am convinced that the architects of the multiracial tricameral Parliament knew that it would not work. That is why there are already changes to the Constitution at this stage. After a trial period of two years in which temporary facilities will be used by the different chambers, the architects will come forward and claim that the three chambers are not working. They will claim that practical considerations do not make that possible. Time-consuming procedures will cause this not to work. These architects—and the hon the Minister is the chief architect—will then say that the Coloureds and the Indians are already here …
Order! I have listened attentively to the hon member. He cannot make prophetic predictions now. He cannot look into the future and say that certain things will happen. The hon member must confine himself to the Bill. Then I shall permit him to continue with his speech. However, he must not make prophetic predictions that have nothing to do with the Bill.
I am not making prophetic predictions, Sir. Clause 10 makes provision for joint sittings.
Order! The hon member says that he “sees” and “believes” that certain things are going to happen. However, that has got nothing to do with the Bill. The hon member must abide by my ruling.
Clause 10 makes provision for more joint sittings.
That is not true.
I want answers to certain questions. I have asked some questions and I should like some answers.
Mr Speaker, may I ask the hon member a question?
The hon the Minister just wants to waste more of my time. I do not want to reply to questions. [Interjections.] If this multiracial tricameral Parliament does not work, the Government will say that since the Coloureds and the Indians are already here, we may as well introduce a unicameral Parliament.
Mr Speaker, on a point of order: ’Hie legislation I have introduced here does not make provision for a multiracial Parliament. If such a provision exists it is in the Constitution, and not in this Bill.
The hon the Minister has more than enough time—more than half an hour—to tell this House these things. I think he should use that time to tell us.
Clause 10 of this Bill makes provision for Second Reading debates to take place jointly, and that is why I say that the debates that will take place separately initially will ultimately take place jointly. I want to tell the hon members for Pinelands that Second Reading debates, Committee Stage debates and Third Reading debates on legislation of common interest will ultimately be disposed of at joint sittings. Once the policy of the NP has come to fife, that will be the case.
The hon member for Kimberley South Said that he mentioned these things to the people. I should like to quote what he had to say in that regard. Earlier I said that if the amendments contained in this Bill had been presented to the voters, the result of the referendum could perhaps have been different. The hon member for Kimberley South said that there would be more joint sittings. However, he said something else, too. Sir, I hope you will permit me to read the “something else” he said.
No. I want to tell the hon member at the outset that it is irrelevant here that an hon member of the governing party told the hon member that he said something else. I cannot permit the hon member to use this Bill, which deals with specific matters, to criticize an hon member about what else he is supposed to have said. The hon member must confine himself to this Bill.
Sir, I asked whether the Government had a mandate to alter the Constitution because the question on the ballot paper during the referendum was whether the voters vote “yes” or “no”. The question to the voters was whether they were in favour of the Constitution being altered. I asked whether the hon the Minister had a mandate to alter the Constitution. I maintained that the full consequences of the Constitution were not presented to the voters during the referendum and that amendments are consequently being effected now which could have altered the result if they were incorporated in the Constitution. Certain pronouncements were made during the referendum, by the hon member for Kimberley South, too.
Is the hon member now coming to what “else” the hon member for Kimberley South is supposed to have said?
I shall permit the hon member to refer to that now. However, if I find that it is not relevant here, I shall immediately call the hon member to order.
The hon member for Kimberley South said the following at a meeting before the referendum:
He was referring to the Constitution:
That says quite a lot. The hon member for Kimberley South says this Constitution is a perpetuation of apartheid. [Interjections.]
Order! I am asking the hon member for Kuruman a very straightforward question: Does he admit that he is discussing apartheid now?
But that is what the hon member has just said.
Sir, I did not hear very well; could you just repeat that, please.
Does the hon member admit that he is discussing the question of apartheid under the Constitution now?
Sir, let me tell you what he said. He told the voters that the Constitution was nothing but a perpetuation of apartheid. However, he cannot tell Rev Hendrickse that. For that reason many people in Kimberley South voted “yes”.
Order! I want to be fair to the hon member. We are not discussing the referendum or the Constitution, but amendments to the Constitution. The hon member must please confine himself to those amendments now.
Mr Speaker, I asked whether the Government really had a mandate, since the mandate it obtained was due to pronouncements such as the one to which I have just referred. The Constitution now has to be amended ever before it has been implemented.
Since the Government is now at liberty to amend the Constitution by way of this Bill, the CP welcomes the opportunity to ask the Government to reflect before the Constitution is implemented. We ask the Government to reflect on this Constitution before it is implemented in its amended form. [Interjections.] We ask the Government to reflect before they pilot this Bill through this House. The CP asks the Government to reflect before they implement the Constitution in its amended form on 3 September.
I should like to tell hon members what the real solution for peace is. [Interjections.] Would you permit me to do so, Mr Speaker?
The hon member must discuss the amendments before us.
Mr Speaker, I hope that you will also call to order hon members of the other parties who are going to participate in the debate and attack the CP.
Order! Thus far I have acted very fairly towards the hon member. However, I regard what he has just said, viz: “I hope that you will also call to order hon members of the other parties who are going to participate in the debate and attack the CP”, as pointing a finger at, and consequently casting a reflection on, the Chair.
I am sorry, Mr Speaker, and I withdraw it.
I wish to conclude by saying that the CP cannot support this Bill, since the Government does not have a mandate to effect these amendments. In any case, they are amendments that are taking us further along the path of political integration in South Africa, and we shall consequently be voting against the Bill.
Mr Speaker, we have just had an astonishing performance by the hon member for Kuruman in particular, but also by the hon member for Lichtenburg, in which they intimated their opposition to this Bill. The hon member for Kuruman said that they would be voting on these amendments. That is not true, however. Did the hon member not listen to the amendment moved by the hon member for Lichtenburg? Those hon members do not want to vote on the amendments at all. In his amendment the hon member for Lichtenburg asked that the Bill be read in six months’ time. Consequently, they do not want to vote on the amendments and the provisions of the Bill. They want to postpone the Bill for six months.
Today the hon member for Kuruman—as his party has been doing for some time— again set up a number of targets and then began shooting them down one by one himself. I now want to mention a few of them. The hon member for Lichtenburg said that he was moving the amendment because the CP is vehemently opposed to the new Constitution, and consequently to the amendments contained in this Bill.
Are you going to the President’s Council?
Since the hon member Mr Theunissen is asking that question, I just want to touch on another aspect the hon member for Kuruman raised. He has it all wrong. He does not understand what it says in the Constitution. When he expressed his opposition to the people who are going to the President’s Council, he forgot that the Constitution provides that those provisions only apply to indirectly elected and nominated members. They have nothing to do with the hon members who represent constituencies here.
Business suspended at 12h45 and resumed at 14hl5.
Mr Speaker, before business was suspended for lunch, I had begun reacting to certain statements made by the hon member for Lichtenburg and the hon member for Kuruman. I trust that you will permit me to continue doing so briefly.
I referred to one of the statements made by the hon member for Lichtenburg. With reference to the new constitutional dispensation he said that that party did not want anything to do with a set-up that is not going to work. What a hollow argument, since by that those hon members betrayed themselves and their party. Let us assess that statement by the hon member for Lichtenburg against pronouncements made by the hon the leader and other hon members of that party.
The hon the leader of that party, the hon member for Waterberg, said as recently as this week that party is going to participate in the new dispensation and that they would follow parliamentary procedure. They will act parliamentarily. Earlier, of course, that hon member told the country that he and his party would not take the new dispensation. Now he has conceded that they will participate and that they will act in a parliamentary way. However, I want to ask the hon member for Lichtenburg, when they govern one day—they claim that the people are on their side and that it is just a matter of time …
We will begin in Ermelo.
The hon member for Barberton says that that is their intention and that they will succeed. The hon member for Lichtenburg must tell us, once they have taken over the government, how they are going to alter the new Constitution from the point of view of their policy without introducing an amending Bill in that regard in Parliament. At present they are opposed to any amendments to it, since they are in fact proposing that this measure be read a Second Time this day six months.
With reference to the new President’s Council, the hon member for Kuruman went on to say that they would be there. They are therefore also going to participate. The hon member for Brakpan said a while ago that they would also sit on the standing committees. Now that there is a measure before this House today that aims at improving the procedure and the workings of the new Constitution, they say that they do not want to have anything to do with it, however.
In addition, the hon member for Kuruman conceded that they are going to make use of the provisions of clause 6 of this measure. Nevertheless he wants the measure to be read a Second Time this day six months.
Furthermore, the hon member for Kuruman asked why we do not also allow the Coloureds and the Indians to participate in a referendum like the referendum for Whites last year. To this he linked the statement that the Coloureds and the Indians should now take what they can get from this side of the House, in his opinion. The Coloureds and the Indians had a choice, however. They were given the choice of having a referendum amongst their own people, and they themselves said they did not want to hold such a referendum, but that they preferred to test the opinion of their people by way of an election.
Hon members of the CP disregard self-determination.
Is that so?
That is the view of that hon member with regard to self-determination for those groups.
One could also put a counter-question to them, and I should like to put it to the hon member for Kuruman. Did he and his party consult the Coloureds and the Indians and test their opinions before deciding to accept a homeland policy for those two groups?
Did you consult the Zulus? [Interjections.]
Order! I regret to interrupt the hon member for Ermelo, but he is reacting to arguments of the hon member for Kuruman which have nothing at all to do with the Bill. I should therefore be pleased if the hon member would come back to the Bill now.
Mr Speaker, I concede that, but I ask you to afford me the opportunity of reacting to statements and arguments the hon member raised in his Second Reading speech.
Order! I have already permitted the hon member to do so for five minutes, and if I allow him to continue, other hon members will ask to react to the hon member’s arguments. We will never get around to the Bill before the House in this way. Would the hon member please assist me in this regard?
I shall abide by your guidance, Mr Speaker.
Another question the hon member asked, and the reason he gave for his party not being able to support this measure, is because we supposedly have no mandate from the voters to effect these amendments. He then linked this to clause 10 of the Bill, and the argument he used was that it concerns more occasions on which the three Houses will sit jointly. However, clause 10 is not concerned with the number of joint sittings. They are merely procedural measures in terms of the Standing Rules and Orders—which we shall still discuss at a later stage—which are aimed at facilitating the workings of the legislative processes.
But I said that.
No, the hon member did not say that at all. He argued the contrary. The Constitution contains a section, which is completely irrelevant here now, which provides that no decisions will be taken at such joint sittings. Surely that is the principle.
I said that, too.
If the hon member said that, his racial hatred and colour prejudice are now coming to the fore. If he concedes that the joint sitting will not be permitted to take any decisions, those hon members are merely concerned with the fact that they will have to sit in the same assembly chamber with other groups of colour and the fact that possibly there will be more such occasions, as these amendments provide. That is really what they do not want to take, not the fact that there are going to be more joint sittings, but the mere fact that they will have to sit in an assembly chamber with people who are not White. I say that that is a presumptuous standpoint to adopt. Then in the same breath they say that they grant the other two groups the fullest political rights. That is just as hollow an argument . In fact, they begrudge them everything.
In regard to another clause in the Bill, the hon members of the CP say that if the State President may even be in charge of portfolios and take responsibility for a State department, as the clause provides now, it will lower his status and dignity. For what earthly reason would it lower the status and dignity of the State President? I say that is an objectionable argument. They pretend that that party is so concerned about the status and dignity of a Head of Government of this country. Surely we have seen the results of their “concern” about the status and dignity of a Head of Government of this country during the past few weeks. I say they do not care a jot about that. However, suddenly they are terribly concerned about the status and dignity of the Head of Government and the Head of State in the new dispensation in terms of the provisions of this amendment before the House.
In addition, the hon members say that the amendments we are dealing with now will mean that separateness will disappear even further. They must tell us which clause in this Bill specifically points to that and specifically makes provision for that. That is another hollow argument.
When the hon member for Randburg was speaking and he confronted the hon member for Barberton with that, the reaction of the hon member for Barberton by way of an interjection was: “Yes, but that is only the beginning.” That is one of the targets that party is setting up and then shooting down. It is a mere slogan to say that it is only the beginning, and the hon member knows that it is only a slogan. [Interjections.]
The hon member for Kuruman says that if these amendments in the measure before us now are accepted, it is going to mean the end of love and peace—love and peace are going to be thrown out of the window. It seems as if the CP and its hon members want to make this come true, and to me this shows a dubious attitude with which the CP wants to enter the new dispensation and a dubious attitude with which they want or do not want to discuss the amendments before the House at present, since they are trying to destroy the love and peace in all spheres in this country with their irresponsible actions because it suits them. [Interjections.]
Not only do they want to destroy the love and peace in the legislative instruments …
Order! I should be pleased if the hon. member would leave the love and peace at that and come back to the Bill.
Sir, I want to state that the measure we are discussing now and the amendments to the Constitution which is soon to come into operation, in fact aim at furthering better attitudes between population groups. Because this side of the House is determined to achieve just that, we will not allow ourselves to be deterred by people who have strayed from the path of reasonableness.
Mr Speaker, it is extremely difficult to react to the speech made by the hon member for Ermelo, because he found it extremely difficult to get round to discussing the Bill. In fact, most of his speech did not deal with the contents of the Bill at all. Now, Sir, I do not know whether you are going to allow me to react to that speech. If I may just return briefly to certain enquiries of the hon members for Ermelo and Helderkruin in respect of the standpoint the CP is going to adopt in future in regard to the new dispensation, then I want to give the hon members the assurance that the CP will adopt the constitutional and democratic course, if it should come into power, of amending the Constitution act as it thinks this ought to be done.
Very briefly, I want to ask the hon members—they are constitutional lawyers and experts in other fields of law as well—to consider this: In the Constitution Act as it has been placed on the Statute Book, there is no entrenchment for the future emancipation and gaining of independence by other Black peoples in this country …
Order! That has nothing to do with the Bill.
Sir, I accept your ruling. You allowed the hon member for Ermelo five minutes; you are not allowing me any opportunity at all. I accept it like that.
Mr Speaker, on a point of order: Surely the hon member for Barberton is casting a reflection on the Chair now.
Order! I shall deal with it. The hon member for Barberton said that the Chair was not giving him an opportunity to state his case. I gave the hon member an opportunity to react briefly to what the hon member for Ermelo said, and I want to point out to the hon member for Barberton that what he is saying at the moment has nothing to do with the Bill. Consequently the hon member must not adopt the attitude that I am not giving him an opportunity to state his case; he has the opportunity to do so.
Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I should like to ask you for a ruling in this connection. We are dealing with a Second Reading here, and an aspect which figures very prominently in this debate and which has been raised by almost every hon member on the Government side, is my party’s attitude and standpoint in respect of the parliamentary or non-parliamentary amendment of the Constitution Act. This is an aspect which figured throughout the debate. This debate deals with an amendment to the Constitution Act, and in this connection I respectfully suggest that since it is a Second Reading debate and not a Committee Stage, a debate on the matter may be conducted.
Mr Speaker, on a further point of order: In the first place, I want to point out that the statement made by the hon member for Soutspansberg was not correct. What did in fact happen was that hon members reacted to speeches made by members of the Opposition. As I interpret your ruling with reference to the speech of the hon member for Caledon, you ruled that in debating this matter further, all hon members of all parties should confine themselves to the provisions of the amending Bill and should not discuss the principal Act.
Order! It is an accepted practice in this House that when an amending Bill is being discussed, the principles of the principal Act may not be dealt with again. It is true that hon members have already had a wide-ranging discussion, and the Chair tried to give hon members an opportunity to state their case fully, and therefore allowed hon members to cover a slightly wider field. I also allowed the hon member for Ermelo to react briefly to what other hon members said. That is why I am also prepared to allow the hon member for Barberton to react briefly to what other hon members said, provided it at least has some bearing on the Bill. Nowhere in the Bill, however, do I read that it has anything to do with the emancipation of Black peoples. That was what the hon member for Barberton was discussing when I interrupted him. The hon the member may proceed, but I nevertheless want to ask hon members to cooperate with the Chair in this connection.
Mr Speaker, I accept your guidance. You referred to what I wanted to use as an example, but I shall leave the matter at that. We shall definitely come back to it later.
I want to refer briefly to the provisions of clause 13. It has been argued on the part of hon members of the NP that in the members of the President’s Council we are dealing with patriotic people who offered their services in the interests of South Africa, that it is through no fault of theirs that their term is now expiring, that they are now going to suffer financial losses and that we should therefore adopt this extraordinary measure of not only paying people their salaries for a further 18 months, but also paying them tax-free allowances although they are not going to render any further service to South Africa during that period. One could perhaps have argued that one should have paid these people some form of additional compensation or other, but how any person can allege and try to justify these people being paid a tax-free allowance for a period of 18 months is completely beyond the little grasp I have of these matters. I was always under the impression that public representatives who do receive a tax-free allowance receive it as recompense for the normal expenditure which they would have incurred in the discharge and carrying out of their functions as public representatives. But what do we find now? These people have no further function to fulfil and will have no further expenses in this connection. However, they are for the next 18 months continuing to receive a considerable tax-free allowance from the State. I should like to know how the hon the Minister in particular, and his party in general, can justify this to the taxpayers of South Africa. I think, and I wish to express my opinion in strong terms now, that it is immoral. These great patriots have already been granted the privilege, after two and a half years of service, of receiving a pension. This is unheard of, not only in the history of our country, but in the history of the world. Over and above that, we still have this particular amount. I have made a few rapid calculations now. After all, we are living in a time in which, as the hon the Minister of Finance told us, he does not have money to burn, but here we now have 60 gentlemen of the President’s Council who are for a further 18 months, going to receive a full salary and a tax-free allowance equivalent to that received by MPs. If one makes a rapid calculation, what does one find is the amount involved here, which we are discussing so casually? It is a mere R3 870 000 we are paying these patriots who did the work for the NP. In the history of the world we have probably had extremely expensive commissions of inquiry, but here I think we are setting up a world record. What was the total cost of this President’s Council, with this amount added? Apart from this amount of R3,8 million, as I have calculated, which is now going to be paid to these patriots, they are in addition going to receive a pension for the rest of their lives.
Now it is being argued …
Are you saying that they are not patriots?
No, I am calling them patriots after all. How can the hon member say that I am saying that they are not patriots. I am saying they are patriots. It so happens that they are receiving a small sum of money for it. Now the argument is being used here that it is no fault of these patriots that their term is being prematurely ended. But surely we have had an example in this connection in the past. Surely this Parliament once consisted of two Houses, a House of Assembly and a Senate, and surely there was a time when we decided to abolish the Senate. The Senate was abolished, and surely at that time there were numerous Senators whose terms of office were also terminated prematurely. There were Senators who had not only served for two and a half years, but for much longer. Their services were terminated by legislation and those people did not qualify—and then I am not even talking about a golden handshake—for any pension whatsoever. They were members of this Parliament. They were members of the Senate. Then we did not find it necessary to take taxpayers’ money with which to bid farewell to those people.
Mr Speaker, may I put a question to the hon member? He is alleging that the term of office of members of the Senate was also shortened. Is he not aware of the fact that the term of office of the Senate was, in fact, extended by two years?
Sir, I am specifically talking about the term of office of Senators who had had a longer service than two and a half years. Senators who had not yet served for a full seven and a half years, but who had almost reached that target. No provision was made for them. I am not even talking about the golden handshake. They did not qualify for any pension whatsoever. Then our consciences were not troubled by that situation. I am now awaiting any argument from the Government side as to why this concession should now be made to members of the President’s Council. As far as I know, the position which a member of the President’s Council as such occupies is not a full-time position. Those hon gentlemen did not have to relinquish the work they were doing in private life and work on a full-time basis for the President’s Council only. They also remained on in their private positions. I think this is completely unfair, and then I am not even talking about the financial situation in which the country finds itself at present. What is involved here is a principle. What right do we have to squander the money of the taxpayers of South Africa so recklessly? What we are discussing here is not a question of a few rands or cents, but an amount of almost R4 million that is at stake. [Interjections.] However, I shall leave the matter at that.
I now want to refer to clause 6 of the Bill, which deals with nominated or indirectly elected members of the House of Assembly. The Government party need not be concerned in advance about what the attitude of the Conservative Party in this connection will be and they need not select in advance the members whom we should nominate to the President’s Council. The Government party need not believe all the stories which Die Burger published as the gospel truth. I am now going to refer to something for which I do not have the leave of my Chief Whip. The CP has given no consideration whatsoever to whom we will designate as representative on the President’s Council [Interjections.] Hon members on that side of the House will therefore have to wait patiently to see what our decision will be.
You should also give some thought to Jaap Marais.
The hon member for Innesdal is now saying that we should give some thought to Mr Jaap Marais as well because, he says, Mr Marais helped us. I want to suggest that the hon member should give some thought in the meantime to members of the PFP who helped the NP in Rosettenville. [Interjections.] The candidate of the NP there made a special appeal to PFP members to vote for them.
Order! The hon member must return to the provisions of the Bill.
I shall do, Sir. I am sorry that I allowed myself to be side-tracked. [Interjections.]
I hope you will allow me to deal with the speech made by the hon member for Eratelo, Sir. The people were told that Parliament would only meet in a joint sitting on exceptional occasions and that it would be for ceremonial purposes more than anything else. [Interjections.]
Order! Hon members must give the hon member for Barberton a chance to complete his speech.
With this measure provision is now being made for joint sittings of the three Houses. I venture to predict that joint sittings will be the rule and not the exception on legislation dealing with general affairs. The hon member for Ermelo accused us of racism. He alleged that we were racists because we did not want to conduct a debate with Coloureds and Indians in a joint sitting.
Not conduct a debate, just sit.
Oh, just sit. It appears that the standpoint of the NP is that the three Houses can sit together, but when decisions have to be taken, they should be taken separately. Apparently that is not racism. How does the hon member for Ermelo explain that? I listened to the standpoint proclaimed by the hon member for Randburg. He is an honest progressive member of the National Party. He said that it would not be the National Party that would govern in the future dispensation, but that it would be a new coalition government. I hope I understood the hon member correctly.
I said the Government would govern.
Yes, the Government will govern, but it is not going to be the National Party. The National Party is satisfied to have joint decision-making in the Cabinet. Then they say: “Look how progressive we are”. However, we are made up into three separate Houses. Apparently the NP is now satisfied that the three Houses may sit together. It seems to me the hon member for Ermelo thinks that at that joint sitting we are merely going to sit and we are not going to speak.
You are really digressing now.
I am talking about joint sittings. Then it says that it is still progressive, but the moment when a decision has to be taken, the three groups will have to separate.
Do you want them to reach joint decisions?
No, I am not in favour of that. I am not in favour of joint sittings either.
Order! The hon member is not discussing the Bill at all now.
No, Sir; on the contrary …
Order! Perhaps I do not understand the Bill correctly, but as I interpret it, provision is being made here for the Speaker to call a joint sitting. As I understand the matter the Speaker will be able to convene a joint sitting. However, no provision is being made here as to what will happen at that sitting. I am therefore of the opinion that the hon member is going beyond the ambit of this Bill when he discusses that subject.
Sir, I should like to address you on this point. This Bill provides that the Speaker will be able to call joint sittings. Surely something is going to be done at those joint sittings. They will after all be convened for some purpose or other. I am in fact entitled to infer that certain business will have to be conducted at those joint sittings of the three House.
Order! I want to point out to the hon member that the business which will take place within the House will be arranged by way of the joint rules drawn up for the House. These will still be discussed here on occasion.
When the Speaker calls a joint sitting he can, after all, do it only for one reason, namely that at that sitting joint business of the three Houses, sitting as one House, will be discussed. [Interjections.] Sir, I should like to quote the relevant paragraph from the Second Reading speech of the hon the Minister. I take it that the hon the Minister was probably in order when he made his Second Reading speech and referred to the provisions of the Bill. He said:
That is after all, why the joint sittings are going to be called. Consequently when I refer to this matter I do not think I am out of order.
The hon member is in fact in order if he refers to it, but he is also inferring that discussions will take place. With that the hon member is going too far. Second Reading speeches may in fact be delivered there, as the hon the Minister also said in his speech. I have no fault to find with that. If the hon member wants to go further, however, and say that a debate will take place, he is going beyond the scope of the Bill.
Then, Sir, with all due respect, I want to suggest that I now have something of a problem. Nowhere in the Bill do I read that provision is being made for joint sittings to be called for the purpose of the delivery of Second Reading speeches. As an explanation for the necessity for this provision the hon the Minister mentioned inter alia, as an example that they could be used for the delivery Second Reading speeches. Therefore, as the hon the Minister may mention it as an example as to why it will be necessary for the Speaker to call a joint sitting, I want to suggest that the procedure is not going to stop at the delivery of a Second Reading speech only, but that a joint debate is also going to take place.
Nothing of the kind is stated in the Bill.
Nothing is said in the Bill about a Second Reading speech either. The NP can say whatever it likes, but they are now trying to conceal matters, just as they tried to conceal the implications of the new Constitution from the voters in the country. Here they are also trying to conceal the objects of that legislation.
Recently I spoke to a staunch supporter of the NP on the amendments to the Constitution which are still to be proposed, and he then told me that he was beginning to become concerned because when he voted “yes” he had been given the assurance that his self-determination was not in jeopardy. He said he had not worried about the details of the new Constitution. Today, however, the NP is in trouble because they, too, did not worry about the details, that how the Constitution was going to work in practice. Now, even before the legislation has been implemented, but after they could at least see how it was going to work in practice, they are in trouble. Here we have the first cases where the practical functioning of the impractical new Constitution is creating problems.
Surely you also served on the Select Committee. Why did you not …
It is not the task of the CP to help the NP to improve legislation, in which we do not believe, in the interests of the NP.
We are opposing this Bill, particularly because a ridiculous precedent is being created here in that taxpayers’ money is being paid out to people—and I am referring in particular to tax free concessions—who will have no expenditure which will justify those tax free allowances.
Mr Speaker, via clause 6 of the amending Bill now before this House my own person was quite often in jeopardy in speeches made here today. When I first learned about the proposed amendment on indirectly elected members, I began to feel uncomfortable and thought that the NP was going to get rid of me. I must therefore thank the hon the Minister for not going that far. Although we were at university together at Stellenbosch and our political philosophies differ, I did not really expect the hon the Minister ever to go that far. Nice things were also said about me, however and I realized that in politics one can have friends and enemies on both sides of the House. One of my good friends is the hon member for Randburg. [Interjections.] He had very nice things to say about me, and I can understand that because he said he was very fond of me. I can also understand that because when he was a young man he applied to my office to become an attorney.
Mr Speaker, on a point of order: I do not know what the hon member’s circle of friends has to do with the legislation.
Order! The hon member Mr Theunissen may proceed.
Mr Speaker, I am dead on clause 6. [Interjections.]
Mr Speaker, on a point of order: Is a corpse entitled to address us?
Order! The hon member Mr Theunissen may proceed.
I am still discussing the hon member for Randburg, who was so kind as to say nice things about me. He was inter alia very concerned—because he received a very good training from me— about where I was actually going, because he lent an ear to newspaper stories suggesting that I was on my way to the President’s Council. He even wished me everything of the best. I do not know why he congratulated me, because he has followed me along many roads. Unfortunately he did not follow me politically, but he actually had no choice because he was in transitu, on his way to the PFP. [Interjections.]
Order! I would be very glad if the hon member would now find the way back to this amending Bill. [Interjections.]
Mr Speaker, I just want to say that one can say with great appreciation that one is glad that a specific arrangement has been made as far as clause 6 is concerned. With your permission I also want to say, because I feel very intimately involved in this matter, that when I decided to side with the other hon members who now form the CP, I did so merely on a standpoint of principle. I also want to repeat that I still have many good friends on that side of the House. To tell the truth, my proposer and seconder are still well-disposed towards me today. The day I left I also approached them and asked them whether they wanted me to resign. They said that as far as they were concerned it was not necessary and that I should decide for myself. To this day I still express my gratitude for that.
I should now like to get back to the provisions of this amending Bill. By now we have discussed this legislation fairly thoroughly. There is not much one can add to it, but I do want to state my standpoint as far as clause 3 is concerned.
To my mind the proposed amplification of section 24(1) is really a drastic change. It is now being arranged that the State President may also hold a Cabinet post. This reminds me of what the hon the Prime Minister himself said, namely that there will always be people who want to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral. This is also the conclusion I have to draw here. The State president occupies a unique position, and in my opinion these amendments are lowering his status to that of a Cabinet Minister. Section 24 deals with the appointment of Ministers, and the proposed addition to subsection (1) of section 24 should also be read in conjunction with the proposed amendment in clause 9. If we take a closer look at these proposed amendments the exceptionally wide powers the State President is already receiving in terms of the new Constitution Act, are being expanded further, to quite a considerable extent. It is clear that the State President now want to have the right to hold one or more portfolios. It is therefore not impossible that if the State President wants to get rid of the Minister of Finance designate, Mr Barend du Plessis, for example, he may allocate the relevant Finance portfolio to himself. I concede at once that he can also do so in terms of the present Constitution Act. In his capacity as the macro-Minister of Finance the State President may therefore appoint one or two Ministers, such as Mr Rajbansi or Mr Abe Williams, as Ministers without portfolio to be what I shall call his pawns in the administration of Finance, men whom he can hire and fire at will. There is nothing to prevent the State President from allocating various portfolios to himself. This entire matter seems to me to be a further extension of already dictatorial powers of the State President.
This amendment must also be read in conjunction with the proposed amendment in clause 4. Everything points to the concentration of increasingly greater powers in the hands of the State President.
The following question now arises: Why were these provisions not spelt out clearly when we were dealing with the Constitution Act? I am becoming increasingly convinced that what we have here is another example of a hidden agenda. I shall qualify this by saying, and today I want to charge the hon the Minister with this, that he knew that these amendments would have to be made, but that he did not have the courage to make them public before the referendum and include them in the original Constitution Act. If this had been done, more voters would have been alienated.
That is a lie.
All the indications were there.
Order! The hon the Minister must withdraw the words “That is a lie”.
Yes, Sir, I withdraw them, but it is a good thing to tell the truth.
Order! The hon the Minister must withdraw them unconditionally.
Mr Speaker, I withdraw them.
Because these are such far-reaching and drastic powers he did not want them to be included in the Constitution Act prior to the referendum.
Order! The hon member is now discussing the Bill for a change, and I want to congratulate him on that, but there is a rule that provides that one should not repeat arguments. The hon member will concede that the arguments he is now using have been used repeatedly. The hon member may proceed, but I would be glad if he would not be repetitive.
Mr Speaker, with all due respect to you, I was under the impression that it was during the Committee Stage that one should not repeat arguments. I was honestly under the impression that I could at lest re-emphasize my point thoroughly here, but I shall not pursue the matter. [Interjections.]
Order! The hon member may proceed.
With these extensive powers that are now being negotiated for the State President, he will be placed in a powerful position and in due course he will really see himself as the Big Brother. I am not sucking these things out of my thumb, because I am quite convinced that in the new dispensation someone like the hon the Minister of Community Development, if he were to remove the Asians from Mayfair, for example, would immediately be taken to task by that powerful State President a la Cabinet Minister, who would strip the hon Minister of his powers and get rid of him.
With reference to my remarks in connection with the proposed amendments in clauses 3 and 4,1 should also like to say a few words about clause 9. The State President is now being given the right to sit in any House. He is now being given the status of a Cabinet Minister which in my opinion detracts from the elevated and dignified image of the State President. Although the hon member for Ermelo disputed this, I want to repeat this statement. It will detract from the image of the State President, a person who is going to be held in very high esteem in the new dispensation, if he is going to become involved in such a way that he has to occupy the position of a Cabinet Minister. The clause now provides that he may attend sessions of any of the Houses. It is not stated that he shall attend sessions, as is expected of a Cabinet Minister when he introduces legislation. Then, in my opinion, he is compelled to sit in the House, but now this State President á la Cabinet Minister may take his seat if he wishes. Because he is not compelled to take his seat in the relevant Houses in terms of this Act in his capacity as a membet of the Cabinet he is, in his capacity as a Minister, denying the ordinary members of those Houses the right to cross-examine him. This is an important power we must have. Because the clause is worded in such a way that he may decide whether or not he is going to take his seat, I think this amendment giving him the status of a Cabinet Minister is an unfortunate one. It is wrong for the State President to have the status of a Cabinet Minister. I repeat, he is detracting from the image of the State President in the new dispensation. In my opinion he will become an even more contentious figure.
Mr Speaker, I can understand the hon member Mr Theunissen rejoicing over clause 6 since it affects him directly, but at the same time I want to say that I do not share the hon member for Randburg’s vision of the future concerning the hon member Mr Theunissen. I think the hon member Mr Theunissen will remain a member of the House of Assembly for a long time to come, because I personally do not think that the CP can afford to have my good friend from Randfontein, Dr Connie Mulder, in the front benches of the House of Assembly. [Interjections.]
I want to discuss the legislation. In the course of my short speech I shall keep on referring to matters the hon member Mr Theunissen discussed, as well as certain other aspects which previous speakers mentioned here. I first want to say something about the objections that were raised here to the Constitution Act being amended even before it had been implemented. With regard to this point two matters were put forward. The first matter was that the Constitution Act was being changed because it had not been carefully considered.
I do not think this argument holds water. When one has opted for a constitution that defines virtually every parliamentary action —the hon member for Sea Point pointed this out—it goes without saying that one will have to amend that Constitution from time to time. I think we in South Africa have such a constitution because we do in fact have a tendency to write all kinds of guarantees into constitutions since we are of the opinion that a constitution as such guarantees things.
As far as this matter is concerned, I want to point out that in my opinion a constitution as such cannot offer any guarantees. The only guarantees contained in it apply to one’s intention to act constitutionally, but there is no guarantee that anyone will ever act constitutionally. [Interjections.] I am now discussing constitutions and why it is necessary to change this Constitution Act.
Another point I want to raise stems from the remarks of the hon member for Kuruman that the Constitution Act is now being amended without our having a mandate for it. The hon member Mr Theunissen referred to a hidden agenda. He said drastic changes were being made here. He said the hon the Minister of Constitutional Development and Planning did not have the courage to make the things that are now being changed public before the referendum, but that is not true.
What does the baby in the shawl look like now?
The baby reminds me of the hon member for Lang-laagte.
What does the baby …
Order! If the hon member for Langlaagte wants a turn to speak, I suggest that he makes arrangements with his Whips.
Surely the amendments that are now being made to the Constitution Act are not of a fundamental nature. I should like any hon member who alleges that these are fundamental changes to demonstrate this to us, because it is not true. That is why I think that the objections to the changes in the Constitution Act do not hold water at this stage.
I also want to refer to another point in connection with clause 6. I realize that one must tread warily so as not to be ruled out of order, but I do want to say the following: Clause 6 provides that indirectly elected members—this is the matter to which the hon member Mr Theunissen referred—may be supplemented from their own ranks. I think this is a good arrangement, but I know that what I am about to say is, strictly speaking, not in order. I am saying this in my personal capacity, and there are probably many hon members who will disagree with me, but I think that it would not be a bad idea to apply the principle being agreed to here that indirectly elected members may be supplemented from their own political ranks, to elected members as well. It has been said here this afternoon that clause 6 is being introduced because the NP is afraid of by-elections. This cannot be deduced from the Bill. In other countries it is also the practice that no by-elections take place. A by-election costs the State a lot of money, it costs a political party a lot of money, and I do not think it really has a political impact irrespective of the result.
Order! The hon member is not discussing the Bill now.
This brings me, in conclusion, to clause 10, which provides that the Speaker of Parliament may call joint sittings of the three Houses. It has been alleged that the effect of this clause will be that Minister’s Second Reading speeches will be made at such sittings. This was elaborated on by saying that debating would also take place jointly and that there would eventually be joint decision-taking as well. One of the foundations on which the new Constitution Act rests is that numbers do not play a role. The only place where numbers play a role is in the electoral college and if it had been possible it would have been avoided there, too. The moment one makes provision for joint decision-taking, one is making numbers play a prominent role and that is why this objection does not hold water.
I want to refer briefly to the clause which provides that the State President may also administer a general State department. The hon member for Lichtenburg said that the State President would now act in a dictatorial way and that this provision was going to make him even more of a dictator. It is clearly provided that he remains responsible to all three Houses, and it is therefore not true that he is becoming a dictator. It is interesting to note that he may not administer an own affair in a House, and this confirms the principle of self-determination underlying this Bill.
Mr Speaker, before speaking about the Bill I just want to take the opportunity, on behalf of the CP, to refer to the State President, Mr Marais Viljoen, who will shortly be retiring as State President. We do not know whether there will be another opportunity for us to do so, and we would therefore like to take this opportunity of telling him that it is with gratitude, appreciation and esteem that we took note of the way in which he conducted himself in his capacity as State President and that we wish him and his wife, on their eventual retirement, a pleasant and happy period of rest.
The hon member for Helderkruin did me a favour today. I was given a new Van der Merwe joke to tell at report-back meetings. The joke concerns the fact that a professor and MP, Van der Merwe, said that the NP would continue with its clean administration. I do not think that NP representatives, whether it be the hon member for Helderkruin or whatever other hon member, can at this stage boast of belonging to a party maintaining clean administration.
Order! Did the hon member refer to an hon member in the House as a Van der Merwe joke?
No, Mr Speaker. I said that he has given me a Van der Merwe joke, ie that Professor van der Merwe, MP, had made a certain statement.
The hon member may proceed.
He says that my party opposes the Bill merely on blind principle. We are opposing this Bill on principle and not on blind principle. These days I seek principles in the ranks of the NP, blind principles or palpable principles, but one can no longer find any in that party. [Interjections.]
It is because you are asleep that you cannot see them.
Ah, Sir, that startled hon member for Innesdal…
I was not even talking.
Well, then, the one who was speaking … [Interjections.]
Order! The hon member should rather come back to the Bill now.
Sir, in referring to dreaming and sleeping, hon members must be referring to the Chief Whip of the National Party because he is the best exponent of dreaming and sleeping.
Order! The hon member must not be misled by all the interjections. He should rather confine himself to the Bill.
We take a stand, firstly, against the extension of the State President’s powers in this Bill. In terms of this legislation the State President can take all the portfolios under his wing and govern by way of decree. He can take all the portfolios for general affairs under his wing and govern by way of decree. I do not know why such elaborate provision is being made. I really think it is a case of over-legislation. I think that to a very large extent he inherently has these powers, but since statutory provision is now being made for this, we object to it, because it is not a step forward, or a step backwards towards Westminster, but a step even further back than Westminster to the time of “the King can do no wrong”, in this case “the National Party can do no wrong”. I hear the hon Minister, who is responsible for this legislation, chortling. I do not know what he finds so amusing. In any event, let him revel in whatever it is he finds so amusing. You will know, Sir, what small things amuse. [Interjections.] Yes, but it is specifically a case of what is amused by small things.
Speaking about Westminster, I just want to refer to the hon member Prof Olivier who said that we really should get our terminology, our terms, correct. On the strength of his reference to “Westminster” let me say that I think that in speaking in Parliament we should know what we are talking about. It is Westminster we are referring to, and not a Minister who comes from the west. [Interjections.] A “Minister” is a church, a cathedral. In speaking of “Westminster” is speaking of a place or of the cathedral known as Westminster. [Interjections.]
What I am saying is that we are going to move even further back than Westminster. We are going to move back in British constitutional development to the stage prior to Westminster when increasingly fewer people were vested with increasingly more powers. In the development of a democracy that is a backward step and not a step forward. We can now ask the hon the Minister: Why do they now foresee that eventuality? Do they already foresee members of whatever Chamber —let us in this case specifically say members of the Coloured Chamber or the Indian Chamber, although this also applies to the White Chamber—who happened to be appointed as Ministers in the general Cabinet not cooperating and having to be replaced? If that were to be the position, it would mean that the State President, whoever he happened to be, would have to appoint “yes-men” to that Cabinet of his, because otherwise that Cabinet would not work. As the hon member for Randburg spelled out so clearly in Buurman, it is going to be a government of Coloureds, Whites and Indians and it is they, and no longer the NP, who are going to take the decisions. He says it would be a Government of coalition and consensus. Examples he mentioned in that connection include the abolition of the Group Areas Act. He said that if Coloureds and Indians were appointed to the cabinet and wanted the Group Areas Act abolished, they would be told to wait three years until a package deal could be worked out for them. If that is the idea of the coalition Cabinet—the only statutory coalition Government of which one is aware, except possibly in Lebanon, but I do not know how their system of Government works—the situation would be that if the “strong” men could not be accommodated in the mixed Government, one would have to accommodate lackeys or yes-men. I think that is what is being provided for in this clause. If one could not accommodate the “strong” men, one of two things could happen. Either one would bring in one’s yes-men or one would govern by decree. [Interjections.]
That is, of course, something Huntington foresaw.
Mr Speaker, on a point of order: Is the hon member for Kroonstad entitled to refer to hon members on this side of the House as a lot of “houtkoppe”?
Order! Did the hon member for Kroonstad say that?
Under provocation, yes, Sir. I withdraw it.
Mr Speaker, on a further point of order: What does the hon member mean by the word “houtkop”? We who come from the North-West, know what it means. [Interjections.] The hon member for Kimberley South is laughing, but the hon member must tell us what it means.
It means you have nothing between your ears.
Order! It seems there are hon members who are tired of sitting in the House. They may leave the House if they so choose, and I am now referring to all hon members. If such interjections across the floor do not stop, I shall order those hon members who are guilty of making such interjections summarily to leave the House. The hon member for Kroonstad did withdraw the words, but in future similar remarks about other hon members will not be tolerated in the House. Mr Speaker has already put this to hon members in very explicit terms. The hon member for Soutpansberg may now proceed.
Mr Speaker, I do not find it at all strange that the additional strengthening and entrenchment of the future State President’s powers are being built into the Constitution before it comes into force. In Huntington’s guide, which the hon the Minister endorsed and confirmed in this opening address, he said it would be necessary. I now want to quote from one of Huntington’s speeches which appeared in Politikon, Volume 8, No 2—which we already know very well:
which now becomes “State President”:
These days I do not think the hon the Minister is arguing any more about the fact that the whole strategy in the hijacking of the constitutional set-up in South Africa—the voters’ vote for it—has taken a different course to that suggested by the dictates of Huntington. Today it is surely an acknowledged fact in the political history of South Africa. In other words, here one does indeed have a further movement in accordance with the steps laid down, the course mapped out en route to further despotism, the dictatorship for future State Presidents. We object to that fact. We believe it to be in conflict with South Africa’s Parliamentary set-up. We believe it to be in conflict with the most distant historical echoes, as far as democracy is concerned, of constitutional development in South Africa. From the very beginning we have objected most strongly to the whole Constitution as such, and particularly to this aspect. It involves vesting increasingly more power in the hands of one single persons.
The second point, which we have already touched upon, involves the question of joint sittings. It is very interesting that here mention is now, for the first time, so prominently being made of the joint sittings. That also comes from Huntington’s book, though perhaps not all that explicitly. I do not have time to mention the example, but I think it is to be found there. It is the step-by-step move towards total Parliamentary integration. In their private home meetings, where they gave people all kinds of assurances, one of the things that NP speakers said was that one should use stories of integration and so on to get people all het-up. Only recently, when I was doing recruiting work in the Potgietersrus constituency, I came upon an old gentleman who voted Nationalist—I think he eventually still voted Nationalist—and who …
Order! I am sorry, but the hon member must now really get a bit closer to the legislation.
I just want to quote my example. I shall be coming to the legislation in a moment. That old gentleman told me I was talking absolute nonsense when I said there were going to be non-Whites in the future President Botha’s Cabinet. He did not want to believe it. [Interjections.]
Order! The example I have allowed the hon member to mention is very far removed from the Bill.
Those were the kinds of assurances that were given to the South African electorate, even prior to the referendum. In any event, prior to the referendum the people of South Africa were told: “You will only have ceremonial joint sittings from time to time.” These assurances were given far and wide, even on radio and television. Here we now have a step making provision for other joint sittings. It is very interesting: How does one get past that misrepresentation to the voters? The obvious answer is: One goes and hides behind Mr Speaker. One hides behind the Speaker of Parliament. It is now no longer the President whom we can say is convening the joint sittings. It is now Mr Speaker behind whom one hides. The hon the Minister mentioned, as an example, joint sittings for the purposes of delivering Second Reading speeches. Let met respectfully say that a Second Reading speech is the beginning of a Second Reading Debate. In other words, when one makes provision for joint sittings to cater for Second Reading speeches, one of Mr Speaker’s next decision could be also to have the debate and the Third Reading done by way of joint sittings. Then only one thing remains, and that is the voting. This is also part of the gradual conditioning of the people of South Africa for the acceptance of a unicameral, mixed, multiracial Parliament, a more naïve and more catastrophic course than that adopted by the PFP, because this involves simply stumbling blindly in a specific direction. The next step is going to be—and there are already hon members on this side who are making the pronouncement; we know it, and the hon member for Randburg is quite open about his standpoint in this regard. There are also other members whose names I am not going to mention now, but we know it to be their ultimate ideal. The final step in this connection is one House, but only after Mr Speaker has been used to condition the people, the voters, as far as this is concerned. That is going to be the next step after the joint sitting. I am waiting for specific information that I shall be furnishing to the House about another important member of the NP who said that. The next step is the Fourth House.
Order! The hon member will agree with me that now he is nowhere near the Bill.
As you please, Sir. I was merely enumerating the steps that would result from this legislation.
The hon member should, however, try to stick to the Bill, and a fourth Chamber really has nothing to do with this Bill. [Interjections.]
I want to suggest that those peevish members on the other side leave the order of the House in your hands, Mr Speaker, and therefore leave it to you to maintain order.
So just stick to the amendments now.
As far as the hysterical hon member for Innesdal is concerned, let me suggest that he does not need to tell me what speech to make. [Interjections.] The Americans took him to America.
Order! With what Bill is the hon member now dealing?
Mr Speaker, I am replying to the hon member for Innesdal who interrupted me. With all due respect, Sir, I think it is customary in the House that when a member on one side of the House interrupts another member, that member can quickly react to that. [Interjections.]
Order! The hon member for Soutpansberg is correct. It is customary, but he cannot, however, make a speech about it. He may just quickly deal with the interjections.
Mr Speaker, on a point of order: The hon member for Soutpansberg has just argued that maintaining order rests with the Chair, but now he himself wants to maintain order. I am suggesting that the hon member is in conflict with his own dictates.
Order! That is not a point of order. The hon member for Soutpansberg may proceed.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I therefore do not have to react to that absurd point made by the hon member for Mossel Bay.
I would also not permit the hon member to react to that, because he would then be out of order.
Mr Speaker, you have suitably put the hon member in his place. Thank you very much. [Interjections.]
Tom, don’t get cross. Get on with the legislation.
I shall not react again to the hon member for Innesdal. Since the Americans pulled out the carpet from under him, he is still a little light-headed.
The third point which we object to, and about which we want to put our standpoint, is the over-remuneration, the hyper-ela borate way in which retiring members of the President’s Council are being remunerated. The set-up that we are bringing to an end now is pre-eminently a set-up for representatives of the people, a set-up for the man in the street. That is indeed why this institution is called the House of Assembly. The President’s Council is, in fact, a body which must advise and assist this House, a body consisting, in point of fact, of experts. I do not, however, think that there has yet been an occasion in the South African parliamentary dispensation—even if the President’s Council does not, at present, form part of the parliamentary dispensation—on which we have elevated people in the manner in which it is financially being done here. If it were a case of people for whom no provision has been made, it would have been a different matter. The hon members of the President’s Council, however, were appointed because of their expertise, their particular expertise. I understand that there are indeed some of them who are academics, who even retained their posts in the academic world or have again gone back to the academic world. There are also businessmen—in this connection one does not want to be more specific, because in no way one want to mention any names—who are also financial supports for the NP, to put it in those terms. Such people who have furnished a specific service for two and a half years ought not to be carried now as if they had come to the end of a long period of service. If they are indeed such competent people—a fact one does accept— as soon as they are relieved of their duties in the President’s Council they are going to be snapped up by the private sector or the academic world, because day in and day out we hear about our country being weighed down by a shortage of experts. I do not want to elaborate on this any further. I merely want to say that proper provision has been made for these members, and as far as those are concerned for whom adequate provision has not been made, they have had ample time to make the necessary provision. I think it is an unprecedented step anywhere in the world— other hon members have also referred to this—for people to be remunerated in this fashion.
These are a few of the aspects of the Bill against which we are going to vote, and it is our right as a party to vote against them. As long as we are in existence, we shall be exercising that parliamentary right.
Mr Speaker, I intend to react to the hon member for Soutpansberg at a later stage. For the moment, I just want to tell him that I partly agree with him, because he amuses me.
I want to begin at once by thanking all hon members who have participated in the debate and who have exercised restraint in formulating their standpoints. It is regrettable that this was not done in all cases. However, I should prefer to comment on the remarks of those who saw fit to discuss the Bill on its merits and not for other purposes.
†I should like to start with the hon member for Sea Point and say that I agree with him on one issue namely that we must all understand that the final word in the constitutional history of this country has not yet been written and that it is not being written in terms of the Bill under consideration. I am sure that there is not a single hon member in this House who does not envisage future constitutional changes. In fact, all parties in this House are committed to constitutional changes in terms of their own policies. Therefore, I do not find it strange or inaccurate to contend that this is not the end of the constitutional road.
There is another reason why I say this, and that is that all the peoples of this country have not yet arrived in terms of their participation in some sort of constitutional activity in this country. In this case again, there is not a single party in this House that will not agree with this basic point of departure. Although we may differ in regard to the methods to be used or in regard to the format of the changes to be made, we are all in agreement with this one concept. I deem it a privilege to be in the position at this time in the history of my country in which I am also able to make a contribution towards the writing of that history. I believe that one must at least give some self-esteem and value to one’s existence by improving one’s country if one can.
I should now like to deal with the question of the functions of the State President. There again I should like to commend the attitude in which this was discussed by hon members of the official Opposition and also the NRP.
*In this connection I want to say that there has never been any doubt about the standpoint of the Government that the positions of State President and Prime Minister would be combined in one office occupied by one person. We may have disagreed with one another about this, but there has never been the slightest doubt about it. With reference to what the hon member Mr Olivier said, it represents the first material and substantial deviation from the Westminster system as it has developed. However, because doubt arose in legal circles as to whether the wording of the Constitution Act, Act No 110 of 1983, gave expression to the intention to combine the two offices in respect of person and function, it is being put beyond all doubt in the proposed amendment. Let me say at once that this has nothing to do with authoritarian powers for the State President. The fact is that even with these amendments which we now wish to effect, the future State President, who will also have executive authority, will have no more powers than the Prime Minister has today. In fact, I submit that the checks and balances in respect of the new State President will make it much more difficult for him to act in an authoritarian way it was for the Prime Minister under the present dispensation. Anyone who reads a veiled agenda or intention into this statutory amendment, therefore, has no regard for the truth.
One thing is emphasized, namely that although the future State President will remain the leader of his party—and we said this when we were discussing the Constitution with one another—we have also said that in order to emphasize this fact, and in order to give him an indirect guideline in respect of the way in which he should conduct himself and the way in which the conventions should develop around him, he should preferably not be a member of any of the Houses, with the result that in this connection, he would not hage had a vote in respect of any matter which any House or Parliament has the power to decide upon. There is not one hon member in this House who would not concede to me that conventions are developed in order to formulate specific systems. Often those conventions are also developed around the persons who occupy the specific positions within a system or institution, for by their behaviour and conduct, they give authority to the conventions which are developing around and within a system within which they function. To say that this amendment suddenly implies that we are now trying to reduce the number of people who participate in the decision-making is devoid of all truth, therefore. Just in order to illustrate the absurdity of the argument advanced by the hon member for Soutpansberg, whom one would like to give some credit on account of his training, just listen to what the hon member says. He says that by means of this amendment, we are giving statutory authority to the future State President in the new dispensation in respect of functions which he has the inherent power to perform as State President. How am I to understand the hon member’s logic and argument? He says that the State President has the inherent power to perform a function. He says the State President also has an inherent power to handle a portfolio. His objection is that we are now making it statutory. I want to know what difference it makes whether a person has an inherent power or whether he has a statutory power. Surely the principle is that he has a power.
I say that you are over-legislating.
That is interesting. The hon member is entangling himself even further. He now says that I am over-legislating. So it is not a question of the authoritarian powers of the State President, it is not a question of moving beyond Westminster, when the inviolability of the Crown still applied, when fewer and fewer people were able to participate in it; it is now a question of over-legislating. In spite of that, the hon member expects that people should pay serious attention to the nonsense which he talks about such legislation.
I should like to talk about clause 13, because clause 13 is the one about which all the Opposition parties have reservations, which some have expressed in restrained language and others in the language of the hon member for Barberton, who says that it is an immoral provision and that we are committing an immoral act by introducing this provision. I really have no wish to discuss the concepts of morality with certain hon members in this House.
But you are an expert on the subject.
I shall leave it to the hon member Mr Theunissen, but since he has reacted, I may as well react to that. What are his concepts of this?
We are trying to provoke you.
The hon member should go and try his provocation somewhere else.
Do not be so touchy.
Let us examine the concepts of morality of the hon member Mr Theunissen. Let us see what he said in this House today, and it is recorded in Hansard. He said that he had many good friends here, but when he changed his party, he changed his principles. However, he then went back to the people who had nominated him and asked them whether they wanted him to resign. So his principles are not determined by his own convictions, but by the wishes of other people. This is the kind of standard which the hon member holds up to us in terms of his argument about the way in which he wants to live according to his principles. I shall leave him at that.
Let us examine the facts. In this particular connection, I should like to convey my sincere thanks to the hon member for Helderkruin for his own standpoint on the matter and for his statement in this connection. I want to say at once that I have no fault to find with his logic, his standpoint and philosophy. There is something which I want to put to the hon member for Sea Point, the hon member Prof Olivier and the hon member for Umhlanga for their consideration. I am not doing so in order to be argumentative.
†I should like to refer them firstly to the sections in the 1961 Act itself because in terms of section 102(2) of the Constitution Act of 1961 certain rights are conferred on people in terms of the law of this country. What are those rights in relation to the subject matter under discussion?
*Section 102(2) of the 1961 Constitution provides:
No provision is made in that Act for the dissolution of the President’s Council, whilst provision is in fact made for the dissolution of the House of Assembly under certain circumstances, and consequently for the termination of members’ terms of office. When the letters of appointment were sent to the members of the President’s Council, it was confirmed that they had been appointed in terms of the provisions of section 102(2) of the Constitution of 1961. It is quite interesting to see that the hon member for Barberton, who finds it so immoral, voted for that section when it was passed at the time. The same applies to the hon member for Kuruman, the hon member for Lichtenburg and hon member of the NRP. Let me concede that the hon member for Sea Point voted against it, not because he was opposed to the provision, but because he was opposed to the President’s Council. All hon members, except those of the PFP, voted for a fixed term for members of the President’s Council. It is strange that it should have been moral then that people should serve for a fixed term, and should therefore be paid for it, but that it is immoral now when Parliament is asked to keep its promise to people who took up certain offices on the basis of a provision approved by Parliament.
What about the tax-free allowance?
I am coming to that. When the hon member for Barberton first came to Parliament, he did not have a tax-free allowance. He will grant me that. I shall not take the matter any further. I do not believe that we should address one another in this way. The fact is that, rightly or wrongly, Parliament offered the people serving on that council a fixed term of office. It is a nrinciple of our country and of our law that vested rights should be recognized, except in exceptional cases. Therefore I am not apologizing for the fact that we are making use of this provision to enable Parliament to keep its word towards people to whom it gave certain undertakings. If members of the President’s Council had remained members of this House and had enjoyed additional benefits with regard to gratuities and increased pensions which hon members have received in terms of decisions taken after those members had left the House and become members of the President’s Council, the cost to the state would have been much more and would have extended over a much longer period. I want to mention an example. If members of the president’s Council who had formerly been members of this House had remained here—as hon members know, many of them are entitled to full pension on the basis of their years of service— they would, in the first place, have received a much bigger pension than they will receive, and in the second place, they would have received a much larger gratuity than they are in fact receiving. If my calculations are correct, the total amount with regard to those members will constitute a smaller financial obligation for the State than would otherwise have been the case. So when the hon member for Barberton makes his little sums and lectures us on the moral criteria of his party, he must be prepared to take into consideration the whole truth for the purposes of his arguments. See what the hon member for Soutpansberg does in this particular connection. He is not here at the moment.
He has gone to take a nap.
He has gone to exercise.
He asked us to apologize on his behalf, because he has a foreign guest.
I hope that when he meets his foreign guest, he will not sell out South Africa in order to satisfy him.
That is an ugly thing to say.
No, it is not ugly; our prime Minister is being accused of selling out South Africa when he talks to people abroad. The hon member must not talk to me about ugliness. [Interjections.] What did the hon member for Soutpansberg say? he said he understood that some of the members of the President’s Council had retained their academic ties. What is he suggesting in saying that? Is he suggesting that they are receiving remuneration there and on the President’s Council as well? There is no other inference to be drawn from that dirty insinuation. The fact is that except for those members of the President’s Council who had been academics and who had retired, they were all seconded to the President’s Council and they received only one salary. They do not share in the pension scheme, nor do they share in the pension scheme of the universities from which they come.
Where is De Crespigny?
The hon member for Langlaagte must not interrupt me now. I am replying to hon members’ questions in all fairness. Sir, I just want to say to hon members: Let us disagree with one another and let us argue with one another if we have to, but why should we slander honourable people in the privileged circumstances of this House?
I want to go further. In terms of the sanction of Parliament, the Prime Minister of this country reaffirmed the undertaking given by Parliament in terms of section 102(2), and not a single member of this House criticised him for doing so. As far as I can remember, not a single hon member said that it was wrong or that he did not agree with it. I am referring to Hansard of 25 August 1981, column 1870. The hon the Prime Minister was referring to the President’s Council, in reply to the debate which had been conducted in this House. He said:
The hon the Prime Minister went on to say (column 1870):
He also said—I am omitting certain parts:
The Prime Minister of this country did not give this undertaking without being authorized to do so. He did it on the authority of Parliament. When he keeps that promise, therefore, I do not think we should accuse him of immorality.
Now the hon the Prime Minister must forgive me. We have not yet developed a tradition in this country in respect of former heads of State, and I think it is time we gave some attention to the position of heads of State of South Africa. I am speaking for myself. I believe that we have not given proper consideration to their position after their retirement and the position of their widows after their death. When we see how other countries treat their heads of State, what privileges are granted to them and how their widows are treated after their death, this is a matter to which we should give consideration.
Consequently I make no apology for the proposal that the State President and the Vice State President should continue to receive their remuneration and allowances for a period of 15 months after they have vacated their offices. I would be disrespectful towards them if I debated this matter any further.
I come now to the hon member for Lichtenburg, therefore. I suppose he has also apologized. This hon member is opposed to the Constitution and he alleges that the amendment of the Constitution did not come as a surprise to him, I am glad, because it is not intended to be a surprise. However, there are a great many surprises in the behaviour of his party. I find it extremely surprising—I am now referring specifically to the hon member for Barberton—that they should have entered into an alliance with someone who has not been attacked by any member on this side of the House, as he has been by the hon member for Barberton. The hon member knows whom I am talking about. I am talking about his election partner in Potgietersrus. People who make a great fuss about their moral principles should enlighten me about this one day. I should like to give the hon colleague—he is my friend—an opportunity one day to enlighten me about this in private, about how one manages to behave in this way under specific circumstances.
I do not wish to insult the hon member for Lichtenburg, but I do wish to give him some good advice. I believe that he should study animal genetics rather than the constitutions of the countries of the world. I believe that he knows more about animals than about constitutions. The hon member attacked me and alleged that it was because of the fact that not all the clauses of the constitution had been debated last year that it had now become necessary to introduce amendments. It is interesting to note, however, that some of the most important amendments are being made to clauses which were debated ad nauseam. The first four clauses of this Bill relate to sections of the Constitution which were debated in this House.
I should like to take the hon member’s argument a little further. There is not a single section in the Constitution which was not debated for days and weeks on the select committee, and if I remember correctly, not a single amendment was proposed by hon members of the CP to the sections which we have discussed today. If they had thought that further debate on these sections would have served a useful purpose, surely they would have moved amendments on the select committee. In other words, that argument is not valid, because the hon members had an opportunity to do something in this connection.
The hon member for Lichtenburg says that the Constitution was not the constitution of Parliament, but the constitution of the Cabinet. I now ask him again whether the Constitution of our country was approved or rejected in terms of the rules of procedure of this House. Sir, this is a typical argument which one expounds while standing on a soapbox, when no one else hears one and when one is safe from criticism.
One does it in the woods.
Yes, one does it in the woods. I repeat: Hon members have the right to oppose any legislation—I have no objection to that—but no one has the right to do it on the basis of such false arguments.
The hon member went further—the hon member Prof Olivier took him to task for this, and I do not wish to say much more about it—and made yet another emotionally charged statement with which one could spread panic among uninformed people. I am choosing my words deliberately. He said that the NP had given away the White fatherland. The hon member should give me a definition one day of which people are citizens of a State and which people are entitled to call their country their fatherland. The Government—those hon members can disagree with me if they like—did not remove the citizenship of Black South African citizens before they had obtained a new citizenship in terms of negotiations with their leaders. Until Blacks become independent, they are citizens of this fatherland in which we live, just like the Whites, Coloured and Asian people.
Without the right to vote.
Would the hon member please allow me to deal with that when I come to it? It is true that throughout the history of this country, from 1910 up to the present day, there has been a difference in the quality and procedure of the way in which citizenship rights are exercised by the population of this country. Surely this is not something which one can blame on the NP. After all, this was the position when we came into power. I do not wish to take this point any further, except for pleading once again that we should practise the politics of reason in our country. I want to make a plea once again for the practice of rational politics in this country.
The hon member for Kuruman says that they will not surrender the rights of the Whites for the sake of the concept of consensus. No one is asking him to do so. However, I want to tell him in all seriousness that there is only one way in which the rights of Whites can be preserved, and that is on the basis of preserving the rights of others. I do not wish to argue with the hon member any further.
The hon member for Lichtenburg also said that we were now giving the Prime Minister what a dictator needed, because we were giving him a portfolio. The hon member for Soutpansberg takes it even further …
Where is he now?
He is talking to a foreign visitor. He took it even further than the hon member for Lichtenburg. He not only said that he could handle a portfolio; he said that we were now giving him the power to handle them all. I want to say at once that I accept the compliment that there are hon members on this side of the House who are able to handle all the portfolios, ie members who have the physical and intellectual capacity to do so. However, the Prime Minister already has those powers. In fact, those powers are actually greater at the moment than they will be in future, for at the moment, the Prime Minister—and I concede this—has to take into consideration only one House and one party, while in future, he will have to take three Houses into consideration. When are we going to get rid of such specious arguments?
Then the hon member advanced another argument—and I am now replying to everyone who discussed this matter—concerning the joint sittings. However, this amending Bill does not provide for joint sittings. The principal Act provides for them, and the concept of joint sittings has indeed been accepted. Unfortunately, I cannot refer to it now, but all that is happening here is that in terms of the joint rules and Standing Orders which are to be introduced, a request has been made that the Speaker should also be able to call a joint sitting. After all, the principle has already been accepted.
Then an hon member came along—and I take exception to this on your behalf, Sir, and on behalf of the office which you hold— and said that this was a method of getting the Speaker to condition people for integration. This is the most scandalous remark I have ever heard in this House. I say this without qualification, because Speakers of all parties, throughout the decades of the existence of Parliament, have without exception carried out their functions in that high office in a fair and equitable way, without discriminating in any way. In fact, you will allow me to say, Mr Speaker, that often— and it is your duty to do so—you have afforded greater protection to the minority groups than to the majority groups, because they had more need of your protection. You will understand the spirit in which I say this, Sir. However, to make the accusation, for the sake of petty political gain—if one thinks that one is going to gain something in this way—that the person who occupies this high office would wish to condition people to accept the standpoint of a specific political party is reprehensible and wrong. Party leaders who allow people to make such statements with impunity do not deserve the name of leaders. [Interjections.]
The hon member for Randburg referred to clause 13 and to some other clauses as well, and I thank him for his support. I wish to refer to clause 6(b), and I want to say at once, in a lighter vein, that I would not mind at all if Mr Connie Mulder were to come to this House. We would be gratified, for then Parliament would after all have the opportunity of censuring in its own way those members who behave as Mr Mulder behaved. [Interjections.] Let me say at once that if hon members want to use this clause to give this House the privilege of honouring such an obligation, I would appreciate it, because they would be doing us a favour. While we would welcome it and while we are not in the least concerned about it, I want to tell the hon member for Waterberg that something is breathing down his neck. [Interjections.]
†I have already referred to the issues raised by the hon member for Umhlanga, and I submit that I have replied as adequately as I can to the points he raised. I should like to refer to one point namely the comparison drawn by the hon member between the risk position of members of Parliament and members of the President’s Council. I believe that there is a very material difference between the two, as I have already explained. All of us in this House knew when we came here what the conditions of service and the terms of office were under which we would have to serve. When we came to this House for the first time and also perhaps on re-election we knew that Parliament could be dissolved at any particular time. As I have already tried to explain, this is not the case as far as the members of the President’s Council are concerned. [Interjections.] No, we will not argue about it, we will discuss it. I have already explained to the hon member the provisions of section 102(2) of the Act in terms of which they received their appointments.
The second point to which I should like to refer is that raised by the hon member in regard to public servants and their position in relation to the coming elections for the House of Representatives and the House of Delegates. The hon member will know that a different position obtains in regard to politicians simply because of the fact that they are not public servants. He will also know that if a member of a provincial council is elected to this House, his membership of that body is only terminated upon his election to this House. The reason why we have had to effect an amendment in regard to this provision is that although the elections take place before the new dispensation is implemented, membership of the various Houses only becomes operative on that implementation. That is the reason for this provision and it is only in respect of the first election that this provision is being made. As I say, that membership only becomes operative on the implementation of the constitution, and so it is not a question of occupying two positions and earning double salaries. This was also the point that was raised by the hon member for Randburg.
*In conclusion, I come to the hon member Prof Olivier. I agree with the hon member. Fifty per cent of our debates are futile because we argue at cross purposes as a result of our terminology and the interpretations which we give to various concepts. That is true. We have argued ad nauseam about the concept of “people”. I want to say at once that we would like to do this, because if we could reach finality about the meaning of words and concepts, we would no longer have silly arguments such as those which certain hon members in this House engage in.
We do not disagree about the essential characteristics of the Westminster system. The first one is the separation of the offices of the Head of State and the Head of Government. The second one is one man, one vote in a unitary system. The third one is winner takes all. The fourth one is parliamentary responsibility and the fifth one is legislative sovereignty. None of us has ever objected to the fact that we wish to replace the system with another well-known system, because we have all said, verbally and in writing under our signatures, that an unmodified Westminster system could not meet the needs of South Africa. That is why we have retained some elements of the Westminster system, while introducing new elements as well. We have always said that we do not wish to emulate any particular model, but that we want to take those facets from various models which we can apply in our circumstances and that we want to see whether we can meet the needs of South Africa in this way. I think the hon member will concede that I have given him a full reply to the arguments he advanced concerning the position of the State President, and that I do not have to say any more about that, therefore.
The hon member also asked whether clause 4 was necessary. I shall deal with technical arguments in the Committee Stage, but I want to tell the hon member at once, in reply to his question why we were delegating the powers of Ministers and providing for the State President to appoint Ministers, that this provision is not related to the appointment of Ministers, but to the delegation of powers vested in him which can be exercised on his behalf by someone else, for example, with regard to the Public Service Commission, which falls under him in terms of their Act, but which he has delegated to one of his colleagues. When Ministers act, they do not act in terms of powers delegated by the Prime Minister or the State President; they act in terms of an inherent power in terms of the laws which they administer. Because the principle of collective responsibility still applies to him, even decisions relating to matters of principle in connection with the implementation of laws specifically entrusted to him are submitted by him to the Cabinet, in order to establish the concept of co-responsibility with regard to what he does and what he does not do. I hope the hon member will understand that.
As regards the hon member’s question about the State Security Council, I want to say at once that under the new dispensation the State President will be the chairman of the State Security Council, not in terms of clause 11(a) which we are now proposing, but in terms of the existing Constitution which we passed last year. Provision is made in that Act for the Prime Minister to be replaced by the State President. The hon member will remember that.
I thank the hon member for Maitland for his contribution and opinion in this particular connection. Of course, he was right in saying that the PFP had prohibited its people from serving on the President’s Council. I think the party suspended them. The Labour Party did that. I am not saying this because their position affords me any malicious pleasure. Do hon members know why I am saying this? See what a long way we have come. I am even introducing legislation, the provision in clause 6 for example, to enable hon members of the Opposition parties to participate in the President’s Council. I am not making any reproaches, because I want to take them at their word when they say that they are going to participate in the system because it is the law of the land. Then I must not prevent certain people from going by taking a dogmatic view of the matter. That is the motivation for this. There is no other motivation whatsoever. I think hon members of the Opposition are aware of this standpoint, because I informed them before I introduced this legislation. I also informed the hon member for Rissik about the matter, and he knows that. However, there is one remark I want to make. When we make such a fuss about joint sittings, as the hon member for Barberton and the hon member for Soutpansberg did, it is very interesting to note—and now hon members must listen carefully—that they make a fuss about the fact that we are going to have joint sittings, in spite of the fact that we cannot take any decisions there, but that they did not object to joint sittings of a Ministers’ Council which was to have consisted of seven Whites, four Coloureds and three Asians, a council which was to have had absolute executive authority over general affairs.
Which clause is that?
I am entitled to reply, for that is the argument which was used by one of the hon members on the other side.
Tell us about the secret discussions which we had about this in the Broederbond.
While I am talking about the hon Chief Whip of the CP, would he not be so kind as to impart some information about the Broederbond to the hon member for Langlaagte, whose knowledge of it is rather patchy? He is more likely to believe the hon member for Kuruman than me, in any event. The hon member for Kuruman and I have come a long way together and he will not simply turn down such a reasonable request from me. The hon member is a member of this House and he has used his position in this House to make known his membership and that of others of another body which is not represented in this House, and therefore the hon member for Langlaagte is more likely to believe what he says than what I say. Would the hon Chief Whip be so kind as to enlighten him?
The hon member says that he will, because he is no longer bound by the promise of confidentiality. I shall not take the matter any further.
What is interesting is that for a long time, the hon members wrongly objected to the joint sittings, and the hon member for Kuruman knows what he did to this. The other hon members are not here at the moment, and I take it that he is now the senior member of the CP in this House, so I shall address my remarks to him. In terms of his leader’s standpoint, after all, they are going to participate in the new dispensation until they have changed it. Is that not true?
The hon member says it is true.
That hon member helped to lead him astray, but I am not going to quarrel with him about that now. I should prefer to talk about the aspect which we are discussing at the moment. The hon members of the CP have said that they are going to participate in the new dispensation and that they are going to sit on the joint committees. Surely this is so. The hon member for Kuruman nods affirmatively. I find it interesting that they are also going to bring their man into the President’s Council, because this is another institution that is being created, after all.
They still have to get past Jaap.
That is a procedural matter which I do not wish to discuss; I want to talk about the principle. The hon Chief Whip has indicated that they are going to serve on the President’s Council. There is a slight difference between taking one’s seat in this House, where no decisions are taken, and taking one’s seat in the President’s Council, because they are going to take decisions on the President’s Council.
So you are advising us not to sit there?
No, I am not advising the hon members to do anything. [Interjections.]
He was just telling you what was in store for you.
I am simply telling the hon member what his leader said he was going to do.
We shall have to consider it.
But when the hon leader of that party speaks, surely there is no one who contradicts him. After all, he has absolute authority and control over the party of theirs. They are going to participate in the President’s Council, and that CP member of the President’s Council, unlike the CP members here, who are not going to vote and take joint decisions, is going to take joint decisions on the President’s Council. Since this is so, what is to become of his sanctimonious standpoint in respect of joint sittings? Surely it does not hold water.
I want to thank the hon member for Mossel Bay for his support of the Bill. I want to thank the hon member for Ermelo for his contribution, as well as the hon member for Randfontein and the other hon members who support the legislation. I want to say at once that the discussion was interesting.
Upon which the House divided.
As fewer than fifteen members (viz Messrs S P Barnard, J H Hoon, Mrs E M Scholtz, Mr L M Theunissen, Dr A P Treumicht, Mr R F van Heerden, Dr F A H van Staden and Mr J H Visagie) appeared on one side,
Question declared affirmed and amendment dropped.
Bill read a Second Time.
Clause 1 (contd):
When the Committee reported progress on 28 June, clause 1 had been put, upon which amendments had been moved.
Amendment 1 put and the Committee divided:
Ayes—17: Andrew, K M; Barnard, M S; Burrows, R M; Cronjé, P C; Eglin, C W; Gastrow, P H P; Goodall, B B; Moorcroft, E K; Olivier, N J J; Savage, A; Soal, P G; Suzman, H; Swart, R A F; Tarr, M A; Van der Merwe, S S.
Tellers: G B D McIntosh and A B Widman.
Noes—76: Alant, T G; Ballot, G C; Bartlett, G S; Blanché, J P I; Botha, P W; Breytenbach, W N; Clase, P J; Coetzer, H S; Cunningham, J H; Delport, W H; Du Plessis, G C; Durr, K D S; Fouché, A F; Geldenhuys, B L; Golden, S G A; Grobler, J P; Heunis, J C; Heyns, J H; Hugo, P B B; Jordaan, A L; Kleynhans, J W; Koornhof, P G J; Kotzé, S F; Landman, W J; Lemmer, W A; Le Roux, D E T; Louw, E v d M; Louw, M H; Malan, W C; Malherbe, G J; Marais, G; Maree, M D; Meiring, J W H; Meyer, W D; Miller, R B; Morrison, G de V; Nothnagel, A E; Odendaal, W A; Page, B W B; Pieterse, J E; Poggenpoel, D J; Pretorius, P H; Rencken, C R E; Scott, D B; Streicher, D M; Swanepoel, K D; Tempel, H J; Terblanche, A J W P S; Terblanche, G P D; Thompson, A G; Van Breda, A; Van den Berg, J C; Van der Linde, G J; Van der Merwe, G J; Van der Walt, A T; Van Eeden, D S; Van Niekerk, A I; Van Rensburg, H M J (Rosettenville); Van Staden, J W; Van Vuuren, L M J; Van Wyk, J A; Van Zyl, J G; Vermeulen, J A J; Vilonel, J J; Welgemoed, P J; Wentzel, J J G; Wessels, L; Wiley, J W E; Wilkens, B H; Wright, A P.
Tellers: W J Cuyler, W T Kritzinger, C J Ligthelm, J J Niemann, H M J van Rensburg (Mossel Bay) and M H Veldman.
Amendments 2 and 3 negatived (Official Opposition dissenting).
Clause agreed to (Official Opposition and Conservative Party dissenting).
Mr Chairman, in the interests of getting home some time before the end of July, I will be short in discussing this clause. I move the amendments to this clause as printed on the Order Paper in the name of the hon member for Yeoville, as follows:
prior to such assignment be credited as a charge against the State Revenue Account
- 2. On page 9, from line 28, to omit subsection (3).
With the implementation of the new constitution new Ministers and Ministers Councils will be appointed and certain functions will obviously be assigned to these Ministers. When this happens, certain funds will need to be budgeted for these Ministers to administer their departments. The purpose of this clause is to make provision for the interim period between the implementation of the new constitution and the time when the new Parliament starts with its session next year, when we will have the opportunity to debate and pass a fresh budget. The clause deals with how money is to be allocated to these Ministers in this interim period.
We have stated that we would have preferred a new budget being drawn up ab initio with the implementation of the new constitution. We realize of course, that this is difficult for practical reasons and we also realize that not all functions will be assigned at the same time to different Ministers. Our problem with this particular clause, then, rests with the manner in which money is to be allocated to the Ministers who will head the new departments.
The way in which this is to be done—and that is where our problem arises—is that the Minister of Finance will decide how this money is to be allocated. He will look at the unexpended portion of the amounts which have now already been budgeted. He will then determine how much of the amount that is left over will fall due to each House. This can be very difficult at a given point in time as there is always a lag expenditure working through the pipe-line. Therefore, to determine at a certain date what amount of money has not yet been expended is very difficult. The clause makes provision for this, but we would rather have seen that the amount which is to be allocated to the Ministers of Finance of the different Houses, is allocated in consultation with the Ministers concerned and not on the basis of the present Minister himself making the decision.
There is also something we would like the hon the Deputy Minister to confirm in connection with this clause. The procedure of assigning an amount to a Minister only applies when that Minister first takes over his portfolio but it will not happen in subsequent years. That is how we understand the clause, and we should like confirmation on that.
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Pietermaritzburg South states that they would have preferred a new Budget when this transfer is taking place. That was not the argument, though, at Second Reading. It was a matter of principle advanced by the official Opposition that there should be a Budget at that particular point in time. It therefore was not a matter of preference.
The amendment suggests that the income account of a particular House be credited before the transfer of services has taken place. I do not think that is a practical suggestion, for a number of very good reasons. Firstly, the unspent amount at that particular point in time is not known. Secondly, book entries are outstanding at that particular point in time. Thirdly, payments may be in transit, as the hon member pointed out himself. The hon member will have noticed that provision is made in subsection (2) of the proposed new section 2, as inserted in clause 2 of the Bill—I refer him to the first two lines on page 9 of the Bill—for that. I quote the relevant lines:
That was specifically included into the Bill so that this transitional transaction will be made administratively possible.
*I repeat: In the Second Reading speech of the hon member for Yeoville it was a matter of principle to him that he wanted a new Budget for this interrupted short period. By now actually accepting the explanation I gave him during the Second Reading debate and merely stating that the money should be transferred before the services are transferred is in my opinion not a good argument of the hon member for Pietermaritzburg South and the official Opposition. I also want to assure him that this specific clause deals only with the question of the transfer of money for this interrupted year when the services are transferred. Therefore I cannot accept the amendments.
Amendments 1 and 2 negatived (Official Opposition dissenting).
Clause agreed to (Official Opposition and Conservative Party dissenting).
Mr Chairman, clause 3 deals with the apportionment of moneys between the different Houses. As the hon member for Yeoville mentioned in the Second Reading debate on this Bill this is going to be one of the most sensitive issues in the whole new dispensation. The hon member for Yeoville referred to the question of how the cake will be sliced up, as he put it. It appears that this apportionment is going to be to a large extent, done on the basis of formulae and on the basis of other Acts. These formulae will obviously be embodied in other Acts of Parliament and, when it comes to deciding what these formulae are, this will be where the most sensitive and difficult stages of the new constitution are going to be handled. We foresee a number of problems in this regard. First of all, as I mentioned, there is the question of deciding what the formulae should be. This, of course, also gives rise to the whole question of the amount of discretionary expenditure which will be available to any particular Minister or any Ministers’ Council in a particular House. To a large extent the discretionary expenditure that is available is going to determine the degree of independence or autonomy of the House in question. I think this relates to what the hon member for Amanzimtoti was talking about last night when he in fact expressed the feelings of his party that each particular group should have autonomy or a say over its own affairs.
First of all, as far as what is allocated to a particular House is concerned, if that allocation is on the basis of a formula, one is to a large extent removing the discretionary power of a particular Minister in that House to spend money. A formula could, for example, determine teachers’ salaries. A formula could determine expenditure on capital equipment for schools. It could determine how much is allocated to hospitals. If one, therefore, cuts down the discretionary expenditure of the Minister of any House, one is reducing the independence of that particular House.
It is only an interim measure.
No, it is not really an interim measure because, once the Minister of the Coloured House, for example, starts spending money on, say, education for his particular group at a lower rate than another group because they have allocated more money on hospitals, then the Coloured children educated in that Coloured educational system are going to be dissatisfied with the quality of the education they are getting. We are, therefore, to a large extent talking about giving groups a say over own affairs but, because of the way in which the cake is going to be cut up, the degree of autonomy that a particular group has, will, in fact, be limited. It will very largely be predetermined what they can spend for a particular purpose and what they cannot do.
This all serves to illustrate the point that we are all locked into the same society and economic system. It serves to illustrate as well that we can talk about the right to self-determination, but in practice this is limited. When we get down to dividing up this cake, the way in which it is divided up will largely determine exactly how the money is to be spent for each particular group, and that self-determination has a very hollow ring to it. [Interjections.]
Having made those points, I want to add that the amendments printed in the name of the hon member for Yeoville on the Order Paper are consequential upon the amendments to clause 2 and, will probably be negatived. Nevertheless I move them as follows:
- 2. On page 11, from line 28, to omit “in the case of the sum of money referred to in section 2(2)(a),”.
- 3. On page 11, from line 37, to omit paragraph (b).
Mr Chairman, the amendments that have been moved are actually amendments that are consequential to previously amendments that have been moved. It is therefore only logical that I shall not agree to these amendments either.
I now move the amendment printed in my name on the Order Paper as follows:
- 1. On page 11, in line 11, after “shall” to insert “for every financial year”.
These specific words were merely omitted and their insertion merely brings this measure into line with what was previously stated in the same section.
Mr Chairman, we have no problems with the amendment moved by the hon the Deputy Minister and we shall be supporting it.
I should just like to come back for a moment to what was said by my colleague the hon member for Pietermaritzburg South in regard to the appropriation of money and its allocation. I think that the success or failure of this Constitution is going to depend to some extent upon how we actually cut the cake. This is an important point that we cannot simply gloss over. The dilemma that we as politicians have in South Africa is in relation to distributing wealth and actually generating wealth. It is, of course, much easier to distribute wealth than it is to vote money to generate wealth.
Thank you. This must be the first time that the hon member for Langlaagte has ever agreed with me. It may also be the last.
The point I want to make to the hon the Deputy. Minister is that, when it comes to the appropriation of money, I think that we must not simply look at the historical base where we spent a certain amount on Coloured and on Indian education and thus decide that we are going to take what we have historically spent and make that sum available to those groups. Because we are a single economic unit, we have actually to look at the needs of South Africa or the needs of the people who are going to be covered by this Constitution in their entirety. As a result, we may find that, while historically we have spent a certain amount on Coloured and on Indian education, as far as the needs of the total economy are concerned we shall have to spend a great deal more on that. What is of concern to me— and I should like clarification from the hon the Deputy Minister in this regard—is that we may tie ourselves down to the historical expenditure patterns, that we may tie the needs of our economy to those historical patterns. I shall be interested to hear the reply of the hon the Deputy Minister in this regard.
Mr Chairman, I would have thought that the hon members of the PFP would have listened to the Second Reading debate during which quite a lot was said about how the new system is going to operate. The hon the Deputy Minister can correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that there is going to be a standing committee on priorities in regard to budget expenditure, and all three Houses will be represented on that committee. The provisions contained in these particular clauses however, are purely interim measures to cover the period until the approval of the next Budget, which incidentally, is being drawn up at the present time and which after September will certainly be influenced by the Coloured and Indian members on that priorities committee and those in the Cabinet. Thereafter, however, that standing committee on priorities is going to have to achieve a large degree of consensus on priorities and minimum standards for education etc, otherwise the budget will not be approved by all these chambers. The type of problem raised by the hon member for Edenvale will naturally come up for discussion in that standing committee. Those are the sort of matters that will be thrashed out there, namely whether there may be discrimination in future budgets as there has been in the past. The way we see the operation of these standing committees, we certainly feel that over a period of time these inequalities in expenditure which presently exist in education for example, will gradually be removed as and when the funds are available and adjustments can be made to the total budget. Therefore, I do not think that the hon members of the PFP have anything to worry about in this particular respect. The politics of the future will sort the whole thing out.
Mr Chairman, I just want to say that the hon member for Amanzimtoti obviously listened quite carefully to what I had to say during the Second Reading debate.
While I admit that the hon member for Edenvale did raise some important issues, they are issues that will be addressed in various pieces of legislation that will be brought before Parliament. The hon member for Amanzimtoti was quite correct in what he said.
Amendment 1 agreed to.
Amendments 2 and 3 negatived (Official Opposition dissenting).
Clause, as amended, agreed to (Conservative Party dissenting).
Mr Chairman, there are amendments on the Order Paper standing in the name of the hon member for Yeoville. If one looks at this clause, what it actually provides for is for the report of the Auditor-General, if there has been a misapropriation of funds or anything like that, to be laid before the relevant House. This is the point that was made by the hon the Deputy Minister of Finance in his Second Reading reply to the hon member.
What we believe is that this report of the Auditor-General should be laid before Parliament as a whole. In other words, we believe it is not only the affair of a specific House. It is in fact the affair of Parliament as a whole. The way in which one actually looks at this depends upon whether one is interested in the appropriation of the funds, the way the money is spent, or on the responsibility for the funds. May I just explain our point of view to the hon the Deputy Minister? If one looks at the money that is being spent, it is in fact coming from all of the taxpayers in South Africa. We do not divide them into Coloured taxpayers, Indian taxpayers and White taxpayers; we actually have a globular pool of income tax. The Auditor-General is responsible to Parliament. In fact, he is the servant of Parliament. However, one of the traditional responsibilities of Parliament is to look after the expenditure of public money. That is why we have the Select Committee on Public Accounts, a committee that acts as the watchdog of Parliament over the expenditure of public money, of money raised from the public. Seeing that the money comes from the pool, we believe that the report of the Auditor General should be available to Parliament as a whole and not to just one House. Therefore I move the amendments printed in the name of the hon member for Yeoville on the Order Paper, as follows:
- 1. On page 15, from line 36, to omit “or the relevant House of Parliament, as the circumstances may require”.
- 2. On page 15, from line 45, to omit “or the relevant House of Parliament, as the circumstances may require,”.
- 3. On page 15, from line 53, to omit “or the relevant House of Parliament, as the circumstances may require,”.
- 4. On page 15, from line 60, to omit “or the relevant House of Parliament, as the circumstances may require,”.
Mr Chairman, I do not agree with the amendments of the hon member for Yeoville as moved by the hon member for Edenvale. When the main Budget is introduced by the hon the Minister of Finance, there are still three further budgets that have to be introduced in the respective Houses with regard to own affairs. Control over the application of the funds for which a budget for own affairs makes provision is the responsibility and function of that specific House. If we were to agree to that amendment, this entire principle would be destroyed, namely the principle of own affairs and the responsibility for the application of money to own affairs. It is after all quite wrong for House A to comment on the way in which House B, for argument’s sake, deals with its budget and how the money for that House is applied. I think the entire principle of the legislation in conjunction with the new Constitution Act, would be destroyed if the hon the Deputy Minister were to agree to these amendments.
Mr Chairman, arising out of what the hon member for Hercules has said, there is one point which I should like to clarify. The reports of the Auditor-General will be available to all members of all the Houses. The next question is then, why can they not be tabled in each of the Houses. The hon member for Edenvale has made the point very clear that we are one Parliament and that, while we have jurisdiction over separate areas, the money still comes from the same source. It all comes from the same taxpayers. Therefore, I think it is in the interests of the taxpayers and everybody that we keep ourselves informed as to what is happening in the other Houses. I can see no objection to that whatsoever. It does not mean to say that we are necessarily interfering in the affairs of another House. That is why we ask that the hon the Deputy Minister give serious consideration to this. I am surprised at his reaction to it because I would have thought that this would be one of the amendments he would look at favourably.
Mr Chairman, the position is in actual fact as the hon member for Hercules indicated. Here we have separate Houses of the same Parliament, but we have separate budgets for own affairs and that is why we state that separate reports of the Auditor-general have to be introduced in each of the respective Houses.
This is not a new principle either. The hon member for Edenvale said that this money came out of one common pool and for that reason there should only be one report. Is this not also the case under the present circumstances in the country? The hon member will concede that the appropriations for the provinces come out of the same kitty, and that in that case too we do not only have one report of the Auditor-general. We are applying the same principle throughout.
I also want to point out to hon members that we are not sacrificing the effectiveness of the watchdog idea, because section 9 of the Exchequer and Audit Act still provides that there is only one Paymaster-General Account which is controlled by the central treasury only and against which only the central treasury may issue credits. We are therefore not detracting from the existing system at all, and the hon member for Yeoville admitted to me in the Second Reading debate that this system worked well. Therefore I unfortunately cannot accept the hon member’s amendments.
Mr Chairman, I think the argument of the hon the Deputy Minister is to some extent fallacious because, although we do not get the reports of the Auditor-General on the provinces, we do get the reports of the Auditor-General on control boards and a whole variety of other boards which are not directly under the control …
It comes from the same pool.
It comes from the same pool, exactly. It comes from the same pool and yet we are controlling their money, the money which goes to the Maize Board and so forth.
And the provinces?
I accept that the provinces are a special case, but there are lots of organizations which the Auditor-General audits and on which he reports to Parliament although they are completely autonomous bodies, for example, the control boards and the administration boards. Let me explain how I feel about this. I think the hon member for Hercules is looking at it from the point of view of the Budget and who spends the money. The point of view from which I am looking at it is where the money has come from. I work from the point of view that the money has actually come from the taxpayers of South Africa, some of whom are my constituents. I believe it is my duty as their representative to have a say in it. Let us take an example. Let us say that there has been a misuse of funds by one of the Houses.
What about provincial councils at the moment?
Because it happens in respect of the provinces it does not mean that one has to continue that practice. There is also a difference. There are separate provincial administrations, while we are members of one Parliament. We are going to have three Houses, but we will be sitting as one Parliament. I think there is a difference between the new Parliament in the Constitution and the provinces, because the relationship will be much closer. If there has been a misspending of funds in one of the other Houses, I as representative of the constituents of Edenvale would be interested in that misexpenditure. That is why I disagree with the hon member’s argument. I can appreciate his point of view if you look at the way the money is spent and that they are responsible for the way they spend their money. I can accept that, but I would appreciate it if he would see our point of view. What really concerns us, is where the money is coming from, and the money comes from all the tax payers of South Africa. That is why we would prefer, as representatives in the so-called White House of Parliament, to have a say and to be able to watch over all the money that is spent by any House in Parliament.
Then we may just as well debate the other Houses’ budgets as well.
The other Houses could feel exactly the same. Everything I demand for myself, I must be prepared to give to the other Houses. They also pay tax and if we waste money they are entitled to call us to account.
Amendment 1 negatived and amendments 2 to 4 dropped (Official Opposition dissenting).
Clause agreed to (Conservative Party dissenting).
Clause 12 agreed to (Official Opposition and Conservative Party dissenting).
Clause 13 agreed to (Conservative Party dissenting).
Title agreed to (Conservative Party dissenting).
Bill, as amended, reported.
Mr Speaker, I move, subject to Standing Order No 56:
Mr Speaker, during the Second Reading and Committee Stages of the Bill we voiced our objections, so I do not intend going into these objections in any great detail again. We tried to have various amendments accepted to rectify what we saw as problems in the Bill, but unfortunately the hon the Deputy Minister did not see fit to agree to any of them either. So, we are now just going to have to live with the Bill as it stands. Our greatest concern with the Bill was, firstly, the creation of the four separate treasuries. We were against this concept because of the amount of fragmentation it would bring about. The greater the degree of fragmentation, the more difficult it becomes, to exercise effective control. As we mentioned in the earlier debates, our amendments were in no way intended to block, or to make more difficult the implementation of the new constitutional dispensation. They were proposed merely to try to retain more effective control which, this fragmentation, will make more difficult. I am sure that the hon the Deputy Minister will concede that. We are not implying in any way that his department will not maintain control, but it will be far more difficult.
Another thing which comes about as a result of this fragmentation is, of course, a proliferation of departments. We are now going to have four treasuries and four Ministers of Finance—we are going to have one main Minister of Finance and a Minister of Finance for each particular House. There will be more staff involved, whichever way one looks at it. We have already voiced our concern in the House in the course of the last week about a proliferation of staff in the public sector. This yet again adds to that increase in the number of staff.
Having made those few comments, I shall let the matter rest. The future will enable us to judge the results of the legislation.
Mr Speaker, of course this Bill lets one see the totality of the problem with the tricameral system. One of the major problems is concerned with the division, allocation and auditing of finances. We in the CP see these measures in the first place in the light of the fact that the rights of the Whites in the existing Parliament under the Westminster system are going to be reduced to such an extent that in the new Parliament we shall only have part of those rights left. We are actually resorting to measures which, we believe, will eventually lead to a Chamber losing its actual say. We cannot agree with that. When one considers the effect this Bill is going to have, one finds that it reflects the problems which are going to be experienced with the allocation and handling of a House’s money. There are the references to the Ministers’ Council, for example. In principle we are totally opposed to the new system. The financial problems are, however, going to be greater than the problems in connection with the transfer of political say and rights. We had a budget, but the Government was not well prepared and its departments did not realize what problems they were going to be faced with as regards the Exchequer and Audit Act, particularly with regard to budgeting procedures. We are quickly knocking together a few laws to repair what will be staring us in the face in September. Legislation piloted through today is going to be a reproach for a long time to come. I blame the Government for the fact that the consequences of this legislation will prove that the Government was not ready to enter the new tricameral parliamentary system and that it anticipated the political situation far too much. No consideration was given to the economic situation under the system we are entering either.
The allocation of the money of a province must not be compared with the allotment of money to a House of Parliament. A province has its own auditors and its money is dealt with differently. Provinces may levy taxes; Houses may not.
For these reasons we cannot support this legislation.
I believe it was to be expected that the hon the Deputy Minister would lay this amending legislation on the Table in order to implement the Constitution Act which was passed last year and which was approved by a two-thirds majority of the White voters in the referendum. For this reason we will be supporting this measure.
I want to put it to hon members in the PFP and the CP that in a pluralistic society such as we have in South Africa, as far as the Whites, Coloureds and Indians are concerned, the constitution has to be able to devolve power to the greatest possible degree on matters of own affairs to the three Chambers. This is exactly what is being done by this Bill in regard to financial matters and the Budget.
This is required in order to have a maximum degree of self-determination by each population group in order for them to retain their self-respect and dignity. Maybe in the future, in the time of our grand children’s children these three groups will understand each other to such an extent that some of the things which the PFP are presently concerned about might be reviewed. However, the fact is that as the Constitution is presently worded, the powers which are devolving to the three groups are entrenched. Any removal of this can only be done by way of the agreement of the House concerned. I believe this should be some consolation to the CP who is worried about…
It is not enough.
I want to put it to the hon member for Langlaagte that the Indian and Coloured people in this country, who count approximately 3,75 million, will say to the CP that what that party offers is not enough. It is only through consensus and by working together that we can achieve the necessary peace required in South Africa.
Mr Speaker, we have now come to the end of this Third Reading and nothing has cropped up that was not also discussed in the Second Reading. For that reason there is not much I need to reply to.
The passing of this legislation is in actual fact the financial culmination of a political process over many years which is now on the verge of becoming a reality. The attitude with which the new dispensation is approached will of course be important and decisive, but the success with which the limited capabilities of the country will be used by the various population groups will make a major contribution to the forming of the attitudes necessary for success.
In conclusion I want to state that this will make heavy demands on the new Minister of Finance, but I do not doubt his ability to meet those heavy demands and expectations for a moment. I want to congratulate the hon the Minister of Education and Planning who, at an early age, has achieved the great distinction of becoming the Minister of Finance of the Republic of South Africa, most sincerely. I want to wish him and his wife everything of the best for the future.
Question agreed to (Official Opposition and Conservative Party dissenting).
Bill read a Third Time.
Mr Speaker, I move:
The House adjourned at