House of Assembly: Vol2 - FRIDAY 1 AUGUST 1924
Mr. SPEAKER, as Chairman, brought up the First Report of the Committee on. Standing Rules and Orders, as follows:
E. G. JANSEN, Chairman.
Report considered and adopted.
Mr. SPEAKER announced that the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders had appointed the following members to serve on the Select Committees mentioned, viz.:
Cotton Culture Lots in Zululand.
asked the Minister of Lands:
- (1) How many lots have been given out in Zululand under the Settlers’ Ordinances, ostensibly for cotton culture;
- (2) how many applications were there; and how many were granted;
- (3) whether the Minister will furnish the House with a list of the names of the applicants, with their occupations, together with a list of successful applicants;
- (4) how many of these lots were granted for speculative purposes;
- (5) (a) when were the applications made; (b) when were they granted; (c) when were they finally approved of by the Minister in terms of the Settlement Ordinance; and
- (6) whether it is the Government’s intention to alienate any further State lands in Zululand suitable for cotton, for speculative purposes?
I must ask the hon. member to allow this question to stand over.
asked the Minister of Lands what number of farms were allotted in Zululand by the previous Government, and what was the approximate total capital represented by the allottees?
The MINISTER OF LANDS: I must ask the hon. member to allow this question to stand over.
asked the Minister of Agriculture:
- (1) In what respects, if any, has effect been given to the First Report of the 1923 Select Committee on the spreading of scab; and
- (2) if no effect has been given to the said Report, whether the Government intends to carry out the recommendations of the Select Committee, and, if so, in what respects?
The Select Committee’s report on the spreading of scab has been given effect to the following extent:
- (1) The districts of Kenhardt and Kuruman have undergone compulsory dipping, and the district of Gordonia will undergo similar dipping from August to October next. Owing to drought similar measures have not been possible in Namaqualand as yet. The question of protecting these districts against the entry of small stock will be considered as soon as the time is ripe therefor. Districts in South-West Africa bordering on the Union have also been subjected to compulsory dipping.
- (2) Not only has the attention of the Railways Administration been drawn to the necessity for seeing that detraining kraals between South-West Africa and the Union are thoroughly cleansed, but sheep inspectors have been instructed to inspect such premises from time to time. No small stock are allowed to enter the Union from South-West Africa except on permit from Union officials.
- (3) A port of entry from Bechuanaland Protectorate has been established at Ramathlabama, where a supervisor is stationed with complete dipping arrangements, and stock are twice dipped before entry into the Union.
Of the remaining recommendations
- (a) the fencing of the Basutoland—Union border would require legislation and the consent of the Basutoland Administration, which matter is under consideration; and
- (b) the confiscation of sheep from South-West Africa of which notification of consignment to the inspector at the port of entry has not been given appears to be unnecessary and undesirable in view of the considerable progress which has been made in that Territory with the eradication of scab.
asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours:
- (1) How many Indian messengers are employed by the Railways and Harbours Administration in Durban; and
- (2) what is the policy of the Government in regard to the replacement of these by white lads?
- (1) 128.
- (2) The policy of the Government is to employ European youths in replacement of natives or Indians on unskilled work wherever such a course is practicable, and this will include replacement of Indian messengers at Durban which is already in hand.
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether he is prepared to take the necessary steps to allow the Land Bank to grant loans for the purpose of dividing farms into camps by means of fencing?
The matter is under consideration by the Government.
asked the Minister of Agriculture—
- (1) Whether he is aware that in cases where a railway traverses a farm the Railway Administration refuses to contribute towards the cost of fencing the line with vermin-proof fencing; and, if so,
- (2) what steps he proposes to take in order to compel the Railway Administration to contribute in such cases?
- (1) The law does not require the Railway Administration to contribute to the cost of fencing such a line with vermin-proof fencing.
- (2) This question therefore falls away. I may add, for the information of the hon. member, that the Railway Administration is giving favourable consideration to the provision of devices to prevent jackals entering vermin-proof-fenced farms via the railway at points where the line intersects farm fences.
asked the Minister of Lands whether he is prepared to appoint an Irrigation Board to deal with the difficulties which have arisen in regard to the existing irrigation schemes, and, if so, what functions he proposes to entrust to such a Board?
It is considered advisable to appoint a temporary Commission shortly to go into questions affecting large existing irrigation schemes, but its functions will only be of an advisory character. Later, however, the whole policy of irrigation will have to be carefully reviewed and placed on a sound business basis.
asked the Minister of Agriculture:
- (1) Whether he is aware that the provisions of the existing Fencing Acts press very heavily on farmers with small means, in that they are frequently threatened by bond-holders that if they apply to the Land Bank for a loan in order to pay contributions towards fencing their bonds will be called up; and, if so,
- (2) what steps he proposes to take to meet the difficulties in which such farmers are placed?
- (1) Yes.
- (2) Legislation with a view to meeting the difficulties of such farmers is under consideration.
asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours:
- (1) Whether he is aware (a) that the Johannesburg Town Council has approved of the proposal for the lowering of the railway line from Doornfontein to the George Goch station, (b) that the Council has agreed to bear one-third of the cost involved; and, if so,
- (2) whether he will make provision, during the present session, to have the work commenced?
- (1) (a) and (b) Yes.
- (2) It is not intended to make provision for carrying out the work during this financial year, but the matter will form the subject of discussion between representatives of the Municipality and the Administration at an early date during the Recess.
asked the Minister of Agriculture:
- (1) Whether the districts of Carnarvon, Williston, Prieska and Kenhardt have been proclaimed under the Drought Distress Relief Act, 1924, as districts suffering from drought;
- (2) which persons in each district have been appointed to form, together with the Magistrates, the commission of enquiry;
- (3) whether any applications have been received and granted; if so, how many; and
- (4) until what date may applications be handed in?
- (1) Yes.
- (2) Carnarvon: C. J. van Zijl and L. P. Steenkamp. Williston: N. E. Hodson and Jas. Louw. Prieska: D. C. S. Naude and J. D. van der Westhuizen. Kenhardt: J. G. Connan and C. R. Liebenberg.
- (3) Carnarvon: 71 applications received; no applications yet granted by the Land Bank; enquiries regarding 65 of the applications are proceeding. Williston: 35 applications received; no applications yet granted by the Land Bank. Prieska: 60 applications received; 20 applications granted by the Land Bank; enquiries regarding three applications still proceeding; 17 applications not yet dealt with by the Land Bank. Kenhardt: Eight applications received to date; no applications yet granted by the Land Bank.
- (4) 19th September, 1924, inclusive.
asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours:
- (1) On what date was the report of the Commission on the Durban Grain Elevator handed in to the Government; and
- (2) on what date was the said report published?
- (1) The report was handed in to the Government on the 12th July, 1924.
- (2) 19th July, 1924.
Arising out of this question, may I ask the hon. the Minister when the report was handed to the press. At what date was it handed to the press.
I take it that it was the date mentioned—July 19th.
Arising out of the question, may I ask whether, in view of the great public importance of this report and its value, whether the hon. the Minister can take steps to see whether the report cannot be sold under eight shillings a copy, the price it is now marked at.
In deciding the price the usual procedure was adopted. We took the actual cost plus a certain percentage. I shall however go into the question whether a reduction is possible.
How was the information given before the report was published?
The hon. member had better give notice of that question.
asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours:
- (1) Whether in connection with the electrification of the Natal main line between Glencoe and Maritzburg, the Railway Administration has decided to establish a marshalling yard and electric repair shops on land near Mason’s Mill, transferred in 1906 to the Natal Government by the Maritzburg Corporation;
- (2) whether this land is the most suitable site available for the purpose; and
- (3) what amount is to be expended in connection therewith, and what is the sum already sanctioned?
- (1) It is not the intention to provide electric repair shops at Mason’s Mill, near Pietermaritzburg. A marshalling yard will, however, be provided, partly on land acquired in 1903 by the late Natal Government Railways from the Corporation, but mainly on Municipal ground.
- (2) Yes; most careful consideration was given before adopting the site in question.
- (3) Approximately £70,000. Under the electrification proposals certain expenditure was contemplated at Pietermaritzburg to enable the longer and heavier electric trains to be dealt with and provision therefor was included in the appropriation already sanctioned by Parliament for the electrification works.
asked the Minister of Finance what amount was received from the district of Barkly West from 1st April, 1920, to 31st March, 1924, in respect of (a) export duty on alluvial diamonds, (b) diggers’ licences, and (c) claim licences?
- (a) 1920-’21, £82,000; 1921-’22, £55,000; 1922-’23, £45,000; 1923-’24, £53,000.
- (b) and (c) 1920-’21, £7,014 19s. 6d.; 1921-’22, £4,825 9s.; 1922-’23, £4,506 5s. 6d.; 1923-’24, £4,541 8s. 6d.
asked the Minister of Public Works whether he is prepared to take the necessary steps to have a new post office and an office for the Department of Native Affairs erected at Barkly West?
No representations as to the urgency for the provision of a new post office and an office for the Native Affairs Department at Barkly West were made by the departments concerned when the Estimates of Expenditure to be met from Loan Funds during 1924-’25 were being framed. Office accommodation requirements at this and other centres will receive consideration when the estimates for next financial year are being prepared.
asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours:
- (1) What was the expenditure in connection with the enquiry of Sir George Buchanan with regard to the schemes for harbour construction on the coast of Zululand;
- (2) what were the expenses of the tour of the Prime Minister of that time in those parts and in connection with the above enquiry;
- (3) who paid for the costs in regard to (1) and (2) respectively; and
- (4) what are the results of these trips and this expenditure?
- (1) (a) Departmental investigation of Zuiuland harbour sites, including Richards Bay, from 1921 to date of Sir George Buchanan’s arrival, £1,922 19s. 7d. (b) Fees and expenses paid to Sir George Buchanan, £2,103 16s. 7d. (c) Transport and other expenses in connection with journey of Sir George Buchanan and staff, £583 1s. (d) Subsequent detailed departmental surveys of sites, £3,442 15s. 10d.
- (2) I would refer the hon. member to the Thirteenth Annual Report of the Controller and Auditor-General laid on the Table of the House of Assembly on the 29th July, 1924. [U.G. 38—1923.]
- (3) (1) Railways and Harbours Administration. (2) See reply to second paragraph hereof.
- (4) These investigations have been the means of furnishing survey data in regard to additional harbour sites on the Zululand coastline.
asked the Minister of Finance whether, in view of the present acute distress on the part of many petitioners whose cases were favourably considered, and recommendations made thereon, by the Select Committee on Pensions, Grants and Gratuities, which sat last session, the Minister will have the reports, to be found on pages 472 to 474 and 613 to 614 of the Votes and Proceedings, 1924, considered by this House at an early date and the necessary legislation passed, so that such petitioners need not wait for relief until the end of the present Parliamentary session?
It is unfortunately not possible to accede to the hon. member’s request to introduce a Bill immediately to deal with the pension cases already recommended by the Select Committee of last session. The matter will have to stand over until shortly before the end of the present session, when a Bill will be introduced dealing with such cases, and also any further cases which may be recommended in the course of the present session.
asked the Minister of Public Works:
- (1) Whether it is a fact that the Government is contemplating the sale by auction or otherwise of the official Government residences and properties at Brynterion, Pretoria; and, if so,
- (2) whether the Government proposes to dispose of similar Government properties in other centres of the Union?
- (1) No.
- (2) No.
asked the Minister of Lands why Mr. A. G. Mostert was employed at the public expense to carry out an investigation in Zululand which should have devolved upon the Natal Land Board and upon the Agricultural and Lands Departments of the Union?
As the Government desired a special report on the relative possibilities of several areas of Crown Lands in the Transvaal and Zululand it was considered that this could best be obtained by an investigation of all the areas by one and the same person rather than by members of the Land Boards acting independently within their spheres of jurisdiction. Mr. Mostert, who is attached for the time being to the Department of Lands in an advisory capacity has not in any way usurped or encroached upon the functions of the Land Boards which functions are prescribed by statute. The officials of the Departments of Lands and Agriculture or those of any other Department who have a special knowledge of the areas in question will if necessary be consulted by the Government.
asked the Minister of Lands whether he will supplement his reply to paragraph (3) of Question No. 1, for to-day (1st August) by at the same time giving a list of the unsuccessful applicants?
I will comply with the hon. member’s request and will include the reply in Question No. 1, when the required information is obtained.
asked the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs:
- (1) Whether he is aware of the fact that the Western Karroo districts, including the districts of Beaufort West, Prince Albert and Victoria West, have in the past been sadly neglected in the matter of telephone extension and facilities; and
- (2) whether, having regard to the immense distances and difficulty of communication in those parts, he will in the near future make the necessary provision for such telephone extension?
The telephone requirements in these districts have already been investigated and several important works are about to be undertaken. I will go into the matter and see what further can be done in the direction desired.
asked the Minister of Public Works whether the Government intends to introduce a Bill dealing with the rating of Government properties during the present session?
No. I propose giving the question my personal attention at the close of the present session.
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether it is a fact that the Tweespruit Creamery, Orange Free State, was let shortly before the introduction of Responsible Government in that territory; and, if so (a) to whom was it let, (b) for what period and at what rental; (c) whether the contract still exists, and if not, (i) how was it cancelled and (ii) if compensation was paid, what was the amount paid out of the public funds in consideration of the said cancellation and to whom was it paid, and (d) who was the managing director of the company which hired the creamery?
I must ask the hon. member to allow this question to stand over.
asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours whether he will carry out the undertaking given by his immediate predecessor in office to place a sum on next year’s Estimates to provide Johannesburg with a new railway station?
Subject to negotiations with the Town Council being satisfactorily settled and if the financial position warrants it, I hope it will be possible to make provision in next year’s Estimates for a commencement to be made with the new station premises for Johannesburg.
asked the Minister of Finance:
- (1) Whether he is aware that there has recently been a big increase in the price of flour and that in consequence the bakers in Durban are going to increase the price of bread; and, if so,
- (2) what steps he proposes to take to prevent such increase in the cost of living in Durban and elsewhere in view of the great hardship it will impose on the poorer sections of the people?
- (1) Yes.
- (2) South Africa does not produce sufficient wheat to meet its requirements, consequently the price is governed by the price at which it can be landed in the Union, and as there is a world’s shortage of wheat to-day, any rise in the price of bread as a result thereof is outside any possible control on the part of the Government.
asked the Minister of the Interior whether the Government is prepared to take such action as may prevent in future Asiatics in Natal trading under the names of Europeans?
The Government has no information at its disposal showing that Asiatics in Natal are trading under the names of Europeans, but enquiries will be instituted and the result will receive the consideration of the Ministers.
asked the Minister of Agriculture:
- (1) Whether he is acquainted with the facts of the Rasmus de Wet question and is aware that the matter was referred to a Select Committee which never reported; and
- (2) whether the Government intends to refer the matter during the present session to a Select Committee for thorough enquiry?
- (1) Yes.
- (2) No, but after having considered the papers on the subject, I propose appointing a Departmental Committee of Enquiry if necessary.
asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours:
- (1) Whether it is a fact that the Railway Administration is still carrying out the policy of the late Government in dismissing a section of its maintenance staff, and is giving out the work previously done by the said maintenance staff (painters, etc.), to private contractors; and, if so,
- (2) whether he will take steps to stop these dismissals and revert to the old system of having all maintenance work on the railways done by the Administration’s own employees?
- (1) (a) I assume the hon. member refers to the local maintenance district. If so, I may say that it is not now and never has been the policy of the Railway Administration for men, such as painters, etc., employed on maintenance work to be dismissed for the purpose of enabling the work to be given out to contractors. For over ten years the maintenance painting work on the local maintenance district has been performed under contract, but there has been no extension of this system, and consequently there has been no need to reduce the staff on this account. No other maintenance work is let out to public tender on the district referred to. (b) I am having enquiries made as to the position at other centres.
- (2) The present system on the local maintenance district is giving every satisfaction, and the Administration would not be justified in making any change. The matter is under further consideration.
Before Question No. 28 is answered—I have been brought a list of the hon. members of this House, and I find the member for Wakkerstroom is Mr. A. S. Naldé and the hon. member for Pietersburg is Mr. J. F. Naudé, but Ifind on the Question table the name of Tom Naudé. I wish to be informed who Mr. Tom Naudé is.
What a discovery.
That is Tom Naudé.
The PRIME MINISTER replied to Question XX by Rev. Mr. Hattingh standing over from 29th July.
- (1) Whether it is in accordance with the policy of the Government that political appointments such as those of the Administrators of the Provinces and South-West Africa, and of certain other bodies, remain unchanged; if not,
- (2) whether the Government will take steps to bring its views to the notice of the persons concerned and will inform this House accordingly; and
- (3) whether the Government will afford the House an opportunity to discuss the matter?
- (1) I cannot admit that the post of Administrator is a political one. This post so far as it concerns the four provinces of the Union was established under the Constitution, and the incumbent occupies the position for five years. It is clear, therefore, that there is no reason to suppose that the post is to be regarded as a political one requiring that the incumbent must either necessarily profess the politics of the Government of the day, or vacate his post where this is not the case. Whatever may have been the practice of the former Government, I am of opinion that the intention of our Constitution is that the Provincial Administrator shall be a member of the federal system in so far as that system finds expression in the establishment of the Provincial Administration, and that the Administrator shall be a person who, at his appointment, shall be acceptable to and enjoy the confidence of the majority of the Province concerned and who in any case shall co-operate in the interest of the province in a spirit compatible with the political feeling of the majority as reflected in his council unless he may in the general interest of the province have a sound reason for departing from that feeling. According to our Constitution, therefore, there is no necessary connection between the party political views of the Administrator and that of the Government of the day, however desirable this may sometimes be for practical purposes. With regard to the Administrator of South-West Africa this post will always necessitate the selection of the most competent and suitable person obtainable to represent the Government of the Union there in the execution of the important duties devolving upon it under the Mandate. These duties will always have to stand in an inseparable relation to the policy of the Government of the day, and it is clear that no Government can be properly represented by a person imbued with a policy other than or in conflict with that of the Government. Where this is the case it would be the duty of the Government to see that its policy be, if necessary, carried out by another person. But here also I consider it undesirable that an Administrator, once appointed, shall be compelled to lay down his post merely on the ground of difference in general political convictions, so long as such difference appears to be no obstacle to the proper fulfilment of the duty imposed upon him by his office as required by the policy of the Government.
- (2) and (3) These questions therefore fall away.
I move, as an unopposed motion—
Mr. B. J. PIENAAR seconded the motion.
First Order read: Second reading, South African Society of Accountants (Private) Bill.
It is the result of many years of effort on the part of those who are responsible in this country for the leadership of a very great profession, and to do so in the terms of the Bill as it came from Select Committee of last session. That Select Committee was a very strong one, although curiously enough of the seven members of whom it was constituted there are only two left. Some are retired; some have fallen by the way. When the Bill came before the Select Committee there were quite a number of contentious points which at one time, I think, it was feared might have prevented the Bill from passing through the committee, but I think that most of these contentious points were settled by some form of compromise and the compromises are embodied in the Bill as it now stands. I may perhaps be allowed to give a short history of the position. It was realized in 1904 that the accounting profession in the Transvaal had reached such a stage that it was desirable in the public interest that there should be a body constituted to see that the people who were to practise as accountants should be of the right stamp, as far as possible, and also that there should be a body constituted to take charge of the ethics of the profession and to see in the interests of the public that they were served by people who were not only entitled to practise but who were kept, if there were any danger in that way, in the straight and narrow path by the powers of control which the society had. In 1904 an Ordinance was passed in the Transvaal which created a body corporate consisting of persons who held themselves out to practise. In connection with this question there are two points which have constantly cropped up. Are you going to make your body consist of all those who practise in that profession or are you going to make it consist of persons who hold themselves out as qualified to practise in the profession? There are many people who think it is best to deal with the situation by making everybody who practises in the profession a member of the society, amenable to its discipline and control, liable to the penalties for offences laid down in the constitution of that society and qualified to practise by reason of the safeguards which the society provides by means of examination and otherwise. That was the line taken in the Bill which came originally before the House. The intention was that all persons who practise as accountants should become members of the society and be registered. That was not the line taken by the Transvaal Act of 1904. What was there laid down was that every person who held himself out or described himself as a public accountant or auditor should also be registered, but it should be an offence for him to practise without registration and that, being registered, he should be a member of the society and subject to the conditions under which the society govern the profession. In 1907 two voluntary societies were constituted, one in the Free State and the other in the Cape, under which by purely voluntary agreement, control was sought to be obtained over such practising people as chose to be members of the society. In 1909 an Act was passed in Natal which went on almost precisely identical lines to the provisions of the Ordinance of the Transvaal in 1904, and there again the constitution of the society was the constitution of all those who held themselves out or described themselves as accountants. The result is that with all these provisions a large number of people who in the smaller towns and places in this country do what is called accounting work, are still able to carry on their work in that form, provided that they do not mislead the public by describing themselves as accountants. The reason for the distinction is very obvious, because when an account or balance-sheet is prepared and signed by a person who is described as an accountant, that balance-sheet or account gets such credence as the class of accountant would give it. That was the position in the Union in 1910. After Union an attempt was made to consolidate the position by making a Union Act which would deal with the whole question. At that time Parliament was not ready for such a course, and the Select Committee did not accept the preamble as proved, which meant, of course, that the Bill fell away. Now, after all these years, the societies which are carrying on under Ordinances in the Transvaal and Natal, and the two voluntary societies in the Cape and Free State have come together and produced the Bill which came before the House last session, and was referred to the Select Committee. As I have said, many objections which were felt to that Bill were met in Select Committee, compromises were arrived at, and I am here to move that that Bill which came from the Select Committee should receive second reading to-day. There are a few minor verbal alterations which I propose to move in committee, otherwise I stand for the Bill as it is to-day. The first thing in connection with this Bill is that all persons who hold themselves out as accountants shall be registered, and, being registered, shall become members of the South African Society of Accountants. The society is charged with the duty of preparing a register of members, and all persons who hold themselves out to be accountants are bound to register themselves or be subject to a penalty. For the first time throughout South Africa we have the principle, which has prevailed in the Transvaal and Natal, that there shall be compulsory registration of persons who hold themselves out to practise as accountants. They become ipso facto members of the society. It is very clearly in the interests of the public that there shall be a sound body of persons whose qualifications shall, as far as possible, be such as to make us proud of the name of accountants, and whose conduct shall be regulated by the society. It is eminently desirable that these steps should be taken, and abundant evidence to that effect was given before the Select Committee. One of the witnesses was the hon. member for Newlands (Mr. Stuttaford) who, as representing the Cape Town Chamber of Commerce, expressed the business point of view on the Bill, and stated that the Chamber was entirely at one with the Bill. The Bill seeks to carry out in the public interests the various objects I have indicated. My task is simplified by the fact that the Select Committee found the preamble proved. One of the first points of difficulty is who are the persons to be registered. You want at the start, even at the risk of rather impairing the value of the society, to see that no injustice is done to those persons who, in the uncontrolled state of affairs previously existing, carried on their profession. There are two very important clauses—9 and 18. Clause 9 lays it down who are the persons who are to be put on the register in the first instance. First there are all the members of the four societies which had hitherto been holding up the standard of accountancy in the four provinces. The next persons are those who, at the commencement of the Act or nine months thereafter, have qualified for membership of those societies. Persons may also become members by passing an examination set by the society, and by going through a period of service, which may be either by articles with a practising accountant, or by service with a practising accountant without articles. The very expert and eminent practitioners who have conducted matters in connection with the Bill regard the question of experience with an actual practising accountant as a matter absolutely vital and fundamental to the Bill. They say that a person who desires to become an accountant should go through the hard practical work of an accountant’s office in the same way as persons who wish to become chemists or attorneys and so become acquainted with the actual working details of their profession.
Will you alter the date?
Oh yes, I propose to make the date to-day’s date. A point which is designed purely in equity is that mentioned in sub-section (d) of Clause 9, which states that all persons who on 31st March, 1924 (or as I propose to move, on August 1st, 1924), were bona fide practising as public accountants in the Cape Province or the Orange Free State shall be placed on the register. This provision is only necessary in these two provinces, for in the Transvaal and Natal the sorting out has already taken place when their own Acts came into force. That enables a good many people in various capacities and employments to come in as members of the society, even although they are not actually practising. Under a similar provision in the Act in Natal, in 1909, a number of people, inspectors in the Accountant General’s office, were admitted although they were not practising accountants. Then there is one clause as far as the Transvaal and Natal are concerned, to which I might draw attention. That is the clause which is designed to deal with certain grievances which have arisen. When the Transvaal and Natal societies were constituted the period was given, of six months, in which all those persons then qualified to be admitted should be admitted. Apparently there were a certain number who owing to sickness or other causes were unable to do that and they are given another chance of coming in. That is the way to allow the Natal and Transvaal register to be completed.
After a lapse of so many years?
What have they been doing in the meantime?
I am not able to say. Quite possibly practising, some of them acting as secretaries of companies; but the Select Committee evidently thought it was a fair thing to put in, and of course we accept it. So, Sir, we have what I think is a very fair basis on which the society may be constituted as to its register. There are under Clause 4 two classes of persons specially excepted from the necessity to register. The one exception is made in respect of persons who are employed at salaries and who are not carrying on business on their own account. Such a person may describe himself as “accountant” in respect of his occupation. Then the second exception is in respect of any person who is a member of a club, institution or society not carried on for profit and who acts as auditor to such club or society in an honorary capacity. Such a person can continue so to act in an honorary capacity. I propose to suggest a slight amendment to clause 4 to enable such a person to describe himself as auditor to such club or society. Then there is provision for the formation of a provisional council to consist of fourteen persons. The Auditor-General is an ex-officio member with three members to be appointed by each of the councils of the four provincial societies. This provisional council will hold office for twelve months. Provision is made whereby the first council can be appointed, and after that the council will carry on in accordance with the rules and regulations. Within the first nine months all those persons who claim to be registered under clause 9 must be registered. After that provision is made for the future entry of persons into the society, and that is dealt with under section 18 of the Act. Now there it is provided that the person who wishes to become a member in future, after twelve months, shall be resident in the Union and be of good character and standing, and shall produce a certificate from the council of the society that he has passed the examination from time to time prescribed by the bye-laws of this society, or shall show that he is a member of some foreign society or institution of accountants, membership of which is declared to be sufficient by the Governor-General. Like many other professions in the Union, the profession of accountant during the last few decades here has owed a tremendous lot to the man of high professional standing who came from overseas. But during the last few years we have been training our own professional men and building up our own professions. While we do not object to an addition of fresh blood and men of wide experience from overseas, we do stipulate that they shall fulfil certain conditions if they are to practise here. The Governor-General must declare first that the society of which they are members is of sufficient standing. Not only so—membership of such a society alone is not enough to entitle a man to pass on to the register. He must also pass an examination in South African law as prescribed by the bye-laws under this Act. That is a qualification which was adopted in regard to the Bar here. Any person who satisfies those conditions is entitled to be registered on the society’s register. There is one further qualification which is put in for admission. That is clause 19, which is a clause added to the Bill by the Select Committee. That clause provides that any public servant who had attained a rank not lower than that of a second-grade clerk, and who for a period of not less than ten years has been employed on accounting or audit work in the public service of the Union, or provincial administration and so on, or any person who has been occupied in the Union for a like period in the accounting department of a divisional or municipal council, or of any corporation, company, and so on, approved by the council of the society, and has attained to a position equivalent in the opinion of the council to that of a second-grade clerk in the public service, shall, on completion of 18 months’ continuous service in the office of a practising member of the society, and on complying with section 18 and so on, be entitled to be registered, provided he shall not sit for the final examination except during or after his period of 18 months’ service in the office of such a practising member of the society. This is a special feature of the Bill to which I would draw the attention of this House. I wish the House to realise the extreme importance accountants themselves attach to this practical experience in an accountant’s office. Men may go through various types of training, but as they differ so much in character and degree, it is necessary that a man should have that 18 months’ continuous and general experience in a practising accountant’s office in order that his experience shall not be in too rigid a groove. It is in the public interest and of everybody concerned that a man who holds himself out to be an accountant should have some other training in an office where his experience is likely to be of a wider and fuller character, which are essential before a man is a fully qualified public accountant. I submit that the society has succeeded by this Bill in making a compromise, allowing, in the first instance, everybody who ought to come in and has any moral claim to come in, to come in, and to take steps thereafter that for future generations the accountants shall build up a body of men of whom South Africa can be proud, as an honourable, skilful profession. I do not think there is very much more I want to trouble the House with at this stage, but on one point there was a considerable difficulty in connection with all these battles. That was the question of the name, and eventually the name “Chartered Accountants of South Africa” was taken as the official style under this Bill. There are, of course, other chartered accountants, and the name chartered accountants has to a large extent become a hall mark, and the only hall mark, to some people as to whether a man is a capable accountant or not. The result has been that our own South African people have suffered to a large extent because of a name. When that name, “Chartered Accountants,” was first proposed for the society or its members, it was felt by a good many people that it was taking a name which had been made a good one by somebody else; until it was realized that instead of there being only one Chartered Accountants’ Society, there is a well-known one in England and in Wales; and in Scotland there are four, I believe.
I think the hon. member knows more about Scotland than I can ever hope to know. There are others in Canada, for whom the name Chartered Accountants is used entirely and solely. The Committee has adopted that name, but it was felt right by the Committee in adopting the name that the name should be qualified by “of South Africa.” It was felt that while our people should get the hall mark of that name there can be no sailing under any false colours, if the name of South Africa is attached. I hope that the House will accept the position and the compromise, and accept the Bill as it stands. I shall ask the House, for a moment to bear in mind what are the subjects of the society. They are as set out in clause 3. I refer particularly to paragraphs (a) (b) and (c) dealing with the keeping of a register, the conduct of examinations and the encouragement of the study of accountancy; and to paragraphs (l) and (n) dealing with the integrity and status of the profession and with the taking of legal proceedings. I just want to make one final point in connection with this Bill, and that is the power of appeal to the Courts in respect both of admission to the register and in respect of alleged offences against members of the society. As far as admission to the register is concerned, a man who makes application and contends that he is qualified under clauses 9, 18 and 19 which I have mentioned, and finds he is ruled out by the council, is entitled to appeal to the Supreme Court of the Province in which he is, for the purpose of its reviewing the decision made by the council of the society. That is a very material point for safeguarding to the utmost those who hold that they are qualified to become members. There is a list of offences stated under the Act, the commission of which is most detrimental to the interests of the clients whom the accountant has to serve, and the judge of these offences is not the society itself, as in the case of constitutions of certain other professional bodies, but the judge is to be the Supreme Court, before which the council has to bring a charge, and which will have the power to deal with the matter in the fullest degree. I hope that the House, will realize that the object of this Bill is really in the interests of the public, and the people whom the accountants are to serve, and whose work they are to do. That is the essence of the Bill—an endeavour to build up a sound, genuine, capable honourable body of people, practising this honourable profession, and I submit that the steps taken under this Bill will give us good ground for believing that not only are commercial interests properly maintained and protected, but we ourselves will be giving every encouragement and facility to build up a body of accountants in South Africa, of which we and future generations in South Africa will have every reason to be proud.
I regret that I cannot entirely support the hon. member for Rondebosch (Mr. Close). It used to be the case that when a Bill lapsed in one session that legislation had to be introduced again in the following session. That was the case, I think, about ten years ago, but now we have a totally different procedure. We have also an entirely new Parliament to deal with legislation introduced in another Parliament. We would have had speedier legislation if we had not resorted to the expediency of having a Bill introduced in one session and letting it stand over until next session, and then continue dealing with it. The Electoral Bill, special legislation, was passed in the next year after it had been introduced, and it also lapsed. Let me assure the hon. member for Rondebosch (Mr. Close) that there are many and great objections to the Bill which he has introduced now. I would like to know whether he is going to open the Register of the Transvaal and Natal to certain men—there are many men practising to-day who, for some reason or other, were not placed on the old Register, and will he agree to this Register being thrown open to these men? No, I think it is only fair they should have that opportunity. Furthermore there is the question of apprenticeships, a question which is causing a great deal of commotion in this country. I see that there are further amendments made to this Bill, I see that accountants working for firms and administering funds of from £20,000 to £30,000 a year should be entitled to become accountants. If that goes on where are we going to draw the line. I think we should pass a Bill which is thoroughly efficient and one which the House will have had full and ample opportunity of discussing. Unless the hon. member for Rondebosch (Mr. Close) assures me that we shall be met on these grounds I will have to oppose the second reading of this measure.
We are in the peculiar position that only two members of the original Select Committee are still in the House to give us their opinion. The other members have succumbed on the way, and only myself and the hon. member for Langlaagte (Mr. Christie) are present. However, this is but the way of politics. I am sorry that the other members are not here to-day because they were of the greatest assistance in drafting a very good Bill. At the meeting of the Select Committee there was great opposition to the Bill. Three gentlemen even came from London to oppose it. But I can say this: Everyone on that Committee wanted to do the best for the interests of the sons of South Africa. I am in favour of the general principles of the Bill, although I am against some of the minor provisions, and I will move certain amendments when the House is in committee. The object of the Bill is to put accountants on a better footing and to give them a proper status. It is in the interests of the accountants and it is also to protect the public, and therefore I support it. It is in the public interest that only properly qualified men should practise as accountants. In the Free State and the Cape Province any man has the right to describe himself as an accountant, and the public have not the necessary assurance that the man is qualified for his task. The Bill makes provision for the establishment of a South African Society. In 1904 a Bill was passed in the Transvaal and in 1907 one was passed in Natal. There are, however, no such Acts in the Cape and the Free State. The object of this Bill is to have a uniform law in the four provinces. All those who, when this Bill passes into law, are registered as members of the Transvaal and Natal societies, will be accepted as members by the South African Society; also all those who will qualify nine months after the promulgation of this Act; all those who on the 31st March, 1924, have practised as bona fide public accountants in the Cape and the Free State; all those who, at the time of the promulgation of this Act, are regarded as fit and proper persons to be registered, and all those who have practised before the Transvaal or Natal Ordinances came into operation, but who, through illness or for other reasons, could not be registered at that time. The Bill makes provision for the recognition of foreign societies, but no member of a foreign society will be allowed to practise here unless he passes an examination in South African law. Persons who have been articled for 1½ years, and have passed an examination after they have done the work of an accountant in the service of the State, a municipality, or a business concern for ten years, can also be admitted. In committee I will object to the clause which provides that a person may not take the examination if he is not in the employ of a practising accountant. The question of a designation was a contentious one. Originally it was intended to adopt the designation of “Registered Public Accountant,” but now it has been decided to call them “Chartered Accountants.” The attention of the Select Committee was drawn to the fact that the designation “Chartered Accountant” was a respected one, and that the sons of this country who did not practise under that name would be in an inferior position. For this reason I specially questioned every witness whether the standard of the South African examinations was lower than that of overseas. All were agreed, even Chartered Accountants who had qualified in England, that the standard of our examinations was quite as high as that in the United Kingdom. For that reason I do not think we should give the designation of “Registered Accountant” to persons who qualify here in future, as the Chartered Accountants will always have preference. It has been said that we have stolen the name of Chartered Accountant from a foreign society. But from the evidence it appears that the British Society, which was established in 1888, was not the first one. In 1854 a society with the same name was established in Scotland. There are at present six societies of accountants in Canada, and all call themselves Chartered Accountants. There is, therefore, no reason to think that we steal their name. It is simply a name which has become world famous, and which is used to designate a person who has attained to the highest mark in the profession of an accountant, I admit that there are difficulties, as was shown by the hon. member for Bloemfontein (South) (Mr. Steyn), but we must not give up the principle of the Bill for minor considerations.
As a commercial man, I heartily welcome this Bill. The whole tendency of industry and commerce to-day is in the direction of carrying it on through the medium of public companies, co-operative societies, etc., and the result is that there are numerous small people who have their investments in these various undertakings and who look upon the chartered accountant as their special protector, and I feel that it is necessary for us in our country to have a responsible body to protect the interests of the small investor and other investors, a responsible body that will be placed in the same position as such bodies are in other countries of the world. I must that I very much prefer the Bill as it has come out of Select Committee to the Bill before it went in. The Select Committee have met many of the objections that we had to the original Bill. Particularly many of us thought that in the original Bill there was a tendency to make the profession too close a preserve and in that way to prevent those persons who otherwise had the necessary qualifications from having an opportunity of entering that profession. Under the Bill now before the House that objection has to a great extent been removed. It has not been removed quite to the extent I should like, but it is at any rate a compromise which it is possible to accept; perhaps in committee we shall be able to make that a little clearer than it is at present. I feel that far from harming the society it will strengthen the society if it is made possible for men who have had accounting experience with public bodies such as municipalities or large commercial bodies to join the society. Perhaps the accountancy profession could take a leaf out of the engineering profession, where the practice is, I believe, when a man wants to become an engineer he has to give proof that he has served a certain length of time in the workshops and has practical experience of the theories which he learned in the class room. Such a procedure would strengthen the society rather than weaken it. As regards the name, when I was asked to give evidence before the Select Committee I felt that a South African should have the right of using the title chartered accountant. That is a title which denotes in the public mind a man who has qualified and has passed the necessary test, in exactly the same way as in the medical profession it is usual to call a man a doctor, yet as a matter of fact I suppose that seventy per cent, of the medical practitioners do not hold a doctor’s degree, but in ordinary parlance they are called doctors and style themselves doctors. I don’t think there is any objection whatever to allowing a fully qualified man under this Bill to style himself a chartered accountant, by which all over the world it will be recognized that his signature is of value as that of a fully qualified accountant. For these reasons I heartily support the second reading of the Bill.
I hope the House will agree to the second reading, because I cannot conceive anyone objecting to such a Bill being made law. There has been a good deal of discussion with regard to certain matters of detail, but I suggest that the hon. member for Bloemfontein (South) (Dr. Steyn) allows the second reading to go through and to approach those particular items in Committee. The two outstanding differences in the Select Committee on the Bill were the questions of the reopening of the registers in the Transvaal and Natal, and of allowing civil servants and provincial and municipal servants who have been working in the Treasury Departments to have some opportunity of taking the society’s examination. In regard to the first case the Bill was amended by striking out the word “practise” and substituting the words describe or “hold out,” so that people in the Transvaal who are practising as bookkeepers can still continue to do so. Hence vested interests are not going to be affected by the Bill. It would, however, be grossly unfair to throw open this register to people in the Transvaal and Natal, in view of the fact that for twenty years in the Transvaal and Natal accountants have had to be apprenticed and to pass an examination. Many youths in the Transvaal have gone through that course at great personal expense and have qualified as accountants, so it would not be fair if the back door were opened to unqualified persons. The Transvaal and Natal are in quite a different position from the Cape and the Free State. As far as the civil servants are concerned, I recognize that some special concession should be made in their case; in the Select Committee I was not anxious that such persons should have to serve eighteen months. I could see the objection from the standpoint, say, of the assistant town treasurer of Cape Town or Johannesburg, for when the chief position became vacant it might be laid down that only registered accountants could fill the post, thereby debarring juniors in the same office from becoming applicants for the chief position. Something should be done to remedy that. I do not think the title matters very much so long as no injustice is done to people practising. As to the objection raised by the hon. member for Bloemfontein (South) (Dr. Steyn) that this Bill has been carried over from one Parliament to another, that objection, if it were valid, could be applied with equal force to a Bill being carried over from one session to another of the same Parliament, for very few hon. members attend Select Committees of which they are not members. I would ask this House to pass the second reading and let us in Committee try and put right one or two little points of detail which I quite admit are worthy of consideration.
I would like to deal with one or two points raised in the debate and am pleased to see that the House has received the Bill favourably. Dealing with a point as to the re-opening of the Transvaal Registers raised by the hon. member for Bloemfontein (South) (Dr. Steyn), I would like to say that as a matter of fact the Transvaal and Natal have already both got their own statutes, and on one or two points they feel strongly that they would be doing an injustice to the public if they gave way. I hope the hon. member will realize that if he presses his point to an issue it will wreck the Bill. I think the public owe a great deal to the Transvaal and Natal societies for the way they have dealt with this matter. Because, holding the views they do, they are surrendering certain things which they believe to be in the interests of the public in order to get what they believe to be more in the interests of the public, that is, general uniformity and control. As to the hon. member’s other point, he knows perfectly well that the Bill would have been ruled out of order if it had not been proper to have been brought over to this House from the last Parliament. I should like to point out that there is a direct precedent of the Cape House, which applies here. A bill was carried on from one Parliament to another there, where also Parties and Prime Ministers changed in just the way they have here. One or two references have been made to this Bill making a close preserve, and so on, of the profession. The phrase “close preserve” is used sometimes because naturally wherever you create professional liabilities, obligations, and so on, you do restrict the powers of entry of persons into that profession, and of course that is the whole object, that Parliament has in mind. You make those restrictions to benefit the public. The entire question is whether you have been too strict in your limitations of membership, or not. I do not think the Select Committee has been too strict. Broadly speaking, it has stipulated two things only, one is that a man shall be of good character, and the other is that he shall pass an examination prescribed by a proper body; while the clause dealing with persons who have served in the government, divisional, municipal or public services actually removes certain existing restrictions. At the present moment in the Transvaal such persons have no right to come in under any clause corresponding to Clause 19. Under the bye-laws dealing with the admission of accountants in the Transvaal and Natal at the present time, no one can become a member unless he has also had a period of practical service, which is four years for articled clerks and six years for non-articled clerks. The four years can be reduced by a year if a man is a graduate of a University. That is the position at the present moment. Now we say: you can get rid of so many years provided if you have had ten years’ service in such capacities. You serve 18 months in the office of a practising accountant. This objection to the 18 months’ service comes largely from the Transvaal. I do not think the objection is well founded in the Transvaal or Natal. People after all must bear in mind what it is to build up a sound name for our accountants, to make them worthy of being given by Parliament a professional standing with a name similar to that which is the hall mark of the profession in Great Britain—that is, the title of “Chartered Accountants.” Clause 19, so far from being a hardship, is in point of fact a great concession made to persons in the Transvaal and Natal who would otherwise have to serve under existing conditions at the least double the time this clause of the Bill provides for. There is the gravest danger to the Bill itself if these points are carried. I know what I have been speaking of as these matters have been very carefully considered. I thank the House for the attention it has given to this rather dry and technical subject, and I now move the second reading of the Bill.
Bill read a second time.
Under the special circumstances—I do not know whether the House will grant me the indulgence—I ask whether the Committee stage cannot be taken now.
I would like to assist my hon. friend very much; but I would like to look into the Bill. I can assure him that after that has been done, the Bill can be set down for such a time as would enable us to go through it.
I move Friday, the 8th. I do not suppose I can have the day before.
Well, that is going to be a Government day.
They are all Government days now.
You will have to take Friday, I see.
House to go into Committee on 8th August.
I move, as an unopposed motion—
Mr. HEYNS seconded.
Third Order read: Second reading, Financial Relations (Teachers’ Salaries) Bill.
The object of the Bill is to repeal Clause 2 of the Act passed last session dealing with teachers’ salaries. The Opposition in the last Parliament strongly objected to the Government taking unto itself the power of fixing teachers’ salaries. If anybody except the Provincial Council were to do so, it should be Parliament itself. The object was to secure uniformity of teachers’ salaries, but uniformity was not brought about. All that was done was that the existing scales of salaries were laid down as the fixed scales under the law. As a matter of fact, I understand that the Natal Council did not take any notice of the matter at all. The object of the Bill is to revert to the old position under which the Provincial Councils would be given back the right they had of dealing with teachers’ salaries. The Government does not intend avoiding its responsibilities, and during the recess it is the intention to go into the whole question of Provincial financial regulations. At present the position is impossible. Provinces are year in and out faced with accumulative deficits, and it is the intention to put an end to that position, and during the recess the Government proposes going into the whole matter.
When this Bill was first mentioned in this House some of us were at a loss to understand why it should be brought forward—why, in a special session convened to deal with the necessary financial measures of the Government, and intended and expected by everyone to be as short as possible—why it should be necessary to bring forward what the hon. Minister has called “this little Bill.” I hoped to find in his speech in moving the second reading some explanation why it was necessary to bring forward this Bill. I have been disappointed, I find no reason why it should be done now. On the contrary, he made some statements to us which were reasons why he should not go on with the Bill now. He told us the whole policy of the financial relations between the Union and the provinces is under consideration by the Government and they do not intend to tell the country what they are going to do, to put these relations on what they think is a sound foundation. It is a most complex and difficult question we all agree, but why, if the whole matter is under consideration, why is this little Bill brought forward. This little Bill which is going to do away with what was regarded by the late Government as an important step in the matter of regulation of the relations between the, Union and the provinces. It may be a right step or it may be a wrong one, and, I suggest, the time has not yet come when they are in a position to say whether it was a right or wrong step. Why deal with the matter piecemeal? Hon. members who were here last session will realize what the hurry is. They well know when the Bill was passing through the House last session it was attacked in the most violent manner on the grounds that it was an attempt to reduce teachers’ salaries. I need not refer to the speeches made, but I suppose we are all a little wiser since then and we all recognize that they are prepared to say this Bill has little to do with reducing teachers’ salaries. This Bill has been law for three months and teachers’ salaries have not been reduced.
There was an election since then.
However, it is no longer necessary to keep up the farce that this Act was to reduce teachers’ salaries, and I would not be surprised if this clause is repealed that we shall see the teachers of this country before long asking for some provision such as this to save them from having their salaries reduced.
This is fixing the maximum, not the minimum.
This Act was passed and discussed in this House last session, and it had not then, and has not now, anything to do directly, or by implication, with the reducing of teachers’ salaries.
What were the instructions to the Public Service Commission?
There were no instructions to the Public Service Commission except to go into the matter and draw up a uniform scale for teachers in the Union. They got no other instructions and these instructions they were still trying to carry on when we went out of office. What is there in the Act now that brings about reduction in teachers’ salaries? The Minister said they were opposed to taking away these powers from the Provincial Council, and their opinion is, if that power is to be taken away, that it should be exercised by Parliament. Why in the name of goodness should Parliament fix the salaries of teachers any more than they should fix the salaries of civil servants. I cannot imagine any body less fitted to fix salaries of public officials than this Parliament. The fixing of salaries is a necessary part of the functions of the executive branch of the Government and not of the legislative, and I am filled with dismay that this idea is held by the Government. I hope when this plan of theirs is produced which is going to bring peace, contentment and prosperity in the relations between the Union and the Provincial Council, I hope it shall not contain a provision such as that. The object of this clause which it is now sought to be repealed is to bring about uniformity in teachers’ salaries throughout the Union. That is an object which I thought everyone was agreed on as being desirable. I understood the Minister to say that they thought it was desirable that there should be a uniform scale of salaries throughout the Union, but they say it should be brought about by the four Provinces acting in concert. When he has been a little longer in office he will know that it cannot come about by these means. You will never get four independent legislative bodies to agree to a uniform scale of officials or teachers’ salaries or to keep to that scale.
Your Bill did not provide for them.
For a uniform scale.
You have been too busy to read the Bill.
In practice that has been found impracticable. The Provinces after a conference came and asked us to deal with it by a Union Act, and that is the only way. There is one way and one way only, if you want uniformity of teachers’ salaries, and that is by making it a function of the Union Government. If it is desirable in the case of teachers’ salaries, as they all say it is, why should the Government before they have told the country what their provincial policy is, why should they go to the trouble of repealing this little Act? Why should they trouble in this present session with the repeal of this little Act? The only explanation I can offer is, that, having made such a terrific fuss about the passing of this Act when they were in Opposition, they must keep up the farce a little longer by repealing it at the first possible opportunity. The Minister says that the Government when they passed the Act did not bring in this uniform scale. That is quite true. That only shows how absolutely unfounded were the attacks made upon this Bill when it was passing through this House. We were told from this side of the House that this Bill did actually fix a revised scale of salaries for teachers. I got up and every member of the Government got up and tried to explain what the intention and the procedure under this Bill would be, that is to say, when it was passed the Public Service Commission would be asked to go into the matter and they would discuss the matter with teachers’ organizations, Provincial Executives, and so on. But it produced no effect. When the Act was passed into law the Public Service Commission got to work and they heard the representations of teachers and Provincial Executives and they are still, or were, anyhow, when the late Government went out of office, still considering this subject. They had not been able to arrive at an agreement in regard to it.
They are not likely to do.
Why not? I do not say that they will ever arrive at an agreement on a uniform scale which will be satisfactory to all the teachers in the Union. That I do not think possible or likely, but what I do say is that if they had been left to carry out this Act they would in time have arrived at a uniform scale of teachers’ salaries which in substance would have been satisfactory to the teaching profession as a whole. The Public Service Commission had to fix some salaries provisionally until they could agree upon a uniform scale, and they recommended and the Government approved that the scales actually in force should be adopted, pending their having time to discuss the question of having a uniform scale with the teachers and Provincial Executives and coming to some agreement. I say again if you are to have a uniform scale of teachers’ salaries throughout the Union, the thing that people have been trying for years, that is the only way of getting it. The Minister told us the other day that they were going to produce some scheme of relations between the Union Government and the Provinces which would put an end to all these unsatisfactory features which now characterizes these relations—to the Provinces spending more than they could afford or their having to be financed by the Union Government and so on. We do not know what that scheme is yet, but we had an indication of it from what the Minister said to-day and from what the Prime Minister said, I think, during the last session of Parliament, i.e., that their scheme is to go back to the financial relations of 1913, that is to say, to go back to the position of affairs under which the Provinces spend whatever they think fit and the Union Government supply them with a subsidy practically for half of that expenditure, without any control over the Provincial expenditure and without any control over the rate at which that expenditure may increase. But if the Minister has the good or bad fortune to preside for long over the Treasury of this country, I prophesy that he will soon get tired of that method of Provincial relations. It is an absolutely unsound principle that a body like the Provincial Council should be spending vast sums of money on services which are vital and for which it has no responsibility in regard to raising. That is a system which has never worked well and never will work well. The Minister had better avoid that alternative. Various methods were tried by the late Government by exercising some control over this expenditure which they had to finance and the fixing of uniform teachers’ salaries is one of the methods of control by the Union Government over Provincial expenditure.
Have they been more extravagant than the Union as far as teachers’ salaries are concerned?
I am not saying whether they have been more extravagant or not.
That is the test, I think.
That is not the test. The test is that they are spending money for which they have no responsibility in raising. They are responsible for vast sums of money each year in the Union Estimates, and I say to the Minister that it is unsound that a public body should be spending vast sums of money drawn from the Union Treasury for which they have no responsibility. The Treasury has no control whatever over that expenditure or over the rate at which it is going to increase. The Minister, if he holds control of the Treasury for very long, will find that an intolerable state of things. I would point out that this matter of fixing a uniform scale of salaries for the teachers is important in three ways. It is important for the protection of the teachers themselves against their salaries being reduced by one Province that happens to be in trouble and not by another. It is important from the point of view of putting the salaries of teachers on the same footing as the salaries of the Public Service of the Union, fixed after examination by a non-political body. It is as important as giving, at any rate, a measure of control by the Union Government over Provincial finance, for the finding of a large part of which they are responsible. It is important for the Union, for the teachers and for the Public Service of this country, and I cannot see why, before the Government have brought forward this new plan of theirs, for the reform of financial relations, they should propose to repeal this clause. As I have prophesied, if this Bill goes through we shall have the teachers themselves asking for something of this kind before long. For these reasons I am sorry I cannot agree to this Bill. I think it is a Bill which might well stand over until the general financial policy of the Government in regard to the Provinces has become a matter of discussion here. For that reason I am going to oppose this Bill.
I would like to support the remarks which have fallen from my right hon. friend. I also agree that it is very regrettable that Government should have brought in this measure before it was in a position to say what action they propose to take in regard to the settlement of the question between the teachers, the Provincial Councils and the Government. During the elections it was brought home to ns that the greatest possible dissatisfaction existed amongst the teachers in regard to their position in relation to their service. This has had the effect of bringing teachers most prominently into political life, a circumstance which is entirely undesirable. I venture to throw out a suggestion which has been urged upon me by the teachers, and that is that we might very well follow the lead of the British Government when in 1919 the Hon. H. A. L. Fisher, Minister of Education, was up against a similar position. It was the year following the Armistice, and teachers and others were clamouring for increased salaries and better conditions generally, and under those circumstances Mr. Fisher appointed a standing Joint Committee, consisting of representatives of the County Councils Association, Municipal Corporations Association, Association of Education Committees and two nominees of the London County Council. As against that, the National Union of Teachers were granted an equal number of representatives—22. Viscount Burnham was appointed Chairman of the Committee, which was asked to report on teachers’ salaries, to fix maximum and minimum scales and also to report with regard to certificated and uncertificated teachers, and teachers of special subjects, and also to deal with the grading of schools. It is very significant that this Committee brought up its report I believe a month before the period granted by the Government, and what was more significant, the report was unanimous. The report fixed the maximum and minimum scales of pay for various grades and classes of teachers. The result of that investigation was so satisfactory that a similar standing committee, consisting of seven representatives of the teachers and seven representatives of the various associations, was appointed with Viscount Burnham as Chairman. We have a position of affairs in South Africa which will never be adjusted unless we bring the teachers themselves into the deliberations. Rightly or wrongly, the teachers are dissatisfied with the Public Service Commission, and they have no confidence that they are getting a fair deal from that Commission. That fear may, or may not, be well founded. I suggest that a Committee be formed representing the Provincial Councils, the Union Government, the Board of Education and others interested in education with a corresponding number of teachers’ representatives, with an independent chairman. If this were done you would find the teachers; reasonable and be prepared to make sacrifices, if the country’s finances required sacrifices to be made. The teachers could give useful help to the Committee in the way of fixing maximum salaries. If any finality is to be brought about between the Provincial Councils and the Union there must be representation of the teachers themselves. I do not think there is anything impracticable in the suggestion I have thrown out. Whether education is to remain in the hands of the Union Government or the Provincial Council is a very vexed question which we shall have the greatest difficulty in deciding in this House. In the meantime, if my plan were adopted, it would be possible to come to such an agreement with the teachers which would have a lasting effect. I would, however, much have preferred that the question had not been raised, and I appeal to the Minister not to press the Bill through the House at the present juncture. If, however, the Minister is going to press the scheme through to finality, consideration should be given to what I have suggested—give the teachers ample representation and in this way I am hopeful the problem may be solved.
This Bill has been moved by the Minister and supported by the Government. I think in a public sense only the greatest concern and urgency should weigh with this House in repealing an Act passed by Parliament only a few months ago. Now, what is the urgency for the repeal of those laws? I think it is common cause that the present scale of pay of the teachers can continue without any prejudice either to the Government or to any Provincial Council or to the teachers themselves. Now, Mr. Speaker, I sat in that exalted position where you sit now and I listened very carefully to the extraordinary debate which was then going on from the Opposition benches on this subject, and there can be only one cause for the repeal of this law, and that is, that it is the natural result of the fact that the teachers were then made the football of party politics. That question was raised in such a virulent manner, the teachers were made to understand they were going to be seriously prejudiced if the law was passed. We all know what the result was at that time. We knew that meetings were organised in different parts of the country and in this city, where members of the Opposition attempted to influence teachers who are servants of the State to bring into contempt the Government of this country.
They succeeded, did they not?
I say deliberately that the teachers in congress assembled attempted to bring the proper authority governing those people into contempt. Now what was the underlying cause of this law? Before this law was passed we know that there were no standards in the different provinces for determining teachers’ salaries throughout the Union. Certain Provinces we know took a very serious line in fixing teachers’ salaries. The result was that in the course of time the other councils had to follow suit, and we got a position in this country in regard to our educational system which was almost impossible. The question of teachers’ salaries I should say prejudiced the educational interests of the country. In this respect, take the Cape Province. The Cape Province had several big training colleges for teachers. As soon as those teachers were trained, did the Cape Province get the benefit of those teachers? No they were drafted to other provinces which paid higher salaries. The result was the Cape Province was seriously prejudiced. One of the chief reasons underlying the present law was that all the different provinces agreed that uniformity was absolutely necessary. The teachers themselves, I am convinced, would readily agree to the principle of uniformity. At the time this law was before the House, the teachers in my constituency appealed to me. I put this question to them straight: Do you wish to be under the policy of the Provincial Council in regard to your salaries or do you prefer that those salaries should be fixed and regulated by the highest authority in the land?
Who do you mean, Parliament or the Government?
I was referring to Parliament.
It was not Parliament, it was an S.A.P. Government which was fixing them.
It was an S.A.P. Government; but is Government not the creature of Parliament? I take this view that the teachers of the different provinces are safer under the existing law than they would be if they were handed back to the different councils as proposed in this Bill. What is the position now? The position is that the council may only deduct a certain percentage. The councils cannot touch the maximum or minimum.
There is no minimum.
And it says this, that every year the deductions shall come up for review and it shall only be allowed to make deductions if the council is in sore financial straits. Now it is proposed to hand back these teachers in an unqualified manner to these councils again. These teachers would be again at the mercy of these councils.
That is the constitution.
The constitution provides for five years. We here, are at full liberty to discuss what should be done now. I am fully of the opinion of the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) that ere long, when the teachers have a true conception of the way we are treating them in returning them to the Councils, they will come and pray this House to take them back again under the existing law. I think in the interests of education and of the teachers themselves, and above all, in the interests of Parliamentary government, I should say that we should be making a very grave mistake if we were to agree to the repeal of the law as proposed in this Bill.
It had not been my intention to take part in this debate until I heard the hon. member for Caledon (Mr. Krige) make the points he has just made. The first point he made was that only the gravest urgency should prompt Parliament to repeal a law which was passed by a previous Parliament. Well, the previous Parliament did not have the people of the country behind it when it passed this law. There was the strongest protest from all the teachers of South Africa against the Government doing what it did do.
How many of them are behind you?
Well, we have 80 as against 53. Well, that law was passed at the eleventh hour on the deathbed practically of a dying Government, and it did an injustice to the teachers of South Africa.
What was the injustice?
We cannot all speak together. It did an injustice to this extent, that it controlled the maximum of teachers’ salaries, but did not control the minimum. The hon. member for Caledon (Mr. Krige) to whom I would like to reply I see has disappeared.
He is catching the train to Caledon.
The hon. member for Caledon (Mr. Krige) said the teachers were being made a football for party purposes. Well, there was no doubt about it, and they got a good many kicks. These kicks came from our predecessors in office. They were kicked and kicked very badly, and I take the strongest exception to the remarks of the hon. member for Caledon (Mr. Krige) when he gets up and says that by protesting against this attack on their salaries, on their livelihood and on education in South Africa in the City Hall of this town they were trying either to bring the previous Government or this Parliament into contempt. They were protecting their own rights and interests and the interests of education in South Africa, and we supported them in this because we felt that the late Government was not doing what it ought to have done and was doing something which was absolutely unjustifiable. We are taking the earliest opportunity to right what we consider a most grievous wrong. If it was in the interests of the teachers that that law should be passed, why did they so strongly protest against it? Did they not know what is in their interests and what is not, when they fought this matter to the bitter end in the House?
They were fighting a reduction.
Was not the object of the earlier Bill to make a reduction?
May I tell the hon. member opposite that we are taking the earliest opportunity to do this because the law which was passed last session has already been given effect to in Natal, and increments, which in the ordinary way they would have got, they are not getting because of that Bill of last session. I have documentary evidence of this fact; I have had letters given to me, sent by the educational authorities in Natal to the teachers, telling them that they could not get the increments they would have got otherwise, and the reason given is because of the law passed in this House last session. The hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) says he wants facts. I am giving him facts, and I can get the hon. member the documents.
The scales fixed are the same as those fixed before the Bill.
And what was the object of this Bill? We were told again this afternoon that its object was to establish uniformity, but what sort of uniformity did it establish? It established a uniformity for a maximum, but said nothing about a minimum; and almost before the Bill was passed hon. members knew full well that uniformity was done away with in the Cape Province by the Provincial Council reducing salaries by £80,000. I suppose that in the following year we would have had another Bill to establish uniformity, with lower scales again for the teachers, and every time any of the Provinces made a reduction in teachers’ salaries we would have had to. establish uniformity. This Parliament, or rather the last Parliament, did the gravest wrong to the teachers of South Africa when it passed that Bill last session. We are only doing our duty to the teachers, to the country and to education in South Africa in taking the earliest opportunity of repealing that law and putting the teachers in the position in which they were before that law was passed. You cannot tell me that the teachers are not educated people in this country. You cannot tell me that they cannot read a Bill and see what it means to them and to the interests of the children. It is an insult for the hon. member for Caledon (Mr. Krige) to make the statement he did. We have not only the support of the teachers in this, but we have the support of all right-minded people in the country. We want to see our teachers getting a square deal at the hands of this Parliament, and if they could not get it at the hands of our predecessors they will get it at the hands of this Government.
I want to reply to a certain question asked by the hon. member for Caledon (Mr. Krige), namely, why the Government is so anxious to repeal this clause of the Act in question. The reply is very simple. The Government wants to do justice where an injustice was done, and it is a great pity that the hon. member for Caledon (Mr. Krige) does not want to see justice done. There will still be many a wrong to put right in the future. There is a great deal of truth in the argument that it is desirable, and that the teachers want more stability regarding their scales of salaries in the different provinces. The teachers of the Transvaal have always objected to the system whereby their scale of salaries could be altered simply by means of a regulation of the Executive Committee. There is however, no uniformity brought about by the existing Act because it simply lays down a certain maximum. I think that the fixing of teachers’ salaries should take place by means of a Provincial Ordinance, and not by regulation. This, however, is a matter of opinion. The real aim of the previous Government was the abolition of Provincial Councils. Nobody knows this better than the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan), for in 1916 he was a member of the Commission which advocated the abolition of Provincial Councils. The object of the existing Act is to curtail the rights of the people by the abolition of the Provincial Councils. This was also the ultimate object of the unfortunate Baxter Report, which, if put into practice, would have made white kaffirs of the rural children. The object of this Bill is to protect the rights of the people by giving the Provincial Councils their proper status. Somebody who is in a position to judge and who has made a study of the matter, namely, an S.A.P. member of the Transvaal Provincial Council, said at a teachers’ meeting of protest that the previous Prime Minister had, through the Financial Relations Act, betrayed the people of South Africa. That was an important statement.
They do not mind being traitors to their own people.
The hon. member says the Opposition do not mind being traitors to their own people. I do not believe it, and I hope that the Opposition will confirm me in that opinion by giving their support for the repeal of this hated clause in the last Financial Relations Act.
The House has had a very heavy week. We have had two Budget speeches, the Rents Act, two Appropriation Bills and the Government Attorney Bill which I expected would have taken up to-day. Many of us who would like to take part in this debate have not had the time to consider this Bill. In addition, the right. hon. Leader of the Opposition is not in the best of health this afternoon and he would like to be here during this discussion. Under this circumstance, I hope the hon. Minister in charge (Mr. Havenga) will accept the motion to adjourn. I now move that the debate be adjourned.
I know that it was expected that the Bill would be discussed to-day. As the Government itself has asked for a postponement of the measure, I think it is a reasonable request.
The debate was adjourned; to be resumed on 6th August.
The House adjourned at