House of Assembly: Vol2 - THURSDAY 7 AUGUST 1924
announced that the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders had discharged the Minister of Finance from service on the Select Committee on Pensions and appointed the Rev. Mr. Hattingh in his stead.
The MINISTER OF LANDS moved, as an unopposed motion—
Mr. VERMOOTEN seconded.
House to go into Committee on the reports on 11th August.
I first Order read: Adjourned debate on motion for House to go into Committee of Supply, to be resumed.
stated that when this debate was adjourned yesterday the Question before the House was a motion by the Minister of Finance: That the House go into Committee of Supply on the Estimates of Expenditure to be defrayed during the year ending 31st March, 1925, from the Consolidated Revenue and Railway and Harbour Funds, and also on the Estimates of Expenditure from Loan Funds, 1924-’25.
It is not my intention unduly to occupy the time of the House, but I wish to draw the attention of the hon. Minister of Posts and Telegraphs and Public Works to this fact, that although the people of East London City have been led to believe that this year a beginning will be made with the extremely necessary new post office building, no sum is appropriated on the Estimates having the beginning of that work in view. But it is my ardent hope that several members of the new Government who have not yet made the acquaintance of East London will lose no time in doing so and in visiting that antediluvian post office, so that they may see how crowded, how insanitary and how unsuited to the community that building is to a community that is rapidly growing. I hope that this matter may have priority in next year’s Estimates, if not in these Estimates. So far in regard to matters referring to my own valued constituency. I would now like to refer to a matter which has not had the attention it should have had, the scandal in regard to trading by the Provincial Administration. A new item on the Estimates is a special advance to the Cape Provincial Administration of £60,000 for capital of requisite stores. I understand that in past sessions £135,000 were voted from loan fund, for the purpose of establishing the working of these stores. This is grossly unfair competition with private traders. The latter have to meet municipal and divisional rates, Union and provincial taxation, all kinds of landing expenses and cost of maintaining adequate business premises from all of which the Provincial Administration is free, so chemists, general merchants and booksellers have the dice loaded against them in their most honourable professional or business calling. I should feel happy if we had any sort of guarantee that this trading venture had been successful, but it is difficult to get a balance sheet or any kind of information about it. It seems to me altogether unfair that a branch of the Government of the country should take part in trade to the serious detriment and loss of those whose existence depends on being able to carry on their lawful businesses. Whereas before this venture began the requirements of the scholastic system throughout the Cape Province could be met in the way of school requisites by a staff of three to six persons, the present staff numbers from 70 to 100. Think of the tremendous cost of administering these stores. The Baxter Report—page 26—has some pungent things to say about this trading venture. The finding of the report is all against the Provincial school requisite store. I approach another matter with reluctance and only a conviction of duty compels me to refer to a point which was raised eight days ago. I want with all respect to the Prime Minister to say that I am profoundly dissatisfied with the reply he gave on Wednesday of last week to certain questions addressed to him in the interest of the peace of the country. Certain fallacies underlie the statement made by the Prime Minister in his reply. This is the first fallacy—that high treason in South Africa is a merely venial thing in itself, but when we think of its bearing on others, black and iniquitous indeed was the treason that was performed. What of the young men under Maritz’s command who were delivered in bondage to our then enemy. That was the vilest form of treason and the House ought most emphatically to repudiate it. Some of us have our thoughts not only concentrated on the crime but on the Government’s most blameworthy attitude towards it. What of the effects of such leniency on the minds of more than half the European population? Another fallacy in relation to this traitor was the effect of his release on racial conciliation. I for one would welcome any well-conceived action or policy that will have the effect of for ever banishing racialism from South Africa. We have had too much of it. To palter with high treason is not the way to secure the peace of this country. It is high time this paltering ceased.
We have heard in connection with that reply of the Prime Minister that the effect of this action would be to pour water on the smouldering embers of racial passion. But there is something which resembles water, but is not water and that is petrol. Here is the third fallacy.
Here endeth the second lesson.
That in any case forgiveness stands apart from penitence. I stressed that point last week, and I challenge my interrupters opposite—I spoke calmly and deliberately. The time has come for plainer speech, when the appeal made by me to the Prime Minister produced no assurance at all that this man who had committed grave and heinous crimes against this country had not expressed any penitence. Until he has done so this man ought to be shunned by all right thinking men.
What about turning the other cheek?
We know that several times last week this man who I say ought to be shunned by all right thinking men, until he shows penitence, was holding receptions in the Lobby of this House. There are three foundations on which the peace and security of this land must rest, and they are: truth, honour and obligation to duty, and these things have been forgotten by hon. members opposite.
I have listened to the speech of the hon. member for East London (Rev. Mr. Rider) and I may say that he and the hon. member for East London (North) (Gen. Byron) are remains of a type of Imperialistic jingo which, thank goodness, are now gradually disappearing. This is a race which is so far only found at East London. It is rather surprising, that East London has succeeded in sending two such good samples to Parliament. Time, the great healer, however, mends everything, and it is fortunate that his type is not found amongst the younger members. The hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) is a little ashamed at such speeches.
I am a little ashamed that there is a party in Parliament which regards high treason so lightly.
There was a time in the life of Sir Thomas Smartt when he, too, was a fire eater and a jingo. Experience has made him somewhat saner, but the old spirit still has occasionally the upper hand. All this concerns one man, Maritz. I would advise my English-speaking friends not to emphasize Maritz’s case too much. It would be better for them to thank Providence every day that only 10,000 men took part in the rebellion in 1914, in view of the events of 1895 and 1899-1902. I wonder if the same would have happened if they were English, Scotch and Irish instead of South Africans. They would probably have made good use of their opportunities with the hon. member for East London (Rev. Mr. Rider) and East London (North) (Gen. Byron) in the forefront, whilst the member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) would have been found more to the rear. He can make enough noise, but when it comes to fighting, he is absent. It would seem as if the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) is not going to be the big drum thumper any more, but that his place will be taken by the hon. member for East London (Rev. Mr. Rider). The latter’s past shows that he is racialist because he resigned as a member of the Graaff-Reinet School Board, when a bilingual teacher was appointed, instead of a unilingual Englishman.
That is not true.
What happened then? A great South African writer has said that the difficulty with an Englishman is not so much that he cannot see another’s standpoint, but that he is surprised that there is another side at all. There is the old type of Englishman who simply cannot realize that there are also Dutch-speaking people living here. They ask, where do these people come from? They think that there can be nobody else here but Englishmen and the flag, and that kind of nonsense. I am glad that that type is disappearing. The younger generation is more enlightened, and they realize that there are two races in this country, that both have to live in this country, adopt and develop it as their mother country. I cannot congratulate East London with the members it has sent to Parliament. East London apparently thinks that it can isolate itself from the rest of South Africa, and be a part of England. It has still to learn that it is better to make common cause with the rest of the country, and that it is not in its interest to pretend that it is the whole of South Africa. If, however, we want to throw mud, the Nationalist party can also do that. There are instances in the history of South Africa where followers, or predecessors of the hon. member for East London (Rev. Mr. Rider) have sinned far more seriously against South Africa. The first man who was released in this country was Jameson, I do not like to drag the dead into this debate.
He was not a traitor.
I am not surprised at the hon. member for Beaconsfield (Sir David Harris), because it is hardly possible for him to take any other standpoint. An Englishman is only a traitor when he commits treason against his own country. An Englishman can never be a traitor to another country. The crime of Jameson was a much graver one than that of Maritz. Jameson was an assassin. He entered a country which he had no business to enter. He was captured and handed over to the British Government. He was sentenced, but after three or four months he was released. But it went further. On the motion of the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt), he became Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, and became Sir Starr Jameson. That was the way in which an Englishman who had committed a crime was treated. We can learn from the hon. members of the Opposition a great deal in this respect. Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. The hon. member for East London (Rev. Mr. Rider), will have to calm down a little I have never been in a pulpit, but I know that when one is in the pulpit, one can make a noise unchallenged and become excited, but it is not so easy in this House. If the hon. member (Rev. Mr. Rider) wishes the House to treat him with courtesy and respect he should assume a more dignified and more worthy tone than he has done. Only three hon. members of the Opposition have so far discussed the Estimates proper. They were the hon. members for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan. Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) and Port Elizabeth (South) (Sir W. Mackintosh), and I honour them for it. The Nationalist party has the greatest respect for Mr. Jagger, because he has never behaved in the same manner as the hon. members for East London (Rev. Mr. Rider) and Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) have done.
What about the hon. member for Zoutpansberg (Mr. Pirow).
The hon. member for Zoutpansberg has stated facts which have not been controverted, and it is not racialism. If that was racialism, I do not know what is not racialism. Those who have the most to say about race are the greatest racialists. There are, however, more important things, and this country does not believe in racialism any more. The right hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts), and the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz), have often repeated the old story, but the people in the country will have no more of it.
What about the Estimates?
When the hon. member for East London (Rev. Mr. Rider) spoke, you did not ask what about the Estimates. The people are tired of racialism, and only wish to have a good Government, and they have now got that. That is not only my opinion, it was the verdict of the people of South Africa at the elections.
Why do you raise so much dust?
The Government for fifteen years kicked up dust and threw sand in the eyes of the people. There are a few others like the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (South) (Sir W. Mackintosh) and the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) who have discussed the finances of the country sensibly. The contrast was so great. These latter hon. members have discussed the business of the country, and have given constructive criticism. On the other hand, there is the member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) a Free Stater, who is also a fire-eater. Instead of telling the House how he succeeded in getting his own Department into such a muddle, he has attacked the Prime Minister for his so-called two-stream policy and such kind of nonsense. I hope that the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (South; (Sir William Mackintosh) will bring his good influence to bear on the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz), so that we will not hear any more such rubbish in the future. The Budget has been mainly taken over from the late Government. In these circumstances it is not surprising to find that it followed closely on the lines of that of their predecessors, as there was no time for radical alterations. In one breath the Opposition congratulate the Ministers and in another they condemn the Budget. Apparently they are criticising their own Budget, presumably just for the sake of saying something. I hope that the Government will reduce taxation next year. The increased taxes on stock should be abolished, also the tobacco tax, and I expect a little more. But Rome was not built in a day. The late Government left such a mess, that it will take at least five years to clear it up. The Government intends doing the job, however, but time is required. It is unreasonable to expect that everything shall be rectified in three weeks’ time. When the Government took office it found all the corners filled with members of the S.A.P. I will not deny that there are also able men amongst the S.A.P., but they are exceptions. As an example, I can quote the 28 locust officials in Graaff-Reinet, 27 of whom are ardent S.A.P. followers, but the sympathies of the 28th official are somewhat doubtful. Now that the hon. member for East London (Rev. Mr. Rider) has calmned down a little, I want to quote from a letter which appeared in the “East London Daily Despatch,” and I hope the hon. gentleman will write to the paper and say that such letters are a disgrace to East London. In this letter it is deprecated that Britons should co-operate with Nationalists, who hate every Englishman and the flag, and who released the rebel and traitor Maritz without considering that he was the cause of the misery of so many widows and orphans.
Why don’t you laugh?
The laughter and “hear-hears” come from the opposite side. The letter concludes by saying that the day of the S.A.P. will soon come, “whether it be with the rifle or at the polls, we will defeat the scoundrels, not only with an overwhelming majority of votes, but also in the number of seats.” One could almost think that the letter had been signed “W. Rider,” but it is signed “S.O.E.” which presumably stands for “Son of England.” It is quite time that an end should be put to such things.
This House cannot congratulate itself on the tone of the speech of the new member for East London (City) (Rev. Mr. Rider) and whatever faults the late member, Mr. James Stewart may have had, at any rate he was fair and he had something of the spirit of Christianity in his composition. I understand that an ancient book with which the hon. member for East London (City) (Rev. Mr. Rider) ought to be familiar, has some very trite sayings, one of which is “Judge not else shalt ye be judged” and another is “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” I must say that we have not had much of the spirit of the gentle Nazarene from the hon. member and I cannot congratulate the member on his Budget speech, because what did it consist of? First of all we had some parish pump matter, and the hon. Minister of Posts and Telegraphs will no doubt go into that, as it is his job. Then we had some diatribes against the Cape Provincial Council about supplying things, not to the public, but to its own schools, which is purely a departmental matter. Is there anything wrong about that, or is it a crime? But here in the hon. member we have a stalwart champion of private enterprise. Do not supply things to its own schools and to school children cheaply, is evidently what he desires. There used to be a tremendous amount of over-lapping when private firms contracted and with all respect to the hon. member, the department to which he referred is well managed and as far as the Cape Province is concerned is making a profit. The other part of the hon. member’s speech was an appeal to racialism pure and simple. The hon. member says he wants to do away with racialism and his party said the same thing, but during the election they did not do away with it, but preached nothing but racialism and used Gen. Kemp’s name as the forthcoming Minister of Defence against the Nationalist and Labour Parties. I cannot congratulate the people of East London on the change they have made in their member, and if the electorate of East London could have heard their member to-day they would, if they were given the opportunity, reverse their choice. I hope I have said nothing which has hurt the feelings of the hon. member.
If the Government does not play the game the Labour Party will not be found wanting in respect of uttering a few home truths whenever they think it necessary, but we do not want to hurt people’s feelings if we can avoid it. I do feel I am in a different position to-day in dealing with railway matters, than I was a few months ago. Then we had a South African Party Government and a Minister of Railways and Harbours who was like what railway men describe as “a 15A class engine” which is a tremendous machine and pulls our mail trains and heavy goods traffic. Now we may be said to have a Minister of the 6A class, like a suburban engine, which does its job just as well, but without making such a fuss about it. I hope that the new Minister of Railways and Harbours will do what he has done in Committee; that is, go into the question which we have often discussed in the Committee room upstairs—the payment of such huge amounts as interests on the capital expenditure of the railways. I will not go into the matter at this stage, as the Minister knows what I mean and I hope he will go into this question to a greater extent than has been done previously, as it is unfair to the tax-payers of this country that they should be paying so much as they are. The railways of the country are really owned by bond-holders, and not by the public; and we should do something to reduce the capital debt of the railways? I was accused last session of making the same old speech on this subject, but it is difficult to vary it when you are discussing the same old railways. The railwaymen and the public are getting a fairer deal than they have been hitherto getting, and the new Minister of Railways and Harbours has I know more than his predecessor, the point of view which we have been advocating from these benches. I would like the Minister also to go into the question of Staff Pension matters and to bring forward the Amending Railway Service Bill, as soon as possible for so far as it goes that measure is a good one in many respects, but it does not remedy as it should, the conditions under which pensions are payable. Although we have a so-called pension fund the pension drawn by the ordinary railwayman is so small that the great bulk of the men never receive anything like a living pension, with the result that many of them have to add to their resources by going on the relief works. I also want the Minister to state his intentions with regard to re-introduction of the eight hours day. As originally introduced the eight hour day may have been a mistake, as it created certain anomalies. At outlying stations, where little traffic was handled, the eight hours day was probably a mistake, but for men, such as engine drivers, stokers, guards, ticket examiners and so on, who are on continuous and arduous work, the eight hours day was essential, and it was a gross injustice to deprive them of it. I hope the Government will deal with the matter at the earliest possible moment. Then a thorough enquiry should be made into the piecework system in the railway workshops, and I hope the Minister is not going to be influenced too much by the opinions of his permanent officials, for I may say without any disrespect to them that they have certain ideas, and they will endeavour to adhere to them. If a commission were to enquire into the operation of the piece work system, the Minister would discover that this system was responsible for many grave anomalies. Certainly it means that fewer men are employed in the workshops, but the prices have been so interfered with, and there is such a lack of uniformity in the various shops that piecework probably costs far more than any ordinary official would care to admit. In many cases, no doubt, accidents have been traceable to piecework. In the old days of the Cape Government railways, if a coach or wagon went to Salt River to be repaired, it was overhauled, stripped and everything was carefully examined. The springs were taken down and placed in an oil bath, and although the repair might occupy longer than it does under the present system, the vehicle emerged from the shops in first-rate order, with the result that we did not have the number of accidents that occur to-day. Under the present system engines and rolling stock are not properly repaired. The Minister should take his staff absolutely into his confidence and should consult the men who have to do the work. An enormous amount of dissatisfaction is caused by the piecework system. The prices being so low that it is impossible in many cases for a man to do a decent job, as he has to hurry in order to make a reasonable amount in wages. Another question I would like to refer to is that of manufacturing more of our rolling stock requirements in South Africa, although I know that the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) and others, who are champions of private enterprise and would import everything they could to the detriment of the country, are strongly opposed to it. Even if it does cost 25 per cent. more to make our rolling stock in this country than to import it, one must not lose sight of the fact of the indirect benefits to the community from the manufacture of our railway requirements in the Union. Money spent overseas is lost to South Africa for good, but the spending of the same sums here would benefit the country by keeping the money in circulation here, by giving more employment and by allowing our youths to receive a training as practical tradesmen. Business would also benefit by the greater spending power of the railway mechanics. I can assure the hon. Minister that by that decision of his to build more railway coaches in this country he has done good service to our young men, who are the future citizens of this country. I hope he will continue to do it. In the matter of cost of construction, there are other aspects of the case besides the purely wages aspect. There is for instance your system of Overhead charges of the Railway Stores Department on certain requirements in connection with your own manufactures. In many cases they are so high as to make it impossible to compete with the imported article. Then again on the question of the manufacture of your requirements, a few days ago we were discussing the retrenchment of young men who are being got rid of after they have served their apprenticeship. We apprentice these young men and teach them a trade, and then we tell them that owing to the shortage of work they must go out into the streets. The hon. Minister knows perfectly well that there is no other place in this country where these young men can get work. Their trades are limited to the railway workshops. If you dispense with them they will be unable to get work elsewhere in this country in their trade. If this new policy of the present Government, as distinct from the last Government, the making of railway requirements here, is carried out, as the Minister promises it will be, it is going very largely to solve the problem of unemployment. I should like to compliment the Minister on his action. There are other matters which I want to deal with in Committee and I do not want to take up too much of the time of the House now. I would ask the Minister to read an article which appeared in a recent number of the “Salstaff’s Bulletin on the subject of the staff grievances, and particularly its reference to methods of dealing with disputes. It is quite true that certain machinery is now provided for under the Railway Service Act for settlement of disputes but some of this machinery is obsolete, and what is wanted is more direct contact between the Minister and the employees so that disputes can be settled in the shortest possible time, in this article they make a very important suggestion. They would like to see provision for a monthly meeting of representatives of each of the four great sections of the salaried staff and other workers. That is also the opinion of the artisans; they want a permanent conciliation board and the Whitley Council system. I want the Minister to go into these things. The men have been promised they will get a square deal. Some of them have not been getting a square deal in the past. The best way to give them a square deal is for the Minister to come more directly into contact not only with the officials, who he meets in the ordinary way—but also with the ordinary employees, and if the Minister adopts that plan I am sure that he will earn the gratitude not only of the staff but of the country as a whole.
The impression I have got of this debate is that the hon. members occupying the Government benches make the best mutual admiration society you can come across, and you would think this special Session of Parliament is being held specially for them to gloat over their victory at the elections.
I would ask them what good they think they are doing by all these racial recriminations. We are here to do the business of the country.
Well let us get on with it.
We have heard a great deal about the legacies left by the late Government. I want to deal with one legacy which the hon. gentlemen opposite have violated. That is the way they have hung up the land settlement development in the cotton growing areas of Zululand. Everyone knows that the world is crying out for cotton. The enterprise shown by the late Government in hurrying up the surveys and development of the land has not been shown by the present Government, although they might have been expected to follow up what was already done. What have they done? They have sent a gentleman from the Transvaal whose qualifications are doubtful—one hears that he was an estimable sheep-farmer. Does the Minister of Lands consider a qualified sheep-farmer is a proper man to go and inspect the cotton growing lands? Does the Minister think that cotton, like wool, grows on a sheep’s back?
No one laughs.
The Minister has ignored the Natal Land Board. Every derail he wanted could have been supplied by that Board. The qualification of the members of that Board is their experience. They are experienced fanners au fait with every part of Zululand and the cotton-growing industries. I ask you what qualification has a man like that to make a report. Why should the Natal Land Board be superseded? I think this House in entitled to an explanation. The late Government realized the value of developing the cotton industry and, I may say, South African opportunities in regard to cotton are very great. Supply is diminishing in the northern hemisphere owing to the inroads of the ball weevil, but in the southern hemisphere the ball weevil is unknown. We have heard the Prime Minister boasting about his policy, a policy of advancement in every direction, in agriculture and industry. Is this a sample-suspending the allotment of land for cotton growing, not only to South Africans but also to men from overseas who have got the necessary capital and experience? There is a new season beginning, and all these men are waiting to occupy the land. They should be ploughing and preparing it for the coming season. I think the policy of the Government in this respect is to be deplored, it can only be described as disgraceful. Let us have some constructive policy. I heard the hon. member for Somerset (Mr. Fourie) reading a letter from the “East London Dispatch.” It was anonymous, but I have a suspicion that he was the author himself. I would like the Minister of Agriculture to give us his policy with regard to East Coast Fever. The whole country is waiting for it. East Coast Fever plays a very important part in South African agriculture as it is a great handicap. Rumours are floating about that this Government intend to retrench dipping inspectors—the Minister of Finance budgetted for a deficit of £112,000, which he hopes to make up with economies—I hope his economies will not take place in that direction. I hope the main plank of that policy will be the employment of sufficient inspectors, men who will see that dipping is carried out efficiently. We have the example of the out-break in Pretoria two years ago, when the late Minister of Agriculture trebled his staff of inspectors and the disease was stamped out. Further I hope that when the present Minister appoints his inspectors he will pay them a living wage You cannot expect inspectors to have two riding horses, maintain them and a family and also pay house rent on a salary of £20 a month.
That is another legacy.
The late Government restricted movement on infected farms, but there is no need to adopt such action outside of them if dipping is carried out regularly. The Minister of Agriculture in reply to the hon. member for Pietermaritzburg North (Mr. Strachan) dealing with bagworm said he had taken a note of it and would place money on the Estimates next year. That is merely playing with the question. Investigation was carried out recently in connection with this matter, but it was only intermittent. There must be constant work if this evil is to be coped with. The export of bark from Natal is 140,000 tons per annum and there is an annual loss of 25 per cent., and I suggest that if the matter were looked into efficiently that export would be greatly increased and, you must remember, that it works out at £8 a ton. We have also big prospects with regard to vegetable tanning. The Argentine occupies the position of being the greatest producer in that direction, to-day exporting 200,000 tons per annum. Lord Selborne, who is Vice-Chairman of the Forestal Company, told me that the supply would run out within ten years, and in view of that, one can see what a wonderful opportunity it is for South Africa. The wattle tree only takes seven years to mature, and South Africa stands next in the world with regard to supplying markets to-day. We want to increase the output from this country of stuff that is exportable. We must remember that the hope of the country lies in this. I trust that the Minister during this debate will give me the assurance that he will tackle the question of fighting the bag-worm pest during the coming month.
It is obvious that this Budget debate is being carried on somewhat unusual lines. As a general rule when the Minister of Finance introduces his Budget the Opposition have full opportunity of criticising the details of the Budget, the allocation of the money, and the prospect of the Estimates being realized. On this occasion it is obviously difficult for us to adopt this line. We are, in a sense, responsible for the proposals which have been put forward by the Minister of Finance and, therefore, it is not for us to criticize the details of his Estimates. In that respect, therefore, we are at a considerable disadvantage compared with members opposite. I do not altogether regret the position that has arisen. It would, of course, have been possible for Ministers to put forward more definite proposals than those which they have given to the House, but on the whole, I think it is just as well that they have not, because in the course of the election campaign they have held out a prospect of all kinds of wonderful things which are to happen under their auspices, and they have made many promises to their supporters, and now I must confess that I rather sympathize with them when I see how much they are expected to carry out, and it does seem to me that if they had tried to put forward concrete and definite proposals in detail at this early stage they might have been tempted by inexperience perhaps and by the enthusiasm of their followers to put forward proposals which would certainly not have been in the interests of the country and measures which certainly in the long run would not have been acceptable either to their own supporters or the country at large. I would suggest to the Minister that he would strictly adhere to what he said as to the necessity of observing due economy during the course of this financial year. The Minister has budgetted for a deficit of £112,000 and he says he expects that the realization of that estimate will be made possible by the exercise of a due precaution and economy. I think the Minister should take into consideration that in the present state of affairs there is very much that is uncertain, and that there are a good many factors with which neither he nor any other Minister can be expected to deal satisfactorily. My hon. friend, who sits next to me (Sir William Macintosh), referred yesterday to the difficulty of understanding the present financial and commercial position. It is only during the last week or two now that there appears to be a prospect of some settlement of the European difficulties that the question of returning to the gold standard has become an urgent one. If no settlement were in prospect in Europe I suppose that in all probability the Committee which the Minister, quite rightly, is going to appoint, would have advised him that no steps should be taken in the meantime and that this country should wait to see what happened in England. But now that there is a prospect of a settlement, the matter becomes doubly urgent and the whole aspect of trade, finance, and commerce throughout the world may be changed and changed by something over which no person in this country has any control whatsoever. The position which may be created by a change in regard to the question of currency is one that may also have an effect on the question of exchange. There is no doubt that if as a result of return to the gold standard these changes do occur, the conditions under which business is conducted in this country stand to be altered considerably. That only goes to show that when hon. members opposite are inclined to blame the late Government for the depression which has taken place in this country, they do not, in my opinion, give sufficient weight to the world factors with which this country has had to reckon. They will have to do that in future. Fortunately for them the position looks as if it would be much easier, for them than it has been for the last Minister of Finance. The last Minister of Finance and the last Minister of Railways have had to do many unpleasant things. Those things they did fearlessly. If as a result of any settlement which takes place in Europe, trade conditions in England and Europe improve, all our business conditions here are going to improve also, the prospect of increased revenue will improve, the possibility of remitting taxation will grow brighter, and although Ministers will find that the world with which they have to deal is much brighter-coloured than that which their predecessors had to cope with during the last few years of depression. As I have said, I do not altogether find fault with Ministers for being somewhat chary at this stage about putting forward their proposals. I must say that I listened with much interest to the remarks made yesterday by the hon. member for Troyeville (Mr. Kentridge), who was, I suppose, put forward as the financial expert of that section of the ruling party. Well, as I understood the hon. member, he complained that the depression through which we had passed was entirely due to the mismanagement of the late Government. He gave no credit to the late Government for the steps which it had taken, in the face of the unpopularity it must have known it would incur, to cut down expenditure. He made no allowance at all for the world factors to which I have referred, but said, as I understood him, that the depression was due to the fault of the Government, which had not taxed the people who ought to have been taxed, and the mistakes the Government had made in borrowing large sums of money. Well, I would suggest to the hon. member that what we should aim at in this country is not to impose or increase taxation, but to reduce taxation. It is no use robbing Peter to pay Paul; it is much better to embark on a system under which both Peter and Paul will be well off; and as regards the question of loans. I must confess I heard with great interest at the end of his speech, the hon. member dealing with unemployment. He said, “let the Government raise a large loan and deal drastically with the matter.” So that we come back to raising a loan to carry out public works as a policy of coping with unemployment, and I fail to see in what way this policy differs from the policy which the late Government pursued. The question of unemployment seems to me to be one which is before every country to-day, and we have seen every sort of attempt made to deal with it in England, but not with success. It seems to me that these proposals for carrying out fresh public works on the strength of money borrowed, are all very well in their way. I am not saying that public works should not be undertaken, provided the public works are such as are in themselves valuable, and the work is carried on with due efficiency; but works of that kind are only one degree better than doles, and do not go to the root of the matter, or by themselves cure unemployment. To my mind, there is not a short cut to curing unemployment, and what we want is the general prosperity of the country to increase; that there should be more enterprise, more opportunities for employment and more opportunity for prosperity, and so furnish more openings for all sections of the community to get more employment, which is now denied them. I do not look with any great confidence to the absolute removal of unemployment in this country, and we have unfortunately many people in this country who spend their time praying to God that they may not find work, and with these people we can do nothing; but there are to-day many people, who, if they have the opportunity of finding work, would do that work properly, and for these people the greatest effort should be made to find employment. We are bound to take palliative measures, as people cannot obviously be allowed to starve, but unemployment should not be made an occupation in itself, and we should see, if the taxpayers’ money is spent on raising loans, that it least the taxpayer should receive the best possible value for his money. It may be asked, and it is quite fair to ask, “what remedy do you propose yourself”? I find it extremely difficult to suggest a definite remedy. Hon. members opposite hold out hopes that much will be done by bringing in a complete system of protection applying to practically all industries. Well, I entirely agree that in the country to-day there is a general feeling that we should go in for a more protective policy than is at present in existence. I do think that if we agree upon that we should also agree that that policy should be carried out with due discrimination, for if that policy were carried out without proper discrimination we should have the inevitable results which took place at the latter end of the war; we should have the cost of living mounting up, and have demands made for increased pay and remuneration, and then we would find that the cost of production would go up, and the primary industries of the country would be largely crippled. We must discriminate as to the industries which it is desired to protect, owing to the comparatively small population of South Africa. Some industries would not be able to produce sufficient output and get that output to market, which is necessary to afford employment to the large number of people that it is supposed that this remedy will help, because in dealing with the establishment of new industries in this country there are two things we have to remember: first of all, that the population is comparatively small—we have a million-and-a-half white people in this country, and the white people are the best market. It is obvious that if articles are to be produced they must be produced on a very large scale if they are to be produced at a reasonable price, and it is only a question of a comparatively short time before these industries have to look beyond the limits of South Africa, and the moment they do so they have to compete at once with goods which are produced in other parts of the world, where people, owing to the different conditions which prevail there, can produce more cheaply, so that the goods can be sold at a lower price. We should, in assisting industries, see that they do not become a burden on the taxpayers of the country. If we start new industries here we must be assured that we get men with sufficient skill to work them. It is all very well to say we should start this or that industry, but for many industries men of high skill and experience are required, and these men, broadly speaking, may not be in the country, and may have to be imported from overseas. Anyone who has been in the big manufacturing centres in England will know that in many of the workshops there are men whose fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers have done the same kind of work. Men have been born and bred for particular occupations, in which they are experts both by birth and training. You cannot transplant wholesale that kind of man to another country. Although I am entirely in favour of doing what we can to help industries, we must judge each case on its merits and see that there is a good prospect of the industry becoming a paying one and that it does so without becoming a burden on the taxpayer and doing no good in regard to the removal of unemployment. The only other suggestion put forward is that, so far as possible, uncivilized labour should be eliminated from industries in any way controlled by the Government. The late Government did a good deal in that way, and I think there is nothing to object to in that policy, always provided, of course, that the policy is carried out with proper discrimination and without injustice either to the coloured people or natives. So far as the coloured people are concerned, anyone who has been about in this part of the world will know that many of them are suffering in exactly the same way as the white people, in the way of lack of employment, and they may fairly claim their share of Government consideration. I would suggest that the Minister of Finance should look carefully into the arrangements that exist for the building of houses, particularly of the kind used by coloured people, and he should see if those arrangements cannot be improved. As regards the natives, we must always remember that however anxious we are to meet the claims of the white population, we are also trustees for a very large native population which outnumbers the white population by something like four to one. We cannot afford, if we value the peace and security of the country, to neglect the claims of these people, at any rate of that particular section of them which is now doing its best to rise in the standard of civilization. During the recent general election a good many rash statements were made by hon. members opposite as to the necessity of depriving the natives of their votes. These statements were, I hope, merely election statements, for I cannot imagine anything more-unjust than to carry them into effect. If they were carried into effect we might not be disfranchising a very large number of people, but we should be showing them that there is no hope for them in the future, that they are to be kept down and made hewers of wood and drawers of water for all time, and that we are going to do nothing whatever to help them to advance and to realize the aspirations which, quite rightly, some of them entertain. In our own interests, quite apart from the ethics of the case, that would be entirely unjustifiable. You cannot put a load on a large population and expect them to remain submissive and quiet, and the only result of such a policy would be to foment discontent in every direction and to render that large population the happy hunting ground for the promoters of Bolshevistic doctrines, and to sow the seeds of future trouble from one end of the country to another. I do not wish to go into details of native policy to-day, but I hope this matter will not be lost sight of and that for the sake of redeeming rash election promises no legislation will be introduced affecting natives without any consultation whatever with the natives concerned—legislation which would be fraught with great dangers, not only to the natives, but to all other persons in this country.
The criticisms offered by the hon. member who spoke last, give the impression that it is still the policy of the Opposition to retard our industries as much as possible, as was proved by the resolutions which our representatives at the Imperial Conferences supported, and which were passed, namely, that our raw materials should all be sent to the English factories. I think that the right hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) said only recently, that the resolutions of the Imperial Conference had to be binding on all the participating Dominions. The S.A.P. seems to be still of opinion that we should not foster industries here, but that all our raw materials should be sent to the British factories to help the British Government out of its difficulty. The Government must encourage local industries and must try to make South Africa economically independent. We have the raw materials and the means of conveyance, and we ought to have our own factories. The hon. member who spoke last opposed protection. I want to say that we will never become a nation if we do not protect local industries. We must be more courageous and enterprising and less timid and only then shall we succeed as a nation. The Opposition speaks sneeringly of promises of the Nationalist party regarding the future. The S.A.P. said during the election that the people should not take notice of little things like the poor white question and starvation, but should pay more attention to the crimson cloud of secession and revolution. They were blindfolded to see nothing but that until the 17th June. After that date they had an opportunity of looking about freely, and then they saw also the small things. Then they saw that the people were sinking fast, that there was starvation, and only then they thought of measures by which these unfortunate people could be helped. At the same time they expect the Government, after they had been in office after a few weeks, to formulate a complete policy. If the Opposition speaks sneeringly of the Government’s programme, they forget that it is a big thing, that everything cannot be accomplished in a few months’ time. If the Government attempts to help the poor whites with land for cotton growing, the Opposition shouts that the Government is sending these people to their doom. Why must those lands be kept for the 1820 settlers? Why cannot the sons of South Africa, who know this country, make a living there? The hon. member for Umvoti (Mr. Deane) complained that the Government hampered cotton growing, but it was the S.A.P. Government who retarded the progress of South Africa. Many farms were granted under disgraceful conditions, as is proved by yesterday’s debate. Nothing better can be done than to settle the poor whites on this land. I think the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) thought he was still on the election platform when he delivered his speech, but the country is tired of those speeches. I am sorry that the hon. member for East London (City) (Rev. Mr. Rider) has become a racialist in his old age. As a boy, I often listened to his sermons, and respected him. He left many friends in Bethlehem, and I am sorry that the hon. gentleman does not utilize his great talents to create a better racial feeling. If he will do that, he will do much more good to South Africa. I want, however, to refer more particularly to the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) who ran away from the Free State, the man who is cut by the friends of his school days. I went to the same school with him, and I am very sorry that he did not keep true to the teachings of his alma mater. He is the son of one of our prominent South Africans, and yet he chooses to throw mud at the Prime Minister, and to preach racialism, instead of using his abilities for the good of the country. I am very pleased that that type of politician is disappearing. We may have different opinions concerning the material interests of the country but we should not fight any more on racial lines. It only causes bitterness and does not further the interests of the country. It is a great pity to find, in regard to the contracts which are entered into by the High Commissioner on behalf of the Railway Administration, that South Africa is always the loser. We always have to pay. We ought to see to it that the High Commissioner does not enter into contracts for us, but that they are made by the Railway Department.
That is done.
It does not become the hon. member to interrupt me because he is one of the sinners himself, as, for instance, in the case of the ordering of engines. The contracts concerning coal were worded so vaguely that we had to pay £77,000 extra. The State loses every time. The Auditor-General constantly mentions cases where losses are sustained on contracts, and frequently we have to pay because it is found that the contract is not binding.
Give us facts.
I do not understand the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger). I do not speak the Yorkshire dialect. Contracts should be worded more carefully, so that the State does not lose. The difficulties of the superannuation fund of the railways must be solved. The pensions are too low. The officials now only receive £9 to £10 after thirty or thirty-five years’ service, which is not sufficient. The contributions of the officials ought to be increased, so that higher pensions can be paid. Engine-drivers are paid on the basis of a month of twenty-six working days, and there are drivers who do not work twenty-six days every month. There ought to be a Commission to investigate the matter and get the grievances removed. I think it is unfair that the salaried staff should get an annual leave of thirty days and a first-class free ticket, whilst the labourer with the same term of service, only gets 12 days per annum. That causes great discontent. Another grievance is that the driver is held responsible for the engine allocated to him, whereas he has no control over the supervision while it is in the shed. If an accident happens through lack of proper supervision in the shed, the driver is punished, and not the shed supervisor. In all possible manner economies are effected on oil and repairs, so that the railway foreman can have a bonus at the end of the year. It is an unfortunate principle because it is the cause of the accidents for which the drivers are punished. There are also many able South African drivers and stokers who are not promoted because they do not know English well. The leading officials and inspectors are mostly unilingual Englishmen, and they want all reports to be made up in English, and because many of the South Africans cannot write English well, they are kept back. The time has arrived when Dutch and English should be placed on an absolutely equal footing, also in the Railway Department. I hope that the hon. Minister will consider these few remarks I have made.
I did not intend to speak, but the speeches of the hon. members on the other side, giving vent to their feelings concerning the result of the elections, compel me to say a few words. The Nationalist party did not promise their constituents anything; the election was fought on the past of a Government which had plunged the country into a debt of £88,000,000. The voters knew that this Government had ruled the country with the sword, that it had no sympathy with the rural population, and which, if it had remained at the head of affairs much longer, would have caused many more bankruptcies in the country. The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) has blown off steam until he has actually become a little thinner. He said that the Minister of Agriculture cost the country £2,000,000; another Minister had cost the country £100,000, and so on, and so on. He also said that he took part in chasing rebels. I would like to know how much of that money went into his pockets: I suppose the greater part of it. I would like to ask the hon. member who caused the rebellion? It was the right hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) who was the cause of Maritz going into rebellion and of the protest that came from a great part of the people. Then the South African party came and shot us down, and we went into rebellion. Another cause was the sending of young people into South-West Africa by the Government. That is the story of the rebellion. The right hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) created the rebellion. When the right hon. member gave the order to General Maritz to go over the border, he knew that Maritz was opposed to it. When he was asked why he had given the order, he said that he wanted to test Maritz. In that way the right hon. gentleman provoked people to rebel, and therefore I say he is the cause of the rebellion. The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) has spoken against us, but we are in a much better position than he is. We stayed with our people, and they have now sent us to represent them. But the hon. member was chased from the Free State to Port Elizabeth, and I hope that he will be driven overseas. The hon. member for East London (Rev. Mr. Rider), a clergyman, comes to this House and preaches racialism. For him I can only pray: “Lord forgive him, for he knows not what he does.” In the Estimates only £100,000 is earmarked for poor relief; I am sorry that ix is not much more, because there are many people, particularly in the Western Transvaal, who are starving. If they are not assisted, they will swell the ranks of our poor whites. I wish to bring to the attention of the Minister of Railways the fact that the public of Pretoria are neglected. The previous Minister improved the service between Pretoria and Johannesburg, but of late there has been a relapse. The general manager and the chief officials are living in Johannesburg, and they look upon Pretoria as an isolated little place. There is a great deal of room for improvement in the connection of trains from the Free State and the Eastern Province, and there is no proper accommodation for passengers who have to wait at Germiston. I am sorry the Minister is not present, and I shall be glad to have a word with him personally on the matter.
The speeches of the hon. member for Zoutpansberg (Mr. Pirow) and the hon. member for Bloemfontein (South) (Dr. Steyn) have compelled me to participate in this debate. I do not know the accusations against Col. Mentz, unfortunately he is not present to-day to defend himself. All that I can say is that if the first accusation is as ill-founded as the second, then there is nothing wrong, and the words of the hon. member for Zoutpansberg (Mr. Pirow) are nothing but an insult. I cannot congratulate the hon. member on his speech, and his first action in this House leaves a bad impression. We had expected that he would have been satisfied with his victory over a hero. He was not satisfied with that, but has acted in a way that reminds one of the barbarous age. He not only defeated a hero, but wants to cut off his head and carry it around. I know Col. Mentz. I knew him in days of adversity and in times of prosperity, and it would take more than the ex parte statements of the hon. member for Zoutpansberg (Mr. Pirow) to make people believe that Col. Mentz is a scoundrel.
Why, then, did the late Government refuse to appoint a Select Committee?
I am sure the public of the Transvaal will require much more before they believe the accusations levelled against Col. Mentz. As soon as there is an improvement in Col. Mentz’s health, which suffered in the service of his country whilst the hon. member for Zoutpansberg (Mr. Pirow) was still at school, Col. Mentz will make his reappearance in this House, and I am sure we will not see the hon. member here then. I want to say a word regarding the farms in Piet Retief, a matter according to the hon. member for Bloemfontein (South) (Dr. Steyn) was not yet settled. Neither myself nor my partner, Mr. Brink, ever treated the transaction as a secret. It was an ordinary business transaction. We and other owners asked that the land in the Sabie game reserve should either be expropriated or that the reserve should be opened up to the general public. The Government was not willing to open up the reserve, neither did it want to buy the farms, and then we suggested that the farms be exchanged for other farms.
You cannot barter landed property!
I am prepared to take the opinion of the hon. member for Zoutpansberg (Mr. Pirow) regarding landed properties, but the hon. member for Fordsburg (Mr. J. S. F. Pretorius) knows nothing about properties or anything else. It was a recognized practice of the Lands Department to exchange farms. As is generally the case, it was sometimes advantageous, and at other times the reverse. Two previous propositions for exchange by my partner were declined by the Lands Department. The third one was, as far as I know, referred to the Land Board. The inspector of lands for Barberton was then sent to Piet Retief to see the farms. Neither the Land Board, nor I nor my partner ever saw the farms. I do not know what the inspector reported and I have never met him to this day. The previous Secretary for Lands (Mr. Hughes) told me that he also received information from the inspector of lands at Vryheid. The exchange went through in 1918 or 1919, but the title deeds were only issued a few years later. In any case, the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz), as Minister of Lands, did not have anything to do with the transaction. The date of registration certainly must coincide with the date of issue of the title deeds.
There is a difference of six months between the two.
Well, that may be so. The hon. member has evidently investigated the matter very thoroughly, but why has he never made reference to the date of the exchange? Did he do that to implicate the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz)? If anybody or any Minister can be held responsible, it is Col. Mentz. I want to add, however, that neither I nor my partner had an interview with the Land Board on the question. The document will prove that. The transaction was quite an ordinary one, like hundreds of others which take place in the country. If the hon. member for Zoutpansberg had been Minister of Lands he would have sanctioned that transaction, because there is nothing wrong with it. But then something happened that nobody had foreseen. There were rumours about that farms were suitable for cotton growing. The documents will also show that the Department of Lands valued ground in those parts at from 2s. 6d. to 5s. per morgen. When there was so much talk of cotton the Government kept the land, and values rose suddenly. On the proposal of the Lands Department one of these five farms was exchanged for Swartkloof. Later it was discovered that Swartkloof was of much smaller value. But nobody knew it when the deal went through. My partner made a profit. I think that the farms in the game reserve will fetch the same price, because they also are good for cotton growing, and are nearer to the railway. My partner could also have made a good profit on those farms. The hon. member for Zoutpansberg said that my partner has still 7,000 morgen in Zululand, which has a value of £3 per morgen. I have been in touch with him, and he has given me the right to offer the land to the hon. member for Zoutpansberg at £1 per morgen. The Department needed the farms, and my partner offered the Government to exchange the farms for others in the Sabie game reserve. This offer still holds, but the Department has not accepted it yet. I hope that the hon. member for Bloemfontein (South) (Dr. Steyn) is now satisfied. The hon. member said, however, that the matter could not be left where it was, but that further investigation should be made. He also said that the speech of the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) was intended to divert attention from the matter. But it appears to me that the hon. member for Bloemfontein (South) (Dr. Steyn) tried to draw attention from the political nakedness of the Nationalist party. His excuse was that such a mess had been made of the Department, that the Minister of Lands had first to clear it up before he can proceed with his work. I know the Minister of Lands, and I hope he will not make such a feeble excuse.
The debate has gone over a very wide field and it is quite impossible to deal with the multifarious matters brought before the House. I certainly do not agree with the hon. member who has just spoken when he says that the matters raised by the hon. member for Zoutpansberg (Mr. Pirow) were in effect drawing a red herring across the trail. I imagine it is the duty of hon. members of this House when they come into possession of any facts or allegations about something which seems to be dishonourable on the part of a Minister to bring them before the House. It is their duty. I do not think an hon. member should be attacked in the performance of his duty. These allegations are serious allegations. They ought to be enquired into by a judicial commission. It cannot be done by throwing party cries across the floor of this House. Therefore I hope the Government will appoint a judicial commission to go fully into this matter and then the House will know what exactly is the true position with regard to those most serious allegations. My chief purpose in rising now is to indicate as far as I can what my own attitude is towards the new Government which has been formed. I am not a member of any of the three parties of this House. I would like to say that it seems to me that the criticisms levelled from the Opposition benches have been most ungenerous, most unfair and premature. After all this is a special financial Session and surely the South African Party members must realize that in a few weeks the new Government could not attempt to carry out the whole of its policy. After all the South African Party had fourteen years. It is absurd to judge a new Government on the work of a few weeks. However, the new Government have certainly made a good start in keeping their promises. They have abolished the medicine tax.
And taken over the Estimates.
I do not know what the hon. member for Paarl (Dr. de Jager) wants. I do not think he knows himself what he wants. If they had not taken over the Estimates he would have said that their action was Bolshevistic, now he complains that they had taken over the Estimates. Whatever the new Government did the hon. member for Paarl (Dr. de Jager) would not be satisfied.
I should not.
Then the Government have kept their election pledges in regard to the Rents Act and in making the railway coaches here instead of ordering them overseas. They have dropped the Class Areas Bill, which, so far as I am concerned, is certainly very gratifying. In these respects the Government have shown that they are on the right lines. I do not agree with all the things the Government say they are going to do. I do not agree for instance with this segregation policy, but the members of the South African Party must remember that their leader has always maintained that it was they who introduced segregation. The leader of the Opposition told the House that segregation was the law of the land and that owing to himself and Gen. Botha it had been made the law of the land in 1913. It is absurd for hon. members on the Opposition benches to be continually making violent tirades about segregation. Personally I do not regard segregation as either just expedient or practicable.
But you are in favour of segregation.
I am not in favour of segregation.
You segregate yourself in this House.
If the hon. member means that because I do not occupy the same bench as himself I am segregated, he is wrong. I form part of the Assembly and I am not segregated in any reasonable sense. The hon. member for Paarl (Dr. de Jager) no doubt would be glad if I came and sat beside him, but I am afraid I should not find much pleasure in sitting with people with whom I have not the slightest political sympathy. It was only in 1923, in the third year of their office, when I saw that they disregarded their election promises, that I supported the vote of no confidence in the late Government. If the present Government disregards their duty in the same way after a few years of trial, if they prove themselves as inept and incapable of doing the right thing by the poor people, I am quite prepared to do the same thing again.
Will you form a party of your own?
I will remain in Parliament so long as the constituents whom I represent wish me to stay here. So long as Iserve my constituents I will have done my duty. I have done so for over 16 years, so I am no longer a political chicken. The supporters of the late Government in the Senate threw out the Wages Board Bill, the late Government refused to ratify the Labour Convention, did away with the eight hours’ day on the railways and took sides against the working classes in labour disputes, and all these and other things made me see that the Government had to be got rid of, and I did my little bit in that direction. However, that does not mean that I am a follower of the new Government. I am prepared to give them a chance and I think they will make good. We will see what they can do during the recess. Last session I advocated in a speech of mine that there should be a Department of Labour and a Minister for Labour, and I am very pleased that the Government has taken it up. I would like to see the Minister of Labour have no other portfolio, because I know of no more important department than this department dealing with unemployment. During the course of my peregrinations during the elections I came across heart-breaking things. I found civilized men with sons aged 19 and 20 who had been well educated and who had to begin their lives on the relief works. That is the state of affairs which exists in South Africa to-day. It is most serious and cannot be allowed to go on. It is not a question of white, coloured or native labour, but of a civilized standard of living; every man, whether he is white, coloured or native, must have a chance in this country. With regard to a protection policy, the development of industries is one of the first things in this direction. It is said that the consumer will have to pay a little more for his goods, but what is the good of telling people walking about the streets that they will have to pay a little more under protection when they are unable to pay the lesser sum without protection. Having to pay more should not necessarily be one of the results of protection. So far as the manufacturer is concerned it is clear he is only making a fair profit. Big profits are made in retailing, and such matters can be dealt with by regulating the price of articles. In my opinion the protective policy is absolutely essential. On the question of wire netting I would ask the Government to go into it again. It is necessary for farmers to have vermin-proof fences. The Federated Chamber of Industries has quite recently suggested that the duty on all wire netting and other wire goods shall be 15 per cent ad valorem, but that there shall le a rebate of the whole or portion of the duty so far as vermin-proof fencing is concerned. They also recommend that a standard should be laid down for such a style of fencing, and a bounty for such of it as is manufactured in South Africa. It was not sought to penalize the wire netting used for agricultural purposes, but a great deal is used for other purposes. I would ask the Minister to go into it again, because this particular industry has suffered from dumping and attempts to throttle it in South Africa. Further, I hope the reformation of the Board of Trade and Industries will soon bear effect, and that a practical result will be the sending to it of a direct representative of the Chamber of Industries. I understand the Government is going to do something on a matter to which I drew attention some time ago, and which showed how, with a little assistance, industries might be advanced to the benefit of this country. An industry was started at Worcester—an industry which manufactured shirts and pyjamas. It is work mainly for girls, and the promoters take them from various places; they are principally poor girls, but there is room also for a large number of boys. The experience of the manufacturers is that with a little training they turn out as high a class of goods as any imported. All they want is that the Government should allow them to import the raw material free or give them a rebate of the duty when the goods are made. I am told that the value of the importations from foreign countries of these articles per year is estimated at £1,250,000. If the question of industries is properly tackled there is a great future for South Africa. Let me give one example: The Minister of Finance gave remarkable figures showing how the imports of motor cars were increasing, and the lion, member for Port Elizabeth (South) said that the totals were coming in well although depression was rampant. As a matter of fact, it is not really strange, because under our existing machinery in South Africa the rich people are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Here is a matter which I would like the Government to go into during the recess. Carriage building is one of the indigenous industries of South Africa. In Australia, when they found motor cars being imported on such an extensive scale, they decided to allow the chassis of the car to come in free but to put such a swinging duty on the whole motor car as to make the importation of a car prohibitive. The result has been to give an enormous impetus to the building of motor bodies. I think if we adopted a similar line of action in this country we should find factories springing up in various parts of the Union for motor body building. I would like to see the Government make full use of the Housing Act of 1920, which has practically been a dead letter. Another matter to which I would draw attention is the need of telephone extensions. The time when a country should spend money on development is not when things are prospering but when things are depressed, and so long as you spend your money on revenue-producing schemes and various concerns which will build up South Africa you are simply investing your money and not spending it. I would like the Government during the recess to go into the question of introducing legislation to deal with combines and monopolies, on the lines of legislation that they have in America. I trust that the Minister will give attention to the need of raising the limit of exemption from income tax. The present limit of exemption presses very hardly upon the poorer section of the people. The way to deal with this question is, I think, to steepen your tax as far as the richer people are concerned and raise the limit of exemption. I would also urge upon the Minister that it is only just and fair to do away with the present system of lumping, for taxation purposes, a married woman’s income with that of her husband. I would like some information from the Government with regard to the contract in South-West Africa which was the subject of so much discussion last session and during the elections. I refer to the contract that was entered into without the consent of Parliament. I hope the Government has taken legal advice in regard to it and that, if possible, they will take steps to bring the matter before the courts. The question of leave regulations is also one that calls for attention. The anomalies that occur between various members of the Service in regard to their leave are very surprising. They may be all together in the same office and working together and one man gets a different amount of leave to another man, which causes a lot of friction and trouble, and it is one of the points I hope the Government will go into during the recess. I hope it will also go into the question of local allowances, for on the railways there is no such differentiation between single and married men as in the public service, and this is also causing a great deal of hardship. One cannot but see from the mentioning of various things which other hon. members and myself have mentioned that the Government has a good deal of hay on its fork, and a great deal to do to put things right, and the Government, in following out its programme, should have due regard for every section of the public, try to hold the balance even and take note of the fact that the vast majority of the people in the country are poor, as the Income Tax returns show; and it is to the interest of the majority that the Government should look, both in regard to taxation, development and all other aspects of the political machine. The Government when it is urged to deal with this thing or with that thing, or with this or that class of the population, ought to be very careful to see that it is not rushed into doing an injustice to any particular section of the people. People come to the Government suggesting all sorts of fancy legislation, and perhaps penalising this or that section. Every section has its rights, whether it belongs to the white race or not, and I hop© the Government will pay attention to that matter. In conclusion, I would like to deal with one thing which I should have mentioned. When I appealed to the Hon. the Minister of the Interior recently with regard to a burning question in this country, with regard to which the previous Government had dishonoured the pledge given in 1913, viz., that section 4 (1) (a) of the Immigration Act would not be applied against European immigrants, it had been clearly stated at the time in answer to the question raised by the then hon. member for Fordsburg (Mr. Duncan) that it would not be applied to Europeans, but the late Government, as I say, dishonoured its pledge in spite of the many appeals made to it, both inside and outside this House, although during the election they suddenly came to the conclusion that they would suspend the operation of this clause so far as European immigrants are concerned for six months; unemployment was just as rife then as when they put this clause into operation against European immigrants, so the only conclusion an intelligent man could arrive at was that it was done because it was election time. When I raised the question with the new Government it was immediately answered that they were not going to apply this particular clause to European immigrants as their predecessors had, and they honoured the pledge given to Parliament in 1913. This shows that the Government is determined to do the right thing by every section of the population, and that indicates very clearly to me that they are going on the right lines. If the Government devotes attention to the various matters during the recess—to which its attention has been drawn—there is no reason why it may not do much for the happiness, welfare and prosperity of the people of South Africa.
I would like to refer to the statement made by the hon. member for Zoutpansberg (Mr. Pirow) with which the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) has already dealt. I would like first to refer to the reply of the hon. member for Ermelo (Col.-Cdt. Collins) which was a failure. We expect of the Opposition a proper reply to the serious accusations of the hon. member for Zoutpansberg (Mr. Pirow), but it has not yet been given. The hon. member for Ermelo (Col.-Cdt. Collins) has not replied to it. He does not deny that the transaction took place. It is clear that the statement of the hon. member for Zoutpansberg was correct. We do not deny that the deal was put through on the usual lines. But what we object to is, that the previous Government conducted its business in such a way that it was always the loser in such transactions. It is clear that it was very bad business for the Government, and that the profit was all on the side of the hon. member for Ermelo (Col.-Cdt. Collins). It is alleged that the lands were valued at 2/6, but we cannot lightly accept that allegation.
Does the hon. member ascribe wrong motives to the hon. member for Ermelo (Col.-Cdt. Collins) and the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz)?
I do not want to ascribe any motives to hon. members. I only want to prove that their reply is unsatisfactory.
The hon. member must accept the statements made by the hon. members for Port Elizabeth and Ermelo, or otherwise raise the matter by means of a special motion.
I accept the statements made by the hon. members, but I want to show that it is not a satisfactory reply to the allegations made by the hon. member for Zoutpansberg (Mr. Pirow). I do not want to ascribe ulterior motives to the hon. members. The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Cot. D. Reitz) has told us that the ground was only worth 2/6 per morgen. The hon. member for Ermelo now says that it is worth 5/- per morgen. In one day the value has apparently increased by 100 per cent. The hon. member for Ermelo has offered the rest of the farms for sale at £1 per morgen. There are still 7,000 morgen, and if we take into consideration the price which was originally paid, and that more was received for the sale of three farms than was paid for the whole lot, we can easily understand this offer. We have, however, heard nothing about the farm Tommy. Neither of the hon. members said a word about it. Not even the hon. member for Ermelo.
The hon. member for Ermelo has nothing to do with this farm.
The late Government is responsible for the actions of Col. Mentz, as one of the Ministers.
It is still to be proved that the allegations are correct.
We assume that they are correct, and the onus is on the Opposition to prove the contrary. A commission of enquiry will have to be appointed to investigate the whole matter thoroughly.
Business was suspended at 6 p.m., and resumed at 8.10 p.m.
I have nothing further to say regarding the reply of the hon. member for Ermelo (Col.-Cdt. Collins). He has only repeated the statements made by the hon. member for Zoutpansberg, and confirmed them. It was not alleged that the transaction was a dishonest one, and we have nothing against Mr. Brink. On the contrary, I would like to congratulate the hon. member for Ermelo with his partner who could do good business, and who apparently was too smart for the Government. What the Nationalist party deprecates, however, is that the Government did such bad business in connection with this exchange of land. I was surprised to hear the speech of the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz). It was no reply, but only a third-rate election speech. He referred to many irrelevant matters which did not enlighten us on the subject under discussion, but only served to blow up the fuels of racialism. This hon. member does nothing in and out of the House but preach racialism. And no wonder, for that is the whole purpose of the existence of the S.A.P. If they do not do that they have nothing to do. The Nationalist party, on the other hand, never during all the time of its existence tried to discourage co-operation between the two races. But the S.A.P., with the help of the capitalistic press, falsely misrepresented the aims and activities of the Nationalist party. Only during the last election did the people hear the truth, resulting in the overthrow of the S.A.P. The people have learned that the Nationalist party want to bring the races together, but that the S.A.P. wish to keep racialism alive to serve its own ends.
Do you believe what you say?
The co-operation between the parties constituting the Pact shows that they have the greatest confidence in each other. The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) stated that the Nationalist party have wandered from the old path. This is untrue; the Nationalist party is still in the old path, but the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) has strayed so far afield that he is now a Unionist. He said that the Government does nothing for the poor. As a Minister he had the best opportunity of helping the poor whites, but what did he and the S.A.P. Government do for them in 14 years’ time? In 10 years’ time they have increased the number of poor whites from 80,000 to 160,000. The S.A.P. Government tried to solve the poor white problem by proclaiming martial law almost every year, and by using aeroplanes, guns and rifles. We have every reason to congratulate the Government on some few changes that have already been made in this respect. What the S.A.P. Government could not do in 14 years is expected of the Nationalist party in a fortnight. There is no logic in the arguments of the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (South). Either he is himself ignorant or he wants to mislead the public. I am sure that there will be a great decrease in the number of the poor whites during the first five years under a Nationalist party regime.
The unemployment question which has been raised in this House is one of greatest importance to the country, but the action of the Government, whether it provides £100,000 or £500,000 for relief, is only in the nature of a palliative. The only way to approach the question with any hope of a permanent solution is by a full programme of industrial expansion. In discussing this subject I want to do so, not so much from the point of view of providing work for the unemployed of to-day as with the idea of finding openings for the youth of this country who, if we cannot widen the openings for them in this country, will surely seek a means of livelihood in other countries which the same fails to afford them. I think we all realise that, whether in agriculture or industries, the unskilled work in the future will be done by native and coloured labour. It must be our great endeavour to build up a class of skilled labour, realising as we do that it is the great lack of skilled labour that is the backbone of the older countries of the world. In order to attain that goal we should explore every possible avenue that may lead to a solution of the difficulty. I think one path we can follow with advantage is the reorganization of the whole of our educational system. To-day we are plastering the country from end to end with High Schools, we are training the youth of this country to look on the Matriculation examination as the be-all and end-all of the educational system of this country; we are raising a hope in their minds that if they pass the Matriculation examination the world lies at their feet. What do they find? When they have passed that examination the fruit has turned to dust and ashes. We have fitted them for the professions, the civil service and other walks of life which can only absorb one-fifth of the youth growing up in this country, and I feel very strongly that we should broaden the basis of our educational system. If we expect to form a class of skilled labour in this country we should educate our youths to that end and train them for the work that they have to do in the future. I do trust that vocational training will be a feature of our educational system in the future. Speaking not only on industrial training, but on agricultural training and as a farmer, I would point out that farming to-day is becoming a scientific profession. There are endless jobs on every farm which necessitate the attention of skilled workmen. These jobs are now being done in a blundering fashion by the unskilled native or not being done at all. We have intricate machinery in use to-day in agriculture, and if we include in our curriculum a system of training our boys in the skilled and semi-skilled work, a knowledge of which is necessary on every farm, I say that the farmers can absorb a large number of the youths growing up. It is not only a question of absorbing the young fellows who are coming on, but it is one means by which we can deal with the poor white question. I believe—and I say it with a certain amount of sorrow—that we shall not in many cases, or indeed in most cases, reclaim those who have sunk into the poor white class, but if we take the children and give them a chance, if we train them and help them to keep their self-respect and fit them for either industrial or agricultural life, I think we shall see a tremendous diminution in the next generation in the number of poor whites in this country. It was only yesterday that I attended the annual conference of the 1820 Settlers’ Association, and I think very few of us realize either in this House or in the country the tremendous work that that Association is doing, and I think we do not realize the value to this country of the class of men it is bringing out, men with capital, men who are prepared to put their money and their brains into the development of this country. Apart from immigration of that kind, I do not see the necessity for any scheme of immigration so long as we have our own boys and girls to provide for. If we only teach the youths of this country not only how to work but that, their future lies in skilled agricultural labour and skilled industrial labour, I maintain that we have got there material for our settlers in the future. I trust that during the recess the Government will give this question their earnest attention and that they will place on the Estimates an adequate sum for the agricultural and industrial training of our youths.
The hon. member for Umvoti (Mr. Deane) has expressed indignation at the policy of the Government in stopping the issue of land in Zululand projected by the late Government. I would assure the Government that the indignation which he expressed is not entirely shared by the whole of the people of Natal. So far as the ordinary people are concerned, in the town of Durban at least, they are pleased and they approve of the action of the Minister in stopping the issue of this land. We do not desire in Natal any more large areas of land to be given out as farms; we want to see smaller farms in the country. We want to see the cotton lands of Natal divided up amongst the smaller people. The hon. member for Umvoti (Mr. Deane) is notorious in Natal for his solicitude for the large farmer.
The hon. member denies it. But I would call the attention of the House to the attitude of the hon. member in 1907 when he was Minister of Agriculture in Natal and ask him what he did in connection with the steam ploughs in those days? Mr. Winter, then a member of the Natal Parliament, now a Senator of another place, said in 1908, according to the Natal Hansard at that time: “I understood that the steam ploughs were on the water, and later on that they had not even been shipped. … We were told that the steam ploughs were to come to the rescue of the Natal farmers who had lost their cattle, but the ploughs have been used by farmers in this Colony who are in a position to buy their own steam ploughs.” Right through there was a condemnation of the hon. member.
What has that got to do with the Budget?
It has as much to do with the Budget as the speech of the hon. member for Umvoti (the hon. W. A. Deane) has. I listened this afternoon with pain and regret to the speech of the hon. member for East London (City) (Rev. Mr. Rider) and I ihave not heard in this House or on the public platform from any member of the South African Party a more racial and venomous speech than that speech, and I was pained when I heard such a speech from a professed follower of Jesus Christ. (The hon. member quoted from the Bible: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself … love thine enemies … bless them that curse you.”) The hon. member caused great laughter when he read further on: “Thou hypocrite.”
You have mistaken your vocation!
I think it would be well if the hon. member would again refresh his memory, and I will read the following verse from the next chapter. (He then read: “Judge not that ye be not judged, etc.”) The attempt to stir up racial feelings inside or outside this House is a crime against South Africa. I do not, object to national feeling. But I do object to racial feeling. There is a story told of the war of a Scot who was ordered to take over some trenches, and came across a notice which stated “Gott strafe England,” and being a patriot he took out a bit of chalk, scored out “England,” and put in “Britain.” The attempt to inculcate hatred and to drive a wedge between this section of the House and this section of the House (pointing) is a thing that is not going down any further in South Africa. I think it was the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) who said that there were hon. members on this side of the House who had cost the country millions. I will ask hon. members on the other side of the House whether there has not been in their party or in their company any man who has cost the country millions. The men who started the Jameson raid have not only cost the country money, but 25 years of bitter feeling. Were nut the men who started the war because of the gold mines, and the men who stole Kimberley from the Orange Free State because of the diamond mines?—men who cost the country millions of money and untold suffering. They should take the beam out of their own eyes before they look at the mote in the eyes of others.
As one of the new members, I would like to say a few words about the Budget. The old members, especially those on the Opposition benches, apparently do not wish to discuss it. They do their best to create suspicion and racialism, and to cause a division in the ranks of the Pact parties. However, I feel my responsibility as a representative of the people. The hon. member for Griqualand (Mr. Gilson) spoke on the matter before the House, and he is an example to older members of this House. I have never heard anything like the speech of the hon. member for East London (Rev. Mr. Rider), or that of the hon. member for East London (North) (Brig.-Gen. Byron), or of the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz). They have done nothing but preach racialism. The Nationalist party will not follow their example. The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) told us why the Prime Minister was put out of the Cabinet in 1912, and said it was because of his two-stream policy. We know, however, that that was not the case, and the public of South Africa have also discovered this by the way the people have been impoverished. That is the reason for the existence of the Pact. The Nationalist and the Labour parties will solve the problems of this country. It was always said that the old back-velders were racialists, who caused bloodshed and turmoil. If that had been so, would these people have been so willing to come forward and to co-operate with the labourites in Johannesburg and Cape Town? We will not take any more notice of the cry of racialism by the S.A.P. because it has grown into an industry with them. We will give our attention to the interests of the country. This cry was always used by them to keep the two sections of the community apart. The people have created the Pact for the purpose of governing the country for the next five years.
We will go forward and carry out our election promises. I agree with the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) that we made many promises, but the Leader of the Opposition made many more. The Prime Minister promised six things in his election manifesto, and if he carries out those promises he will have achieved very much for this country indeed. If one notes the attitude of the Opposition, it is clear that very little assistance can be expected there. But the English and Dutch-speaking sections of the community will work together, and the country will progress under the Pact. Everything done by the Government will be criticized. It will be alleged that everything is done for political considerations. The leader of the S.A.P. started in that attitude in his speech at Standerton, where he said that they had already commenced with political appointments and that they were going to introduce the spoils system into the civil service. I told the English-speaking people in my constituency that no English-speaking official would be dismissed over the language question. I wish to repeat that statement. We know that in the past there was no equal treatment for both sections of the community. The question as to whether an applicant was a sympathiser of the S.A.P. or the Nationalist party was a vital consideration.
Give an instance.
I get many letters from officials and they all implore that their names shall not be divulged because they fear dismissal. That is the condition of affairs. This will now be changed. The people rejoice over the victory of the Nationalist party and that we have a Prime Minister whom we can trust. There was no fairness displayed in the appointment of (civil servants. This state of affairs will have to be remedied without causing hardship to a single official. One of the election items in the platform of the Nationalist party was the protection of the farmers. The hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) said yesterday that the Nationalist party had promised to put an end to the importation of cattle. That is not true. We promised to do that if it was possible. I realize that it won’t do to break a contract. Contracts will have to be fulfilled, but when it comes to the time of renewal the interests of the farmers will have to be taken into consideration.
The brethren will agree with the policy of the Government. The working people get no benefit from the low price of cattle on the urban markets. The middlemen and the Imperial Cold Storage get all the profits, therefore the Labour party will not object to put an end to the importation of cattle. We also advocate the abolition of the unjust tax on farmers as soon as possible, but realize that the Government must first have an opportunity to put things in order. The farmers on this side of the House are going to fight for their rights. During the past year, 160,000 farmers paid income tax on a total income of £1,700,000, whereas 8,000 doctors and members of the legal profession paid on an income of £2,200,000. The cooperation between the farmers and the unionists in the ranks of the S.A.P. is an anomalous state of affairs, and must sooner or later come to an end. A great part of the S.A.P. will join the Nationalist party and only a few extremists will remain. As the representative of the farming community, I want to urge the Railway Department to revise the freight upon agricultural products. I know the Minister will do his best, because the Government is sympathetic to the farmer. Irrigation schemes are needed, but there has been so much mismanagement in connection with those that have been carried out, that it will be necessary to write off a sum of £8,000,000, in order to place them on a business footing and to prevent many of the farmers from going bankrupt. I think that much money has been squandered, and that the engineers of the Department are not capable men. For instance, a number of farmers wanted an irrigation scheme at a certain place; the Government engineer was sent out to inspect it and draw up a plan. He estimated the cost at £15,000. Ultimately it cost £30,000, and then it was still a bad scheme, with the result that the farmers lost a lot of money over it. We dare not allow those people to swell the ranks of the poor whites. If it is necessary, the money must be written off, but in future we must be more careful in the spending of public money. The extension of the railways from Hofmeyr to Cradock is necessary for the development of my constituency. The line has already been built from Schoombie to Hofmeyr, and the extension would be only 45 miles. I hope that the Minister of Railways will go into the matter carefully. Another national matter that I want to bring to the attention of the Government is the erosion of the land. We shall commit national suicide if we do not stop it. We must make no party matter of it, but like South Africans, put our brains together and act in the interests of the country. The Drought Commission recommends in this connection propaganda amongst the farmers, and instruction in our schools on this urgent matter. The previous Government made a commencement in this direction by putting on the Statute book the Act regarding jackal-proof fences. I congratulate the late Minister of Agriculture on that measure, and I can assure him that the public is grateful for it. I would, however, like to see a few amendments in the Act. It is not advisable to compel a farmer to fence in his farm. The majority of farmers in the district should decide whether the Act should be applicable in the district. One of the greatest difficulties is, that a farmer having a bond on his farm cannot fence it in unless the bondholder gives his consent. His wealthy neighbour can go to the Land Bank and get a loan. That is the reason why the Act has not been proclaimed in certain districts. The Government should advance the money to the owner to be repayable over a long period, say 25 years. If this is done, the Act could be proclaimed in many more districts. The Minister of Agriculture ought to give the matter his attention. The Government should provide material for the filling up of sluits cheaper. During next session, when a new Financial Relations Bill will be introduced, I hope provision will be made for more money for education. I agree with the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) that it is wrong to borrow money for education. But the late Government compelled the Provincial Councils to do it, because they reduced the subsidies and limited the sources of taxation. The Administrator of the Cape Province was against a loan being raised and proposed a sales tax with the consent of the then Prime Minister. Mr. Jagger and the Chamber of Commerce brought their influence to bear on the Prime Minister, and the latter withdrew his consent. Then the Cape Provincial Council had to borrow money for education. I am sorry that the Budget does not balance yet. It should be balanced as soon as possible. The Minister of Finance and the Minister of Railways and Harbours are to be congratulated on the lucid manner in which they explained the finances of the country. The country is satisfied with the new Government and expects much from it in the future.
I had not intended to take part in this Budget debate, because there was little matter for criticism both in the Budget itself and the manner in which the hon. Minister introduced it. It is not the function of the Opposition to get up and criticise merely for the sake of criticising, nor is it the duty of the Opposition to get up and oppose merely for the sake of opposing. Our criticism, when we do make it, should be constructive and helpful and not merely destructive. The Budget presented by the hon. Minister was really the Budget of our own party and I felt the best course was to say nothing at all about it. The reason why I am speaking to-night is because of the speech made last night by my hon. friend the hon. member for Bloemfontein (South) (Dr. Steyn). He is a gentleman for whom I have the greatest respect, I might say affection. On the rare occasions that he has favoured us in this House we have listened to him with pleasure and usually with profit, but I never heard him to less advantage than I did last night. I thought his speech, to put it bluntly, was impudent and in bad taste. He is not one of the members of this House to whom I would expect to find crowing over a defeated opponent. I did consider him to be a sportsman, and I did not consider the hon. member was one of those members of the House who would get up and chortle and chuckle and gloat for ten or fifteen minutes over the victory, the admittedly great victory, which his side won over ourselves in the recent elections. He was good enough to quote with zest an optimistic speech made by a member of our party before the election. I can remember similar optimistic speeches made by members of his party prior to previous elections. I certainly remember such a speech made by his leader before the general election of 1921, but I do not remember that any member of our party got up in this House and rubbed it in in the way in which the hon. member did last night. When I said to him that he was gloating he suggested that the only gloating was that done by me personally over my comrades who stood with me in the recent elections on the Rand and were defeated. I have been a soldier. I would no more gloat over the political fate of my comrades on the Rand in the recent election than when I was a soldier I would gloat over those of my comrades who fell in the war. To suggest that I was gloating because I was fortunate enough to survive over those of my comrades who did not survive, was, I venture to say, ill-mannered and in the worst possible taste.
Don’t be pathetic.
No, I am saying this more in sorrow than in anger. I do not remember any speech which the hon. member has made in which he has exhibited such a lack of good taste as he exhibited in his speech of yesterday. He said that the victory of the Pact in this election had killed racialism, that racialism was entirely a thing of the past, and that it had been made a thing of the past by the victory of the Pact in the last election. I do not want to rake up any of the ashes of the past, but I do think that I am entitled, when the hon. member (Dr. Steyn) says that the victory of the Pact has killed racialism, to ask the House to consider the actions of his leaders after their victory, and to ask members or the House and the country whether the hon. member is justified in making the claim that the victory of the Pact has killed racialism. On June 21, four days after the general election, the deputy leader of the Nationalist Party, the Minister of Justice, addressed through the medium of the public press an appeal to the Dutch-speaking members of this side of the House to come over to them and leave behind the English-speaking members.
He never said so.
I have got it here and I am going to read it. I read this letter as an appeal by the Minister of Justice to the Dutch-speaking members on this side to leave the English-speaking members and go over and unite in hereniging with the Dutch-speaking members on that side of the House. I will read the letter. He says: “As regards the future the figures of the election are plain. The South African Party has practically again become the old Unionist Party. The South African Party man of the countryside who desires to safeguard the interests of the farmer and the worker will certainly join the Nationalist Party and thereby save the future of his children. A small section of the old S.A.P. will, with the Unionists, struggle for their own future. They will assist to improve the lot of the great Trusts and Corporations and injure themselves. But the great majority who always said they would stand by us if we formed a Government will come over to the Nationalist Party immediately. Then there will be laid in reality the last stone of ‘Hereniging’ within the portals and ranks of the Nationalist Party.” It is common knowledge that the hereniging movement was, and is, a movement for reunion amongst the Dutch-speaking people of South Africa. I am sorry to see that hon. members opposite do not seem to like what I am saying. The hereniging movement can only take place between people who were once united and have been divided, and the hereniging movement has been a movement which has taken place for the last four or five years among the Dutch-speaking people of this country because it was said that there was something impious and unnatural in there being any sort of political division among the Dutch-speaking people of South Africa, and when I saw that letter I read it as an appeal to the Dutch-speaking members of the South African Party to leave us, who are English-speaking, and return to the true fold. (Dissent from Government member.) If there were any doubt as to whom the appeal was addressed to, the Prime Minister, the head of the party, settled it when on the 11th July last he addressed an open letter to the public and people of South Africa (which the hon. member quoted) the conclusion of the letter being “hence also the deep and sincere desire on the part of the Dutch-speaking S.A.P. to reunite.” Will any honest man stand before me in this House or elsewhere and say that when the Minister of Justice speaks of National hereniging and the hon. Prime Minister who is less subtle, more blunt and more honest, appeals to the Dutch-speaking S.A.P. to reunite, they do not mean to invite those hon. members on this side of the House who are Dutch-speaking to come over and join them, but would under no circumstances welcome the English-speaking members.
It says reunite.
We are “the strangers in the house,” we are vreemde fortuinsoekers (foreign adventurers). That insult struck deep at the time, and has never been apologised for. When the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) was called a “vreemde fortuinsoeker” by the present Prime Minister, that stung very deeply, and when we read this letter which I have quoted, we still think we are considered to be “vreemde fortuinsoekers” by a large number of hon. members opposite.
That is a perversion.
The hon. member for Bloemfontein (South) (Dr. Steyn) says that the victory of the Pact and accession to power of the Prime Minister means the death of race hatred in this country. I say God grant that it may; but does the hon. member for Bloemfontein (South) (Dr. Steyn) mean that he wants us all to go over, if he does not mean that, he wants only the Dutch-speaking to go over. Does he want us all in one big party? Does he look forward to that happy state of which Macaulay speaks: “Then none was for the party, and all were for the State”? I acquit the hon. member for Bloemfontein (South) (Dr. Steyn) of having a spark of race hatred in him, and he bears amongst us the reputation of a man who has no political animosity of any sort in his composition. He bears the reputation of being a gentleman who is fonder of his dinner than of political strife. Seriously speaking, is he prepared to say that there is room in the Nationalist party for any English-speaking member who is not prepared to forget that he is English-speaking? We all remember the only prominent English-speaking member that belonged to that party, and what happened to him.
He is coming back.
I want to say a word now to the hon. member for Zoutpansberg (Mr. Pirow). I was not present in the House when he made his speech, but I have been acquainted with the gist of it. It is not my intention to discuss the merits of the attack he made, but to consider its manner. I was in the House last session when the hon. member for Hoopstad (Mr. Conroy) put a series of carefully drafted questions to the then Minister of Lands which were answered by the then Minister of Defence (Col. Mentz). Knowing the hon. member as we do, we all knew that although put in the name of the hon. member, the question was not his work, and that the question was carefully drafted for him by someone else. Those who know the hon. member for Zoutpansberg (Mr. Pirow) had a shrewd idea that he drafted that question. The voice was Conroy’s voice, but the hand was the hand of Pirow.
It is wrong.
Will the hon. member assure us that he did not have a hand in drawing these questions?
I assure the hon. member I did not draw these questions.
If the hon. member assures me he had no hand in drawing the questions, I withdraw at once.
I supplied the information.
Then I have nothing to withdraw. These questions were categorical and detailed, and the answers were equally categorical and detailed, and were on the face of them a complete answer to the charges conveyed in the questions. The hon. leader of the Opposition then said why not have a Select Committee to enquire into it, and the then Prime Minister said that if there were a shred of a prima facie case he could have a Select Committee at once. The matter was then allowed to drop, because it was felt amongst members that the answers given were so complete that until fresh information was given there was an end to the matter. I do not contend that a matter of this sort can be disposed of entirely by means of question and answer, but when those answers were given, the onus then rested on the hon. member for Hoopstad (Mr. Conroy) to bring forward further information while Col. Mentz was in this House. Not a single word was said after that during the life of that Parliament, but it was left for the hon. member for Zoutpansberg (Mr. Pirow), with that fine sense of chivalry towards his opponents which he shares with the hon. member for Bloemfontein (South) to bring it up about six months afterwards. I cannot congratulate the hon. member on the manner in which he brought this forward. He admits that he had a hand in framing the questions, and must have seen the answers which were given to them. It is no answer for the hon. member for Zoutpansberg (Mr. Pirow) to say that he mentioned these things there and challenged Col. Mentz to bring an action for libel. We are not interested in what took place in the wilds of Zoutpansberg. We are interested in what takes place in this House. I am not going to condemn him for bringing to the notice of this House any alleged irregularity on the part of any highly-placed official or Minister, but he has been singularly unfortunate in the manner in which he has brought the matter forward. If he is wise he will move at once for the appointment of a Select Committee.
There never was a motion for a Select Committee. There was an exceedingly half-hearted suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition in the last Parliament that a Select Committee should be appointed to enquire into the matter to which the then Prime Minister replied that there was not a shred of a prima facie case, but if they could bring one forward he would be only too glad to appoint a Select Committee, and there the matter stopped. The hon. gentleman should not seek further to besmirch the good name of his defeated opponent. I now want to refer to another matter. We were fold during the General Election that the Pact ended on June 17. I tried to elicit a reply from the leader of the Labour party as to the intentions of his party should the Pact be successful and to ascertain whether he and his party would accept office, but the hon. member for Denver (Col. Creswell) maintained a studied silence on that point. Thousands of the electorate, listening to that half truth that the Pact ended on June 17. took that to be a declaration that after June 17 the Nationalists and the Labour party would be entirely independent. I do not say that declaration was made with the intention of misleading the electors, but thousands of the electors thought that the Labour members would be the watchdog on the Government and would be prepared to throw the Government out if necessary. There are thousands of voters who feel that they have been sold by the Pact becoming an alliance, and more than that—a fusion. I do not believe the Labour party had any mandate to go into this fusion, and I believe in making this entirely unknown departure from the principles of every other Labour party in the world, the South African Labour party has cut its own throat.
Are you very sorry?
I have never been an enemy of Labour or the Labour party and I have been returned to this House by the votes of many hundreds of working men.
Because you fooled them.
That still small voice of the member for Benoni (Mr. Madeley) is about the grossest insult to the electors of Bezuldenhout as it is possible to make, because the hon. member (Mr. Madeley) may remember that an even greater man than the hon. member for Benoni (Mr. Madeley) has said that although you may fool some of the people all the time and all the people some of the time, you cannot fool all the people all the time. The fact that I represent Bezuidenhout for the third time shows conclusively that I have not fooled them or attempted to fool them. I think the Labour party has filled an extremely useful function in this House and in the country, and I have the utmost admiration for the part played by the five Labour members who sat in his House up to 1920, and for the way in which they kept their end up. I was looking at some of the old records which were used in this election and I came across a letter written by the present Minister of Defence (Col. Creswell) to his present chief and colleague 10 years ago.
You are wrong there, it is not a letter written to the Prime Minister.
My hon. friend seems to know more about it than I do.
However, this is the letter. It was written on April 4th, 1914, by the hon. the Minister of Defence to his chief and colleague the hon. Prime Minister in answer to a proposal that the Labour party should form a pact with the Nationalist party against the hated South African Party Government.
It was a well-known thing in 1907.
This letter seems to upset some of my friends opposite. Here it is: “Cordially as I appreciate the motive inspiring your proposal it is one which I fear would serve no good purpose to entertain. The question as we view it is that the Labour party is a party formed for the furtherance of certain very definite principles and of their application by the measures specified on our platform. … We have done, and are doing, our best to make clear to the public what our policy is, and what concrete, measures we advocate to give practical application to that policy, and we base our appeal for support, not on the influence of this or that public man who may support us, but on the merits of the policy itself. This we believe to be the only way in which to build up a really useful and effective political party, and while we welcome with open arms anyone who openly declares in favour of our policy and joins us we do not think any useful purpose is in the long run served by entering into any sort of formal or informal alliance with any other group or section. This may seem to you a way of looking at the position which sacrifices a certain amount of practical help in getting forward, but from my standpoint it is the most rapid mode of advance in the long run. The only hope for a political party being effective is that combining motive should be allegiance to a coherent body of political principles and a definite platform of political measures. Otherwise they fall into the slough in which the other two parties have engulfed themselves of becoming mere family parties with no definite convictions on public matters except that they ought to be in power, and quickly forfeit public confidence.” Now there you have the Creswell of 1914 saying: We stand for a party with definite principles, principles which we will not sacrifice merely in order to gain power. I think the Minister of Defence must since then have taken to reading Omar Khayyam, for his motto now is:
That distant drum will come nearer and nearer. Its sound will come from the people of this country whose discontent with this Government will make itself heard more and more as time goes on. The hon. member for Bloemfontein (South) said with a patronising air: “We will play fair with our new allies.” How have the Nationalist Party treated them in the matter of Cabinet appointments? When the Ministry was formed the hon. member for Denver (Col. Creswell) was made Minister of Defence to prevent him from getting at the mining houses, and the man who should have been, or at least thought he should have been Minister of Defence, has been made Minister of Agriculture. If there was one portfolio in the Cabinet for which the hon. member for Denver (Col. Creswell) was fitted by training and knowledge, it was the Ministry of Mines. Why was he not made Minister of Mines? Because they were afraid of what he would do in regard to East Coast labour and of his general mining policy. So that I say the Labour Party finds itself in the position of the tail of the dog and the two Labour members of the Cabinet find themselves in the same position. Before I leave this most interesting matter, I want to say this. If there are any members for whom I feel sorry, sincerely sorry, it is the hon. member for Benoni (Mr. Madeley), the hon. member for Brakpan (Mr. Waterston), and the hon. member for Bloemfontein (North) (Mr. Barlow)—the three musketeers who have lost their muskets! How long will they be able, I wonder, to sit still in face of this unholy alliance; how long will they remain comfortable in their present places? I want now to deal with the question of Provincial Government. One of the most difficult questions the country will have to tackle in the near future is this question of the relation of the Provincial Councils to the Union Government. That relation is comparable to that between a father and his four sons, only, unfortunately, those four sons are not living in separate households of their own and earning their own living; they are all being kept by the father. So it is for us to say when we contribute the greater portion of the revenue of these Provincial Councils that we should have some control over their expenditure. To take as an example the Transvaal Council. The total revenue of the Transvaal Provincial Council for 1923-’24 was £3,193,000. Of that nearly one and a half million was subsidy directly provided by the Union and nearly £600,000 assigned revenue. Only £1,100,000 was revenue raised by them in direct taxation. For every 20/- of revenue only 7/- was actual direct taxation. There you have the inherent vice of the Provincial system. You find with any public body that if you give it the money to spend without compelling it to raise that money, there is a tendency to extravagance. Because the Provincial Councils do not have to raise their expenditure, you get a veritable financial rake’s progress. It has been said by the Administrators that you never hear anybody get up in the Provincial Councils and advocate economy. There is a mad race between members to grab their share of the spoils and see who can get the most for his particular district. That is the vice of this system, and I should be sorry if the Minister of Finance is going to inaugurate his terms of office by supporting and increasing in any way the view of that system. I remember that the hon. Minister in making his Budget speech plumed himself on the fact that at last he was able to balance revenue and expenditure, although the South African Party had been running under a deficit for years past. But he should remember that he was able to do that because of the drastic economies of the late Government. Does he realize that it is because the S.A.P. Government economized especially in regard to Provincial subsidies that he is now able to balance his Budget. It should be remembered that it was he and his party, himself in particular, who opposed most strongly all efforts by the outgoing Government to effect such economies. By Act No. 5 of 1921 we limited the subsidy to be given in that financial year to Provincial Councils to the amount of the subsidy given in the previous financial year, but in regard to expenditure on education which is three-quarters of the total expenditure, we allowed an increase of 5 per cent. That was the year when the war bonus was taken from the public service. At that time the Government found itself confronted with a financial crisis of the greatest magnitude. What was the action of the Minister of Finance and his party? They fought that Bill tooth and nail and divided the House on the second and third readings, and also on the particular clause which laid down that particular principle. In 1922 our financial problem was still very acute; the need for economy was still more urgent, and we set an example by effecting drastic reductions in our own Union Budget. We asked the Provinces to help and cut down their subsidies to 9-10ths of the previous year and, provided that in future years there would be an increase of 3 per cent. instead of the 15 per cent. which led to so many of the evils from which we suffer. The hon. members opposite fought this Bill like the other and divided the House on the second reading and also opposed that clause. If they had had their way, we would be struggling under a burden in regard to our commitments to the Provinces which would have been quite impossible and our deficit instead of being 2 millions would have been five or six. That is what they did when they were in opposition. Now let us see what are they going to do that they are in power. There is one other point I want to deal with. I have noticed that a great deal of attention has been attracted in England to the problems of East Africa, and also that an influential committee composed of members of the British Parliament is going to visit East Africa. They are going into the native and the Asiatic questions there, and an attempt is to be made to form a great East African federation. If that comes about such a federation will be at our door. Is not that something to which this country and the Government cannot remain entirely oblivious? Some of my hon. friends on the benches opposite has shown a tendency to think that Africa ends at the Zambesi, and some go so far as to think, at the Limpopo. We cannot afford to remain ignorant of what is going on beyond our borders in the great hinterland beyond. Our future is bound up with Kenya and Tanganyika. There is a great outlet for our industries in the countries to the North including the Belgian Congo. We cannot afford to sit down and have our economic border either at the Limpopo or at the Zambesi. If Kenya is forced to admit within her borders an unchecked flow of Indians, which is the case at present, and if it becomes an Indian colony or preserve it will have the greatest effect on our national life in South Africa. We cannot shut our eyes to the gravity of the problem. There are already 35,000 Asiatics in Kenya, where they can enter freely. However, it is hoped to shut the door of Kenya to them as we have shut it in South Africa. If that is not done if will have a great repercussion in South Africa. The Indian question is one we share in common with Kenya, and it should be our duty to make an intimate study of the problems of that country. The Government should keep a watchful eye on the work of this committee which is now going to study conditions in East Africa, and if possible it should have a representative on that committee. I believe the future of South Africa is intimately connected with that country, and I feel that the members of this House would do well to study the future developments of Kenya and Tanganyika.
We of the Labour party are deeply touched by the interest taken by the hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Black-well) in our future fate. That is especially so in my own case because I was one of three who have been singled for special commiseration. Hon. members on that side are now in the cold shades of Opposition and we see no necessity to be firing off good ammunition at bad targets. The hon. member, in that insufferable way of his, has been giving us voluminous extracts from letters written by important personages. For instance, he quoted from a letter written by the Minister of Defence, the Leader of the Labour Party, a few years ago in answer to a communication made by the Prime Minister. That, as he said quite rightly, was an occasion when the Pact was looming in the offing, at any rate approaches were being made by one side. Since then those approaches have come to fruition. The letter then written has and had my hearty support. The hon. member (Mr. Blackwell) forgets that a tremendous amount has happened in South Africa since that time. The realization has been forced not only upon the Minister of Defence, but on the rest of us, the rank and file of the Labour Party, aye, and the whole public of South Africa, that there was a necessity to do something in order to rid South Africa of the incubus of the S.A.P. Never before has South Africa reached such a depth of degradation, people were becoming more and more impoverished, and that impoverishment was spreading over an ever-increasing number. Is it to be wondered at that one saw fit to alter one’s point of view as a result of the hard facts which had presented themselves to us? The hon. member (Mr. Blackwell) has read letters signed by Mr. Roos and Gen. Hertzog. I read into both those letters something quite different from the hon. member. Take the letter written by the Minister of Justice. The hon. member, with that subtle, clever way which lawyers have, read into it a direct invitation for the closing up entirely of the Dutch-speaking population of South Africa and the shutting out of the English-speaking section. He has got another motive in view, an ulterior motive. He wants not only to drive a wedge between the Nationalists and their Allies, but he also desires to set up feelings of suspicion in the minds of the general public of South Africa by means of getting reported in that sycophantic Press which his Party control. It won’t work. He has forgotten one important factor, and that is that the vast bulk of the English-speaking population of South Africa have already allied themselves with the Nationalist party. The letter of the Minister of Justice has my decided approval as an English-speaking South African. The hon. member (Mr. Blackwell) further expresses his intense interest in the Labour Party. He said that he and others always had the impression that the Pact would end on election night. The hon. member for Bloemfontein (South) (Dr. Steyn) very aptly and completely put the position. The Pact, as a Pact, which was purely an election expedient to get rid of the incubus of the S.A.P., did end on election night. I was one of those who viewed with trepidation the idea of Labour taking seats in a Cabinet which was not entirely composed of Labour men. In the course of that election campaign, when we really broke down racialism, I discovered by association, having put aside the prejudice that I had hitherto possessed, that I viewed the aspirations and expressed opinions of the Nationalist party from an entirely different angle. I learnt that I was now working in conjunction with a party that was at least composed of men who were in love with South Africa, and secondly I realized that they also in turn realized that we had aspirations for South Africa, wanted it to go ahead, and wanted to improve the country and make it a country in which our children and our children’s children should have a decent, free and comfortable life. In these particular aspirations we found ourselves to be as one, and when we got to the point of discussing schemes and aspirations, without any idea of personal gain or advantage, we found how nearly akin we were.
Wonderful. You can’t enter the fold again. The hon. member reminds me of a Dutch-speaking gentleman—like one of those I met in the campaign, and of whom I have something to say later on. The Pact ended, as I say, on election night, and the alliance began.
What about the divorce?
There must be a marriage first before you can have a divorce. Yours is only an arrangement. My hon. friend says that I never told the electors. Perhaps he did not read the papers, or the papers did not report me, but quite early in the campaign—
Was it with Garnsworthy?
No, it was not Garnsworthy, nor was it Jameson, nor other great criminals. Well, quite early in the campaign I told the electors the way we were drifting and said that the arrangement could not possibly end on election night. I said that to the public, and I want to say this to my friend: that although I opposed the representation of Labour in the Nationalist Cabinet, I found—and I can make this statement in total contradiction of the statement the hon. member made—(that there were thousands of electors on the Witwatersrand who were biting their fingers because Labour was represented in the Cabinet)—I found on the contrary quite the reverse. I was playing a lone hand, when I opposed the inclusion of Labour in the Cabinet. My hon. friend has drawn on his very vivid imagination if he said anything different. I ask hon. members here if the speech made by the hon. member of Bezuidenhout (Mr. Blackwell) did not in itself betray an effort at keeping up racialism in this country. As to the speech of the hon. member for Umvoti (the Hon. W. A. Deane), what was it but a very clever, subtle endeavour to fan the flame of racialism in this country. Let me remind the House of a little experience I had in the recent election campaign. In the course of a brief tour I visited Barberton, which constituency was formerly represented in this House by Lt.-Col. Fourie, D.S.O., and I found he was holding a meeting and that we were clashing. In order to pass the time away those of us who were also holding a meeting thought he could not do better than listen to the eloquent words of this South African Party member. I will not weary the House with a recital of his speech, but I will merely give you his peroration, and this is apropos the question of racialism which has been raised in this House. He was speaking in Dutch, and although the audience was composed of about two-thirds English, his remarks were translated into English, and he said: “Gentlemen when you go to the poll remember you are British.” The hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Blackwell) seemed to scoff at the idea that the Pact killed racialism, but it is a fact, never more to be revived. Incidentally the Pact also killed the South African Party—that is racialism. I do not think my Nationalist friends are sufficiently appreciated or the magnificent public work rendered by the South African Party—why, they brought about the Pact. The pact was born as the result of the way in which the South African Party handled the citizens of South Africa when they were trying to resist degradation. The Dutch and English-speaking people realized that something had to be done, and amidst all that time of death and disaster brought about deliberately by the South African Party there was born this Pact which means undoubtedly a bright future for South Africa. Now, I want to have a word to say to the Government. The problem of unemployment is a most serious one. In the past the South African Party being anxious to obtain a large reservoir of unemployed to use them against the employed and thus keep the general standard low—unlike them I wish the Government to realize that the dole and relief system is not the way to deal with the problem. One way to tackle the system is to stimulate industry. I am neither protectionist nor a free trader, but wherever industry requires protection then it should be given. Some people believe in the tariff system, but I do not, because when you protect by tariff you make the consumer pay a tremendous price for his goods. I much prefer assisting industries by bounty wherever possible. But an inseparable part of the business is that when you assist an industry you should protect the workpeople engaged in that industry and the Government should lay it down that the condition of the people are such as civilized people can rightly claim to have. When you have endeavoured to establish the industry the State must be prepared to embark upon a condition of State enterprise. For years we have been practically the third largest wool-producing country in the world, and yet beyond two or three timid little efforts on the part of small companies and individuals to start wool factories we are manufacturing only a few blankets—of excellent quality it is true. Are we to lose the opportunity of building up industries because we are afraid to start State industries? Surely the example of Australia should give us some encouragement, and no fetish must be allowed to stand in the way of the development of this country. If we had large wool factories here, the farmer would get a fair price for his wool and the consumer would get his goods cheaper, because the manufacturers would not have to pay double freights and other charges. I understand that adulterated leather is not allowed to come in, yet boots made of adulterated leather are permitted to enter the Union. Now let us come to the question of ships. Then he went on to give us some lurid examples. He told us about America. He said the American embarkation into State ships was a failure. So it was. They never embarked into State ships. They had that system of control which is dear to the heart of the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger). He admitted even if they were State ships run in the interests of the people—fancy calling those things State ships, when the blessed things were made out of concrete. I may be a foolish individual, but I would never attempt to make ships which were going to do anything out of concrete. He said this year, quoting from the “Economist,” he said the Canadian steamships this year had lost two million sterling, nine million dollars, but he forgot to tell us at the same time—and if his argument is sound it applies equally to our railways out here—he forgot to tell us that they lost 50 millions on their railways. So if there is a general depression over there and they are making a general all round loss, it is only fair that the hon. member should have told this House and not have confined his remarks to the ships. If you run your railways like that in South Africa you should shut them down and run them by private enterprise. Then he quoted France. That is by no means on all fours. That was a very timid effort. But when he gets to Australia he is very wide of the mark indeed. He said Australia at the beginning made a profit, he admitted that at the beginning they did well, but latterly, he said, they were making a loss. He did not show this House that that loss was due to the fact that the Government which took over Australia was not concerned in making their steamships a success. He tried his utmost to make his ships fail. Here I am making a direct accusation against the hon. member. He kept on cutting down the rates of payment on them. He so arranged his bookkeeping that he tried to make them a failure, and in spite of all they were a gigantic success. He took 5 per cent. for renewals, 5 per cent. for depreciation and 5 per cent. for capital. That is the way things are done nowadays, and perhaps under the present system of finance it is quite correct However, I do object to 5 per cent. for renewals and 5 per cent. depreciation being combined at the same time. The Australian fleet was a gigantic success, and it must be remembered that they were bought during the war period at four times their normal price, and within two years they had paid for themselves. Accordingly you will realize that the Australians dared own steamers which were a tremendous success. I urge upon the Minister of Railway and Harbours not to be too much inclined to listen the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger). You, sir, have succeeded him in this portfolio. You have decided to reverse his policy in many ways, and I appeal to you to continue this reversal motion with regard to State steamships. Take it as your guide that what he did not want to do you should do. What has been the result of this policy to the country? My friends on the Government side know quite well that when our produce has reached enormous proportions producers often found themselves in the unhappy position of not having bottoms enough to carry away the produce. I understand that there have already been arrangements made between English steamship lines trading with South Africa and German lines whereby there shall be no competition; that is a very serious thing and must engage the attention of the people who are trying to improve the condition of South Africa. If you have a State line of steamers you can concentrate them on any port or any point you like to, and with advantage to South Africa. I would now address a word or two to the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs. The late Minister of Posts and Telegraphs had to inform this House a year or two ago that we were tremendously short of telephones, that men were unemployed, that they were going to discharge more men from the Post Office, and that he had made an urgent appeal to the Minister of Finance for £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 for telephones which were urgently required, and that that appeal had been refused. I have yet to learn that that shortage of telephones has been caught up. I would put it to the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs that he should consult his friend the Minister of Finance and endeavour to arrange that a sum of three, four or five millions as required for telephones should be transferred to his account and that he should supply the telephones required and thus not only prevent men from being discharged from his department, but be able to take on considerably more. In conclusion, I would content myself by expressing the hope that this Government will fulfil the great promise formed in connection with it and that the turning out of the South African Party Government will be to the future advantage of this country.
The debate was adjourned until 8th August.
The House adjourned at