House of Assembly: Vol2 - MONDAY 11 AUGUST 1924
Dr. VAN DER MERWE, introduced by Mr. C. A. van Niekerk and Mr. Conroy, made, and subscribed to, the oath, and took his seat.
Maj. Van ZYL, as Chairman, brought up the First Report of the Select Committee on Railways and Harbours, as follows—
- (1) Your Committee begs to report that sums amounting to £4,390 18s. 4d., shown in paragraph 60 on page 104 of the Controller and Auditor-General’s Report on the Railways and Harbours Accounts [U.G. 46—’23], as Unauthorized Expenditure, require to be covered by a Vote on the Appropriation Accounts.
- (2) The £4,390 18s. 4d. is allocated as follows:
Railways—Revenue Services, £4,390 18s. 4d.
- (3) Your Committee recommends the sum of £4,390 18s. 4d. for appropriation by Parliament.
G. Brand Van Zyl, Chairman.
Report to be considered on 13th August.
Mr. Speaker, as Chairman, brought up the Second Report of the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders, as follows:
- (1) That Mr. Speaker be authorized to reprint Volume 1 of the Standing Rules and Orders, “Public Business,” with such alterations in the classification, headings, side notes, cross-references, annexures, etc., as he may consider necessary: and
- (2) that the following amendments, to take effect from the commencement of next session, be adopted, namely:
(v) Motions for reviving bills under S.O. 177.
The omission in lines 1 and 2 of paragraph (vii) of “to go into Committee of the whole House”; and the omission in the penultimate line on the same page of “(iii) to (vii)” and the substitution of “(iv) to (viii)”.
(vii) For the postponement of an Order of the day.
E. G. Jansen, Chairman.
Mr. SPEAKER stated that unless notice of objection was given on or before the 14th instant the report would be considered as adopted.
First Order read: Adjourned debate on motion for House to go into Committee of Supply, to be resumed.
I wish to draw the attention of the House to Standing Order No. 64 (2), which provides that a member shall not converse aloud in the House, and to Standing Order No. 65 (1), which provides that no member shall interrupt another member whilst speaking, except for certain specified purposes. I am afraid that there is a growing tendency on the part of hon. members to overlook these two very salutary rules of the House, with the result that it is sometimes difficult for an hon. member to make himself heard above the general conversation, while at other times he is considerably handicapped by continual interruptions. Apt interjections are often the salt of debate, and whilst I do not wish for a moment to lay down that there should be no interjections, I do think there is a tendency to carry interruption too far. It will considerably facilitate the business of the House and render the delicate duties of Mr. Speaker and the Chairman of Committees less difficult if hon. members will keep in mind the two Standing Orders to which I have drawn attention.
Debate adjourned on the 7th instant was resumed.
The hon. members for Somerset (Mr. Fourie) and for Durban (Umbilo) (Mr. Reyburn) tried to rob the Opposition of their only argument, namely, racialism. That was not fair. This was the only argument ever since the party of mine capitalists came into existence in South Africa. It is very old, and it was used at the time of the Farmers’ Protection Society by the late Jan Hofmeyr, who was called a Parnell or the chief Phenian. It was used against the Afrikander Bond and against Paul Kruger before the Jameson Raid, and again before the Anglo-Boer War. It was used against Gen. Botha in 1910, and ever since then against the Prime Minister (Gen. Hertzog). Without this pet argument of racialism the party who serves the political mine capitalists would not be able to exist, but let them be consistent. The hon. member for Bezuidonhout (Mr. Blackwell) tried to make out that the appeal of the Minister of Justice to members of the old S.A.P.—that is to say, to those who were members of the S.A.P. before their wedding with the Unionists to join the Nationalist Party, shows racialism. But similar attempts at re-union were made prior to 1921. Why did the hon. member for Bezuidenhout, and his friends not disapprove of it then, and why did he not attack his own leader, and the Right Hon. F. S. Malan who advocated re-union? When the attempt at reunion proved abortive they deprecated it, and they accused the Nationalists of being too Republican to re-unite with loyal South Africans. If re-union of the representatives of the permanent part of the population, especially those in the country, was in the interests of South Africa in 1920, why should it not be now? But the reason for my rising is to give the Government some suggestions for consideration during the recess. The Cabinet has done a considerable amount of work since it took over, and this has proved an unpleasant surprise for its enemies. The abolition of the medicine tax and the reduction of the tax on roll tobacco are steps in the right direction. But why does the Minister of Finance not at once state openly that he will do away with the tax on roll tobacco next session? This tax nits the poorest class of farmer, and is the cause that production is now only about half of what it was in 1921. The whole of the tax practically goes in the cost of collection, and it is the cause of much worry and unpleasantness. The Labour party consistently voted with the Nationalist party against this tax, and lately the S.A.P. also agreed that the tax should be abolished. I would also like to ask the hon. Minister of Finance to do away with the special customs duties on superphosphates and basic slag. Cheaper production of wheat and bread is of vital importance to the consumer as well as to the farmer. The old Cape Government realized this, and consequently did not allow the guano islands to fall into the hands of speculators, and they took care to see that the freight on imported fertilizers was low, and that there was no duty on them. But the Smuts Government decided a few years ago not only to have a dumping duty on superphosphates but also a so-called freight dumping duty plus an exchange customs duty. All this was done at the request of the hon. member for Beaconsfield (Sir David Harris), who represents De Beers. The excuse was that the local fertilizer factory “Capex” had to be protected. To protect this factory the Smuts Government prohibited the sale of superphosphates at a lower price than £4 2s., no matter what price it was imported at. The importer could take all the profit for himself. It is no wonder that “Capex” then found it more advantageous to import superphosphates than to manufacture them. During the past year enormous quantities of superphosphates were imported by De Beers and others at the cost of the farmers. It is alleged that the competition by “Capex” kept down the price of superphosphates. There is now no ground for this assertion, because it is impossible to have a monopoly in superphosphates. This article is imported from different countries, and a number of companies have their own agents. The co-operative societies of Malmesbury and Caledon are amongst the direct importers. In 1914-’15, when freight dumping and the competition of “Capex” were unknown factors, one could import superphosphates at £3 12s. 6d., and farmers could get it at £3 17s 6d. Now the State compels them to pay £4 2s., and I hope the Government will take measures to assist the white farmers too. If they cannot reduce the excise duty on brandy they can at least increase that on whisky. The customs duty on whisky in England is 72s. per gallon, and on our brandy 73s. per gallon. There is no reason whatsoever why the duty on whisky, which is at present 37s. 6d. per gallon, should not be increased. It would be a good thing also if the Government could see its way to carry out the recommendations of the Rooth report, regarding the supply of wine to kaffirs in the compounds. I also hope that there will be no more military camps for our boys. Those camps may be useful, but the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. During the recess the Government should also take into consideration the establishment of a diamond cutting industry. The De Beers Company controls the world market in diamonds, but nearly all the cutting and polishing is done overseas. Such a state of affairs does no credit to the statesmen of South Africa. An export tax of 20 per cent, on rough diamonds would compel De Beers to have the cutting and polishing done locally. I congratulate the Minister of Lands on his decision to give poor South Africans a chance in the settlements in Zululand, and the Prime Minister’s statement that the interests of education would be protected gave me satisfaction. Of course funds are required for all these things, but I am sure that the income on the mines could easily bear taxes to the extent of another million sterling, especially as they are making £2,000,000 profit from the gold premium. The Government should also be able to economise greatly in the Defence Department, where there are an equal number of officers and men, and the sum of £61,000 for the High Commissioner in London can also be considerably reduced. A Consul with a few clerks could easily do the work which is now being done by the High Commissioner and a large staff of unilingual officials. If the Cabinet carries out my suggestions they will have as much credit for their work next year as they have now.
In the course of his speech the hon. Minister referred to the report of the Durban Elevator Commission and as this is the only opportunity we have of referring to the matter, and intend to take advantage of it. The report of the Commission is an important document and has created a feeling of doubt in the public mind as to the fitness of the men at the head of the Railway Administration to continue to hold their posts. The report paints a gloomy picture. Everyone connected with the matter, except the Railway’s own engineers, is made to appear stupid or even worse. I, in addition to my own work, took over Mr. Burton’s duties as Railway Minister for some months including the time when Mr. Litlejohn Philip was appointed Consulting Engineer for the second time and he naturally came in for a share of the blame. He did not complain of this solely on his own behalf because Messrs. Rissik and Orr, the other members of the Railway Board and especially Sir William Hoy, the general manager, have reason to feel aggrieved. Their conduct is said to have been unbusinesslike, unwise and uncritical, and the impression is conveyed that they favoured Mr. Philip’s firm, but, as will be shown, the Commissioners’ report in these and other respects will not bear close examination. I say that the Commissioners failed to grasp the position as it presented itself to the Railway Board and the general manager at the time the appointment was made and have condemned them in the light of subsequent events which no one could possibly have foreseen. That is the first complaint against the Commissioners. Secondly, when condemning the members of the Railway Board and the general manager the Commissioners failed to state in their report the reasons given by them in their evidence for the action they took The case for the board and general manager ought to have been fully set out. It is true that this can be found in the notes of evidence, but these notes are not to be published, and even if they were published not one person in a thousand would read them. If the case for the Board and the general manager had been set out the public would have had information to enable it to form an opinion. As it is they are left wondering whether the men who recently received much praise for having put our railways on a sound footing, financially and otherwise, lost their mental balance when dealing with the elevators. It can be shown that this need not be assumed, but that the serious loss of £212,000 sustained by the Railway Administration was caused partly by engineering mistakes and partly by physical conditions of which every one concerned was ignorant. The Commissioners condemn the general manager for recommending and the Railway Board for adopting his recommendation, that Mr. Philip be appointed consulting engineer for the second time because that gentleman was not a civil engineer with experience in foundation work. The reason for his appointment was that he had in the beginning of 1920 after about 12 months’ work reported to the Railway Administration on the question of the adoption of the elevator system in South Africa and his report was regarded as a masterly one. He had designed the Durban, Cape Town and country elevators after close investigation and after borings were made to determine the best foundations required for the Durban elevator and he had also prepared a complete set of plans and specifications and these accompanied his report. It was thought by the General Manager and the Railway Board that the engineer who had reported on the scheme and prepared the plans and specifications should generally supervise the carrying out of the work, and he, the speaker, thoroughly agreed with them. In appointing Mr. Philip for this purpose the usual practice was followed. It is the general rule that the engineer who prepares a scheme which is adopted is employed to see that it is properly carried out. Evidence to this effect was given to the Commissioners, although they do not mention it, and it was also shown that in New South Wales the erection of the port elevator which was supervised by the engineers who designed the scheme was a success, whereas the construction of 80 country elevators which the Government engineers supervised was a failure. Our experience has been that all the elevators, 36 in number, were a success, excepting the one at Durban. The departmental engineers were opposed to Mr. Philip’s appointment as a consultant to supervise the work and, as the Commission’s report shows, their views were considered by the Railway Board and the general manager. The railway engineers also gave evidence on this point before the Commission. They said that they were competent to supervise the work, and that they had represented to the general manager at the time that a consultant was required only to advise with regard to machinery, alternative designs and other matters that were submitted to him, and that he need not visit South Africa. The Board and the general manager held that our railway engineers, being ignorant of the proposed elevator work involving an expenditure of about two millions, were not so likely to make a good job as a man who had 30 years’ experience of such work. The report finds fault with the general manager for recommending the appointment of Mr. Philip against the advice of his technical officers. Is the general manager of our railways to have no discretion? Is he to be a rubber stamp and be obliged to say “Yes” or “No” according to the opinions of his advisers. A general manager, a Railway Board and a Minister must, like other people in responsible positions, exercise their own discretion after due consideration, and they have at times to disregard the advice they get. For instance, the departmental engineers were against the appointment of Mr. Mansel as engineer-in-charge of the reconstruction of the foundations of the Durban elevator. They agreed that he was the most suitable man, but said that his appointment would be a slight on another engineer. The general manager, very properly, ignored their advice and appointed the best man. Professional etiquette had to give way to the public interest. Mr. Philip’s original scheme included plans for the foundations of the Durban elevator after three borings had been made showing a bed of soft clay at a depth of from 30 to 74 feet. He proposed ferro-concrete piles 60 feet long, 16 by 16 inches. Subsequently seven other borings were made and the harbour engineer reported that the first borings were unreliable, and that there was no need for specially long piles as a bed of very hard dark clay was proved to exist. Mr. Tippett, the engineer-in-chief of the railways, assisted by Mr. Clark, accordingly prepared a design for 42 feet piles in the annexe part of the elevator and 35 feet in the working house, with provision for lengthening them if necessary, the section of these piles being 14 by 14 inches. Before Mr. Philip’s second appointment he had heard of this bed of hard clay, and having seen Mr. Tippett’s design he thought that still further shortening of the piles would be safe, and he told the general manager that he could save £40,000 on Mr. Tippett’s design. This promised saving was an additional reason for appointing Mr. Philip. As events turned out, not only did no saving result, but as is admitted a heavy loss occurred. But this loss two years later could not have been foreseen. If Mr. Tippett’s scheme had been proceeded with, and it had been afterwards disclosed that the advice of an experienced engineer like Mr. Philip had been disregarded and £40,000 had been fruitlessly spent the general manager and Railway Board would have been severely criticized. The Commissioners say that when the general manager was told by Mr. Philip of his ability to save £40,000 he went against the railway engineer’s advice and acted impulsively in recommending Mr. Philip’s appointment. It is true that at one stage the general manager thought that the construction of the foundations of the Durban elevator could have been entrusted to his departmental engineers, but it must be remembered that these foundations did not represent more than one twentieth of the total cost of the two port elevators and the 34 others. There were many other intricate problems, financial and engineering, in connection with the whole scheme where the advice of an engineer with experience in this class of work was essential, and when Mr. Philip was appointed he was given power to amend Mr. Tippett’s design for the Durban foundations if he saw fit. Instead of the general manager and the Railway Board acting without due consideration and impulsively, the evidence placed before the Commission shows that although Mr. Philip was not appointed till November, 1920, the general manager on 14th July previous wrote to him, the speaker, saying that “to appoint anyone else would be like swopping horses while crossing a stream.” After that Mr. Tippett was consulted and reported; a committee of technical officers also considered and reported on the matter; the general manager discussed it with the Minister and the Board; Mr. Philip met the Board on the subject; the Board considered the general manager’s recommendation and the objections put forward by the technical officers, and only after all this procedure was the appointment made. How the Commissioners could say that the Railway Board and the general manager acted blindly and impulsively in view of the evidence they heard is a mystery. The Commissioners say in their report that a blunder was made in appointing Mr. Philip because he was a mechanical engineer; he was not a civil engineer and he had no experience of foundation work. On the other hand, Mr. Philip in his sworn evidence stated that he had studied and watched elevator foundation work for 30 years and he claimed to have practical experience. But because he had not been personally in actual charge of foundation work the Commissioners brushed aside his experience. When it was resolved in 1918 to get an engineer to report on grain elevators the late Mr. Schreiner, the High Commissioner, advertised that the man to be appointed would have to advise among other points on their design and construction and prepare plans and specifications. In addition to stating that he was a mechanical engineer, that he had had many years’ experience in every type of elevator, Mr. Philip produced testimonials from British Government departments, dock authorities and companies. These showed that he had represented his firm in designing and erecting elevators as well as in supplying machinery for elevators for many years with success. For instance, one of these was from the Ministry of Shipping, which stated that “Mr. Philip is recognized as a leading English expert in grain storage and handling.”
It shows that testimonials are sometimes not worth the paper they are written on.
Well, it shows that Air. Philip was not a charlatan, and successfully carried out schemes in various parts of the world, and that when Mr. Schreiner suggested that he should be appointed he had good grounds for making his recommendation. In that connection I would like to say that Mr. Schreiner took the precaution of appointing a Committee of business men in London, to consider these testimonials, and they agreed with Mr. Schreiner that Mr. Philip was the best man for our purpose.
For the superstructure; not the foundations.
No, there was nothing ever stated about the foundations at the time. The High Commissioner, after consulting a committee formed in London to help him in the selection recommended Mr. Philip as the best man available and he received his first appointment. The testimonials say nothing about Mr. Philip’s qualifications regarding foundation work, but at the time no one doubted these. In the circumstances Mr. Philip’s definite assurances that he was qualified by experience for all parts of the work, although he was not a civil engineer, were accepted, and when the general manager and the Railway Board appointed him as a consultant they did so with regard to the whole scheme of elevators, and not simply with an eye on the foundations of one of them. When a consulting engineer is appointed on a scheme involving problems of civil, electrical and mechanical engineering it is rarely found that a man is an authority in all these branches, and the rule is to appoint one who is known to be an expert in the predominating part of the work, leaving him to get expert advice on other branches where he feels he is weak. Mr. Tippett, and other technical officers who reported against Mr. Philip’s appointment, threw no doubt on his qualifications regarding foundation work or anything else. The point they made was that they could undertake the supervising of the whole scheme, and that the appointment of an outside consulting engineer would be a reflection on them. Not only was no doubt cast on Mr. Philip’s qualifications, but even 18 months later a committee of senior departmental engineers—consisting of Messrs. Wallace, Clark and Nicholson—who enquired into the trouble that had arisen in connection with the Durban foundations and spent 8 days on the site discussing the problem with Mr. Philip, had to fault to find with his competency. On the contrary, Mr. Wallace, the chief civil engineer who succeeded Mr. Tippett wrote to the general manager in June, 1922, that Mr. Littlejohn Philip is a particularly able man and he naturally wishes to have his own suggestions adopted and we have met him as far as we have felt able to do so.” In another part of the same letter he wrote: “As I said before Mr. Littlejohn Philip is an able engineer who has a good business experience, has done a large amount of contract work and is, therefore, well able to deal with a man like Menkins.” Menkins was the contractor for the construction of the elevators. This testimony was contained in the letter enclosing the report of the committee on the foundations. If Mr. Wallace did not discover Mr. Philip’s alleged incompetence in June, 1922, after eight days’ discussion with him as to the foundation, it is grossly unfair for the Commissioners to blame the general manager and the Railway Board for not having done so in November, 1920. It would only have been fair to these gentlemen if the Commissioners had drawn attention to Mr. Wallace’s opinion in their report. The Commissioners do not mention that Mr. Wallace admitted before the Commission that when the departmental engineers were unable to solve the difficulties in connection with the Cape Town elevator Mr. Philip succeeded in doing so. The Commissioners castigate the general manager and Railway Board for having appointed Mr. Philip as consultant and allowed his firm to tender as a sub-contractor for machinery. It must be admitted frankly that it is a sound principle that a man cannot serve two masters whose interests conflict, but the circumstances were peculiar in this case. For the good reasons already given it was thought essential to appoint Mr. Philip as consultant and supervisor, and as the number of makers of machinery for elevators was limited it was deemed inadvisable to prevent one of the best known from competing for the supply of machinery to the main contractor. If the Railway Administration had insisted that Spencer & Company should not tender, the services of Mr. Philip as engineer could not have been secured, because they naturally thought it was more to their advantage to be free to compete for the supply of the machinery than to permit their managing director to earn £4,000 a year. Although it was thought necessary to depart from principle in this matter, it is satisfactory to note that the Commissioners admit that, although Mr. Philip occupied this dual position, no faulty material was supplied by Spencer & Company, that no favours were shown to that firm by Mr. Philip, and that there was no increase in the cost. In view of these facts the Commissioners use unwarranted language when they say that the Railway Administration was obsessed with the idea that it was essential to have Spencer & Company’s machinery that they limited their gaze to that machinery and that the general manager made a point that Spencer’s machinery was indispensable. This description of the attitude of the general manager and the Board is not only unwarranted and in just, but it is directly in conflict with the specific evidence given repeatedly by these gentlemen. When the chairman, in the course of the evidence, made a similar statement it was promptly repudiated by the Board, and this is on record. Although I had ceased to act is Railway Minister when tenders for the construction of the elevators were considered, it is necessary for me to refer to them, as the commissioners alleged that Mr. Philip’s dual position influenced his recommendations with regard to them. Here again, however, they said it was not possible to assess the consequences in terms of money. Mr. Menkins, who got the contract for all the work in connection with the 36 port and country elevators, excepting the foundations of the Durban one which had previously been given to a local firm, was allowed to amend his tender as it did not comply with the specifications. The Commissioners say that it ought to have been rejected and fresh tenders advertised for. The facts were that Mr. Menkins original tender was £930,836 less than the second lowest tender for the entire work, and £628,919 less than a combination of the next lowest tenders if the country and port elevator work was separated. He was asked to amend his tender, partly because it was so favourable and partly because he was a much more experienced grain elevator contractor than the next lowest tenderers. When the original tenders were opened quite a number of persons knew the figures, and an additional reason for not calling for fresh tenders was the danger that Mr. Menkins might, during the weeks that would have to elapse, get to know the amounts of the other tenders and increase his own price considerably. Mr. Menkins’ revised tender,, which was accepted, was £749,316 less than the next lowest individual tender, and £477,399 less than a combination of the next lowest tenders if the work was separated. Mr. Menkins was also required to get fresh tenders for machinery, with the result that Henry Simon Ltd., got the subcontract for the machinery for the Cape Town elevator and Spencer & Company (Mr. Philip’s firm) got the sub-contract for all the other machinery, these being the lowest tenders’ in each case. Spencer & Company’s second tender was £188,900 less than their first price. In view of these large savings it must be admitted that the action of Mr. Jagger and the other members of the Railway Board in not rejecting Mr. Menkins’ first tender was fully justified. The Commissioners find that it was unwise to require Mr. Philip only to make brief visits to South Africa. He was actually 71 weeks in this country between September, 1921, and April, 1924, and there was only one period of crisis in the work of the foundations during his absence, and at that time our own engineers were supervising the work and sent reassuring reports to the general manager. To understand the position it is essential to bear in mind that the Durban elevator is designed to consist of two distinct parts built close to each other. One of these, containing the machinery and storage bins, is called the working house, and the other, containing additional storage bins, is called the annexe. The floor of the working house is 12 feet lower than the floor of the annexe. Each building was intended to stand on a thick concrete slab supported by piles driven into the soft soil. The piles in the annexe area were driven in according to Mr. Philip’s amended scheme and the foundation was placed on them, but when the soil was excavated for the working house at a lower level, and the piles in that area were being driven in, they began to move, and eventually the slab of the annexe also gave way and the whole work became a failure. A mass of engineering evidence given to the Commissioners indicates that the main cause of the failure was constructing the higher level of the annexe before the lower level of the working house, but although the public interest requires that the true engineering cause of the disaster should be made known this is not evident in the Commission’s Report. They blame Mr. Philip’s pile scheme but miss the main point. The uncontroverted evidence given before the Commission shows this. Mr. W. H. Clark, resident engineer, in a written statement handed to the Commission, said: “At this point I wish to state however that it is my considered opinion that this collapse of the annexe was not due to the low factor of safety criticised above in paragraphs 18 and 20, but to the fact of the plastic clay under the annexe having squeezed out into the working house area, owing to the unequal loading of the two areas. This view of the matter brought me to the conclusion that it would have been better to put the annexe and working house foundations on one continuous slab at the lower, that is, the working house, level, and to have constructed both foundations simultaneously. But had the clay been hard as was supposed after the second borings were taken, this precaution was unnecessary.” The Ingham Committee, in their Report to the Administration dated 2nd May, 1923, say: “Had the working house foundations, which are at a considerably lower level than those of the annexe been dealt with first, it is probable that the difficulties encountered would have been greatly reduced.” Mr. Kanthack, in his evidence before the Commission, made this statement: “… the over whelming chief cause of the trouble in my opinion, was, the construction of the annexe foundations first, to be followed later by the working house foundations, which are at a considerably lower level.” At a later stage he said:“…. I go as far as saying that had the working house foundations been constructed first, it is quite possible that the pile design in the annexe which was adopted would have answered the purpose.” Similar evidence was given before the Select Committee of this House last session by Messrs. Nicholson and Mackenzie, both experienced engineers. It is bare justice to Mr. Philip to say that his scheme of commencing work on the annexe first, which proved a failure, was in this respect similar to that of the Administration’s engineers. He is condemned and they are commended by the Commissioners. Another cause of the failure and the loss that resulted was the report on the second set of seven borings which misled Mr. Tippett and caused him to suggest shorter piles than Mr. Philip’s first scheme, and which led to Mr. Philip still further shortening them. The Commission gives full details of the first three borings, but no details of the second seven borings, although it was these that misled the engineers. The first reason given by the Commission for its indictment of Mr. Philip’s, engineering methods is “his insufficient exploration of the ground into which he had to drive his piles.” It should be remembered in this connection that the Administration’s engineers prepared a scheme and called for tenders on the results of ten borings and one test pile, whereas Mr. Philip was not content with ten borings and one test pile, but drove 16 test piles in addition. After the piles in the working house area had proved a failure and before the foundation of the annexe had given way and in order to save that foundation, the Administration entered into another contract with Mr. Menkins to remove the piles in the working house area and sink cylinders to the rock instead. These cylinders unfortunately failed as the piles did and for the same reason, namely, the soil under the annexe foundation was forced into the working house area and threw the cylinders out of position. Perhaps the most serious of the Commissioner’s findings is that Mr. Philip was guilty of “culpable negligence” in July, 1921, in concluding the Menkins’ cylinder contract with a contractor who was incompetent and who was given a free hand to do the work. The correct date of this contract was July, 1922, not July, 1921, as stated by the Commission. Mr. Menkins’ written proposals, which specified that he must have a free hand in carrying out the work, were submitted to Messrs. Wallace and Mackenzie, and Mr. Wallace wrote to the general manager recommending the acceptance of Mr. Menkins’ offer. The Commission find that Mr. Philip’s act in acquiescing in this contract constituted “culpable negligence,” but state that the action of the Administration’s engineers in recommending acceptance of Mr. Menkins’ offer was “undoubtedly justified.” One may be pardoned for saying that this is not very convincing. In one of the most severe passages of the Report the Commission point out that in June, 1922, the consulting engineer “definitely rejected a cylinder scheme on what he believed to be sound grounds and adopted a different scheme as being the proper remedy. A month later he receded from this position and acquiesced in a cylinder scheme which he knew to be dangerous and uncertain.” These actions are stated by the Commission to indicate incompetence, lack of conscience, vacillation, uncertainty and indecision. It should be known that the Administration’s chief engineers were associated with the consulting engineer and signed reports to the general manager clearly recommending each of the above decisions. From the moment that the trouble first began—in May, 1922—until the end, the Administration’s chief engineers recommended every engineering decision that was taken. The Commissioners state that “It is not unremarkable that the wheel should have come full circle. The work, which in October, 1920, it was thought that the departmental engineers were unqualified to execute, is now being carried out by them.” This is quite misleading. When the Durban foundations finally became hopeless the Administration’s engineers themselves advised that the Administration should appoint a committee of outside engineers, Messrs. Ingham, Kanthack and Mackenzie, who drew up a scheme for the reconstruction of the work, and the former two gentlemen said they would accept no responsibility for the success of this scheme unless they supervised the execution of the work by monthly visits. Since Mr. Ingham’s death the supervision has been carried out by Mr. Kanthack. In other words, the difficulty was only finally solved by going outside for advice, which the Commission condemn those concerned for doing in the first instance. The House must see that this long and formidable report, which has so impressed the public mind and appears to be the result of a thorough enquiry, must be taken with reservation. It does not get to the root of the matter and indicate the true engineering cause of the regrettable failure of the work on the Durban elevator and conveys a misleading impression of the actions of the persons chiefly concerned. I would much prefer to be responsible for the appointment of Mr. Philip than for the report of the Commission of Enquiry.
I know that the Government has not had an opportunity yet of stating a definite financial policy. I am sorry, however, that more could not be done to meet the tobacco growers. They are heavily taxed and they are the people who can bear it least. If something is not done speedily for the relief of the tobacco growers many of them will become poor whites. The tobacco growers of Piet Retief have suffered heavy losses and, on top of that, they had the tobacco tax, which almost sounded their death knell. The local allowances for railway officials at Volksrust are on a much lower scale than in Johannesburg, though the cost of living is just as high. Consequently, there ought to be no differentiation. The hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Blackwell) said we should keep our eyes on the northern parts of Africa, namely Kenya. Perhaps so. It would be better, however, if we kept our eyes on Swaziland. At the present moment there is a lack of proper supervision by the Union officials on the borders of Swaziland. Things are very uncertain there, and this affects the Union adversely. The farmers go there with their sheep, there is no proper supervision on the borders, and there is great danger of infection from scab. The Government ought to consider the advisability of incorporating Swaziland in the Union. It is a good part of the country and well suited for settlements and grazing. I am glad that the hon. member for Ermelo (Col.-Cdt. Collins) drew attention to the presence of oil in Ermelo district. We badly require it. I want to draw the attention of the Government to the fact that there are great coal fields belonging to the State in the Wakkerstroom district. All that is required is a railway of 15 to 20 miles, when sufficient coal can be obtained for all the requirements of the State. It fills me with pity and concern when I see that old persons have to struggle without any help. At present their care is left to philanthropical societies, which do good work, but cannot do all that is necessary. The state should take up this matter.
There are just one or two matters that I wish to touch upon. I would like to ask the Minister of Finance if during the recess he will take into consideration the question of differentiation between the local allowance paid to a single officer and that paid to a married officer. It will be remembered that this caused quite a stir during the election and the Minister of Justice gave it as his considered opinion that the local allowance should be paid to the single man on the same lines as the married man This question really arose when the matter of regarding came before the House about two years ago. In the general discussion that ensued, to help the married man, it was suggested that the local allowance to the single officials should be one-half that paid to the married officials. It was also suggested that this one-half local allowance should be paid to the single official on the railway. The Railway Board contested that and we now have the anomaly that in the Railway Service the single official gets the full allowance while in the Public Service he gets one-half. In all the branches of industry, trades and professions, where this local allowance is paid, no differentiation is made between the single man and the married man; the same rate is paid to both. There are one or two points that I would like to bring before the Minister of Railways. I would like to say how pleased I am that the Minister of Railways has adopted the policy of the Leader of the Opposition in regard to the construction of our railway stock. I am quite satisfied that in time to come, if this becomes the settled policy of the Government, the Administration will be able to put in up-to-date machinery and in the very near future not only will no loss ensue, but we shall be able to compete successfully with overseas. There are one or two other points in regard to the effect of railway rates on the cost of living. I make no apology for returning to this, because I endeavoured to bring these points home when I sat on the beaches opposite and I hope that members representing the northern parts of the Union who are interested in railway rates will bring these matters to the attention of the Minister. Whenever a question affecting the rates to the interior was discussed the late Minister of Railways replied that the railway had to be run on business principles, and he referred us to section 127 of the Act of Union. When the framers of the Act of Union had this question before them, I may say, they took a different view to that taken by the late Minister of Railways. I remember that when meetings to discuss the advisability of entering the Union took place in the Transvaal, Article 127 was held up as the Magna Charta of the Union. At that time the Transvaal was in a fairly flourishing condition, high wages, no unemployment and no income tax, and we were a little bit diffident as to what was to be our position, as we knew there were large losses on the Cape Railways and Harbours. I remember that at a big meeting in Pretoria the hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) said: “You have nothing to fear; Article 127 is your Magna Charta.” The late Minister of Railways met this question by saying that the Railways must be run on business principles, but he forgets to read the latter part of the paragraph. Section 127 reads: “The railways and harbours of the Union shall be administered on business principles, due regard being had to agricultural and industrial development within the Union and promotion, by means of cheap transport, of the settlement of an agricultural and industrial population in the inland portions of the Union.” I may say that that latter portion of the paragraph has always been overlooked by the previous Minister of Railways, and I hope that when the present Minister is framing his programme for the future he will read the whole of the paragraph. The position to-day is that, instead of being relieved of heavy burdens, the railways are continually being loaded with charges. The report of the Railway Committee showed that at present the users of the railways are paying rates which are 37 per cent, higher than those of 1914 and that they have paid something like five millions per annum more since 1914 Costs have been added to the railways which, I think, could be fairly met from general revenue. There is the question that I have referred to before of the £13,000,000. That has been continually before the Railway and Harbour Committee, but they have come to no decision about the matter. The Minister of Railways shelters himself behind the position of the Public Accounts Committee. Then we have the contribution to the Messina Copper Mine of £10,000. That is one of the policies of the Government to bring this mine to the producing stage, but I contend that that is an amount which should be paid from some other fund. Then you have the losses on the branch lines amounting approximately to £350,000 a year. There are forty-two branch lines working at a loss; 75 per cent, of these are in the Cape and Natal. Evidently the main lines to the north are the lines which pay the losses on the other lines. Then there are items against the railways for free services, overseas advertising, etc. Then there is an amount which I cannot understand why the Minister of Finance should not meet. That is an amount of £23,000 incurred by the railway department during the influenza epidemic. That is an amount which should be borne by the Treasury. Then the amount for shifting cattle from the high veld and the country districts during the drought, surely that is a matter which should be borne by the Department of Agriculture. Then with regard to renewals, we find nearly one million was paid out of revenue for new electric locomotives for Natal. Surely that is an amount which should come out of capital account. From 1912-’23 something like £20,000,000 was taken in contributions from renewal to revenue fund. About half this was spent on rolling stock. Surely there is something wrong about our Renewal Fund when we are continually burdening the revenue with amounts for new rolling stock and only incurring wastage to such a small extent? All these costs mean heavy rates, which add to the cost of living. All these high rates mean high cost of living and high cost of production. I want to give two instances in Pretoria. There is a large monumental works started in Pretoria, where we have good quarries. These were competing in overseas markets and actually selling in New Zealand, but they found when they came to pay the railage from Pretoria to the coast it was almost impossible. They find they can send the rough block from Pretoria to Cape Town and from Cane Town to Aberdeen and get it worked there and returned much cheaper than they can send the finished article from Pretoria to Cape Town. Surely that is not carrying out the Act of Union and developing the industries in the interior of the country? Secondly, with regard to pottery, the cost of railage to the coast is about three times the cost of manufacture. We had a few items taken out affecting foodstuffs from Durban to Pretoria. On flour about 10 to 11 per cent, is added to the cost; on imported oatmeal about 1d. to 1½d. in the pound; on sugar, about 13 per cent.; on paraffin, about 24 per cent.; on rice, about 1d. in the pound. It appears to me that all these costs add to the cost of living, with the result that it is impossible for the farmers to compete in the markets of the world. I am a member of the committee which has done something for the re-settlement of soldiers on the land. Although we have done all we could to make things easy for these men, we have provided them with capital and stock, they find it impossible to compete owing to the high cost of production. I saw an article the other day in which the Prime Minister said he was very anxious to remedy this evil of the drift from the country to the town. The difficulty of these men to make ends meet means that the men are forced to the towns and add to the general unemployment. I know the Minister cannot reply to me on these questions to-day, but I do hope when the Government is framing its policy during the coming recess these points will be taken into consideration.
I have come all the way from the North-East Rand—a distance of 1,000 miles or so—to support the Government. Consequently I am going to vote for the Budget, not because there are no flavours in it which I object to, but all know that those flavours are relics of the late—and I think I may say—unlamented Government. We know that it will take time to get rid of those flavours. We have been very patient in the past and we are going to be very patient now, so nothing I say is intended in any way as a criticism of the Government. All I want to do is to call attention to what has, in my opinion, been a great waste of public money in the past, and this waste is still going on. I refer to the dual capital system. I do not think the public, the taxpayers, the man on whom the burden falls, has realized the cost of this dual capital business. I doubt whether hon. members have fully realized it. Speaking for myself, I personally have not been able to arrive at even an approximate estimate of the enormous cost it must entail, but I do know that we have for each Ministerial department offices and staffs in Pretoria and we all know that our Ministers are in Cape Town for five to seven months out of the twelve. It stands to reason therefore, that they must have proper offices and staffs here in Cape Town also. I submit that is a waste of money. We all know that the head officials migrate to Cape Town for the session and bring their chief clerks, their second grade clerks, and also their typists, to say nothing of their wives and families, and possibly also the husbands of their typists, with them. I do not begrudge these officials their annual holiday; I do not begrudge their wives their annual holiday; I would not even begrudge it to the husbands of the typists; but I say the money should not be spent in that way. It is a waste of public money. What is the rest of the staff doing in Pretoria when Parliament is in session, and what becomes of the staff in Cape Town when Parliament is not in session? I shudder to think of the wastage on our postal and telegraphic services entailed by having the seat of administration more than 1,000 miles away from Parliament.
Move the capital down here.
I am coming to that point. What about the delay and all the difficulties entailed because of that delay? Really, when I think of the disadvantages and the difficulties thus entailed, and the great inconvenience, I must say in fairness to the late Government that I am surprised they did not carry on much worse than they did. I know of no country where such a state of affairs exists, nor can I picture one where it can happen. To do a thing which is not done anywhere else in the world we must surely have a good reason, and we must have a better reason for continuing to do it. What was the reason for these dual capitals? It was simply a compromise at the time of Union. Bloemfontein and Pietermaritzburg got so many thousands a year as a subsidy while Cape Town and Pretoria divided the capital—I nearly said divided the spoils, because the words capital and spoils seem to belong together. Those gentlemen who made the Union, and there are several amongst us—they won’t deny it—found at that time that South Africa was not yet quite ripe for Union, but still they desired to have it, and made this compromise. We have had 14 years of Union, and on the whole I admit we cannot complain. I admit that we have all benefited by Union. However, is it not time to reconsider this matter of the dual capital? Must not the question of expense, delay and inconvenience weigh very heavily with us? No compromise, however well meant and necessary at the time, from the point of view of expediency, should be allowed to stand in the way of the real interest to South Africa. My point is not whether Pretoria or Cape Town should be the capital. My point is whether we should have one undivided capital where Parliament can sit while our Ministers carry on their work without the present enormous waste of money and time, or whether we are to continue to drift, as we have been drifting, to continue to waste as we have been wasting. I am not saying anything against Cape Town. I have partaken of its hospitality and I admire it as the Mother City. Neither am I saying anything against Pretoria, because I personally love it; I am not asking you to decide between the two—in fact I am not asking you to decide anything at all. I do ask you to consider the matter from the commonsense point of view of what is best for South Africa. I have not used one-tenth of the arguments that can be used against the continuance of the present state of affairs, but when I feel more at home in this House and I have all the facts and figures, I hope to bring up the matter again.
It is not desirable that the Lands Department should be guided by political considerations in granting farms to applicants. When I see the grants that have already been made, I am inclined to agree with the allegation made by several hon. members, that at least 80 per cent, of those who received grants from the Government are Nationalists. I think hon. members remember the history of the case at Ohrigstad, where land belonging to the State was opened, up to settlers and farms were given to the occupants, 95 per cent of whom were Nationalists. The accusation hurled against the late Government is, therefore, unfair. The hon. member for Zoutpansberg (Mr. Pirow) may say that in his constituency the late Government was guided by political considerations, but I can give him the address of somebody who works in this House and who, with three of his brothers, was granted Government farms in the Zoutpansberg district, although he is an ardent Nationalist. As the representative of a district containing a large number of small tobacco farmers who sell their product on the high veld, I heartily welcome the reduction of the tobacco tax. The small producer of roll tobacco especially will profit by it. The unfair rule that such a person must take out a licence of 2/6 still prevails. The allegation that a farmer becomes a trader as soon as he sells his product is incorrect. For instance, there are many mealie growers who go to Sekoekoenieland to sell their mealies, and it is not required of them to take out a licence, and they are not looked upon as traders. I hope it will be one of the first steps of the new Government to repeal this undesirable clause. I welcome the speech of the hon. member for Bethlehem (Mr. J. H. B. Wessels) with regard to agriculture, and the statement of the hon. member for Albert (Mr. Steytler) to the effect that the Labour party will not object to the prohibition of the importation of stock. Naturally, this party will not object to the increase of the customs duty on wheat. The speech of the hon. member for Piquetberg (Mr. de Waal) was disappointing, because he has not said a word regarding the increase in the duty on wheat. The hon. gentleman raises the matter every year, but he has not said a word about it this year. Is this silence the fruit of the Pact? After the speech of the hon. member for Albert I can hardly agree with this, because the latter has said that no objection would be made to the embargo on the importation of meat. It is contended by some that a small duty on wheat will increase the price of bread. This argument has been thoroughly refuted by the Board of Trade, and there is no danger of any increase in the price of bread. The customs duty on wheat should be increased. The wheat farmers are threatened not only by Australia and Canada, but also by Rhodesia. The freight on wheat from the Union to Rhodesia is £4 3s. per ton, whereas the freight from Rhodesia to the Union on wheat for export is only 17/6. Such a tariff encourages the conveyance of wheat from Rhodesia to the Union. As things are at present the wheat farmer makes but a small profit—he only receives 33 per cent. of the sale price of the wheat—and he ought to be protected from foreign competition. Last session two Bills regarding native affairs were introduced. One was passed, but, fortunately, the: Bill for the registration of natives was withdrawn. This Bill concerns passes for natives, and as such it was known in the country. It was fortunate that the Bill was withdrawn, but it leaves things uncertain and undecided. It is necessary that legislation regarding native passes should be revised. The existing legislation in this respect is not efficient in regulating the relation between master and servant. The difficulty is that most kaffirs in the service of the farmers are squatters. Often they have been living with their families with the farmer for 30 years, but hardly ever is a contract made with them, so that the Masters and Servants Act is hardly applicable. Farmers experience many difficulties in this respect. It is impossible for them to obtain justice when they summon their squatters before the magistrate. This Act certainly requires revision in this respect, because the law is an old and antiquated one, dating back to the year 1880, when the Transvaal was annexed by Great Britain. Another difficult matter is that of segregation. In my constituency the reports of the Beaumont Commission of 1916 and of the Stubbs Commission are held to require revision. The public were satisfied with the first report, but if the recommendations of the second are carried out lands will be allocated to natives lacking which it would be hardly possible for the whites to exist. The opinion is general that there will not be enough native labourers on the farms if the importation of kaffirs from Portuguese territory is stopped. Natives for the farms are not numerous, and the regular supply should be maintained, especially in the interests of the cotton growers. There are several other matters to which I wish to draw attention, but I will do that when the House is in committee.
I do not think I should have risen to pass any opinions of criticisms whatever, if it were not for the fact that the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) keeps on bringing up the old policy of buying in the cheapest market. Now the hon. member last session sat at this side of the House, and had practical control of a very large number of the lives and destinies of families, which was in his hands. I am sorry to state that the hon. member carried into effect a policy which was practically following the same methods as we read of in the history of Egypt, Greece and Rome; in fact, the policy of the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) is practically a small edition of Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”; what it amounts to is that we see a policy of not employing your own people, but throwing them out of employment; having to find unemployment doles, and employing the cheapest and most servile labour that there is on God’s earth. We had the hon. member rising in his place last Thursday and beseeching the hon. Minister of Railways and Harbours that it is absolutely impossible to lower railway rates unless you buy in the cheapest market. That is a policy which is not only going to destroy the British and the Dutch, but destroy South Africa. We find that when the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) was Minister of Railways and Harbours, orders were placed in Germany, because they were lower than others. But when he placed those orders in Germany the average daily wage of German workmen was equivalent to 2⅝d., whereas in this country 20s. 4d. was paid for the same class of work, and he had the audacity to say in this House that this country profits by sending work to people, other than people in this country. I believe that if the hon. Minister of Railways and Harbours takes that policy of the late Minister of Railways and Harbours, not only will it save money on orders, but you will have to increase the unemployment vote tremendously. The right of finding work was taken away from the people of South Africa—which is their invariable right—and the work was placed in Europe or China or Japan, where it can be produced more cheaply. There is something higher and loftier than placing it on the ordinary basis of a business transaction, and I hold that no Minister has the right to consider any matter until he has considered the wellbeing of the people over whom he has control. Let us go into statistics a little, and what do we find? There is the economic standard of pre-war days. We know it is different now, although in some countries there is a greater disparity now than there was then. If you take it even on the pre-war basis, you will find people living on a lower economic level and there is also the difference caused by currency. We will take the economic values in other countries pre-war; if you take an article in Britain as valued at 10s., in Germany it would be 8s. 5d., in Austria 8s. 2d,, in Italy 8s. 2d., in India and Japan 6s. 4d., and in China 6s. The result of the policy which the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) still wants the hon. Minister of Railways and Harbours to adopt is that if you can get articles manufactured in these countries it will be beneficial to this country, and this country will reap the benefit. I have never heard such a ridiculous argument in my life. Does a country exist by profits, or does it exist by finding useful employment for its people? I realize that under existing conditions you cannot do away with unemployment. The present conditions are wrong, but I am quite willing to try and improve those conditions, and I say that the requirements of South Africa should be produced in South Africa by South African labour. My hon. friend (Mr. Jagger) has stated that the only way to lower rates is to purchase cheaper. I will give him an idea about lowering rates and putting the railways on a sound basis. Let us go into figures. We find, for instance, that on an 11-ton truck from Cape Town to Johannesburg the economic rate would be approximately £87 15s. We find that my hon. friend (Mr. Jagger) charged on an 11-ton truck for the carriage of groceries £182 8s. 4d., while for cement he charged £15 13s. 6d., for flour £15 2s. 6d., and for ten horses or cattle £15 9s. 2d. My point is that all commodities on which you charge less than the economic rate should be a burden on the consolidated revenue fund, not on the railways, and I believe if my hon. friend, instead of trying to purchase in the cheapest market and importing the cheapest men to do the work, put the matter on a business basis, it would be of everlasting benefit to South Africa. We find also that the rate for an 11-ton truck over the same distance, 1,001 miles, for the carriage of 10 head of cattle under the special drought conditions would be £3 19s. 10d. I do not contend that the State should charge the full rate for cattle carried from drought-stricken areas, but I do say that the railways should not have to stand the whole cost or the loss for removing this stock.
Who has to stand it?
If I had carried out this policy I do not know what I should do, but I think I would never have a smiling face in this House if I had caused so much unemployment and misery in South Africa by a policy of this description. The hon. gentleman (Mr. Jagger) comes and talks to us about purchasing in the cheapest market and running the railways on business principles, but I would like to know whether it is a business principle to bring down a man’s wage from 16s. to 8s.
When was that done?
My hon. friend asks me when he reduced the rate from 16s. to 8s. When he dismissed 12,000 workers and made them go on the relief works and do unskilled work in South Africa.
That is absolutely untrue.
The general manager’s report states that there are 12,000 fewer employees on the railways than there were when my hon. friend took office.
There have been wastages, deaths, etc.
My hon. friend thinks that wastages and deaths should not be filled, while births are going on more abundantly than deaths. If that is the principle, then if you have got a business and somebody dies you must not fill up his place, but you must make the other men who are working do the work of the person who is dead. What we want in this country is not retrenchment, but development. We want the work of South Africa produced by South Africans. I now come back to the figures I was mentioning in regard to the economic rate on an 11-ton truck over 1,001 miles. As I pointed out, the charge for groceries is £182 8s. 4d. Coal from Witbank is brought to Cape Town for £11. Cement is charged £15 13s. 6d. over this distance of 1,001 miles in an 11-ton truck; for ten horses or cattle he charges £15 19s. 2d. Why should there be such a difference between the charge for groceries which are consumed by the people, £182, and £15 for cement and coal? There must be something radically wrong, or is it the only way they can get it, because the consumers cannot kick? If persons can afford these cattle and horses, they are practically in harmony in ideas with the same section as our hon. friend opposite. My point is this: That all rates below the £87 15s. should be charged to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. If the Government assists the coal mining industry of this country then it should be properly assisted by the State and not by the Railway Department. If the farming community wants assistance let the State give it, but don’t let the railway have to bear the burden. Let us look at a few rates from Durban. 11 tons of coal for ships’ bunker from Hattingspruit to Durban costs £7 7s. 2d. 11 tons of coal, between those two places for export cost £3 1s. 11d. 11 tons of coal for consumption by the people cost £6 6s. 11 tons of carbide from Durban to Johannesburg cost £84 6s. 8d. The same quantity for export cost £8 7s. 9d. If, instead of this policy of purchasing in the cheapest market and getting the cheapest labour possible, we had a tariff based on the economic rate and all those charged below the economic rate paid for from Consolidated Revenue Fund, we should find that the railways would pay a tremendous profit, between seven and eight million. I could go on with these matters.
But I think I have said enough.
If my hon. friend the Minister follows up the policy of the old Government he will not only cause unemployment, but he will destroy the people of South Africa, as has happened with all nations as we may read in history. This is of a surety, as soon as you stop employing your own people and do not keep their creative faculties at work, you destroy the nation. If we are going to find work for labour from overseas and not for our own people, we are going to destroy our nation. I appeal to the Minister to see that the people of South Africa are considered first, second and third. There is another matter. I think the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) stated last week that if the railways ran the ’buses to Camps Bay, you are going to destroy any profit for the trams and they will have to close down. I was on the Select Committee, while a member of the Provincial Council, dealing with this matter, and I would like to ask my friend this: Has he ever seen a balance sheet, because nobody to my knowledge has in South Africa? A question was put to the representatives of the Camps Bay Company, about their balance sheet, and they stated it was in London, and there was not one in South Africa. We also found out that the Camps Bay trams debenture shares are owned by De Beers.
That is not correct, not a word of it.
Well, my word is as good as the hon. member’s, and I state that the debenture shares in the Camps Bay Tramway Company are held by the De Beers Company, and the Camps Bay Tramway Company was proved to be over-capitalized about five times. On the money which was absolutely put into the concern, they made a tremendous profit; but on the watered capital they naturally made no profits. I believe the debenture holders and 99 per cent, of the shareholders are also shareholders in the land company, which is paying tremendous profits. Therefore we can leave them well alone, they can look after their own finances. I hope and trust the railway will continue to run the ’buses. It is required by the people in that area, and the people of this country should be considered, not the investors in any particular company. The people should come first, second and third. I would like to say that in examining the finding of the commission on the Durban elevator I think that the report is a more damning indictment of the late Government.
I want to know, Mr. Speaker, whether the hon. member is entitled to refer to this matter when we have a Select Committee sitting on it at the present time upstairs?
The question was very fully dealt with by the hon. member for Dundee (Sir Thomas Watt) this afternoon, and there is nothing to debar the hon. member for Liesbeek (Mr. Pearee) from speaking on it now.
That is another mistake they keep making. They still think they are on the Government benches, and no one can speak except their own men. I was saying I think a more damning indictment of the late Government there has never been. Then we have the hon. member for Dundee (Sir Thomas Watt) saying it was not a proper verdict. I hold these gentlemen have been guilty and I hold, after listening to the debates in this House, when I have heard the report of different commissions read and debated such as that on the Witwatersrand upheaval, when hon. members opposite were bubbling over with vindictive feeling. I hold that when chickens come home to roost you must accept the verdict of your own commission. I think, after the finding of such a commission, those members of the Railway Board should send in their resignation. I do not think it is right that they should remain in the country’s employment. I hope and trust that their consciences will prick them, and that they will resign the important positions they occupy. I hope and trust the Government will also consider the Prices and Production Committee’s Report of 1923. They will there see evidence of the fact that neither the producer or consumer is getting a fair deal, and I believe they will consider this matter and bring in legislation so that the producers and consumers can have a squarer deal than they have at the present time. I hope that I have said enough about this matter.
Yes, I know I have said enough for my hon. friend over there. I do hope the Government will not carry on the policy that the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) and the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) have suggested. Let us have a new policy based on the public good—on, love and affection for the people, and not the brutal policy of the late Government, but a policy which will bring out the best that there is in the children of South Africa. When we come to consider that my boy and your boy in the ordinary schools of the Cape Province are only entitled to go to the sixth standard—when my hon. friend for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) authorized, at all events he was in office at the time, the policy that no apprentice should be employed unless he had passed the seventh standard—but your boy and my boy are only allowed to go to the sixth standard. We must get away from this policy and see that an opportunity for everything good, noble and pure should be given the people of South Africa, and especially the future generation.
I have listened with great attention to the various speeches given by different members of the House and if there is one fact which has emerged from this debate it is that there has not been any real criticism of the measure before the House from the other side, nor any real praise on this side. I shall not attempt to praise the measure which, after all, has been fathered by the late Government: and foster-fathered by the present Government. However, I do resent certain speeches made by hon. members on the opposite side of the House, not in criticism of the measures we are debating but of the policy of this Government.—a policy which is not yet known to this House. I refer particularly to the speech made by the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz). In this speech he attacked the hon. Prime Minister on his segregation policy. It was levelled at a policy which the speaker had no knowledge of and of which the House also knows nothing, a policy which will be set before the House in due course. I consider it an ungenerous criticism because of its futility. He attacked the Government on its policy of solving the unemployment problem, or rather its lack of policy, but can the present Government even approach or attempt a solution of one of the gravest problems in this country in the short period at their disposal? He thought right to attack the present Government on its lack of presenting some proper solution to this House. In direct contrast to this speech I have been discussing, we have the hon. member for Griqualand (Mr. Gilson) giving his views, and it was a speech which commended itself to everyone on this side of the House. It was constructive and made many helpful suggestions to the Government. He made a suggestion of how the unemployed could be absorbed by the farmers of this country, how skilled labour could be used by farmers where at present farmers are not using it. While on that point I have a small suggestion to make to the hon. Minister of Defence in his capacity as Minister of Labour. I am not going to discuss the policy of industrial expansion which has been discussed by the House already and which is an excellent way of absorbing the unemployed. But I wish to direct attention to that section of the unemployed populace of this country which should have the assistance of this Government. I refer particularly to those unfortunate farmers who during the course of the last 20 years have been forced through economic pressure from their farms and who are now living in a state of penury and misery in the slums of our larger towns. A great many of these are beyond reclaiming but while some are beyond reclaiming, not through any fault or theirs, but because they are living under conditions under which no man could retain his self-respect or continue a fight for existence; there are, however, the children of these families who are reclaimable and it is the duty of the Government to do what it can for the children of these people. My suggestion is that these children should be apprenticed to those farmers in this country who are willing to come forward and take this burden on their shoulders. There is a great body of altruistic feeling on the part of farmers in this country, and I know with what patriotic feelings they are imbued, and I know that if these feelings were properly organized towards the betterment of these people who, after all, are their own flesh and blood, some settlement of the problem could be arrived at. If the Minister of Labour and Defence could set the machinery of his department in motion and create a panel consisting of the best type of farmers in this country, who would be content to shoulder the burden and take one or two boy apprentices, they would give these boys a chance of living under new conditions, they would have hope, they would be properly fed and they would learn how to farm properly. I would suggest these boys should be appointed at the age of 12, and reports could be submitted to Government officials showing which of these boys had succeeded and shown promise; these boys could then be taken in hand and placed on settlement farms and instead of being a burden would become a benefit to the State. In view of the absence of the Minister concerned, I will refrain from going into further details on this little suggestion. I will now come to a subject which is more unpleasant than the one I have been discussing, and I wish to refer with great respect and much deference to the speeches of the hon. members for East London (Rev. Mr. W. Rider) and the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt). But I feel bound to record my protest at the spirit of those speeches. There are some of us on this side of the House who belong to a generation of optimists, and we have based our optimism on the bed-rock of racial goodwill. The speeches of the hon. gentleman opposite, however, seem to be the speeches of pessimists, whose pessimism is based on the quicksands of racial prejudice. These sentiments I think we have outlived in South Africa. The Labour Party, composed largely of English-speaking people and ourselves, have given each other their hands, and if hon. members opposite would realize the futility of bringing up these topics and the high necessity of forgetting our racial differences we would progress more rapidly. Let us direct our attention to the business before us, and forget those other things which only remind us of past bitterness. Lastly, the hon. member for Zoutpansberg (Mr. Pirow), in his maiden speech, has made out a very powerful prima facie case of negligence which should be met, and the House and the country require that it should be met by facts, and therefore so far from condemning the hon. member, I think this House owes him a debt of gratitude for the courage with which he brought these facts before the House.
I disagree with the hon. member opposite, for I do not think the House owes any gratitude to the hon. member for Zoutpansberg (Mr. Pirow), for he has lowered the tone of the House by making an attack on a defeated opponent. As to the speech of the hon. member for East London (Rev. Mr. Rider) he merely made a protest at the action of the Government in releasing Maritz. I do not see how hon. members opposite can complain because that protest has been raised. It is not a question of racialism but of principle—hon. members on this side think Maritz has done something wrong, but hon. members opposite defend him. Do the hon. members opposite mean to say that the entire Dutch-speaking population of South Africa agree with what Maritz has done? I, as a Dutch-speaking South African, take the greatest exception to their casting reflections on the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) who has done so much to clear away racial feelings.
He tried to take away our constitution.
The hon. member who is so fond of hearing his own voice can speak when I sit down. I am surprised at the slavish way in which the present Government is following the financial policy of the last. Government in spite of election talk and promises. In the country we were told by the Government supporters that the farmer was being taxed to death while the mines were paying nothing. We heard how the poor little lamb was being taxed, yet the Minister of Finance is doing exactly the same thing as his predecessor. The hon. member for Albert (Mr. Steytler) has registered a mild protest at the action of the Minister in re-introducing the income tax, and says he will wait for the abolition of the income tax on farmers. I rather fancy, however, that he will wait in vain. I hope the Minister will keep the income tax as it is. Certain modifications should be granted, however, to farmers, and the income tax forms should be simplified. If that could be done we should not find the tremendous opposition to the income tax on the part of farmers that exists to-day. Farmers complain that they do not know on what grounds they are being taxed, but if the returns were so simplified that they could fill them in themselves without having to obtain the assistance of an attorney there would not be so much objection to the tax. I hope the Minister will take into account the expense farmers are put to in boring for water for their stock, especially during periods of drought. Another point on which I am rather disappointed is the little attention that has been given to agricultural matters this session, and I appeal to the Minister of Agriculture not to allow this opportunity to slip, for there are certain matters which require immediate attention. Of course, I can quite understand that the type of legislation which has been introduced is meant to satisfy the Government’s friends on the cross benches. The hon. member for Bloemfontein (South) (Dr. Steyn) said there was very good feeling between the Nationalist and Labour parties, but when the hon. member for Troyeville (Mr. Kentridge) was laying down his Socialistic doctrines hon. members on the Government benches did not feel too happy about it.
Business was suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 8 p.m.
When the House suspended business I was discussing agricultural legislation and expressing regret that so little time had been given to this particular subject. I want to bring before the House a matter which is of paramount interest in connection with the Fencing Act. I very much regret that the Minister of Agriculture is not in his place. The Act has been operating extremely well except for a few difficulties, one of which is where a bondholder refuses to allow people to take the Government loan. You have instances where a constructing owner serves notice on his neighbour that he wants to enclose his farm. Then the neighbour, the contributing owner, applies to the Land Bank for a loan, and it very frequently happens that the bondholder refuses to allow him to take that loan. When this Act was passed I never thought for one moment that one would find bondholders take up such an attitude, especially since the value of the property is very much enhanced by being fenced. Still, there are bondholders who do refuse to allow farmers to take loans from the Land Bank. It is most important that this matter should be gone into, and I would ask the Minister of Agriculture to give it his attention. It is as essential as the Rents Bill. We cannot afford to have any man driven off the land, and it may be that if a man is unable to raise a loan he may be driven off the land. I would appeal to the two members in the Cabinet who represent Cape constituencies to see that this matter is brought out to the full and that some legislation is introduced which will remedy the position. The hon. member for Albert (Mr. Steytler) made a suggestion in regard to treating these loans on the quit-rent system. I think there is very much to be said for that view and I hope it will be considered by the Government. The late Minister of Agriculture bad drafted a Bill to meet the difficulty, and I do not see why that Bill should not be brought forward and passed into law this session. I would like to say a few words now in regard to unemployment. The question has been raised by the hon. member for Pretoria (Central) (Mr. Te Water) as to farmers assisting in this matter. I was particularly glad to hear an appeal coming from that side. One wonders sometimes how many of the hon. members opposite or their supporters do anything for the unemployed by taking men into their service and paying them salaries on which they can exist. The suggestion thrown out by the hon. member for Pretoria (Central) (Mr. Te Water) is, I think, very wise. I have always maintained that one cannot expect the Government to do everything in this matter and that we as individuals should also do something towards solving this question by giving work to the people. I would suggest to the Government that where farmers take a number of poor whites on to their farms they should be allowed a proportionate rebate from their income tax. I would like to impress upon the Government the urgent character of the irrigation problem. The Minister of Lands told us the other day that it was his intention to appoint a commission to enquire into the existing works. One question that is especially urgent is that of rates. I wish particularly to refer to the irrigation works in the Great Fish River valley. These people have been paying rates on flood irrigation schemes. Now that they have their huge irrigation dams the position is very much easier. I maintain that if a man has a plot of ground say from 50—100 morgen in that valley, the rates are not too high and that he can make things pay, if he wishes to. The difficulty arises where farmers, the pioneers of these schemes, own from 1,000 to 2,000 morgen. I maintain that those people cannot possibly pay their rates to-day, and it is the duty of the Government to come to their assistance and help them to get rid of their surplus land. I think that where the actual cost of an irrigation scheme has exceeded the estimate that excess amount should be written off by the Government. After all, a contract had been entered into between the department and those farmers for a certain amount, those people have based their calculations on that amount, and if the actual cost of construction has exceeded the estimates, I think the Government should step in and assist those people. A lot of the ground along the Fish River Valley to-day is not developed, and it takes a certain amount of money to get it developed and in a suitable condition to be irrigated. I believe it is essential that the Government should as soon as possible declare its policy on this irrigation question. The people are living in absolute doubt and do not know where they are.
Whose fault is that?
Surely if the hon. members on the other side have been so slavish in trying to carry out the policy of the late Government, they should have tried to rectify some of the late Government’s mistakes. It is not a question of who is at fault. The late Government had a definite policy on the matter, the late Minister of Lands had a thorough policy, and I feel if the member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) had had a little longer time, he would have solved this difficulty. He made a suggestion to these people; that was that the Government would take options on the surplus land of farmers along the valley and while the Government did that no rates would be charged. To-day these people do not know what is the policy of the Government and I think it only right that the people should know what is going to take place. Another point which I think is essential is that the Government should not take options but should purchase that ground outright and settle it, not with poor whites—the ground is too valuable for that—but with other settlers. That in itself is going to ease the poor white question very much because the settlers will employ poor whites. I am glad to see the Minister has turned up and I would like to say something about the personnel of such a Commission. The matter is extremely delicate and involved and the chairman of such a Commission should be a thorough business man. Then you want a technical man of high standing, preferably not one belonging to the Department. I would suggest that the Government should ask a man like Ellwood Mead to come out and give the Government assistance.
Another Littlejohn Philip.
Hon. members opposite are so taken up with Littlejohn Philip and the political capital they are making out of the elevator business, that they can think of nothing else and are not prepared to consider any practical suggestion.
We did not make any political capital out of it—it came too late.
I would appeal to the Minister that the Government’s policy should be declared as soon as possible so that these people shall not remain in doubt as they are to-day. I maintain that the Fish River Valley has a very great future if it has sympathetic treatment from the Government. The soil is deep and is as rich as any you can find anywhere in the world. I am glad to say that the 1820 Settlers Memorial Association has considered recommending settlers to go there. I know the hon. member for Somerset (Mr. Fourie) will support me in this matter. I appeal to the Minister not to wait any longer but let the public know what their policy is.
I suppose I shall not be out of order if, following the speeches which have been made on a variety of matters, I again refer to the Budget speeches. In spite of the remarks which have fallen from the hon. member for Umvoti (Mr. W. A. Deane), I will give honour where honour is due and congratulate both hon. Ministers on the way they have brought their Budgets before this House. Being a new member, I am not like the hon. member for Cradock (Mr. Van Heerden) much perturbed that the Ministers are not here to listen to my remarks. I admit there was not much that was startling in those Budget speeches. That was inevitable. You have new Ministers who have only just taken office; they had to unravel the tangled skeins left by the late Government, and they had to do that in the short space of one month. Yet in spite of those facts,, the S.A.P. press and a section of the hon. members on the other side of the House have taken up the attitude that they expected the Ministers to come here with fully developed proposals. They forget that the Ministers have only been in power for a month and they expect these Ministers to do what they themselves have not been able to carry out in 14 years. I think hon. members on the other side of the House should curb their curiosity. The Ministers indicated the broad outlines of their policy during the election and I think it is only fair that hon. members should have been satisfied with those broad outlines and given the Ministers the time in the recess to work out detailed proposals. You find hon. members opposite taking up that unreasonable attitude despite the assurance given us by the leader of the Opposition when he told the House that he and his friends intended to give the new Government a fair chance. What we want is the spirit of reasonableness and forbearance, and we have not seen it during the short time the House has been in session, especially during this Budget debate. The speech of the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) has been far from reasonable, and having regard to his reported speeches in the past one might, perhaps, not be inclined to take him seriously. From his speech which he made, it appears to me that the spirit of tolerance and reasonableness is entirely foreign to his very nature. I do not object in the least to his reply to the charges levied against him in connection with certain land transactions. His defence, if I may say so, was rather weak, but he was perfectly entitled to put it up. But for the rest, we have had a regular election speech from him on Imperialism, Bolshevism and all other “isms,” and what his motive was it is difficult to understand. The time for catching votes is past, and as far as he personally is concerned he might, perhaps, catch a few votes only if he had another harbour in his pocket. The country is tired of bogies and flagwagging. What it wants is facts and results which, if they have not had in the past, they are now confidently looking to the new Government for, results which a S.A.P. Government failed to give them. There must be a motive for the attitude taken up by the hon. members opposite, and I suggest that it is merely an attempt to drive a wedge into the Pact. However, they cannot hope to do that. I can speak from experience: I stand as a member elected by a majority which included 300 English-speaking votes. They voted against the S.A.P. and they will do it again in the future. All these attempts at flag-wagging and side-issues are not going to make any difference. The people are looking for results and they are going to get them. Then we also have the other critic on the opposite side, the hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Blackwell) who tried to prove the Hereniging Congress was an attempt to reunite only the Dutch-speaking sections of the S.A.P. I was present at that Congress and I can tell the House that there were English-speaking members of the South African Party present. I remember a Mr. Stallard, and I suppose they came there to unite, else they must have come there under false pretences. The hon. member was trying to prove racialism on this side of the House by asserting that the Congress was held for the purpose of uniting the Dutch-speaking sections of the South African Party. I would also like to refer to the hon. and reverend member for East London (City) (Rev. Rider). One does not know how to regard him; one feels that one should regard him more in grief than in anger, for, as the hon. member for Somerset (Mr. Fourie) said, “He is one of the surviving relics of a type which is fast dying out”—thank God it is fast dying out. What annoys and angers me is that the hon. member comes here as an apostle of peace and says there is no intention on his part to raise the question of racialism and, on top of that, he raises issues which could only have the effect of reviving racialism. I would like to ask him if he has noticed a little article which appeared in the British Empire Service League Magazine, the official organ of a body of men who are fully qualified to speak on this subject, I mean returned soldiers. Theirs is an opinion I would respect on this subject. The extracts which I have read to the House effectually show up the hon. member for East London (City). This type of man whom you have thundering in this House is typical of the men who were beating the big drum during the recruiting campaign, telling the young men to go and fight. But when these young men came back they found their places filled with women workers, and the very men who sent them to the front told them to find their own way out, to find work where they could. That is the type of man we have got to deal with in this House to-day. The hon. member for East London (City) (Rev. Mr. Rider) in moving for the building of a railway line, said that it would supply a “missing link” between two other lines. I will use that phrase with regard to the hon. member himself. Where there is to-day a better feeling and a better spirit abroad, the hon. member supplies the missing link between that spirit of to-day and the racial fossils of the past. I wish to refer now to industrial development. Unlike hon. members opposite I am not expecting the Government to supply full details of their policy, but that during the recess it will go very carefully into matters and present a clear-cut policy for the building up an protection of industries. I am an out and out protectionist provided that protection is granted only to those industries which deserve it. I wish to deal not so much with protection or bounty proposals as with the necessity of the Government educating the people to the supreme importance of assisting our industries. In that respect there remains much to be done, and if the Government had a department for advertising our industries I feel sure the money would be well spent. It is most distressing to find the apathy which exists with regard to the need for supporting South African industries. We have three sections—we have the public, the farming community, the industrialist, and the distributor, and these sections of the community should work hand in hand, as they are interdependent. The farmers produce the raw materials for our factories, and the farmers must recognize that they must not only produce in quantity, but the right quality. The merchants play a most important part in the development of our industrial system, and it is absolutely necessary that our merchants—especially the retail merchants—should be in sympathy with South African industries and should try to push the locally manufactured article. I am sorry to say that one does not find that to-day. Chambers of Commerce Congresses are divided into free trade and protectionist sections. Amongst the large importers and wholesalers you find the free trader, and their free trade feelings are more often adopted out of consideration for their own pockets than anything else. The argument is put forward that they are concerned about the cost of living to the consumer, yet they are the people who do not hesitate to take very exorbitant profits, both on imported and locally-made articles. I know of an instance in which a well-known retail firm sold a pair of boys’ boots manufactured at Port Elizabeth at a profit of 140 per cent. How can we expect our manufactures to be popular when retail merchants exact such exorbitant profits? I was informed by a representative of a manufacturing firm that a wholesale firm had offered to take a large quantity of goods on condition that the boxes were marked “Made in England.” I have heard it said by merchants that they could not recommend the South African made article, but you have boots and shoes made in South Africa and shirts and pyjamas made in Cape Town of as good a cut and finish as you can import from overseas, and I recommend hon. members to visit the Cape Town Railway Station and see these locally-made shirts and pyjamas, which are a credit to our country. The Government should take a definite stand in regard to propaganda, and should educate the public to support our industries and the merchants to stock our goods. I trust that the Government during the recess will go very carefully into the question of the appointment of trades commissioners overseas and that before long we shall hear that trade commissioners had been appointed in the big commercial countries of Europe and also in America. Where you find the merchant appointing his own agents in Europe, surely it follows that in international trade the same policy should be adopted, and that we should have agents there who are able to advertise our goods and study the markets, and to advise our producers as to the class of goods required. I trust that the Government will give this matter their early and serious attention.
Hon. members from all the other provinces have spoken, and if the length of my speech is to be in proportion to the extent of my constituency, I shall have to detain the House a very long time. I congratulate the Ministers on their Budgets. It will, of course, take a long time to formulate their policy. I am glad that there is to be a conference in October, with representatives of Rhodesia, regarding the importation of cattle, because the cattle farmers are sinking fast. Another matter which will take a great deal of time to decide is segregation, and I am sorry to see that we are to expect no support from the Opposition on that matter. They are divided on the question as they consist of two different parties. I welcome both the abolition of the medicine tax and the reduction of the tobacco tax. The late Government would probably have carried out the recommendations of the Baxter report, which in principle was approved by the late Cabinet, and we should also have had a land tax. That, again, would have increased the number of poor whites. The Kromellenboog irrigation scheme, between the Harts River and the Vaal River, is a very good one, with the best soil that I have ever seen, and a large number of poor whites and unemployed can be settled there. There is plenty of water, the climate is good, and cotton grows there as well as in Zululand and other places. The department appointed an official to investigate the suitability of the soil for cotton growing. Almost everything can be cultivated in those parts. There are oil, asbestos, iron and diamonds in the Barkly Division; all in close proximity. I am pleased to learn that the Minister of Lands has decided to reduce the tariff on the Government boring machines. I hope he will also increase their number as the present supply is not sufficient to cope with the work. The farmers should not be made to pay in cases where no water is found. The pioneers have a very hard time. They work hard and create oases in the desert. Kuruman is a model town, and I hope the Minister will make a point of visiting that part of the country. An agricultural school ought to be established there. At Kuruman there is the Moffat Institute, for which I have done my bit. There are 300 children in the school who are trained in agriculture after school hours. It is a very good country for sheep farming. I am glad that loans for drought relief have been granted. I hope it will also be done in cases where locusts have caused destruction, but I think the rate of interest at 6 per cent. is too high; 5 per cent, is sufficient. A short line from Kimberley to Wintersrush will be nothing but a political line built in the wilderness. It will never pay if it is not extended to Kuruman. I hope it will be built to the latter place as it will mean so much for the working of the asbestos mines. Often orders for asbestos cannot be carried out owing to the stipulation that it should be supplied within a certain time. Contracts cannot be taken on by the mines owing to the lack of a railway. If a railway line is built, the North-West will be in a position to supply all the wants of the European market. With regard to settlers on Crown lands, I want to draw the attention of the Minister to the fact that the instalments are too high, owing to the short period of the loan, and the people cannot pay them. It is better to spread the repayments over a longer period than to drive the people from the country. The Minister recently stated that the diggings brought in £64,000 to the Treasury. The diggers have received nothing in return. I welcome the promise by the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs of a post office. It is alleged that the diggings have a demoralizing influence—but what are these 30,000 people going to do when they are taken away from the diggings? In the cities there are just as many bad influences as on the diggings. I would like to see a return to the penny postage. There should be a revision in the incidence of taxation, and it is evident that the farmers pay an unfair share at present. The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) has thrown mud at Government members, but anyone who followed events since 1912 can only reply “woe to those who are the cause of the difficulties.” One of the reasons was the exclusion of the Prime Minister from the Cabinet by Gen. Botha in order to please the Unionists. The second important cause was the stupid expedition against German South-West Africa. The anger of the hon. member for Bezuiden hout (Mr. Blackwell) was aroused because we invited the Dutch-speaking members of the S.A.P. to join the Nationalist party. The S.A.P., however, has only 15 Dutch-speaking members of the original number, all the others being Unionists. We not only want the Dutch-speaking members, but men of the type of Mr. Merriman, Mr. Currey and others are always welcome. Men of that class ought to come over to the Nationalist party because they belong to this party.
I want to bring the House back to the deplorable attack which the hon. member for Zoutpansberg (Mr. Pirow) made upon the honour of the distinguished man whose place he has taken in this House. Speaking for myself, and for most hon. members of the House who have any sense at all of the dignity of Parliament and the traditions of Parliament, it was very painful to me to hear the attack made upon the honour of one who has stood very high in the counsels of this country. I think to bring an attack upon the floor of the House against one who has served this country so well, on the flimsiest evidence, is not worthy of the traditions of Parliament. I think if we proceed on that course it is going to end in bringing the whole of Parliament into disrepute. No matter what party the Government of the day may belong to, whether Nationalist, Labour or S.A.P., it is equally bad. For if the public once begin to believe that Ministers are venal, that corruption reigns in high places, they will not distinguish between parties or individuals and all Government will suffer, and we, as humble members of this Parliament, will suffer. We are governing a large multitude of people who have no say whatsoever in the Government of this country, and it seems to me desirable, above everything, that we should endeavour to maintain the honour of our Ministers, of whatever party, as pure as we possibly can. The traditions of the British Parliament, at any rate, I think, show us that an attack against a Minister of the Crown or against any hon. member of the House must be founded on the strongest evidence, and should be made solely on the ground of public policy. I can find no excuse or palliation at all for the attack which has been made by the hon. member for Zoutpansberg (Mr. Pirow). It does not, in my opinion, deserve to be considered a serious charge against the past Minister, neither is it made on the grounds of public policy, for it is brought before the House with no evidence at all. The clearest evidence about the whole sorry business is that the hon. member has for a long time past been engaged in these intrigues against the honour of Colonel Mentz, for he admitted here, in the House, that he had been a party to drawing up the questions which Col. Mentz answered so satisfactorily last session. It is also clear from the evidence that the kind of attack which was delivered in the House has also been delivered on the public platform, and it has been delivered for the purpose of creating an atmosphere without making any specific charge, so as to cause the worst kind of prejudice against Col. Mentz. For it is infinitely more damaging to create suspicion against an individual than to make a direct charge which can be answered. The effect is to make people believe that the truth is so bad that it has to be smothered. The hon. member (Mr. Pirow) has come sailing back into the House on the winds of prejudice which he has been able to raise. I do not know what hon. members feel about this, whether they think that the end justifies the means. I, personally, would have been ashamed to sit in the House as a result of impugning the honour of my political opponent. What is infinitely worse is that after distilling the poison of a diseased imagination into the minds of the people, of the countryside, he brings it on to the floor of this House to try and instil the poison into our minds. He asks us to dance with him around the honour of a man who has served this country for years with distinction, and who is nearly blind to-day as a result of his devotion to duty. Let us come to the facts of the charge which is made against the honour of Col. Mentz. The hon. member started out in his speech by creating an atmosphere. No specific charge is made, he simply told us that in the Zoutpansberg constituency at the time of the election there was an enormous activity going on the part of the Lands Department. Large areas of Crown lands were suddenly cut up, he said. Agents of the Lands Department went round the country on all kinds of missions, and this sphere of activity, he said, extended itself to the neighbouring constituencies. I would like to quote some of the words which fell from him. He said: “This feverish activity extended to the neighbouring constituencies.” I have seen a good deal of that, and know that it takes a long time to cut up hundreds of thousands of acres. “Hundreds of applications for land came in.” Now, you do not cut up hundreds of thousands of acres in an election period. Then he told us that they had an illiterate inspector of lands who was going round cutting up lands. Well, it is a most extraordinary thing that an illiterate inspector of lands should have sufficient knowledge to carry out the work of a surveyor. Then he said: “Although no one said it definitely, there was a feeling that the man who might support the Government would receive compensation later.” That gives you an idea of the psychological skill of the hon. member who makes these veiled accusations. Though no word is spoken, he knows what is in every mind. No charge; nothing you can lay hold of; just an atmosphere. You can see from this speech the whole of the Northern Transvaal bubbling over with bribery and corruption. It is extremely well done. There is an artistic touch about the hon. member; he certainly has a way with him. If he should ever happen to be Crown prosecutor, I can see some poor innocent wretch will have a good chance of being hung. But there was one thing the hon. member overlooked. In his efforts to create an atmosphere damaging to Col. Mentz, he has painted a most depressing picture of the political morality of the people of the Northern Transvaal. He shows us that they are a lot off political hucksters devoid of political faith, having no sense of party loyalty, blind to the spirit of justice, and corrupt to the core; ready to sell their votes to anybody for a consideration. That is the picture he has painted of the electors of the Northern Transvaal. Does that explain why the Nationalists occupy those benches in such force? If the electors of the Northern Transvaal are the sorry crew he has painted them to be, then I say they have a worthy representative. That is how the hon. member commenced by creating this atmosphere; no charge is made. The fires are lit in the minds of the electors; the stage is prepared; and then the honour of Col. Mentz is dragged on for us to look at. Then he goes on—he makes no charge—but says this: “I pass over the fact that it has been disclosed that Col. Mentz out of 36 farms which he owns, or part of which he owns, had 34 of which were occupation farms.” What was the meaning of that?
Is it a fact though?
I will speak about that in a moment. He has said that the Minister of Lands has 36 farms, 34 of which were occupation farms. The public might be led to believe that those were Government farms, farms which it was in the power of the Government to dispose of which had to be personally occupied. Yet what is the proof The proof is those were all freehold farms.
We will come to “Tommy,” but this is my point. Why are these 36 farms dragged on? Why is Col. Mentz dragged on to the stage and the public told that he has 36 farms? What is the truth? It is this and it is on the records of this House. Of the original titles of those farms one was granted in 1870; one in 1879; seven in 1889; two in 1890; one in 1897; six in 1903; two in 1904; two in 1906; five in 1908; two in 1910; two in 1911;’ one in 1914; and one in 1917 and this of 1917 was a half share transferred to Col. Mentz by the owner—the owner retaining the other half, and it was only the transfer registered. A good many of those farms came to Col. Mentz by bequest. The total area of those farms is 40,000 morgen; the total owned by Col. Meotz is less than 10,000 morgen. After all we are supposed to be gentlemen in this House. This is a matter concerning our honour in Parliament. Surely it a Minister can show that in his ordinary business affairs, he has acquired 36 farms before becoming Minister of Lands, he is entitled to this. Why is it dragged on to the scene! For the sole purpose of damaging Col. Mentz in the eyes of the country. It is a very strange thing but we have one of Col. Mentz’s old partners sitting in this House who has not said a word about these matters. He had something to do with these transactions and he might be able to tell us the truth about them.
Col. Mentz is the head of one of the oldest and most prosperous firms of solicitors in the district of Pietersburg. Almost all the hon. members sitting opposite are lawyers, so they will understand that lawyers throughout this country deal in land. They sell lands, and they buy lands. It is part and parcel of the business of solicitors in this country. It would be rather interesting to know how many broad acres are owned by a number of the lawyers on the opposite side of this House. Everybody knows that solicitors in this country deal in lands and in that way Col-Mentz and his firm became possessed of these farms. Is there anything wrong in that? Now the hon. member goes on to say after introducing the 36 farms—he says: “the mere fact of his having 34 farms does not indicate, per se, that there is anything wrong.” Per se, a good old lawyerlike phrase. “In itself, on the face of it” there is nothing wrong, infers the hon. member; but if I could only a story unfold everything is wrong. There we have the mist of suspicion going round in every one’s mind on this subject. It was in effect an attack to damage and wound the honour of Col. Mentz on that flimsy evidence. Let us come to “Tommy.” He said this is “part of the general mess.” Then the other farms must have been a considerable portion of the mess. I happen to have no great information about Tommy; but I say, what is the charge? There is no charge; there is not a vestige of a charge. Let us see what the hon. member did. He brought some documents into the House and said “I am going to refer to certain documents and they show that the statement which Col. Mentz made in the House was absolutely wrong, hopelessly unreliable and thoroughly untruthful.” He does not say that of Col. Mentz but he says the documents say so. What can we get hold of here? What is the charge? He accused the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. Reitz) of effecting a transfer, when he was in Europe; so what is the value of the date on a deed of transfer when the transfer took place years before? The whole thing is palpable to anyone who wants to see the truth. I am no lawyer, I am only an unsophisticated farmer from the wilds of Zululand and, may I add, it seems extraordinary to me that on the Nationalist side of the House the country districts are mostly represented by lawyers while on this side the country districts are represented by farmers If there were a few more unsophisticated farmers in the House our politics might be purer. It seems to me that there is the slippermess of an eel about this business, there is nothing to get hold of, there is nothing on which an action of libel can lay and which would enable Col. Mentz to clear his name. Supposing to day I purchased a farm in my district and the transfer did not go through and next year I became Minister of Lands, what is to happen? Should I be accused of bribery and corruption if transfer then took place? That seems to me to be the present case in a nutshell. There is another aspect of this matter. Most of my constituents are lessees of Crown lands; consequently I am brought a good deal in touch with the Lands Department and I wish to testify here, it seems necessary in view of the attacks made, to the justice and efficiency with which that Department is being conducted. It is my experience that the heads of that Department are imbued with the highest spirit of public service and integrity. In case it may be thought that I have some land up my sleeve, in giving this testimonial, let me say the only land which I possess is a little farm of 530 acres on the banks of the Umfolozi, which is my sole source of livelihood; so you can acquit me of dealing in land. I think the worst thing which can happen to land settlement in this country is that settlers should get a feeling in their minds that there is graft in the Lands Department. I want to say a few words of my own knowledge of the administration of the Lands Department. The attack made on Col Mentz would lead one to suppose that the Minister of Lands had the right to issue land to anyone he likes. That is not so. It cannot be done unless he has the approval of the Land Board. The procedure under which the Minister can allot land is laid down under the Lands Settlement Act of 1912. And the legal opinion is that event though the Minister may refuse to grant land to the person recommended by the Land Board, he cannot grant it to anybody else without first obtaining their recommendation. The present Minister agrees with this. Accordingly how can any charge be made against Col. Mentz of having done so? If you are to impeach Col. Mentz you must impeach the whole of the Transvaal Land Board. The charge must lie equally on them. I do not know the Land Board of the Transvaal, but I do know the Natal one. It has been doing exceptionally good work and has won the esteem of all sections of the public. Most of the members have been there many years. The chairman is a man respected throughout Natal. And the effect of that judgment and experience is to be found in the numerous prosperous settlements in Natal which are not to be found elsewhere in the Union. Perhaps the whole thing needs investigation, but might I put this to the House? Take our Minister of Lands to-day. In two or three years’ time he may be subjected to such another charge by some other political opponent and his private affairs may have to be dragged forth for investigation merely because some irresponsible nobody brings these charges against him. A Minister takes office, but he does not give up his private business, as he may be out of office next year, and if you wish a Minister to forsake his private affairs he must be provided with a pension on leaving office, otherwise you must have Ministers who are not land-owners. Otherwise we shall have to swop offices and make a baker into a Minister of Lands, and put the land-owner in the baker’s shop. I would now like to say a few words about Zululand. There seems to be quite a wrong impression about the amount of land available in Zululand; there are only 300,000 acres which have been surveyed, and not 3,000,000. That survey has been made according to a policy adopted by the late Natal Government as long ago as 1906. The areas surveyed are those which have been found most suitable for bringing about the most efficient settlement. The idea that the Government has cut up the farms in order to give them to large corporations is quite erroneous; they are intended for individuals with a little capital; but as I propose to bring that matter up at a subsequent date, I will not refer to it any further. I am sorry the Minister of Railways and Harbours is not present, for I wanted to refer to one or two matters affecting his department. There is a reference in the Governor-General’s speech to a railway which is to be built in Zululand, and it is understood that the line is to be paid for out of the proceeds of the sale of certain farms. The Minister of Finance shakes his head. Is the line, then, not to be a charge on these farms. If that is so, these farms will need to be re-valued. I would urge that the building of the railway be gone on with at once, as the matter is urgent. The fever season starts in November, and unless a commencement is made with the building of the railway at once nothing will be done this year, and as cotton has already been planted the settlers naturally want it to get to the market as soon as possible.
I would like to refer to what the previous speaker said regarding the land transactions of Col. Mentz. It is well known that there is a lot of political bribery in the Northern Transvaal. The land inspectors in Zoutpansberg are followers of the S A.P., though Mr. Nicholson of Pietersburg is an exception. He got the position when he lost Waterberg for the S.A.P. But who is the inspector of lands in Zoutpansberg? He is a traitor from the Nationalist party. He was the election agent of Col. Mentz, and was then given the position of inspector. The inspector under Mr. Nicholson is Mr. Eloff. This was a political appointment, too, as he was Col. Mentz’s election agent. The people of Zoutpansberg, however, were not to be bribed. That was the reason for the appearance of a new member for Zoutpansberg in the House. Some time ago the Auditor-General drew attention to the appointment of a certain person, another Mr. Eloff, who was sent to Zoutpansberg to do surveying at £4 or more per day, although he was not a qualified surveyor. He was a political agent of the S.A.P., and the public wanted to know why such a sum of money was paid to him. Col. Mentz, the then Minister of Finance, said in reply to a question by the Auditor-General, that those parts were so unhealthy that nobody could be found to go there People then asked how it was that settlers were expected to live there. The answer was very far-fetched, so much so, that the Auditor-General had to comment on it. I want to say a few words regarding the farm “Tommy,” because I handled the matter. Mr. Moller is of opinion that the farm has been taken from him, not by a private person but by the Government. Mr. Moller feels that he has been wronged, and if only for that reason, I hope there will be an investigation and that we shall have more light on the matter. The public and the injured party have a right to this, and Col. Mentz ought to have an opportunity also to show that there is nothing wrong in the transaction. “Tommy” was granted to Mr. Moller on the usual terms as a Government farm. One of the conditions was that the settler had to occupy the farm himself and to have no partner. According to the affidavit of Col. Mentz in connection with the payment of transfer dues he bought the farm “Tommy” on February 21st, 1919. But only in 1920 did Kruger, who had taken over the farm, receive the title deeds. In 1919 Col. Mentz was Minister of Lands, and according to his own statement he bought land belonging to the State from Kruger while he was a Minister of the Crown. Surely such things should not be allowed under the regulations of the Lands Department. According to the Hansard of the last session Col. Mentz declared that the contract of the farm was transferred to Kruger in order to help Moller. It is incomprehensible why the farm should ever have been transferred to Kruger. Kruger is a speculator who has, as far as I know, at least a dozen farms to his name, and is therefore not the class of person to whom ground could have been granted. He has never seen the farm “Tommy.” and never had anything to do with it. According to Col. Mentz, Moller transferred the farm to Kruger, but how can that be, when Kruger knows nothing about the place? Kruger was only the representative and furthered the interests of Col. Mentz. The hon. member for Zululand (Mr. Nicholls) wishes to know why the matter was not properly investigated. This, however, was insisted on from the very beginning. The then Leader of the Opposition, the present Prime Minister, wished to have a commission of enquiry appointed, but the then Prime Minister refused. In the interests of Moller, of Col. Mentz, and of the public there should certainly be an enquiry. After the dissolution of Parliament Col. Mentz went about in the Bethal, Pietersburg and other parts of the Transvaal and said that the Nationalist party tried to defile his name and that he would welcome an enquiry. We agree with him that an enquiry is needed. Col. Mentz, as a Minister of the Crown, bought Government land from a settler, and that is a contravention of the law. That gentleman must have an opportunity to state his case. That is all we want. I would like to state that the chief officers of the Lands Department in Pretoria are absolutely honest. They are very obliging, and it is a pleasure to co-operate with them, and the country can be proud of them. They are obliged, however, to act according to the reports and recommendations of local officers, and that is where the difficulty comes in. The hon. member for Cradock (Mr. G. C. Van Heerden) made certain proposals. I want to remind that hon. member that the Nationalist party have advocated the same things for a long time. I am glad to see that he is ashamed of the career of the previous Government and has taken over some of the proposals of the Nationalist party. I can assure him that he will not have to wait long for the fulfilment of his propositions. It is very strange, however, that he wants to import from oversea a stranger to this country to investigate our irrigation problems. A foreigner knows nothing of conditions in South Africa, and I think our experience with Littlejohn Philip, should be a lesson to us. The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) says that the Opposition will be very reasonable. Such an assurance was hardly necessary, as there is no other way open to them. They have made such a mess of things that they ought to be grateful that they are still in the House, and it is better for them to say nothing. The present Ministers can never be worse than the previous ones. The hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Blackwell) said that the Nationalist party was now assuming an unsympathetic attitude—an attitude of vulgar rejoicing over the defeat of the Government. He is mistaken; the Nationalist Party is not vindictive. It only rejoices that the old policy of misrepresentation, hyprocrisy, bribery and racialism has received the death-blow. During the election the speech of the right hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) declared that “our primary and greatest aim was to get away from racialism in politics and to do away with racial divisions which in the past kept the two races of South Africa in different political camps. For that purpose the amalgamation between the old South African Party, consisting for the most part of Dutch-speaking South Africans, and the old Unionist party, consisting almost exclusively of English-speaking South Africans, was effected. One of the results was that during the last three sessions of Parliament racial questions, which up, till a few years ago had been one of the chief factors on our Parliamentary programme, were almost forgotten, and Parliament could give its attention to the business of the country instead of to purely racial questions.” So we see that the right hon. gentleman agrees that the two racialist parties, namely the Unionists and the S.A.P. killed racialism by their amalgamation. As the Nationalist party was continually growing stronger he should have realized that the Nationalists were not the racialists. According to this argument racialism should never have been heard of again. The appeal of the hon. the Minister of Justice and the Prime Minister for reunion was extended to all South Africans in the S.A.P., but it is unfortunate for the hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Blackwell) and his associates if they do not look upon themselves as such. They seem to be under the impression that an Afrikander necessarily means a Dutch-speaking South African. The aim of the reunion movement was the reunion of that which was united namely, the Nationalists and the S.A.P. which did not consist exclusively of Dutch-speaking people. We do not want to unite with the Unionists, whether they are English or Dutch-speaking, because we cannot agree to their pernicious principle. I sympathize with the Minister of Finance because there was hardly any other way for him but to take over the greater part of the Budget of his predecessor. The next Budget will be different to that of his predecessor. It will have to be, if he wants to be on the right track. I welcome the abolition of the medicine tax. It shows that the Government is going to carry out its promises. The public has grown so used to a Government which only makes promises during election times which it never carries out that it will be pleased to have an honest Government. We know that time is required to carry out all its promises, but a start has been made. I am also pleased that there is to be a reduction in the tobacco tax. The producers, however, want a total abolition of this tax, but they realize that under the circumstances it cannot be done just now. The Government will have to consider the matter of the importation of cattle from Rhodesia, regarding which a promise was made during the election. The importation cannot be stopped immediately, but the Government should make a clear statement so that the public knows what to expect. The customs agreement which the S.A.P. made with Rhodesia only expires in December, and should not be renewed as it stands. Another matter awaiting the attention of the Minister is the Land Bank Act, which lays down that the bank cannot advance more than 60 per cent. of the value of the land. Under the Land Settlement Act an advance of 80 per cent, is made, and that includes improvements. With a view to the plight of the farmers the Land Bank Act ought to be amended. The bank ought to get more funds. According to the Estimates the Government has increased its contribution by £200,000, but even this amount is insufficient. In the past it often occurred that the bank was without funds. The board of that institution reported that £500,000 per annum was quite inadequate and that next year £1,900,000 would be required. This statement is confirmed on page 11 of the report of the board, where the matter is dealt with at some length. The farmers have to be helped over their difficulties, and the bank only gets £700,000. That means that many people have to be turned away. The bank has never lost any money yet, as it is extremely well managed by Mr. Herold and by the board and the staff, and it follows, therefore, that it can safely advance more money. In its last annual report the board draws attention to the plight of the farmers, and emphasizes that they should be assisted with money, but that the funds of the bank are limited. If a farmer is not so assisted he gets into trouble because it is not easy for a farmer to start on any other work. Then there is also a regulation which prevents the Land Bank from taking over existing bonds. On these bonds the farmers have to pay 8 per cent., and the regulation prevents the farmer from utilizing the cheaper funds of the Land Bank. Farmers will take more families on their farms if they are enabled to get money for house building. They do not know that they can get loans for it, and the Government ought to take steps to acquaint farmers with the fact. The previous Minister promised in regard to the instalments which are in arrear that the debts would be capitalized. He made much of it; but I would like to remind him that it is his bad administration which got the people into that plight. I would like to know what the Government is going to do in this connection. The Government should make a clear statement as to whether it is going to write off and capitalize the debts. Where a re-valuation has been made, the matter will be put straight. A re-valuation is also necessary in other cases. Some farms are not worth 2s. 6d., because they are so unhealthy that the people are in danger of their lives. The farmers thought that back payments would be wiped off because they cannot pay the high instalments. Unfortunately they are receiving reminders, and they do not know what is going to happen. I think it is advisable for the Minister to make a definite statement as speedily as possible. I would like to ask the Minister of Finance to make representations to the banks not to press people. The banks do not realize that the farmers cannot even pay the interest on their loans. The farmers are ruining themselves by selling their stock for next to nothing in order to pay their interest. This is in the interest neither of the country nor the banks. I would also like to suggest to the Minister not to send registered letters to the farmers, because if they receive such letters they get such a fright that they immediately sell all their possessions.
Thank you for the suggestion.
As the representative of one of the districts that suffers most from drought and locusts, I would like to draw the attention of the Minister to the difficulties of the farmers. As the farmers are in such a position that they can hardly help themselves, it is the duty of Parliament to help them. I do not like to complain, but the state of affairs in the country districts is very bad indeed. During the great war values went up so enormously that many progressive farmers are now, losing their farms. After the Anglo-Boer war the farmers bought oxen on credit, ploughed and sowed their mealies and then sold the oxen, sometimes at a loss, but often at a profit. Oxen fetched high prices, and so did mealies. Then the depression came, with the result that the value of their assets was lower than their debts. The oxen for which they paid from £16 to £18 were not worth more than from £5 to £6. Then followed drought and locusts, Many farmers mortgaged their farms, they could not pay, and one after the other they lost them. The Government has placed a sum on the Estimates to assist these people, but we must do more. In cases where farmers cannot pay their bonds provision should be made for the Land Bank to take them over so that these people do not lose their farms. If the farmer loses his ground he becomes a poor white. The poor white problem must be solved. These people are a burden to the State, and the burden becomes heavier every day. The financial position is not very bright, and the Government cannot do what it likes. Much that is necessary has to be left undone. But when the Empire was in difficulties during the War, the Government did not mind spending money to help it out. Now we have to declare “war on the poor white problem,” and we ought to give very liberally for the solution of this problem. The Minister of Finance ought to place on the Estimates an adequate sum to enable the Land Bank to take over bonds and to advance money according to the original value of the ground. There are farmers who are past our help, because their debts are greater than the value of their farms. In such cases the Government? ought to buy the farm from the insolvent estate and settle the original owner on it in order to prevent him becoming a poor white and going to the towns. The poor white problem is a difficult but an urgent one. It is remarkable that South Africa, which is such a wealthy country, has such an extraordinarily large number of poor whites. It is not the fault of the people but of the Government, because we have never before had a really democratic Government. We have one new, and we hope things will be different in future. Several Opposition member said that the Nationalists made promises. They made no promises; it is the programme of the Nationalist party which will be carried out. In 1921 the right hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) went to the country and asked for a big majority, so that the country might progress. He got a very big majority, but the fruit was quite different from what was expected. Money became scarce, different taxes were levied, such as the tobacco and medicine taxes, and the tax on the valuation of stock was increased, resulting in much poverty and suffering. To crown it all, the people were shot down. I am glad that the Minister of Finance has given some relief in the reduction of the tobacco tax which, I hope, will be done away with altogether next session. This tax nearly killed the tobacco industry, and then the farmers had still to cope with wildfire. I would also like to ask the Minister for more relief in respect of the quantity of tobacco from the consumer of which is exempted from taxation. This ought to be raised to 50 lbs. I would like to remind the Minister of the big advances which the co-operative society paid on mealies in 1920. Later the farmers had to repay them but as a consequence of the drought and the locusts many were not in a position to do it. The late Government was largely responsible on account of its embargo on mealies. The plight of the farmers in Ventersdorp is much worse than the people in the towns realize. Therefore I hope that the Minister of Finance will assist the mealie farmers. Many of them are not able to keep their families on account of the bad crops for three successive years. If a farmer does not prosper, everybody suffers.
I am in sympathy with the contention that the Government should be given a reasonable time and opportunity of formulating its policy. We know that the Government has been in office only for a matter of two or three weeks, and I for one am prepared to Concede that a week or two is not ample time for the Government to formulate its policy, especially when it is confronted with so many difficult problems in that short time I came here particularly anxious to find out the policy of the Government with reference to the settlers who are occupying Government holdings under the Lands Act, and I have been supplied with information that satisfies me as to the Government’s policy in that regard. The other matter I consider of grave urgency and importance is the Asiatic question which is such a burning one in our quarter of the Union, Natal. Of course, it is a very difficult problem, and I am hoping that the Government will come forward next session with some clearcut policy in regard to this Asiatic problem. We have in Natal a population of Something like 140,000 to 150,000 Asiatics, which is almost equal to the European population, and the Asiatics are encroaching on every preserve in that province, on every trade, and even on professions; and it is quite impossible for things to continue as they have been doing hitherto. I am hoping that there will be some policy of preventing further purchases of land by Asiatics in Natal, and if that cannot be done entirely, I am hoping that there should be some policy of segregation by which the Asiatics will be allowed to acquire land only within certain areas, and not as at present buying up the choicest sites in the province, mixing up with Europeans, and entering into competition with them. There is the question of licences which is very important, and it comes home to us more in Natal than to those who do not have the Asiatic problem such as the Orange Free State or possibly here in the Cape. With their trading licences these Asiatics are driving the Europeans to the wall. Let me give you my own experience in Ladysmith. Forty years ago there were, I believe, more European stores there than there are to-day notwithstanding the fact that the population has increased 20 or 30 fold. The Asiatic is in possession of the choicest sites in the main streets of ‘the town, and there is no question that it is only a matter of time before the Asiatic will have the whole trade of Natal in their hands. I hope that the Government will assist us in the solution of this problem, and I can give the Government this assurance that whatever policy they formulate or bring forward that will tend to solve this problem will have my heartiest support, and not only my support, but I feel sure the support also of practically all the Natal hon. members. There are one or two matters I would like to bring to the notice of the Government which they might deal with during the recess. I want to say a few words with regard to the Native Lands Act, which imposes a very great hardship on the European owners of land within the proposed areas. That land is depreciated in value both from the sale point of view and also from the investor’s point of view as a security. This Act has deprived the European owner of the unrestricted right to sell his land and it has also retarded development. Owing to the state of uncertainty which the Act created in the minds of owners and the want of finality of the Act. The only useful provision in the Act is that it has prevented the native from acquiring land in what are known as European areas, but this object can be attained by a separate Act. It would not affect the native one iota if the Lands Act were repealed to-day. Another matter to which I would like to call the Government’s attention is the need of co-ordinating the Masters and Servants Acts and the Pass Laws in the Union. We in Natal are particularly unfortunate in regard to the Masters and Servants Act and the Pass Laws. It is an easy matter for a native in Natal to abscond from the service of his master, go to Johannesburg, and there efface himself owing to our faulty Pass Laws which makes it possible for them to practise personation and to borrow and buy passes from each other. A matter which has been brought to my notice and which has my entire support is in regard to the Pensions Act as applicable to railwaymen. The present pensions are undoubtedly inadequate and do not enable a man, when he has completed his term in the service and retired, to spend his declining years in the enjoyment of an allowance which will enable him to keep body and soul together. I believe that the workers are quite prepared to increase their contribution to the superannuation fund so that their pensions could be proportionately augmented. There is another matter which for the railway worker is a big matter and that is, he thinks his sons should be given preference where a vacancy occurs in the railway service. I think where a man has put in the best years of his life in the railway service and has a son who can take up the work and wishes to take it up the son should be given preference to an outsider. Lastly in regard to the grading of the railway servants: it appears that when a man has qualified for promotion to a higher grade he is not given that promotion until it suits the convenience of the Railway Administration. It is not the fault of the man if there is no work in the higher grade and I suggest that the Administration might at least give him the pay of the higher grade although they cannot give them the work. I think the Government realizes that we should have a contented service and if these matters which I have dealt with are remedied it will lead to that desirable result. There are other matters which I intend to deal with at a later stage.
I have listened to the hon. member for Zululand (Mr. Nicholls) this evening and it seemed to me that he protested rather too much. It seemed to me he was defeating the very end he had ostensibly in view, namely, the preserving of the good name of this House. If the honour of this House is at stake, there is all the more reason why the matter should be brought before the House as it was by the hon. member for Zoutpansberg (Mr. Pirow), and should be enquired into. After all, the matters in connection with the Tea-Pot Dome scandal were brought to life by a person bringing charges which he knew he could not fully substantiate, and yet it was because he brought those charges that he was able to get them enquired into. The hon. member for Dundee (Sir Thomas Watt) had been at great pains to-day to attempt to clear certain persons connected with the grain elevator wastage at Durban. It reminded me of the nursery rhyme of the House that Jack Built—the person who was to bear the blame could not be found. We have suffered that and other damages, and I am sure these matters will be receiving the attention of the Government. Then I would refer to the irrigated lands which are being brought under cultivation by certain large irrigation schemes. Many of these schemes have been ruined and made charges on the country because the ground has been allowed to fall indiscriminately into the hands of people who deal in land, into the hands of land speculators. There are to-day large tracks of land which have fallen into the hands of these people, which will prevent the Government from ever getting their water rates. The land is being sold to settlers at such prices that the Government has no earthly chance of getting their money. I need only refer to the land sold under the Van Ryneveld Pass irrigation scheme. The farmer has parted with this land at £20 a morgen, and if it could be sold to settlers at that rate it would be all right—on 10 morgen of that ground a person could make a decent, honourable living. But at the price it is advertised to be sold, I make bold to say, that not a single morgen will be sold in this country. The reason is that people know they will not be able to pay their water rates. I trust the Government will not be so slow in taking up the matter as the late Government has been. Their death-bed repentance has meant ruin to many, and will prevent the present Government from going in for a much larger scheme of irrigation than they would otherwise have done. If the water rates had been paid regularly there would be no hitch in the land development of this country. The Government cry to-day is “so little has been done and there is so much to do.” but the cry of the land speculator is “so many done, so few to do.” The policy of the past few years, and even of the past 20 or 30 years, has brought our country to this pass. As an agricultural community—We actually have not the settlers ready to go on the ground. To-day there is no available land in this part of the country for these people. I need only refer to a visit of an ex-Minister of Agriculture to Graaff-Keinet, a gentleman who now holds an exalted position in another place, who said: “All you have to do is to import people to settle on the land.” It is that policy which has alienated the true sympathies of the people of this country with the late Government and has made people look for something better from the new Government—a Government which will hold out some hope for the South African boy and girl, even although they may be stigmatized as poor whites. The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. Reitz) when he speaks of a planter type being the best available type for cotton lands in Zululand does not know his own people, and does not realize that in our country there is as much a planter type as the one he wishes to settle these lands with. He does not realize that the young men who have been trained by Mr. Rouillard have been very successful, so successful, indeed, that Mr. Rouillard does not care for them to plant cotton privately. It is the hon. member’s policy which has alienated the people of South Africa. The hon. member for Cradock (Mr. Van Heerden) suggested the farmers’ increase should be taxed even although he had not the opportunity of selling that increase.
He does not pay if he loses it.
I maintain that in many cases the farmer loses his increase of stock as a good deal of it has died since June 30.
Business was interrupted by Mr. Speaker at 10.55 p.m.; debate adjourned until Wednesday.
The House adjourned at