House of Assembly: Vol2 - FRIDAY 15 AUGUST 1924
was granted leave to introduce the Land Bank Acts Further Amendment Bill.
Bill brought up and read a first time; second reading on Wednesday.
was granted leave to introduce the Land Settlement Acts Further Amendment Bill.
Bill brought up and read a first time; second reading on Wednesday.
I think hon. members will agree as to the desirability, of this, as the Government hopes the session will be over by the middle of September.
Mr. C. A. VAN NIEKERK seconded.
First Order read: Adjourned debate on motion for House to go into Committee of Supply, to be resumed.
Debate adjourned on 14th instant was resumed.
This Budget debate was introduced under special circumstances, and members will agree when I state that the debate was in more than one sense remarkable. Valuable suggestions on both sides of the House have been made to the Government, and I can assure hon. members that consideration will be given to them all. At the same time a great deal of time during the five days the debate lasted was given to making what one might term election speeches. A stranger who listened to the debate would have thought that we were having another election. Even some of the old members were guilty of the same thing, and surely they should have known better. We heard a good deal about all the old things such as secession and racialism. I hardly think those things merit discussion, because only a few weeks ago the country gave a clear verdict. Real criticism of the financial policy of the Government was to a great extent lacking. The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) was an exception. He tried to give honest criticism. But he was rather excited when he spoke of great reduction of expenditure, about the incidence of taxation and the need for economy and the reduction of taxation. He made much of the Provincial muddle. I think the hon. gentleman directs his criticism to the wrong quarter. The Government was not responsible for the things which the hon. member criticised so searchingly. His criticism was levelled against things for which this Government has no responsibility. The hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) who opened the debate, admitted that from the nature of things it was impossible for the Government to make any radical changes in financial policy. He said that he did not expect it. I would like to point out however, that that statement was not quite correct, as there were several important changes in the new Budget. But the hon. member adopted quite a different attitude later in his speech. He reproached the Government for not carrying out its election promises. The hon. member was disappointed that the tobacco tax was not repealed nor the importation of cattle from Rhodesia stopped. But he went further; he expected the Government, after being in power for four weeks, to come forward with a Bill for the establishment of a new State bank, which is surely absurd. The Opposition promised to give the Government a fair chance. The Government expects no favours from the Opposition, but it might reasonably have expected that the Opposition would not at this stage have criticised in the manner it did. The hon. member was much concerned about election promises, but I want to point out that election promises, and the carrying out of them were matters for the Nationalist party and its supporters. The Opposition has nothing to do with that. I can assure the House however, that it was the definite intention of the Government to carry out its election promises. Regarding the tobacco tax I would like to emphasize what I said in my opening speech, namely that the Government did not have time for a thorough revision of the system of taxation, consequently it was not possible to do away with the tax. I said that the proposals contained in the Budget did not reflect the policy of the Government. The Government only went as far as possible under the circumstances. The whole matter will be gone into during the recess, and next session the Opposition can come forward with its criticism. It was interesting to hear the. hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) hold forth on tobacco. He has suddenly become an expert in the matter of the taxation of tobacco. With great verbosity he explained to the House the difference between a tax on roll tobacco and on leaf tobacco. That difference I discovered when I was in office a few days, but several years were not enough for the previous Government to find it out. I know there is a difference, but I want to repeat that the Government has not yet announced its final policy in this matter. Regarding the importation of cattle from Rhodesia and the allegation that the Government is not carrying out its promises I want to say that I quite agree with hon. members who stated that it is a matter of vital importance, and that it was repeatedly raised during the elections. The Government received a mandate, and it is going to carry out that mandate. It has to be done in a decent manner, however, because it is desirable that the Union should remain on an amicable footing with its neighbours. I hope that the Opposition will recognize the reasonableness of that standpoint. They know that the present agreement holds good until the end of the year. Regarding a State bank, I can assure hon. members that the Government has not forgotten its promise. The Opposition took me to task because I spoke again of the surplus, and criticised my predecessor for applying loan funds to cover current expenditure. I want to say at once that it was unreasonable on the part of Mr. Krige to assert that the bona fides of Mr. Burton were ever doubted on this side of the House. That I deny absolutely, but I said it was just as unreasonable not to state all the facts regarding the accumulated deficit and expenditure from loan funds in connection with that so-called surplus. My predecessor created the impression that our financial position was very rosy, but that result was only attained because money had been taken from loan funds. My predecessor stated it, and I thought it reasonable and desirable to repeat it. My predecessor said that the financial position was sound though for several years he had made use of loan funds, and despite the facts that there was an accumulated deficit, and that he had made no provision for its redemption by means of a sinking fund. With these facts before us we were justified in saying that the finances of the Union were not conducted on a sound basis during the last few years. There were not only deficits, but deficits ever since the S.A.P. Government came into power. With the exception of a period of three years, it was the consistent policy of the S.A.P. not to balance the Budget. Have hon. members forgotten that in 1915 the accumulated deficit of two and a half million pounds was transferred to loan funds, and that only during the years 1917-1919 was there a surplus without extra taxation being levied. The Government preferred deficits to levying new taxation, and if the South African Party Government had done its duty and balanced the Budget, it would have been overthrown long since. Now we are handicapped by accumulated deficits. It would appear that Mr. Duncan differed from Sir Ernest Oppenheimer with regard to our currency question. I was rather pleased to learn that the latter favoured a return to the gold basis, whilst Mr. Duncan still entertained doubts on the point under certain circumstances. I hope to appoint a Commission of experts to investigate the matter, and to place on that Commission men in whom the country will have confidence and who can advise the Government. Mr. Duncan said that I was inconsistent for not carrying out the policy which I advocated last year. I want to point out however, that last year when we urged a return to the gold standard, a totally different condition of things prevailed. At that time there was a difference of three per cent, between parity and the value of our currency, whereas to-day it is ten per cent. If things were the same to-day as they were last year, I would not hesitate to return to the gold standard. Another important matter was the state of the Provincial finances. I want to point out that the sum of more than a million pounds which appeared on the Estimates, is not an indication of the policy of the Government. If it is an unsound policy to encourage the Provincial Administration to utilize loan monies for current expenditure, the present Government was not responsible, and criticism should be levelled at the South African Party Government, who not only for a few months, but for years, advanced money to the Provincial Councils. When I took over, and things were explained to me, I realized that it was unreasonable to expect of the Provinces to levy impossible taxes in order to balance their Budgets, more especially as the Government had promised to go thoroughly into the whole matter. In the Transvaal I urged the Council to get things in order, but when I interviewed the Cape Administrator I realized that it was unreasonable to expect the Provincial Councils to levy new taxes before the Government had decided the question of the financial relations of the Provinces. I agreed to further loans and advised the Transvaal Provincial Council of my decision. Those however were only temporary loans. I intend shortly to discuss the whole matter, in order to place it on a satisfactory basis. Several suggestions have been made for the solution of the question. One was the abolition of the Provincial Councils. What will Natal say to that? We have no mandate from the country regarding the matter, and before we can do anything of the kind we have to consult the country because, it means an amendment of the Constitution. The Government refuses to amend the Constitution before it has the approval of the people. Another way of dealing with the question would be to maintain the compromise arrived at by the National Convention and to allow the Provincial Councils to retain a certain amount of independence. That, however, is not Mr. Duncan’s idea. That hon. gentleman wishes to have more supervision over the Provincial Councils and to have their powers curtailed. It is unnecessary to show where such a policy will ultimately lead to. There is a vast expansion in our educational system, and large sums are required, and the late Government tried to induce the Provincial Councils to raise certain taxes by curtailing their sources of income. That led to the unsound position in which the Provincial Councils are to-day, and it is my intention to place the Provincial Councils on a sound basis again. The Government has no intention of shirking its responsibilities; the S.A.P. Government had done that long enough. They should never have allowed things to get into such a state.
They allowed things to develop.
Regarding the remarks of Mr. Marwick concerning the proposals of native taxation which I referred to in my speech on a previous occasion, the Leader of the Opposition stated that the S.A.P. intended to oppose the Bill. I then stated that it was high time to introduce the Bill, because when the Government took over it discovered that a Bill was ready, and that provision had been made for a larger amount for native education, and that the natives would be taxed for it. The Government thought that everything had been arranged with the natives, and it was under the impression that there were certain obligations towards the natives which had to be fulfilled. Then they discovered that the matter had not been thrashed out properly and required further consideration. Under the circumstances I will leave the matter in abeyance, and no additional provision will be made on the Estimates for native education. Last year a sum of £60,000 had been placed on the Estimates, and it was intended to increase that amount to £100,000, provided the natives paid the additional £40,000. As this cannot be done, I shall revert to the amount of £60,000. Several members have spoken regarding the fostering of our industries. Amongst those who have done so were the hon. member for Weenen (Maj. Richards), the hon. member for Umvoti (Mr. Deane), the hon. member for Newcastle (Mr. Nel), and the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) (Mr. Alexander), who strongly advocated the encouragement of South African industries. I endorse almost every word said by the hon. member for Weenen in this connection, and I am glad that the Government will have the support of the Opposition in the carrying out of its industrial policy. Even at this stage I am in a position to announce that the Minister of Mines and Industries intends shortly to introduce a Bill to enable the Government to do more for industries. It is our intention to have a strong Board who can advise the Government on industrial matters, and the Government hopes, unlike its predecessors, to carry out the recommendations of the Board where it concerns the protection of certain industries. It was not possible for the Government, in a few weeks, to do all it would have liked to do. The proposals contained in the Budget show, however, the direction in which the Government is going, and I intend to introduce a Bill by which raw materials required for our factories can be imported free of duty. I went out of my way to protect a few other industries.
A good beginning!
The tanning industry has asked for a subsidy, and the Government is considering the matter, and the Department of Agriculture is investigating the insect plague from which the industry is suffering. The matter of a rubber industry and of a factory for the making of shirts and pyjamas has been raised, and will be considered. The hon. member for Graaff-Reinet (Dr. Bremer) pointed to the unreasonableness of the payment by farmers of income tax on the increased value of their stock, and in this regard I can announce that next year I shall introduce a Bill to amend the Income Tax Act, as I intend to effect a number of changes. In that Bill I hope to revert to the old system whereby a farmer will have an option as to the basis of paying income tax. Regarding the simplification of the income tax form, which has often been urged by farmers, that is by no means an easy matter. The Department of Inland Revenue is willing to co-operate to simplify the forms, and will welcome suggestions from the farmers and their organizations. It is a difficult matter, however, for they have to conform to all the requirements of the law, and provision has to be made for the different clauses of the Act. Regarding the different suggestions in connection with the Land Bank about which the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) got so excited, I want to point out that I introduced the necessary Bill this very afternoon. I am only sorry that the Nationalist party had to urge on the S.A.P. Government such a long time to make the necessary amendment, and yet the late Government did nothing in that direction. Now the new Government is suddenly attacked for the negligence of the S.A.P. Government.
You found the Bill ready.
No, we did not. The Minister of Lands required years to convince the hon. member of the necessity of the amendment. The hon. member for Pietersburg (Mr. J. F. Naudé) expressed some doubt as to whether adequate provision is made on the Estimates for the Land Bank. It is true that an amount of only £700,000 is placed on the Loan Estimates for that purpose, but there will have to be an additional £8,000,000 which the Bank will get from general revenue, so that next year the Bank will have £1,500,000 for advancing loans to farmers. The capital of the Bank is now £7,380,000, and the reserve fund is £550,000. Together with the increase to which I referred the capital will be £8,800,000. An amount of £100,000 has been placed on the Estimates for relief to those who suffer from the drought, but that does not mean that that is the only money that will be spent in that connection. It has become evident that there are many more districts where assistance is required than the few upon which a commencement has been made. If, however, everybody has to be helped we shall require an amount for which it is not possible to make provision. I hope the Government will be in a position to do more later, after it has had an opportunity of seeing how the Act works. The hon. member for East London (North) (Gen. Byron) made a very important speech on the matter of irrigation. He offered suggestions which will undoubtedly engage the attention of the Minister of Lands. The Government has already commenced to take steps for the appointment of a Commission as suggested by the hon. member. This Commission will have to investigate to what extent loans can be written off, and also regarding certain other circumstances in order that irrigation schemes may be placed on a better footing and be a real asset to the country. The hon. member for Three Rivers (Mr. D. M. Blown) made certain remarks regarding proper provision being made for the conveyance of fruit when our mail contract is renewed. The matter is being considered. It appears that twelve months’ notice is required before an alteration can be made in the mail contract. Referring to the remarks made by the hon. member for Albert (Mr. Steytler) regarding the report of the Drought Commission, and the erosion of land, I may say that the Government agrees that it is a very valuable report and that it would be a good thing if a copy could be sent to all the schools in the country. Representations have been made to me to have the report reprinted and circulated, but I have just learnt that the metal has been distributed and that it would cost too much to have a reprint. I regret it, because the circulation of the report would have done much good. The hon. member for Wakkerstroom (Mr. A. S. Naudé) raised the matter of old age pensions. I would like to refer the hon. member to a reply given to a question on that matter. The report of the Commission of officials who considered this question has just been received, and when it comes from the printers it will be laid on the Table. The hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) (Maj. G. B. van Zyl) advocated an expansion of the Union Loan Certificates scheme. It is a very important matter, and the Treasury intends to encourage public thrift, and to inducing the public to invest in Government funds. It is intended to extend the functions of the committee and to place the Post Savings Bank under its jurisdiction. There was a tendency at first to create competition between the Union Loan Certificates scheme and the Post Office Savings Department, but that has now been obviated. Now there is co-operation, and the committee can do much useful work. The hon. member for Pretoria (West) (Mr. Hay) attacked me in connection with premium bonds. I am afraid I cannot accede to the request of the Transvaal Provincial Council to get more revenue in this way. The opinion of the majority of the people has to be considered, and Í am afraid the time is not ripe yet for getting revenue in the way suggested by the hon. member. I know that the opinion in the Transvaal is strongly in its favour, but the Government cannot take this step. Referring to the remarks of the hon. member for Pretoria (West) and other hon. members regarding the finding of work for the unemployed, I do not wish to discuss the matter at this juncture. The Minister of Labour voiced the opinion of the Government. The Government is already considering the extension of the functions of the State and hopes it will at least be able to do more than its predecessor. A Bill amending the laws regarding land settlements has already been introduced. The aim of the Bill is to facilitate land settlements and I hope it will have the whole-hearted support of the Opposition. Several hon. members spoke about allowances for officials and about the differences made between those of married and unmarried officials. The alteration was made by the previous Government and came into force on 1st November, 1923. I do not see my way clear to reverse the decision of my predecessor. It seems to me that the Public Service Commission has made out a very good case, and on that the decision of the previous Government is based. I will consider the matter again, but I cannot hold out any hope of an alteration. In conclusion, I would like to say that other important matters have been raised, but it is impossible for me to reply to everything. I will say something more on matters of less importance when the House goes into Committee.
The debate covered a very wide field, and it will be best to deal with details in the Committee stage. I welcome the criticism and suggestions from all sides. The great State enterprise of the railways is desirous of serving the public in the best possible way. Naturally it will not be possible to carry out all the suggestions that have been made. The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) criticised the contributions to the amortisation fund. That is a very important matter. Until three years ago 2.68 per cent, of the capital invested in rolling stock was set aside for amortisation and depreciation. My predecessor changed this to seven per cent. of the annual revenue. I have earmarked a round sum of one and a half million pounds for the purpose. The step taken by my predecessor could only be a temporary measure, because it is calculated on an unsound basis. If railway rates were reduced considerably—and I hope this will soon be done—and there is a big decrease in revenue, the amortisation fund will be augmented by a much smaller amount. The traffic will increase, however, when rates are reduced, and there would be the anomalous position that the wear and tear of the material would increase while the amortisation fund became smaller. I hope the House will see that it is an impossible position. Different countries have different methods of dealing with contributions to this fund, but it is impossible to adopt the systems of other countries although we can be guided by them. We should, how ever, get to a sound basis in South Africa, and in conjunction with the officers of the Department find out what the depreciation is on our railways and make adequate provision. The sum of one and a half million pounds which appears on the Estimates has been decided upon after consultation with the officials. They think that 7 per cent. is quite inadequate, and that one and a half million pounds is required for the purpose. The decision, however, is not final. Next year, after the matter has been investigated carefully. I hope to come forward with a fixed scale. The three ships are now the full property of the State. I would like to enumerate a few of the advantages of these ships being the property of the State. In the first place railway sleepers were conveyed by them, because we did not have enough here, but that means the freight was kept down and we were saved from a difficult position. They have stimulated our export, for instance, our export of coal and mealies. When last year there were not enough ships for the export of our mealies, the previous Minister acted wisely in chartering two of our ships for that purpose. That was a great help to the mealie farmers. We then sent two ship loads, one of 60,000 bags and the other of 70,000 at the reasonable rates of 26s. 6d. and 25s. per ton, resulting in other lines also reducing their rates. Another advantage is that the staffs of these ships are recruited here, and the wages and salaries paid are spent in this country. Besides, the boys on the training ship “Gen. Botha” get an opportunity to be taken on by these ships. It is apparent therefore, that they have rendered very valuable services. I would like to assure the hon. member for Cape Towh (Central) (Mr. Jagger) that this does not necessarily mean that the Government intends to come to this House with a motion for enlarging the fleet. However, we cannot say that these ships are not useful. I will not say that there is not a possibility that the fleet will be enlarged, but we are not prepared for it at the present juncture. The hon. member for Pretoria (East) (Mr. Giovanetti) has made much of the socalled losses on the branch lines. I would like to say a word or two on this matter, because it is desirable that we should be clear about it. There are many complaints not only in this House but also by the Chamber of Commerce about these branch lines. As far as I know, not a single branch line has been built which was not in accordance with Clause 130 of the Constitution, that is to say without the recommendation of the Railway Board. The only exception is the line from Prieska to Nakob. When members of the Nationalist party protested against that members opposite were silent. That was an instance where they could have protested, but they said not a word. Now they ask whether the Government is going to pay the losses on these lines from, general revenue, but I would like to point out that it would be a contravention of the Constitution, and the Government does not intend to do it. But is there really a loss on the branch lines? I think there is, but I would also like to know whether the branch lines are credited with all they have a claim to. These lines now get 10 per cent. of the traffic which goes from the main lines to the branch lines, but they get no credit for the traffic from the branch lines to the main line. That is unfair, and in this respect we can learn from India. It is simply a matter of accountancy. Is it of interest to the country to know whether there is a loss or a profit on a particular branch line? Our railway system is a unit, and the branch lines are the feeders of the main line. If we take away the branch lines, what remains of the main lines? I do not intend in future to publish statistics about branch lines. The Administration forms one unit and the section of the Constitution which relates to railways will be carried out. The hon. member for Pretoria (East) (Mr. G. W. Giovanetti) will do well to read the last report of the Pretoria Chamber of Commerce. When insinuations were made about the branch lines one of the most sensible members of that body said they had to be careful, for the branch lines were the chief feeders of the system.
Won’t you get the information yourself?
The Administration has instructions to get the statistics together, but they will not be published, as they give a wrong impression.
But this House has a right to the information.
This House will have to decide, but the reports as now published are worthless. Regarding the much-needed reduction of tariffs I can state that the Government is fully alive to this matter, but on the other hand we should hasten slowly, and see that accounts balance. As long as there is a deficit we have to be very careful with the reduction of tariffs. That does not mean that there should not be a revision of the tariff on certain products, but regarding a general reduction of tariffs we should be patient and wait until we have discharged all our liabilities. Hon. members should not lose sight of the fact that the whole nature of our traffic has changed of late years. Whereas in the past we had a very profitable traffic in imported goods, to-day most of the traffic consists of local goods. In these circumstances we ought to be careful with regard to reductions in tariff, because the traffic is so extensive that every reduction of tariff means a considerable reduction in revenue. In this regard I would like to refer to the revenue per ton per mile in 1913. The figure for that year was 859d. per ton per mile, and in 1923, it had been reduced to 816d. per ton per mile. That is a reduction of 5 per cent., while the traffic had increased considerably. Several hon. members spoke about cheap transportation of raw materials for our factories. The Administration realizes the necessity of that and it will be done where possible. The export of fruit is engaging the special attention of the Government. Fruit growing has increased enormously of late years and the possibilities with regard to export are exceptionally great. Some time ago certain concessions were made for the export of mealies, and those concessions were quite justified. The time has come to consider whether the fruit farmers should not have special facilities. If we take into consideration the great production of fruit, it becomes an increasingly important matter for the fruit growers to have special facilities in order to enable them to compete with foreign countries. Our dried fruit has to compete with the fruit from all other countries, and it is vital that the fruit growers should have these facilities. The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) has repeated his theory of buying in the cheapest market, but I do not agree with him. The hon. member said that purchasing in the cheapest market was closely allied to low tariffs. Again I cannot agree. If South Africa is to become a great country, we have to see at the commencement of our period of development that our factories get the necessary support. If we accept the hon. member’s theory, it will mean that South Africa’s industries will never be developed. In older countries there are well-established industries which have become stable in the course of years, and it will not be possible for South Africa to compete with the mass production methods of those factories if we do not encourage our own. Why should we not be able to do the same work and produce the same things in our railway workshops as is done in England? If we want to give work to the boys of South Africa and assure them of a means of subsistence, we must be prepared to pay more in the beginning for our requirements and we must not insist on buying in the cheapest markets. If we are to follow the hon. member’s policy, we shall have to let go our policy of fostering industries and we shall make no progress, despite all the fine speeches. It seems as if the vision of our statesmen is obscured by Table Mountain, and they do not see the possibilities of South Africa’s hinterland. For instance, the Congo and other adjoining parts are as good as a closed book to us. There are also great possibilities in the east, because no other country is so well adapted to the establishment of industries. The Opposition had a great deal to say about immigration, but when anything is said about giving employment to the people in the country, they only talk of buying in the cheapest markets. The Government intends to proceed with the policy of making all our requirements in the country. Hon. members may ask why there is nothing on the Estimates for the extension of our railway workshops. The right hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) made a fine speech in favour of it, when the hon. member for Cape Town Central (Mr. Jagger) was still in the Ministry A month ago, however, there was not the faintest indication in the Railway Department of anything in that direction. It was a mere election dodge of the late Prime Minister. I want to point out, however, that we should not act too hastily. Foundations should be laid thoroughly, and technical investigation is necessary in order to do that. There have been no reports, and pending the necessary investigation, the Government cannot bind itself to the details of any policy. An hon. member from the north raised the question of the iron industry in Pretoria. That agreement is being attended to, and has been referred to the Select Committee on Railways. If hon. members are against it, they ought to raise their voices when the report of the Select Committee is discussed in this House. I would like to point out that there is an agreement between the Railway Administration and the Pretoria Iron Corporation providing that the railways will buy 50 per cent. of its requirements from that company, but that agreement has lapsed. Unfortunately, owing to lack of capital, the company cannot yet produce rails. My predecessor extended the agreement until 1928, and the new agreement is now being considered. The Select Committee will report on the matter, and then the hon. member for Boksburg (Mr. McMenamin) and the hon. member for Newcastle (Mr. Nel) can then give their opinion. Several hon. members wanted to know what is meant by civilized labour. If hon. members do not know it yet I will repeat it.
You told us to wait and see.
No, it was in connection with another matter that I gave that reply. By civilized labour is meant work at a wage which will enable the labourer to live a civilized life. We ought to pay civilized wages to civilized labour in South Africa, so that the white workers will be able to live a civilized life. That is absolutely necessary. Hon. members will ask: What is it going to cost? That I cannot say, but that is not the chief consideration. The most important question is: What is in the interests of the population? I am convinced that it is in the interests of the country that a civilized standard of wages should be paid to civilized labour.
What is a reasonable standard?
The hon. member wants to know what that wage is going to be. Does the hon. gentleman expect us to solve such a complicated matter in a few days? That is obviously impossible.
I only asked for a definition of what you wanted.
Has not the hon. member read the telegrams from Durban and Pretoria where civilized labour was given an opportunity, and where it justified itself? There are hundreds of people who want work and many boys are waiting to be trained. In that direction the previous Government neglected its duty. We will give the matter careful consideration and will not make a hasty decision. Several hon. members made remarks concerning the superannuation fund, and maintained that the pensions were inadequate. The Government agrees, that the pensions are small. An investigation brought to light the fact that the funds are in a bad way and are in danger of being exhausted. My predecessor acted wisely in giving members of the fund an opportunity of appointing an actuary. This gentleman is investigating, in conjunction with the actuary of the department, the soundness or otherwise of the fund. Their report has not been received yet, and until the Government does receive it, it can do nothing. I repeat the statement of my colleague, the Minister of Finance, about local allowances. As a result of the report of the Cost of Living Commission, the allowances for Durban will be increased from £12 to £18 as from 1st April last. The alteration of the working hours of the railway workers is a matter of vital importance, and we should therefore hasten slowly. Regarding the eight hour working day, I would like to point out that it is incorrect to say that the majority of the staff work more than eight hours per day. As a matter of fact, 45.17 per cent. of the staff work 48 hours or less per week; 38.84 per cent. work more than 48 hours and less than 55 hours per week; 16.19 per cent. work 55 hours and more, while 3.80 per cent. are not classified. Practically half the workers have an eight-hour working day. Where cases of undue hardship are brought to the attention of the administration, it will be prepared to go into the merits of the individual case. The general question of working hours is, however, still under consideration by the Minister, the railway board and the administration, and at this juncture it is not possible for me to make a full statement on the matter. Several hon. members emphasized the disadvantages of the system of piecework. The personnel of the department have not made any complaints on this point, and it is not certain that there is a desire to do away with the system. I can say, however, that an experienced officer of the department is visiting all the railway construction works in order to get more uniformity, as the administration realizes that lack of uniformity only leads to discontent. It is also realized that there ought to be better channels of consultation between the personnel and the authorities. The railway management is very desirous of keeping in close touch with the staff, because it is felt that without sincere cooperation it is impossible to control and manage such a huge service. We should not forget that there are many of these people who have fixed rights and it would be silly to dismiss them even if dismissal were possible. The only hope and the only sound position would therefore be the co-operation with the personnel. We ought to create the consciousness with the staff that they not only work for wages or salaries but, as citizens of South Africa, they ought to serve the country. The service has instructions to refer all differences between the workers and the management to the conciliation board, which consists of five representatives of the management and five from the workers. Only the spirit of co-operation between the administration and the employees will enable us to make a success of the department. In that spirit we shall be able to reduce the accumulated deficit, and when that has been done we shall, with hard work, be able to reduce the tariffs and also improve the conditions of the workers.
The motion was agreed to; House to go into Committee of Supply on Monday.
Second Order read: First report of Select Committee on Railways and Harbours, to be considered.
Report considered and adopted.
By direction of Mr. SPEAKER,
The Railways and Harbours Unauthorized Expenditure (1922-’23) Bill was read a first time; second reading on Monday.
Third Order read: First report of Select Committee on Public Accounts, to be considered. Report considered and adopted.
The Minister of Finance brought up the report of the committee appointed to bring up a Bill to give effect to the resolution, submitting a Bill.
By direction of Mr. SPEAKER,
The Unauthorized Expenditure (1922-’23) Bill was read a first time; second reading on Monday.
Fourth Order read: Third report of Select Committee on Public Accounts to be considered.
Report considered and adopted.
Fifth Order read: Second reading, Moroka Ward Land Relief Bill.
I want to say that this little Bill is a legacy from my predecessor. Unfortunately it did not get through last session before it came to an untimely end. After the second reading the Bill was referred to a Select Committee, where the Free State members gave it their special attention, as they are practically the only members who are interested in it. The object of the Bill is as follows: Under the existing law in the Free State the Barolongs can only dispose of their grounds to their brothers, sisters or descendants. This Bill gives them the right to sell also to other members of the Barolong tribe.
The motion was agreed to.
Bill read a second time; Committee on Monday.
Sixth Order read: Second Reading, South-West Africa Naturalization of Aliens Bill.
I may just briefly indicate what this Bill intends. It was drafted by my predecessor and would have been submitted to the House last session, but owing to the dissolution of Parliament that was not done. I have brought the Bill before the House in exactly the same form as it was drafted by the late Government. I shall later on give notice of amendment to section 2, merely as a matter of form, but for the present I may say why this is brought on. Hon. members may remember that in October last year Gen. Smuts, who was then in London, entered into an agreement with the German authorities upon various points appertaining to South-West Africa. It was taken for granted, and I am sure the whole agreement was practically based upon the position, that a Bill would be introduced into the Union Parliament making the subjects of the late enemy States in Europe subjects of the Union in South-West Africa. This is what this Bill now contemplates, namely, that all the subjects of the late enemy Powers domiciled in the territories on the 1st of January, 1924, shall be deemed to have acquired British nationality. That is practically the whole contents of this Bill. I may perhaps say a few words here with regard to this. I am rather glad to be in a position to lay this Bill before the House because I think that the time has come when we shall have to see that South-West Africa is entrusted with a form of government which will give direct representation to the inhabitants of South-West. The state of the country I think demands that some such step shall be taken, and the people there are certainly very desirous that something of the kind shall be done. They are under the impression, and I think rightly, that until they have some kind of representative government, matters there will not be and cannot be as well looked after as they should be. I feel that in order to be able to do that it is very necessary, and I have no doubt that that is what Gen. Smuts felt at the time when he entered into the agreement and made the undertaking that a Bill such as this before the House would be introduced. I do not think that there is anything more that I need explain in this Bill. For the rest it is simply a matter of machinery.
I think this Bill is a good step forward, but my hon. friend also made a statement about giving the people of South-West Africa local self-government. What is he going to do about giving them also representation in this House? Has he considered it?
I am very pleased indeed that the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) has brought that point of view before this House. It will not only be a matter which will retard South-West, but it will also be a danger to us to have a separate Parliament in an adjacent State. If there is to be such status granted, I would like to see a Bill brought forward by the Prime Minister stating not only what he is going to do, but what number of representatives they shall have in this House if they decide to enter Union.
I may perhaps now just answer that question, which is a very important question indeed, and I do not think there is any one of us who has not asked himself what will eventually be done. What I feel is this, that before we can think of representation in this House we must first give South-West self-government of one kind or another. I think that the position which I have always taken up in this House has been that we must be very careful when it comes to incorporation—or whatever name one gives it—of any territory outside the Union, that such shall only take place with the full consent and in accordance with the wishes of the people of that territory freely expressed and freely taken. That is the position I always take up and I think it is the only safe rule for us to be guided by in the future at any time. It is the position I took up in regard to Rhodesia, and it is because of that position that we, when in the Opposition, insisted that, before anything else was done, Rhodesia must have full representative government so that it might not afterwards be led to say that it was brought into the Union not with that full consent which it ought to have exercised. It is to me clear, as far as South-West is concerned I have no doubt about it, that eventually South-West will be an integral part of the Union. But I feel this; in the first place, when that is brought about it must be brought about with the full and free consent of the people. Whether we shall succeed in that will of course depend very much on how we are going to govern that country and how we are going to allow that country to govern itself. In the meanwhile I have no doubt that we shall succeed in gaining the full confidence of that country to such an extent that they will eventually see and tell us that they ought to and should form part of the Union. I think to that end we ought all to work. It is for that reason that in the first place I would like to see them get the necessary form of self-government and the necessary measure of self-government. I do not want to say here to-day what that measure of self-government ought to be, what powers ought to be entrusted to them, or even to go into what the form ought to be. I do not want to do that for this reason, that I think that in the first place the people of that country ought to be consulted. They ought to be asked to say to us, or rather to advise us, how far they are prepared to-day to assume self-government, and they ought to tell us, or rather we ought, in consultation with them, first to see how far they are in a position to assume self-government. As soon as that has been done I hope that a Bill will be drafted to be laid before Parliament, and I hope it will be done next session, though I am not anxious that we should be in too great a hurry, though, as far as I have ascertained their views, I feel it is their desire to have it as soon as possible. Then probably this question that is raised by the hon. member this afternoon as to their representation in this House should stand over, until they have come in to local self-government, for them to decide in conjunction with us. Then by taking this House into our confidence, and consulting them, we can decide whether it shall be done and whether it is fair to them.
The motion was agreed to; Bill read a second time; Committee on Monday.
Seventh Order read: Second Reading, Government Attorney Bill.
I am opposed to this Bill.
It will be better to wait until the Minister has formally moved the second reading, and then the hon. member can proceed.
I wish to raise a point of order which is of some importance The question is whether this is a Bill amending private legislation in which case it should be introduced as a private Bill, or whether it is a Bill only in part affecting private legislation and in part affecting public legislation. If it is a private Bill then before the second reading is taken objection must be taken, and the Bill must be introduced as a private Bill. If it is a quasi-private Bill it is introduced in the ordinary way and then after the second reading sent to a Select Committee. The position is that in the four provinces the attorneys have their rights and obligations laid down by private Acts. The whole practice is regulated by private legislation. Taking our own province we find in the Cape Act No. 20 of 1916, in the preamble that some of the objects of the legislation are that all attorneys must be members of the society; that they must give their full names and places of business in a particular province; that they may not share their fees with any person not being an attorney, and that allowances and fees are strictly regulated. I hold that Clauses 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9 of this Bill seek to amend legislation previously passed as private legislation. One of the foremost writers on procedure, Wheeler, in “The Practice of Private Bills,” gives the definition of a private Bill, and says: “A Private Bill concerns the interest of private or quasi-private parties, as distinct from a Bill in which the nation at large are interested.” On page 595 of May 12th edition, we find another definition: “Bills for the particular interest or benefit of any person or persons, are treated, in Parliament, as private Bills.” In the 11th edition of May, page 676, the edition to which by Standing Order 284, we refer when our own orders are not explicit, it is laid down that “A private Act cannot be repealed by a public Act.” One of the most distinguished writers on the subject, and who was at one time Clerk of the House of Commons in Canada, distinguishes between public and private bills, and says: “Private Bills are distinguished from public Bills in that they directly relate to the affairs of private individuals or of corporate bodies, and not to matters of public or to the community in general.” May (12th edition), page 354, on the examination of Bills, says: “If a public Bill affects private rights the Bill should be examined in compliance with standing orders relative to private Bills, and the second reading cannot be moved until the Bill has been reported on.” Bourinot, page 730, also on the examination of Bills, says: “Whenever public Bills involve private interests which should be carefully, guarded, they are subjected to the same examination provided for private Bills.” In other words, the whole of the public should have an opportunity of giving evidence, and the only way is to have the Bill referred to a Select Committee. That is our chief point. May (12th edition), page 608, holds that a Bill for the particular benefit of certain persons may be injurious to others; and to discriminate between the conflicting interests of different parties involves the exercise of judicial inquiry and determination. In this Bill I hold there are clauses which might be injurious to certain persons while conferring benefits on others. It is essentially a Bill to benefit private persons.
Just to benefit the Crown. There is great difficulty in deciding whether a Bill is a private or a public Bill. May, page 595, says: “Considerable difficulties often arise in determining to which description particular Bills properly belong. Thus upon a public Bill, the question not infrequently arises whether it ought not more properly to have been introduced as a private Bill.” Standing Order 178 explains hybrid Bills. In England there is a practice of publishing a list of public acts. Herein our practice is somewhat different, and by a ruling in our House it was laid down (V. and P. Universities Bills): “That even though an Act (15 of 178) provided that a certain Act shall be deemed, and taken to be a public Act, the character of the Bill was not altered and the provision meant nothing more than a correction of the practice in England.”
It involves the exercise of judicial enquiry. According to Olbert, in “The Mechanics of Law-making,” page 11, he points out that “the precise point at which the boundary line is to be drawn between the two classes of Bills is not always quite easy to determine, but the distinction of principle is clear enough. The object of a public Bill, as we use the term, is to alter the general law. The object of a private Bill is to alter the law relating to some particular locality, or to confer rights on, or release from liability, some particular person or persons.” The principle observed in the Cape and Union practice, as will be seen from the Votes and Procedure, 1922, page 476, is that a public Bill which incidentally confers rights on some particular person or persons or takes away rights which have been acquired by private Bill procedure, shall be deemed to be a hybrid Bill. We claim in this Bill some particular person or persons are being released from liability.
Who are they?
There is a strict law in our regulations that no attorney may make allowances to another attorney, and by your Bill that is made legal. Secondly, your Union Government is going to take all the fees of the attorney. You are going to allow a man to practice in four provinces without being a member of each of the four societies, which he is required to be by each individual society. He is also to be released from passing examinations. You are therefore releasing attorneys from their liabilities and conferring rights on them to which they are not entitled. I think that this should be a private Bill or be examined as a private Bill, and I say the procedure is that the Bill should go to a Select Committee. In the English House of Commons there is a class of quasi-private bills distinguished from private Bills. They are brought in by order, as public Bills, but as they affect private rights “their further progress is subject to the proof of compliance with the standing orders before the examiner, and to the payment of fees.” They are generally “Bills for carrying out national works, or relating to Crown property, or other public works in which the Government is concerned.” It is perfectly clear that this is not even a quasi private Bill but is a purely private Bill, rights are being taken away and rights are being conferred on persons who have been restricted in the past. At the very least, however, this Bill should be regarded as a hybrid Bill, and I hope that some sort of enquiry, which has now been denied to us, will be accorded to us. I would refer you, Mr. Speaker, to May, pages 595 to 602, where many useful examples are given. Take the case of the Metropolitan Cattle Market, a Bill of a far more public character than this Bill dealing with attorneys was brought in by the Government as a public Bill but ordered to be treated as a hybrid Bill. The existing Act therefore could not be amended except by a private Act (page 599), and there is a principle concerned there of far greater national importance than the appointment of a few attorneys. Then I would like to refer to the Cape Votes and Proceedings of 1905 (page 263). Here it was proposed to amend certain private Acts of 1883-’84 by a public Bill, and the ruling was that the Stockenstrom Consolidated Villages Bill should be introduced as a private Bill. There are several other instances where Mr. Speaker ruled that certain measures should be discharged from the Order Paper which were introduced as public measures, namely:—P.E. Drill Hall Bill (V. and P., 1884, p. 198); Barkly West D.C. Valuation Bill (V. and P., 1885, p. 45); Simonstown Public School Grant Bill (V. and P., 1896, p. 698); and the ground of so ruling was that they were of a purely local character, out it was also held that “they were not measures of public policy,” and that was the chief ground why it was refused that they should go in as public Bills. What better claim has this present Bill to be introduced as a public Bill on the ground of public policy? As to the Universities’ Bills, the ruling is that occasion may arise when it may be expedient to remove public dangers or to correct evils; but it cannot be held that the present Bill is a Bill of this character. It is not a clear case of urgency or necessity. The Minister has his attorneys already, and the only necessity he can claim is the fees that are earned. The legal work of the Government is now done all over South Africa, and I do not know that the hon. Minister finds fault with the way in which it is done. The ruling is that a private Bill should not be amended by a public Bill, for such a proceeding “should not take place unless dictated by exceptional reasons and in a clear case of urgent public necessity. The importance of maintaining that principle is illustrated by the fact that its non-observance would deprive interested parties of the machinery of the Select Committee through which the House performs functions of a judicial character in passing private legislation. Now this is the most important part, and I don’t think Parliament would like to deprive any individuals of that right of appearing before a Select Committee. “Extreme caution is therefore necessary,” the ruling goes on to say, “for to lightly set aside standing orders might not only create an unwholesome precedent but might also strike a blow at the safeguards which they were specially designed to create.” If my views are not upheld when I claim that the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee before the second reading, at least it is clear that it should be referred to a Select Committee after the second reading, and the public should be given that opportunity of giving their views which is now denied them.
I should like to rise to support the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) (Maj. Van Zyl) on the point of order he has raised, and I do so under standing order 179, that this is a hybrid Bill. If it be a hybrid Bill it is not possible for the second reading now to be moved; standing order 179 makes that perfectly clear. Whether it is a private Bill or not must be ascertained from standing order 178. In applying that standing order it seems to me that the scope of the Bill should be examined, and although we have not had the benefit of a detailed statement from the Minister, it would appear, as far as one can judge from the Bill, that we have an officer, now styled the Government Attorney, who holds a position not defined by statute, who is paid a fixed salary, but is not recognized as an attorney when he practises as an ordinary attorney. The object the hon. Minister has in view, I think, is this: To give to such an officer a statutory position, so that the Government may have the right to recover costs, but the attorney to have the standing of a salaried official. It is that factor—that the Government attorney must be a salaried official—which infringes a rule of the legal profession, of very old standing, and very jealously guarded, a rule not only sanctioned by the decisions of our courts, but embodied in the statutory law of the land. I do not think the hon. Minister will contest my statement when I say that in the Roman Dutch law it will be found very clearly laid down that it is objectionable for an attorney to be employed for a salary by a lay employer. The Government of the Union, in employing attorneys at Pretoria or elsewhere, would be like any other individual in this respect—it would be a lay employer. There, of course, is a clear distinction between this and the employment of an attorney by another attorney. This principle finds expression not only in the old Roman-Dutch law, which I believe the hon. Minister would be desirous of following, where he possibly could do so, but is entrenched in a recent decision of our courts—a decision I won two or three years ago which dealt with the operation of a very large trust company in the Orange Free State, which will be very familiar to many hon. members present—the case of McIntyre versus de Villiers. But quite apart from that, in this province at any rate, as the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) (Maj. Van Zyl) has pointed out, it is a principle entrenched by statute. You do not read therein in so many words that it is unprofessional to employ an attorney at a salary, but if an attorney is so employed and pays his earnings over to a lay employer, he lays himself open to removal from the Roll of attorneys of this Province. Coming to that these statutory rights are, in addition to the section of the Act of 1916 to which the hon. member for Cape Town (Harbour) (Maj. Van Zyl) has referred, I would invite your attention to section 21 of the same Act, which makes it perfectly clear that in this Province no attorney can practise as such unless he has been admitted as an attorney in this Province. How far does this Bill infringe this particular section; clearly it does. It proposes to give to an attorney power to go to any other Province and there to practise. I believe it to be a provision in the statutory law of the other Provinces as well, and so the question you will be called upon to decide, Mr. Speaker, is this: If this is a public Bill which infringes that particular principle and repeals for the benefit of the Crown these provisions which are expressed by private Bills (because the Act of 1916 in particular was introduced as a private Bill) does this not justify our contention that this matter must be referred to examiners and then to a Select Committee; does it not, in order that private interests may be consulted? I think that the answer will be very clear. The hon. member for Jeppes (Mr. Sampson) said it might be possible to justify the Bill on the ground that it was in the public interest, because, the argument will run, as it is for the benefit of the Crown it must be in the public interest. But I have still to understand, unless the hon. Minister has an explanation, how it can be said that this is so, when the provisions are, so far as the Crown is concerned, merely to secure an addition to its revenue—I can see no other consideration—and that seems to be a sufficient and final reply to the point of view raised. This point of order, I venture to say requires a considered opinion at your hands, Mr. Speaker, because it affects vital interests of a great profession, the proper regulation of which is essentially a matter of public interest.
Before Mr. Speaker gives his ruling I wish to point out this very important point of practice, that is, where there is the least shadow of doubt, where private interests are guarded by private legislation the most overwhelming case must be made out in regard to public interest before those rights may be impugned or repealed by a public Bill. I will take the two points mentioned by the hon. member for Cape Town (Gardens) (Mr. Coulter). In all the four Provinces it is laid down that an attorney admitted in a Province is only entitled to practise in the Provincial Division to which he has been admitted and also in the Appellate Division. That right is abrogated under the Bill, and the attorney it is proposed to appoint to act for the Government would have the right to appear in all the four Provincial Divisions of the Supreme Court. Is not that a most essential point which ought to be considered by the Provincial Law Societies? A distinction is drawn in the qualifications of the different attorneys practising in the different Provinces, and certain examinations have to be passed before an attorney qualified to practise in one Province is allowed to practise in another. The Bill would also legalize an attorney giving his fees to an unprofessional person, taking the Government as a person, At present an attorney who is employed by a Trust Company is looked upon askance, but the Law Society enquires into every individual case to see that the attorney does not practise his profession, and if he does, no fees are allowed to go into the coffers of the Trust Company by which he is employed. Is there any distinction between the fees of an attorney going into the coffers of a Trust Company or into the coffers of the Government? I submit that the Bill should be declared a hybrid one, in order to give all interested parties an opportunity of appearing before a Select Committee. It is for the Select Committee on Standing Rules and Orders to say whether the proceedings which are demanded for a hybrid Bill should be dispensed with or not. I remember that, when it was proposed to repeal private Acts of Parliament by the passing of the Universities Bill the then Speaker ruled that the Bills establishing the Stellenbosch and Cape Town Universities could not be proceeded with because it repealed private Acts of Parliament, under which public and private interests were guarded, and it was then suggested from the chair that owing to the matter being of such vital public importance that the question be referred to the Select Committee on Standing Rules and Orders to see whether the usual procedure could be dispensed, with. We are dealing with a very serious matter, and I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to request the Minister to adjourn the debate in order to give you an opportunity of giving a considered ruling of the question.
May I be allowed to refer to two sections of the Bill which seem to lend force to the objections taken by the previous speakers. Under Clause 2, sub-section 1 (a) it is provided that a person admitted as an attorney in any of the superior courts of the Union may be appointed as a Government attorney. Under that clause it would be competent for the Government to appoint a Cape attorney to practise in the Transvaal, and to charge fees which would go to the Government. To that extent this section contravenes the provisions of all the Provincial Acts affecting law societies in the different Provinces. Under section 7, it is provided that notwithstanding in which Province an attorney is admitted that once he is appointed to be a Government attorney or a branch Government attorney he then has audience in any court of law in the Union. I merely wish to draw your attention to these specific sections in the Act which bear out what has been said that to this extent the rights and obligations of attorneys are directly affected.
I do not think this point is at all arguable. I have never before this afternoon in this House heard the Crown referred to as an unprofessional person. I am sure that in the English Parliament you would not hear such an expression, and I regret very much indeed that it has been used here. I hope a remark of this kind will not be made in future on a matter of this serious nature. I think an Act dealing with the position of a Government attorney can never be regarded as a matter affecting private interests. From the remarks made by hon. members opposite it would appear that this is a Bill to clothe a Government attorney with powers in his own interests. It is nothing of the kind; it is a Bill to enable the Government attorney to do the work of the State. What is more, there is nothing new in this Bill. There are Acts of the same nature in every part of the British Empire. The Acts in England go very much further than we propose in South Africa and the status of the legal profession stands in even higher estimation in England than in South Africa. Another argument put forward is that as private interests—presumably the interests of attorneys—are affected, the master should be referred to a Select Committee. I always understood that one of the complaints of the South African Party was that, there were too many lawyers in Parliament. Surely, if there are so large a number of attorneys in Parliament we can hear their opinions on this matter here without referring it to a. Select Committee. We have already heard the opinions of four legal gentlemen in this House. A good deal of argument has been addressed to us on the views of authorities on this question of private and hybrid Bills, but let us refer to our own rules. Referring to them, if we take Vol. I. of our own Standing Orders, rule 178 on page 67, which contains, I admit, a clumsily worded definition, but it is made clear if we compare it with the definition of private Bills. The rule says “if a public Bill affects private interests in such a way that if it were a private Bill it would under the Standing Orders require preliminary notice before introduction ….” The first thing you can see from this definition is that it does not comprise the definition at all. To obtain this it is necessary to refer to the first section of the second volume in regard to private Bills. That section says: “every Bill …. shall be treated as a private Bill.” If you take these two things together it means that any Bill which in its entirety is in the interests of or to benefit a private person or private persons is a private Bill, and if it is partially in the interests of or to benefit private persons it is a hybrid Bill. That is the only way in which you can read those two sections. Your hybrid Bill has certain portions that deal with private matters in the same sense that they are for the interest or benefit of certain private persons. It is perfectly easy to understand the two orders. They merely say in effect: here is a Bill which is entirely a private Bill, and it must be subject to the rules relating to private Bills; here is a Bill which is partially a private Bill, and therefore you must treat it as a hybrid Bill. In what way is this Bill for the interest or benefit of private persons? In no way whatever. It is entirely for the benefit of the State, for the Government of South Africa, to enable the Crown to get certain work done and to recover money for the work which the Crown does. There is no intention to injure anybody. Hon. members opposite seem to think there is some deep laid plan to injure somebody. They will have noticed that the Government attorney’s office is to be established in Pretoria. It is strange that none of the representatives of Pretoria in this House have voiced objections of members of the legal profession practising in Pretoria who, if anybody is to be adversely affected by this Bill, will be affected most. I think it speaks well for the legal gentlemen of Pretoria that they raise no objection to this Bill in this House.
Is everything we do for self interest?
It must be based on private interest otherwise it cannot be argued that this Bill is a private or hybrid one.
Answer my question.
I say the point raised can only be a legal point on which a ruling can be obtained if the Bill affects private interests. Any person who objects must be concerned with private interests otherwise he would not raise this particular form of objection.
You are not answering my question.
I have answered. If there is no question of private interests then the objection falls to the ground at once and there is nothing in the point. I think I have dealt fully with this objection. It all depends on those two clauses. You can only interpret those two clauses by saying that your private Bill means a Bill which deals entirely from beginning to end with the particular interests or benefit of a private person or persons. I say that no part of this Bill deals with the private interest of a private person or persons and therefore it falls outside the definitions of these two rules. Of course any Bill dealing with matters of public policy is bound to affect private persons because incidentally everybody’s interests is involved in every Bill brought before Parliament. Take your Rents Act; it affects the private interests of landlords. Any Act of Parliament affects private interests, and if you are going to call any Bill of that kind a private or hybrid Bill it would be impossible to have any public Bills before Parliament. I ask for one single definition in these Standing Orders showing that because a Bill indirectly affects private interests it is a private or hybrid Bill, where it deals in its entirety with a matter of public policy. The only interest served by this Bill is the interest of the public. I am comparing this measure with others to show that in every case private interests are affected in some sense or another. That is not sufficient; where a Bill involves the question of public policy and where it is in the interest of the State it cannot in any sense be either a private Bill or a hybrid Bill. The Crown can never be a private person or an unqualified person. I will go a step further. I say that instead of adopting this attitude and bringing this Bill before the House the Crown can do what is sought to be done here by exercising the prerogative of the Crown. In England Crown solicitors were appointed and exercised their functions without any Act being passed to provide for their appointment. So far as the ruling of the Speaker is concerned, the hon. member for Cape Town (Maj. Van Zyl) asked if the debate could not be adjourned. I see no reason why we cannot have the ruling later, but I think the debate should be concluded at this sitting.
It seems to me that the Minister of Justice has missed the point entirely. The point is this: That there are existing private Bills dealing with the legal profession in the four Provinces. The point as I understand it was, can you by a public Bill alter a private Bill such as these existing Bills. They are actually private Bills accepted by a special procedure that is the point, upon which he has not pressed. The Minister has dealt with the matter as if the member for Cape Town (Harbour) (Maj. Van Zyl) that the matter was a private Bill. The real point is can a public Bill be produced in this House and passed here to over-ride existing legislation, can it be done by the introduction of a Bill without the House being satisfied through evidence given before a Select Committee or a judicial enquiry that there is a necessity for it in the public interest. He made a good deal of the point of private interest, of course these Bills dealing with all societies were introduced as private Bills. It was a rather curious form of procedure because they could only go through the House if they were in the public interest. If the legislator was satisfied that there should be such bodies and such qualification—the legislator insists on the standard of qualification required for attorneys should be very high—it involves a long and expensive training. The legislator regarded it as being in the public interest that you should have a qualified profession of this sort and protects the public by insisting on that qualification. It also protects the qualified persons by not allowing unqualified people to practice. It is manifestly unfair that legislation should be introduced which interferes with the protection which the law has given to these qualified persons unless there is some high public interest. That is the point raised by the Bill before the House. It is our suggestion that this Bill should not be gone on with until the matter has been referred to a Select Committee, until persons qualified to inform the House have given their evidence before such a Committee and until the Select Committee says that such a Bill is necessary in the public interest. All we ask is that there should be a fair and proper enquiry as to whether there is the least degree of necessity of introducing such a Bill, a Bill with such serious departures from existing practices. The Courts of Law which exist to protect, not the attorneys, but the public, going to the Appellate Division, and the Privy Council, have expressed themselves in the strongest terms with regard to the necessity of guarding the public from the practice of attorneys of sharing fees with unqualified persons. In the Bill we have principles of that sort which may be justified in the case of public officers or may not be justified, but what we ask is that there should be a proper enquiry so that rights are not taken away by the hon. gentleman as is proposed.
I do not agree with the hon. member who has just sat down in asking for a Select Committee to be set up to find out whether this Bill is in the public interest or not, because, after all, the great masses of the public who benefit from legislation of this description are inarticulate, and all the interests whom the hon. gentleman represents so well in this House are very powerful and will put up a splendid case. One does not wish for one moment to impute any unworthy motives to the hon. gentlemen over there belonging to the legal profession, but it is a most peculiar coincidence that all these hon. members happen to be shining lights of the legal profession.
It is a point of order.
When we come to this great question of public interest versus the interest of these powerful institutions that they are continually building up in this country, I do not feel for a moment that any report of a Select Committee which can be brought in based on the evidence before it, because the great mass of the public is unorganized and those who oppose this Bill are organized and can put up a strong case on paper—we have bad the same thing in the municipalities—
We are discussing a point of order now.
Hon. members who spoke know just as well as I do the necessity for this measure. Nothing has been said about the principles of this Bill.
You cannot discuss it yet.
They are simply adopting a policy of obstruction and not speaking on the merits of the Bill.
I think the hon. member must have been out when this very important question came under discussion, for he seems to imagine that we are discussing the principles of the Bill, and he says when we are discussing a very important question of this sort that we are obstructing. I do not think the hon. member has a right to say so. I am not going to presume to give a legal opinion to the hon. House on a question of this sort, I am not competent to do so, but as a member of this hon. House I feel that it is a very serious thing for a decision to be come to after the arguments we have heard—that a Bill of this sort, irrespective of its merits, is not interfering with the rules and regulations which have been laid down in this Parliament and the Parliament before it, that no Bill introduced can interfere with a Bill introduced and adopted as a private measure. The people concerned must be allowed to be given a hearing if they claim that their rights are interfered with. No matter the attention you have given to this matter, Mr. Speaker, now that we have shorthand writers in this House I think you ought to have an opportunity, Sir, of reading the transcribed notes of the various speeches that have been delivered on this matter, so that you can give your considered judgment and have an opportunity of having all these facts before you, exactly the same as would be necessary in delivering a judgment in a court of justice. Under these circumstances I would ask the hon. gentleman opposite to agree to the adjournment of the debate, so that on Monday you. Mr. Speaker, would have an opportunity of having the transcribed shorthand notes before you and considering them before giving your judgment to the House. I should imagine if this principle is adopted it would not only apply to this Bill alone, but would apply to other Bills. The hon. gentleman opposite would be very unfair to you, Mr. Speaker, and to the House, not to agree to the adjournment of the debate. I move the adjournment of the debate
I do not think the hon. member need move the adjournment. I suggest that the hon. Minister moves the adjournment himself, and I want to give this matter further consideration before I give my decision.
Motion agreed to; debate adjourned until Monday.
Eighth Order read: House to go into Committee on Rents Acts Extension Bill.
Before you leave the chair, Mr. Speaker, I would like to move the motion standing in the name of the hon. member for Krugersdorp (Rev. Mr. Hattingh), as follows—
The object of the motion is to test the opinion of this hon. House with regard to the matter we were discussing the other day, viz., the desirability of bringing business premises, within the scope of this Bill. I see no difference in principle between a Bill which will provide for the fixing of rents for dwellings, and a Bill to provide for the fixing of rents for shops; to my mind, the principle is exactly the same, and the necessity appears to bet greater in the case of shops. After all, in the case of dwellings, people can spread themselves over a very large area, but in the case of shops we know that, generally speaking, a shopping area is limited, and rents go up because the area is so restricted. When there is a shortage of sites there is a great monopoly set up and rents are increased correspondingly. This increase in turn causes an increase in the cost of living. The monopoly value of trading sites greatly increases the cost of living as people have to purchase articles in those restricted areas devoted to business purposes. The monopoly or site value of trading areas really belongs to the public, but as most of our local authorities are ruled by landlords, no attempt is made to secure this monopoly value for the public. The next best thing to do is to restrict it by the method proposed in the case of dwellings. It may be said that the structure of the Bill is, perhaps, not altogether a suitable one for dealing with the question of fixing the rents of shops, but I am sure that when we get into Committee, means will be found to meet the difficulty. To allow this to be done we shall require leave from the House to amend the Title in Committee.
I desire to second the motion. When the Bill was introduced the Minister in charge said he would consider the question of shop rents. There is no doubt that by reason of the extravagant rents for shops and other premises the cost of living has been considerably increased. Many tenants, who have leases of business premises in Johannesburg, found, I am informed, when their leases fell in that the landlords demanded extortionate rents and heavy premiums.
The position taken up by the Government is this: That if an attempt is made at this stage to widen the scope of the Act so as to include shops, it will be impossible to resist a further motion for a Select Committee to enquire into the whole matter, because, as far as shops are concerned, we have not the same information before us as we had in regard to private houses. We shall have the argument raised that as private interests are vitally concerned we should have a Select Committee. We do not wish to delay the passage of the Bill, as it is very important that it should become law before the end of the month, on account of cases pending before the courts and notices which landlords have sent out. We propose to appoint a small commission to enquire into the whole matter of shop rents in towns during the recess. I believe in some cases shop rents have soared to a great height, and should that be established Government will introduce legislation dealing with these shops, probably on a very different basis to the way in which houses are dealt with. The present Act and the amending Bill do not deal with shops, and if there are landlords of shops who have been forcing up their rents they will know that if they continue these high rents during the next, few months legislation will be introduced dealing with the question next session. I ask the hon. member to withdraw the motion on the assurance that we will appoint a commission, and that we undertake to introduce legislation dealing with shops during the next session of Parliament if the commission’s report shows it to be necessary.
One appreciates the remarks of the Minister of Justice, but there is a certain amount of urgency in the matter. We have a good deal of evidence if a reliable character that already certain firms have had their rents increased to such an extent that they have been forced into liquidation and they are closing down. This has meant a serious increase in unemployment in Johannesburg. The increase in rents have been enormous and I do not remember having seen anything to equal it. I have the names of the persons concerned, and I assure the Minister that in one or two cases firms’ employees will be thrown out into the streets. If anything can be done to prevent this happening it would be an enormous help to deserving firms, particularly to some I know of in Johannesburg.
I am sure that no hon. member on these benches or even the hon. member who gave notice of this motion would desire to proceed with it if they thought the effect of it would be to delay and perhaps more or less wreck the legislation which is before the House. I have a feeling, too, that if this motion is carried to a vote it may have that effect and I think I am justified under the circumstances in withdrawing the motion on behalf of the hon. member. I would ask the Minister to see whether he cannot afford some protection to the people mentioned by the hon. member for Roodepoort, in the meantime.
The motion, with leave, was withdrawn.
House in Committee:
On Clause 2,
I am moving an amendment to insert a new subsection (2) to Clause 2. It is on page 80 of the Votes and Proceedings, English version—
That is to meet the difficulty which was raised in the debate as to the position of new tenants who have come into the premises since June 30th last. Your Act would not have retrospective effect unless you give the old tenants the power to eject the new tenants.
I cannot congratulate the Minister on his amendment if that is his intention. I would draw his attention to this. If the amendment he proposes is carried into effect and a second lessee is ejected by the Court, what is his remedy? He has none at law whatever.
I think that is so. He has no remedy.
If an existing lease entered into since the 30th June is cancelled, then of course the landlord would be under no obligation whatever to compensate the tenant for his loss. I do not see how the Minister can justify such a position. You might have a tenant who has gone there quite innocently, made a lease which might extend over a number of years, and under the proposal of the Minister that that tenant might be ejected without compensation. The Minister does not suggest that the landlord should compensate that tenant. I therefore suggest to the Minister that he should delete this clause. As it stands it is unfair to throw such an obligation on second tenants, or indeed on landlords.
I do not see that this clause puts the matter much further. It presupposes that the person in possession on the 30th of June was ejected. You give him the option of coming back, but it penalises the new innocent tenant very much. I would ask the Minister to consider this very carefully. In any case it puts the occupier in a very awkward position.
As far as I can understand hon. members opposite, they want us to have another sub-clause placing on landlords the burden of compensating tenants who may be ejected. If hon. members wish to move an amendmemt to that effect I am quite prepared to accept it.
We don’t want it.
Business was suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 8 p.m.
I have an amendment to Clause 2, but the Minister has moved his amendment, an amendment which I regard as an improvement on mine, so I will not move the amendment standing in my name.
I wish to refer to the anomalous position of a new lessee of a place since June 30th last. He may be called upon to relinquish the lease in favour of the previous tenant; what redress would he have? and likewise, what is the position of a lessor, who, since the 30th June last might either sell or let his property, if this retrospective measure is brought in; will he be liable for damages to either of the tenants or in what way will he be liable. I had an amendment on the paper to this when, to my surprise, Clause 1 was passed without affording me the opportunity of moving it.
I put that clause three times. There is no clause previous to Clause 1.
From here we could not hear what you were saying.
I do not see how there can be any action for damages against the lessor as the law now stands. That is the answer to the hon. member, so I do not think there is any fear so far as the landlord’s position is concerned, but I am afraid this discussion is placing his position in increasing jeopardy.
Mr. Chairman, in reference to what you said—that the first clause was put three times, I, for one, did not hear it being put, and my friend, who has an amendment to Clause 1, did not hear it being put either. Had he done so he would have put that amendment. Might I ask if it is the custom to call upon members who have notices of amendments on the paper?
No, it is not the custom. They are supposed to move it when it comes on. Very frequently it happens that notices of amendments are on the paper that are not moved.
But if the Minister is present?
I might remind the hon. member that he can give notice for the report stage. I now put the amendment to Clause 2, the amendment of the Minister of Justice to insert a new sub-section 2 to be found on page 80 of the minutes. The amendment was to insert the following new sub-section, to follow sub-section (1):
(2) If any court cancels an order against a lessee for ejectment from a dwelling under the provisions of sub-section (1) and if at the time of such cancellation the dwelling is occupied by a person other than the lessor or such lessee, such other person shall have no right to occupy the said dwelling as against such lessee, who shall be entitled on motion to apply to such court for an order of ejectment against such other person, and such court may make such order on the application as it may seem meet.
The amendment was agreed to.
I move a consequential amendment to sub-section 2—
The amendment was agreed to.
Clause 2, as amended, was agreed to.
On new Clause 3,
I would like to move the amendment as appearing on page 73 of the Votes and Proceedings as follows—
This will make similar provision for cases where proceedings are before the court and are still pending when this Act becomes law. The hon. the Minister has provided for where an ejectment order is granted, but not where cases are pending.
I accept the new clause, which follows logically on what we have done in Clause 2. Clause 2 makes provision where an order of ejectment has been made, but this new clause makes provision where the case for ejectment is still pending.
The new clause was agreed to.
New Clause 4,
4. Section 11 of Act No. 13 of 1920 as amended from time to time is hereby further amended by the insertion—
I have been asked to do this because there are several business premises where the ground floor is used as a business place, as a shop or factory, for example, and the upper floor may be occupied as a dwelling. When the owner or occupier is called upon to extend his business premises he may find that the tenant on the upper floor stands in his way and his business cannot be extended. The Rent Board must first agree that these premises are reasonably required by the occupier or owner, and if after three months he has not made use of these premises as he claimed he was going to he may be held liable for damages.
I think that this clause will introduce the question of businesses, and it will be more reasonably dealt with when legislation is introduced with regard to shops and businesses, which will probably be introduced next year. The matter cannot cause much trouble during the next few months, and under the circumstances, I think it best that it should be left out of this Act.
May I put to the hon. Minister this position? Under the Factories Act—I do not know whether he is administering it—his own people may call upon landlords or tenants to vacate premises or extend them. It means that the landlord, if he is the occupier, cannot extend his business because the party upstairs refuses to go out, and that is, I hold, a matter that should not be delayed until next year. There is every safeguard, and I cannot see, really, why we should have to wait until next year.
Might I suggest that there is no evidence as to the necessity of this amendment. We have the hon. member’s statement that factory inspectors are compelling it, but the best people to say whether this is so or not are the factory inspectors themselves, who will be able to notify the hon. Minister, when he is holding an enquiry, whether this is necessary, and if so, he will take steps to see the matter is introduced into the Bill he proposes to bring forward to deal with shops and business premises. Having raised the point, I think the hon. member had better leave ‘it to the hon. the Minister to make inquiries on this point, and to deal with it if necessary.
I am glad the hon. Minister has not accepted this amendment because I consider it a very dangerous one. We passed the Housing Act in 1920, which provided in section 16 that houses were not to be demolished or used for other than residential purposes without getting the permission of the local authority or the administrator on appeal, because it was considered that the number of houses was so inadequate that people were not allowed to demolish them or use them for business or other premises without authority. How many factories are there in which workers can sleep on the premises? If you pass this amendment it is a dangerous principle, because it is in conflict with principles already passed by this hon. House. Let us understand, at any rate, what we are doing. I have a case in mind which was brought to my notice only a few days ago, where the same tenant occupied the business part of the premises and the house, and the landlord had recently very seriously increased his rent. He is in difficulty about it, as you can hardly say that they are entirely residential premises. Yes, the Rent Board under this proposed amendment gives decision, but at the same time you passed the Housing Act and the Rents Act on the supposition that inadequate housing was so dangerous to the people of this country that housing must come before everything, and now you are going to say that business reasons must come before housing. The two things are in conflict. There is another case that was brought to my notice some time ago—a man working in a factory—who hired a house from the people who employed him, and who gave him notice. He said “No, you cannot do it under the Rents Act.” He has lost his job and he says it is because he refused to give up his house, but they contend that it is for other reasons. If the landlord and the employer is the same person you are going to give him much greater power than he has under the present law. If the hon. Minister allows this thing to come in, it would become imperative for all shop rents to come in.
I would like to know if this is going to stand over pending the commission which is promised and which is to go into this. I would like to know something more about the scope of this commission. The point raised on this amendment has nothing whatever to do with the rents of shops, and whether the landlords of shops have been pushing up the rents of shops unduly or not. The point is whether the premises partly used for business purposes should be allowed to occupy the ground floor subject to the approval of the Rent Board. What that has to do with the exaction of the landlord is not quite clear to me. If the Rent Board is not satisfied it will not give an order, and if it is satisfied it will be allowed to make an order. The opposition to the amendment is based on entirely wrong grounds otherwise the enquiry must be made much wider.
The new clause, moved by Maj. Van Zyl, was negatived.
The amendment provides an additional ground upon which a tenant can be ejected. A man might lease premises, to X, who sub-lets to Y, but X does not continue to reside on the premises, although he might be making a revenue out of them. The effect of the amendment would be that the landlord would be entitled to eject a tenant who did not require the premises himself, but was making a speculative profit out of them.
There are numbers of cases in which a man hires premises to sub let.
Why should he be protected?
If he pays a rental that is too high it is passed on to his sub-tenants. A case came before me in which a Rent Board adopted an extraordinary attitude, for although the lessee was making a profit, the Rent Board reduced the rental. That was a wrong state of affairs, probably induced by the board’s fear that the sub-lessees would be affected if the lessee’s rental remained at a high level.
The object of the Act was to protect the bona fide tenant, but not to protect the speculative lessee. My amendment is to carry out the intentions of the Act which is to ensure a home for the poor man at a fair rent. It was never intended to protect the speculative intermediary.
What is to happen to the sub lessees if the lessee is turned out, for the effect of the amendment would be that the sub-lessees would be turned into the streets.
The proposed new clause was put and Mr. Close called for a division.
The committee there upon divided:
Anderson, H. E. K.
Chaplin, F. D. P.
Close, R. W.
Coulter, C. W. A.
Deane, W. A.
Gilson, L. D.
Jagger, J. W.
Lennox, F. J.
Louw, G. A.
Louw, J. P.
Marwick, J. S.
Miller, A. M.
Nel, O. R.
O’Brien, W. J.
Payn, A. O. B.
Pretorius, N. J.
Richards, G. R.
Rider, W. W.
Sephton, C. A. A.
Smartt, T. W.
Van Heerden, G. C.
Tellers: Collins, W. R.; Robinson, C. P.
Badenhorst, A. L.
Beyers, F. W.
Boshoff, L. J.
Brits, G. P.
Brown, D. M.
Cilliers, A. A.
Conradie, J. H.
Creswell, F. H. P.
De Villiers, A. I. E.
De Villiers, W. B.
Du Toit, F. J.
Fick, M. L.
Fordham, A. C.
Fourie, A. P. J.
Grobler, P. G. W.
Havenga, N. C.
Hay, G. A.
Hertzog, J. B. M.
Heyns, J. D.
Kemp, J. C. G.
Malan, C. W.
Malan, M. L.
Moll, H. H.
Mostert, J. P.
Pretorius, J. S. F.
Roos, T. J. de V.
Roux, J. W. J. W.
Sampson, H. W.
Snow, W. J.
Steytler, L. J.
Strachan, T. G.
Swart, C. R.
Te Water, C. T.
Van der Merwe, N. J.
Van Niekerk, C. A.
Van Niekerk, P. W. le R.
Van Zyl, J. J. M.
Wessels, J. H. B.
Tellers: Pienaar, B. J.; Vermooten, O. S.
Proposed new clause accordingly negatived.
Clause 3 and the title having been agreed to, The Bill was reported with amendments.
Amendments to be considered on Monday.
Ninth Order read: House to go into committee on first and second reports of Select Committee on Pensions, Grants and Gratuities (First Session, 1924).
House in Committee:
The CHAIRMAN read the reports on pages 472-474 and 613-618 of the Votes and Proceedings (Fourth Session, Fourth Parliament).
The committee proceeded to consider the first report of the Select Committee.
I move—This Committee recommends:
- I. That in connection with the Memorandum dealing with item 57 of the schedule to the Pensions Supplementary Act, 1923, condoning the break in service of coach-builders J. Howe and J. Macintosh, the said item be amended by omitting therefrom “5th May, 1915, to 29th March, 1917”, and substituting “11th September, 1908, to 28th April, 1909”.
- (1) The award to S. J. Gouws, formerly a constable, South African Police, of a pension of £92 4s. per annum, with effect from 26th May, 1923.
- (2) The award to C. Cox, formerly a constable, South African Police, of a pension of £103 18s. per annum, with effect from 1st March, 1923.
- (3) The award to F. A. Theron, who was injured whilst assisting the police to recapture an escaped prisoner, of a pension of £36 per annum, with effect from 1st April, 1923.
On recommendation No. 3,
Mr. SAMPSON asked for information.
I am not quite sure, but I think he was a man who was called upon to help. He was not in the service.
The recommendation was agreed to.
- (4) The award to J. McKenzie, formerly a bricklayer, South African Railways, of a pension of £24 per annum, with effect from 1st April, 1923.
- (5) The award to M. C. Botha, formerly a labourer, South African Railways, of a pension of £24 per annum, with effect from 1st April, 1924.
- (6) The award to T. Breckon, formerly a bridge foreman, South African Railways, of a pension of £36 per annum, with effect from 1st April, 1924.
- (7) The award to Frances Praed, widow of C. H. Praed, who died whilst on service during the Anglo-Boer war, of a pension of £65 per annum, with effect from 1st February, 1924.
- (8) The award to Alide E. J. Joubert, whose son, W. J. Joubert, was killed during the disturbances on the Wit-watersrand in March, 1922, of a pension of £36 per annum, with effect from 1st April, 1924.
- (9) The award to A. H. Ferreira, formerly a post contractor, of a pension of £36 per annum, with effect from 1st April, 1924.
- (10) The pension of S. D. de Wet, who was wounded during the Anglo-Boer war, to be increased to £52 10s. per annum, with effect from 1st April, 1924.
- (11) The pension of G. M. Sheridan, formerly a head constable, South African Police, to be increased with effect from 1st April, 1924. to the amount to which he would have been entitled under the provisions of section 4 of Act No. 12 of 1874.
- (12) The pensions of H. C. G. T. N. Barham, E. S. Martin. A. K. Maclean, G. R. Threlfell, T. G. N. Cox. A. Gee and F. C. Blanchard on final retirement to be computed as if the whole of their service had fallen under the provisions governing members of the Natal Police Superannuation Fund.
Recommendations put and agreed to.
- (13) The award to Mary Robins, widow of G. Robins, formerly a porter, South African Railways, for and on behalf of her five children, of £12 per annum in respect of each child until they respectively attain the age of 16 years, with effect from 1st April, 1924.
On recommendation No. 13,
I have before drawn attention to the undesirable procedure which is laid down here. We are going to create a precedent that a pension will be given to the children of civil servants. It may be that out of a hundred civil servants who die, five of their children may come to Parliament and bring in a petition. They may get a pension, but I am sure 95 per cent, of them will get nothing. Is this House now going to lay it down that children of deceased civil servants are to get a pension? In committee I protested strongly against the granting of such pensions, not because I do not want to give the pension, but because there is differential treatment. It is an important matter. We have to do here with the recommendation of the previous committee of which there is only one member in the House. I recommended that all the petitions should be sent back to the Select Committee, and I am sorry that has not been done.
Being a member on that committee I must agree with the hon. member for Boshof (Mr. C. A. van Niekerk) as regards the principle, but I want him to realize that the members of that committee had to deal with cases as they came before them. This was a very sad case, one of the many sad cases which came before the committee, and I believe the committee acted wisely in granting this pension. But I agree that we should go further; as long as we have this country without an old age pension scheme you will always have this feeling that justice has not been done to the many. As the law stands you have to do the best you can, and I believe the committee acted wisely in granting this pension as set out.
The committee only granted pensions in cases of hardship. The committee has nothing to do with ordinary pensions, but only with cases which require special consideration.
It seems to me the committee is in rather a difficulty. We have been told by the hon. member for Boshof Mr. C. A. van Niekerk), who has done very good work on the Pensions Committee—we are told by him if we agree to the recommendation it will mean that every person who has been in the public service in any capacity and who dies and leaves a family unprovided for, that family is entitled to a pension despite the pension laws of the services. That being so, we can hardly decide on this recommendation without hearing something about the facts. I do not think this committee will be prepared to agree to a recommendation that carries with it as a precedent that the widow of any ex-official of the State who is not sufficiently provided for can come to this House and get a pension. If it is carried the ex-officials of the State who die and leave families are to be provided for by a special pension, I agree that we should deal not only with the five per cent, that come to this House but we should deal with the 95 per cent, who do not come here. I should like to hear the evidence which justified the committee in recommending a pension. We are told that it is a deserving case. What the facts are that induced them to make the recommendation in this House I do not know. I think we should be justified in referring this back to the Pensions Committee and ask them to enquire into it and report further to the House. It is possible there may be special circumstances, but we have heard nothing about them. I move that this be referred back to the Pensions Committee for further consideration.
The hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) is mistaken. The hon. member of Boshof (Mr. C. A. van Niekerk) did not say that we should create a precedent, but that there was a danger of our doing so. No precedent will be created in this case. Not all the dependents of civil servants are entitled to a pension, and it was recommended in this case only because the committee thought it was a case of special hardship.
I served on the Pensions Committee last session. The hon. member for Yeoville complains that he does not get information, but he should find fault with the previous Government. The report was laid on the Table on the 20th March, and although Parliament was only dissolved in the second week of April pensions were not discussed. Then all the facts of the different cases were fresh in our minds. Since then we had an interesting election fight and many hon. members forgot some of the facts. Many of the cases stood over from last year, and if the House now refers the pensions back to the committee it will be unfair. The committee carefully investigated every case, and only where extreme hardship was endured were pensions granted. I hope the hon. member for Yeoville will not urge this matter further.
I have been informed by the officials of the department that no precedent is created by the granting of a pension. The granting of certain pensions has been going on for years. This is really a deserving case, and it is not the first. I hope, therefore, that the hon. member will withdraw his motion.
I am indeed surprised at the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan); he represents a party which had a majority on this Committee. The chairman was the late Minister of Lands. We met, and we not only considered all these cases—and, Mr. Chairman, it is a heart-rending position to be in as a member of the Pensions Committee—we hear cases morning after morning, and when we have unanimously, in many cases, recommended pensions, it is heart-rending for us to see members of this House raise objections either on principle or for some other reason. The party which he represents had a majority, and from the past career of that party, when they did agree to anything, it must be considered a sad case indeed. Yet we have gentlemen rising up and criticizing these things, and I do think the least members of this House can do is to agree with what the Committee decide, because they did not decide very favourably in many cases. Every case was decided on its merits, and information was sought from all sides, and I hope and trust this will be the last criticism as regards pensions to the widows and children.
If the hon. member for Liesbeek (Mr. Pearce) supposes or claims that any recommendations of the Pensions Committee is to be regarded as sacred, I am afraid I cannot accept such a position. He will have to submit to the ordinary laws that govern this House, and however many eminent members may be on the Committee and make recommendations, they are liable to criticism and even to have their recommendations objected to. I am afraid what he says will not deter me from criticizing any recommendation if it is open to criticism. I raised the objection to this because I understood that if this recommendation is adopted it would act as a precedent not only in the case of the five per cent, who apply to the Committee, but to the 95 per cent, who do not apply to the Committee. I now understand that there were special circumstances which enabled the Pensions Committee to make their decision. They regarded it as a case of special hardship and made the recommendation which they would not have made in any case that came along. I should be the last person to stand in the way of a widow and children, and to help them very considerably when the bread-winner dies. I withdraw my objection. I find there are special circumstances which justify it.
I would not have risen to speak upon this question, but I am sorry that the hon. member for Liesbeek (Mr. Pearce), allowed the remark to drop, that when the South African Party supports a pension it must be a very bad case. I have sat on this Pensions Committee for eight years, and the hon. member for Boshof (Mr. C. A. van Niekerk) was the chairman of it for many years, and I appeal to him and to any other hon. member who sat upon the Committee that we were never influenced by the fact whether a man was English or Dutch, or to what party he belonged. I think that the hon. member for Boshof (Mr. C. A. van Niekerk) should get up and defend the Committee. A more impartial chairman never sat. I hope that the hon. member will repudiate the idea that because people belong to a different party from what we belong, that we did not grant a pension.
There is probably a misunderstanding. I only drew attention to a principle which I have been advocating for years. Perhaps the hon. member for Liesbeek (Mr. Pearce) did not understand me correctly, and I should like to emphasize that I did not object to this particular case. It is a great pity that the impression has been created that the members of the Pensions Committee are actuated by political motives, for that has never been the case, and if it had been I would never think of being a member of that Committee. If pensions are granted on such grounds, it would be a curse to those receiving them, for this House and for the country. Every case is considered on its merits and on no other consideration. I tried to make clear that it was my contention that the 95 per cent, who have not the knowledge to bring in the petitions should be helped and not only the 5 per cent. brought to our attention.
Recommendation No. 13 was agreed to.
I move—That this committee recommends:
- (14) The award to Martha M. Nagel, widow of F. M. Nagel, formerly a fireman, South African Railways, for and on behalf of her five youngest children, of £12 per annum in respect of each child until they respectively attain the age of 16 years, with effect from 1st April, 1924.
- (15) The award to Elizabeth A. Cotton, widow of H. S. L. Cotton, formerly a detective, South African Police, of £18 per annum in respect of her youngest child until he reaches the age of 16 years, with effect from 1st April, 1924.
- (16) The award to Susanna M. Nell, widow of J. J. D. Nell, formerly a member of the South African Police, for and on behalf of her five youngest children, of £12 per annum in respect of each child until they respectively attain the age of 16 years, with effect from 1st April, 1923.
- (17) The award to Alice G. Halkett, widow of C. H. Halkett, formerly a head constable, South African Police, for and on behalf of her three youngest children, of £12 per annum in respect of each child until they respectively attain the age of 16 years, with effect from 1st April, 1923.
- (18) The award to Catherine A. Tetlow, widow of H. F. Tetlow, formerly in the service of the Department of Prisons, for and on behalf of her three children, of £12 per annum in respect of each child until they respectively attain the age of 16 years, with effect from 1st April, 1923.
- (19) The grant to E. H. Smit, prison warder, on his retirement of an award under Act No. 29 of 1912 as if his membership of the fund established thereunder conformed to the requirements of section 21 of the said Act.
- (20) The grant to T. Booker, warder, Department of Prisons, on his retirement, of an award under Act No. 29 of 1912 as if his membership of the fund established thereunder conformed to the requirements of section 21 of the said Act.
- (21) The award to Harriet H. C. Ingram, widow of J. F. Ingram, of a gratuity of £131 4s.
- (22) The award to Harriet L. Haigh, widow of J. M. Haigh, formerly a finger print expert, South African Police, of a gratuity of £108, payable in monthly instalments of £3, with effect from 1st April, 1924.
- (23) The award to Emily Maginess, widow of the late Capt. T. Maginess, of a gratuity of £100, payable in monthly instalments of £8 6s. 8d., with effect from 1st April, 1924.
- (24) The award to A. H. Hulme, formerly constable, South African Police, of a gratuity of £48, payable in monthly instalments of £2, with effect from 1st April, 1924.
- (25) The award to W. A. H. Baynham, formerly a telegraphist, Department of Posts and Telegraphs, of a gratuity equivalent to the amount contributed by him to the Transvaal Administrative and Clerical Division Pension Fund.
- (26) The award to J. O’Leary, formerly a postmaster, Department of Posts and Telegraphs, of a gratuity equivalent to the amount contributed by him to the pension fund.
- (27) The award to D. J, Kotze, formerly a constable, South African Police, of a gratuity equivalent to one-half the amount contributed by him to the pension fund.
- (28) The award to C. H. Ricketts, formerly clerk, Department of the Interior, of a gratuity equivalent to one-half the amount contributed by him to the pension fund.
- (29) The award to W. G. Morley, formerly a postman, Department of Posts and Telegraphs, of a gratuity equivalent to one-half the amount contributed by him to the pension fund.
- (30) The award to P. F. Meyer, who was wounded during the Anglo-Boer war, of such compensation as would have been awarded to him had the provisions of Chapter VI of Act No. 42 of 1919 been applicable to his case.
- (31) J. R. More, assistant general manager, South African Railways, to be permitted to count the period of his service from 1st November, 1897, to 13th September, 1900, inclusive, for pension purposes: Provided that the necessary contributions and interest are paid to the Cape Civil Service Pension Fund in respect thereof.
- (32) H. A. Lester, chargeman electrician, South African Railways, to be permitted to contribute to the superannuation fund in respect of the period 10th May, 1923, to 2nd September, 1923, inclusive.
- (33) For the purposes of section 7 of Act No. 25 of 1919, the application of C. W. Abrams, clerk, South African Railways, for the condonation of the break in his service from 2nd November, 1917, to 18th September, 1919, for pension purposes, to be deemed to have been made within the period prescribed in that section.
- (34) The break in the service of E. Sulivan, formerly sergeant, South African Mounted Riflemen, from 15th June, 1908, to 2nd July, 1908, to be condoned, being regarded as leave without pay, not counting as service, but preserving to him the benefit of his previous service for pension purposes.
- (35) The break in the service of J. G. Marais, formerly an officer of the Permanent Force (Staff), Union Defence Forces, from 1st September, 1908, to 26th June, 1911, to be condoned, being regarded as leave without pay, not counting as service, but preserving to him the benefit of his previous service for pension purposes, subject to his satisfying all the claims of the Treasury: Provided that the recovery of such claims shall not, unless he otherwise desires, be at a higher rate than £100 per annum.
I should like to know from what date the awards will date? As they were not dealt with last Parliament, would they not be dated from April 1st of this year? I trust that the Government will follow that.
The hon. member will see that in most cases the date is given. Some have the date April 1st, 1923, and others April, 1924. I think it is quite right that these awards should take effect from April, 1924, unless they take effect from a previous date.
The recommendations were agreed to.
The committee proceeded to consider the second report of the Select Committee.
- (1) The award to W. H. Rankin, formerly a sergeant, South African Police, of the pension to which he would have been entitled had he been retired owing to ill health under Act No. 12 of 1874 (Cape), with effect from 7th March, 1923.
- (2) The pensions of H. A. Newman and F. H. Marshall, formerly members of the South African Mounted Rifles, on final retirement to be computed as if the whole of their service had fallen under the provisions governing members of the Natal Police Superannuation Fund.
- (3) The award to P. B. F. Botha, formerly in the service of the Department of Native Affairs, of the pension to which he would have been entitled had he completed 10 years service, with effect from the date on which the payment already made to him will be liquidated by the pension instalments.
- (4) The award to G. W. H. Young, formerly a constable, South African Police, of a pension of one-fifteenth of one-half of the yearly pay as defined in section 3 of Act No. 12 of 1874 (Cape) for each year of completed service, with effect from date of retirement.
- (5) The award to Johanna C. G. Versfeld, widow of J. de B. Versfeld, formerly a washoutman, South African Railways, of £12 per annum in respect of her youngest child until she reaches the age of 16 years, with effect from 1st April, 1923.
- (6) The award to Francis M. G. Rossouw, widow of D. P. Rossouw, formerly station foreman, South African Railways, for and on behalf of her six children, of £12 per annum in respect of each child until they respectively attain the age of 16 years, with effect from 1st April, 1924.
- (7) The award to J. H. Schrikker, formerly a labourer, South African Railways, of a gratuity of £45.
- (8) The award to C. O. Ohlssen, formerly a station master, South African Railways, of a gratuity equivalent to the amount contributed by him to the Cape Civil Service Pension Fund.
- (9) The award to Mary E. Tiffin, widow of P. Tiffin, formerly a constable, South African Police, of a gratuity of £50, payable in monthly instalments of £2, with effect from 1st April, 1924.
- (10) The award to J. P. Classen, formerly a ganger, South African Railways, of a gratuity of £50, payable in monthly instalments of £2, with effect from 1st April, 1924.
- (11) T. W. Chignell, clerk, South African Railways, to be permitted to count the period of his service from the 29th August, 1895, to 20th January. 1899, inclusive, for pension purposes: Provided that the necessary contributions together with simple interest at the rate of 5 per cent, per annum are paid to the Cape Civil Service Pension Fund.
- (12) J. P. T. Leverton, D. Low, W. C. Archer, H. Corin, C. V. Alport, C. D. Fisher, J. S. Moore, J. Turner, H. C. Urry, A. E. de Gruchy, A. Matthews, V. A. Hall, V. D. Brand, J. C. Boltman, S. D. Maree, C. J. Moon, G. Beardmore, W. Sharp, S. J. M. von Backstrom, J. J. Curtis, A. M. Uys, A. Pitout, A. F. McIntyre, W. M. Wiggett, P. H. Hultzer, T. C. Druce, A. A. Rynhoud, H. Harvey, G. M. Fernie, C. W. W. Wilmot, A. S. Kruger, R. D. van Rensburg, and W. Hauptfleisch, assistants, Department of Posts and Telegraphs, be permitted to contribute to the Cape Civil Pension Fund from the date of their 17th birthday or from the date on which they became eligible for appointment to the rank of junior assistant in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, if later.
- (13) N. D. Ross, G. A. Soule, G. J. Penfold, C. C. Wilter, H. V. H. Liebenberg, W. J. Doran, W. F. Moon, G. Doyle, A. P. de Gruchy, G. Hessell, J. Coppens, A. N. West and J. Wolfaardt, assistants, Department of Posts and Telegraphs, be permitted to contribute to the Cape Civil Service Pension Fund from the date of their 17th birthday or from the date on which they became eligible for appointment to the rank of junior assistant in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, if later.
- (14) The break in the service of O. Lipholo, a native messenger, Department of Posts and Telegraphs, from 30th April, 1920, to 1st June, 1920, to be condoned, being regarded as leave without pay, not counting as service, but preserving to him the benefit of his previous service for pension purposes.
- (15) The break in the service of Lilian G. Brunette, a shorthand-writer and typiste, Department of Finance, from 2nd July, 1923, to 17th September, 1923, to be condoned, being regarded as leave without pay, not counting as service, but preserving to her the benefit of her previous service for pension purposes.
- (16) The break in the service of F. G. Viljoen, sergeant, South African Police, from 1st January, 1908, to 2nd July, 1908, to be condoned, being regarded as leave without pay, not counting as service, but preserving to him the benefit of his previous service for pension purposes.
- (17) Subject to the repayment of the contributions refunded to J. F. E. Morley, clerk, Department of the Interior, the break in his service from 31st March, 1913. to 2nd July, 1913, to be condoned, being regarded as special leave without pay, not counting as service, but preserving to him the benefit of his previous service for pension purposes.
- (18) That the petitions of Mary J. Kent and Selina G. Lee be referred to the Cape Provincial Administration for consideration.
These recommendations were agreed to.
I wish to refer to Petition No. 244 of page 616 (J. H. W. Williams), and I wish to move that this petition be moved back to the Pensions Committee for further consideration. My reason for that is that if the Pensions Committee had had before them the reply given the other day by the hon. Minister of Finance to the hon. member for Pretoria (East) (Mr. Giovanetti) the decision of the Committee might possibly have been changed, because the Minister said that under the provisions of section 64 of the Cape Act 32 of 1896—I think it should be 1895—such a number of years might be added to a person who retires on the ground of abolition of office as not to exceed a third of such services, and so as not to take the age of such person beyond 65 years. If that ruling had been applied to the case of Williams that to all intents and purposes would have met his case and he would have been quite satisfied.
I hope hon. members will consider the matter carefully before they vote in favour of the motion of the hon. member for Yeoville. More than 250 petitions have been refused, and if it is proposed to refer back every petition, I shall refuse to be a member of it any longer, because its work will be made impossible. If there are new arguments in favour, the applicant can present another petition.
I presented quite a number of petitions last session, but regret to find that all the prayers submitted are to be found in this list of those that cannot be entertained. I am quite prepared to accept the verdict of the Committee with one exception. I hope the House will allow No. 74 to be referred back for re-consideration. It is a case of a widow with three young children; her husband, who was transferred from Maritzburg to Salt River works, was killed. It is true he was not on duty at the time. When I served on the Pensions Committee for about three years we made it a rule that in the case of any widow who had young children we always assisted her by giving £1 per month for each child until it attained the age of sixteen years. I would like that done in this particular case. Although I do not care about pulling up a colleague, I must take exception to the remarks of the hon. member for Liesbeek (Mr. Pearce), for I cannot recollect one instance of anything in the nature of a party division in the Pensions Committee. I have never known a committee composed of members representing all parties in the House give more attention to cases than did the Select Committee on Pensions during my three years membership of it, and party considerations never entered into the deliberations at all.
motion was carried.
moved that the petition of G. W. Picot (No. 168) be referred back to the Select Committee for further consideration.
There you are! If every member can have his particular petition referred back, all ought to go the same way, because there are many other deserving cases. Many really pathetic cases come before us, but the Committee is not a philanthropical institution. The object of the Committee is to reward people who have rendered services to the State and who as a result of technical causes, do not fall under the ordinary pension scheme. If there are special reasons, an exception can be made, but the present cases are not more deserving than many others.
The hon. member for Ladybrand (Mr. Swart) is quite correct. We cannot work in this way. If there are special cases such as that of the hon. member for South Peninsula (Sir Drummond Chaplin) where new evidence can be adduced, it can be granted. One is reluctant to decline any request, but we should not abuse the opportunity to refer petitions back without new facts being adduced to justify such an action.
I have served a very short time on the Select Committee on Pensions, but I have come to the conclusion that members of that committee, who give such minute care to every case that comes before them, are themselves qualifying for pensions for special services rendered. I feel that its judgment should be accepted and not changed unless some new facts not previously known come to notice.
I am going to support referring back the cases which have been mentioned. It is only the very hard cases which the Select Committee recommends to the House; otherwise practically every case that comes before the Select Committee would be approved of. I realize that the cases which come before the Select Committee are of such a character that they can very well stand further investigation. It is amusing how the hon. member for Three Rivers (Mr. D. M. Brown) can put words in your mouth. When I replied to the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) that the party which he represents had a majority on that Select Committee, it was only the very hard cases which were recommended to the House.
The hon. member must confine himself to the question whether the petition of G. W. Picot be referred back to the Select Committee.
Quite so. Seeing that subsequent speakers have used the same argument I wish to state that there were no party divisions on the Select Committee but that the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) belongs to the party which had a majority on the Select Committee.
What do you mean by that?
I will leave small minds to consider what I mean.
The motions proposed by Sir Drummond Chaplin and Mr. Marwick were negatived.
The resolutions were there upon reported.
The report was considered and adopted.
Tenth Order read: House to go into Committee on First and Second Reports of Select Committee on Crown Lands (First Session, 1924).
House in Committee:
The Committee proceeded to consider the First Report of the Select Committee as follows:
I. Your committee begs to report that it has had under consideration the papers and correspondence referred to it, and recommends.:
- (1) The grant for undenominational public school purposes of two pieces of land named “School Site No. 1,” measuring 2 morgen 50 square roods and “School Site No. 2,” measuring 2 morgen, situate in the Town and Division of Swellendam, Province of the Cape of Good Hope, on condition that when no longer used or required for undenominational public school purposes, the land shall revert to the Crown; the land to be vested in the following trustees, viz.:—Arnold Sebastian Weisbecker, Provincial Secretary of the Province of the Cape of Good Hope, Willem Jacobus Viljoen, Superintendent-General of Education of the Province of the Cape of Good Hope and George David du Toit, Chairman of the School Board (Municipal) of the School District of Swellendam, being the Educational Trustees designated by Cape Ordinance No. 5 of 1921 for the Municipal School District of Swellendam, and their respective successors in office.
- (2) The grant in favour of the owner of the farm Glen Alpine of a servitude of abutment, storage and aqueduct covering the construction of a dam and the laying of a pipe line over a portion of the Cecelia Forest Reserve, Cape Division, Province of the Cape of Good Hope.
- (3) The sale out of hand to the General Trustees of the United Free Church of Scotland at a purchase price of £10 per morgen, of Lot S, situate at Burnshill, Division of King William’s Town, Province of the Cape of Good Hope, subject to the condition that the land shall be used for mission purposes, and to such other conditions as the Government may approve.
- (4) The sale out of hand at a purchase price of £5 per morgen, to A. Everitt, of a certain piece of land approximately 4½ morgen in extent, situate near the railway at Lonetree Loop, forming portion of the Mcotsho Commonage (Potsdam), Division of East London, Province of the Cape of Good Hope, subject to such conditions as the Government may approve.
- (5) The withdrawal from the list of demarcated forest areas of certain portions measuring together approximately 27 morgen 253 square roods of Lots Nos. 244 and 245 Rabula, Division of King William’s Town, Province of the Cape of Good Hope.
- (6) The withdrawal from the list of demarcated forest areas of lot 20 B, Wolf River, portion of Reserve IV (k), Heleby Forest, Field Cornetcy No. 7, Division of King William’s Town, Province of the Cape of Good Hope, and the reservation of the area in question as a commonage for natives, on condition that any stock legitimately employed on forestal work in the Crown Forests in the vicinity shall be allowed to graze there.
- (7) The withdrawal from the list of demarcated forest areas of a portion measuring approximately 4 miles long by 100 feet wide of the Bellville Forest Reserve, a portion measuring approximately 2 miles long by 100 feet wide of the Eerste River Forest Reserve, and a portion measuring approximately 5 miles long by 100 feet wide of the Strandfontein Forest Reserve, Cape Division, Province of the Cape of Good Hope.
On recommendation No. 7,
I would like to ask why this large piece of ground has been withdrawn from the forest reserve on the Cape Flats.
I am told this is the extension of the line which will eventually go to the Strand and Muizenberg and it is that strip which is withdrawn from the forest reserve.
It is not proposed to make a railway line down there, surely?
Eventually, I am informed, it may be done.
The recommendation is, I understand, for a motor road.
A motor road down to your farm.
The recommendation was agreed to.
- (8) The grant in favour of the Divisional Council of Stellenbosch of a servitude of road approximately 40 feet in width over a demarcated portion of the demarcated Bellville Forest Reserve between the Kuils River and the boundary of the farm “Rotterdam,” situate in the Division of Stellenbosch, Province of the Cape of Good Hope.
- (1) The withdrawal from the list of demarcated forest lands of a portion in extent about 305 morgen of the Port Elizabeth Drift Sands, Forest Reserve, Port Elizabeth Division.
- (2) The grant of the land thus withdrawn to the Divisional Council of Port Elizabeth, subject to such conditions as the Government may approve.
- (10) The withdrawal from the list of demarcated forest areas of a certain piece of land in extent approximately six morgen of the Coast Reserve situate at the Inxara River mouth, Division of Komgha, Province of the Cape of Good Hope.
- (11) The grant for undenominational public school purposes of a certain piece of land in extent 10 morgen 319 square roods 25 square feet named the “School Reserve” situate on the Port Alfred Commonage, Division of Bathurst, Province of the Cape of Good Hope, subject to the condition that the land shall revert to the Crown when no longer used or required for undenominational public school purposes; the land to be vested in the following trustees, viz:—The Provincial Secretary of the Province of the Cape of Good Hope, the Superintendent-General of Education of the Province of the Cape of Good Hope and the chairman of the School Board of the district.
- (12) The withdrawal from the list of demarcated forest areas of a portion, in extent about 300 square roods, of Forest Reserve VII., Still Bay, Division of Riversdale, Province of the Cape of Good Hope, and the grant thereof in favour of trustees to be appointed in terms of section 1 of Act No. 3 of 1883 (Cape) as a site for a public cemetery, subject to the condition that the land shall be properly fenced within a reasonable time, and when no longer used or required for burial purposes, it shall revert to the Crown.
- (13) The grant, as a site for a town hall, of a certain piece of land, in extent about two morgen, situate on the Commonage of Tsolo, District of Tsolo, Province of the Cape of Good Hope, on condition that when no longer used or required for the purposes of a town hall, the land shall revert to the Crown.
On recommendation No. 13.
I see from No. 13 it is not stated in whose favour the grant is made. No. 15 does state in whose favour the grant is made but No. 13 does not. Cannot that be made clear? I think we should insert “in favour of the Village Management Board”.
Yes it is to the Village Management Board.
I beg formally to move to insert the words “in favour of the Village Management Board of Tsolo”.
I am afraid the Hon. Member cannot move am amendment of that sort. Such an amendment could only be made by the Committee.
The recommendation was agreed to.
Recommendation No. (14) put, viz.:
- (14) This Committee recommends the leasing of the farm “Thorngrove,” District Bedford, for a period of two years on such conditions as the Government may deem fit.
I move as an amendment to delete the words “for a period of two years” and substitute the words “on a monthly basis”.
I understood you to rule Mr. Chairman that hon. members could not move an amendment.
I put the amendment proposed by the hon. Minister.
I want to ask on a point of order what amendments are we allowed to move on these recommendations? My hon. friend was not allowed to move an amendment but the Minister is allowed to do so. I want to know under what circumstances we are allowed to move amendments.
I am afraid I cannot answer these hypothetical questions.
The recommendation as amended was agreed to.
- (15) The grant in favour of the Village Management Board of Hoedjes Bay of (1) a portion of the Public Reserve for the purpose of widening the main road from 25 to 40 feet, and (2) a piece of land approximately 100 x 100 feet as a slaughter house site, situate at Hoedjes Bay, Division of Malmesbury, Province of the Cape of Good Hope.
- (16) The sale out of hand for the sum of £15 to the Trustees for the time being of the Cape Town Diocese of the Province of South Africa and their successors in office, of Lot No. 504, measuring 47 Square roods 132 square feet, situate at Retreat, City of Cape Town, Cape Division, Province of the Cape of Good Hope, subject to such conditions as the Government may approve.
- (17) The sale out of hand for the sum of £15 to the Wesleyan Methodist Church of South Africa, of Lot No. 508, measuring 48 square roods 88 square feet, situate at Retreat, City of Cape Town, Cape Division, Province of the Cape of Good Hope, subject to such conditions as the Government may approve.
- (18) The sale at public auction at an upset price of £150 of a certain piece of land, being the remaining extent of Lot No. 2, measuring 124 square roods 70.8 square feet, with the building thereon, situate in front of the Masonic Hotel, Aliwal North, Division of Aliwal North, Province of the Cape of Good Hope, subject to such conditions as the Government may approve.
II. Your Committee, is unable to recommend the exchange of Government farm “Grootboom” No. 88, Carolina, for a portion of the private farm “Craigielea” No. 165, Ermelo.
Paragraphs 15 to 18 were agreed to.
The committee proceeded to consider the Second report of the Select Committee, as follows:
I. Your committee begs to report that it has had under consideration the papers and correspondence referred to it, and recommends:
- (1) The withdrawal from the list of demarcated forest areas of a piece of land in extent approximately 575 square roods, adjoining lot No. 24, situate on the Zaminyama River, Division of East London, Province of the Cape of Good Hope, being portion of the East London Coast Reserve, and the sale thereafter out of hand for the sum of £5 to Henry Arnold Galpin, subject to such conditions as the Government may approve.
- (2) The grant for educational purposes of certain two pieces of land measuring approximately 2 and 3½ morgen respectively, situate at Matatiele, Division of Matatiele, Province of the Cape of Good Hope, subject to the condition that when no longer used or required for educational purposes the land shall revert to the Crown; the land to be vested in the following trustees, viz.: Arnold Sebastian Weisbecker, Provincial Secretary of the Province of the Cape of Good Hope, Willem Jacobus Viljoen, Superintendent General of Education of the Province of the Cape of Good Hope, and George Escourt Massingham Seymour, chairman of the School Board of the School District of Matatiele, being the educational trustees designated by Ordinance No. 5 of 1921 for the school district of Matatiele and their respective successors in office.
- (3) The grant to the Council of the Municipality of Matatiele, subject to such terms and conditions as the Government may approve, of a certain piece of land, in extent 1 morgen 4 square roods 25 square feet, together with the buildings thereon, situate in the township of Matatiele, district of Matatiele, Province of the Cape of Good Hope, in return for the transfer to Government by the Council of a site and buildings thereon, having a frontage of 100 feet on High Street and 145 feet frontage on Green Street, and the cash payment by it of a sum of £3,500 to the Government.
- (4) The sale in favour of the Right Reverend Hugh Macsherry in his capacity as Catholic Bishop of the Eastern Cape Province and his successors in office for the sum of £3, subject to such conditions as the Government may approve, of lot No. 55 situate in the village of Blinkwater, Division of Fort Beaufort, Province of the Cape of Good Hope.
- (5) The grant as a site for a war memorial hall in favour of the Kentani Town Hall Committee of a certain piece of land approximately 162 by 144 feet situated on the public offices site between the library and the tennis courts, at Kentani, district of Kentani, Province of the Cape of Good Hope, subject to such conditions as the Government may approve.
- (6) The lease in favour of the Pearl Oyster Shell Industries (1920), Ltd., of (1) lot No. 121 in extent 112 square roods 14 square feet as a residential site, and (2) lot No. 122 in extent 108 square roods 104 square feet as a factory site, situate at Sandy Bay in the extension of the village of Langebaan, Division of Malmesbury, Province of the Cape of Good Hope, for a period of 18 years from the 6th June, 1923, to 5th June, 1941, terminable thereafter at one year’s notice, at an annual rental of six pounds (£6 0s. 0d.) each, and further subject to such conditions as the Government may approve.
- (7) The grant in favour of trustees to be appointed in terms of section 1 of Act 3 of 1883 (Cape) as an extension to the present cemetery site, of a certain piece of land in extent about three-quarters of a morgen situate at Hoedjes Bay in the Division of Malmesbury, Province of the Cape of Good Hope.
- (8) The grant for undenominational public school purposes of a certain piece of land named “School Site” measuring 2 morgen, situate in the Field-Cornetcy of Achter Hantam, Division of Calvinia, Province of the Cape of Good Hope, on condition that when no longer used on required for undenominational public school purposes, the land shall revert to the Crown; the land to be vested in the following trustees, viz.: The Provincial Secretary of the Province of the Cape of Good Hope, the Superintendent General of Education of the Province of the Cape of Good Hope, and the Chairman of the local School Board.
- (9) The withdrawal from the list of demarcated forest areas of a certain piece of land, in extent about 30 morgen, being the Nahoon Forest Reserve, situate in the Division of East London, Province of the Cape of Good Hope, provided that in any grant of this land there shall be a condition that the land or any portion thereof shall not be alienated without the consent of Parliament.
- (10) A yearly lease out of hand to P. E. Davies, lessee of lot K. 69, Kwambonambi, Lower Umfolozi, of approximately 200 acres of land adjoining his holding, subject to such conditions as the Government may determine.
- (11) The withdrawal from the list of demarcated forest areas of lot No. 278, measuring approximately five morgen, situate in the Wolf River Forest Reserve, Division of King William’s Town, Province of the Cape of Good Hope.
- (12) The withdrawal from the list of demarcated forest areas of lot No. 248a measuring 15 morgen 174 square roods, situate in the Wolf River Valley, Division of King William’s Town, Province of the Cape of Good Hope.
Recommendations Nos. (1) to (12) put and agreed to.
Recommendation No. (13) put, viz.:
- (13) The reservation in favour of the provincial administration of the Orange Free State for the purposes of a game reserve of the farm Sommerville No. 1664, Winburg, provided that such reservation shall be withdrawn when the land is no longer used or required as a game reserve.
I move—After “reservation,” where it occurs for the first time, to insert “subject to such conditions as the Government may determine.”
On a point of order; are we allowed to move amendments limiting the grant recommended by the committee?
This is not a change of title, only a condition.
Was the other a change of title?
There was a change of title I believe.
The recommendation, as amended, was agreed to.
- (14) The sale out of hand at a purchase price of £5 to the Kat River Co-operative Citrus Company, Limited, of a site approximately half a morgen in extent, adjoining the railway station at Fort Beaufort, Province of the Cape of Good Hope, subject to such conditions as the Government may approve.
- (15) The deletion of the condition “that the land hereby granted shall be used for the purposes of the said school” appearing in the title-deed, dated 2nd April, 1898, in favour of the Superintendent General of Education for the time being, the Civil Commissioner for the time being of the Division of Fort Beaufort and the chairman for the time being of the Board of Management of the Fort Beaufort public school, in their capacity of trustees of the said school, conveying a certain piece of land containing 436 square roods, 107.84 square feet, situate in Durban Street, in the township of Fort Beaufort, Division of Fort Beaufort, Province of the Cape of Good Hope, so as to permit of the land in question being sold.
- (16) The consent to the erection by the Fish Hoek local board of a pavilion, bathing cubicles and hall on the foreshore at Fish Hoek, Cape Division, Province of the Cape of Good Hope, subject to the requirements of the provincial administration and health authorities being complied with.
- (17) The lease for a period of 10 years, subject to such terms and conditions as the Government may approve, of the Isinuka Springs, together with certain land attaching thereto, in extent about 10 morgen, situate in the Isinuka Valley in the District of Port St. John’s. Province of the Cape of Good Hope.
II. Your committee is unable to recommend the renewal of the lease of the whaling site at Park Rynie.
III. In view of the imminent dissolution of the House, your committee is unable to complete its investigations into the papers relating to the proposed grant of portion of the Tsolo Commonage and the petition of G. E. L. Palmer, referred to it.
D. REITZ, Chairman.
Paragraphs Nos. (14) to (17) were agreed to.
The resolutions were thereupon reported.
The report was considered and adopted.
Eleventh Order read: Adjourned debate on motion for second reading, Financial Relations (Teachers’ Salaries) Bill.
Debate (adjourned on the 1st instant) was resumed.
Might I appeal to the Prime Minister? We have had a really hard week and it is late now, and as it is Friday night, might we not adjourn this debate.
Let us go on a little longer.
It is really very late and it is an important question. I ask him to look around the House, there are very few people present. It was not expected that this would come up. He has had many hours of rest during the week; more than we have had.
You will be too fresh next week.
I hope the hon. the Prime Minister will agree to adjourn.
Let us get on with the work.
I would like very much to meet my hon. friend, but really I think we ought to go on just a little. We have been very slow so far and I assure him I will not allow the House to be overworked.
Before dealing with the merits of this Bill before the House I would like to invite the attention of the Minister to a point which had escaped his attention. It is largely a draughtsman’s point and it was a point which was intended to be raised by the hon. member for Bezuidenhout (Mr. Blackwell) who is unable to be here this evening. Section 22, sub-section 2 of the Act of 1924, broadly speaking, made provision for two matters. One was the introduction of uniformity by transferring from the Provincial Council the right to fix teachers’ salaries. This is expressly set out in section 2. It was provided in effect, that in future, in the four provinces, the right of fixing of scales of pay for teachers by the Councils concerned would be repealed and that right transferred to the Union Government. If that is so what is to be the effect of that repeal? The Minister appears to be under the impression, judging by the Bill and from his speech in the House, that by this repeal he will leave the position as it was prior to the date in April last when this Bill became law. That is not the position. This Bill was clearly an abridgement of the powers of the Provincial Council—in fact it was reserved for the signification of His Majesty’s pleasure. It is quite clear that from the time that the Bill became law, and from the time the Governor-General in Council exercised his power thereunder, the new scale of salaries took the place of the existing scales. If this section is repealed the question is: Are the repealed provisions of the four Provincial Council Ordinances revived? The Minister will realize that there will be no such automatic revival of these provisions. Therefore by this Bill he proposes to leave in the air the question of what scales will apply in the Provinces for a period which he, of course, has not referred to. He told us that one of the reasons why the matter was brought forward was that the Governor-General, acting on the recommendation of the Public Service Commission, had proclaimed the existing scales to be in force in the four Provinces. Will the hon. Minister question my statement? I heard the statement made by the hon. Minister of Finance himself, and I heard it repeated by the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan); so it is the case that there are existing scales made applicable to the teachers of the four Provinces by Union legislation. Surely the hon. Minister could not contemplate when he merely repealed these provisions to leave the whole question in the air. It is clear that the title of the Bill requires amendment, and some further provision inserted so as to revive the repealed authority of the Provincial Councils or to re-enact the scales as they were before the Bill became law; I do not think it competent for the Provincial Council to re-enact the scales Parliament has repealed. If it were left in that position that the Provincial Councils must by Ordinance re-enact the scales, you would find that where rights had been acquired under the scales laid down by the Public Service Commission any teacher appointed under these scales would nevertheless be entitled to claim that he had been appointed under Union legislation, and could not be interfered with by any Provincial enactment. It is not competent, as I need hardly point out, for any Provincial Council to repeal the provisions of any Union Act of Parliament. The hon. Minister will have to consider putting before the House a further section providing for this particular possible anomaly. The hon. Minister has entirely failed to make any case for the enactment of the Bill this session, and if he does not show this, is there any necessity to press it during the present session? When we consider the merits of the Bill and why it has been introduced, there are a large number of hon. members, like the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) who ask why it is necessary to bring this Bill forward this session. We gathered, from statements that were made, that only such work would be introduced this session as would be considered to be urgent. The Act in effect makes provision for two matters; firstly, the provision for a uniform scale for the four provinces, and the other is the limitation of the right of the provinces to interfere by means of a general reduction with the salaries of teachers. By the Act, as made law last session, the power to make a general reduction was limited to a reduction in any one particular year; clearly, the provision, if regarded from the point of view of the teachers, is an advance upon their pre-existing conditions. The reasons which were put before this hon. House in support of the urgency of the matter, were, firstly, by the hon. Minister of Finance, who said because the Public Service Commission had made applicable to the provinces certain scales, it was necessary to revert to the old scales. But if the old scales have been made applicable to the provinces, why should that cause any difficulty in administration; and why not therefore let the matter remain over until the next session, when it must come forward in another form? The hon. Minister has not made clear to me or to the House that there is any urgency in the matter. The hon. Minister of Posts and Telegraphs gave us another reason, and said it was necessary to make provision at once, because there was a desire to remedy, what he described as a gross injustice to the teachers. That is language with which we were made very familiar on platforms outside this House two or three months ago, but in this hon. House we must hear something more before we are convinced that the Act passed last year worked a gross injustice upon the teachers. It was a coincidence that a reduction was proposed in the Cape Provincial Council in teachers’ salaries, after the Bill had been introduced into this hon. House. When the Financial Relations Bill was so introduced it was opposed because it had been substituted for an anticipated measure which might have been a greater source of difficulty as far as the Government was concerned, than the mild amendment expressed in section 2 of the Act. Then about March 13th, there came a proposal from the Cape Administration, which on the face of it, apparently, was to effect a reduction of teachers’ salaries generally throughout the Cape Province, and the teachers of the Cape Province, through their chosen representatives, came to meet their legitimate employers, the Provincial Administration, to discuss the matter; this was their real and only grievance; but on their way met some kind friends—I do not know whether I shall call them “good samaritans”—by whom they were entangled in matters in this hon. House with which they were not really concerned. When the hon. Minister of Posts and Telegraphs calls it a “gross injustice to the teachers.” he does not make it clear that the Act as it was passed then gave effect to two things which are of great importance, firstly, provision for uniformity, and secondly, a limitation of the powers of Provincial Councils as far as reduction of salaries is concerned. You would think that he would take no objection to that at all. If we examine these arguments, one cannot help feeling that until something more is said no case was made out which would appeal to the reason of this hon. House. As these reasons or hon. members appear to be insufficient one naturally stops to enquire what might lie behind the introduction of the Bill and why so much importance is attached to it by hon. members opposite. The hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) indicated that it was necessary to introduce the Bill in order to carry out the force enacted here in March last and there may be some ground for that particular view. Probably the Bill is intended to have many vocal repercussions throughout the countryside, so that hon. members opposite may be able to point to this as the first act of the new Government, as a step towards remedying this so-called “gross injustice” which, when it is examined, is found to have no foundation. There may, however, be other reasons apart from this tactical ground. The Minister of Finance seems to appreciate that next year he will not be so fortunate with his Budget as he is this year, and I think he is endeavouring to escape some of the responsibility which must arise next year. I wish to put this point that this House having secured some grip by means of section 2, on the finances of the Provinces is not well advised to realize that grip.
I thought the object of the Act was to raise salaries.
Did you really understand that?
The recommendation of the Commission would eventually have effected an annual saving of £400,000. Is the Minister prepared to sacrifice that amount? We have not had an opportunity of dealing in this House with the financial tangle which is rapidly accumulating in the four provinces. It must give the House pause, when it realizes in looking at the Loan Estimates that the four provinces are indebted to the Union in the sum of two millions which, on the basis of 5 per cent. will involve a contribution of £100,000 per annum in interest. If you look at probable developments you will find that so far as the Cape is concerned it will be overdrawn on March 31 next to the extent of £400,000 on its current estimates. Notwithstanding the object lesson it has had this year, the Cape Provincial Council is increasing its normal expenditure by nearly £250,000. The Transvaal Provincial Council also shows an increase and is budgeting for a deficiency of £330,000.
The Transvaal is growing;
It ought to grow on its own resources. I would ask the Minister if there is to be a further deficiency of £750,000—which may be increased if Natal and the Free State think they also should have a little dip into the Treasury vaults—how does he propose to provide for it? Does he intend again to fund these deficits? While it might be necessary to do so once owing to extraordinary circumstances he should take steps to see that it does not occur again, because it is not sound finance so to go on funding deficits. The fact that this occurred and that the Provinces show no disposition whatever to decrease their expenditure but are demanding further sums from the central executive, shows the wisdom of not relaxing financial control, bearing in mind also that any interference with these financial relations should take place as part of a concerted policy. The point I make as the necessity of maintaining a grip on the Provincial finances does not appeal to the Minister. Why is he so ready to jettison the principle of uniformity which is so highly necessary?
Does the Act give you uniformity?
It gave you power to bring about uniformity.
Why did the late Government introduce it then?
Is the policy of the Government always to be expressed as a tu que que? The exceptional circumstances which were responsible for the introduction of the Act by the last Government have so far disappeared that it would be possible to place the financial relations on a proper footing. Why, merely because the Minister wishes to bring in this Bill, is he at the same time prepared to jettison so valuable a principle as that of uniformity? He will not question my statement that the Provincial Administrations and the Union Government found it necessary to bring about some uniformity in regard to teachers’ salaries.
The Bill did not do that.
The Bill could have done it. This principle of uniformity was one which was advocated by every Provincial Administration. It was suggested by the teachers themselves. Before the elections the principle of uniformity was accepted-Why then should it be abandoned? I would say to hon. members who represent the Cape Province that to abandon it is to bring about that state of affairs which reacted so disastrously in the Cape in regard to the training of teachers. We in this Province train teachers much more economically than any other Province in the Union, and as soon as we have trained them we find they are drained away to other Provinces. The Superintendent-General in his Report draws particular attention to this constant flitting of our teachers from this to other Provinces. If the Minister had in mind the protection of the teachers only, he would merely have had to introduce an amendment to the Act whereby the Provincial Administrations were debarred from interfering with teachers’ salaries pending the introduction of their new policy defining these financial relations. I venture to think, however, now that the Minister is faced with the responsibility of office he will not do anything to impair the right of Parliament or any Provincial Council to alter the salaries of teachers if they wished. There is another objection which can be urged. It seems to me that it is one step towards the slide in favour of federalism, which I believe when the policy of the Government is introduced, will strongly mark it. There are two large bodies of opinion on that question in this country—whether we should tend more and more to direct control or unification or whether we should slide back towards federalism. It is not necessary to debate that question now, but if this Bill tends towards that is it reasonable to ask that this House should take one step, if only a small one, along the line of that policy before we have had an opportunity of discussing the question fully next session? I understand the Minister proposes to introduce some comprehensive measure dealing with our financial relations with the Provinces next year. I hope that question will not be made a party question. There have been indications during the past week that several members on the other side of the House—particularly the young members of the Nationalist Party who perhaps feel that they cannot go as far as members of the older generation in carrying on party warfare on the old lines—desire to deal with some of the more important questions confronting us in a non-party spirit. Those indications are to be welcomed. Our relations with the Provinces are too important to become a mere matter for party strife. I would like to appeal to the Minister if this is a deliberate part of a policy towards devolution, towards giving the Provinces greater powers—
Not greater powers, only the powers which they have always had.
… that he should defer the matter to the next session. In order to give effect to the views I have been urging I beg to move as an amendment:
Mr. SEPHTON seconded the amendment.
This matter has been hanging over the House for some considerable time and I remember, when first mention of it was made, members opposite, and particularly the ex-Prime Minister, expressed surprise that this should be introduced as a measure of urgency this session. I remember members on this side of the House and on the cross benches here promised during the elections that one of the first things to be done by the Government would be the repeal of the Financial Relations Act, Clause No. 2. I cannot therefore understand how this measure can come as a complete surprise to members of the Opposition. It may be surprising to the S.A.P. to find election promises kept, they evidently are not used to that. As far as I can find out there are different scales of pay for teachers in different provinces and the Cape scale is the lowest of the lot. If the advocates of uniformity mean by uniformity that they wish to bring the salaries of teachers down to the lowest scale, I hope the House will not agree to their proposals. The hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) gave me the impression that no action had been taken under this Act and no damage done. Not long ago I saw in the Natal press a statement made by the Administrator of Natal, at a teachers’ conference, which proved conclusively that damage had been done in Natal under this Financial Relations Act. The Administrator said after the passing of the Act: “The administration in making new appointments adopted provisionally the scales laid down in the report which had been submitted to the council by the commission … and the new rates were introduced for new appointments … but the administration were advised pending the settlement of the new rates the old rates must apply and they were reverted to.” This gives a concrete instance of damage that had been done. I can quote instances to show the scales we have in Natal are better than those of the public service commission. They indicate still further that the intention of the last Government, through the Public Service Commission, was to reduce the status of teachers to the very lowest.
Then in what way was the £400,000 to be saved?
It was to be spread over eight years.
What about the £80,000 in the Cape Province for one year?
As soon as the election came around the new scales were stopped and the old scales reverted to. I now congratulate the Government on their courage in taking this matter up again.
Before you put the question, Mr. Speaker, I presume my friend the Minister of Finance will agree to our adjourning. When I rose some time ago I asked the Prime Minister if he would adjourn and I pointed out that there was but a small House—it was much larger on this side than on the other side—in fact we are keeping a quorum in the House.
Might I tell my young friend that he showed so much wriggling and excitement when the hon. member for the Gardens (Mr. Coulter) was speaking—I appeal to him if he will move the adjournment of the House because, as I said before, I appealed to the Prime Minister to do so. The reasons I gave were that it was Friday night, and that we were all tired. The Prime Minister did not agree to it, but he soon departed and went home, leaving us to do the work of the country. I would sooner the Minister moved the adjournment of the House, but if he is not prepared to do so, I will. If he will not do it I will give reasons why he should do so.
Then I will move the adjournment; but the hon. Minister need not resume on the next occasion.
I would just like to say that if the hon. member had got up and asked me if I would agree to the adjournment I would have been pleased to do so; but it was unnecessary for the hon. member to make these uncalled-for remarks and make those insinuations against the hon. the Prime Minister.
But it is true—
It is not true. Let me tell the hon. member that it was unworthy of him to make these insinuations.
The motion was agreed to, and the debate was adjourned until August 18th.
The House adjourned at