House of Assembly: Vol2 - MONDAY 18 AUGUST 1924
The MINISTER OF LANDS laid upon the Table:
Papers relating to Crown Lands (1 to 10).
Referred to Select Committee on Crown Lands.
First Order read: Second Reading, Railways and Harbours Unauthorized Expenditure (1922-’23) Bill.
The details of the Bill can be found on page 104 of the report of the Controller and Auditor-General. The Select Committee on Railways and Harbours has gone through and sanctioned it.
Bill read a second time: House to go into Committee now.
House in Committee.
Clauses, Schedule and Title put and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Several persons have approached me on the question of the transport of lucerne.
That is not within the scope of the Bill, which only includes the items specified.
I understood that this matter could also be dealt with under this Bill.
General matters cannot De raised on this Bill.
The motion was agreed to, and the Bill read a third time.
Second Order read: Second Reading, Unauthorized Expenditure (1922-’23) Bill.
This Bill is a result of the adoption by this House of the report of the Select Committee on Public Accounts. The original amount as reported by the Auditor-General was £5,839, but the Select Committee, after investigation and after having heard the views of officials, reduced the amount by £1,200, being a sum paid in connection with the industrial disturbances on the Rand. The amount is now £4,369, the details of which will be found in the schedule.
Bill read a second time; House to go into Committee now.
House in Committee.
Clauses, Schedule and Title put, and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment, and read a third time.
Third Order read: House to go into Committee on the Moroka Ward Land Relief Bill.
House in Committee.
On Clause 1,
I want to raise a point to which I referred last session. I approve of this Bill, but it does not go far enough. Formerly the Barolong lands formed one plot, but now they are split up by European holdings in between, where farming operations are made possible for the whites, therefore it ought to be the policy of the Government to buy those portions and return it to the Barolongs, so that it can be one piece of land again. As things are now, the white people who live with the natives are going backward, and things are so bad that some of them are even bywoners to the natives.
I support the suggestion of the hon. member regarding the solidification of the Barolong territory. A Commission was appointed at the time to investigate, and they recommended that the Europeans living there should be bought out so that the Moroka territory might form a unit. That will facilitate matters when it comes to the carrying out of the segregation policy of the Government. The late Government considered the recommendation, but could never see its way clear to take this step. I know that the present Government is sympathetic, and hope it will carry out the suggestions, because it really is a very unsound position, and it is impossible for the Europeans to continue their farming operations there.
It would appear from the remarks of the two previous speakers that a number of white people have farms in the Barolong territory. I hardly expected such a state of things in the Free State. How is it possible that they could have allowed whites amongst the Barolongs and natives in the territory of the whites?
The hon. member who spoke last is quite correct. At the annexation of 1884 certain grounds were granted to Europeans, and the Government of the Free State leased certain lands. The Crown Colony Government sold some of the Crown lands to settlers, and that is how Europeans and natives came to live together.
The clause was agreed to.
On Clause 2,
The clause lays down that anyone who is found guilty of perjury may not have land. But what is going to happen if he has already been granted the land, and it is then discovered that he made a false declaration. It may be that the Barolongs who went to Bechuanaland will return to Thaba ’Nchu. There exists great animosity between the followers of Samuel and Sepinare. If they have land adjoining one another there may be the same difficulties as in 1884. If anybody gets a piece of ground by a false declaration the Bill does not make provision for the alienation of the land, and I think this ought to be remedied.
The clause was agreed to.
The remaining clauses and title were put, and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment, and read a third time.
Fourth Order read: House to go into Committee of Supply.
House in Committee.
Main Estimates [U.G. 31—’24]
Vote 1, “H.E. the Governor-General,” £26,691 put and agreed to.
Vote 2, “Senate,” £30,055, put and agreed to.
On Vote No. 3, “House of Assembly”, £91,875,
I would like to ask on this Vote whether any decision has been come to with regard to certain plans for the alteration of this House. The matter was considered by a Committee of the House last year, and I would like to know from the Government whether any decision has been come to for carrying out the plans in whole or in part.
When I assumed office I found the Public Works Department mentioned that, and submitted what money would be required to carry out these plans. It is one of the services which I withheld from the present Estimates. I do think the Government should be given an opportunity of going into the matter, to see whether this expenditure should be incurred having regard to the present financial position. The matter will be considered by the Government during the recess.
There were two main proposals, the first was to enlarge this Chamber considerably, and No. 2 was to add additional committee rooms and rooms for the accommodation of members. I do not think there is the same urgency with regard to the enlarging of the Chamber as providing additional accommodation for members. There is no doubt that members of the present House will have the same complaints as members of the last House about the quantity of accommodation. We want more reading and writing rooms, the Ministers themselves will find that they want more rooms for their own use than are available at present. During recess I hope the Government will look into the matter and see if it is not possible to put on next year’s estimate? a sum for the accommodation required.
I have not gone into the details of this matter, but I would like to know whether the hon. members consider that it is a matter of such urgency whether, in view of the present financial situation, they should embark on this expenditure. Personally, I must say that I am inclined to think that we could go on a few years without incurring it.
Vote put and agreed to.
On Vote 4, “Prime Minister,” £39,634,
I want to raise the question of the importation of cattle from Rhodesia, and I want to call the Prime Minister’s attention to a fact which has not been mentioned so far as I am aware, of the large amount of exports which we send to Rhodesia. Last year they amounted to £807,900 purely for Union products. I would like to mention a few things which we sent to show its importance. Take, for instance, sheep and lambs. We sent, last year, £19,140 worth, blasting compounds, £17,000 worth, biscuits £8,500 worth, jams and jellies £10,000, confectionery £15,000, fresh fruit £16,500, sugar £64,000, boots and shoes £18,300, matches £10,800, soap £28,700. cigarettes £93,000, unmanufactured tobacco £20,000. That is one side. We bought from Rhodesia £516,000 worth, and members will see that the balance of advantage was on the Union side. Of the imports from Rhodesia there were two big items. The first was cattle for slaughter amounting to £166,000; tobacco unmanufactured £185,000. This is an important business for the Union, and should be taken into consideration now that negotiations are, I understand from the hon. Minister of Finance, going to take place during the recess. There is a good bit of discussion with regard to industrial development in South Africa, and one of the biggest difficulties to such industrial development to-day is the smallness of the market, and anybody who goes into that business will soon find out that he has filled up his market. But of course if we are going to interfere with the cattle from Rhodesia it is only human nature that Rhodesians will say—“we will retaliate,” and what is to prevent them putting a duty on all the staff going into Rhodesia from the Union? It goes in free now under the Customs agreement. I hope that the hon. Prime Minister will bear this in mind in the negotiations, and I hope something will be agreed to that will allow the trade which is developing to increase.
Perhaps this will be a proper time for the Hon. Prime Minister to take this hon. House and the country into his confidence with regard to his policy. I have no doubt that the country is looking with a great deal of interest to the carrying out of the proposals made on the various hustings to the country, and the country and the House have not been very much enlightened, but with good sense they have adopted the policy of the late Government. Under the circumstances it is only fair that the hon. Prime Minister should seize the opportunity of enlightening the hon. House and the country.
I am glad the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) has brought this up. If the hon. member’s memory (Mr. Fourie’s) has not failed him, that was a matter I think that got a good deal of attention last session, and the imports of cattle from Rhodesia were less than the imports from the Bechuanaland Protectorate and South West, and as the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) has pointed out, our exports to Rhodesia are fairly large. In 1921, 1922 and 1923 the exports to Rhodesia were £700,000 and £2,000,000 of money, and nearly £1,000,000 was manufactured goods.
Products of the country.
And manufactured goods, which largely contained products of the Union of South Africa; whereas the exports from Rhodesia to the Union were in the last couple of years within £500,000. so that practically we were sending to Rhodesia four times the quantity Rhodesia was sending to us. Now with regard to this embargo of cattle, I think it is a very important thing. Many of the hon. Ministers expressed their opinion on this question and it was one which largely exercised the mind of the electorate in this country, and very many did not understand the true situation, I think. The late Government, owing to representations made to it by the farming population, called a Cattle Congress at Pretoria on August 24th, 1923, where the whole cattle question was discussed, and it was without exception the most representative meeting of farmers of this country which had ever taken place.
The hon. gentleman says “no,” he was not chosen; he was not there, because the Government did not nominate members of the Congress, but had it done so it would perhaps have taken into consideration the name of the hon. gentleman. What the Government did was to ask every Farmer’s organization and union to nominate delegates for that conference. There were a large number of delegates from the Orange Free State. Mr. Kolbe of the O.F.S. was one of them I remember. He is the President of the Agricultural Union of the Orange Free State, and I presume he speaks with a certain amount of authority with respect to the farmers of that Province. That my hon. friend over there was not there was because they thought they would be better represented by moderate minded farmers. The condition made in connection with the representatives was that the agricultural and farmers’ organizations should nominate people who were solely and entirely farmers, and whose interests were only with farming operations.
Where was the Minister?
Yes, he was there, and his only occupation was farming—perhaps on a larger scale than the hon. member for Somerset (Mr. Fourie), who I understand is not so largely interested in producing as in disposing of farmers’ products, and the hon. member knows to what I refer. If he was not only so voluble—he was so voluble the other day—and I think we have taught him a lesson. The hon. member rather overawes me at times. But I would like to ask the hon. Prime Minister, has he gone into the arrangements made by that Congress; which appointed a committee consisting of representative farmers from the four provinces, which met and drew up a series of regulations with regard to the restriction of the trade without stopping it, because they said that although they were cattle-farmers they also took into consideration that as farmers and citizens of the Union of South Africa they had to take into consideration the whole of the situation, and they were desirous of bringing about nothing to cause bad feeling between Rhodesia and the Union of South Africa. This free trade has gone on for years. One of the proposals was that a conference should be called of representatives of the various states. I was instrumental in calling a conference attended by the Administrator of the Bechuanaland Protectorate and South-West and a couple of officers from Rhodesia, and it was decided that animals of 800 lbs. and over, 50 per cent, should be allowed for the markets of Johannesburg. There is another point the hon. Prime Minister will have to take into consideration, and to tell the country what he proposes to do. At certain periods of the year—
I am sorry, but the hon. gentleman’s time has expired.
I would like to support what has been said by my hon. friend on the right, and ask the hon. Prime Minister to take what one may call the large and the long view of this matter, and not allow it to be decided by the question of the necessity of fulfilling election pledges. I think it would really be a great pity if anything were done to disturb the commercial relations between the Union and Rhodesia, and the experience of South Africa shows that the existence of Customs barriers between one State and another is fraught with no good. It leads to inconvenience and loss of trade, and in Europe nothing is more lamented and has more impeded trade than the existence of customs barriers between the different numbers of states which have been created there. In South Africa we are not in the same position as Europe, where they must have barriers. I hope the hon. Prime Minister will take into consideration the possibility of making some arrangement with Rhodesia something on the lines of that which has worked satisfactorily for years past—satisfactory to both parties. There is nothing that will cause more bad feeling than depriving Rhodesia of what may be called after all a legitimate market for its cattle; and in the face of a great many difficulties that cattle industry has made great progress. The country, in respect of stamping out cattle diseases, is ahead of most parts of the Union, and it must not be forgotten that Rhodesia at the present time buys a good many of its pedigree cattle from the Union, and if the Rhodesian cattle-farmers find their market in the Union barred against them they may go to other countries to buy their pedigree cattle.
They will buy in the cheapest market in any case.
The preference undoubtedly to-day is to get the cattle from the Union. They know the place from which they come, and many of the conditions are the same.
Why should they go to other countries?
Human nature being what it is they will say “These people will have nothing to do with us so we will buy elsewhere.” The Union sends a large amount of produce to Rhodesia, and that market will be checked if the existing arrangement is terminated and Rhodesia is compelled to erect its own Customs tariff. It may be said that the Rhodesians will have to pay more for what they consume if they buy elsewhere, but the market the Union enjoys will be prejudicially affected. At certain seasons of the year I understand the influx of Rhodesian cattle for slaughter purposes is very welcome to the meat consumer in the Union. If that source of supply is cut off the price of meat will probably rise. That would be an advantage to people in the Union With meat to sell, but whether it would be an advantage to people in the Union who have to pay for that meat is another question. If the Rhodesian cattle are to be excluded it would be very difficult to allow cattle from South-West Africa and Bechuanaland to come in. There are obvious difficulties in the carrying out of an embargo on cattle from Bechuanaland and it is not difficult to see that all sorts of complications might arise if that were attempted. In the interest of future friendly relations between the two territories I hope that the Prime Minister will take what my hon. friend has said into serious consideration. The Union is the bigger partner in the business and it can afford to be generous; Rhodesia has started on its own path of self government with the Prime Minister’s approval and it is really now for the Union to be a little generous and not to do anything to throw back the prosperity of the country. I hope the Prime Minister will not look upon the matter on party lines or from the point of view of election pledges.
One wonders whether the last speaker represents the South Peninsula or Rhodesia. I am going to deal with the embargo on cattle from South-West Africa. The only mode of export is through the Imperial Cold Storage Company and I hope the Government will go into the question of the concession given by the last Government to that Company, whereby farmers were prohibited from exporting meat except through that Trust. It seems to me that the result of that has been to depreciate the value of cattle in South-West Africa. I think there is a great deal more to be considered by the Government in dealing with that matter than there is in regard to this embargo on cattle from Rhodesia. I hope the Government will also consider the question of the handing over to the Imperial Cold Storage of a large track of land—I believe almost 500,000 morgen—for 15s. for the whole lot; also the question of giving the sole right to the Imperial Cold Storage Company of cold storage accommodation at Walfish Bay, the whole concession actually needing an expenditure of £1,500,000 by the Government while all the Company has to expend is £500,000. It would have been a far sounder policy if the Union Government had built cold storage at Walfish Bay. The South-West African farmers are suffering a great deal of loss financially and the cattle of the country is under the control of a gigantic trust, the farmers being made nothing more nor less than cattle herds to the Imperial Gold Storage.
I can quite understand that the embargo on cattle from Rhodesia will cause difficulties. I made the same promise to my constituents. Something must be done, because if the importation of cattle goes on unhampered, the Transvaal cattle farmers will be ruined. As it is, the Transvaal market is over-supplied. I am a cattle farmer myself, and I know what I am talking about. The measure regarding the importation of cattle of at least 800 lbs. is a total failure. We have gone so far out of our way as to help South-West Africa in its export trade. Now we must not make things impossible for our farmers by letting Rhodesian stock free into the Union. We do not want to be on an unfriendly footing with Rhodesia, but we have to consider the interests of our people and this country first before attending to the interests of our neighbours. I hope the Prime Minister will give his attention to this urgent matter.
The hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) and the hon. member for South Peninsula (Sir Drummend Chaplin) have pleaded for the cattle farmers of Rhodesia. As a representative of the cattle farmers of the Union, I want to plead the cause of the cattle farmers in the Union. As things are at present the cattle farmers lose all their interest, with the consequence that they do not improve their stock. What would be the use of improving it if there is no market for them? I hope the Government will be consistent and act in the interests of our own cattle farmers. Rhodesia will in any case have to import what she needs from the Union. The farmers have had a very hard time of late on account of the competition of Rhodesia. It is impossible for us to sell cattle for £4, as we have to buy land here at £7 per morgen, whereas in Rhodesia they only pay 7s 6d. Are we going to ruin the cattle farmers in the Union for the sake of a little trade with Rhodesia? I have every confidence that the Government will not allow that.
There is a great deal of ignorance on the question of cattle. I have been farming for 40 years and fattening cattle for sale for 30 years, and until this year I never received less than £25 a head. If an embargo were placed on the entry of Rhodesian cattle into the Union that would not be a cure for the cattle question, and it would not even be a palliative. During the 12 months ended April 30, 1922, the cattle in the Union showed an increase over and above requirements and losses by death of 2,000 head a day. This was excluding cattle in Native Reserves and locations. For the 16 months ended August 30 last owing to the drought and cattle sickness the increase fell to 200 head a day. We have a market overseas but the people overseas will not eat trek ox. They want beef and they want it young. In the “Cape Times” on Saturday the prices of beef on the London markets were given. South American beef was quoted at an average of three and seven-eighths. A cargo of beef left Durban last month. It was prepared by the Farmers’ Co-operative Meat Society and was shipped by the Imperial Cold Storage. You don’t realize what you owe to the Imperial Cold Storage Company but Rhodesia are willing to give them a monopoly. In South-West they gave them a monopoly after finding that nobody else would do the work. The biggest beef man in the world said if Rhodesia offered their beef for nothing he would not take it if required to pack it. The beef that left Durban last month was paid for at the rate of 25s. per hundred pounds and the price in London is three and seven-eighths. That does not leave much for packing, freight, insurance and so on. You are getting the full benefit here too of the amount advanced by the Government as a bounty. Another cargo is in course of preparation and we hope to ship it next month. That is mostly cow beef. But you must remember that there was very nearly a fiasco with the last beef. A cable came saying that Italy was considering putting an embargo on South African beef. Remember we are not the only pebble on the beach. Canada, South America and the Argentine are all in the market. I do not say there is a surplus of beef but none of the continental people can pay for it. Last year when the Leader of the Opposition was in London he put a contract for 10,000 tons with Germany in our way. That means 30,000 head of cattle. It takes a lot of collecting—you know what our farmers are. We said to Germany: your prices are all right but what about payment, will the Government guarantee it? The Government would not guarantee it. The municipality of Berlin would not guarantee it, nor would the bankers. We could not afford to take risks on both sides—the risk of collecting the beef here and the risk of collecting the money over there. Then you must have a room for each day’s killing—six rooms if you are killing six days a week. We doubled the output of our cold storage, made it 50 head a day. We doubled it again and made it 100 head a day. In Durban we were killing up to 250 a day. These were all Rhodesian cattle. The only cattle which can be exported from the Union of South Africa are the cattle from Rhodesia. We were getting them in full trainloads. The Shangani cattle came down in better order than the cattle from Franklin. It is a question you have to be very careful over as an embargo is no remedy for the present position. We have a splendid market in Johannesburg but unfortunately that market is the best in the world for rubbish and it has acted detrimentally on our cattle industry for that reason. Too many of our farmers have been prepared to cater for that market and the Native market, but four years ago the Native market closed up like a knife.
The question of the importation of Rhodesian cattle is a very serious one. The hone member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) said that the conference of farmers held in August, 1923, was representative of the cattle farmers, but the resolutions of that conference are contrary to those of the Agricultural Union held prior to that The hon. member was not properly informed when he was Minister, and the resolution of the conference regarding cattle weighing 800 lbs. signified very little. The hon. member for Witwatersrand (Lt.-Col. N. J. Pretorius) has already explained the matter, and he ought to know all about it as he is a farmer. It is asserted that Johannesburg is the market for inferior stock. That may be so, but it does not mean that we should leave that market to Rhodesia. The output of Rhodesia is increasing year by year, and if no steps are taken, Rhodesia is going to kill the cattle farmers of the Union. Cattle breeding is much cheaper in Rhodesia than here. The Government ought to give its serious attention to it because it is urgent.
I welcome the support of the hon. member for Witwatersberg (Lt.-Col. N. J. Pretorius). The hon. members of the S.A.P. who are farmers have always supported the Nationalist party in this matter. The hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt), when he was Minister of Agriculture, simply told the farmers that there could not be an embargo on the importation of cattle and that they should look for some other solution of the problem. The majority of farmers in the Transvaal are on the brink of bankruptcy. During the last three years they have not sold a single bullock, because they could not sell at £4. Members opposite are satisfied as long as the interests of Rhodesia are served. Rhodesia is protecting itself in any case by means of railway rates. The rates from here to there are 300 per cent, higher than those from Rhodesia to the Union. In this way there is a high levy on our goods, whilst we grant them preferential rates. Charity must begin at home, and we have to fight our own fight as Rhodesia is fighting hers. If Rhodesian cattle weighing less than 800 lbs. are prohibited, the weight might as well be fixed at 1,200 lbs. The Opposition is continually trying to deceive the country on this matter.
This is a matter of most vital importance for Bechuanaland, because it is impossible for us to compete with Rhodesia. Consequently the people of Bechuanaland made frequent representations to the previous Minister of Agriculture to take some steps to protect farmers there against farmers over the border. The reply was invariably that we could not do anything because Rhodesia purchased so much from us. I would like to point out, however, that Rhodesia does not buy from us because it loves us; it simply buys in the cheapest market. In any case it is the Government’s duty first to attend to the interests of this country, and I trust the Prime Minister will keep to his word and not be led astray. The greatest factor, however, in the competition of the farmers of the Union is not Rhodesia, but the Protectorate, which is separated from the Union by the dry Malopo River. The cattle are easily driven across the liver, and the provision regarding the weight of 800 lbs. is not applicable there. It is the duty of every Government to see that the interests of its own people are looked after first.
I would like to add a few remarks with regard to cold storage. It is purely a seasonal business and I would point out that once you stop you have to face heavy expenditure on restarting, while in the meantime dry rot has set in. Stoppage means that the installation goes wrong, and it is in that that you have expenditure. Farmers do not yet realize that the fattening of a beast, even on grass, costs money. With regard to the feeding of cattle on bone dust, it had been proved that such cattle gained in weight on a ration of three ounces a day. I can quote a case where cattle were taken and put in the same paddock; half were fed in the ordinary way and the other half were given bone dust. Upon test it was found that the latter cattle put on three times the weight of the others. They were switched over, the position was reversed, and the result was the same. We do not know all we should know about cattle rearing in this country; we want to get away from all the old ideas altogether. I do not know if this is a place for a lecture on cattle farming, but I think the sooner the dairy farmer realizes that he has no right to raise young cattle the better. He should confine his attention to rearing milking cattle. We must get away from the idea that rubbish of any kind can be sold. It cannot, and the idea that the sooner we market the sooner we get cash in the bank, is the wisest.
According to the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) the conference of cattle farmers was not in favour of the embargo on the importation of cattle from Rhodesia. They certainly would have been in favour of it, but after the hon. member and the right hon. member for Standerton (Gen. Smuts) spoke and intimidated them, they voted in favour of the importation of cattle of over 800 lbs. We all know that there is a big percentage of cattle weighing 800 lbs., including even cows.
A goat weighs nearly that.
Yes, even a goat. The cattle farmers ought to be protected, as things cannot go on at this rate. If the importation of cattle is allowed, the cattle farmers in the Union will be ruined. They are already going that way, and the Government should stop importation from Rhodesia.
Hon. members talk as if it is an easy matter to stop the importation of cattle from Rhodesia. At the Pretoria conference the cattle breeders voted on the question after the difficulties had been explained to them. I also thought that the weight of 800 lbs. was too low.
Who fixed it?
You ought to know that, because you are telling us all about it.
The previous Government fixed it.
The hon. member is also one of those candidates who told the farmers that the Nationalist party Government would stop the importation immediately. Now we are told about a conference, as it is such a difficult matter. Hon. members opposite should bear in mind that the members of the Opposition also represent the people. The many election promises were the cause of the Nationalist party being returned to power, but now the Prime Minister has stated himself that a conference should be held, although we did not hear a word of that during the elections. The farmers are entitled to the immediate relief that was promised them. Draught oxen cannot compete with specially-fed animals, and we cannot raise an embargo simply for the sake of selling our lean draught oxen. We cannot regard the matter so lightly. The present agreement lapses at the end of the year, and then there is a good opportunity to protect our cattle farmers. On that point I will support the Prime Minister, even though I am a member of the Opposition.
I was going to put another point to the Minister, that the majority of our cattle are grown on grass veld. The veld falls off in winter and naturally the cattle fall off in condition. There are not sufficient fat cattle in the country to supply Johannesburg with first class slaughter stock, and at certain periods of the year they have to get fat cattle from Rhodesia entirely. I hope the hon. member for Langlaagte (Mr. Christie) will bear that in mind. His constituents may want to know why, if he does not. Now when I hear the hon. member for Middelburg (Mr. Heyns) and the hon. member for Witbank (Mr. A. I. E. de Villiers) speak with such a lack of knowledge on the subject, I do not wonder that there is such confused opinion in the country, because if the views of the leaders are so confused with regard to the subject, what must their unfortunate constituents be after they have listened to them? There are more cattle in this country than the country can consume.
Why import from Rhodesia?
And if you were to put an embargo on the cattle to-morrow it would not make any difference in the price. Cattle were being paid 23/- to 25/- for on the Johannesburg market while the best quality of Queensland beef in the very best condition was fetching 15/- to 16/- a 100 lbs. for export to the world’s markets. There has been a tremendous depression on the cattle markets of the world, and no one has suffered more than the Argentine farmers; and I presume Argentine beef is the best export beef that the world possesses. But they have been getting prices worse than ours, and the only thing that kept us going was our local market. There were 8,000,000 to 9,000,000 cattle within the Union last year and the consumption of Johannesburg does not exceed 100,000 a year and at the rate of production to which the hon. member for Cradock (Mr. van Heerden) refers it is larger than the consumption. What is helping the price of cattle is the great drought of the past 18 months and the visitation of locusts, because these are carrying cattle off. Unless you develop the export trade you are never going to have a decent market. The hon. member for Langlaagte (Mr. Christie) has accused the late Government of not looking after the interests of cattle farmers and engaging in some nefarious transaction in connection with cold storage in South-West Africa, but this was embarked upon after the Administrator had discussed it with the farmers of South-West Africa, and after he had brought down his advisory board and discussed the terms of the contract; and the Government did not do more than give its approval to the attitude the Administration of South-West Africa took up. What the hon. member for Langlaagte (Mr. Christie) does not understand is this: Not being a farmer, is it not a good thing for us what was done by South-West Africa, because every step taken to export cattle from South-West Africa diminishes the competition with the beast farmers in the Union.
Why did not the Government do it?
I will tell the hon. gentleman: Because the Government had a good deal more intelligence than the hon. member for Langlaagte (Mr. Christie), and the Government of that period realized that the beef industry is one of the most intricate businesses on which you can possibly embark, and if the Government were to embark on that industry and not only put up cold storage, but become buyers of stock and put it on the markets, they would find they have the wrong end of the horn. Why did not my hon. friend and his friends not embark upon it? The Administration of South-West Africa called for tenders—here, in America, France and all over the world—there was only one tenderer, the Imperial Cold Storage, and it was of such an advantageous character that when the shares were offered to the public they took up 262! Why my hon. friend, with his savings, did not invest them in this lucrative undertaking, I cannot understand. The reason is that it was not a very profitable business. A certain number of cattle have gone overseas, but you will not get into the English market without first-class cattle and that is where the Argentine has the pull over us. Without an internal market the Argentine is worse off than we are, and so far as we are concerned, it is a great advantage to have a market overseas. I also want to say to the hon. Prime Minister and to many other farming members of the House with regard to denouncing the convention which regulates the trade of the Union with other territories, that whereas the whole of the Rhodesian export does not exceed £500,000—the export from the Union to Rhodesia are about four times as large. You cannot put an embargo upon cattle from Rhodesia unless you denounce the Customs convention, and I am perfectly certain that the manufacturing population will have a great deal to say if manufactured products from the Union are prevented from going across the border without having to pay Customs duty. If you set up a Customs House on the border, we, of the Union, would have the worst of the bargain. I think this is a very important question.
Yes, it is.
And you will find that it is not so simple as when hon. members were seeking the suffrages of the country and misleading electors.
In listening to the remarks of the hon. members for Natal Coast (Gen. Arnott) and Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt), one would imagine that the Imperial Cold Storage is a benevolent institution in South Africa which has undertaken this business in the Union and in South-West Africa for the benefit of the farmers. I am sure that anyone who knows the business acumen of any of the gentlemen who control that institution knows that they would not enter upon that business unless they see some means of making profits. The position is, as has been pointed out by the hon. member for Langlaagte (Mr. Christie), that we have not yet got an answer to what was taken up in the hon. House last session—whether the late Government was right either from the point of view of the interests of the farmers, or from the point of view of the legal position—in granting the concessions which it did, and although the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) in answer to my hon. friend the hon. member for Langlaagte (Mr. Christie), states that cold storage business is too intricate for a Government to undertake, let me say this, that business development has come to such a stage to-day that people who put their capital into it, do not control the business and do not manage it. Just as it is possible to buy labour, so it is possible to buy brains in the shape of managers and directors—people who know something about the business—and just as the Imperial Cold Storage and any of these big companies are in a position to buy the best possible brains, to carry on the business for the benefit of the shareholders—even so can the Government buy the necessary brains to carry on such an institution if it desires to do so. Although I am not a farmer, I do say that it appears to me that the best way to encourage production is to see that there is a proper outlet for farming products, without being at the mercy of a number of private corporations. The other day we were told that we should produce more; in this discussion we are being told that we are producing more than we require. Something should be done by the Government to try to secure that there should be cold storage accommodation under the control of the Government which would ensure that the cattle farmers of the country would be able to market at the best possible price and the least possible expense to them. Why the producer gets so little for his produce and the consumer has to pay so much, is because the produce has to pass through so many hands, and in England during the war it was the experience of the Government that the Government had to interfere in the interests of the producer as well as those of the consumer, and guarantee a price to the producer and fix a price for the public; and, as a result, over a period of two years there was an immense increase of production, which was to the benefit of the farmer and to the country as a whole. The Union Government might consider whether the time has not arrived to adopt, in the interest of both farmers and consumers, the system of guaranteeing a minimum price to the farmers for their produce and establishing a fixed price to the consumer, allowing a margin between the two for a reasonable profit for distribution. There is no reason whatever why the policy adopted in England should not be followed here. Another point was raised in a debate in the House of Commons on Imperial Preference. Mr. Baldwin accepted the principle of the Clyde Labour members, who are often regarded as revolutionaries, and agreed with them that it was time to consider whether arrangements could not be made whereby Colonial Governments could take over the stocks and guarantee the price to their producers, and that the goods should be sold in Great Britain by the British Government, thus doing away with a large number of intermediaries. That principle I recommend to the Union Government if it wishes to benefit the farmers and the country as a whole. Instead of giving a concession for the erection of cold storage chambers it would be much better if we had State-owned cold stores.
I am sorry this discussion was started on the basis of election promises, for the agitation for the placing of an embargo on the importation of cattle into the Union dates back some two years. My constituents are in favour of an embargo and at a meeting two years ago of the Natal Agricultural Union a motion in favour of a cattle embargo was defeated by only two votes. It is a question which we have to settle entirely in the interests of the Union of South Africa. Three arguments have been advanced in the course of the debate. One argument is that an embargo on the importation of Rhodesian cattle would not relieve the position of the farmer entirely. But if a man goes to a doctor and the doctor says: “I cannot cure your complaint entirely but will give you some relief,” are you going to refuse to accept his treatment? Then it has been urged that we should have some consideration for Rhodesia, but that cuts no ice with me as Rhodesia does not pay our taxes. The third argument is that we have to consider the balance of trade. We are told that if we place an embargo on Rhodesian cattle we shall antagonize Rhodesia as the balance of trade is in favour of the Union. Three years ago the boot manufacturers of the Union came to the Government and said: “Unless we get protection we cannot continue to manufacture boots.” Accordingly an embargo was placed on the importation of boots. At that time we exported goods to the value of £54,000,000 to Great Britain and we bought goods to the value of £47,000,000 from Great Britain, but I never heard the argument used that if we put an embargo on boots we shall antagonize Great Britain. There is, however, one argument against the embargo which we have not considered, and that is the absolute necessity of building up an export trade. To do that it is essential that we have the co-operation of Rhodesia and Swaziland. I am fully in favour of an embargo on the importation of Rhodesian cattle, but if we place that embargo we run the risk of Rhodesia saying: “We will join Swaziland and will do our own export through Beira and will have nothing to do with the Union.” We must weigh very carefully this point, and in coming to a decision I would urge on the Government to very fully balance the advantages that would accrue to the Union farmer by the protection of his local markets against the possible antagonizing of Rhodesia and thus throwing her back on her resources and destroying the growing export of meat which is being built up and can only be made a success by the full co-operation of both countries.
I welcome the spirit displayed in the speeches of the hon. member for Griqualand (Mr. Gilson) and of the hon. member for Witwatersberg (Lt.-Col. N. J. Pretorius). This matter should not be looked at from a party standpoint, as certain members of the Opposition have done. The hon. member for South Peninsula (Sir Drummond Chaplin) and the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) have spoken in such a way that one would have thought they were members of the Rhodesian legislative assembly. My constituents consist for the greater part of cattle breeders, and this to them is a matter of vital importance. My predecessor, Mr. Venter, was defeated mainly because he was against an embargo. I never promised that there would be an immediate change as the Government should have a reasonable time in which to put the matter in order. It is unreasonable to expect a solution of the question so soon. Negotiations with Rhodesia will first have to be entered into, as the agreement still exists. In any case the country knows in what direction the Government is moving. We are being warned against friction with Rhodesia, but our own interests come first. I hope that when we have negotiated with Rhodesia the country will see that we have kept our promises.
It is absolutely essential that something should be done to open up a market for our surplus cattle. Two years ago the late Government attempted by means of the Beef Bounties Act to make provision for the shipment of surplus cattle from the Union. Only first-rate cattle can be exported at a profit. My experience as a farmer has been that for all the prime cattle we produce we can find a ready market in South Africa. The trouble is what to do with the large number of inferior cattle that we produce. Experiments have been tried in England in the manufacture of by-products from beef, such as beef extract, biscuits, Bovril, sweets, and several other commodities. Two years ago, Major Pitchford, who during the war was engaged in England as Director of Food Research, gave a demonstration here, of what could be produced in this way, and the company which he represented was prepared to establish factories in South Africa if a sufficient supply of meat could be guaranteed. I think that possibly is the line along which our remedy will lie. If we can find a market for our second-grade meat it will solve the difficulty. Our first-grade meat we can always sell. I should like to see our Government encourage the establishment of factories of the kind indicated. If we do that we shall not only get a market for the Union second-grade cattle, but would also provide for Rhodesian and South-West cattle. I do not think it would be a neighbourly act or redound to our credit to try and place an embargo on Rhodesian and South-West stock. It is in our interests to pull together. If we encourage the establishment of factories on the lines advocated it would meet the case infinitely better than to persist with the Bill which we passed last year and which gives very little help to the breeder of second-grade stock.
When the hon. member for South Peninsula (Sir Drummond Chaplin) pleaded for a magnanimous spirit, I asked myself the question whether this spirit should not be mutual. The hon. member filled a high position in Rhodesia, and what did he do for the Union? The hon. member ought to place himself in the position of the Union farmer. The hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt), who also spoke for Rhodesia, ought also to put himself in the place of our cattle farmers. Will the cattle farmers of Rhodesia look on indifferently if we export many cattle to their country? Naturally not. After the hon. member for Witbank finished his speech, the hon. member for Fort Beaufort exclaimed: “If the leaders say so, what will the constituents say? Members opposite have said the same things as the hon. member for Witbank, but the hon. member for Fort Beaufort was silent then. The hon. member for Natal (Coast) (Brig.-Gen. Arnott) may be correct, but I can assure him that not all the cattle farmers are in the favourable position he occupies. He is a big cattle breeder and can fatten his cattle and talk easily, but the small farmer cannot do that. The fact is, the big cattle breeders want to protect themselves, but the small cattle farmers in the dry parts of the Union are left to their fate. Those hon. members who plead for Rhodesia are looking after the interests of the big ranches, who got their land for nothing from Lobengula. I agree with the hon. member for Griqualand that Rhodesia does not pay our taxes, and protects its own interests much better by means of high railway rates. If anybody in the Rhodesian Legislature pleaded for the interests of the Union, he would soon be sent about his business. It is high time that we looked to our own interests, because charity begins at home. The hon. member for Fort Beaufort pointed out that there was an over production in the Union. Nevertheless, he pleads for an importation of cattle from Rhodesia, which will make the position more acute. There must be something behind it, and we should be very careful. Last session we heard many complaints that the Imperial Cold Storage was working against the interests of South Africa. I hope the Government will investigate to what extent the Imperial Cold Storage has formed a big trust for the meat trade of this country. The sheep farmer also is suffering from its effects, and the Government will have to put a stop to this menace in order to prevent the total ruin of the farmers.
This is a matter which I think we should consider very calmly and very carefully. I was very pleased to hear that the hon. Prime Minister had decided to confer with the Rhodesian authorities and try to come to some modus vivendi which would be satisfactory not only for South Africa, but which would also meet the requirements of Rhodesia. We have to look at this matter from a broad point of view. We in South Africa hope that our industries will gradually become a very important factor in the progress of South Africa. Our future markets, in my opinion, lie northwards. The northern states of South Africa offer a fine field for expansion of our industries in the future. Our trade is growing and there is no doubt it will continue to grow in the future. Our geographical position is better than that of most countries in the world as we are within easy reach of these northern states. I sympathise with the Prime Minister because he has a difficult position to handle. Cattle farmers in South Africa have been through a very thin time, and I believe are entitled to some measure of protection against the importation of cattle which are competing with our cattle in the markets of South Africa. But I think if the Government handle this matter tactfully they will be able to come to some modus vivendi with the Government of Rhodesia. I think the Government should say in effect to Rhodesia: We are quite willing to receive your cattle for the purpose of co-operating in building up an export trade because from your and our point of view the only solution of the cattle surplus lies in export and, therefore, we should join hands with you and work up an export trade; but we cannot agree to the importation of cattle which will compete with the cattle produced in South Africa, in our local markets. There is no doubt about it that until the farmers of South Africa realize that they cannot go on breeding the rainbow herds they do, we shall never be able to solve this problem of the surplus cattle. If we are to build up an export trade and compete in the world’s markets the sooner we realize that people overseas are not prepared to eat trek oxen and scrub cattle the better. Until we improve the standard of our cattle I am certain we shall find no solution of our cattle surplus. I am in favour, and I will support the Government in any measures they take to protect the cattle farmer against the importation of cattle from Rhodesia, which are at present flooding our markets. It is a protection which is due to cattle farmers in this country. On the other hand you have to consider what will be the effect on our friendly trade relations if you impose an immediate embargo—you may start a tariff war with Rhodesia. I hope that some measure of protection, at all events for the time being, will be given to the cattle farmers of South Africa. I also ask the Government to take into consideration the question of propaganda work, to educate the farmer and demonstrate to him that the present type of cattle he is breeding is not going to help in any way to solve the cattle surplus. I hope the Government will encourage the cattle farmer Who has not the opportunity or the means of buying bulls to improve his breed. That is a recommendation which was made by the Cattle Conference held last August in Pretoria. I trust that steps will be taken to educate the farmer to improve his cattle.
I want to state clearly the position of myself and the Government. I do not agree with hon. members who seem to think that if we take steps to limit or stop the importation from Rhodesia, it need necessarily result in ill-feeling between Rhodesia and the Union. This is one of the cases where every country has a right to take action when it is really in the interests of the country to do so. We know, for instance, that in England they stopped the importation of our cattle simply in order to protect the cattle breeders in that country, and we do not take it amiss of England. We should protect our own interests where necessary. By the importation of cattle from Rhodesia the cattle farmers of the Union undoubtedly suffer losses, and with all due respect to the hon. member for Natal (Coast) (Brig.-Gen. Arnott) I must say that the importation of cattle from Rhodesia is detrimental to the interests of the Union farmers. It does not do to say that more cattle are being bred in the Union than can be consumed here. Hon. members who spoke in favour of importation from Rhodesia forget one important point. Assuming that more cattle are bred in the Union than are consumed here, the Union cattle farmer will be prepared to limit cattle breeding if none are imported. The Union breeder would be prepared to limit the supply to the demands of the local market, but if unlimited importation is allowed, the farmers in the Union will not be inclined to do that, because the more they do it the greater the number that will be imported. If the farmer has to curtail cattle breeding, there should, in the first place, be a stop to the importation. As I have shown before, farming in the Union is generally of such a nature that cattle breeding is one of the most important factors for the inland farming community. Along the coast there are places where that is not so exclusively the case, but as regards the up-country parts there is not a single farm which can do without cattle. It is a result of our climate and the long distances from market. That is one of the chief reasons why we cannot look on indifferently and allow things to go on as at present. It is for that reason that I moved every year for the last few years that steps be taken by the Government to put an end to this importation. I was convinced it was necessary, and for that reason I said during the election, if we were returned to power, it would be done. That does not mean that we should do things in such a way as to show a less than friendly attitude to our neighbours, most of all to Rhodesia. If it can be helped, I would be the last to do it, for Rhodesia is very closely connected with us—in fact, is practically a part of us. We should not forget the interests of the Union taxpayers for the sake of the goodwill of a neighbouring territory. It was said that we should take into consideration our exports to Rhodesia, that is, for a sum amounting to from £700,000 to £800,000.
For from two to three millions.
The bulk of that is for goods which Rhodesia has to buy overseas. It does not buy from us it will have to buy somewhere else, and we are the nearest. That country does not sacrifice anything. The importation to the value of £700,000 to £800,000 applies to products of different classes of industries and of agriculture. Now the question arises, may we permit the greater part of the population who are dependent on farming to pay for the privileges of another section? My reply is no, and I want to go further. Supposing a sudden stop to all the exports to Rhodesia, I would still say that it is our first duty to protect our cattle farmers. Cattle breeding is such an essential part of our farming operations that I cannot allow anything which is detrimental to them. I am convinced that not only will the exports to Rhodesia continue as before, but with the same prospects. Hon. members will agree, I am sure, that everything depends upon the way in which the matter is handled. The hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) asked whether I intended taking any action in the matter. Now the hon. member wants too much. We are compelled to take certain steps, and we will submit our case to Rhodesia to negotiate with them and to try to make the best of things. Hon. members need not be afraid that we shall take any steps which will be detrimental to our amicable relations with Rhodesia, but I have stated clearly that we are compelled to reduce the importation of cattle in order to protect the farmers of the Union.
The hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt), in making his reply to me, said that I imputed something nefarious in regard to this transaction on the part of the late Government in South-West Africa. It appears to me that some hon. members of the Opposition always take up that attitude whenever we ask for an enquiry into anything done by the late Government. What I did ask, and what I repeat, is, that I hope the Government will go into this matter. The hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) stated that it was a very serious thing, and the Administrator of South-West Africa had consulted the leading farmers, but the matter came up last session, and Maj. Hunt, who was then a member of this hon. House, read a statement, which was never refuted by the Government of that day, and which appears in Hansard on page 999, that only a small number of farmers were consulted and that a monopoly was granted, without the approval of the farming community who were ignorant of the details, which had never been made public. When the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) gets up and says that a contract was entered into after leading farmers of South-West Africa had been consulted, I submit that was not the true position, and I hope that the Government will probe this matter very deeply indeed. There is another matter to which I would like to draw the attention of the hon. Prime Minister—the compensation given to certain people who were injured, or to the widows of those whose lives were lost during the upheaval on the Witwatersrand in 1922. A number of claims were met, but there are still a large number of cases which from my own personal knowledge are particularly hard—the case of a widow, for example, whose husband was shot dead in the streets of Fordsburg. She is in a state of semi-starvation and has been given no compensation. The answer given was that her husband had no right to be in Fordsburg at the time. She has a good reason, which is that the trouble broke out before her husband realized it, and he wanted to go home, but before he could do so he was shot dead. There is a feeling in Fordsburg that political colour had something to do with the turning down of these cases.
Why do you say it? Always insinuating!
I say that the feeling exists, and it exists very strongly. Therefore it would be a good thing to get these cases gone into. I cannot see why the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) should get so indignant.
I will tell you in a minute.
The general in command of the troops suggested to me that every member who belonged to the Labour party was a revolutionary. When I took exception to it he said he did not mean to say it. But that feeling is there. I am only submitting this thing again to the House, and with all due deference to hon. members on the opposite side of the House, I suggest in all humility—not humility to the Opposition, but to the Government of the country, that it would only be fair to settle these grievances if these cases can be reopened so that any of the grievances these people may have will be finally disposed of.
I shall tell the hon. member why I was rather indignant at something he said a few minutes ago, and I was indignant for this reason. I do not object in the least to his suggestion “with all due humility,” that the Government should enquire into this question of compensation for losses caused during the riots on the Rand in 1922. I am prepared to support it. But I do object to this suggestion: that the awards were thought to have been made on a party basis. These awards were made by a committee of officials, and not by the Government, and the hon. member comes with a suggestion—he does not put it up as a definite charge; oh, no, he “suggests,” that these awards have been made on a party basis and that people who did not belong to the S.A.P. did not get them. If he has ground for such a charge, he should not make it “in all humility,” but make it and move a motion. These insinuations are made to stick, and these insinuations are against gentlemen who are not here to defend themselves—the permanent officials of this country—and in carrying out their duty it is insinuated they have forsworn their conscience and given larger awards to people belonging to the party in power and smaller awards to those who do not. It is an insinuation that ought not to have been made, and if the hon. gentleman does not intend to give currency to it he should not have made it. The hon. gentleman brings up the question of cold storage, and asks why the Government does not go into these contracts. There are too many of these insinuations. We have no objection in the least to an enquiry into the way these contracts were made. I got up to ask another question—I do not know whether it is the right time to raise it, but I am not sure, if I do not raise it now, whether I shall have another opportunity of doing so. It is in regard to the question of native taxation and the statement made by the hon. Minister of Finance in his reply on the Budget debate. He said that the Government was not going to proceed with the native uniform taxation, and for that reason they were not going on with the £100,000 appearing on the Loan Estimates for supplementing native teachers’ salaries. I think it is a most serious declaration of policy on the part of the Government. In 1922, in the Financial Relations Act of that year, the Provincial Councils were restricted in regard to the further taxation of natives. It was felt that was a matter which should be in the hands of the Union Parliament, and as the Provincial Councils were restricted in the further taxation of natives it was provided that each Provincial Council should set aside for native education not less than it was actually spending at that time, and the Union Government would provide funds for the further development of native education. The latter part has been carried out, but it was done with the idea that the money spent on the further development of native education would be recouped by increased taxation on the natives. When, however, the Government came to deal with the question of bringing forward legislation for imposing this increased taxation, it found very serious difficulties, and it was unable to introduce any measure for raising native taxation, and the present Government is also finding difficulties in the way. Still, the late Government felt that the provision of money for the further development of native education was so important and serious that this money was placed on the Votes, although there was no increased native taxation. The money was provided for in the Loan Estimates and the item appeared as £100,000 advances to Provincial Administration for the improvement of native teachers’ salaries.” I understand the intention of the present Government is not to ask the House to vote that amount. I will appeal to the Government to reconsider the matter and not to take the very serious step of scrapping the money provided for this purpose.
I am not going to do that. I am only refusing to make further provision. I am going to provide the £60,000.
I understood from the Minister that the whole amount was to be withdrawn. My point now then is not so serious. This money is very seriously needed, as anybody who knows the salaries paid to native teachers will realize that they are doing their work on a starvation wage. I appeal to the Minister to allow that £100,000 to stand.
It is quite unreasonable to expect the Government to provide this additional £40,000. I understand that as regards the increase in native teachers’ salaries these increases have been given, and it would not be possible to take away these grants, but the hon. member should not expect the Government to provide £40,000 for a further extension. The money was given on the distinct understanding that it would be recouped by extra taxation on the natives. It is not fair to expect us to provide an additional £40,000. It is not sound finance to provide money out of loan funds for native education. Under the circumstances I think we are doing a handsome thing if we continue the £60,000. The increases were made last year and we propose to continue them. The whole question will be gone into during the recess to see whether we can proceed with the Bill.
I am grateful to the Prime Minister for his statement regarding the importation of cattle. I want to draw attention to the contribution of £25,000 to the League of Nations. We are not against the league, and we welcome it because we all hoped that it would ensure world peace. However, the League of Nations disappointed all our hopes and it has practically become a negligible factor in the interests of civilization. Other bodies have been called into being which have drowned the voice of the League of Nations. The league did not make the most of its opportunities to foster world peace, but has proved an utter failure. As a consequence of the things which the League of Nations allowed in the Ruhr, this country is ashamed to be a member of that body. We feel that we are partly responsible for its feebleness. It has disappointed me and it must have disappointed many hon. members of this House that the league did not make a better show, and I really think that it cannot be reasonably expected of us to contribute £25,000 to that body. At present we have to vote money to save a part of the population from starvation. The country cries out for development, and at the present time £25,000, although it is not a very large amount, will be a great help. I want to make it clear that I am not against the League of Nations, and that I am not disappointed that the league instituted an investigation regarding the administration of South-West Africa. We should not allow ourselves to be blinded by such small matters. But we are disappointed with the league generally and with the fact that we are a non-active member of that body. I hope the Government will during the recess consider the grievances to which I have referred.
I hope the Government will take into consideration the suggestion that has been made by the hon. member for Langlaagte (Mr. Christie). In spite of the fact that the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) became so annoyed by the statement made by the hon. member for Langlaagte (Mr. Christie), there is certainly a great deal of feeling among the people concerned in this matter that they have not received the treatment that they are entitled to receive. One does not suggest all kinds of terrible things against the persons who were administering justice at the time, but there was such an intensive propaganda in the South African Party press against the men engaged in the strike, against the Nationalist party, against all connected with the strikers, that some people got themselves into such a frame of mind that they could imagine nothing but evil of the people who were sympathetic towards the workers. The result was that many people who were entitled to justice did not get it. We had the same thing during the trials that took place at Marshall Square. I make bold to say that without any suggestion that the magistrates had any desire other than to be fair, they got themselves into such a state of panic that no evidence which was called on behalf of the persons who were suspected was accepted. On the other hand the police were allowed to go on with their evidence and that evidence was accepted without question. I hope in dealing with the matter the Government will take that into consideration. A reasonable case has been made out for the reopening of that enquiry. The time has also arrived for the reopening of the Hanekom case. I was glad to notice that our friend, the hon. member for Dundee (Sir Thomas Watt) had the courage the other day to get up in this House and condemn a Commission because the views of the Commission did not coincide with the views of the South African Party. I think we should have the courage to condemn the Martial Law Commission, because you would have found, almost without exception, that anyone who ventured to give evidence before that Commission against the authorities was disbelieved. It is unbelievable that everyone that went to give evidence against the authorities was committing perjury. I think the time has arrived, now that we have a calmer atmosphere, when the whole case should be reopened and we should reconsider in the light of fuller evidence the affairs which took place in 1922.
I would like to say a few words in connection with this £60,000 to be voted for native education. I think if the total amount the Minister is going to raise from native taxation is to be devoted entirely to native education there are a number of natives who may resent the whole amount being applied to that particular purpose. In the constituency which I represent the natives are awakening to the desirability of developing from an agricultural point of view. I feel the past Governments have always neglected that side, development of farming as far as the natives are concerned. The hon. the Minister of Railways said he intended to introduce a new system, a system of what is termed civilized labour on the railways. If the natives are to be diverted from those channels, which they occupied in the past, owing to the demands of European unemployed, it is only right that we should help them to develop in their own area. I can assure the House that many of the natives of this country are not so anxious to go down 5,000 feet into the bowels of the earth at Johannesburg, but that they have a keen desire to live the communal lives their ancestors lived before them. They are quite prepared to develop in their own country along their own lines, but they must be helped wisely. They must be helped to help themselves. I hope the Minister for Native Affairs will realize that whatever revenue accrues from the natives must not be entirely devoted to native education. If we follow the lines advocated by a certain section of the people, and, unfortunately, I say, this policy was largely adopted in the past, of providing education in its literal meaning for the natives. I feel that we are building up difficulties which we shall find it hard to overcome. The funds should be earmarked, so that the natives will realize and feel that their money is being utilized for native benefit.
Regarding the matter raised by the hon. member for Langlaagte (Mr. Christie) and his statement that the previous Government granted compensation to persons who were hurt or suffered loss during the disturbances on the Rand without being concerned in the matter at all, and to persons who helped the Government troops and who were hurt or suffered loss, I wish to say that a departmental commission granted compensation, and I am prepared to consider the cases together with this commission, where it is thought that justice has not been done. The cases of persons who do not fall under the class referred to will be considered by the Government later. The Government is reluctant to pay more, but if there are cases of hardship we will see if anything can be done.
Vote put and agreed to.
On Vote 5, “Treasury,” £72,915.
Under this particular vote I wish to ascertain whether the Minister of Finance will go into a matter which has been repeatedly shelved by his predecessors. I refer to the introduction of amending legislation to alter the existence of an anomaly in connection with licences—
The hon. member is not permitted to speak on matters of administration at present. He has to limit himself to this particular vote, he cannot advocate legislation.
Vote put and agreed to.
On Vote 6, “Public Debt,” £4,059,360.
I would like to ask the Minister of Finance what is his opinion on unproductivity.
The most recent information I have is that it is 32 per cent., but I am prepared to accept the figures of my predecessor.
With regard to housing loans, we in Durban were under the impression that we were going to get money at 4 per cent. We borrowed £120,000 at that rate for building houses. We built them, and sold them on rates calculated on that basis of 4 per cent. We were advised by the Treasury that any money borrowed after a certain date, the 31st August, would be at 5 per cent. I was a member of the Durban Town Council, and we were under the impression that applied to the borrowing of any further moneys, but now we are paying 5 per cent. on something like £16,000 received after the 31st August. I would like the Minister of Finance to go into the question to see if moneys arranged to be borrowed before that day should not be charged at 4 per cent.
I have gone into the position mentioned by the hon. member, and I think it is merely a case of carrying out the financial regulations. The Durban municipality was originally offered the loan at 4 per cent. and clearly told that if these issues were not made before a certain date, the increased rate of 5 per cent. should operate. For their own purposes they delayed building and thought that prices would come down, and they did not come under the reduced rate. I am informed that the policy of the previous Government in fixing the low rate of 4 per cent. was that these people should go at once and build these houses, so that if any municipality should come in and benefit, they should come in before a certain date. On this ground I did not see my way clear to reversing the decision of my predecessor and giving these people the benefit of the 4 per cent. The Durban municipality would be acting very foolishly and unreasonably if they refused to pay the rate under the regulations.
May I suggest to the hon. Minister that instead of keeping to the letter of the law he should rather keep to the spirit of the Housing Act The money was given the councils at a cheap rate for housing. It is true that the Durban municipality delayed; but whenever an election came about the people of Durban threw the old member out and put in others. It is now purely a misunderstanding—nothing more, nothing less.
Vote put and agreed to.
On Vote 7, “Pensions,” £1,857,000,
I notice a large increase in sub-vote C, an increase of £78,000. What is the reason for that, and are you going in for a retrenchment policy?
No, this is caused by the fact that a large number of officers were retired while the previous Government was in power. The provision I propose making is £308,000, and provision is made for pensions, gratuities and so forth, to officers due for retrenchment and being retired on recommendation of the Public Service Commission. Under the 1923 Act an official who is retired under these circumstances is entitled to have one-third of his pension commuted, which is a big sum, and a large number are coming along.
I do not see it. Now I did not think this was going to be done during the current year.
It is not my policy—not of the new Government.
I think it is a large amount.
Vote put and agreed to.
On Vote 8, “Provincial Administration,” £4,441,430.
I am going to appeal to the hon. the Minister to try if he cannot increase the grant to Cape Province for educational purposes. In the past it has been the fault of the Cape that the children should suffer, because the grant given, divided by the number of pupils, is £8 16s. 3d. per pupil in the Cape Province, and £12 9s. 8d. in the Transvaal. I do not begrudge the money being granted to the Transvaal, the only thing I want to do is to see the Cape brought to the same basis. I will acknowledge that it is the fault of members of the Cape Provincial, or rather, really the fault of the old Cape Parliament, the grant being based on the expenditure in year preceding Union. In the Financial Relations Act of 1916 it was also laid down that the grants to the various provinces should be on the basis of the expenditure of the year previous. The children in the Cape Province are suffering, and I think the hon. Minister should turn over a new leaf. It should be realized that all the children are equal, and the grants to different provinces should be on the basis of per pupil.
Vote put and agreed to.
Vote 9, “Miscellaneous Services,” £145,989, put and agreed to.
On Vote 10, “High Commissioner in London,” £61,175,
I would like to know why and on what conditions a sum of £500 is allocated to the S.A. Students’ Club in London. It is the first time it has been done. The club has been established with the assistance of a number of people who gave a big sum of money for it and who practically control it. Some time ago the students decided to call it the S.A. Students’ Club. The curators then decided to call it Botha House. That shows it is they who have all the say. It is not clear why money should be given to this particular club. There is a club of S.A. students in America and another in Holland, and I would like to know whether they also will be supported by the Government. I am not against supporting the students’ clubs overseas, but then all should be assisted.
The sum was allocated by the previous Government and the hon. member is right when he claims that other clubs are justified in asking for assistance. Then I shall have to produce better reasons for refusing than simply the fact that the previous Government did it. The matter will have to be seen to, and I do not think we can give grants to clubs overseas.
When my hon. friend goes to London he should attend the South African Students’ Club, and he will find that it is a most convenient meeting place for young South Africans of both sexes and representative of all parties. If there is any institution which is bringing these young people together and performing an exceedingly good function it is this club, from which politics is absolutely excluded. In a city like London it is an extremely good thing for young South Africans to have a meeting place where they can exchange views. The £500 grant is really very small indeed, and if it were withdrawn it would be impossible for the club to continue.
These conditions also obtain in other places. I have visited the Students’ Club in Holland and I saw how it was struggling. I do not know how I can defend giving a grant to the club in London if I do not give it to other clubs. It is a problem which will have to be considered by Government.
I would like to know if the. Government intends to scrutinize the expenditure of our London office. The Economic Commission should investigate the matter. I hardly think it is necessary to keep such a large staff in London. There is an additional sum of £3,000 for cost of living allowances. The amount of £1,000 for the cleaning of the offices also seems a very large amount, and I would like to know if some economy cannot be effected.
I had hoped that the “bargain” of Morley’s Hotel would have proved sufficient accommodation. Now it would appear that we have to rent ground in addition, and I shall be glad if the Minister will give us some information on the point.
In reply to the hon. member for Gordonia (Mr. Conradie), I may say that there has been a saving of £1,460 on wages and salaries, and the personnel has been reduced by 16. That is a result of the investigation made by the Public Service Commission. The allowances are based on the scale of the British Department of Commerce, because our officials are paid on the same basis. I have not gone sufficiently into the mysteries of the place to reply to the hon. member for Boshof (Mr. C. A. Van Niekerk).
Business was suspended at 6 p.m., and resumed at 8 p.m.
On this High Commissioner vote I would like to suggest to the new Ministry that they should make a new departure as regards the High Commissioner in Great Britain. Of late it has been the custom almost every year for a Cabinet Minister to visit England or the Continent. I think, seeing that it is essential for the Minister to have to visit Europe, we might consider abolishing the office of High Commissioner and of appointing in his place a Minister of Commerce in the Cabinet. The reason for that is this: the High Commissioner and the different Cabinet Ministers who visit Europe are dealing with commercial interests, either purchasing or arranging for the selling of our products. I think that if you appointed a Minister whose sole duty it was to carry on these transactions it would be to the benefit of all concerned. I believe this Minister could reside in Europe each year for a period of six months and could then come into touch not only with matters that concerned us, but with matters that concerned overseas markets, visiting in turn the Trade Commissioner in England, America and Germany. I think if we had to analyse the expenditure which was being incurred by the High Commissioner’s office and the expense incurred almost every year by Cabinet Ministers visiting Europe, we should find that my recommendation to the Ministry would prove a great saving to the country. And not only that, but it would keep this country in touch with Europe and broaden the outlook of all concerned. I suggest with all sincerity to the Cabinet that during the recess they will consider the advisability of abolishing the office of High Commissioner and of appointing a Minister of Commerce in his place.
I would like to know if the Government intends to appoint a trade commissioner in America, as that is very desirable. Canada has more than 20 trade commissioners and we have only two. I would also like to know whether the trade commissioner on the Continent has to work under the High Commissioner in London. Do the officials in the office of the High Commissioner in London come from South Africa? The salary of £4,000 for the High Commissioner seems a very big one.
I would like to ask the Minister whether it is his intention to consider the retention of the office of advisor at the High Commissioner’s office to prospective settlers. I consider it is most essential it should be done especially at the present time after the Exhibition has taken place in London. I also notice there is a reduction on the vote for advertising and exhibitions. I do not think that £500 is sufficient as an amount to advertise adequately the resources of this country. It always has been too low, but I think this reduction of £900—I take it that is in connection with the Wembley Exhibition being closed down—is excessive. I do think £500 is on the low side for advertising the resources of the Union. Before the House adjourned the Minister of Finance made some reference to the Students’ Club in London. It struck me he was excusing this vote of £500 to this club. London is in a way the clearing house for all the students in Europe whether for the Continent, Edinburgh or elsewhere. I do think the Minister would be well advised to retain this vote, as London for a homeless young man is rather a dreadful place. It is money extremely well spent. I think he is justified in saying that if he subsidizes this club he is not, therefore, necessarily justified in dealing out small sums to other clubs in other parts of the country. Most of the universities have a club for students, but a young man in London without friends and away from home is in a position which some of us do not realize. I hope that the vote may be retained.
It is not true that London is the central point for South African students in Europe. The students in Edinburgh have nothing to do with the London club. I, therefore, hope the amount allocated will be divided between the South African students’ clubs in, London, Edinburgh and Holland.
The work of the High Commissioner is defined from time to time by the Governor-General, but I cannot say whether he has also to function as an election agent. During the last election Sir Edgar Walton issued a statement regarding the parties in South Africa, and in the “New York Times” an interview was published with him, in which he said that possibly the Nationalist party would win the election in South Africa and that Nationalism meant Republicanism in South Africa.
Well, isn’t it true?
It is just as true as the stories which were circulated during the elections that the Nationalists intended to drive all the English out of the country. The High Commissioner expressed his opinion to the representative of a newspaper, and I am disappointed, because I was under the impression that he represented the whole of South Africa in London, and not only the S.A.P. It is an undesirable practice for him to state publicly his opinion regarding the principles of the different parties. If, for instance, the hon. member for Vrededorp (Dr. Visser) should be High Commissioner in ten years’ time, and should say to a newspaper: “The S.A.P. will probably win the election, and it stands for capitalism and the revival of racialism, which was killed by the Pact,” what a cry of indignation will there not be from the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt)! And rightly so. The High Commissioner is an official, and he should not interfere in party politics.
My experience of the High Commissioners we have had in London hitherto, is that they do keep entirely free from party politics, and I do not know of one yet to show any party political bias. The hon. gentleman who has just sat down says he is sorry he has not got the cutting from the “Daily News.” I would like to know what the context was of the cutting he read from the “New York Times.” It may be his extract is taken entirely away from its context. I believe that the present High Commissioner has done his best for the Union and has not allowed party feeling to influence him in the discharge of his duties.
Assuming that the extract which the hon. member read is correct, I do not see anything extraordinary about it. It is a mere statement of fact. After all, we have the hon. Minister of Justice who has year in and year out told us that republicanism is the cherished and sacred ideal of the Nationalist party and must be worked for day and night. Has he not also said that if the men became slack or lukewarm in regard to this, the women would keep them up to the mark? Did he not ask the hon. Minister of the Interior, in connection with a newspaper article, where would the Nationalist party be to-day if they did not stand firmly for the republican ideal? After all, the declaration of hon. members opposite through the mouths of their leaders is that they stand for republicanism, and hon. members opposite cannot deny it. This is why the High Commissioner refers to them as the republican party.
The quotation from the newspaper has not been brought to my notice before, and I hope the words quoted were not spoken by the High Commissioner. With the hon. member for Albany (Mr. Struben) I would deprecate it if it were the case. The hon. member for Hospital (Mr. Papenfus) seems to assume that they have been spoken, and he seems to approve of them. If the High Commissioner really used those words, I should be sorry. The trade commissioner on the Continent corresponds directly with the Government, but works under the High Commissioner. Several of the clerks in the High Commissioner’s office have been in South Africa, and they are continually changed.
With regard to the question put by the hon. member for Albany (Mr. Struben)—the reduction of the vote for advertising—the railways and harbours have made provision for £25,000 per annum for this purpose. This vote to which the hon. member has referred is for the Royal Dairy Show and fruit displays—the grant we are making to these shows. It must not be forgotten that this year we have had the Wembley Exhibition, on which we have spent £40,000, and we are making provision next year for the unspent balance of £10,000, so that we are making fairly good provision for this purpose of advertising. Then as far as the question of my hon. friend there is concerned, it is a suggestion which the Government will consider. We have not considered yet the retention of that office there, or what changes are going to be made.
†*The Government has not yet come to a decision regarding its policy as to the High Commissioner. It will, however, take the suggestions into consideration.
Am I right in understanding the hon. Minister of Finance to say that during the recess the Ministry will consider the matter of the High Commissionership? Is that so?
No, the hon. member has made a certain suggestion, whether we should have a Minister or not, and I have replied to him. The Government has not given attention to that yet, and it is a matter which will be considered. (Replying to Mr. Struben): As to settlement, I do not think we have a special officer there, but members of the staff will give advice to settlers. No changes are anticipated or are to be made in regard to that. The High Commissioner’s staff deals with that matter.
May I have an answer to my question as to an official in London on behalf of settlers?
There is no official specially appointed to advise settlers. The staff of the High Commissioner gives advice, and it is hot proposed to make any change.
Vote put and agreed to.
Vote 11, “Inland Revenue,” £133,528, put and agreed to.
On Vote 12, “Customs and Excise,” £223,552.
I should like to ask the hon. Minister when he is going to bring forward the Bill with regard to the Board of Trade and Industries.
I think the hon. Minister of Mines and Industries will give notice to-morrow, and it is going to be introduced very soon.
I would like to ask a question about the import duties on the kit for boys’ brigades. I understand certain organizations of that class get exemption from customs duty. I should like to know if the boys’ brigade can get the same concession. It is an organization which is doing very good work, and I think they should get some consideration in regard to the importation of kit. The amount is not very great in itself, but it is a matter of some concern for the bodies who have to deal with it.
If the hon. member will make representations to the department I will go into the matter and see what can be done.
With regard to the personal belongings of people who come to this country on a visit and who bring certain personal articles with them, unless they leave the country within six months they have to pay duties on these articles. I had a case where a, lady come out to this country; she is a professional violinist, but she merely came out to see some friends, not on a professional visit. She brought a valuable violin with her, and because she stayed a little longer than six months she had to pay what to her was a large sum. If this kind of thing is the case why not tax the watches that people bring with them?
The hon. member may not suggest new measures; he can only discuss administrative matters.
I am not advocating any measures. I am merely drawing the attention of the Minister to this matter.
I would like to ask the Minister a question arising out of the administration of the excise with regard to the use of methylated spirits for consumption. A question on this matter was put to the Minister last session and on enquiry it was found that it was used for such purposes. I had thought that some remedy would have been suggested to meet the case. The belief is prevalent that a good deal of methylated spirits is being used for consumption, and more especially when we take into consideration the big increase in the manufacture of methylated spirits there is ground for that belief. I would like the Minister to tell this House what he intends doing to put a stop to this abuse.
My attention has been drawn by chemists and medical men to the fact that there is a heavy duty on insulin—a new remedy for diabetes. It is pointed out that it is an expensive remedy and with duty on it, it is almost impossible for the poor man to use it. It has apparently been a great success in other countries and has been a great boon to sufferers. I would draw his attention to the question as to whether the duty can be substantially reduced or waived altogether.
I want to draw the attention of the Minister to the dumping duty which is now being levied on fertilizers in order to protect a few local industries.
The hon. member cannot discuss an amendment of the law.
The farmers have to pay a high dumping duty on imported superphosphates, and the local factories do not deserve this protection. The farmers pay this duty in order to protect the factories. The ground in the Transvaal requires fertilizers, and the Minister ought to see that the duty is reduced when the factories pay a high dividend.
Arising out of the contribution towards the general expenses of the training ship “General Botha.” How many boys are being trained on that ship?
Will the Minister inform me why the contribution has been reduced? One would have thought it would have been increased.
I can assure my friends that this reduction has not been made by the Government for any special reason. It was a provision considered necessary by my predecessor and it is agreed that this amount is sufficient. I believe that they have reduced the expenditure, and those in charge of the “General Botha” are agreed that the amount is sufficient. They have agreed that it is. With regard to the question of insulin, I am making provision for the admission of this stuff free in a Bill which I am going to introduce and which I referred to in my Budget proposals. The Bill will be introduced shortly. Concerning the question of the abuse of methylated spirits, I understand my hon. friend the Minister of Public Health laid a report on the Table a few days ago dealing with this subject. The Government is considering the matter and legislation will probably be introduced. With regard to the question of the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) I understand the law as it stands provides for the period of six months for any person to return without paying duty. I understand that is a law which obtains in all the Dominions. However, by taking a certain procedure provision is made where, by obtaining the consent of the Minister, the money is refunded.
I could not get it out of your predecessor.
I am sorry I cannot give the number of boys on the training ship. I will obtain information and give it to my hon. friend later. I understand the number is about 150.
*In the matter of superphosphates, I would refer the hon. member to my answer to the hon. member for Caledon (Mr. Krige) a few days ago. The Government has considered the matter, and understand perfectly well how important it is for farmers to be able to obtain fertilizers cheaply.
I would like to ask the Minister if he is prepared to do anything with regard to Christmas parcels entering South Africa from overseas. I have known cases where the articles sent at Christmas time costing about a pound or so and duty has been imposed upon them to the extent of 12s. or 13s. I think where people send little things to this country at a time like that, the customs should not charge them practically the total value of the articles. While one recognizes the necessity of taxation, I think in a case like that some provision should be made.
It depends on the parcel. They are taxed according to the laws of the country. If the hon. member does not want them taxed, legislation will have to be introduced. I presume that if they were taxed to the extent mentioned by the hon. member it was due to their contents.
My experience of the customs is that it does not need legislation at all. The customs authorities are like the laws of the Medes and Persians—they can do as they like. I am sure every Irishman in this House will understand what I am trying to get at. I hope the Minister is not going to tell this House that this is the law and that it has got to be. The matter might seem small to the Minister, but it is the little things in life that count.
I hope the Minister will listen to the last speaker. It appears that the late Government carried out the law. What is going to happen now?
Vote put and agreed to.
‘On Vote 13, “Audit,” £70,353.
There is a private Bill which provides that the Auditor-General shall sit as chairman of a certain committee. Surely there is enough work for the Auditor-General to do without allowing him to be used in connection with a private company? It is quite a wrong principle.
This is an unexpected attack. This is not a question of the Auditor-General being handed over to some private organization. The whole idea originated in Select Committee on the Society of Accountants’ Bill, which thought that the best plan was to appoint the Auditor-General chairman of the Provisional Council. The Auditor-General saw no objection to the proposal.
There is a Bill before the House dealing with the Society of Accountants.
I wish to make it clear that there will be no interference with the duties of the Auditor-General.
The Auditor-General is not a civil servant, but he is more an officer of the House. I am sure he will not accept any office which will be in conflict with his duty to the House.
Vote put and agreed to.
On Vote 14, “Justice,” £74,085.
I do not know whether the Minister of Justice is here. I would like to ask him whether he is prepared as head of the Law Department when new judges are appointed to select them from gentlemen who are outside the hurly-burly of party politics. When you have a gentleman appointed as a judge after many long years’ service in a political organization and you elevate him to the Bench you expect him to be a different individual. When certain persons come before him to be Tried for a criminal offence it is all right, but when it comes to a question of trying men during an industrial upheaval—when party questions come into being—it is too much to expect a man who has spent his life in politics to act with strict impartiality. The bias is there, although it may be unconscious. Is the Minister prepared to appoint judges apart from gentlemen who have participated in party organizations? In the past the principal qualification for a judge seems to have been that the persons selected were in party politics.
The hon. member (Mr. Waterston) judges party politics by the part he takes in them. No doubt his mind is so busy with them that he considers everybody is tarred with the same brush. However, I wish to speak regarding an advertisement of the Doornkop Sugar Estates. This may appear out of place on the vote for the Minister of Justice, but as the Minister’s name is used in connection with this concern, I am bringing it up on this vote. I have here an advertisement in which this estate is described as “the finest small holding scheme ever presented. Plots of 20 acres can be bought at £25 an acre on easy terms of payment. The estate is on the north coast of Natal, 56 miles from Durban. Your money returned in full if not satisfied.” Here we have the good old pineapple people coming on again from Johannesburg. It is funny that we should have to go to Johannesburg to learn how to run sugar estates. The promoters did not come to those whose business it is to grow sugar and who are competent to express an opinion on the subject, but they went to the Minister of Justice, who knows nothing about it. This is what the Minister of Justice says about it—I suppose it is the Minister of Justice as the statement is signed “T. J. Roos”: “Before becoming Minister of Justice I expressed by views with regard to the Doornkop Sugar Estate, Limited. My opinion, formed at that period that the purchase of plots from the estates would prove a sound investment has been strengthened by the guarantees of the company.” This is the statement appearing in one corner of this advertisement. Then there is another letter, signed F. E. T. Krause, who, I presume, is a judge, and dated from the Judges’ Chambers, Johannesburg. It reads as follows: “Personally I must congratulate you on the soundness of the scheme, and more especially on the guarantees you are prepared to offer the public. I am satisfied that as long as your name is connected with the company the public will have a fair and square deal.” That appears in the opposite corner to the letter from the Minister of Justice. Then A. E. Trigger, of the South African Police, Johannesburg, writes: “I have been interested for some time in the acquiring of a small remunerative property and I am convinced from what I know of the personnel of your board that I cannot do better in making provision for the future than in the acquisition of a plot under the favourable conditions granted by the Doornkop Sugar Estates Company.” There is a further letter from the Surveyor-General of the Transvaal, extolling the virtues of this scheme. I suppose the promoters think that if they had a Minister of Justice, a judge and the superintendent of Police that if they get into trouble they will be on the right side. I think it is a most extraordinary thing that a member of the Government should send his name to be advertized throughout the Union on a scheme of this nature. What is going to be the impression on Rand workers of statements like this? They will be under the impression that for an investment of £625 they will, after four years, be able to obtain an annual income of £200. The average person in the Union takes it that what the Minister of Justice says must be right. They are given a most unusual kind of guarantee, but I am afraid they are going to be very much misled if they believe these statements. I know a little about this scheme. I was rung up one day at Durban and asked if I would make an appointment with the promoters of this before it was advertized. I saw a gentleman from Johannesburg and he said: “We have lots of money; we have half a million of money behind us; we don’t want any money from you, all we want is your name.” I then said: “Thank you, I don’t want my name used for this matter. I have too much regard for my name to allow it to be mixed up with business of this kind.” Any person who wanted to grow sugar, who was out for straight business, would have gone for testimonials to sugar growers. But they think it necessary to go to the Minister of Justice and a judge in the Transvaal to obtain the confidence of the public. It is nothing more or less than a confidence trick and they had a Minister of Justice and a judge to back them up.
It says they will give the people their money back, if they are dissatisfied.
Are you in it too?
Does the Minister think the public are having a fair deal? The promoters have bought 8,000 acres on which wattle has been grown outside Stangar. What is going to happen? This bait is put before the working man of this country who thinks that if he can only put by so much a month to acquire a little estate like this he will have something when he gets old.
Better than gold shares.
My hon. friend is an expert on gold mining and I am not, but I am an expert on sugar and I know that it is not a gold mine. Is it not perfectly natural that after a few months many of these people will get behind in their instalments? What happens? The same old citrus fruit business. The people get behind with their instalments and the land reverts to those who run the scheme. It is getting money out of people who will forfeit their farms as the result of being unable to pay instalments. This advertisement was put into my hands and when I saw the scheme was being backed by the Minister for Justice, I thought it only right in the interest of the people who might be misled to bring it before this House.
With regard to this vote on Justice I would ask the Government whether they could not take into consideration during the recess the appointment of another judge in Johannesburg to reduce the existing congestion. There is also another thing—which probably lawyers do not consider very much—that is the increased expenditure incurred by taking cases to Pretoria which might be settled in Johannesburg. We have long gone past believing law is justice, but at all events let us have the law as cheaply and as easily obtainable as possible. I wish to make a remark in connection with the projected appointment of a judge, and want the Government to consider whether it is fair after a member of the Bar has been designated as a coming judge that he should be allowed to continue practising at the Bar? Naturally there is a tendency to refer to such a gentleman who is to come on to the Bench. I think I am perfectly right in saying that at present there is a gentleman practising before he takes his position on the Bench. It does not seem quite fair to the Bar that should be.
Places such as Kimberley and Grahamstown have a circuit court every three months, whilst other places such as. East London only have one once in six.
The first point that was put to me was the question in regard to judges—that judges should be taken from the ranks of those who do not indulge in party politics. In South Africa, where politics are a popular recreation, you will probably find few advocates who do not take some public part in party politics. I am not prepared to say that men who do not take a public part in party politics would not make as good judges as those who do. But the man who takes public part in party politics makes, generally speaking, a good judge. Your judge does not allow voluntary bias, I am sure, to enter into his judgment. We all of us have some involuntary bias. That is inseparable from human nature in this world. I am afraid I cannot give the undertaking my hon. friend wishes me to give because I think we must appoint the best men we can get. With regard to the point raised by the hon. member for Zululand (Mr. Nicholls), I will say at once I know much less about sugar than that hon. member does, and I know very little about undertakings of this kind except the one which has been mentioned. I happen to know Mr. Rosenberg and have confidence in what he does. My first letter was based on my estimation of Mr. Rosenberg, coupled with my knowledge of the undertaking. With regard to my next letter, written when I was Minister of Justice, that was based on the guarantee given that anyone who bought a plot of land would be given his money back if he was not satisfied. If he falls into arrear, he does not forfeit his money—he gets it back. I hope that innovation will form a part of all these undertakings. Wherever a person is dissatisfied he is entitled to get his money back. I made that point. I thought this innovation was a very useful one, and if it happens with regard to all concerns which sell shares or plots I do not think there will be much to complain about. I may say that I have not one penny invested in this or any similar company in South Africa. The next point made was that there should be no deferred appointment of judges. The position is this, that a certain gentleman will be appointed to the Bench at the end of October. Unfortunately that information has leaked out. I know the press as soon as they heard the rumour approached that gentleman concerned. That gentleman was one of the very best men we could get in South Africa and I was very anxious that he should be appointed to the judiciary. I agree it was a mistake that it has leaked out and it may—although I do not think it will—possibly cause injury.
I think the House is very glad to hear the statement made by the Minister in regard to the suggestions of the hon. member for Brakpan (Mr. Waterston). I think if the hon. member were to cast his mind back over our history he would find that many of our best judges had taken an active part in party politics. But no matter how strong a part a man might have taken in party politics, once he has been appointed to the Bench the traditions of his office are so high and the traditions of the Bar are so high, there is not a single judge in this country about whom the slightest suspicion of party bias has arisen, after he has taken his position on the Bench. I think I am justified in saying that; and I think that the hon. Minister of Justice might have put it a little more strongly. I know that the hon. member for Brakpan (Mr. Waterston) is not intending to cast a slur. We know from the bottom of our hearts that there is no greater tribute than can be paid to the judges of our country. It is our pride and our glory that our judges, when they go on the bench, have all invariably maintained the high traditions of their predecessors in their high office. Then I would like to go into one further point—the certificate given by the hon. Minister of Justice, and the judge, in regard to the Doornkop Sugar Estates. I don’t want to suggest for a moment that the hon. the Minister of Justice had any interest in the matter at all. That was not the point of complaint; but it was that no Minister, while in office, should be allowed to boost anything speculative whatever, no matter how pure his motives may be and he should not allow himself to be the victim of advertising any speculative thing at all. I, for instance, read the advertisement: I have not heard anything of the previous letter of the hon. the Minister of Justice; I do not know what his regard is for these eminent South Africans, Messrs. Sprinz and Rosenberg, and I do not know whether the hon. the Minister of Justice has any high regard for Mr. Rosenberg. What do we know about these reasons for the letter when we read it? The average investor sees only that the Minister of Justice gives as his opinion that it is a sound investment, and that it has been guaranteed by the company. It is, moreover, a very ill-advised thing for a judge to give his personal testimonial from Judges’ Chambers. That is a matter I do regret, and it is a thing which is very unusual in this country. In the course of my experience, now extending for 26 or 27 years, I have not known of a single case where a judge has lent his name for speculative purposes. That is the thing the hon. member over there might have drawn attention to. I speak with all seriousness and all sense of responsibility when I say I express the hope that never again will we see anything like that. I have not the least idea whether this company is good or bad, but I do not think that if people’s names are advertized in that way, coming with all authority from their particular position, it is a good thing for the ordinary man who, unfortunately, does not need much recommendation in the ordinary course to invest his money in speculative concerns. I hope that the hon. Minister of Justice, either in his personal or in his ministerial capacity, will see that neither he nor a judge lends his name to advertising a company.
I listened to the explanation of the hon. Minister of Justice with considerable dismay. Like the hon. member (Mr. Close) who sits behind me, I do not for a moment question the hon. Minister’s motives, but it is surprising that the hon. Minister, who has been accusing the South African Party of being in the pocket of company mongers, should have allowed himself to be used in the nature of a guinea-pig, for that is what it amounts to. I do not question his motives; but that he was indiscreet goes without saying. What will happen in this country if you have Cabinet Ministers boosting gold bricks, wild cat schemes and so forth? This company is not a Bonanza, and it is little or nothing short of swindle—it is a confidence trick. The “Sugar Journal” makes no bones about it and warns the public against it, (extract quoted), and I would warn the public against putting a single penny in this company. At the some time, we find the Minister fixing his imprimatur on this company, and while the Government was stopping the allotment of sugar land in Zululand at £4 an acre, spread over very easy terms, they are recommending this land at £25 per acre.
Not for sugar.
My hon. successor seems to know more about it than I do. I said “seems.” There is any amount of good sugar land from Umvolosi upwards—thousands and thousands of acres of land lying available, the allotment of which the Minister, for some reason or other, has seen fit to stop. Yet the hon. Minister of Justice is advising people to buy land at £25 per acre, and the people he is advising are poor and working men. At the same time the Government has withdrawn from allotment good sugar land.
I wonder if the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) will repeat outside that this company is a swindle, and connect the names of the gentlemen he has mentioned with it. When an hon. member in this House attacks a company, or gentlemen outside this House, and virtually calls them swindlers, and is not prepared to repeat his statements outside the hon. House, he misleads this hon. House and tries to do so by means of the press outside, and that is, I say, an abuse of his position. There are a very large number of land swindlers indeed, and again and again we have had land swindles in this country, and what is the reason? At the bottom it is that our Governments in the past have never had the courage to put their imprimatur on good honest schemes, and if they had had more courage, and insisted that if every scheme put before the public should first come properly before them, we would have had less swindles. There is apparently one hon. Minister who is satisfied that the scheme is honest, and I am satisfied that the hon. Minister will not put his name to anything that is not honest. Such language as that of the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) is unworthy of an hon. member of the Opposition—to say that an hon. Minister has been allowed to be made a “pigeon.” Take another statement—the hon. member said that where we were paying £4 per acre for land in Zululand, the hon. Minister of Justice had advised the public to buy land for £25 per acre, but where does he see that? This letter, which I have seen, does not say so.
That is a quibble.
It is not a quibble.
You know all about it.
I know all about it; I read the letter, and if the member for Zululand knows about it, why should I not know about it too? That is the kind of criticism you get from the Opposition benches on matters of this nature. I want to ask the hon. member if he will get up in this House and undertake to repeat what he has said outside; unless he does, no one will believe it is a swindling company.
Our experience in Natal is that when a company is floated in Johannesburg they come down to Natal to sell their shares, and when there is a dubious proposition in Natal the people go to Johannesburg to sell. We have been duped in Natal very often and what is going to happen here is, that the Johannesburg people are going to be duped over this land. If the land in question was good sugar land you can rest assured sugar would have been planted there. The owners found that it was not good sugar land and then they planted wattle, but that too was a failure, and now this company is offering it for sale to the public as a sugar proposition. I know the land, and I have no hesitation in saying that I am doubtful whether it will prove suitable for sugar. I do think the Minister has been indiscreet in putting his name to any recommendation before he had a reliable report from Government officials; who could have given reliable information whether the land was suitable for sugar or not. I hope that in future we will not have officials or Ministers of the Crown subscribing to any recommendations boosting any company. I agree with the hon. member that where these companies are floated that the Government should cause an official enquiry to be made before any prospectus is issued, so as to ascertain whether the prospectus conforms honestly with what it is held out to be, and thereby protect the public.
The “trapping, system” falls under the Minister of Justice. That system is a negation of justice. In my constituency there have been repeated instances of a lack of justice in connection with that system. The diggers are very poor people and are continually under the ban of detectives in connection with illicit diamond buying. Very often a youngster working on a claim has got into difficulty with a kaffir in connection with a diamond which was acquired in an illegal way. Then he is sent to gaol for a long time and he is in danger of being demoralized in prison. I have been in prison myself, and I know what it is to be amongst criminals. The diamonds which are used for that purpose come from De Beers. I know of five cases where youngsters have thus been brought before the magistrate; four were acquitted and one convicted; but those who were acquitted had a lot of expense in connection with their defence. I would suggest to the Minister to transfer those detectives who are so zealous with the “trapping system” and who use it to persecute people.
I hope that the Government will not follow the suggestion made by the hon. member for De La Rey (Mr. van Hees) and endorsed by the hon. member for Newcastle (Mr. G. H. Nicholls) by giving a guarantee to companies. In theory it sounds fine. People have come to me and said: Why cannot the Government express an opinion, why are you afraid to do so? Surely a man who comes from overseas has a right to know about this company and that company in connection with land settlement. If you do, it is my experience that companies abuse these privileges, when the Government approves of them they go and placard London with what the Government says. Then when the proposition fails the settler comes back upon the Minister and says: “I am down and out, I am on the streets, because I followed your advice.” They maintain that the Government is morally responsible for what that company does. As I say it may be sound in theory to endorse these companies’ prospectuses, but in practice it is disastrous.
I did not bring this up to make any attack on the Minister, but in the public interest. I do not think the Minister was interested in it before he became a Minister and before he was asked if he thought it a good scheme. However, he should have considered this matter before. He did not imagine that Mr. Rosenberg was going in for this as a philanthropic mission. He is going into it for profit. I doubt if it is a wise thing to allow estates to be bought up and planted for the purpose of working men buying small plots—which they never see and on which they never reside. That is not land settlement. It has been found that they cannot keep up their payments with the result that the plot goes back to the promoter. The Minister is satisfied with the bona fides of Mr. Rosenberg. Why did he go to Natal, some miles from the coast and buy up a wattle plantation for the purpose of planting sugar—a business which he knows nothing about instead of confining his attention to the business he knows? My friend has challenged the member for Port Elizabeth (Col. Reitz) to go outside and say: “This is a swindle.” That hon. member is on a bad wicket and he has got a bad case. The “Sugar Journal” had something to say about this matter and, so far as I know, proceedings have not been taken against this journal. The people who put their money into this, I am quite convinced, are going to lose. My only object is to expose this company advertising itself under the Minister’s name.
I thought the hon. member’s object was to protest most strongly against the Minister allowing his name to be used. I did not think that as one who was deeply concerned in the sugar industry that he was simply rising in order to crush a probable rival. I thought he was deeply concerned about the discretion of the Minister of Justice. It all boils down to this that the hon. member wants to air a grievance between two sets of sugar planters. Listening to this debate and probably reading it in the newspapers to-morrow, people will come to the conclusion that the Minister of Justice is a director, or is financially interested in the concern, but the hon. member merely states that the Minister of Justice has expressed an opinion, and my hon. friend is deeply moved that the Minister should express an opinion about a company which the hon. member says is not altogether straight. Let us have an investigation to see if the hon. member’s fears are real or crocodile. I hope there is sincerity behind these protests. We have members in the Labour party who are directors of companies, but personally I am against it and do not believe in it. We have heard of the Sundays River and various other little organizations that would take too long to enumerate. I think the hon. member has raised a mares nest.
You approve of the Minister giving that letter?
I hope the time is coming when no member of Parliament will allow his name to be used in connection with any company. The fault is all round the House and it can be driven home against every party. The sole object of companies is to pile up as much profit as they possibly can for people connected with those companies. Your whole system of society is based on a swindle of humanity from top to bottom.
The treatment of the subject is getting rather personal and petty. The real principle is, are we going to take the utmost care in recommending land settlement schemes, and are we going to have Ministers lending their names to advertise schemes? I do not think the Minister of Justice knew how this letter was going to be used. The Minister of Justice knows one of the two directors of this scheme, but I maintain that he ought to have known something about the land itself before he wrote that letter. If the Government gives the stamp of its approval to particular schemes they will hatch endless trouble for themselves. I solemnly warn the Government against the danger involved in the suggestion of the hon. member for De La Rey (Mr. Van Hees)—
A Daniel come to judgment.
I treat the future of my country with more seriousness than the hon. member opposite, who is always making these silly and rather impertinent remarks. If he wants to join a circus don’t let him join one in this country, for they are never a success here.
I am afraid I shall have to join in this chorus of execration of the Minister of Justice, and associate myself with the deepest regret with some of the remarks made on this side of the House. Has the Minister not already learned that it is against all the past traditions of Governments of this country to be honest? Has he not realized that he should not go into the open and tell the people what he thinks? He should have done as others have done—do it sub rosa; make little land deals of exchanges of land between friends without coming out into the open. He should have followed the course adopted by the late Government when, despite protests made in the House here by members who had no interest to serve—not like the hypocritical remarks that have been made to-day—the Government passed a vote of £750,000 for the Sundays River. That money has gone anywhere you like except into the pockets of the people. It was a scheme that has turned out a dud and was intended to be a dud, and it had the support of some of to-night’s speakers.
Is the hon. member entitled to refer to hypocritical remarks?
The hon. member is not entited to refer to any other hon. member as being hypocritical.
I beg your pardon; I will not do it.
Does the hon. member withdraw?
Oh yes, I withdraw that. The Minister of Justice should not have gone into the open, but he should have done as other Governments have done in the past, help your friends, get the Defence Force out and shoot men back to work for less wages.
The hon. member for Pretoria (North) (Mr. Oost) asked me about the trapping system. Personally I think that system should be used as sparingly as possible, although we are told it is still necessary under certain circumstances. I hope sooner or later that it can be entirely eliminated. I want to enquire into the whole of that matter and see whether we cannot reduce it very greatly or if we cannot eliminate it altogether. With regard to this other matter, I do not wish to weary the House. I want to say the hon. member is in error in saying I said I knew nothing about the matter. I never said anything of the sort. I saw the reports and the papers in connection with this scheme before I became Minister, and I believe it is a good scheme. The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) believes in this House—I do not know whether he believes it outside this House—that it is a swindle. He is entitled to his belief and I to mine. After I assumed office the additional guarantee was placed in the prospectus of this company. Mr. Rosenberg asked me what I thought of this guarantee and I told him I thought it was a very good guarantee, backed by the deposit of £25,000 in a bank, that money should be returned if the buyer was dissatisfied or unable to keep up his payments. I say every company floated in this country for land settlement should have conditions of that kind that within a certain period of time the purchaser should get his money back and give back the land if it is not as it was represented.
They do not see the land for probably two years after buying it.
If the man does not go and look at his property for two years that is his responsibility.
That is the catch about it.
I am not as astute about finding these catches as my hon. friend, but I should imagine that a man who purchases under those circumstances would certainly within 18 months go and see his property. I say you will not find in any other, scheme of that kind a guarantee such as that. When I saw the guarantee included I thought, and I still think, it a very useful guarantee indeed, and I hope it will be included in the prospectuses of all land companies. The remark was made that at the same time that the sugar farms which should have been given out by the late Government were stopped by my hon. friend the Minister of Lands. As I understand it he has never stopped any such land at all. What was stopped was the cotton land. The complaint of my hon. friend has always been that it was the cotton lands which have been stopped until to-night he suddenly says they were sugar lands.
They are fit for sugar or cotton.
Why in the past did he never speak of sugar? Why did he always talk about it as cotton land? Why does he now suddenly switch over to sugar? That is all I wish to say on that point. Properly understood, I cannot see that any objection can be taken.
I cannot allow that vote to pass like this. I want to know whether the Minister approves of this proposition? Is he going to let it go before the country with the stamp (of his approval? The Minister has merely told the House he thought it was a good scheme. Are we to understand that it still has the stamp of his approval? Will the Minister withdraw the letters supporting this scheme?
I have made it perfectly clear that at the time I wrote my letters I believed the statements made in the company’s reports to be true. I never saw that advertisement until it was mentioned here to-night. I say those honourable gentlemen who do not believe that this scheme is a good one are entitled to their opinions. I cannot judge whether they are right.
Then the Minister should not have written the commendation.
I cannot judge on the ex parte statements these hon. members make. If the hon. member cannot understand my repeated statement I cannot give him the intelligence or help him to understand it. I have made perfectly clear the circumstances under which I wrote those letters. I wish to state again that I have no financial concern in this matter.
Does the Minister, in his position, consider that he was justified in maintaining the attitude he maintained when he wrote that letter, and in maintaining the attitude he maintains now? Does the Minister consider he is justified, on his own showing, he has not seen this land and he knows nothing about it—
I did not say I knew nothing about it.
He says he still abides by his decision. I think the hon. member is perfectly justified in asking the Minister to recognize and confess to the House that if he had to do this thing over again he would not have written those letters. It is perfectly plain that Mr. Rosenberg is a friend of the Minister and the Minister gave him this letter because he knew it would help the scheme Mr. Rosenberg has at heart. Does the Minister, in his position, consider he was justified in writing a letter from the Department of Justice which could give to the ordinary man in the street, especially to the political supporters of my hon. friend, the idea that in investing in these ventures they were having the full assurance of the Minister of Justice after he had perfectly convinced himself that the scheme was a genuine one—not the scheme of a friend of his—but that the scheme was a thoroughly reliable one to which he could recommend anyone who had a few hundred pounds to invest and desired to put his money into that scheme? I should have expected from the Minister that he would have said at once in this House that in view of the statement made by the hon. member for Zululand (Mr. Nicholls), and in view of the fact that the Minister knew nothing about sugar culture and that he had not seen the land, that at least he had made a mistake and was sorry for what he had done.
I made it quite clear that I had gone through the reports of the expert and the papers in connection with this scheme and from those reports and papers I was convinced before I became Minister that the scheme was a good one, and consequently I wrote my first letter. My second letter after I became Minister referred simply to the guarantees which were given. The position is this, that if everything took place in the same order of time, I would do the same thing again; my mind would be in the same state it was in then. I believed it to be a perfectly good proposition and I would be prepared to do the same thing as I did then on the information I had before me. I had the report of the experts and the papers which I regarded as perfectly bona fide and I also had confidence in the integrity of Mr. Rosenberg. I found out what the position was and I sent him a letter about it, and I said I regarded the guarantee as a very useful safeguard. I will not endorse again publicly, or privately, any scheme of this nature, because I see to-night that such endorsement is liable to misconstruction.
After the explanation of the hon. the Minister of Justice, I hope he will act openly and have an enquiry made, to find out whether it is a good concern, because he has acted bona fide—
Order. The hon. member is going beyond the scope. I have allowed a great deal of latitude, but I cannot allow any further latitude.
Will the hon. Minister allow these official letters to be withdrawn from this advertisement, so that the public will not be misled?
I do not know whether I have the power to do so, to cause them to be withdrawn, but I will see that my letter is withdrawn from the advertisement of this company. I am afraid I cannot very well go further, but I say this, without admitting I am wrong in writing that letter.
Will the hon. Minister ask the judge to withdraw and the chief of the Detective Department, because they are within the hon. Minister’s purview.
Vote put and agreed to.
On Vote 15, “Superior Courts,” £221,406.
I would like to ask the hon. Minister that when the next appointment of a judge is made in Natal, consideration should be given to one who understands and speaks Hindustani. Unfortunately, we have a very large Indian population, and I think you will find that the court has to depend on the interpreter for the evidence which is given.
I should also like to ask the hon. Minister of Justice whether he will consider the question of the libraries of the Superior Courts. I do not know what it is like in other divisions, but in the Cape Provincial Division the library is very much behindhand. As soon as the Minister can unlock his heart and unloosen his trousers pocket, I hope he will deal with this matter.
Will the hon. Minister consider during the recess the increasing of the fees to jurors and of witnesses? I think this matter should be considered, because under the present system a great hardship is entailed.
I want to draw the hon. the Minister’s attention to the question of juries on the Witwatersrand and their payments. Johannesburg is in the centre of 60 miles of reef, and jurymen may be empanelled from all along that reef. The emoluments received by jurymen there are very small, and they receive only one pass for the journey to the court and the journey out. As one of the representatives, largely, of the wage-earning class, I do not want that class precluded from serving on juries, but when they serve on juries they should do so without comparative hardship. In most other lines of occupation the attendance of the juryman does not involve the loss of income, but when a man is a daily-paid worker, each day of service on a jury means the loss of a day’s wages, and the man may have to pay fares as far as 30 miles out, and also pay for meals and the like. I would like the matter to be looked into, so that these men would not be prevented from exercising their right to serve as jurors, or, on the other hand, be super-taxed for carrying out their duties as citizens.
This is a matter of great import to the artisan earning 23s to 25s. per day. He is called upon to serve on a jury, on a case which may last a week or more, and he receives 8s. per day. If members of Parliament were not exempted from serving on a jury no doubt this particular matter would receive more attention. I hope that the new hon. Minister of Justice will give consideration to the representations of the hon. member for Springs (Mr. Allen). I questioned the hon. Minister’s predecessor on the matter, and he took up the attitude that service on a jury was a matter of public duty, and that if such payment was made as requested, it would involve a huge expenditure which could not possibly be justified. I cannot see reason in that at all.
With regard to the question of the hon. member for Stamford Hill (Mr. F. J. Lennox) dealing with the question of knowledge of Hindustani in the appointment of judges in Natal. That is a matter which requires attention on account of the large Indian population of Natal. I do not know if advocates in Natal are acquainted with the language because I am sure my friend does not intend that judges should be drawn from any other class in the country except the advocate class. This point will receive attention, other things being equal I have been asked by the hon. member for Rondebosch (Mr. Close) a question with regard to the Supreme Court library in Cape Town. I believe it is not so up to date as the one in Pretoria. It is a matter which will be considered by me but it must be dealt with in the light of the financial stringency. We must see what we can do to stir the heart of the Minister of Finance. As far as jurymen and witnesses are concerned, undoubtedly a financial burden is placed on them when they are called upon to do their duty to the State. There again it is a question of finance, but it is one which I shall consider very carefully to see if we can improve the position. We should make due provision for people whom we take away from their daily avocations and use in the administration of justice. I believe on the Rand railway warrants are only issued on the first day of a sitting of a court and not from day to day. That is certainly a point that might lighten the burden if provision could be made for daily warrants, and I will see if anything can be done to alleviate the general position.
I want to draw the attention of the Minister to the state of congestion which exists in the police courts in Johannesburg.
If you are referring to the magistrate’s court, that will be the next item—the next vote.
Vote put and agreed to.
On Vote 16, “Magistrates and District Administration,” £574,055.
I would draw the Minister’s attention to the congestion in the magistrate’s courts in Johannesburg and also the long periods of waiting to which witnesses and others are subjected. I hope the Minister will devote his attention to this state of affairs and try to make such arrangements as will prevent the wasting of so much time. If there is one thing which is badly needed in Johannesburg, something which will materially help, that is the building of a new magistrate’s court.
The people in the border districts, such as Christiana and Bloemhof, experience many difficulties in connection with civil cases. If a man goes across the border, he has to be prosecuted in a Free State court.
Last year a Select Committee made an enquiry regarding stock theft, and I hope the Minister will carry out the recommendations contained in the report.
I wish the Minister would take note of the fact that objection has been taken in Natal to the employment of natives as interpreters in the magistrate’s courts. Last year no less than eight were appointed. In view of the fact that there are many Europeans who would only be too willing to take these positions, I trust the Minister will see what he can do.
I hope the Minister before he adopts the suggestion of the hon. member will give this question his serious consideration. I have heard on many sides and from people who speak on authority that in connection with the employment of European translators of the native language that the greatest injustice is liable to be done to natives. It is the experience of people who know the natives and their languages that a first-class native interpreter is much more reliable to put the case for one for whom he is interpreting, much more truly and correctly than a European man who has a knowledge of native languages. I have been told that these constant changes by which first-class native interpreters had given way to European interpreters very often has the tendency of not allowing the evidence given by natives to be thoroughly and clearly interpreted so that justice can be administered.
I have been asked to draw the Minister’s attention to the inconvenience caused to residents of the Boston district owing to the magistrate having ceased to visit that place.
I brought this matter of native interpreters up at the request of the Maritzburg and District Farmers’ Association, which requests that Europeans be appointed in the place of native messengers and clerks. These men know what they are talking about, and I do not think they would advocate that unless there are sufficient men in Natal with a knowledge of Zulu to enable them to carry out properly the duties of interpreters.
If there is one occupation that an educated native can claim to fill it is that of native interpreter. This may be a matter of life and death to a native, and it is not a question of finding employment, but of the interests of justice. If a native is on trial for his life surely he will have more confidence in being able to express himself to a native rather than to a European. It is not a question with me of colour, but of ability. Some of the best interpreters have been natives. In the same way Asiatics should be employed to interpret the evidence of Asiatic witnesses.
I agree with the views of the hon. member for Hanover Street (Mr. Alexander). It is utterly impossible for any European to so efficiently interpret native or Asiatic languages as a native or an Asiatic could do it.
Hon. members who have just sat down have been talking about something they know nothing whatever about. They may have had their experience in the Orange Free State or the Transvaal, but unless they have had personal knowledge and experience in Natal, they are hardly justified in getting up here and speaking in the emphatic manner in which they have done. If the hon. the Minister in charge of this Department will only refer the point to a few of the more experienced magistrates in Natal, he will receive all the reasons necessary to convince him that the appointment of native interpreters in the place of European officers is far from desirable.
In the villages preference should be given to justices of the peace. If there is no person to hear such cases they have to wait until a circuit court comes round once every quarter, or people have to go a distance of 40 or 50 miles, which causes great inconvenience to the public and is detrimental to the ends of justice. Will it not be possible for the special justice of the peace also to act as revenue officer? The two departments could easily come to such an understanding, and it will be a great convenience to the public.
As one who has practised in the courts for something like 30 years, I would like to say I have never yet found the native give entire satisfaction both in his own and the English language. My experience is that the European who has mastered the native language is much more satisfactory, and I think this is the view of practitioners, the judiciary and litigants. I would like to support my hon. friend for Maritzburg (North) (Mr. Strachan) in asking that European interpreters should be substituted wherever possible for the natives.
I want to ask the Minister of Justice whether it would not be possible to have a periodical court at Wolseley, a thriving little town in the district of Tulbagh. There is such a court not far from Wolseley, at Kluitjieskraal, but I think it ought to be transferred to the township.
I am glad to hear the lecture from this new hon. member, but am sorry he did not include in his remarks the acting leader of the Opposition, who made remarks to the same effect and whom, through his own leader, he ignored. I said I never practised in Natal, but I referred to the experience of 24 years which I had in other parts of South Africa We know it is contended that Natal is the hub of South Africa, but the hon. member will realize that there are members who though not born there, or who have not practised there, are entitled, nevertheless, to have their own opinion. Experience in Natal is useful, but experience in other parts of the Union is also useful. The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (North) (Mr. Strachan) did not refer only to Natal, but made a general reference. I say it would be a great injustice to remove these men, some of whom have been engaged in interpreting for 20 to 30 years. In Kimberley a large number of natives come to the mines, and the interpreting there has been done largely by native interpreters. The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (North) (Mr. Strachan) asked the hon. Minister to do away with all native interpreters. All sections of the people are entitled to take their share in assisting in the administration of justice. I hope that the hon. Minister will not be rushed into doing an injustice to any section by what has been said. By all means let him make an enquiry, and enquire from the judges and magistrates what their experience has been of these interpreters.
We have also to look at the other side of the question. At certain places in the Eastern Province kaffirs are being used to interpret for white people when the official does not understand Dutch, and the Minister of Justice ought to give his attention to that aspect of the question. I would also like to draw attention to the fact that the magistrate has a casting vote in addition to his deliberative vote as chairman of the licensing court, and I think that ought to be done away with.
The hon. member cannot discuss new legislation in Committee of Supply.
I only want to draw the Minister’s attention to the fact, and he can use the suggestion in the way he thinks fit. In Dordrecht, where the licensing court consists of seven members, the magistrate used his casting as well as his deliberative vote to do a thing which is looked upon as detrimental to the district. The double vote is unsound.
I would like to explain the position land will read the resolution carried by the Maritzburg and District Farmers’ Association: “That members of the association note with regret the fact that the Minister of Justice has appointed in several migistrates’ courts in Natal native clerks which he styles messenger clerks. These are really clerks and Zulu interpreters: they perform clerical duties and occupy positions formerly held by Europeans.” Maritzburg farmers are agitating against natives being put into magistrates’ courts in places formerly held by Europeans. I can appreciate the concern felt by the hon. member for Hanover Street (Mr. Alexander) for the natives, but I am surprised that he cannot feel the same concern for his fellow Europeans. The natives in Natal had not got the vote, and that’s the reason why we can approach this question without thinking about other considerations. The fact that these men are taking positions previously held by Europeans is of sufficient importance for the new Minister of Justice to take the representations made by the Maritzburg and District Farmers’ Association into serious consideration.
If the native interpreters have to give up their place to others we are going to do an injustice to them. The native congress recently resolved to request the Government to appoint more native interpreters where natives appear in cases. I do not say that to catch votes, but simply in the cause of justice.
Business interrupted by the Chairman at 10. 55 p.m.
Progress reported; to resume in committee to-morrow.
The House adjourned at