House of Assembly: Vol2 - TUESDAY 19 AUGUST 1924
asked the Minister of Mines and Industries:
- (1) Whether, during the recess, he will make enquiry into (a) the profits made in trading with natives in the compounds of the De Beers Company, (b) the total amount of such profits since 1896, and (c) what public objects these profits have been devoted to according to resolution of the Company’s shareholders from the date mentioned; and
- (2) whether he will lay the papers resulting from his enquiry upon the Table?
- (1) and (2). I am informed that the accounts of compound trading in the De Beers mines are merged in the general administration and mining expenses, and that therefore it is not possible to arrive at any estimate of the results of the compound trading. I will, however, refer the matter to the Minister of Native Affairs.
asked the Minister of Lands:
- (1) Whether he is aware (a) that there is a committee at Christiana which is anxious to have the Kromellenboog scheme carried out; and (b) that the committee has obtained promises from the majority of the riparian owners along the Vaal River that they will place at the disposal of the Government at £3 per morgen all irrigable ground falling within the said scheme, less so much of the ground as they can themselves use;
- (2) whether the Government is prepared to accept these promises or take over these options;
- (3) whether the nature of the soil falling within this scheme is being tested in accordance with the promise of the previous Minister of Agriculture;
- (4) whether any surveys are being carried out or whether an enquiry is being made; and
- (5) whether the Government intends to take into consideration, the question of carrying out the said scheme?
- (4) Surveys and enquiry are at present being made.
- (3) As soon as the surveys can be placed on plans the latter will be given to agricultural officers to demarcate the different soils.
- (1), (2) and (5). I am aware that there is a strong local feeling in favour of the scheme, and that proposals have been made to offer surplus land to Government on favourable terms, but I can make no promises till the surveys are further advanced and until the manner of dealing with new irrigation schemes, especially of the magnitude of this one is considered by Parliament. Thereafter the matters referred to in 2 and 5 will receive early consideration.
asked the Minister of Finance:
- (1) What progress has been made to date by the Special Commissioner appointed by the previous Government for the purpose of obtaining data necessary for the consideration of the question of old age pensions);
- (2) when will the promised interim report by the Commissioner be laid upon the Table of the House; and
- (3) what are the intentions of the present Government with regard to the establishment of an old age pension scheme for the Union?
The hon. member’s attention is invited to my reply to question No. XXI, which appeared on the Votes and Proceedings of the 12th instant.
asked the Prime Minister whether the Government will take into immediate and sympathetic consideration the alleviation of the hardships, inconvenience and additional expense entailed on litigants owing to the limited jurisdiction of the Eastern Districts (Cape) Court, and whether, with that end in view, the Government will consider the introduction of legislation for the purpose of granting separate jurisdiction to the Eastern Districts Court of the Cape Province?
The Eastern Districts Court, whilst having exclusive criminal jurisdiction within its area, only has concurrent jurisdiction within such area with the Cape Provincial Division of the Supreme Court in regard to civil matters and in regard to civil appeals from magistrates courts. The distinction drawn between criminal and civil matters seems anomalous, and in view of the distance between the seat of the Cape Provincial Division of the Supreme Court at Cape Town and the seat of the Eastern Districts Court at Grahamstown, I am of opinion that a strong case exists for enquiry, which will be made by me during the recess.
asked the Minister of Mines and Industries:
- (1) How many blasting accidents were recorded on the Crown Mines for the quarter ending the 30th June;
- (2) how many have been recorded since that date;
- (3) how many persons were killed and injured;
- (4) whether the reports of the enquiries held indicate that these accidents were due to the performance of work by natives without adequate skilled supervision;
- (5) how many visits have been made to-the Crown Mines by mine inspectors since the 1st January, 1924; and
- (6) whether any reports have been made to the Chief Inspector of Mines as to insufficient skilled supervision?
- (1) Seven blasting accidents were recorded for the quarter ended 30th June, 1924.
- (2) Three have been recorded subsequently.
- (3) Nine killed and sixteen injured.
- (4) In seven cases the reports of the enquiries held indicate that the accidents were clue to the performance of work by natives without the presence or definite instruction of skilled supervisors.
- (5) Two hundred and five visits have been made to the Crown Mines by Mine Inspectors since 1st January, 1924.
- (6) No reports other than those in connection with specific accidents have been made to the Chief Inspector of Mines as to insufficient skilled supervision, but the increase of explosives accidents on the Western section of the Mine and their relation to changes in organization and methods have been under discussion by the Chief Inspector and staff.
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether the report is correct that the Government intends placing an order overseas for 2,500 spray pumps out of 5,000 required by the Department, and, if so, whether, in view of the widespread unemployment in South Africa, the Government will reconsider its decision and place the whole of the order with South African manufacturers?
The purchase of 5,000 spray pumps was dealt with according to the Tender Board regulations and in terms thereof an order was placed for 2,500 to be imported. From inquiries made it appears that the imported article is of better quality. The matter will, however, receive further consideration.
asked the Minister of the Interior:
- (1) What is the number of male native adults according to the last census in (a) the Cape Province, (b) the Transvaal, (c) Natal, (d) the Orange Free State; and
- (2) what was the total amount of revenue derived from direct native taxation in such Provinces respectively during the year 1923?
- (1) Male Natives over the age of 14 years Cape, 396,270; Natal, 321,894; Transvaal, 555,747; Orange Free State, 118,768. Total, 1,392,679.
- (2) Revenue derived from direct Native Taxation during the Financial Year_1923-1924: Cape (Hut Tax), £130,318; Natal (Hut Tax), £231,481; Transvaal (Poll Tax), £454,122; Orange Free State (Poll Tax), £82,114. Total, £898,035.
- (3) It is desired to point out that the Census figures are only available in respect of Native Males over the age of 14 years and that the taxes above referred to are not levied until the Native attains the age of 18 years. The Inland Revenue Department is unable to supply the taxation figures in respect of the calendar year 1923.
asked the Minister of Finance:
- (1) Whether he will inform the House what the present quitrent basis in Griqualand West is;
- (2) whether the said basis in Griqualand West differs from similar or corresponding charges in other parts of the Union; and, if so, in what respect;
- (3) whether he is aware that great dissatisfaction exists among occupiers who have to pay a high quitrent, and whether any representations in connection therewith were made to him or his predecessor; and
- (4) whether, in view of the existing circumstances, he will during the recess consider measures for reducing the said quitrent?
- (1) Quitrents in Griqualand West are imposed under (a) the pre-annexation Griqualand West Ordinance No. 3 of 1874; (b) Cape Act No. 14 of 1878; (c) Cape Act No. 15 of 1887.
- (2) (i) The grants under the Cape Acts 14 of 1878 and 15 of 1887 were made under the same terms as grants under those Acts elsewhere in the Cape Colony, (ii) Grants under Ordinance 3 of 1874 were made subject to a lease rent fixed by public auction; this leasehold tenure could be converted into perpetual quitrent tenure by the capitalization of the rentals at 6 per cent. and the payment in perpetuity of a quitrent calculated at £2 per cent. upon the sum representing the capitalization of the rentals. This basis differed from that under which the quitrent grants were made in the Colony proper under Sir John Cradock’s proclamation of 1813, under which the quitrents were fixed at an arbitrary sum (not to exceed 250 rix dollars) having regard to the value of the property granted, (iii) The quitrents and farm taxes in the other Provinces of the Union all vary in their incidence, and differ from those in force in Griqualand West.
- (3) Representations have been made from time to time, and the higher quitrents in Griqualand West have been reviewed and reduced on various occasions.
- (4) The Government will go into this matter during the recess with a view to seeing whether further relief can be granted.
asked the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs how many natives are employed as letter-carriers in the Orange Free State, and in which towns are they employed?
Twenty-four; one at each of the following Post Offices—Bethlehem, Bethlehem Location, Bethulie, Clocolan, Dewetsdorp, Excelsior, Fauresmith, Ficksburg, Fouriesburg, Frankfort, Heilbron, Jagersfontein, Koffiefontein, Lindley, Philippolis, Reitz, Rouxville, Senekal. Thaba ’Nchu, Theunissen. Venters burg, Viljoensdrift, Wepener, Wolvehoek.
asked the Prime Minister:
- (1) Whether the Union Government was consulted by the British Government as to the form or substance of the recently signed Anglo-Russian agreement; and
- (2) whether he has made any representations to the British Government on the matter before or since the signature of the agreement?
- (1) There was no consultation with this Government as to the form of the recently signed Anglo-Russian Agreement. As to the substance I was consulted as to the insertion of the Clause concerning the most-favoured nation-treatment in favour of the Dominions.
- (2) No.
asked the Prime Minister whether the Government has considered the question of a design for a distinctive flag for the Union?
The Government has not yet taken this matter into formal consideration but as the question of a design for a distinctive flag for the Union is one in which the public of the Union is very interested, the Government will consider the matter when the opportune time presents itself.
asked the Minister of Labour:
- (1) Whether his attention has been drawn to the great amount of unemployment among whites, coloured and natives in the Cape Peninsula;
- (2) whether he is aware that they are not only out of work but find it impossible to obtain adequate rations for themselves and their families, and are therefore compelled to go hungry;
- (3) whether the Minister will tell the House what steps he is taking to deal with the above situation;
- (4) whether the Government is prepared to take into consideration the advisability of taking immediate steps to alleviate the situation (a) by doing away with convict labour wherever it comes into competition with free labour, (b) by preventing those out of work from coming to the Cape Peninsula from other parts of the Union until the unemployed here are absorbed, (c) by doing everything possible to enable unemployed to proceed to any part of the Union where their services are required, (d) by impressing upon local authorities the absolute necessity of absorbing the present unemployed on relief work, pending a permanent solution, (e) by impressing upon the Provincial authorities the absolute inadequacy of the present system of rationing through the Board of Aid, (f) by opening up other avenues of employment for those out of work, and (g) by encouraging new industries to be created and giving them adequate protection against dumping and unfair overseas competition?
- (1) Yes.
- (2) I am aware that there is a great deal of distress.
- (3) This is answered in detail in the reply to (4).
- (4) (a) I have made representations to the department concerned to this end, and the subject is receiving consideration. It is, however, not to be assumed that in all such cases the Withdrawal of convicts would mean employment of other labour and not the cessation of work. (b) It is impossible to restrict by any compulsory methods the movement of population from other parts of the Union, (c) Yes, when there is definite evidence that employment is available. Arrangements are now being made for the use of post offices in country districts to link up with town labour exchanges in order to facilitate operations of this character and to supply information as to possibilities of employment. (d) This has been and will continue to be done, (e) This is a matter for the Provincial Administration, and I understand that an Ordinance has been passed to improve the system. (f) This is the definite aim of the Government. (g) This is a matter under the continuous investigation of the Board of Trade and Industries.
asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours:
- (1) Whether it is a fact that on the transportation staff of the South African Railways the clerical section has an advantage over the running section in the matter of annual leave and class of railway passes;
- (2) whether there is any special reason for this; and
- (3) whether the Minister will take steps to place these two sections on an equal footing?
- (1) (a) Temporary clerical staff with less than three years’ service are granted 14 days’ non-accumulative leave per annum, (b) Temporary employees in the running section may obtain 12 days’ non-accumulative leave per annum plus three paid public holidays. (c) Annual leave which may be granted to permanent clerical staff varies according to salary and ranges from 14 to 35 days, some of which is accumulative. (d) Permanent employees in the running section are granted 12 days’ leave per annum which is accumulative up to 36 days. Employees who have completed 20 years’ service are granted an additional 9 days’ leave per annum or 21 days per annum in all, which is accumulative up to three months. In addition to the leave mentioned in this paragraph the employees referred to receive three paid public holidays, (e) The free pass regulations provide for the issue of first-class passes to the clerical staff except where the salary drawn is below a certain limit when second class passes are provided for. (f) Employees in the running section receive second-class passes, but first and special class engine drivers are granted first class passes after twenty years’ service beyond the age of eighteen.
- (2) The principles followed by the Administration in these matters are in accordance with railway practice in other parts of the world. For example, in practically all the Australian states there is a differentiation in both leave and the class of travelling passes granted to different sections of the staff. The conditions of service and privileges applicable to the various grades are those found to be suitable as the result of experience, and it is not practicable to apply the same conditions to every grade.
- (3) The present leave facilities to the running section are liberal and it is not proposed to make any change. Engine drivers with long service already receive favoured treatment in the class of pass issued as compared with other employees and an extension of the issue of first-class passes to employees is not contemplated.
asked the Minister of Public Works:
- (1) Whether the Government has given consideration to the recommendations contained in the Report of the Commission on Structural Alterations and Additions to the House of Assembly portion of the Parliamentary Buildings, laid upon the Table of this House on the 28th January, 1924,
- (2) if so, to what extent it is proposed to give effect to such recommendations, and when will the work be proceeded with; and
- (3) if the answer to No. (1) is in the negative, whether the Government will take the Report into consideration and announce its decision in regard to the recommendations of the Commission before the end of the present session?
(1), (2) and (3). Government has so far not been able to go into the recommendations of the Commission on Structural Alterations and Additions to the House of Assembly portion of the Parliamentary Buildings very fully, and will not, I am afraid, have an opportunity to do so before the close of the present session. The proposals were not overlooked when the loan programme for the current financial year was being framed but it was deemed advisable to give precedence to other services of a more pressing nature. An investigation will be made as soon as possible and the matter will be kept prominently in view when the construction programme for 1925-’26 is in course of preparation.
asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours whether he will give consideration to the question of extending the availability of week-end excursion tickets from Friday afternoon to any train departing on the return journey up to 12 o’clock midnight on the following Monday, and, in cases where a public holiday is on a Monday, up to and including midnight of the following Tuesday?
The week-end excursion facilities now in operation are more liberal than those previously granted. Prior to 1923 weekend tickets were issued only to large towns and adjacent pleasure resorts, whereas the present practice is to issue tickets between any two stations where the train service permits of the journey in both directions being performed between 5 p.m. on Fridays and midnight on Mondays. Certain exceptions have been made in order to meet, as far as practicable, the reasonable requirements of people living in places served by an infrequent train service. These exceptions are: (a) Forward journey may be commenced by last train on Fridays from issuing station to booked destination when such train departs before 5 p.m. (b) Where there is no train on Sundays and the first train on Mondays does not reach the destination station by midnight on the same day, passengers may be allowed to commence the return journey by such train on Mondays, in which case the tickets will be available to complete the return journey by 6 p.m. on Tuesdays. The question of extending the availability of the week-end excursion tickets has been under consideration from time to time, but I regret I am unable to extend the period of availability. With regard to public holidays it is considered the existing week-end excursion facilities and the one-day holiday excursions meet the reasonable requirements of the travelling public. In framing its excursion programme the Administration is guided by past experience, and excursion facilities are only justified if they serve to attract sufficient additional traffic to compensate for the loss of revenue that would otherwise result.
asked the Minister of Labour whether the Government will take into consideration the advisability of getting into touch with the Provincial authorities, with a view to coping with the great distress prevailing among the unemployed in the Cape Peninsula by a subsidy from the Unemployment Vote, and a loan repayable within ten years, as was done in the case of Namaqualand, Van Rhynsdorp and Calvinia?
The Government in dealing with unemployment distress in municipalities deals direct therewith, and on different lines to those on which it deals with distress in the country districts through the Provincial authorities. In the area contiguous to the Peninsula the Government has already approached the Provincial Administration which will consider methods to afford employment, and through the Provincial Administration is also endeavouring to move the Divisional Council concerned.
asked the Minister of Labour:
- (1) Whether, prior to the strike now in progress in the Cape Town building trade, all the provisions of the Industrial Conciliation Act of 1924 were exhausted in an endeavour to effect a settlement of the dispute;
- (2) how many men and how many employers are involved;
- (3) what are the demands made by the men;
- (4) how far are the employers prepared to go to meet such demands;
- (5) what attitude, if any, has the Government taken in the dispute and with what results; and
- (6) what is the position to date?
- (1) Yes.
- (2) From 1,500 to 1,700 men and 81 master builders.
- (3) The original demand of the men was for a flat rate, and an increase from present rates to 3s. 1d. per hour, applying to the six building trades concerned. It is understood that these demands were subsequently modified and that at the present time the men would be prepared to accept an increase of 2d. per hour from the 1st November to painters, No. 2 bricklayers and plasterers, and electricians, and that a paid holiday should be recognized commencing on the 1st January, 1925.
- (4) In the proceedings under the Conciliation Act the employers were not prepared to meet any of the men’s demands. The present position of the employers is understood not to have changed. But at one stage of the negotiations during the operations of the Conciliation Board, and prior to the declaration of the strike, an offer was made on behalf of the master builders to legalize the present rate of wages throughout the district. At a still later date, the master builders were prepared to offer 2d. per hour increase to the No. 2 bricklayers in three months’ time, 2d. per hour increase to painters and electricians in 6 months’ time. They were also prepared to couple this with the application of the terms over the whole area. After the strike was declared, this proposal was withdrawn.
- (5) The Government was responsible for the administrative proceedings taken in terms of the Conciliation Act. After the completion of proceedings under the Act, I interviewed at different times both parties to the strike and had some hopes that a compromise might be arrived at. At a later stage, but prior to the declaration of the strike, I also wrote personally to the Master Builders’ Association urging that steps should be taken to keep in force the conciliation machinery and strive for a mutual settlement. I proposed terms of compromise identical with those stated in my reply to part 3 of this question, which the men are, it is understood, prepared to accept to-day. The reply received, subsequent to the declaration of the strike, expressed regret that the master builders could not accept the compromise suggested.
- (6) The present position is described in the replies to the preceding parts 3. 4 and 5 of this question, but it is understood that the men are quite willing to submit the whole matter to arbitration. In terms of the Conciliation Act this cannot be done without the consent of both parties.
Following on the hon. Minister’s reply to that question it would be interesting to know whether the men were prepared to submit the case to arbitration before the dissolution of the Conciliation Board. I should also like to know what was the attitude of the employers then.
I understand the men were prepared, and offered, to send the matter to arbitration, but as I have already said, under the terms of the Act, both parties must be prepared to arbitrate before such proceedings can take place. I took up this matter soon after we came down here, after the Conciliation Board proceedings had failed, and I understand from my Department that the men were prepared to go to arbitration, but the other side were not.
The Minister has published the correspondence with the employers. Will he now publish the correspondence with the employees?
I had no correspondence with them. I met the masters’ side with the Conciliation Board here in this building, and subsequently I met the representatives of the building trade—that is, the men—I tried to bring them together but that unfortunately failed. We set up the Conciliation Board again, but unfortunately they were not able to come to terms, and as a last attempt I wrote that letter which has been published.
asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours:
- (1) What is the tonnage of cut and bagged bark railed from stations Krantzkop to New Hanover, inclusive, during the last twelve months; and
- (2) what is the tonnaeg of stick bark, railed from these stations to points beyond New Hanover station during the same period?
I shall be glad if the hon. member will allow this question to stand over.
asked the Minister of Finance:
- (1) What was the total expenditure incurred by the Public Service Commission during the financial year 1923-’24, under (a) salaries, (b) travelling expenses, (c) other expenses;
- (2) how many inspectors were employed by the Public Service Commission during the year 1923-’24;
- (3) what were their individual salaries (a) prior to their appointment as inspectors and (b) in 1923;
- (4) how many inspectors have been transferred to other posts since the establishment of the Public Service Commission, and what were their salaries and scales (a) as inspectors, (b) in the new posts;
- (5) whether it is a fact that a commissioner and an inspector were sent all the way to London to reorganize the High Commissioner’s office, and, if so, what was the cost of (a) their salaries during the period of their absence, (b) their travelling expenses and allowances, (c) other expenses, and what saving in staff was effected in the High Commissioner’s office; and
- (6) whether any of these inspectors have been retrenched, and, if so, why?
I should be glad if the hon. member will allow this question to stand over.
asked the Minister of Lands:
- (1) How much the farms “Groot Treurfontein” and “Boomplaats,” in the district of Fauresmith, have cost the Government;
- (2) what annual income the Government has derived from these farms; and
- (3) (a) whether the Government intends to retain them, if so (b) when tenders will be asked for the hire of them; and, if not (c) when and in what way the Government proposes to dispose of them?
- (1) The cost to the Government of the two farms “Groot Treurfontein” and “Boomplaats” was £19,809 11s. 1d. Associated with these farms are the farms “Klein Treurfontein” and “Fairmount,” the cost of which was £3,906 15s. 9d.
- (2) The annual income which is being derived from the farms “Groot Treurfontein” and “Boomplaats” is £605, and from the farms “Klein Treurfontein” and “Fairmount” £225.
- (3) The question of the future disposal of these farms is at present under consideration.
Standing over from 12th August—
Standing over from 12th August—
asked the Minister of Justice whether, with the view to relieving unemployment and giving full effect to the spirit of the Transvaal Liquor Licensing Ordinance, 1902, he will introduce, during the present session, legislation to amend the said Ordinance by providing that no coloured person shall be employed on premises in the Transvaal where liquor is manufactured or sold?
The proposed amendment will be a far-reaching one. It will inter alia prevent the use of any but European labour in the manufacture of spirits and beer, and prevent the employment of coloured persons in the dining rooms as waiters and in the kitchens as cooks in all the hotels in the Transvaal, including the small country hotels. It seems to me that its effect will have to be very carefully considered. I do not see my way clear to introducing the amending legislation now, but I will consider it during the recess.
Standing over from 12th August—
asked the Minister of Public Health:
- (1) Whether he is aware (a) that in the interests of the public health and for the general welfare of the country, further medical research into human diseases, and more especially plague, malaria, tuberculosis and typhus, is urgently necessary; (b) that at present, apart from profits made by the Routine Division of the South African Institute for Medical Research, and the interest on certain donations and bequests made by private persons to that Institute, the only funds available for such research are £5,000 per annum contributed by the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association and £5,000 per annum contributed by the Government; (c) that the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association has offered to increase its annual contribution by £2,500 conditional on the Government doing likewise; and
- (2) whether the Minister will accept this offer and take steps to arrange for the requisite additional funds to be available during the present financial year?
- (1) (a), (b) and (c). Yes.
- (2) The Government will accept the offer of the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association. Additional funds, up to £2,500 per annum for a period of three years, will be provided for medical research purposes and primarily for researches and investigations in connection with plague.
Standing over from 12th August—
asked the Minister of Agriculture: Whether he is aware that the locust inspector of Middelburg, Transvaal, appointed Mr. (Rooi) Piet Bezuidenhout to destroy locusts, promising him a reward of £1 per day, and that, though Mr. Bezuidenhout destroyed eighty swarms, he has not received any reward.
Inquiries made show that no such appointment was made, nor has the locust officer power to do so. No claim for remuneration was submitted by Mr. Bezuidenhout and no report of work done was furnished by him; nor was a promise of £1 per day made to him.
Brig.-Gen. BYRON seconded.
I move, as an unopposed motion, and pursuant to notice—
Col.-Cdt. COLLINS seconded.
- (1) The setting apart of distinct and separate urban areas in the Natal and Transvaal Provinces for the exclusive occupation of Asiatics for trading or residential purposes and the prohibition of the residence or trading of Asiatics in any other portion of an urban area;
- (2) The exercise of the right by landowners in any magisterial district of the Natal Province to determine, after a public meeting called by the magistrate at which two-thirds of landowners shall have voted in support of a resolution opposing land tenure by Asiatics in such district, that all land titles registered in favour of Europeans in such district shall from henceforth bear an endorsement prohibiting any Asiatic from acquiring or leasing any of the land so registered in such district at any future date;
- (3) the prohibition under severe penalty of the employment of European women by Asiatics;
- (4) the prohibition under severe penalty of the employment by Europeans of Asiatics in positions in which European men or women are employed under the orders of Asiatics; and
- (5) the enabling of the Natal and Transvaal Provincial Councils to pass legislation that no further trading licences shall be issued to Asiatics, excepting for an Asiatic trading area, and that no transfer of existing trading licences shall be permitted from one Asiatic to another or from a European to an Asiatic, excepting in prescribed Asiatic trading areas, that no Asiatic shall be allowed to trade under the name or style or firm of a European, and that the trading licence of any Asiatic who becomes insolvent or compounds with his creditors shall be cancelled.
In proposing the motion standing in my name, I shall be as brief as the importance of the subject will permit. The influence of the Asiatic upon the Union—indeed, upon the future—has so much significance for us all that the motion before the House to-day is bound to arrest the attention of every thoughtful mind, not only in this House, but throughout South and East Africa. I wish to treat this motion as one of a non-party character, and I therefore claim for it, irrespective of party beliefs, the earnest consideration, support, and finally adoption at the hands of this House. An intellectual minority in India has raised a demand for equal citizenship on behalf of their Indian follow subjects domiciled in the Dominions. This demand, resisted at the Imperial Conference in England by the Rt. Hon. Leader of the Opposition (Gen. Smuts) with an eloquence and spirit which faithfully interpreted and reflected the minds of his fellow South Africans, calls us to consider the question of the Asiatic in our midst with a degree of concern and foresight which we have not bestowed upon it hitherto. It is not difficult to expose the hollowness of the claim on the part of the Indian to equal citizenship. In India itself there is not only no equality of social or political status, but there are inequalities of caste of a cruel kind. The 250 millions of Indians wholly under British rule in India are divided into 2,000 main castes; and 50 millions of these people are classed as untouchables, whose mere shadow or touch is regarded as pollution by their higher class brethren. These untouchables are by the majority of the elected Indian members of their Assembly denied the right of access to public tanks and reservoirs built out of public funds. I would remind the House that the Indians who largely compose the population of Natal were drawn from the same depressed classes in India. Not only are the Indians of the depressed classes denied equal citizenship in India, but the Europeans do not enjoy full rights there either. Mr. Mackenzie King, the Premier of Canada, made a good point at the Imperial Conference when he said: “I could go to India and say with truth that every citizen coming from the State over which the Maharajah of Alwa rules has rights in my Province which I have not in his.” This subject is receiving wide discussion throughout South Africa and other lands. In the June number of the “Fortnightly Review” there is an article by a well-known writer on India—Brig. Gen. Stone, C.M.G., who, dealing with the “impassioned cry of Indians for equal citizenship.” has something to say which will he found to apply to our circumstances in Africa. He says: “The doctrine of equal citizenship is to be applied ruthlessly outside India, at the expense of the white men who have founded colonies and made homes in the wilderness and won barbarous continents for civilization for the benefit of the parasitic Indian immigrants who though incapable of carving out an overseas settlement themselves, readily attach themselves to any community of white settlers, and if unrestricted in numbers, and admitted to equal citizenship, may ultimately reach a position of actual ascendancy in the administration.” This position of “actual ascendancy” was outlined by the Rt. hon. leader of the Opposition at the Imperial Conference in October, 1923, when he said: “You have in this Province of Natal a majority of Indians, and a minority of British settlers. The actual figures are Asiatics, 141,000; Europeans, 136,000. Whatever the mistakes of the past may have been, the grand-children of to-day do not plead guilty to the errors of their ancestors and they want to right the situation and safeguard the future for themselves and their children. … You have a majority of blacks in the Union, and if there were to be equal manhood suffrage over the Union the whites would be swamped by the blacks. You cannot make a distinction between Indians and Africans. You would be compelled by the inevitable force of logic to go the whole hog, and not only would the whites be swamped in Natal by the Indians, but the whites would be swamped all over South Africa by the blacks. So far as South Africa is concerned it is a question of impossibility for South Africa, for white South Africa it is a question not of dignity, but of existence.” There is one further point. In India the franchise is granted on the communal basis, and no protest has been made by the politically-minded people of India against this arrangement, under which the depressed classes are disfranchised. In the north, in Kenya, the Indians demand the franchise based on the common electoral roll under which their preponderance in numbers would have due effect against the minority of Europeans in that territory. I have shown that the demands from India for equal citizenship are made without regard to the inequalities or the social structure in India and with a view to their political ascendancy in the portions of Africa in which Western civilization has, by the efforts of the white people, been maintained. That brings us to the consideration of the position of Western civilization in South Africa and those of us who are anxious that the position should be clearly defined as between the Indians and ourselves do not wish to use the Indian as an argument for purgatory. We acknowledge his civilization to be an old and respected one, but it differs essentially from the civilization which we are here to maintain. The two civilizations represent two distinct and mutually inimical forces, and their being brought together can lead only to hybridization of both. By this motion I desire to bring to notice the undesirable penetration of the Asiatics into the white community, and I hope to show that if this is allowed to take its course the maintenance of white civilization in Africa is bound to be brought to an end as far as the Union is concerned. At the time of Union it was recognized that the position of the Asiatic was one which merited differential treatment. I think we are within our rights under section 147 of the Act of Union in legislating on a differential basis for this section of the public. The motion which stands in my name deals with several subjects. One first section deals with segregation in urban areas. The object of this section is to revive the request which has been made in this House since 1920 for some definite form of segregation in urban areas which would result in the separation of Indians from the Europeans in the interests of both, and I need not expand on the need for this particular provision. It is of some interest to mention that the demand for segregation in Kenya was based upon a report by Prof. Sir Wm. Simpson who strongly re commended that there should be commercial and residential segregation in the towns for reasons of sanitation and social convenience. We desire nothing better than that. We have lived for years in the presence of these people and there is ample testimony to be had of the undesirable effects of the residence in juxtaposition of the two races. The second section of the motion sets out to deal with a rather different problem, and one which has not hitherto been considered in this House. That is, that some measure of protection against the invasion of the Asiatics in the rural areas should be provided. It is fortunate for the time being that Asiatics have not obtained a very strong foothold in the rural areas, and section 2 of the motion aims at giving the residents of every rural area the right to decide upon the composition of the population of that area. This is on the lines of a resolution which was passed by the Imperial Conference of 1919. That resolution stated: “It is an important function of the Government of the several communities of the British Commonwealth, including India, that each should enjoy complete control over the composition of its own population by means of the restriction of immigrants from other communities.” This second part of my motion aims at giving effect to this principle of the Imperial Conference in a narrower territorial area. We have not hitherto had exclusion of the Asiatic in a rural area and we wish to enforce the application of that principle to the rural areas of Natal and the Transvaal. That this subject is becoming a serious one is not open to argument. I have before me a report from the Ventersdorp district in the Transvaal in which the methods of the Asiatic trader in securing possession of the land in rural areas are referred to. That report says: “The Asiatic was careful to get a lease for a certain number of years and when once established was a difficult customer to move. The Indian was only too eager to give the farmer as much credit as he wanted. The result was that farms became heavily bonded, and when the farmer was called upon to pay and could not meet his bills, the Indian became the owner of the ground. This caused a great influx of Indians and stores increased all over the country. When Indians were debarred by law from buying fixed property, white men—so-called agents—came forward and offered their services as intermediaries, with the result that, in most cases, the best business sites are held by Asiatics to-day. Now the same story is told in regard to many of the rural areas of the Transvaal, and the Asiatic has almost completely gained control of trading in the country districts. It is authoritatively stated that nine-tenths of the country and roadside stores in the Western Transvaal are owned or controlled by Asiatics. In Potchefstroom there are 700 Asiatics; the main street is in their hands, and almost every place of business is owned by Asiatics. I have a telegram from the Mayor of Potchefstroom dated 11th August, in which he says: ‘The Transvaal municipal bodies respectfully beg to call the Prime Minister’s attention to the menace and serious question of Asiatics residing and trading in white areas to the detriment of the white people which is conducive to white unemployment,’ and it is asked that some steps should be taken to deal with the matter!” The same story holds good with respect to the Western Transvaal,, and there is an almost similar state of affairs existing in the Eastern Transvaal. In the district of Lydenburg there has been a great deal of attention drawn to this question recently, with the result that boycott has been brought into force by the Europeans against the Asiatic. Now, it has been argued that the system of urban segregation will result in the worst possible areas of the town being set apart for the Indians. I would like to refer to the position in Durban, where the municipality, with a view to establishing an Indian village, agreed to purchase, subject to the Administrator’s approval, for the purpose of an Indian village, 281 acres of land in a well-known locality called Cato Manor, situated within the jurisdiction of Mayville, which land is valued at £52 10s. per acre. That site is one of the best residential sites within five miles of Durban, and certainly if the Indians were to be established there, there could be no suggestion that anything but the fullest consideration dictated the choice of this particular suburb, I think it is fair to hold that in a question of this sort there would be no desire on the part of the local authority to deal unfairly with the Indians, and although the motion which I have put before this hon. House is susceptible of the interpretation that it would entail hardship, I submit that it is put forward as the minimum of the needs of the Natal Province, and, that the interpretation of this motion and its carrying into effect would be conditioned by reasonableness, and consideration for the people affected. The motion provides for the prohibition of and severe penalties for the employment of European women by Asiatics, and I think it is undoubted that this employment of European women by Asiatics does exist. Mrs. Naidu, on her recent visit, admitted that fact in an interview in Cape Town, and excused it on the ground that a certain number of Indians deal in silks and wear of that sort, and employ European women to attend to their European customers. The concluding portion of the resolution is based upon the address which was presented to this hon. House in the early part of this session, from the Natal Provincial Council. This address asks that there shall be a limitation of the trading licences of Asiatics and that request is based upon a sufficiency of existing licences amongst Asiatics for many years to come; in fact, for all time. It has been shown by the Potchefstroom Chamber of Commerce that the figures on this question embodied in the report of the Asiatic Enquiry Commission of 1920 were misleading, because in making the comparison in Potchefstroom that there were only 45 Indian traders and 135 European traders, there were included among the European traders all firms coming under the following categories: Board of Executors, beer halls, photographers, auctioneers, financial agents, newspaper proprietors, produce merchants, and so on. This it will be admitted, does not give a fair comparison with the Indian trader, who confines himself to the retail store. To give a fair comparison, it is argued, businesses of the same kind only should have been included in these figures. The Chamber of Commerce at Potchefstroom states that sufficient licences have already been issued to Asiatic limited liability companies to effectually stifle competition for years to come, and these licences can always be transferred. Many Asiatics, in expectation of legislation which may be passed, are already in possession of two and three licences, but carry on business at only one address. The object of this motion is to press for more stringent legislation on this question and to indicate to the Asiatics that the process by which they are encroaching on land ownership and in ousting the European trader has got to be brought to an end. We find that in Durban Asiatics own no less than £1,098,000 worth of property out of a valuation roll of £17,000,000. In the Transvaal, although nominally they are debarred from owning property, it was discovered before the Select Committee of this hon. House in 1918 that over £1,000,000 worth of property was registered in the name of Mr. Ritch on behalf of Indians in the Transvaal, and Mr. Ritch stated (a matter of some interest in this debate): “I may say I have registered most of the property through my office, and, for a considerable time before a single property was registered, I held as trustee property to the value of £1,000,000. The scheme devised was this: a European would buy a property and register it in his name, but would pass a bond to such and such an Indian, and would in addition give the Indian an irrevocable power of attorney. … It was an evasion of the law, but not illegal.” Mr. Ritch has since been declared insolvent, with inconvenient consequences to his clients. There is no doubt that land holding of Indians exists to a very much greater extent than some of us suspect. The Indian trader in the Transvaal is largely on the increase. At the present moment no fewer than 5,118 Indians in the Transvaal are engaged in commerce and finance, out of a total of 15,000. In Natal a somewhat, similar number is engaged in trading, but I do not suggest for a single moment that the solution of the trading difficulty would be the solution of the acute trouble which the presence of Asiatics means to us in Natal, because the longer the present position exists, under which the Asiatic can go and acquire land without let or hindrance, the worse it will be for the Europeans. The European in the rural areas will not submit to the Asiatic becoming his neighbour, and the result is that when the Asiatic does buy an adjoining farm that he sells his property at a sacrifice and abandons the position to the Asiatic, and others come along to join their fellows. This matter of encroachment is going on along the railway line in Natal and is particularly noticeable on the deviation between Durban and Cato Ridge. In the uplands of Natal some of the best land has been acquired by Indians, and if we wish to retain the white man on the land and to retain our civilization in this country we have got to give this matter serious consideration, because if we are to give way to the inroads of the Asiatics, we shall quickly arrive at a stage where the Asiatic will demand equal citizenship with the European, on the ground that he is a possessor of land, and that will be a most difficult argument to resist. Although the motion put forward deals chiefly with land ownership, I am fully aware of the fact that the effort of the Asiatic as a competitor is in every other way an attack on the economic stability of the white man in Natal, and his competition in regard to industries is so acute that it has justly been recognised as being responsible for the large amount of unemployment that exists in that province. But it seems to me that it is far better for us that we should deal first with the question in this motion, that seeks to define the relationship between Europeans and Asiatics in the towns, and provides a way of determining as far as may be possible j in the towns the areas that may be occupied by Asiatics, and in regard to the country aims at preventing what has not happened yet to any large extent—the encroachment of the Indian on the farm lands of the province. In that way we should deal with an evil that threatens to undermine the position of the white man very gravely. The position with regard to economic competition in industries is one of a more involved character, and one which should wait on further investigation. The Asiatic Enquiry Commission of 1920 came to the following conclusion: “As regards ownership of land a very strong feeling undoubtedly prevails that some restriction should be placed on rights of Asiatics in Natal in future. Some of the farmers who gave evidence are descendants of the British Settlers of 1820. and they foresee the possibility of their land passing on to Asiatics., There seems to be a wide-spread fear, and If the Asiatics once get a footing in the farming districts, land will depreciate in value and Europeans will sell out.” It has been urged that as Natal introduced these people she has only herself to blame, but, when the first shipload of these people arrived in November, 1860, Natal was then a Crown Colony and its people had no voice regarding the admission of Asiatic». However, at an election a few months before the arrival of the first Indians those candidates who stood in favour of the admission of Indians were defeated, and in that way the feeling of the Natal people at that period found expression against Indian immigration. In 1884, Mr. Arbuckle moved a resolution in the House of Assembly calling upon the House to appoint a commission to enquire into the whole trouble. The commission was not in favour of the curtailment of Asiatic immigration. Twenty-five years ago the Rt. Hon. Harry Escombe said that the Indians were appreciated in Natal as labourers, but they were not welcomed as settlers or competitors, and he warned the people against making Natal a paradise for Indians. We have realized that Natal, so far from being a paradise for the whole of its population, is fast becoming the antithesis of that happy place in so far as Europeans are concerned. In the early part of the session I asked a series of questions on this matter. The Government replied that it would not proceed with the Asiatic Areas Bill, and with regard to the segregation and repatriation of Indians a non-committal reply was given that the matter would be considered after the present session. I should like the Government to come down from the attitude of chilling disdain which they have occupied up to the present, and declare what policy they intend to carry out in regard to this very vexed question.
In seconding the motion I should like to say that we have had solemnly behind us the people of Natal. The Asiatics have a strangle hold on that province. The last census showed that the Indian birth rate was 55 per 1,000 as compared with 22 per 1,000 for the Europeans. Hon. members must appreciate what a terrible condition the province must come to if the question is not tackled. The intelligence of the Indian is equal to that of the European, and with free education the Indians are learning trades and professions, and they are ousting the Europeans in every direction; in fact they are the cause of the bulk of unemployment now prevailing in Natal. Three years ago there were 275 European tailors in constant employment in Durban; to-day there are not 50. I can cite dozens of other trades where the same result has followed. The Indian is not debarred in any way from learning a trade, unlike our own sons who are handicapped from doing so by the Apprenticeship Act. We can have no solution of the unemployment question unless the root cause is exterminated. Hon. members must not treat this question lightly, for Natal’s plight to-day will be South Africa’s to-morrow, unless legislation is brought forward on the lines of the motion. It is only a question of time when the whole of the commercial life of Natal will be in the hands of Indians. Indian traders employ their own people, but no cash is paid them and no interest is charged. Their staple diet is imported, and when an assistant accumulates sufficient credit on the books of his firm he starts business on his own account, and there is no community which so rigidly follows the motto that co-operation is better than competition for making profit. I do not agree with the mover that the Indian has not invaded the rural areas. They have done so, and wherever an Indian starts business it has a very demoralising effect on the natives in that district.
I was speaking of farms.
The Indian traders incite the natives to commit petty thefts, the proceeds of which are sold to the Indian. The Indian has begun to purchase land in the rural areas, and we look upon that with great apprehension. To-day there are many ominous rumblings in. Natal, and can hon. members wonder under the circumstances There are just as good South Africans in Natal as in any other part of the Union, and we are not going calmly to look on and see the birthright of our children taken from them. Compulsory segregation would go a long way to accelerate voluntary repatriation. It is a far-reaching’ question and hon. members, must take the matter very seriously. We have to look to the writing on the wall and we should put our house in order while there is yet time.
The hon. member who seconded the motion (Mr. Deane) said the people of Natal were solidly behind him. The people are not behind him—they are a very long way ahead of him and want a great deal more done than is contained in the motion. It is only when the Asiatic competition is beginning to touch the commercial classes, beginning to touch the business people of Natal, it is only now that they are coming to the assistance of the workers. Some of the hon. member’s figures, are new to me. One of them staggered me. He quoted that there are some five thousand traders in Natal, five thousand out of one-hundred and fifty thousand Indians. That shows the size and the proportion of the matter as it affects the European traders and the workers. I remember reading debates in this House whenever this matter was brought up, and I particularly remember reading the report of the hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (North) (Mr. Strachan) last session when he said “the only chance to have the Asiatic question dealt with by the Parliament of this country was when the Nationalist Government came into power.” I believe that is correct, Sir. I believe the hon. member for Illovo is trying to get the new Government to do something which he could not get his old Government to do. In 1920 the hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick), who was not then a member of the South African Party, but was a Unionist fighting a member of the S.A.P. for a seat in this House, then said what he thought about the South African Party. On the Asiatic question he said “the South African Party claims to be the party that solved the Asiatic question. It would be laughable if it were not so tragic.” He added, “How could that party tackle that question when they had the sugar magnates as their supporters?” I ask the hon. member if he is still of the same opinion. The Class Areas Bill was mentioned by the opposite side of the House. It did not deal with the vital question. I happened to be a member of the Durban Corporation when it was introduced. Durban is the town most vitally interested in this question, because the problem is bigger there than in any other town in Natal or in South Africa. The corporation appointed a committee to discuss and review the Class Areas Bill, which had been brought up by the Government, and their report was presented to the Council. It was a valuable document in which there were valuable suggestions to be conveyed to this House. The Durban Town Council recognized what I have said, that the Class Areas Bill merely dealt with residential and trading segregation, and merely touched on the fringe of the whole economic problem. The Durban Town Council is not a labour body. It is composed of all parties and they drafted a strong resolution to bring before the notice of this House. The fact is that the only way to solve the economic problem of the Indian in Durban is to bring in a Minimum Wages Bill. I agree that there must be residential and trading segregation. The Labour party agrees to that too. I represented a constituency in the Durban Town Council which has a big Indian vote, and I know the Indians and the conditions under which they live. I personally know of a row of twenty-five houses in one street, and in these houses no less than 674 Indians are living. There is not a single house where you cannot put your hand through the roof, while the sanitary conditions are simply indescribable. That is one of the reasons that the Durban Town Council set out to find a site for an Asiatic village. A site was obtained, but I would like to point out that the site is not an ideal one for Indians who live in Durban. It is four miles from the centre of the town, there is no means of transport, and the Indians who live and work in Durban most strenuously object to being dumped down four miles from their work. I do not blame them, neither do I blame the white people who live there and who object to having 15 or 20 thousand Indians placed in their midst. I know the conditions regarding the penetration of Asiatics into residential centres. You can take the case of Gale Street in Durban, which at one time used to be a purely European street. Now there is not a single European there. I know of one case where a house was divided into three; on one side you had an Indian family; in the middle there was a European family, and the last portion of the house was occupied by Chinese. Children brought up under these conditions are inevitably handicapped in the fight for life. We must not allow Indian penetration into European areas. It is going on day by day—I asked for a return last year, showing the number of properties purchased by Asiatics in purely European areas, and I found that there were no less than twenty-seven of them purchased during the year 1923. Something must be done to put that matter right. When we come to the question of penetration into skilled trades, we come to a matter which to my mind is much more important than penetration into residential districts and trading—after all if the white merchants in Natal and the Transvaal did not give better facilities to the Indians than they give to their own people, the trading problem would not be so bad as it is to-day. The hon. member for Umvoti (Mr. Deane) has told us of the penetration into the tailoring trade, which in the old days was a purely white trade. In the furniture business, only 3 per cent. of those employed are white men. I can take you to factories in Durban which are completely manned by Asiatics. They are employed for the simple and sole reason that they are cheaper than white labour. On the other hand, I know one factory which employs only white labour, but they find it hard work to compete with the Indians. They cannot afford to pay white rates of wages when the Indian works much cheaper. It is the same in the printing trade. You have Indians competing against their white competitors, and I know of a case of one firm where the only white man employed was the foreman—the others were all Indians. These firms compete for contracts against white people, and occasionally they get these contracts. I had a case of a firm in Durban competing for Durban Corporation contracts; there is a fair wage clause in these contracts and it is stipulated that a standard rate of wages must be paid. A Committee of Investigation went to this firm and found low paid Indians there doing white men’s work, and instead of getting £3 or £4 a week, they were getting 10/-. I assure you that we cut that firm off the books of the Durban Corporation pretty smartly. It is high time that something was done to prevent low paid Indians competing with the decently paid white men. If this is not done the only alternative is to bring down the standard of the white man to the standard of the low paid Indian, for if you do not raise one standard, you must bring the other standard down. The restriction of licences will not solve the problem. People who have their licences taken away simply go into the labour market, which is already overcrowded. We have a Licensing Officer in Durban who makes it his business to see that no licences are granted to Indians outside a certain area. But that is only in connection with one man, and if he dies no one knows what will happen. I do not think, for my own part, that there is any objection to Asiatics, as Asiatics, but I do object to, and the members of the Labour party object to, and working classes object to the Asiatic as an unfair competitor. The only solution to my mind is a minimum wage, and so far as it can be done, repatriation from this country. I know the Natal Indian Congress is prepared to accept a minimum wage, and if sufficient financial provision is made to Indians leaving this country in bigger numbers than they are at present. The Colonial-born Indian is a difficult problem. I know of a case of a Liverpool man asking an Indian why he did not return to his own country. The Indian asked him: “Where do you come from?” and the European replied; “from Liverpool,” to which the Indian retorted, “Why don’t you go back to your own country; I was born in Durban.” I want to move, as an amendment—
We feel that the Provincial Council of the Transvaal or Natal which has to deal with this problem will be much more likely to deal safely and rapidly with the Asiatic question than the Union Parliament.
I second the amendment. I prefer the amendment submitted by the hon. member for Umbilo (Mr. Reyburn) to the motion moved by the hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick). I do not intend to weary the House by repeating all the points that have been brought forward year after year in this House in order to induce the S.A.P. Government to introduce legislation to deal with this matter. The Natal members have tried for the last five years to impress upon the Government of the day the seriousness of the Asiatic problem. In the early months of 1923, the Prime Minister of the time promised that his Government would introduce legislation to solve the Asiatic question. As hon. members know, the Class Areas Bill was the result of that promise It is known to-day that the Class Areas Bill, which at least provided for social and commercial segregation, was by no means acceptable to the people of Natal. I would like to tell the Minister of the Interior that whatever support the National Party got in Natal was given on the understanding that they and they alone would move in the direction desired. What could go further than the report presented to this House in 1921 by the Asiatic Commission as an indictment against the Asiatics in this country? I would like to read a few para graphs from it. It said among the principal objections raised by witnesses against Asiatic traders were the following: (1) They sent their money out of the country instead of spending it where they earned it. Now the ordinary European artisan earns his money in the country and spends it in the country. Then it says: (2) The Indians are a source of danger to the public health owing to their unclean habits. Any member coming from Natal will bear out that that is correct. The Indians require all sorts of supervision to make them conform to the ordinary regulations regarding public health. Then it say: (3) They depreciate the value of property in their neighbourhood as well as that they occupy; (4) their standard of living is inferior to that of the Europeans; (5) they use inferior buildings as shop premises and pay less rent for them than the Europeans, and the owner of the business and his shop assistants usually reside on the premises. That is very true. I have said before in this House that when an Indian trader closes his store for the night he does it from the inside. The unfair competition with the European who has his shop in one part of the town and his house in another will be appreciated by every member of this House. Then it goes on to say: (6) That Indians are more frequently guilty of fraudulent insolvencies than Europeans; (7) they pay lower wages to their assistants than Europeans. Although a minimum wage might help, the wily Indian will get over that. They take their assistants into partnership and pay their partners what they liked. On the other hand Indians in the employment of Indian traders would sign a note to the effect that they were getting so much while in reality they would be getting considerably less. Then it goes on to say that they break the law regulating trading and they succeed in under-selling European traders. It is not necessary for me to read the many matters brought out in connection with Indian trading. The information is given very fully in the Asiatic Commission’s report. But there is one pregnant paragraph in the report which says: “Many of the witnesses stated that they had no objection to the presence of Indians, so long as they remained labourers and did not embark upon commercial and other pursuits.” Here we have the whole crux of the matter. It was only when the Indians became sufficiently educated to enter into competition with our commercial friends that any agitation was got up whatever. I remember attending a meeting at Maritzburg on this matter and the various speakers rose to great heights of eloquence until two artisans, who came from Durban, moved that the resolutions which were being passed in connection with Asiatic trading should be extended to include Asiatic labourers. Then the whole atmosphere of the congress changed in the twinkling of an eye.
When was that?
That was in 1921. The hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick) was there and the hon. member for Maritzburg (South) (Mr. O’Brien) was present. We were deputed to take the resolutions and present them to the then Prime Minister, which we did. The then member for Umbilo and the present member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick) with me bearded the ex-Prime Minister in his den and laid these resolutions before him. I remember he put great stress upon the Imperial complications of the Asiatic question. They were such, he said, that it was very very difficult indeed to initiate legislation. That is so, but things have reached such a pitch in Natal now that many people are saying we shall have to choose between Great Britain and Natal in this matter. Many of the greatest imperialists in Natal are of the opinion that the question in so far as it affects the Empire must be put on one side.
What are they going to do with the rebels?
What about the Apprenticeship Act?
I cannot understand the attitude of the hon. member for Umvoti I am sure he could not have read the Apprenticeship Act at all, because there is nothing in that Act which is retarding the youth of this country from being fitted as proper tradesmen and obtaining situations.
Is there no quota?
There is no quota mentioned in the Act, and if the hon. member will read the Act he will see that the apportionment of apprentices to journeymen is regulated by the Apprenticeship Board. The Apprenticeship Act has nothing to do with the Asiatic question. I do hope the hon. member will not persist in associating the Apprenticeship Act with the matter; and this Act by the way was passed when the party which the hon. member is at present supporting was in office. It was the South African Party Government which was responsible for introducing and passing the Apprenticeship Act, and the hon. member should suspend his opposition until he learns what that Act contains. I desire to support the amendment of the hon. member for Umbilo (Mr. Reyburn), and I hope that the new Government, as far as Asiaitcs are concerned, will “deliver the goods.”
I think it well to say a few words at this stage. I want to say at once that I and my colleagues for more than one reason welcome the discussion on this important and complicated subject. It shows the general feeling existing in the country with regard to the Asiatic problem, a feeling which cannot be ignored by this or any other Government. In a discussion like this much light is thrown on the difficulties confronting us. The more light that is thrown on the problem the better chance is there of finding a way to its solution. With regard to the attitude of the Government to this motion, I may say, also with a view to the reply by the Government to questions put by hon. members, that there is only one possible standpoint and that is, that in the main we accept it. But I want to state clearly at the same time that the Government does not intend to commit itself to the acceptance of one or any point contained in the motion. The Government only accepts it on the definite understanding that it will have a free hand in investigating the problem during the recess, with a view to introducing legislation at a later stage. I feel that the whole Asiatic question is assuming a more acute form every day, and that we cannot ignore it any longer. A few weeks ago an address from the Natal Provincial Council was presented in this House requesting a solution of the question on the same lines as asked for in the motion of the hon. member. I am informed that the address was carried unanimously by the Provincial Council. The same Council adopted the Boroughs Ordinance concerning the franchise of Asiatics within municipalities. However, the Government has had no opportunity yet of looking fully into the different aspects of the question. That will take time, and therefore the Government has decided to reserve the Ordinance in order to be able to study the question more thoroughly. The Government will have to state its policy on this difficult question and to prepare legislation. The hon. member for Durban (Umbilo) (Mr. Reyburn) has moved an amendment to the motion of the hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick), but although I can accept the general principle of the motion. I cannot, with the exception of the last part thereof, accept the amendment. The amendment proposes that Provincial Councils be given the power to deal with the Asiatic question as they think fit. If that were acceded to, the Government would have to abdicate its duty of introducing legislation and delegate its powers to a minor body in the country. That would be an unsound policy, as the Asiatic question is a national problem and should be dealt with by the Union Government. Legislation regarding Asiatic affects our international relations. When we introduce such legislation, we may expect representations from the British Government and from the Government of India, consequently it is not a matter that can be left to minor bodies such as Provincial Councils. The hon. member for Durban (Umbilo) (Mr. Reyburn), in another part of his amendment, asks for legislation to fix minimum wages for Asiatics. I think anything of that nature would be useless, as such a principle as that has not even been properly laid down in other trades, and it is a principle concerning which the Government and Parliament have not yet come to a decision The Asiatic Commission has investigated this aspect of the question, and came to the same conclusion as the hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (North) (Mr. Strachan), namely, that it is most probable that the Asiatic will find means of evading the law. For instance, he will not engage labourers for his business, but will take then on as partners and make agreements with them, by which he would pay them low wages and the rest of the wages in raiment and food. There will be many other ways by which he might evade the law, and consequently such a law will be useless. I wish to say that the Government will stand by the general principle that we will not allow our own people to be squeezed out by an Asiatic element which cannot be absorbed by the population of the Union and which will be an economic menace to white civilization in South Africa. This is not the only country threatened in this way. There is not a single country where the economic pressure of the Asiatics is not felt and where there is not legislation to keep them out. Let us only look at the sister Dominions. What are Canada, Australia, and New Zealand doing? All of them have legislation for keeping out the Asiatic. And they have been successful, even in Australia and New Zealand, which are much nearer to India than we are. According to the census of 1921 there were only 1,200 Asiatics in Canada, about 3,000 in Australia and not even 600 in New Zealand. In South Africa, on the other hand, with its complicated native problems, which make it so hard for us to protect and maintain a white civilization, we have no less than 161,000 Asiatics. I want to remind hon. members that this difficult question about which so much has been said is a problem of our own creation. In this regard I have in mind especially Natal, which has been importing Asiatics for 60 years. Later on Asiatics came of their own accord, a direct consequence of the importation. I welcome the activity of Natal members in this connection because that gives me hope that we shall come to a satisfactory solution. When, however, I see the indignation of hon. members, it reminds me of two friends who one day, when walking in the street, saw a Scotchman with an exceptionally long pair of trousers. One of them asked the Scotchman why he was wearing such long trousers, and he replied that the newly converted was always the greatest enthusiast. As far as the Asiatic question is concerned, Natal is now wearing a pair of very long trousers indeed; though for sixty years they were uncommonly short. There is truth in what the hon. member for Illovo said, namely, that the population of Natal itself are not the chief sinners. Natal has been dominated in the past by two factors, namely, Imperialism, as a result of which it remained a Crown colony for too long a time, and was governed from overseas, local opinion being ignored. There is, however, not very much excuse for the people of Natal in that respect, because if they had started earlier to identify themselves with the national life of South Africa, they would have had responsible government sooner. Another factor was that Natal was dominated for a long time by capitalist interests, especially by sugar interests. Natal has now to pay a big price for that, and unfortunately the whole of South Africa has to help to pay. It ought to be a serious warning to Natal and to the whole of South Africa not easily to agree to the plans of people oversea who are furthering their own interests. The Asiatic question has now developed to such a stage that it is impossible for us to deal with it in every respect efficiently, and we can only attempt a solution of certain of its aspects. According to the latest census returns, there are 161,000 Asiatics in South Africa, 102,000 of these having been born here, some of them being in the fourth generation. No less than 63 per cent, of the Asiatics were born here, and international laws prohibit us from deporting them. All these things must be considered when we attempt a solution. Although, on the one hand, we should not be too optimistic with regard to such a solution, there is, on the other, no reason for an undue fear that, as things are at present in South Africa, we shall be over-whelmed by them. That danger may exist in a few small centres, but it is not general. The importation of Asiatics is now stopped. There was a time when they came into the country on the sly via Delagoa Bay, whence they travelled by train to the border of the Union, and then went to Natal through Swaziland. There were also persons who issued false certificates and sold them to Asiatics, who came into the country in that way. The Government there upon offered a reward to people giving information regarding the issuing of false certificates, and the result was to stop the illegal immigration. The increase of the Asiatic population is by no means in proportion to the increase of the white races. The white population increases by 2 per cent, per year, or 20 per cent, in ten years, while the corresponding figures for Asiatics is only 8. 89 per cent. That is less than half of that of the white population. The total increase of Asiatics was only 13,000 in ten years, only 1,000 of whom were males. It will be seen, therefore, that the male Asiatic population of South Africa has increased during the last ten years by only 100 persons annually. That is a result of the fact that the percentage of females amongst the Asiatics is very small. A few years ago there were 171 males to 100 females, but it has now decreased to 142 males to every 100 females. Of the increase of 13,000 in ten years in the Asiatic population, 12,000 were women who were chiefly admitted under the Smuts-Ghandi agreement. Women are still allowed to come in, and it will not be long before the increase of the Asiatic population will be proportionate to that of the whites. I do not want to minimise the competition of the Asiatic in trade and in other respects. It is making itself felt very acutely indeed both in the Transvaal and in Natal. In terms of the Gold Law of 1908, Asiatics in the Transvaal are precluded from extending their trade on to proclaimed ground, consequently the white population on the Rand and other goldfields are protected. This law, however, affects the rural districts adversely, because the Asiatic who cannot get a licence for his son sends him out into the country to open a shop there, and this results in an increase of Asiatic shops in those areas. Originally the Indian was imported into Natal as a worker, and he remained such for a long time, but following upon educational facilities the Asiatic turned to trade, and his competition is felt more keenly every day. The Government is going to consider the matter, and as soon a sit is expedient to do so hopes to introduce legislation to deal with it. There is another way of minimising the competition of the Asiatics. It has been tried in the past, and we can try it again. Regarding the last part of the amendment, relating to the encouragement of Asiatic immigration, I may state that since the system of repatriation of Asiatics under the Indian Relief Act came into vogue in 1914, 27,000 Asiatics have been repatriated to India. Such repatriation continues at the rate of about 2,000 per annum, but lately this rate had slightly diminished, the reason being that the new element of the Indian population is getting exhausted, and the majority of Indians here are those who have been born here. Besides, prominent persons amongst the Asiatics have advised them not to avail themselves of the facilities for repatriation. The Government has considered the matter, and has decided to increase the bonus for repatriation. If an Asiatic is willing to go, his expenses are paid to Durban, his expenses of sojourn at the latter place, of his journey to India, and from the Indian port to his final destination. When he arrives there, he receives a bonus of £5, with a maximum if £20 for a family. It is the intention of the Government to increase the bonuses to £10 per head and £50 for a family. We hope if we do that that more Asiatics will be repatriated, but at the same time we shall not apply more than the £25,000 now on the Estimates for that purpose. This will be done as soon as possible and the Government will take steps to get recruiting officers to try to persuade the Asiatics to return to India. I want to appeal to hon. members and to the whole nation not to treat this problem on party lines. It is a matter affecting our national existence and our future welfare, and all parties should combine and cooperate heartily to get a solution to this question.
As far as I have been able to follow the Minister in his reply, I must congratulate him in satisfying Natal to a considerable extent. I think he has taken a statesmanlike view of this question, and we, on this side of the House, who pressed this motion, feel, that in a measure, he has done what we require. However, it is hardly in keeping with all the election promises. The people of Natal were misled, they believed that the Indians were going to be put out lock, stock and barrel. The Minister of Justice in his speech at Potchefstroom said it was the policy of the Nationalist party to see that the problem was to be rooted out, and the only way was to send the Asiatics out of the country and pay them compensation. As I said, the people of Natal and the people of Transvaal believed that that was going to be done, and I am glad to hear from the speech of the Minister that he is following on the lines carried out by the last Government. With regard to the suggestion of a minimum wage I think it is a most impossible thing and likely to do more harm than good. I would like to say what a good many of use feel on this subject. This Asiatic problem is one which is not confined to our Union, but extend far beyond our borders. We are faced with the fact that the European race of South Africa is brought into competition with the whole of Asia. While we are talking and carrying on here another nation, sitting at the northern end of the continent, is discussing and considering their extension to the interior of Africa, and we are coming into conflict on this question. The whole of Asia is permeating this country from Cape Town to Cairo. All over the country we have this Asiatic penetration. We cannot confine to the boundaries of our Union. The Asiatics are penetrating along the east coast and it will be a serious outlook if we do not find some solution to the question under consideration. I am glad the Minister has decided to raise the repatriation bonus from £5 to £10. It will be an additional inducement to those lured by money to go back. I am glad the hon. Minister has realized that Asiatics born in this country cannot be repatriated. We have all been led to understand the Government held a contrary view. There are only two ways in which it can be done. Either the Asiatic must go voluntarily or at the point of the bayonet. If they do not accept the money you will have to send them by force. If you put them on a boat to India it might be that the Indian Government will refuse to have them, and then what are you going to do—sink them all at sea? Our only possible policy of repatriation is to make provision for them to go voluntarily to some other country, otherwise there is no solution to the problem. So far as pressure can be exerted, under the terms of the motion, and in that way create the desire to be voluntary, it should be done; repatriated: that seems to me to be the right lines on which the problem can be solved.
I am glad that Natal has now accepted the standpoint of the Nationalist party with regard to the Asiatic question. The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (North) (Mr. Strachan) knows it was not always so. The Nationalist party, despite its firm attitude, got little sympathy from Natal, but the Transvaal members want to carry out their election promises, and I am sure the Government will do its share in due course. The Asiatics in the Transvaal are a greater pest than the locusts, which can be killed by spraying with poison. The danger is assuming greater proportions as the Asiatic pushes in everywhere and takes the place of the white, who cannot live so cheaply. Some Asiatics have white girls in their employ, and that is disgraceful. We have the problem of the native in this country, and we have to solve it. and we cannot send them away. With the Asiatic, however, it is different. I am glad the Minister intends to take strong measures. Perhaps he has not information enough yet and I hope he will make a searching enquiry.
It would be much better, judging from my experience last session, if we had definite proposals from the Government with regard to this matter, before we debate it. The motion, in the drastic form in which the hon. member moved it, is certainly one which if translated into legislation, will receive a good deal of opposition, because it proceeds on the wrong lines. Instead of trying to deal with the root causes, it proceeds purely on racial lines, and as such is bound to cause injustice, and bound to be received with a great deal of hostility by these people against whom it is aimed. Although I do not agree with the terms of the amendment, I think it is on sounder lines because in some respects it goes to root causes. If there is unfair competition it must be dealt with as one of the root causes, and the way to deal with it is by the establishment of wages boards throughout the country, which will see that no man would be able to take advantage of his own unscrupulous conduct to ruin a competitor. Such boards would deal with the matter on non-racial lines. If our insolvency laws require amendment this Parliament can amend them. In regard to another complaint that they do not observe the laws of sanitation, you have your municipal regulations and your Public Health Act, and all these things can be dealt with without bringing in the racial side of it, under such laws. The vast majority of these people are South African born—quite apart from that all of them are in the country and are entitled to fair treatment—but the fact that most of them are South African born shows how careful you must be. Personally I object to leaving this essentially national matter to be dealt with by the Provincial Councils. I do not know whether the suggestion appeals to members for Natal, but to my mind this is a complete reversal of the policy laid down by the Let of Union. The very point which the hon. member for Zululand (Mr. Nicholls) made, the question of the general Asiatic position, makes one realize that you cannot deal with any measure in connection with one section of the population in vital matters of this kind by leaving it to the Provincial Councils. One can quite understand what will take place in the Cape, where they are at present treated as equal before the law. The probability is that the Cape would take no action, and rightly so. It seems to me to go back to a Provincial policy as it suggested, opens a door that is going to lead to a great deal of hardship and misunderstanding. It is going to be very difficult to make a man understand why, because he belongs to a particular race, he should be treated differently in different provinces. As the Minister has pointed out, since 1913 under the arrangement made between the late Prime Minister and Mr. Gandhi, immigration into South Africa of Indians is absolutely stopped. In accordance with the regulations adopted, all persons who are Asiatics are automatically barred and the number of Asiatics in the Union has been steadily going down in past years. Voluntary emigrants are greater than those coming in.
What about the birth-rate?
The European percentage, I understood the Minister to say, shows an increase in greater proportion to that of the Asiatics.
That is so.
I do not believe in doing injustice to one section of the people. If you want to deal with these problems, lay down your standards of conduct for all, and enforce them. Do not discriminate against one section of the people. It is only on those lines you can deal with, these things justly. No country is going to benefit by treating one section of the people with injustice. We have heard a great deal from the north and Natal about this matter, but we do not hear as much from other provinces. In Natal the position is due to the fact that the people there—or those people who were in control at the time—wanted these Indians to come out and develop their estates, and so the original arrangements were made. At that time there was no complaint—not so long as they were labourers. It was not until they were competing in commerce, until they became commercial men and highly educated, that they were said to be a “menace.” The ex-Minister of the Interior admitted so much last time, when he said that it was only because they had become civilized that they were said to be a “menace. It seems to me that the way laid down in the proposals before the House is not the way to deal with this problem. It is an ill considered, slap-dash way. It is only upon the lines of justice that legislation will be beneficial and not injurious. If the Government is urged by any section of this House to go in for retrogressive and punitive legislation against one section of the people because it was considered their ways are not our ways, I hope the Government will decline. Let the Government rather consider carefully before they bring forward any legislation, and let that legislation be capable of standing the test of absolute justice, because only such legislation will be enduring and of value to the country.
The hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover Street) (Mr. Alexander) took us to task for dealing with this not as an economic, but as a racial question. The difficulty is, however, that we have to do with a race which lives according to a different economic standard. Wages boards will be useless, because the Asiatics can always evade the law. Our insolvency law is very stringent, and yet the Asiatic who goes bankrupt one day, starts a new business the next. He has trading methods which no white person can adopt. It has been said that the white people are merely afraid of the trade competition of the Asiatics. But I would point out that the Asiatic is also a danger to the moral standard of the nation. He teaches the native to be dishonest and to work and receive his wages in a way in which no white trader will do. He makes the native wait for months for his wages and then compels him to take payment in goods from his store. I agree with the Minister that the question cannot be tackled by the Provincial Councils, but it is becoming so urgent in the north that if the Government does not take action, the Transvaal and Natal will be compelled to agitate for Provincial legislation regarding the matter. The Minister was born in the south, and he has to deal with a trouble with which he did not grow up, though I know he is capable and will study the matter properly. The Minister has been asked to protect the trader against the Asiatic, but he should bear in mind too that these people will go to the country if they are squeezed out of the towns. Farmers, especially vegetable farmers, suffer a good deal from the competition of Italians and Portuguese. But it is realized that they are white people and that their competition cannot be helped. The Asiatic, however, falls under a totally different category. He is on a lower economic standard, and the towns should not be freed of him at the cost of the farmer.
I want to join those who have pointed out to the Minister the seriousness of this problem. The hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (North) (Mr. Strachan) has quoted the grievances against Asiatics from the report of the Asiatic Commission, but he has forgotten that those were the points mentioned in the evidence of the Transvaal deputation. Possibly there may not be good ground for all those grievances, but they are sufficient to show the seriousness of the position. In Lydenburg a Union of South Africans against Asiatics has been formed, whose members bind themselves not to buy from Indian stores. In the town the boycott was a success, but not so in the country, because there were practically no European stores there. Consequently the farmers had often to buy things which they badly needed from the coolie shops. The hon. member for Heidelberg (Mr. de Wet) said they had been fighting for the last seven or eight years against the Asiatics, but the fact is we have been fighting them for the last 40 years. In 1884 the first petition against Asiatics living and trading in Pretoria was presented, and in 1885 their residence and activities were regulated in Pretoria and other towns of the Transvaal. Unfortunately, the position in the Transvaal was not so favourable as that in the Free State, because Indians were protected by the Convention of 1884. Practically nothing has been done to relieve us and to solve this urgent question in the Transvaal. Last session the Class Areas Bill was introduced, but unfortunately it was not proceeded with, and even in that Bill many aspects of the question were left untouched. Natal will be benefited if the financial inducement to leave this country is increased. It will, however, not be of much use to the Transvaal, as the Asiatics there are in a totally different position. They do not work on the land for the farmers, neither are they factory hands; they are traders. That can be clearly seen from the figures quoted by the hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick). There are 15,000 Asiatics in the Transvaal, of whom 5,000 are traders—the same number as in Natal, which has its much greater Asiatic population of 140,000. Consequently the Asiatics control the greater part of the trade in most, of the rural towns of the Transvaal. At Rustenburg they even have the best shops, and I hope the public of that district will also start a boycott. In my constituency, as well as in Zoutpansberg, Pietersburg and other places, practically the whole native trade is in the hands of Asiatics, and it is high time that a stop is put to that condition of affairs. Last session the hon. member for Vryheid (Mr. Jansen) made an important speech on the history of the problem in Natal, in which he showed that in 1885—thus the same time as in the South African Republic—it was proposed to take steps to curtail the activities of the Indians in Natal. Asiatics are experts in evading the law. They are prohibited from buying ground in the towns, but they do it notwithstanding, simply by forming companies. For instance, a company is now being formed with 1,000 shares with the object of buying land for a store. As an eyewash, only two of the 1,000 shares were issued, and unfortunately two Europeans allowed themselves to be exploited for that purpose. At Lydenburg a big building for a store is now being erected by one of those companies. I think this practice is fairly general in the Transvaal, and it is also known in Natal. I sincerely hope the Government will introduce legislation next session to set apart certain areas for the Asiatic, where he can trade and develop without encroaching on the territory of the whites. There is an Ordinance in Natal providing that all licences issued in rural parts are issued by a licensing board. In the Transvaal we intend to do the same, and I hope the Government will not interfere. I am satisfied with the reply given by the Minister, and I have said a few words in order to put the case for the Transvaal as strongly as possible.
This particular problem has been before the House for many years; nothing at all has been done, although many promises have been given. Let us hope that the Minister of the Interior will not only consider the matter, but that his considerations will bear fruit, fruit that will be acceptable to the people of the Union. Here we have four different provinces, and in each province it presents an entirely different problem. The hon. Minister says he is not going to consider the provinces or the Provincial Councils in dealing with the problem, and I must say that I feel disappointed. What we feel in the Transvaal is that we sold our birthright in 1910 when we entered the Union, in that by doing so we have handed this problem into the hands of the other provinces. I do not mean to say that the hon. Minister should leave it entirely to the provinces or to the Transvaal, but he must consider what public opinion is up there, and I assure him that problems of this kind can be well dealt with in the provinces. Take the Bill we had before the House last session. After 14 years of what I presume was mature consideration, it was the first act of its kind—
What about the Immigration Act?
That Bill was introduced for the purpose of winning Wakkerstroom.
It was introduced long before there was a vacancy at Wakkerstroom.
Yes, but you do not introduce that kind of Bill when a seat has been lost, and I hope we do not get the same kind of consideration from this Government as we did from the last.
Wait and see.
We have waited to see for fourteen long years. I am glad that we are taking up the viewpoint that it is not going to be a party matter, but I am afraid that it is going to be partially a provincial matter. If it is not, it is directly against the interests of the Transvaal. The division of thought on this matter is going to be purely provincial, and I ask the hon. Minister how far he is going to meet the provinces in dealing with a matter of this nature. We in the Transvaal have always pleaded for repatriation and segregation, but repatriation as far as possible. I am sorry the hon. member for Illovo (Mr. Marwick) limited himself entirely to commercial segregation. It is certainly a question which affects every section of the community, and the problem is wider than that. He has not mentioned the question of repatriation in any of his amendments. I hope the Minister will go into the whole problem, and try to meet the views of the people of the provinces. But he knows that we in the North want repatriation. He has got to enquire into that. We want it dealt with from the Transvaal point of view; people in Natal want it dealt with from their point of view. I am sorry that he has taken as a start off two basic points, and I do not think he is correct in either. One is that international law forbids repatriation. I submit, when we are given to understand the Government is seriously going to consider the problem, the Minister ought not to limit himself by axioms of this nature. I submit on what the hon. member said was law, that is not law at all. He referred to international law. There is nothing in international law to forbid the deportation of any Indian from this Union, but there is our own statute which forbids us to deport any man born in this Union.
How are you going to deport them from here if India does not want them?
Take the position of any British citizen. Wherever his son is born that son is a British citizen and will not be refused entry into his father’s country. He can always go back In India the same thing applies. The son of an Indian citizen can go back to his country. I do not know of any single instance where that law has been relaxed. The son of an Indian citizen born here as far as I know is entitled to claim by right to land on Indian shores. When the Government gives us its serious undertaking to go thoroughly into the whole matter, I feel that it should not be limited in its enquiry by any such categorical statements as those made by the hon. Minister. There are many ways in which we can arrange for the deportation of the Indians we have here, If we tell India we are going to deport all the Transvaal Indians, and ask if India will allow them to land there, India may accept them. As to the Provincial Council, I do not know why hon. members laugh when I say leave the matter to them. They are elected as we are elected. If you give them more authority you will probably get a better class going into the Provincial Councils. Why should not the Provincial Councils deal with it? I certainly think the Minister should not lay down the rule that when he goes into the matter he will not consider the suggestion that it be left to the provinces. It is not a question of party at all; it is a question of province against province. In the Cape, merely because it is a Union matter, nobody dare tackle it. The South African Party’s Government would not tackle the matter properly because their members would kick against it. We have the same position right through. This is a provincial matter. It will not be dealt with from a party standpoint. It should be entirely considered as a matter of national importance and then we shall get a solution. On the main principles the solution will be provincial.
Shall each province pay its own compensation?
I do not know, but I am sure the provinces will be quite satisfied to pay compensation. The Transvaal will be quite prepared to pay compensation to get rid of all their Indians. I would say to the Minister please do not limit yourself now in your enquiry and do not be bound by the motion or the amendment—enquire into the whole question. Feeling in the Transvaal is exceedingly high. I know myself I dare not go back and face my constituents and say we are not going to do anything with regard to Asiatics. There is not a single member from the Transvaal who did not promise to do his best to get repatriation or segregation of Asiatics.
I do not intend to say much on this motion partly because the hour is late and also because I think it is undesirable to go into this matter at any length until we know definitely what proposals the Government are going to make to this House. Until we have those proposals. I agree with the hon. member for Hanover Street (Mr. Alexander) that it is undesirable to enter into discussion of principles. The hon. Minister has my sympathy if he has to deal with a question such as this in a manner which will satisfy his irresponsible advisers such as the hon. member who spoke last. The hon. member who spoke last said: Let this matter be considered apart from party politics. I know no greater sinner in this regard than the hon. member himself. He never fails to drag party politics into this question. Why, he even went so far as to say that the Class Areas Bill; was introduced by the late Government to catch votes at Wakkerstroom. That Bill was actually published before there was a vacancy at Wakkerstroom. Now what does the hon. member say about that? No, if we are going to put up these pious aspirations in this hon. House and ask us to avoid party politics, I appeal to hon. friends opposite to act up to that statement of theirs. They are the sinners in that respect. The difficulties of the hon. Minister are going to come, firstly, from the difficulty of the question itself, and secondly, from the promises his supporters have made in the country. I welcome the statement the hon. Minister has made in one or two respects; firstly, that he is not going to refer this question to the Provincial Councils—I think it is far too grave a matter for it to be left to the provinces to be decided upon, and to solve the problem each in its own way and the very reasons given by the hon. member who has just sat down are strongly against allowing the provinces to deal with the matter. Why, we might almost be involved in civil war if we allowed each province to deal with this question in its own sweet ways. The Union Government should deal with it. Another statement I welcome is that there is no radical and easy solution to this question; that you cannot hope to solve this question by some radical manner such as by repatriation—bundling these people over the border. The hon. member for Delarey (Mr. van Hees) thinks he can do that. I also welcome the hon. Minister’s appreciation of the difficulties of the question, and of the fact that it is a national question of the highest importance. I welcome the statement also that he is going to increase the bonus to those who voluntarily accept repatriation from the Union, and I hope that the results that follow from that will be considerable. I am not altogether sure that will be the case; as the hon. Minister said there is an increasing resistance being offered now to the acceptance of voluntary repatriation by the Indians, and it is possible that even with the increased bonus the numbers that go out under this scheme will not be greatly increased, but I trust that they will increase. There is no short cut to this matter, and as I say, no radical solution. But the hon. Minister might have spared the people of Natal the sermon about their past iniquities, and told them that Natal had made her own bed, so to speak, and had to lie upon it; that Natal had always been so Imperialistic, and had it not been for her Imperialistic tendencies she would not have had the evils she now has and the evils she has brought into the Union of South Africa. I do not think there is much in that. As regards the Imperial part of it, Natal ceased to be a Crown Colony in 1893, and it was nearly 20 years after that before immigration of Indians into Natal was stopped, so that whatever “capitalistic influence” there might have been at that date, the “Imperialistic tendency” had nothing to do with it.
According to you, they are greater sinners than I thought.
That may be—I am only trying to put the diagnosis a little differently to what the Minister has done. Whatever the Minister’s opinion may be about the advantages or the disadvantages of the British connection, I do not think he will be able to prove either that the Indians were forced on Natal because it was a Crown Colony or after it ceased to be a Crown Colony that Natal showed any great desire to stop their importation.
The people showed a desire.
But they were unable to elect representatives to carry out their desire. Before and after 1893 the immigration of Indians was in no way forced on Natal by any outside power. It may be that Natal was too much subject to capitalistic influences and the influences of large employers, but we have to get away from the past and deal with things as they are. The position in Natal is very serious indeed. The hon. member for Umbilo (Mr. Reyburn) has raised the question of a minimum wage, but the Minister says he is unable to accept that as a line along which he will enquire. I will ask him not entirely to dismiss that from his mind, although I agree that it will not be an adequate solution by itself. The Minister should keep the suggestion in mind because it might afford some help. On the whole, as I said, it is undesirable to express opinions on this matter until we have a concrete proposal before us, and when the Government’s proposals come before us next session we shall be able to deal with them.
As there are several hon. members who still want to speak on this matter, I wish to move the adjournment of the debate.
Debate adjourned; to be resumed on Friday. 29th August.
The House adjourned at