House of Assembly: Vol2 - TUESDAY 26 AUGUST 1924

TUESDAY, 26th AUGUST, 1924. Mr. SPEAKER took the Chair at 2.22 p.m. QUESTIONS. ORDINANCE NO. 32 OF 1902 (TRANSVAAL). I. Dr. H. REITZ

asked the Minister of Justice whether, with a view to having similar legislation in both the Transvaal and Cape Provinces, he will favourably consider the advisability of repealing section 8 of Ordinance No. 32 of 1902 (Transvaal), which prohibits the owner or occupier of land in that province from distilling liquor for sale?


The intention of the Government is to wait until legislation dealing with our liquor laws generally is being introduced before dealing with the point raised in the question.


asked the Minister of the Interior:

  1. (1) How many members of the public service ordinarily stationed in Pretoria or Johannesburg were brought down to Cape Town for and during the last session of Parliament, and at what cost;
  2. (2) what extra allowance was paid to such officials and what the said allowance cost the country for the said session;
  3. (3) how many other individuals, not being in the employ of the Government, accompanied the said officials, specifying (á) the number of wives, (b) the number of children, (c) the number of other relatives or dependants, (d) the number of servants; and what these other individuals cost the country;
  4. (4) how many officials came down more than once during the same session, and how often the said officials came down;
  5. (5) what other expense to the country was incurred owing to the necessity for bringing the said officials and other individuals to Cape Town, and what it amounted to in all;
  6. (6) what the extra cost to the country during an average session of Parliament is in respect (a) of the Postal Department, (b) of the Telegraph Department, (c) of all other departments, owing to Parliament sitting in Cape Town instead of at the seat of administration;
  7. (7) what the capital value is of the offices, with equipment, rendered vacant in Pretoria during the session of Parliament and in Cape Town during the period that Parliament is not in session;
  8. (8) how many individuals are employed by the Ministers and their Departments in Cape Town who are not stationed in Pretoria or Johannesburg, what their total salary is, what they do when Parliament is not in session, and whether they are paid during the said period; and
  9. (9) what the total direct cost to the country is of having two capitals, specifying the various heads under which such expenditure is met

The hon. member is referred to appendix F to the Sixth Report of the Select Committee on Public Accounts, 1919, in connection with the cost of the service referred to. His attention is also drawn to the reply given on the 3rd May, 1923, to question 9 on page 29 of the Minutes of the Third Session of the Senate. The remaining information required is as follows:

  1. (1) 130.
  2. (2) Subsistance allowance at rates prescribed by paragraph 1, Chapter VI., Public Service Regulations in accordance with which
    58 officers were paid at the rate of 20s. per diem.
    26 officers were paid at the rate of 17s, 6d. per diem.
    29 officers were paid at the rate of 15s. per diem.
    8 officers were paid at the rate of 12s. 6d. per diem.
    5 officers were paid at the rate of 10s. per diem.
    1 officer was paid at the rate of 5s. per diem.
    1 officer was paid at the rate of 1s. per diem.
  3. (3) 43 wives, 54 children, 2 dependants, 6 servants.
  4. (4) One on three occasions, one on two occasions.
  5. (8) 3 typists, 10 junior messengers; in all cases for duration of session only, with pay in case of typists at 7s. 6d. a working day, and messengers at from £3 to £5 per month.

asked the Minister of Mines and Industries:

  1. (1) Whether he is aware that certain manufacturers in the Union refuse supplies of the articles manufactured by them to merchants unless such merchants sign agreements not to sell such articles for less than an agreed minimum price; and
  2. (2) whether he has been approached by any merchants with the view to introducing legislation to make such agreements illegal?
  1. (1) Yes, the matter has been reported on by the Board of Trade and Industries in Report No. 34. “Restraint of Trade”, which has been laid on the Table of the House.
  2. (2) The answer is in the affirmative.

asked the Minister of Finance:

  1. (1) What was the total revenue received from the district of Barkly West from all sources for the financial years ending on the 31st March, 1923, and the 31st March, 1924, respectively; and
  2. (2) what was the total expenditure incurred by the Government in the district of Barkly West during the said years?
  1. (1) 1922-’23, Union revenue, £59,013.
    1923-’24, Union revenue. £66,717.
  2. (2) Particulars of the expenditure are not available.

asked the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs:

  1. (1) Whether the telephone connection between Dingle, Deben, Barton and Sutton, in the constituency of Barkly West, will be completed during the present financial year; and
  2. (2) whether he will cause an amount to be placed on the Estimates for the coming financial year for the construction of a telephone line from Sutton to Dikatlong and from Blesmanspost to Kuruman via Grootfontein, and to provide for a connection between Mamaghodie and Khosis via Maramane?
  1. (1) The work is in hand and in all probability it will be completed during the present financial year.
  2. (2) I will have the requirements mentioned gone into as early as practicable, and the proposals will come up for consideration in due course.

asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours:

  1. (1) Whether he is aware that the railway line from, Kimberley to Winters Rush does not meet the wants of those farmers who live on the farther side of the Hartz River; and
  2. (2) whether he is prepared to take the necessary steps during the current financial year to have the line extended to Kuruman, or to a point on the farther side of the Hartz River?
  1. (1) Representations have been made for the extension of this line over the Hartz River.
  2. (2) As the hon. member is aware, no railway for the conveyance of public traffic can be constructed without the authority of Parliament. The representations made in this case will be borne in mind when a further railway construction programme is under consideration.

asked the Minister of Defence:

  1. (1) Whether the Government is prepared to compensate those who suffered damage as a result of the explosion of a bomb at Kuruman during May, 1924;
  2. (2) whether he is aware that the father and mother of a young man were killed by that explosion and that the said young man has to provide for his minor relatives; and, if so,
  3. (3) in what manner will the Government make provision for such cases as the above?
  1. (1) The Government has already paid all claims for compensation for material damage and all expenses to which those injured, and the relatives of those killed, have been put to as the result of the accident.
  2. (2) I am not aware of the circumstances surrounding the specific case mentioned.
  3. (3) The last of those injured have only recently been discharged from hospital, and it is now proposed to send a Committee to Kuruman, at the earliest possible date, to investigate claims for compensation and to make recommendations to the Government as to the measure of financial relief which should be given to those injured and to the dependents of those killed. In the meantime the Magistrate of Kuruman has been authorized as a temporary measure, to give relief to any of the sufferers or their dependents whose means of livelihood have ceased or have-been restricted as the result of the accident, and who are not otherwise able to provide for themselves.

asked the Minister of Agriculture:

  1. (1) Whether it is a fact that an officer of his Department occupies the post of secretary of the South African Poultry Association; if so,
  2. (2) whether he will prohibit his officers from occupying any posts-under the said Association; and.
  3. (3) whether he will be prepared to lay upon the Table of the House all papers in connection with the egg levy and the appointment of officers paid out of the proceeds of that levy?
  1. (1) and
  2. (2) Yes.
  3. (3) It would take some time to prepare the papers for presentation to Parliament, but they are open for inspection at my office by the hon. member. If thereafter he wishes certain papers or the whole of them to be laid on the Table, it will be done at the next session.

asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours:

  1. (1) Whether he is aware that several railway stations in the Malmesbury division, especially those at the towns of Malmesbury and Moorreesburg, have insufficient accommodation and are unsuitable; if so, whether he will forthwith take the necessary steps to remedy this state of affairs;
  2. (2) whether he is aware that the narrow-gauge line from Kalabaskraal to Saldanha is the cause of much dissatisfaction and detrimentally affects the interests of the districts concerned; if so, whether he will forthwith take the necessary steps to remedy this state of affairs by substituting for the said line an ordinary broad-gauge line; and
  3. (3) whether he is aware that the passenger trains on the Klaver—Cape Town line travel at an unreasonably low speed, especially from Moorreesburg and Malmesbury to Cape Town?
  1. (1) Provision has been made in this year’s estimates for the completion of the new station building at Malmesbury. Consideration has been given to the erection of a new station at Moorreesburg, and it is hoped that financial exigencies will permit of provision being made in next year’s estimates, for this work. The only other station on this section in respect of which representations have been made is Darling, and these are under consideration.
  2. (2) Very careful consideration has been given to the question of converting, to standard gauge, the narrow gauge line from Kalabas Kraal to Saldanha, but I regret it has not been found possible to provide for the carrying out of the work during the current financial year. I may add that generally I favour the conversion of narrow gauge lines to broad gauge when the traffic dealt with has assumed such proportions as to warrant the expenditure involved.
  3. (3) Improvements to the line north of Piquet-berg, which are now under consideration, will permit of general acceleration, while the introduction of a rail car service, shortly, between Cape Town and Malmesbury and vice versa, will enable the journey to be performed in approximately 1 hour 40 minutes, instead of 2 hours 24 minutes as at present.
ACT NO. 21 OF 1923 AND “LOCAL ENQUIRIES.” X. Mr. MOFFAT (for Mr. Papenfus)

asked the Minister of the Interior:

  1. (1) Whether any “local enquiry” as is indicated in sub-section (1) of section 2 of Act No. 21 of 1923 has been held, and, if so, where;
  2. (2) whether it is the intention of the Minister to hold any such enquiries, and, if so, when and where;
  3. (3) which local authorities have carried out the provisions of the said Act, and which are in default; and
  4. (4) whether the Government intends to compel local authorities to carry out the provisions of the Act?
  1. (1) No.
  2. (2) Yes, as necessity arises.
  3. (3) The Act came into operation on the 1st January last and it has not yet been possible to ascertain which authorities have carried out the provisions of the Act and which have not. A considerable amount of time has been spent in the preparation of the regulations under the Act which have to be applied in the various localities? by the local bodies concerned.
  4. (4) Yes, with due regard to the circumstances of each area. Manifestly a measure which throws such heavy burdens and responsibilities on a local authority cannot be arbitrarily enforced. The attention of the hon. member is invited to the reply given by the late Minister of Native Affairs during the last session to the hon. the member as follows:
Each case in which it is brought to notice that provision is inadequate or unsuitable will be dealt with on its merits and representations made to the local authority concerned. Thereafter steps will be taken, if necessary, in terms of the section referred to. It should be borne in mind that successful administration of the Act depends on the co-operation of the local authorities and the introduction of its provisions will in some cases have to be gradual in order to overcome local difficulties.

asked the Minister of the Interior what is the value of mortgages held by Asiatics on immovable property in Durban?


I have been advised by the Registrar of Deeds, Maritzburg, that it would take four of his officials a considerable time to extract the desired information. As the staff of the Natal Deeds Office is small, I hope the hon. member will not press for the information to be supplied.


asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours:

  1. (1) What is the number of railway employees who serve in the different ranks of the Defence Force, controlled, equipped, etc., by the Railways and Harbours Administration;
  2. (2) what is the total cost of same; and
  3. (3) what proportion of this cost is borne by the Railways and Harbours Administration?
  1. (1) The Railways and Harbours Brigade is controlled by the Defence Department. The units of the Brigade, which are equipped and are undergoing training under conditions applicable to all Active Citizen Force Units, consist of two Infantry Battalions, two armoured trains, and one Medical Company, of a total strength of 1,800 officers and men. The remainder of the organization consisting mainly of technical sections, is not equipped and the personnel do not undergo training.
  2. (2) and (3) The cost, which I understand is not readily obtainable at short notice, is borne by the Defence Department. A grant of £2,000 per annum is contributed by the Railways and Harbours Administration.

asked the Prime Minister:

  1. (1) Whether he will cause the report of the enquiry into matters relating to the control and command of the S.A.T.S. “General Botha,” which report was laid upon the Table of the House on the 7th August, 1924, to be printed; and, if the answer is in the negative,
  2. (2) whether he will supply the press with a copy of the report or give the press facilities for making a copy thereof?
  1. (1) I do not think the Government would be justified in incurring the expense of printing the report at this stage.
  2. (2) No further copies of the report are available.

asked the Minister of the Interior:

  1. (1) What is the reason why the Consolidating Municipal Ordinance, recently passed by the Natal Provincial Council, has been held up; and
  2. (2) what are the intentions of the Government with regard to this measure?
  1. (1) Representations were received by the Government against the provisions of certain sections of the Ordinance, and as the time limit of 30 days under section 90 of the South Africa Act, 1909, was found insufficient to give due consideration to the measure, and, as requests have been received that Ministers should receive deputations to discuss certain clauses in the Ordinance, they decided to recommend that the Ordinance be reserved for further consideration under section 90 of the South Africa Act, 1909.
  2. (2) The Ordinance will receive further consideration after the present session, when Ministers have met the deputations referred to in my reply to No. 1.

Arising out of that question I would like to ask the hon. Minister what deputation is referred to.


A deputation from the Indian Congress.


asked the Minister of Finance:

  1. (1) Whether he is prepared to introduce a Bill providing that no export duty shall be imposed on alluvial diamonds found by anybody other than a company: and, if not,
  2. (2) whether he is prepared to introduce a Bill to reduce the diamond export duty so far as it concerns alluvial diamonds found by anybody other than a company?

(1) and (2) The answer is in the negative.


asked the Minister of Agriculture:

  1. (1) What was the total amount paid as bounties on beef exported for the past financial year; and
  2. (2) to whom respectively, were the payments made?
  1. (1) £1,225 11s. 6d.
  2. (2) The whole amount was paid to the Farmers’ Co-operative Meat Industries, Limited, of Durban.

asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours:

  1. (1) Whether, in connection with the destruction of locusts, he will authorize a special low railway tariff for the conveyance of dried locusts; if so,
  2. (2) what the tariff will be; and
  3. (3) whether the tariff will forthwith be introduced?
  1. (1) Consideration has already been given to the tariff for the conveyance of locusts, and low rates have recently been introduced.
  2. (2) and (3) The tariffs are: (a) for consumption in the Union, except for fertilizing purposes, tariff 7; (b) for use in the manufacture of fertilizers, tariff 10. In the first instance, tariff 7 is charged, but on production of proof that the locusts have been used in the manufacture of fertilizers the rate is reduced to tariff 10; (c) for export oversea beyond South or South-West Africa, for any distance in excess of 240 miles, 15s.

asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours how many engineers, draughtsmen and clerks there are on the salaried staff in the Construction Department of the Railways and Harbours Administration with over ten years’ service to their credit, and whether, and when, it is intended to place these men on the permanent staff?


The information asked for by the hon. member is being collated. In 1916 it was decided to admit to permanent employment after five years’ continuous service, members of the construction clerical staff whose services were likely to be required for long periods. This principle is still in operation. The admission of new construction engineers to permanent employment under similar conditions has been considered from time to time and the question is at present again under review.


asked the Minister of Public Works whether it is true that official intimation has been directly or indirectly given that artizans under his control who are not members of a Union must join a Union or leave the service?


The answer is, No.

Conference on unemployment. XX. Mr. ALEXANDER

asked the Minister of Labour:

  1. (1) What principle did the Government adopt in choosing organizations to be invited to the Conference on unemployment;
  2. (2) whether the invitation was confined to registered or registrable Trade Unions;
  3. (3) what cue the conditions that make a Union registrable; and
  4. (4) how is it that important organizations properly constituted and representing the unskilled and semi-skilled workers, which have been mainly engaged in dealing with the problem of unemployment as affecting the above, were not invited to the Conference?
  1. (1) Representatives were invited from organized trade unions, preference being given to Unions with the largest membership.
  2. (2) As far as possible invitations were confined to Unions which had applied for registration under the Conciliation Act, and were capable of being registered.
  3. (3) Section 14 of the Act (No. 11 of 1924). prescribes the conditions under which registration of trade unions can be effected.
  4. (4) As stated under (1) the Conference is one of organized trade unions only. Representation therefore of unorganized workers was not possible. If local organizations of such workers were considered it would have been necessary to invite representatives of similar bodies from all over the Union, which would have been quite impracticable.
Tonnages of bark at krantzkop and new hanover.

Standing over from Tuesday, 19th August—


asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours:

  1. (1) What is the tonnage of cut and bagged bark railed from stations Krantkop to New Hanover, inclusive, during the last twelve months; and
  2. (2) what is the tonnage of stick bark, railed from these stations to points beyond New Hanover Station during the same period?
  1. (1) 30,262 tons.
  2. (2) 25,616 tons.

Standing over from Tuesday, 19th august—


asked the Minister of Finance:

  1. (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. (2) how many inspectors were employed by the Public Service Commission during the year 1923-’24;
  3. (3) what were their individual salaries (a) prior to their appointment as inspectors and (b) in 1923;
  4. (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. (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’ office; and
  6. (6) whether any of these inspectors have been retrenched, and, if so, why?

laid upon the Table:

Return giving the expenditure incurred by the Public Service Commission during the financial year 1923-’24 and particulars in connection with inspectors employed by the Public Service Commission during the financial year 1923-’24.

ORAL QUESTION. Report on schools of agriculture. Mr. MUNNIK:

With leave of hon. House and the concurrence of the Minister, I should like to ask the Minister of Agriculture whether he will lay upon the Table, for the information of members, the report of the inspectors of the Civil Service Commission dealing with the Schools of Agriculture and the Experimental Farms in the Union?


The report is in Pretoria, and I shall lay it on the Table as soon as received.


I move—

That the petition from E. F. B. Schierhout, of Pretoria, formerly a chief clerk, Department of Justice, who was retired in 1922, praying for an enquiry into the circumstances of his case and for relief, presented to this House on the 6th August, 1924, be referred to the Select Committee on the Petition of W. W. Theron for enquiry and report.

It will not be necessary for me to detain this House long on this motion. I have seen the Minister of Justice, and he has agreed to accept it, and at this stage of the session it will not be right for me to take up much of the time of the House. This is a petition from a public servant who was retired in 1922, who complains of his treatment from the time he was suspended and removed to another office in 1913. There has been a vast amount of correspondence between him and Members of Parliament, and there are but few members of this House who are not aware of Mr. Schierhout and his grievance. I may say his grievance is not merely a personal one, but one which is supported by many of the Service organizations. Yesterday I presented a petition from various postal organizations asking that his prayer for an enquiry be granted. I hope the House will realize that it is not merely a personal grievance, but that there are points of principle affecting public servants throughout the Union.

Mr. STRACHAN seconded.


I think the House is entitled to a little more information as to exactly what this Select Committee is going to do and what it has got to enquire into. I have read the petition, and it is difficult for me to make out precisely what Mr. Schierhout wishes to obtain from this House. The hon. members will know that, for a long time past, he has been litigating in the Courts in regard to his treatment and has been making the most flagrant and unwarrantable accusations against members of the late Government and other people. It seems to me that if something has been done to this man which is illegal he has his remedy in the Courts, and it should be left to the Courts. Mr. Schierhout, in one case, succeeded in getting judgment, and in another case the Courts decided against him. What does he want the Select Committee to do? Does he want it to go into these judgments and decide whether they were right or wrong? I was interested to hear the hon. member for Hanover St. (Mr. Alexander) read a list of Public Servants’ organizations supporting his request, but they are all Postal and Telegraph Associations. I did not hear him give the name of any other, but I do know that Mr. Schierhout asked the Public Servants’ Association to support him in taking his appeal to the Courts, but he failed to obtain their support. I have read through this petition and I say there are some statements in it which stretch the liberty a petitioner is allowed in this House. All sorts of allegations are made against a late Minister of the Crown, but there is, so far, no statement as to what the exact grievance of this official is except that he wishes to appear before a Select Committee. This is a serious precedent which we are going to set up if we allow this. It is a matter upon which the Courts have already pronounced judgment, and if the Select Committee is to enquire into his case there should be some clear statement as to what it is going to enquire into. If they are going to have a review of the whole matter, the Committee will sit from now to Christmas.


I may say I have a great deal of sympathy with the remarks which have fallen from the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan), and I have no doubt whatever that as far as Mr. Schierhout is concerned the present Administration is going to inherit the unpopularity of the past. The position in regard to the Select Committee is that a Select Committee was allowed by the previous House and it went a certain length, but then stopped its proceedings without report because of the legal proceedings pending in the court. We are simply asked to continue the work which was left uncompleted by the previous Select Committee trying to arrive at some finality. With regard to the litigation which has taken place, there was a judgment of the Cape Provincial Division and that matter went on appeal to Bloemfontein. At the present moment an appeal is pending in Bloemfontein arising out of a case in the magistrate’s court in Pretoria. Mr. Schierhout succeeded on appeal before the Provincial Division in Pretoria. That appeal will be disposed of in Bloemfontein in September or October of this year. The present Select Committee will only begin its labours now and probably another Select Committee will be asked for during the next session. Though I do not hope for much from the work of this Select Committee, we wish to show that there is no intention of doing any injustice to Mr. Schierhout and therefore we accept Mr. Alexander’s motion.


As Chairman of the Select Committee I want to say that it will have no opportunity to investigate this matter, as the committee is still busy with the cases of W. W. Theron, Blanckenberg and Sargeant, and will not even be able to deal fully with those cases. And as hon. members know, the committee will not sit after this week. I move, therefore, as an amendment—

To omit “the Select Committee on the petition of W. W. Theron” and to substitute “a Select Committee”.

Mr. LE ROUX seconded the amendment.


A ease in which Schierhout is concerned is now pending, and it will thus be difficult for the Select Committee to report.


I wish to ask the Minister if the appeal which is pending is going to deal with the same subject-matter as this petition.


It is very difficult to say, Mr. Speaker. I do not think that the subject matter of this particular petition is being dealt with by the court now. I am assured that one is fairly safe in saying that his grievances would cover a very much wider field than that covered in the appeal now pending.


It must be clearly understood that if any part of the subject-matter of this petition is sub-judice in any court, this motion cannot be allowed.

†Col.-Cdt. COLLINS:

I would like to know what the position is. Does the Minister agree to a Select Committee being set up this session? It seems to me that that would be an altogether hopeless procedure and I would suggest to the hon. member for Hanover Street (Mr. Alexander) that he should renew this motion or move it next session. It seems to me that it would be a waste of the time of the House if we discussed the matter now.


As one who happens to know some of the details of this particular case I would support the hon. member for Hanover Street (Mr. Alexander) in his motion, and I can assure the hon. member for Ermelo (Col.-Cdt. Collins) that there will be no question of any waste of time. It is quite possible even during this session to lay down some of the principles which should guide this case. As far as the appeal to the Appellate Division now pending is concerned, that would have nothing whatever to do with the scope of the present enquiry. Under the circumstances I submit that it is only fair and just that the House should agree to the motion, as proposed to be amended.


There are rumours about that it is the intention of the Government, with a view to bringing the session to a termination at as early a date as possible, to ask the House to agree to morning sittings. I would like to ask the Minister whether these rumours are well founded.


I may say that the Prime Minister is considering a motion of this kind if the work does not make proper progress. It is difficult, therefore, at present to say definitely yes or no.


I would point out, if such is the case, and the Standing Rules and Orders make it impossible for a Select Committee to sit in any committee room upstairs while the House is in session, how difficult it would be for the Select Committee to carry on its work during the present session. The result will be that you are going to a certain amount of expense, witnesses will be summoned and then you will suddenly find that there is no chance of the committee sitting and your witnesses will be brought down here for no useful purpose. Under the circumstances, is it not much better for my hon. friend (Mr. Alexander), knowing that nothing can be done this session, to bring up his motion next session when it can be thoroughly discussed?


I am very much indebted to the members of the Opposition for their kind interest in my motion, but it is the type of kindness that kills. I am not going to withdraw this motion. I am doing something which is important not merely for one public servant but for all public servants. Once the House has agreed to the principle, the task of bringing the matter up again next session will be very much simplified. It is not the fault of members that matters of this kind are reached late in the session. We have only one day in the week and we have to try and get a place for our motions as best we can. I should have thought that the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) would have been indebted to me for taking up so little time in moving this motion. There must be very few members of this House who do not know about the details of this case. There has already been a Select Committee on this matter and their proceedings were stopped on account of litigation which has now come to an end. I accept the amendment of the hon. member for Lady-brand (Mr. Swart).

Amendment put and agreed to.

Motion, as amended, put and agreed to, viz.:

That the petition from E. F. B. Schierhout, of Pretoria, formerly a chief clerk, Department of Justice, who was retired in 1922, praying for an enquiry into the circumstances of his case and for relief, presented to this House on the 6th August, 1924, be referred to a Select Committee for enquiry and report.


I move—

That in the opinion of this House the Government should take into consideration the advisability of appointing a Commission:
  1. (1) To enquire into and report upon the best hospital and sanatorium policy that is suitable for the Union, having consideration both to the needs of the people and the requirements of the medical schools;
  2. (2) to make a survey of the existing hospital and sanatorium accommodation and equipment, the methods of administration and control, and the adequacy and modernity or otherwise of the treatment provided;
  3. (3) to make such recommendations as it may deem necessary—
    1. (a) to carry into effect the policy recommended under the first term of reference,
    2. (b) to bring the existing hospitals and sanatoria up to date, and
    3. (c) to provide such additional hospital and sanatorium accommodation and equipment for the inhabitants of the Union as it may deem essential.

I am sorry that this motion has been reached so late in the session, because I regard it as one of the most important matters that could possibly be brought before this House. The motion is comprehensive and it deals with a subject that is exercising the minds of the medical profession and the public very much at the present time. The two medical schools at Cape Town and Johannesburg need large hospitals, and the Government is considering the question of the financial relations between the provinces and the Union, and unless enquiries cover the question of hospital accommodation it will be impossible for the matter to be dealt with on a proper footing. The Financial Relations Commissions have gone into the question of hospitals, but only as a side issue. The report of the commission issued in 1923 contained an incidental reference to the question, the commission pointing out that there had been a lack of general policy in regard to hospitals, the commission urging a rigid examination into the question. I am not suggesting any particular line of policy, and no particular line of policy has been laid down, but I wish to emphasize that hospital matters are in a state of confusion and chaos. An enquiry on the lines I have suggested will help the Government, the provinces, the hospitals and the public to understand the position and to provide a remedy. The state of the hospitals is a positive scandal. We owe great thanks to the medical profession for the great work they do under existing conditions, and we also owe special gratitude to the nurses and Hospital Boards for carrying on under very difficult circumstances. I speak more particularly of the Cape Peninsula, where I suppose the hospitals are well equipped in comparison to other parts of the province, but things here need a very drastic remedy. The accommodation and the equipment are both inadequate. It takes a poor person a great deal of time to get into a hospital, in fact the competition is so very keen that it may take years for a person to obtain admission to a hospital. Cases have been brought to my notice where if a person could have been operated on at once the operation would have been successful, but the patient having been refused admission to the new Somerset Hospital eventually obtained admission, after a great deal of searching round, to one of the suburban hospitals, but unfortunately the delay was so great that the operation was performed too late and the patient died. There are a number of such tragic cases. In many cases people are advised not even to try to get into hospitals because they are so overcrowded. Then there is the question of equipment, and also the examination of specimens which cannot be made at the Somerset Hospital because there is no proper laboratory, and specimens have to be sent to the University, with the result that frequently action founded on the examination of specimens has been so long delayed that it is too late. There are 479 beds in the hospitals under the Cape Hospital Board and there is also accommodation in two convalescent homes for 70 additional patients, making 549 beds in all. The population from Camps Bay to Simonstown is 250,000, so that we have one bed for every 455 persons as compared with one bed for every 130 persons in the United States, and one hospital bed for every 210 persons in England and Wales. I am very much indebted for much of my information to the “Cape Times,” which has taken up the matter very energetically and has managed to collect certain statistics. The New Somerset Hospital is our only large general hospital, and its state is appalling in regard to some of the necessary things that ought to be done. It has had no paint either outside or inside for years. When money has been put on the Estimates for repairs it has been ruled out by the Administrator in pursuit of his campaign of economy. Some of the hospitals, I am told, are in a dangerous condition owing to the lack of repairs which are evidently regarded as luxuries. Among the many things required at the New Somerset Hospital are repairs, a permanent radiologist at a salary of £600, a remodelling of the operating theatre, and additions to the X-Ray apparatus, the present apparatus being quite out of date. If other hospitals throughout the Union are as badly in need of repair as are those of the Cape Peninsula, then things must be in a bad way. We need a special hospital for children. Under the circumstances it is very hard work for those at the head of affairs to carry on. It might be asked: “Why is the matter not dealt with adequately under the provincial machinery?” Well, I am not going into the controversy between the Hospital Board and the Administrator, who is a great and a forceful personality, and whatever he decides must go in spite of the Provincial Council, the Executive Committee and all other obstacles that stand in his way. If the Hospital Board says it wants so much money, the Administrator says, “you must take £11,000 less.” If economy is to rule in hospital work then the best profession in this country will be that of the undertaker. There should be no question of economy where the hospitals are concerned. The Administrator has been asked to appoint a commission on this question, but the request has not been granted. Under the Limitation of Subsidy Ordinance the more the public give the less the subsidy is. Consequently the public has no inducement to give. The whole policy has been a policy of discouraging the public from giving to the hospitals. That is a policy which will have to be gone into. I am sure there are still a large number of generous men in this country who would give liberally if they were properly encouraged. Look at that princely amount given by Mr. John Garlick in Cape Town, £25,000. I am not a believer in titles, being a democrat, but I should be inclined to suggest that we might institute the old Order of Knights Hospitallers that used to exist for those people who would provide our hospitals to the extent of £25,000 to £50,000.

Mr. HAY:

Knights of Jerusalem.


Well, a very noble title, and I am sure it would be an honour to be respected when it was known that those on whom it was conferred had done so much good for our hospitals. The hospital boards, as I was saying, met with a good deal of discouragement. They went to the Administrator and asked that the whole question be referred to a commission. The Administrator did not agree. There were 24 out of the 31 boards of the Cape Province represented at the (particular conference to which I refer. The Administrator told the deputation in April that at that moment they did not know what the new Government would be or do, neither did they know what the provincial council would do. The conference would no doubt have a certain effect on Parliament which ever Government came into power, and the more the hospital boards ventilated their difficulties the better he liked it. I am bringing these difficulties forward not so much to ventilate them as to find remedies for them. Then I think you should try to get some co-ordination of the different hospitals. At present each hospital board is allowed to go on in its own sweet way. One hospital may have plenty of accommodation while patients are being turned away from other hospitals. There is no proper co-ordination, which is very necessary. In some areas the public have subscribed to provide additional accommodation, but effective advantage has not been taken of their subscriptions owing to the attitude of the Administrator. At Wynberg the public collected money for 15 additional rooms in the main building which are closed and empty, but the hospital board could not, owing to the attitude of the Administrator, guarantee the maintenance. In effect, the Administrator said, yes, you have got the money, but who is going to keep the place up? The same thing was done at Rondebosch. The public collected money there for a children’s ward; owing to the difficulty re maintenance the money is not utilized. Apart from the question of hospitals, the question of sanatoria and convalescent homes is an important one. If you bad sanatoria and convalescent homes you would relieve your hospitals of the present congestion, and thus make way for people who should be in hospitals. The home I have referred to at Nelspoort, good as it is, is not large enough and thus is totally inadequate to deal with the very large number of consumptive cases we have. The estimates of the Cape Hospital Board have had to be cut down year after year as the result of instruction from the Administrator. In 1923 the board budgeted for an expenditure of £86,400, they were cut down by the Administrator to £79,400. In 1924 the estimates were cut down by £11,000. Cutting down necessary expenditure like that means that many people have to die who might otherwise live. Hospitals are dealt with now as though they were charities. They are not charities but public necessities. Groote Schuur Hospital is very often discussed now. That is one of the things this commission should go into: The estimates in regard to that are very much revised now on account of the cheaper cost of materials, but still it will be some time before we have that large hospital. Then take the question of sun treatment. We have no public hospital here where sun treatment can be given for surgical tuberculosis, incipient Consumption, and so on. Dr. Cooney, in his annual report (1922-’23) on the Tuberculous Bureau appearing in the annual report of the Medical Officer of Health says a sanatorium is required to cope with tuberculosis, and that public interest has been aroused in regard to heliotherapy. There are a number of things which could be done immediately. For instance, in regard to Wynberg, if the Administrator would guarantee the management you could have those extra rooms in use; and at Rondebosch you could have the extra accommodation for children. If these suggestion, and those made by the hospital board were carried out there would be another 170 beds provided in the Cape Peninsula. This is not a matter which is confined to Cape Town. I have letters from other parts of the country. I have a letter here from the Barkly West Hospital in which they say among other things that they are short of bed linen, crockery and so on. They are in debt and are being told that unless they can raise sufficient revenue they will have to close down their two hospitals. I mention this to show that I am not speaking only for those who live under the shadow of Table Mountain. The same state of affairs exists right throughout the Union. The Minister may say that a commission might possibly not be the best way of arriving at the results we want. In my humble opinion a strong and impartial commission is the only way in which this question can be tackled. There may be a question in the Minister’s mind about the time that would be required for the commission to report, but the commission might be instructed on certain definite points to bring information about finances in time for the Minister to deal with it at the beginning of the next financial year so that provision can be made on the next Estimates. The other questions the commission would have to deal with would take longer and could be dealt with subsequently. I would urge the Minister not to go in for a departmental enquiry. The subject is much too big for that. To my mind the Minister and the Government have here a great opportunity to deal with something which has been sadly neglected in the past. They have an opportunity of putting the hospitals and sanatoria of the Union on a sound basis and demonstrating to the world that the time has come in South Africa when we are going to think as much of the lives and health of our men, women and children as we do of our live stock. We spend very much more in investigating diseases of cattle and providing for them than we do on our hospitals. It is a matter that has been much neglected in the past, and I hope it will not be neglected in the future, and that the hon. Minister will bring before this House a comprehensive sanatorium and hospital policy for the Union.

ߤMr. SNOW:

I do not propose to say many words on this motion after the eloquent speech we have heard from the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover St.) (Mr. Alexander), who takes a deep interest, not only in political but also in sociological matters, and deserves the gratitude of this House. What has struck me very much is the tremendous amount of overlapping that takes place in the provincial system alone, not to speak of the shortage of hospital accommodation. It is because that it is made a provincial matter and not a national one, that this overlapping takes place. The hon. member has drawn attention to matters which other hon. members should urge, which is that we want national treatment of this question, just as in the case of unemployment and other social problems of what we call “modern society”; for instance, hon. members may have noticed in travelling throughout the country that in large-sized towns you find various kinds of schools—some are nice buildings and some are dull. Some towns have a large number of churches and chapels, and you do find some beautiful buildings amongst them; but then in the same town you discover that there is no hospital. I may mention one town I know particularly well, which is Beaufort West—a nice town with beautiful streets, fine churches and so forth, but no hospital. That has a great bearing on the shortage of hospital accommodation in Cape Town, because if a person in Beaufort West becomes ill and has to undergo an operation he may have to go to Cape Town or Kimberley or some of the other large towns where they do make provision for such cases. I want to mention the difference between the rich person and the poor person in regard to hospital treatment, and there is a very important factor which must be taken into consideration. The rich person can always go to a private hospital. I am inclined to think that if it was not possible for a rich person to go to one of these private hospitals, but had to go to a public hospital, we would soon have an improvement of the present system. You have in the Cape Peninsula the scandal of a thousand cases being turned away from hospital yearly. That state of affairs should not be allowed to exist or to continuer, and the sooner this matter of hospital treatment becomes a matter for the Union the better for all concerned. It should be a national, and not a provincial, matter. I do not, however, agree with the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover St.) (Mr. Alexander) when he referred to the need or the advisability of what he terms “generous persons,” generous in putting apart some of their money for hospitals. With all due respect to these rich persons, and giving them all credit for their donations, it should not be necessary in this so-called civilized country for charitably-disposed persons to assist our hospitals. Just as the State comes forward and takes charge of and houses criminals—and the State soon does so when a crime is committed—so the State should come forward and look after the sick and adequately house and care for them. I also object very much to the practice of street collections in connection with hospitals which has grown up, and I think it is a wrong system. I think it is a wrong way of raising money for such necessary work as hospital accommodation, which should not, in any shape or form, have to depend on charity, or donations from generous persons. The effect is that you are only taxing the charitable and well disposed section of the community, and that those who are not well disposed get off scot free, which is wrong. I heartily endorse the hon. member’s motion, asking that a commission should be appointed, and I do think we have been rather slip-shod in this matter, which, as I have said, should be made a national question. For these reasons I have very great pleasure in seconding the motion.

ߤ*Dr. STALS:

The question is just as important as that of our national education to which it is closely allied, as also the question of a national housing scheme. Consequently it should not be left to the provincial authorities. I do not want to advocate greater expenditure, but a proper, sound system should be laid down to provide for all existing requirements. Up to the present it has been left too much to local initiative. I do not want to say anything against local enterprise, but as it is a matter which concerns the whole nation, it ought to be under the administration of the Union Government, and in this regard I want to confine myself mainly to two points. The first is that the country cannot rest content with the existing provincial system. Hospitals have been erected which we cannot maintain. Under the provincial system every district may have its own hospital. Viewed superficially, that seems to be quite a good system, but the consequence has been that there are too many hospitals and that not all of them will be able to live. There is another important question. In other countries there are hospitals for the poor, but here we have only one such institution, and that is not enough. The Minister ought to try to do something for those people. Then in the case of hereditary diseases, we do not do enough in that direction, especially for mental defectives, and there should be more accommodation for them. We should, too, have more research work done. In my district tuberculosis is not on the increase, but there are times in the history of a nation when the disease increases. It depends on the mode of living and on housing conditions. We have our slums, and where they exist the disease is always found. The Minister ought to give his attention to this, as also to the spreading of venereal disease. In 1918 we were taught a hard lesson by the Spanish influenza, and then it became apparent how much we lacked hospital accommodation. We suffered severely then because we were not prepared for such an epidemic. The lack of hospitals is all the more felt on account of the development of our medical faculties. The country feels that the time has long come when our doctors should qualify in our own universities. Both from an economical and a national standpoint that is necessary, although nobody will take exception to it if the students also avail themselves of the facilities offered in universities abroad. But we should give our students the opportunity to have as good a training in this country as they can get overseas. We ought to be in a position here to study all the phases of human suffering. One lamentable factor in our national life is the high mortality of infants. Our medical students and practitioners do not have sufficient opportunities of studying children’s diseases, as there is such appalling lack of hospital accommodation. We can go much further than is aimed at by this motion, as the population increases and the conditions of living deteriorate. For that purpose an investigation is needed by a commission, as suggested by the motion.


We all agree as to lack of knowledge regarding our national health, and when Union came into being I was sorry the hospitals were delegated to the provincial councils. Somebody made the remark that we give special attention to animal diseases. We have a veterinary division and a crowd of veterinary surgeons, but human diseases are left to minor bodies, who are not even in touch with each other. Each province deals with the question of hospitals in its own way. Consequently, there is no uniform policy and the Minister is powerless. It is one of the matters which should have been tackled at the time of Union, and it was wrong to leave it to the provinces. I welcome the speech of the hon. member for Hopetown (Dr. Stals) and endorse his statement that locally qualified doctors are as good as those who have taken their degree abroad. The prejudice against the local professional man will in time disappear. The whole matter of hospital administration should be placed under the Minister. It was my fate to spend some time in the National Hospital at Bloemfontein, and I was surprised at the high standard of efficiency at that place. For efficiency the institution need not yield to any, and I hope all hospitals will be similarly equipped and run.

*Lt.-Col. N. J. PRETORIUS:

I wish to point out that there is no quorum.


The hon. member is mistaken.


I would like to know whether the time has not come to have a full-time director for every hospital. At present there are no responsible superintendents for the hospitals. There are hospital committees, but these are not in a position to supervise the internal arrangements. If there is a responsible head, the public will have more confidence in these institutions. The work of training of nurses and the great need of fully qualified nurses are under-estimated. We have been inclined in the past to leave our sick too much to the usual home treatment. We ought to take advantage of the advance of medical science. Fortunately, the prejudice of South African girls against the profession of nurses has disappeared, and they ought to be encouraged. Often there is nobody to help the neglected and those who have fallen and to alleviate their sufferings, but our nurses have done much in this direction. We know as yet too little of the sufferings in the country and our eyes have not been opened to existing needs. For that reason I welcome this motion, which aims at an investigation by qualified persons in order to put our hospitals on a modern footing.


I have very great pleasure in supporting the motion of the hon. member for Hanover Street (Mr. Alexander). I would like hon. members to take their minds back to the year 1911, when there was a tremendous outcry from the doctors and citizens of Cape Town for increased hospital accommodation. As a result of this agitation which ensued a hospital was built which is now called the Alexandra Hospital. During the war period that hospital was taken over by the military and is now used as a mental hospital. Apart from this institution, during the whole of this period since 1911, we have had no material increased, hospital accommodation in Cape Town. Last year over 1,200 patients were refused admittance to the hospitals in this area. The Administrator, who, after all, is the provincial council in the Cape Province, did, it is true, make an arrangement whereby he agreed that the provincial authorities would give 30s. for every 20s. collected in the streets of Cape Town, but even that has now been stopped, inasmuch as the Administrator states that he will not increase his grant even if the collection exceed the amount of last year’s collections, the result being that there is no possibility of increased hospital accommodation being secured. As a matter of fact, the provincial estimates show a decreased vote as compared with 1923. There is a decrease of £6,700 in the grants-in-aid. What, I would ask, is going to happen to the sick if this kind of thing goes on? We know quite well that when the Administrator clearly states that he will not increase his grants to the hospitals he will not give way. The citizens and Municipality of Cape Town also state that they will not increase their grants to the hospitals owing chiefly to the fact of the large number of patients attended to in the hospitals who reside outside the Municipality of Cape Town. We must realize, therefore, that this is a national problem and that it can only be dealt with by the highest tribunal in the land, the Union Parliament. I do not expect the Minister to state this afternoon that he is going to give £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 for increased hospital accommodation, but I do hold that we may fairly expect the Minister to state clearly that he is willing that an enquiry should be held into the matter and that, if it should be proved that the state of things is as grave as has been represented here this afternoon, he will see that it is remedied. We look to the Minister to make such a statement and I shall be very disappointed if he does not agree to this motion. In the existing state of affairs it seems to me that the only alternative before us is to look to the Union Government to remedy the defects and play the game to the sick of this country.

ߤMr. D. M. BROWN:

Of all the questions we have discussed this session, few are so important as this one, as hospitals touch humanity. Previous speakers have told what Cape Town has suffered, and the same story applies to every other large centre in the country. The question is far too large for the local authorities to deal with, as they have not the necessary funds to do what is so urgently necessary. The hon. member for Liesbeek (Mr. Pearce) has referred to the impotence of the Provincial Council of the Cape, but since he left that body they have some strong men on it, and they are not allowing the Administrator to have his own way so much as the hon. member for Liesbeek did. However able, no Administrator is able to tackle a question like this, and it is only by a commission, or a Select Committee or something of that kind that we shall be able to arrive at the true position. If the Minister sent a telegram to every hospital board in the country, and asked the number of patients they had refused admission to, he would be surprised. Unfortunately, in South Africa we leave far too much to the Government, and I suppose there is no other country in which local authorities have so little power as they have in the Union. When we look at the depth and the width of the motion one sees that it is a proposal of no ordinary character. A motion so far-reaching in its effects, and likely to be so beneficial in its results, should have the fullest consideration of the Minister of the Interior. I hope the Minister will take action at once. We are told the sick are always with us, and we have a duty to be always with them, and it is that duty that this House is called upon to perform to-day. I hope the motion will receive a practical blessing from the Minister, and not simply obtain his good wishes. I know the Minister’s heart is with us, but I wish him to bring his practice up to the level of his heart.

†*Mr. HEYNS:

Such a commission as that proposed has been a long-felt want. The provincial finances have always been in such a state that hospitals in the outlying districts have had to suffer. A poor district such as Middelburg cannot do much and yet, allowing for limited means it has done a great deal. The grant to the local hospital is £500 per annum. The majority of patients have to be admitted free, consequently the hospital committee cannot make ends meet, with the result poor people have often to be discharged too soon. Nevertheless, the hospital has now acquired an X-ray apparatus. The little support accorded to a public so willing is heartrending. The hospital committee is often compelled to send ladies into the streets to collect sixpences and shillings, and everybody who can afford it contributes £5 or £10 to the list. We ought to encourage young girls to become nurses, but it is a disgrace that beginners are only paid £3 per month and have to work so atrociously hard. An enquiry by the Minister of Health is urgently required, and the matter should not be left to the Provincial Councils. They have too much work, their means are continually being limited, and they have to attend to education. I have much pleasure in supporting the motion.


I think we should be clear about the constitutional position, and then see how the present position evolved. The Act of Union contains certain stipulations with regard to hospitals, and Clause 85 provides that Provincial Councils shall be responsible both for their erection and maintenance. When that provision was made, there were two loopholes which escaped the attention of our legislators. No difference was made between infectious and non-infections diseases, and the functions of the Provincial Councils, City Councils and Hospital Committees were not clearly defined. Shortly after Union there arose a difference of opinion and of policy between the provinces. The Cape Provincial Council took the general hospitals under its care and left infectious diseases to local bodies. In the Transvaal the policy was just the reverse—the Provincial Council supervised the treatment of infectious diseases and had a ward built for the work at the Johannesburg General Hospital. So the matter remained until the influenza epidemic of 1918, which took away thousands of lives in the Union. Then we found that the present machinery did not work well and was indeed inadequate, as one authority pushed its responsibilities on to the shoulders of others. Out of that state of confusion in 1919 the Public Health Act was evolved. Our whole constitutional position and the management of our hospitals is based on that, and the law is based on the Act of Union. The Act stipulates that hospitals where non-infections diseases are treated, shall fall under the Provincial Councils. The responsibility for infectious diseases and action in time of epidemics rests with the Union Government. As a rule, however, the Union Government acts through the local authorities other than the Provincial Council. As a result of the condition of things created by the Act, there are all kinds of anomalies which ought to be done away with as soon as possible. In the first place there is lack of uniformity and in some respects a state of confusion. In the Cape Province hospitals are being erected by private initiative. Twenty-five voters hold a meeting, decide to have an hospital and approach the Administrator to sanction its erection. The Administrator then proclaims an hospital district and gives grants to the institution from provincial funds. The amount is proportionate to the funds available from private contributions. The Control Board of the hospital is based on this principle, as it consists of representatives of the public and members appointed by the Administrator. That is the Cape system, and the law of the Free State is on the same lines as the Cape law. In Natal there is quite a different system. All hospitals belong to the State, and all costs are paid by the Provincial Council. The hospital committees are advisory boards, and the public contributes hardly anything, while in the Transvaal they have the dual system. There are nine hospitals which are State institutions maintained on similar lines as those in Natal. But there are also the hospitals subsidized by the State as under the Cape system. Under this system we have very absurd conditions, as, for instance, in Barberton, where the provincial council pays all the hospital expenditure, whilst in Middelburg and Heidelburg, which are quite as big as Barberton, the hospitals are only subsidized by the provincial council to a maximum of £500 per annum. There is no reason whatsoever why there should be any differentiation. There is a general lack of uniformity in the system of control throughout the Union. There is also wanting a general policy regarding the erection of hospitals in the country as a whole, with the result that some parts have too few hospitals and others too many. In the Cape Province we have the voluntary system of local initiative. Consequently, there are 19 hospital districts without an hospital, whilst many other districts compete to get an hospital whether it is necessary or not. In the Cape Peninsula it is impossible for the local public to bear all the liabilities, because patients from the whole Union go there. In that way there is no opportunity for expansion, and available accommodation is totally inadequate. That is a result of the absence of a general policy in regard to hospitals all over the country wherever they are not required. Another anomaly in regard to our hospitals is that there are certain duties to be performed which are not carried out simply because nobody is responsible for them. There is, for instance, the training of nurses. In this respect nothing is done officially. Provision is made to a certain extent in regard to hospitals, but nobody is responsible for nurses, and they are wanted, too. The provincial councils are not in charge of their training as the law does not give them the responsibility. All they have to do is too look after the hospitals. Neither does the medical council take charge of the training because that body is only an examining body. The Union Government cannot take charge of their training as the law does not allow it. The result is that training of nurses is left to its own fate. No provision is made for hospitals, and no attention is paid to the health conditions on the diggings. The provincial authorities say that they get no revenue from tire diggings and consequently can do nothing for them. Consequently, too, I get letters from the diggers praying for assistance, and there has already been an outbreak of enteric fever on the diggings at Lichtenburg. When the epidemic had passed, the Union Government had to break up its temporary hospital. The magistrate then by telegraph requested the Government not to take away the nurse who had done such good work as the provincial council of the Transvaal refused to do anything as they got no revenue from the diggings. What must the Government do? According to the law it cannot grant the request as, under normal conditions, the law prevents the Government from providing hospitals. It is clear, therefore, that under this system essential duties are being neglected. It is also remarkable that there is no inspection of hospitals by the State. Only in the Transvaal the director of the Johannesburg General Hospital carries out inspection work, but of course it is impossible for him to do everything. In the other provinces only the accounts are audited, but there is nobody to give expert advice. That, I think, is very necessary, as technical guidance is lacking in the outlying towns, and although the local committee consists of willing and well-meaning people, they are lacking in expert knowledge. Another disadvantage is that under the present system there is unnecessary expense coupled with inefficiency. The cause of all this is that the treatment of ordinary and infectious diseases falls under different authorities. The result is that the provincial administration and the Union Government erect a hospital for ordinary diseases and another for infectious diseases, both in the same place, and mostly in an important centre. That is unnecessary overlapping. I have been informed on good authority that this is quite unnecessary and that there is no reason why the two should not be amalgamated. In Port Elizabeth there is a general hospital where people are admitted for 8s. 1d. per day. There is also a small municipal hospital, partly financed by the Government, which was erected for infectious diseases and where people have to pay £3 per day. The hospitals for infectious diseases are not in a position to cope with the work in times of epidemic, and the whole system is a proved failure as they are not assisted by the general hospitals. Obviously the system must break down as soon as the work increases very considerably. I would like to refer to another aspect of the question. In the Transvaal and in Natal we find the undesirable conditions that the body which spends the money, namely, the hospital committee, does not provide it, and that of course results in waste of money and high costs. It makes expenditure unduly high. In Port Elizabeth the hospital fees are 8s. 1d. per day, and I am informed that the treatment is excellent, while the general hospitals in the Transvaal charge up to 18s. 9d. per day, and the charge in some of the small hospitals is 49s. per day. As hon. members can see there is a big difference in the scale. That now is the constitutional and actual position. One way out of the impasse would be to delegate all hospital matters to the provincial councils. That will have the disadvantage, however, of causing considerable lack of uniformity, as each province will follow its own course and there will be no general policy throughout the Union. Another way would be for the Union Government to assume control, and that would give both uniformity and a general policy regarding hospitals. The same body which has to deal with the causes of epidemics, the health conditions of the towns, etc., will then also be responsible for the treatment of the disease, and it is right that the body to whose care is entrusted the research in connection with the causes should also take measures against the disease. It would have this other advantage, that a good deal of work which is to-day done by different authorities, would be done cheaper and more efficiently by the Union Government. The medical inspection of schools, for instance, can be done by the district surgeons. Under the present system the inspector only points out the children who have something wrong with them, but he has nothing to do with their treatment. The two things should be co-ordinated. A whole system of district nurses could be arranged under the supervision of the district surgeons—something which would make the system of district surgeons a much more useful one than at present. Another way out would be to place general hospitals—like the hospitals for infectious diseases—under the Union Government and the smaller hospitals under the Provincial Councils. Those are some of the alternatives. I am not prepared to say just now what policy the Government is going to adopt. I only wish to say that we have come to a stage where it is necessary that the whole matter should be gone into thoroughly. It cannot be treated as a separate matter, but when the Minister of Finance deals with the provinces and their financial relations, I am prepared to bring up the education and hospital questions. I am prepared, too, to accept the motion with an amendment, and I now move—

In line 2, after “Commission”, to insert “or some other suitable body”.

A Commission appointed by the Government is too circumlocutory, and such an enquiry takes a lot of time and money. Usually its report is voluminous, and the result is that its recommendations are not carried out. As a rule the report contains a large amount of information, but nothing more. Possibly it would be better to appoint a different sort of commission which will be able to travel about but will not be bound to go through the usual programme of commissions.

Rev. Mr. RIDER seconded.


I accept the amendment moved by the Minister of the Interior I feel very grateful to hon. members on all sides of the House for the very sympathetic manner in which they have received this motion and also to the Minister for his acceptance of it. As long as the enquiry is a thorough and impartial one, of course it must be left in the hands of the Government as to what form it should take, but I am glad to hear the Minister say that he is not considering the question merely of a departmental enquiry. From the Minister’s speech it is evident that he agrees that there is something radically wrong in the-hospitals of the Union and that there is a necessity for an adequate policy on this question.

Amendment was put and agreed to.

Motion, as amended, put and agreed to, viz.

That in the opinion of this House the Government should take into consideration the advisability of appointing a commission or some other suitable body:

  1. (1) To enquire into and report upon the best hospital and sanatorium policy that is suitable for the Union, having consideration both to the needs of the people and the requirements of the medical schools;
  2. (2) to make a survey of the existing hospital and sanatorium accommodation and equipment, the methods of administration and control, and the adequacy and modernity or otherwise of the treatment provided;
  3. (3) to make such recommendations as it may deem necessary—
    1. (a) to carry into effect the policy recommended under the first term of reference,
    2. (b) to bring the existing hospitals and sanatoria up to date, and
    3. (c) to provide such additional hospital and sanatorium accommodation and equipment for the inhabitants of the Union as it may deem essential.

I move—

That a Select Committee be appointed to enquire into and report upon the question of making the necessary financial provision to compensate all citizens who suffered damage as a direct result of military operations by Government forces against rioters during the Witwatersrand disturbances in 1922, and who were not covered by insurance for such damage; the committee to have power to take evidence and call for papers.

I am sorry that the Minister of Finance is not here. I know that his presence here would probably shorten this discussion. As far as I am concerned I do not intend that it shall be a long one. I tried to bring this matter on the floor of the House last session, but, unfortunately, it was not reached and there has been no opportunity this session to get a place on the paper for it until to-day. The matter is, in a nutshell, a difficulty that has arisen in regard to a number of citizen who have suffered loss in Johannesburg and on the Reef as a result of action by the Government forces during the disturbances. The Government is protected by the Indemnity Act, but the Government appointed a commission which awarded compensation to persons, provided they were not covered by insurance. I am glad the Minister has returned. A number of people at Johannesburg were covered by Lloyd’s policies, which contain a clause stating, “No claim to attach hereto for delay, deterioration or loss of market, or confiscation or destruction (in some eases ‘wilful destruction’) by the Government of the country in which the property is situated.” This clause has given rise to a great deal of legal argument, in which lawyers have taken different views, as sometimes happens. Most eminent counsel in England argued that Lloyd’s policies protect the underwriters, as the Government, in order to put down the disturbances, caused the destruction by gun fire. On the other hand, the Government’s legal advisers here expressed the opinion that Lloyds is liable, and referred to an English case which I have looked up, but I am not acting in a legal capacity to-day, and far be it from me to decide between the two opinions. Something, however, must be done to meet these cases, as these people are actually suffering because they have insurance policies; if they had not been insured they would have been compensated long ago, as have been people who are not insured. Lloyds cannot be sued in South Africa. Many of the sufferers are poor people who are unable to fight the matter in the courts in England. I quite realize that at this late stage of the session it will be impossible for a Select Committee to go into all these matters, but I understand from correspondence I have had that the underwriters in England are quite fair in this matter, and do not wish to escape liability that is properly theirs. I believe they have already paid out £150,000, and I think they would be willing to contribute something towards the costs of a test case in England. The Minister should accept the motion, allow the matter to go before a Select Committee, and then find a way out in the manner I have suggested, namely, that the Government should take action in the courts in England on one of these policies, taking cession of action from one of the claimants. If the English courts decide that Lloyds is liable, there will be no further liability on this Government, as Lloyds will then pay out at once. On the other hand, if it is decided that Lloyds is not liable the Union Government will compensate these people exactly as they have compensated other sufferers. I have a case here of property near the Trades Hall. Benoni, which was somewhat damaged by bombs from the Government aeroplanes. Surely, that is a person who ought not to suffer this loss. The next case is a Fordsburg case. Then there is another case of a bomb dropped at Benoni. The damage caused in this case is small, amounting only to £70. It seems to me that the most equitable position that the Government could take up is to agree to the motion and allow a Select Committee to suggest a means by which this matter could be brought to finality. One way, as I suggest, would be to bring a test case in the English courts and abide by the decision. What I want is to get justice for these people who have suffered as a direct result of the action of Government forces during those disturbances. Many of these people are poor people to whom the losses are of great importance. Under these circumstances, I move the motion standing in my name.

Mr. J. S. F. PRETORIUS seconded.


I second the motion. In Fordsburg an hotel was bombarded, and Lloyds refused to pay out the insurance even in the cases of people who did not take part in the strike. The matter was enquired into by a commission, and some people have been compensated, whilst others have not been paid because the property was insured with Lloyds. A commission should be appointed to make enquiry, and possibly the difficulty can be solved by a test case in England. There are also others who suffered personal loss and who did not receive adequate compensation. The commission sat shortly after the strike, and did not grant compensation to all. For that reason I am in favour of a commission being appointed to investigate such cases.


I think that the facts and the point at issue in this matter have been very fairly stated by the hon. member for Cape Town (Hanover St.) (Mr. Alexander). I presume that he confines himself only to those cases that fall within the terms of reference drafted by the Government at the time the commission was appointed, and that his motion refers only to those cases where any compensation was not paid owing to the fact that these people were insured. Instructions were given to this commission that they should exclude those people who were actually insured. The hon. member is quite right in raising the point that why these few people have not received compensation is that the previous Government took up the position that according to the opinion of our own law advisers these people had a legal claim against Lloyds. The hon. member is also right when he says that Lloyds have refused to pay out owing to eminent legal opinion given in England. We have taken legal opinion here, and I think we are on safe ground when we say that Lloyds are liable. I agree with the hon. member that the position taken up by the Treasury is altogether untenable. The people who have not been insured have been paid. The people who have been insured and have not received compensation cannot run the risk of expensive litigation in England, and it is only reasonable to expect that if these people will be prepared to take the risk the Government should say: “We are prepared to sue Lloyds in England.” No good purpose could be served in referring this matter to a Select Committee. I will find out how many of these people are involved, and if the amount is not large the Government should treat these cases in the same manner as the other cases and institute an action against Lloyds—bring a test case and guarantee their costs. We cannot continue to take up the position that these people should be in a worse position than the people who did not insure at all. I suggest that the hon. member should withdraw his motion and let the Treasury go into the question—find out what the amounts are, and the Treasury could decide either to settle a small amount as has been done, or get a test case against Lloyds.


I am glad that the Minister has adopted the attitude he has in this case. I know that there are a number of cases—not very many—where there has been real suffering caused, and I know of the fact that the people who have suffered damage were not in a position to bring an action against Lloyds in England, and at the same time their claims were ruled out because we were advised by the law advisers that they had to be ruled out because they had an insurance policy. I hope the hon. member will withdraw his motion calling for a Select Committee because his motion goes much further than merely covering the cases of citizens who had a policy of insurance which they cannot enforce. It applies to all citizens not covered by insurance. The wording of the hon. member’s motion would exclude the very cases he wants dealt with and would include a large number of cases which were not covered by the Government notice of 1922. I think the wording of the motion is far wider than the case which the hon. member wishes to cover. I hope he will now withdraw his motion.


I do not quite understand the argument of the hon. member who has just sat down, there may be cases of some who have not been paid insurance. I do not wish to press the point, but it appears to me to be just as well to put this matter in order, and I think it would be better if the hon. member for Hanover. Street (Mr. Alexander) not to withdraw his motion but to amend it. I do not know if the Minister requires Parliamentary sanction, but what I am going to move will cover it. I move, as an amendment—

In lines 1 and 2, to omit “a Select Committee be appointed to enquire into and report upon and to omit all the words after “damage”, where it occurs for the second time, to the end of the motion, and to substitute “be referred to the Government for consideration”.

†*Mr. REYBURN seconded


I would like to explain to the hon. member what my objections were and are to the form of the motion even as proposed to be amended by the hon. member for Benoni (Mr. Madeley). As the motion will stand, if this amendment is carried, the Government will be asked to enquire into the compensation of all citizens, whether they took part in the disturbances or not. The terms of the Government Notice of 1922 provided only for compensation in the case of persons who were either assisting the Government forces or took no part in the disturbances. This motion, as it stands here, applies to everybody, even if they took part in the carrying on of the riots. I suppose the hon. member (Mr. Madeley) means that. In the second place, the motion still contains the words “who are not covered by insurance for such damage”. The whole difficulty about these cases is that they are covered by insurance, so we are advised, but the trouble is that they are not in a position to enforce the necessary action to recover this insurance. I would prefer, if the House is going to be asked to accept this motion, to see it put in the form that the Government be requested to make further enquiry into claims covered by Government Notice No. 814 of 1922, with special reference to any persons who have been insured against damage but who have been unable to recover such insurance.


If the matter is referred to the Government for consideration they will decide who shall be paid, or who shall not be paid.


I accept the amendment. I made it clear what were the cases I referred to. The point at issue is whether these people are covered by insurance or not. In the assurance given by the Minister he made it quite clear that the only cases that will be taken up by the Government will be the cases I have referred to. If we alter this motion again we may be excluding some deserving persons who ought to be included.

Amendment put and agreed to.

Motion, as amended, put and agreed to, viz.:

That the question of making the necessary financial provision to compensate all citizens who suffered damage as a direct result of military operations by Government forces against rioters during the Witwatersrand disturbances in 1922, and who were not covered by insurance for such damage be referred to the Government for consideration.


I move—

That in the opinion of this House the Government should take into consideration the advisability of giving effect to the terms of the contract made between certain Natal postal employees and the Natal Government in 1903, as recommended by the Public Service Commission of Enquiry on pages 198-9 of the Fifth Report [U.G. 6—’21] and as also recommended in paragraph 20 of the Report of the Select Committee on Report of Public Service Commission [S.C. 7—’14].

The motion has been put on the Order Paper on behalf of certain postal employees—12 in all—in the hope that a long-standing grievance will be put right. They feel that under a new Government there is some hope of their case being favourably considered. It was the usual course of the late Natal Government to advertise in England inviting applications for service in the Colony at specific rates of pay. In 1903 a number of telegraphists were engaged in this way. The men were obliged to sign a contract setting out the conditions of their employment and embodying a starting salary, annual increments and a maxima to be ultimately reached. In 1905, owing to financial stringency all salaries under the Natal Government were reduced, and contrary to all custom the salaries of the 1903 men were also reduced. It is against this breach of faith with them on the part of the Natal Government that the 1903 agreement men have continued to protest, On May 29, 1909, the Natal Government notified its intention to put the matter right. On March 2, 1910, the Governor-General-in-Council issued the authority to put this into effect, but the telegraphists brought from England in 1903 under special agreement were not permitted to progress to the maxima provided in their agreement, notwithstanding that it was the intention of Parliament to put the matter right. On making representations to the Union Postmaster-General they were referred to the Public Service Commission, which referred them to the treasurer, who referred them back to the commission, with the result that the 1903 men have not had their grievance adjusted to this day. The Public Service Commission recommended that the matter should be sympathetically considered, and a Select Committee of this House which considered the case in 1914 reported as follows: “Your committee thinks that the Government should do all that is reasonably possible to remedy any cases of hardship …. even if arising from something which took place before the establishment of Union.” There are only 12 officers involved in this grievance and no more officers will be affected if the matter is adjusted. The amount involved is approximately £300 each. It should be mentioned that in the Cape Colony in similar circumstances officers engaged under contracts or agreements were exempt from any reduction in wages. There is little doubt that this genuine grievance on the part of the Natal postal officials would have been settled long ago, but these men were very young at the time and consequently not versed in the procedure necessary to get this matter put right; and the Great War intervening, the loyalty of these men—so they tell me—prevented them from embarrassing the Government during that period. They come forward now in the hope that a new Government will remedy a long-standing grievance and adjust this complaint against the old Natal Government. There were many things the old Natal Government did which did not reflect to their credit, and this was one of them. It was practically a breach of faith on the part of the Natal Government. I hold all the documents which I am prepared to hand to the responsible Minister. I hope he will accept this motion and let the matter be gone into. I move the motion standing in my name.

Mr. G. BROWN seconded the motion.


I think the hon. member for Pietermaritzburg (North) (Mr. Strachan) has stated the case fairly and accurately. This is one of the unfortunate things we have inherited and which these people look to us to put right. It is not the only one. There are a good many cases where even before Union injustice has been done and for many years people have been crying for redress. While the hon. member is right in saying this is one of the wrongs that the Natal Government did, he forgot to say that the Natal Government even before Union endeavoured to put it right. There were two sets of men affected—those who came out under the 1902 agreement and those who came out under the 1903 agreement. An executive order of the Governor-General-in-Council was issued and under that Order it was authorized that these men should be put in the position they were under the terms of their contract. What these men are suffering from as far as I can see is an overdose of sympathy. The Postmaster-General in Natal said a wrong had been done. These men had individual contracts with the Government at that time and the Government put it right, but only as far as the 1902 men were affected; for some reason the 1903 men were not included. Then Union came and the Postmaster-General under Union admitted a wrong had been done and should be put right. The men were referred to the Public Service Commission who said it was a pre-Union matter, and they could not deal with it. Then they went to a Select Committee of this House which gave them sympathy and a favourable recommendation, but they have been in the unfortunate position all these years of getting too much sympathy and too little relief. I am not going to say that I am going to give them relief, but I will call for all the papers, and ask the Public Service Commission to give me all the information in connection with the case, and I will promise that as soon as the papers come down I will go into the matter and get the Government to consider it and give it as full consideration on this occasion as it has ever had before. And if it is possible that we find without the shadow of a doubt that injustice has been done, I, for one, will do everything I can to put this right even if it happened so long ago as before Union. A wrong in the passage of time does not in my opinion become right. A wrong to-day is still a wrong tomorrow. We will do our best, even at this very late hour, and see that justice is done. I will accept the motion on this condition and see how far we can go into it and to meet the request.


More sympathy.

The motion was agreed to.

TRADING BY MINING COMPANIES. Mr. MADELEY (on behalf of the Rev. Mr. Mullineux)::

I move—

That the petition from S. J. Swardt and 2,684 others, traders, shop-assistants and property owners on the Witwatersrand, praying that the Precious and Base Metals Act, 1908 (Transvaal), may be so amended as to make trading by mines and mining companies, on or off the mines, with their employees, and the stop order system, illegal, presented to this House on the 15th August, 1924, be referred to the Government for consideration.

It is only referring the matter for consideration.


Is the hon. member authorized?


Yes, sir.

Rev. Mr. HATTINGH seconded the motion.


Representations have been made to me, and I have already begun to investigate this question, and it will be investigated further. There is no objection to the motion.

The motion was agreed to.


I move—

That the House do now adjourn.

I would like to ask the Prime Minister to withdraw his motion for the adjournment of the House, so that the next motion on the Order Paper can be taken.

The House adjourned at 5.50 p.m.