House of Assembly: Vol2 - THURSDAY 28 AUGUST 1924
Mr. SPEAKER, as Chairman, brought up the Second Report of the Select Committee on Internal Arrangements, as follows:
Your Committee, having had under consideration the petition from G. H. van L. Ribbink, referred to it, and having heard the petitioner in support thereof, begs to report that on the authority of the Printing and Debates Committee of last session an ex gratia payment of £200 was made to petitioner on account of the abrupt termination of that session, whilst at the same time a claim against the petitioner amounting to approximately £100 in respect of certain wasted printing costs was waived. Your Committee, however, considers that, in view of the commitments of the petitioner at the time of the prorogation of Parliament, some further consideration might be extended to him, and recommends the payment to him of a further sum of £200.
E. G. JANSEN, Chairman.
Report to be considered on 1st September.
The MINISTER OF FINANCE laid upon the Table:
Treasury memoranda respecting certain items which it is desired to include in the Pensions (Supplementary) Bill.
Memoranda referred to Select Committee on Pensions, Grants and Gratuities.
The MINISTER OF LANDS laid upon the Table:
Papers relating to:
(24) Proposed amendment of certain condition in title deed of Oliphants Hoek Forest Reserve, George.
(25 Proposed grant of certain erven to Village Management Board of Keimoes.
(26) Proposed grant three pieces land to Belville Village Management Board.
(27) Proposed reservation of certain land along the Orange River for coloured persons.
(28) Proposed readjustment of boundaries of farms “Hoogland” and “Uitzicht,” Zoutpansberg.
Papers referred to Select Committee on Crown Lands.
The MINISTER OF MINES AND INDUSTRIES was granted leave to introduce the Miners’ Phthisis Act Amendment Bill.
Bill brought up and read a first time; second reading on 1st September.
The MINISTER OF MINES AND INDUSTRIES was granted leave to introduce the Electricity Act Amendment Bill.
Bill brought up and read a first time; second reading on 1st September.
Mr. C. A. VAN NIEKERK seconded.
First Order read: Third reading, South West Africa Naturalization of Aliens Bill.
Bill read a third time.
Second Order read: House to go into Committee on the Land Bank Acts Further Amendment Bill.
House in Committee.
On Clause 5,
I move the omission of this clause. I think the Minister on reconsideration has seen that this is altogether a wrong principle to be introduced, and I hope he will not press for the retention of the clause. It is quite clear that the lien of the Land Bank is not a bond over movable property. It might be argued that under the general clause attached to most mortgage bonds, the bank would have some right over the movable property, but surely it is quite unreasonable to expect the Land Bank, by a letter to the Messenger of the Court, can instruct him to sell the movable property of a man whose ground is bonded to the Land Bank. I could still understand if it were argued that if a man has been sold out after his property has been executed upon, or his property has been sold and taken by the bank, and there is a balance owing to the bank, that this might be done, but here it is claimed—and I believe it is claimed by the Minister—that they would rather sell a man’s movable property before execution in order to keep him on the land. All I can say to the Minister—he knows it and I need not tell him this—that a man whose movable property you have to sell in order to keep him on the farm, is not going to remain on that farm. In the Insolvency Act, for instance, as hon. members are aware, we have already made provision limiting the right of a man who has got any claim over a debtor’s movables by virtue of his mortgage bond. We know it has been held that a later general bond over a man’s property has priority over a general clause in a mortgage bond. That shows which way our legislation trends, and surely if the Minister claims that merely on account of the general clause in a mortgage bond the bank should have this authority, that claim would not be tenable. In the second place, we know that notice to other creditors or notice to interested parties, is one of the most important features of our law. Here, without giving any other creditor notice, without any other creditor knowing anything about it, the Land Bank would have the right to address a letter to the Messenger and ask him to sell a man’s movable property. I think the Minister should, on consideration, drop this clause.
I endorse the remarks of the member who has just spoken. The Bill goes too far by giving the Land Bank the right to sell a man’s movable property. The bank wants to protect him by taking his movable property, but what rights will the man have then? The bank asserts with pride that it is very conservative in the granting of loans. Therefore, I see no necessity of protecting the bank still more by bringing in movable property.
I wish to point out to the hon. member for Ermelo (Col.-Cdt. Collins) that he can vote against the clause. There is no necessity to move an amendment.
This clause has been put in because it has been found that a person sometimes wants his movable property to be sold in order to cover rent, etc. so as to keep his farm. I do not wish to have a long discussion on the clause. If the Committee is against it, I am prepared to drop it.
I am not quite familiar with the procedure of the House. While entirely supporting the suggestion of the hon. member for Ermelo (Col.-Cdt. Collins), I would like to point out to the Minister that perhaps the most pernicious sub-section of this clause is (3), line 27. Here the bank constitutes itself as judge as to whether another individual has a prior right to these movables over the bank. The bank is thus both defendant and judge, and it seems to me to be a very great usurpation of the rights of the Courts of Justice in this country, and, even though the House should not turn down the whole clause, I hope that it will, at any rate, delete the words “he can satisfy the Board” in line 27. I would, therefore, move the deletion of those words.
As I have said, I do not want any discussion in the House. I shall withdraw the clause if there is any feeling in the House.
Does the hon. member (Mr. Stuttaford) move his amendment?
I understand that the Minister will withdraw the clause. That would cover my point.
The clause was negatived.
On Clause 6,
The clause violates the fidei commis principle. As long as the farm is under fidei commis the owner may not take a bond on it. He has to keep the farm unsaddled, and I doubt whether the successor of the fidei commis property will be bound to take over the bond. The owner should according to this Bill keep the farm free and hand it over in the same way, and I am against the innovation.
I hope hon. members will not share that objection. It is not the intention to have the farm too heavily burdened. It is only in respect of bonds by which the property is improved, such as fencing. It would be unreasonable to compel the owner to pay the bond while the farm is being improved, and has to be transferred thus.
The hon. member for Witwatersberg (Lt.-Col. N. J. Pretorius) wants to know whether the law will allow that. He may rest assured that where it is prescribed by the law it will be allowed. I agree with the Minister because it concerns the improvement of the property, and it would be unfair to make the temporary owner responsible for the bond.
I feel very strongly on this matter. The law gives us the right to transfer fidei commis to future generations. In terms of this clause a fidei commis owner can so encumber the property that his successors cannot pay the interest. That is the thin end of the wedge, as up to the present it was a general rule that no fidei commis property could be mortgaged in any way.
the hon. member is afraid of something which is in the interests of the fidei commis heirs.
I do not agree with the hon. member for Witwatersberg (Lt.-Col. N. J. Pretorius), as it is in the interest of the owner to effect improvements. In my district there occurred cases of unfairness where farmers compelled their neighbours to erect a fence for which they could get no loan on their fidei commis properties. The liability should be on the land and not against the person. I would like to move an amendment to that effect. It would not only refer to the fidei commis properties, but to all properties.
In a new clause I have made provision for the case mentioned by the hon. member for Colesberg (Mr. G. A. Louw).
The clause was agreed to.
On new Clause 7,
The MINISTER OF FINANCE, I move—
- (1) Whenever an advance has, before or after the commencement of this Act, been made by the bank under any law for dipping tanks, silos, fencing, boreholes and windmills, and has been noted by the registrar of deeds (as in Act No. 20 of 1911 defined) in the manner provided in section 3 of Act No. 20 of 1911, or any amendment thereof, the amount of the advance (or as much as may be owing) shall attach to the holding in respect of which the advance is made and each successive owner shall be liable for the instalments, and interest, as they fall due under the advance during his ownership as if the advance had been made to him: Provided that no transfer of a holding in respect of which such a note has been made shall be passed before any registrar of deeds unless a certificate, signed by the general manager of the bank, is lodged with the said registrar as proof (a) that all instalments, and interest, then due to the bank have been paid, and (b) of the amount still owing in respect of the advance.
- (2) If it be desired to transfer a portion of a holding in respect of which an advance has been noted by the registrar of deeds in the manner aforementioned, or if it be desired to register sub-divisional deeds of transfer in respect of any such holding, the general manager shall determine whether any and, if any, what proportion of the advance shall attach to each separate portion of the holding and each successive owner of each separate portion of the holding shall be liable for the instalments, and interest, as they fall due during his ownership in respect of the proportionate amount which attaches to such separate portion, as if the advance had been made to him: Provided that no such transfer of a portion of the holding or registration of such sub-divisional deeds of transfer shall be passed before any registrar of deeds unless a certificate, signed by the general manager of the bank, is lodged with the said registrar as proof (a) that all instalments, and interest, then due to the bank have been paid, (b) of the proportionate amount (if any) which shall attach to each separate portion of the holding.
- (3) The amount of any advance made after the commencement of this Act by the bank in respect of dipping tanks, silos, fencing, boreholes or windmills, and any amount owing to the bank by any owner at the date of any such transfer or registration of any such sub-divisional deeds of transfer as is permitted under sub-sections (1) and (2) of this section, shall be noted, free of charge, by the registrar of deeds on the document of title or deed of transfer (as the case may be) of the holding, or any portion thereof, in respect of which the advance was made, in addition to the note which the said registrar is by law to make in his said registers.
- (4) The certificate mentioned in sub-sections (2) and (3) of this section shall, when signed by the general manager, be conclusive evidence of the liability, and the amount thereof, of any owner of a holding, or portion thereof, in respect of which an advance for dipping tanks, silos, fencing, boreholes or windmills has been made by the bank.
- (5) Whenever the word “owner” is used in this section in relation to advances made for dipping tanks or silos, it shall have the meaning assigned to it in Act No. 20 of 1911, or any amendment thereof, and whenever that word is used in relation to advances for fencing, boreholes or windmills, it shall have the meaning assigned to it in Act No. 17 of 1912, or any amendment thereof.
- (6) Sections 5 and 6 of Act No. 30 of 1916 are hereby repealed.
Does the new clause meet my objection?
No, it leaves it to the whims of the bank.
That is now done away with.
New clause agreed to.
Clause 7 put and negatived.
New Clause 8,
The MINISTER OF FINANCE, I move—
8. Any advances made by the bank for fencing, silos, dipping tanks, boreholes or windmills may, notwithstanding anything in any law contained, be paid over at such time and in such instalments as the board may determine.
On Clause 8,
Would it also be possible to get loans for fencing in roads? At present there are too many gates. If loans are granted for that purpose it will save a lot of trouble and will prevent people losing their way when the gates are removed.
That was passed last year.
The MINISTER OF FINANCE moved in line 53, to omit “part thereof” and to substitute “such fencing” and certain amendments in the Dutch version which did not occur in the English version.
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
New Clause 9,
- (1) The board may make an advance to an owner (as defined in Act No. 17 of 1912, or any amendment thereof) of a holding (as defined in that Act or any amendment thereof) to provide a supply of water by boring or otherwise and to purchase and erect windmills: Provided that—
- (a) application therefore is made in the form prescribed by the board;
- (b) the amount in respect of one borehole and one windmill shall not exceed two hundred and fifty pounds; and
- (c) the advance, with interest, shall be repayable within a period not exceeding five years.
- (2) The provisions of Act No. 20 of 1911 as modified by Act No. 14 of 1913 and by the principal Act, and any amendment thereof, shall mutatis mutandis, apply to any such advance.
This provides for cases such as those mentioned by the hon. member for Victoria West (Mr. Du Toit) for advances to be made in the case of boreholes and windmills.
I quite agree with the clause, but there are parts such as in the Northern Transvaal where it is not possible to put down boreholes, and the people living there have often to dig wells of from 200 to 300 feet in depth and haul the water out by means of catch pans working on a revolving belt. I think provision can be made for that by the addition of the words “by erecting drills and windmills.” It can be left to the discretion of the bank to define for what purposes the advance should be made.
I can see what the hon. member means, and I suggest the addition of the words “by means of drills, windmills in other ways.”
That would meet my case. I wish to move that, and would point out that other consequential amendments will be necessary.
I move in sub-section (b) to delete the words “one borehole or one windmill, and substitute “of such advances.”
The difficulty arises of course if the farmer wants to put up more than one windmill. It will have to be in respect of each water supply.
Each source of supply?
Does the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) move that?
Yes. I move in paragraph (b) of sub-section (1), to omit “one borehole and one windmill” and to substitute “each source of supply.”
A new farmer.
No, I am an old farmer and disappointing one.
You may be doing some of your farms more harm than good, because when a farmer has opened a spring he has to open another one. Why should not he get it under this. I think we should not go too far and make money too easily available, because I know what our tendency is when we have not to pay the money ourselves.
I am sure the hon. member can be sure that these loans will not be granted by the bank too easily. No farmer would have the right to demand that a loan should be granted and the bank will see that these loans are not given indiscriminately.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause as amended put and agreed to.
On Clause 9,
I would like to ask the Minister, otherwise I think it is alright if the clause is perfectly clear? If not, he might think of it before the report stage. That is to say as to putting up these ring fences round the farms. You get a block of farms, eight or ten farms, and six of them have boundary fences. Some of them will embrace the opportunity of making a paddock inside, others will use the fence just to keep the vermin out. I suppose the bank would enter into an agreement as to their making pro rata payments.
That is the whole object of the Bill, that farmers who go in for this block fencing shall have the cost dividend in proportion to the size of each farm. The clause is drafted so as to provide for the particular case mentioned by the hon. member, and the farmers will contribute according to the size of the farms.
That does not seem a fair solution to me. As the clause now stands I do not think there will be anything to prevent the bank making arrangements with the people, but I would say the proper way to distribute the cost would be in proportion to the benefit the farmer would receive. That is much better than the area basis. I have instances in mind in which the area would not be a fair adjustment. Perhaps my hon. friend would consult the law offices to see whether that could be done.
I do not agree with the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt). As the clause stands it makes provision for all eventualities. It should be according to the extent of the land. How are the farmers ever going to agree as to the extent to which each will be profited? Better leave it as it is.
The hon. member who has just spoken does not quite understand the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt). There are farms where the people hardly get any advantage from the fences for which they have to pay, and we should also meet them.
When farmers agree mutually, no difficulty arises, but when they do not agree, a basis should be fixed in the Bill. The best would be to make it in proportion to the size of the farm, and I think that would be the most satisfactory.
Would it not be possible to make it optionable to the owners to come to an agreement among themselves should they wish to, but failing that then the division is according to the extent of the holding. Give the owners the option of coming to an agreement in the first place as to the benefit accruing to each owner.
Yes, it works out like that. The provision is to meet those cases where the farmers cannot agree. For those cases we must have some definite basis.
I think the Minister is going a little further than the Bill, because I take the clause to mean that there is no possibility of binding any farmers to have a ring fence, unless he is agreeable to coming into the ring. There is no law as there is under the Irrigation Act to compel a farmer to come in. All I want to know is that the clause is not of such a nature that if the farmers make an agreement amongst themselves that agreement can be put on the title deeds.
The hon. member is quite right. A block fence cannot be put up unless farmers agree, but the Land Bank cannot make an advance unless the farmers agree to the fencing. The proportion is fixed according to the size of the farm.
It seems to me under this clause the bank will be bound to advance an amount proportionate to the size of the farm. I move as an amendment: In line 65„ after “shall” to insert “in the absence of agreement approved by the bank, between the owners as to their respective shares”.
I am just afraid that you will have this position, that the owners might agree to a proportion which is not fair and a small worthless farm would be charged with a large amount and that would be unfair to the bank.
I propose as an amendment to that moved by the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) to insert after the word “agreement” “approved by the bank.”
I do not think the clause as it now stands will cause much difficulty. The farmers should co-operate and apply for an advance for jackal-proof wire, and they would not do that until they had come to an understanding as to the share of each.
Amendments agreed to.
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 10,
I move in line 10 to omit “owing” and to substitute “incurred.” There may be cases in which some of the associations had paid back the whole of the advances from the bank.
The discretion lies with the bank. All the societies will benefit, as none have repaid their debts.
Under the circumstances I withdraw the amendment.
Clause put and agreed to.
On Clause 11,
I move in lines 23 and 24 to omit “or which may thereafter be in the possession of, or in transit to”; and at the end of the clause to add “and in respect of which the advance was made.” The clause refers to co-operative societies with limited liability, and the intention is to take further security, but the clause goes too far. A company might deal with two or three classes of produce—cotton and dried fruit, and tobacco I wish to secure that cotton should not fall under an advance made in respect of tobacco.
I am quite prepared to accept the amendment.
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 12,
I would like to draw the attention of the Minister of Finance to sub-section 5, which reads:
This sub-section really curtails the liberty of the bank in the realization of produce, in that the bank must sell through a co-operative organization overseas. That seems quite an unnecessary limitation. The produce will have to be sold through a broker of some kind on the other side, and it seems to me that it is quite unnecessary in many cases, to interpose another middleman. It is advisable to leave the bank liberty to realize the produce in the manner it thinks fit.
I move In line 17, on page 8, to omit “board” and to substitute “bank”; and an amendment in the Dutch version which did not occur in the English version.
I would like to know what the Minister has to say regarding the remarks of the hon. member for Newlands (Mr. Stuttaford).
I do not think any difficulty will arise.
Look at the Dutch version.
You interpose another person who is going to insist on some payment for any work he does, either in controlling or directing the sale of the produce. It seems to be quite an unnecessary provision to put in the Bill. If the bank is left at liberty it can make any arrangements it likes, but under the Bill it is not left at liberty in regard to the sale of produce oversea. There may arise cases when it will be most unfortunate for the bank to have to sell through the stipulated mediums.
I am afraid I cannot accept the amendment. I want to encourage the society. The amendment is of great importance, and the bank must have the power by means of trustworthy and approved organizations to dispose of its produce.
asked whether an advance could be obtained if the produce were still kept in stock.
Amendments were agreed to.
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 13,
moved: In line 43, to omit “oversea”; and in the same line, after “bank” to insert “outside the Union”.
Clause, as amended, put and agreed to.
On Clause 15,
When ground is sold by the bank in cases where the owner goes insolvent, the bank gets more rights than do the usual creditors. Why? Why should the bank take possession of the farm before a liquidator is appointed for the insolvent estate? And why should the ground always be sold in Pretoria? If it is sold on the spot it will realize more. And why must it always be sold by the same firm of auctioneers?
The clause makes no provision for the sale of the land. The existing law stipulates that the land should be sold within a month after notice has been given to the liquidator. Often, however, there is no liquidator, and then the matter has to go to the Master of the Supreme Court or somebody else, which hampers the sale by the Land Bank. I think it is also better to sell the property in the district where it is situated. It is a matter of administration, and I see no reason for the present arrangement.
As a result of actions taken by the Land Bank a large number of insolvencies occurred in my district. The Land Bank does not give the liquidator an opportunity of selling the property out of hand. I know of a case where the liquidator found a buyer for the property, but the Land Bank refused to authorize a sale. As the law is now being amended, I suggest that we curtail the powers of the Land Bank in that respect, as that institution is totally indifferent to the interests of other creditors.
Clause put and agreed to.
On the Schedule.
I move: In the first item, second column, sixth line, and in the fourth item, second column, tenth line, to omit “board” and to substitute “Minister”. During the second reading of the debate I explained that these amendments were necessary in order to make the working of the bank more practical.
moved: In the first item, second column, sixth line, after “appoint” to insert “in terms of section 6 (1) of this Act, or any amendment thereof”.
I hope the Minister will accept the amendment of the hon. member for Pretoria (North) (Mr. Oost).
asked the Chairman to read the amendment in English.
I hope the Minister will not accept the amendment. The board of the bank is responsible, and it will be unwise to take out of the hands of that body the right to appoint a general manager. The same thing applies to the salary of this officer.
I would like to support the hon. member for Ermelo (Col.-Cdt. Collins) in regard to this matter. Here you appoint a board in charge of some millions of money—surely a responsible body—and they are not to be allowed to appoint their own general manager. To my mind it is absurd. Why put this power into the hands of the Minister? I hope the Minister will not accept the amendment of the hon. member for Pretoria District (North) (Mr. Oost).
It is certainly not unreasonable that the Government should have something to say in the appointment of the highest officer of the bank, and I therefore accept the amendment.
I do not agree at all with the hon. member for Ermelo (Col.-Cdt. Collins). That is a power which only the Minister should have. The late Government appointed most of the officials such as the governor of the Reserve Bank and also the present general manager of the Land Bank. The Opposition objects merely because the new Government wants to have the same powers.
It seems to me that if this amendment is carried the directors of this bank will be absolved from any responsibility. If a regular muddle ensues they will say: “We are not responsible; the Minister of Finance appointed the manager.” The directors are there to see that the business is carried on properly and if you want them to carry on their business properly you must allow them to select the men who are to carry out the various functions. It seems to me that a most hopeless position would be created if this amendment is carried.
I do not feel very strongly on this point and it certainly is not out of any suspicion of the present Government that I would like to see the bill stand as it is proposed, although I would suggest that, if a change is to be made, if an amendment in the direction contemplated by the hon. member (Mr. Oost) is to be accepted, the amendment should be to give the power to the Governor-General, not to the Minister. If the appointment is to be made by the Government, let it be made by the Government and not by one Minister.
I am quite prepared to accept that suggestion, and I move: In the first item, second column, sixth line, and in the fourth item, second column, tenth line, to omit “board” and substitute “Governor-General”.
Then I beg to move after “appoint” to insert “upon the recommendation of the board”. I have been associated with the Land Rank for many years, even before the Minister. I had a hand in framing the first Land Bank and I have been considerably interested in the institution ever since. If I had been so suspicious as has been suggested I would have fought section 14. It is not a question of suspicion of the Minister with me. It is not a question of being suspicious, but here you have the appointment of the second official of the board, and if he is appointed by the Government the board can come back and say: “Well! you appointed your own man, we are not responsible.” I see set down in the schedule that he must be appointed on the recommendation of the board. However, the Minister may or may not ask for that advice, and I ask him to look at it in a reasonable way because we are trying to assist him as best we can and with a view to obtaining the best possible Bill. I feel so strongly about this matter that I am going to divide the House.
Why does the Minister want to depart from his own Bill? The House wants to be assured that the first managing director of the bank shall be the existing general manager, a gentleman in whom all sections of the farming community have the utmost confidence. Now, Sir, the Board with the managing director as chairman should be the best judge as to whom should be general manager, because as the hon. member for Newlands (Mr. Stuttaford) said, they are responsible for the working of the institution and it is only fair that the general manager should be appointed by that body.
I was under the impression that we were dealing with the appointment of the managing director who is appointed by the Government under Clause 4. The hon. member for Pietersburg (Mr. Naudé) said the Governor of the Reserve Bank is appointed by the Government, and why should not the general manager of the Land Bank. But the Governor-General does not appoint the manager of the Reserve Bank, and why should he in this case? It seems to me that the Bill as it stands is really right and that the power of the Government should stop with the appointment of the managing director and that the general manager, who is a servant of the board, should be appointed by the board.
The amendment moved by Mr. Oost was withdrawn.
Question put: That the word “board”, in the first item, proposed to be omitted, stand part of the Schedule.
Col.-Cdt. COLLINS called for a division. Upon which the Committee divided—
Anderson, H. E. K.
Bates, F. T.
Byron, J. J.
Chaplin, F. D. P.
Close, R. W.
Gilson, L. D.
Grobler, H. S.
Heatlie, C. B.
Jagger, J. W.
Louw, G. A.
Louw, J. P.
Marwick, J. S.
Nel, O. R.
O’Brien, W. J.
Papenfus, H. B.
Payn, A. O. B.
Pretorius, N. J.
Richards, G. R.
Robinson, C. P.
Sephton, C. A. A.
Smartt, T. W.
Van Heerden, G. C.
Tellers: W. R. Collins, A. L. de Jager.
Badenhorst, A. L.
Barlow, A. G.
Bergh, P. A.
Beyers, F. W.
Boshoff, L. J.
Brink, G. F.
Brits, G. P.
Brown, D. M.
Cilliers, A. A.
Conradie, J. H.
Conroy, E. A.
De Villiers, A. I. E.
De Wet, S. D.
Du Toit, F. J.
Fick, M. L.
Fordham, A. C.
Fourie, A. P. J.
Grobler, P. G. W.
Hattingh, B. R.
Havenga, N. C.
Hay, G. A.
Hertzog, J. B. M.
Heyns, J. D.
Kemp, J. C. G.
Keyter, J. G.
Louw, E. H.
Madeley, W. B.
Malan, C. W.
Malan, D. F.
Malan, M. L.
Mostert, J. P.
Muller, C. H.
Munnik, J. H.
Naudé, A. S.
Naudé, J. F.
Pienaar, J. J.
Pretorius, J. S. F.
I. van W. Reitz, H.
Rood, W. H.
Roux, J. W. J. W.
Smit. J. S.
Snow, W. J.
Stals, A. J.
Strachan, T. G.
Swart, C. R.
Te Water, C. T.
Van der Merwe, N. J.
Van Hees, A. S.
Van Niekerk, C. A.
Van Niekerk, P. W. le R.
Van Zyl. J. J. M.
Visser, T. C.
Wessels, J. B.
Wessels, J. H. B.
Tellers: B. J. Pienaar, O. S. Vermooten.
Question accordingly negatived, and the word “board” omitted.
Substitution of the word “Governor-General”, was agreed to.
I hope the Minister having run away from his own bill will see that it is sensible and will accept my amendment. There is certainly no harm in my amendment. Secondly, the official of this bank should be appointed by the board. All right; the majority think differently. At least what should be done is this man should be appointed on the recommendation of the board. If the wrong man is appointed the bank can turn round and say: “It is you who appointed the man and not we.”
I hope the hon. Minister will accept it. The hon. Minister shakes his head. He has not treated the committee fairly. He is responsible for the Bill, and has considered it thoroughly, I presume. He makes provision to have an officer appointed by the Board. He votes against his own Bill without having the courtesy of giving the committee a reason for the alteration of his opinion, and surely this is not the way to carry on business in the committee. He says there shall be a general manager of the bank; that the board shall be increased by one, and shall have the power to appoint their general manager. The hon. Minister departs from his own principle, and I say that again, and I want to emphasize it—that surely it is due to this committee from the Minister that he should have told the House clearly and distinctly why he departed from the principles he has himself laid down and asked the House to adopt. As the hon. Minister has not done that, surely the least he can do is to accept the amendment proposed by my hon. friend behind me, the hon. member for Ermelo (Col.-Cdt. Collins)—that at least the board have the power to make recommendations as to who they consider would be a fit and proper person to administer the affairs of the bank as general manager. That, in fairness, is the least the Minister can do to the board.
The new amendment makes the clause absurd, because it makes it incumbent on the Governor-General to appoint the person selected by the board. We do not know whether the Dutch or the English text is the correct one. In any case, in the Dutch text we read that the Governor-General has to appoint whomsoever is recommended by the board.
On the amendment moved by Col.-Cdt. Collins being put, the hon. member called for a division.
The committee divided:
Anderson, H. E. K.
Byron, J. J.
Chaplin, F. D. P.
Close, R. W.
Gilson, L. D.
Grobler, H. S.
Heatlie, C. B.
Jagger, J. W.
Louw, G. A.
Louw, J. P.
Marwick, J. S.
Nel, O. R.
O’Brien, W. J.
Papenfus, H. B.
Payn, A. O. B.
Pretorius, N. J.
Richards, G, R.
Sephton, C. A. A.
Smartt, T. W.
Van Heerden, G. C.
Tellers: W. R. Collins, A. L. de Jager.
Badenhorst, A. L.
Barlow, A. G.
Bergh, P. A.
Beyers, F. W.
Boshoff, L, J.
Brink, G. F.
Brits, G. P.
Cilliers, A. A.
Conradie, J. H.
Conroy, E. A.
Creswell, F. H. P.
De Villiers, A. I. E.
De Wet. S. D.
Du Toit, F. J.
Fick, M. L.
Fordham, A. C.
Fourie, A P. J.
Grobler, P. G. W.
Hattingh, B. R.
Havenga, N. C.
Hertzog, J. B. M.
Heyns, J. D.
Kemp, J. C. G.
Keyter, J. G.
Louw, E. H.
Madeley, W. B.
Malan, C. W.
Malan, D. F.
Malan, M. L.
Mostert, J. P.
Muller, C. H.
Munnik, J. H.
Naudé, A. S.
Naudé, J. F.
Pienaar, B. J.
Pienaar, J. J.
Pretorius, J. S. F.
Raubenheimer, I. van W.
Rood, W. H.
Roux, J. W. J. W.
Smit, J. S.
Snow, W. J.
Strachan, T. G.
Swart, C. R.
Te Water, C. T.
Van der Merwe, N. J.
Van Hees, A. S.
Van Niekerk, C. A.
Van Niekerk, P. W. le R.
Van Zyl, J. J. M.
Visser, T. C.
Wessels, J. B.
Wessels, J. H. B.
Tellers: H. W. Sampson, O. S. Vermooten.
Amendment accordingly negatived.
moved: In the first item, second column, seventh line, to omit “it” and substitute “he”
The remaining amendment by the Minister of Finance was then put and agreed to.
I want to call attention to the amendment to section 3 sub-section 4 (b) in the schedule, half-way down page 12. The effect of that amendment will be this, that sub-section 4 of section 3 of the Act of 1922 will provide that a company may cede not merely debts owing to it, but all debts that may thereafter be owing to it. It seems to me an extraordinary sort of a cession. I cannot think that is the intention of the Minister, and accordingly I move to omit the ninth item on page 12.
What is the Minister going to do about it?
I accept it.
Then I do not think the Minister knows what he is doing. What is the position? You make an advance to the company who are doing business in the ordinary way, and daily receiving payments for debts owing to them, and new debts are also being created daily as well. Now, as I understand the position, they can only take the debts owing at the date of cession, but in the course of a few months all those debts can be paid off. The reason this was put in was that seeing that cession is made of all the debts say at 1st July; in the ordinary way of business, those debts would be paid off, but at the same time as they are being paid off new debts are created. As I understand it, it is to give them a lien on the new debts being created from day to day. I think the Minister should not accept this amendment of my hon. friend the member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan). I am sorry to differ from my hon. friend.
I agree with the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. dagger). The bank will find in practice that they will have to take cession after cession month after month.
I do not want to bring in a controversial question. The bank thought that if it got this power it would simplify matters, but if it does not obtain this power it will not be able to make the advances it would like. If, however, the House feels strongly on the question I will not press it.
If hon. members think the amendment will hamper the bank’s operations, I will withdraw it, although my soul revolts at the idea of ceding something which does not exist.
Col.-Cdt. COLLINS moved: In the last item on page 12, second column, second and third lines of paragraph (c), to omit “from time to time”.
Schedule, as amended, put and agreed to.
The Title having been agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments: to be considered 29th August.
Third Order read: Adjourned debate from 27th August on motion for Second Reading, Lands Settlement Acts Further Amendment Bill, to be resumed.
This Bill we were told by the Minister of Lands was very largely designed to assist the poor white, and that being the case I do hope that never again on the floor of this House will we have such an exhibition of mock heroics and cheap theatricals as was displayed by the Minister of Railways yesterday. The unfortunate class of poor whites cannot be helped by cant and rant of that sort. Until hon. members of the Nationalist party realize that they should not think of the poor whites, in terms of votes only, but in terms of flesh and blood, they will never solve this problem. When the Minister of Lands started discussing the Bill he told us first of all that the measure was intended to refer to Haartebeestpoort. So far so good, but when I questioned this and said that in my opinion the Bill was intended to have a wider scope and to include Zululand, the Minister of Railways excitedly denied this.
The hon. member must stop referring to previous debates.
May I refer to the remarks of the Minister of Lands? When I asked him if the Bill was to be applied to Zululand he replied: “I have said no.” First of all he said: “I am not going to put poor whites in Zululand under this Bill,” but ultimately I succeeded in extracting from him the admission that the Bill is not to apply to Haartebeestpoort only, but it aims at something very much wider.
No. I said nothing of the sort.
He then told us that there are only two large tracts of Crown land left in the Union, and that he would use the Bill in order to settle poor whites on them. Nothing the Minister has said has tended to dispel the suspicions we had from the very start that this Bill is not meant purely to introduce certain reforms at Haartebeestpoort or similar settlements, but everything he said confirms our fear that this Bill is part of a far-reaching scheme to distribute Crown land by way of largesse to supporters of the party to which the Minister belongs.
The hon. member’s time has expired.
The leader of the Opposition gave us to understand that we would have only constructive criticism. And what did we get from the hon. member who has just spoken? The Minister is making an honest attempt with this Bill, and it is the first attempt by a Government to train people as farmers and put them on the land.
At the cost of the taxpayers.
It is better to spend money on our people than on poor settlers from overseas. This Bill will go a long way to solve the poor white question by putting the people on the land, and any step in that direction ought to be encouraged. The first point made by the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) is that this Bill violates all the principles of our settlement laws, but he has given no sound reasons for his argument. His reasons are that the Minister can give land to whomsoever he likes, that he can take all control into his own hands and allot it to whom he likes. That is not true, and the hon. member seems to be trying to mislead the House. The hon. member emphasized repeatedly that the Minister can grant land under this Bill without consulting anybody. If he will read the Bill he will see that it stipulates that it can only be done on the recommendation of the Land Board. The first step is the choice of the probationer settlers, which can only be made by the advisory board, and it will therefore be seen that the powers of the Minister are limited.
But he can make regulations.
Naturally he should have the power to take the necessary steps. Surely the Minister cannot be bound to accept the advice of the advisory board in every case. Clause 3 lays down that it will function as a Land Board within its area.
If hon. members will read the Bill they will see that the board can only give advice regarding the allocation of land.
Of course, that is just what I say.
But who then gets the power? Nobody but the Minister.
It is absurd to advertise for probationers when there are already selected probationers on the properties.
Where are you going to get the probationers?
How does any other body get probationers? There will be thousands who will be desirous of offering themselves as probationers if only there is accommodation for them. That now is the kind of criticism we get from the Opposition. One of the reasons assigned by the Minister was that the allocations do not take place according to their advertisements. In these circumstances the board will see that the advertisement is not required, as the probationers are already on the property. I hope and trust that this Bill will be applied as far as possible throughout the country, and I think it will meet with general approval. Supposing the Minister takes a right to allocate the ground to learners according to the provisions of the settlement laws, what will happen? The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) says the Minister has ulterior motives and that there is something dreadful lurking behind it all. I want to tell the hon. member this: a man who listens behind doors is apt to suspect others of doing the like. I want to repeat that the country will be grateful to the Minister for this Bill. True, the men of the planter type may not be pleased with it, but those who are desirous of taking up farming and have no property will welcome it. The S.A.P. members said that the planter type was to be found in the ranks of the S.A.P. We should not give the land to rich people but to those who want to occupy it and to make a living there.
I would ask the House to get away from these side issues, let us get away from the question whether we are going to settle poor whites, planters or millionaires. Let us get away from the question of motives. We are not attributing any motives to anybody, to the Government or anyone else. Let us deal with this matter as one affecting the giving out of the public lands of this country. My hon. friend was right when he said that this Bill, if it is going to apply to all the Crown lands of this country, should be governed by conditions, the essential conditions which have hitherto been regarded in connection with the giving out of Crown lands. These conditions are that the land should not be given out without due advertisement so that any citizen can know such land is being given out and get a chance of applying for it whether he gets it directly or after a period of probation. This first principle would, I should have thought, have been an obvious principle—the principle that it should be first of all be advertised.
The Milner Government did not do it.
If we did not do so I should have thought the Minister who had criticised that Government so much would not have made that same mistake. We are dealing with 1924, and I ask him to deal with this on its merits. I challenge him to deny it that it is the fundamental principle of the giving out of Crown land that it should be advertised, and the right to apply for it should be given to every man. The second principle which should apply is that it should not be left in the hands of the Minister; there should be some outside body, some impartial body, to go through the applicants and decide which of them is more suited to have the land to be given out. Members opposite say that this is provided for by sub-section 2 of Clause 1—that the Minister must allot holdings on the recommendations of the Land Board. That is all right, but when the time for the final allotment comes what happens? It is what happens before that concerns us, and that is my point—before the land is allotted the probationer settler is put on the land without consulting anybody.
The Committee of Control.
The Committee of Control may advise a Minister, but he need not take their advice and he need not submit anything to them. Having put the probationer on the land he can advance money to him, clear the ground, level it, plough it, purchase stock and implements. He may make maintenance allowances, erect and equip buildings and generally and completely fit out this land for the probationer settler. It is only after he has done all that, after having spent money—State money—on this settler that the settler’s name comes before the Land Board to see if he is a good and proper person to have such land. The third principle is that the Minister or Government should lay before Parliament from time to time a statement showing what lands have been given out and to whom they have been given to.
I have no objection to that.
Then why is it not in the Bill? I think on these grounds this Bill introduces a most dangerous principle. I cannot see any reason why the Minister should not advertise before appointing these probationers, men who may receive large sums of State money in order to establish them when they are put on the land and who may not easily be removed. It will be practically impossible to remove them except in the extreme case where a probationer has been a hopeless failure. The giving of the land on probation is for all intents and purposes an allotment of that land to the probationer. Therefore I say that the steps which should be taken and which have been found to be necessary by long years of experience—by advertising, by inviting applications and by submitting them to the Land Board—ought all to be taken before the probationer is put on the land, and not after the State’s money has been spent; and this House should know the facts, and to whom the allotments have been made. If the Minister had accepted the suggestion of the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) that this Bill would only be used in certain exceptional cases—certain cases set apart for the training and establishment of poor whites—I would not have had the same objection to it. We recognize that to help this class known as the poor whites you have to put them through a certain period of training, and there are certain bits of Crown land which are eminently suitable for putting them there for training, and on which to give them an allotment. If this Bill were limited to these areas there would not be the same objection to it that there is now. Parliament will give its sanction to the ground being given out in this particular manner and vote the money for it; but we are told that this is to apply to all Crown lands of the Union, and Parliament is to know nothing to whom the land is to be given out; and for that reason the Bill introduces a dangerous principle. This House ought not to agree to it, and it will be our duty to oppose this Bill.
I want to congratulate the Minister of Lands on this Bill, for he has shown that he realizes the difficulties in connection with the solution of the poor white question. He wants to send the people back to the land. All the hon. members, even those of the S.A.P., said during the elections that should be done, but now that the Government is introducing a Bill for that purpose they kick up all this dust. The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) is one of those members, but he forgets the interests of the poor whites, and thinks only of the granting of land in Zululand, with which he made a beginning. He does not want the poor whites to go there, and that is unfortunate in view of past schemes for helping the poor whites which sometimes failed. The present Minister is desirous of acting in the interests of the poor people, and he wants to test and give them an opportunity of making a success of settlements. There is a certain class of people who have to serve under an employer. I am glad it is the intention to help these people by compelling them to work under supervision. I am certain the Bill is a great step towards the solution of this big question, and therefore I heartily welcome it and will support the Minister. If it is a success even the Opposition will admit that the Bill is one of the best steps towards the solution of this great problem. I am convinced the country will welcome a Bill which attempts to put this matter on a business footing.
I, too, welcome the Bill, and am sorry that such a fuss has been made about it. There are hundreds of poor people in my constituency who will be only too glad of an opportunity to get on the land again. Amongst the workers on the Hartebestpoort dam there are excellent farmers to whom farms should be granted after the probationary period. I do not know what their political sympathies are, but I know that many of them were formerly good farmers, and only lost their farms through bad times. Possibly the Bill may be amended in such a way that it will satisfy everybody. The land under the dam should be cut up into blocks, some of which can be utilized for experiments with the probationers. If they do not prove a success others can be put in their places. But in any case there are many people who have to be assisted and who ought to be under the direct supervision of the Minister of Lands. Another good provision is that the deserving settler should be given the property, but the Government should not burden the people with too high a purchase price and rate of interest. It may even be possible for the Government to stipulate that they can carry on farming operations on a third share. That is a very old system, and the State will get its proper share. If there is a good crop, and one-third share is more than the interest, etc., the Government can take that into consideration during the lean years. It is impossible for the Minister and the Land Board to do all the supervision, and a local supervisory committee is necessary. I would also like to point out that the construction costs of the Hartebestpoort dam are so high that it would be a mistake to saddle the irrigable land with it.
The hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) started off by administering a rebuke which was particularly applicable to the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz). Coming from the South African Pasty benches it sounded to me very much as if Satan were rebuking sin. The whole attitude taken up by the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) has been to make insinuating suggestions about, and references to, the motives of the Government, and to show himself unsympathetic toward the poor whites, a class of people who deserve every assistance we can give them. The hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) having made his rebuke suggested that we should leave out of discussion all questions of motive, that we should consider the Bill not from the point of view of millionaires or poor people, but that we should consider it from the point of view of what we shall do with the Crown lands. I quite agree that it is desirable to leave the discussion of motives alone, but it seems to me that if one thing is necessary it is that we should consider the question from the point of view of the people who are not in a position to help themselves and their families. I think what is mainly commendable in the measure before this House is the fact that for the first time, in dealing with land settlement, the Government is departing from the wretched old system where the main consideration in allotting land was: How much money have you got? There was under section 19 of the original Act no question of probation; it is perfectly true the board might consider whether an individual was suitable or not, but that was not the main consideration. I know myself of several people who were in business, merchants and others, who suddenly decided to go in for land and applied for allotments. Although they knew nothing about farming, they got those allotments and in many instances did not carry out the conditions of their allotments, but got nominees to work their land. It seems to me that whatever land we have got, whatever has not been given away by the S.A.P. should be utilized for helping the people who need help. I think the people whom the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) and the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) consider can look after their own interests. What we want to do is to help people who cannot help themselves.
You do not want them to be advertised.
No, I see no necessity for advertising it, unless you want to appeal to the people who read the Gazette, and are competing with each other to offer the Government the largest sum. It is necessary at the present time to see that people who have been divorced from the land should be able to go back to the land and become again more useful citizens of this country. It has been suggested that as far as the poor whites are concerned their condition is hopeless. I would recommend the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central), who made that suggestion, to remember that however poor we are, we are none of us hopeless—there is always a certain amount of hope for us all. I do not think there is a single individual who, if you take him out of the rut which has made him hopeless and give him a fair chance, will not recover and become a useful citizen. “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.” If you treat people sympathetically you will realize that statement made by a greater man than the hon. member is as true to-day as it was when it was first uttered. It seems to me that what this Bill provides for is to give an opportunity to those people who have fallen by the way, to the people who, as a result of competition and of the effect of financial stringency, have not had the opportunities to develop the land as well as they might and have been gradually driven off the land. A very large percentage of the general farming population is in the grip of financial institutions, and very few farmers know from day to day when it may be their lot to share the fate of the commercial man in the towns who is becoming bankrupt. We want to give people who have been forced away from the land an opportunity of making a fresh start. I think the provisions of the Bill constitute an exceedingly good departure from the policy of the past, and I hope the Minister will not restrict the operations of the Bill, but will decide to apply them in a most liberal manner.
I never thought to hear that from the Labour party.
I do not know what the hon. member is mumbling about Labour, but the Labour party believes in treating all, these questions not from the point of view of pounds, shillings and pence, but from the standpoint of human welfare. I would recommend to the notice of the hon. member the remark of the great Dr. Johnson, who with a friend one day passed a vagrant, and when his friend, who apparently had the same unsympathetic outlook as members of the South African Party, made a sneering remark about the vagrant, Samuel Johnson retorted: “There but for the grace of God goes Samuel Johnson.” Under the Bill I believe an opportunity will be given; to people to raise themselves in the standard of life. As far as possible the provisions which apply to probationary lessees should remain of a permanent nature. Even the majority side of the Commission on Unemployment in dealing with this question came to the conclusion that farming was a very uncertain and precarious business, in consequence of which small holdings could not be extended to keep pace with the growth of the population, and it said in the majority report: “The large-sized farm in those areas is cut up amongst the children of the deceased owner, the larger proprietor is succeeded by the smaller proprietors, and one by one, as the next pest, drought, plague or slump comes, being unable to hold on, the patrimony passes into hands more able to meet heavy losses, and to set them off against possible ultimate profits, and the former landowner, with his family, sinks into the ranks of the poor whites.” I hope the Government will seriously consider making some of the provisions of sub-section 3 permanent, so that in addition to taking people and placing them as probationers and giving some of them allotments, the Government should also pay others to work the land on behalf of the State, Government to market the produce grown on the allotments and on the State-worked land in such a way as to give people a real opportunity of making good use of the soil. Small industries should also be established at the settlements, so that members of families of probationers whose labour is not needed for working the land should have an opportunity of finding useful employment. After all, everyone cannot become a farmer, even on a small scale. The employment of people in small factories on these settlements would absorb a large number of the unemployed in South Africa. A great amount of the evidence which was led before the Unemployment Commission indicated that it was necessary to formulate some scheme of this nature. Mr. Langenhoven, in giving evidence before the commission, and there was much evidence of a similar nature, recommended “the establishment of labour colonies, which shall be made, as far as possible, self-contained, by provision of as many kinds of industry as can supply the needs of each little community. For instance, not only agriculture but boot-making, carpentry, masonry, spinning and weaving and so on should be done for each labour colony. If, in addition, some small factory is established on model lines, the numbers brought together in one place will enable provision, without economic wastefulness, of adequate educational and religious facilities.” In this manner you would not only check the drift from the land to the towns, but you would be able to start an effective “back to the land” stream. If the Minister comes to the conclusion that the provisions of sub-section 3 are not wide enough to give him power to develop on the lines I have suggested, I hope he will take steps to secure the necessary powers. There is one other suggestion I would like to make. It is perfectly true that the provisions of the Bill dealing with the establishment of committees intend them to be of an advisory nature in connection with advising as to allotments and suitability of ground, etc., but I believe it was the intention, judging by the general context, that these committees, after the land has been set aside and allotted, shall be of an advisory nature in connection with the working of the land. I would suggest to the Minister that wherever he establishes a settlement in terms of the Bill, he should, in addition to the members to be appointed by the Government as provided for in the Bill, consider very seriously whether it would not be of very great assistance to allow the settlers themselves to appoint a nominee to that committee. I believe that such a course would not detract from the powers of the Government and that it would increase the interest of the settlers in the working of the settlements. There is one other point I would like to indicate to the Minister and the Government and that is that, however desirable this Bill may be, I am afraid that both the Government and those whom they desire to benefit by this Bill may start off with a very serious handicap. You start off with a very considerable charge in respect of the money necessary for clearing the land, preparing it, buying tools, stock, etc. In many instances it is due to that serious initial charge that people cannot make a success of their allotments. I do believe that until such time as our financial arrangements are altered in such a way as to secure the necessary money for the purposes of such settlements and of Government enterprises without the large interest charges for the monies required, until such time as we start financing ourselves and creating the requisite credit facilities upon the lines which not only I have suggested, but many others who have gone deeply into this subject have advocated, you will be burdened with heavy interest charges, and until you have done that I am afraid that whatever you may do under this Bill will be very much hampered by the amount of interest charges which will be placed upon the Government and upon the settlers. I hope the Minister will see whether some arrangement cannot be arrived at whereby that burden will be withdrawn from these settlers so that they may start off with a reasonable prospect of success.
At the beginning of the session it was said that only urgent measures would be brought up, and the introduction of this Bill shows that the Minister looks upon it as an urgent one. I am glad, therefore, that the Minister did not hide it away in one of his pigeon-holes, as was obviously done by his predecessor, with very good intentions, who did not, however, look upon it as an urgent matter, and in the meantime these people were sinking. The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) says he would not have had the impudence to ask this House for such wide powers. In view of all the instances of maladministration and doubtful allocation of properties which have taken place by the Department of Lands, I admit in his case it would have been impudence. It would not only have been impudence, it would have been wrong of him to ask for more powers, because he had to be relieved of all responsibility as soon as possible. The hon. member is also much concerned because the lands are granted to poor people, and it is evidently impossible for the hon. member to adapt himself to new circumstances. It is hard for him to realize that he is no longer in the position to allocate lands to some person or other who rendered his Government a service. It seems he cannot get away from the idea that the present Government must follow in the footsteps of its predecessor. The hon. member thinks that there is too much expenditure, in connection with getting these people on the land, but he forgets that the people who still had a little money became poor whites on account of the settlement policy of the S.A.P. The Minister has taken a step in the right direction, as the people are to be given houses and other assistance. What was the position up to now in connection with the allocation of land? When a property was advertised there were hundreds of applications. Only one got the property and all the others had to wait for another chance. The applicants are to be examined, and therefore the Land Bank knows who are suitable for these settlements, and when properties are available the board can recommend the right persons. It is not necessary to advertise these farms every time, as it can be done in the way I suggested, and the money spent on advertisements saved. Many people to whom Crown lands were allocated have debts, sometimes as small as £10 or £20. If they do not pay the property is taken and sold, and the man who worked on it for years has to begin all over again. A stipulation ought to be made that a settler is not to be robbed of his property for the payment of debts. I am glad that the Minister had the courage to introduce a Bill and did not leave it to words and sympathy as was done by the previous Cabinet.
I think the discussion on this Bill is becoming too personal and off the points at issue, and i am surprised to find that a bitter and venomous attack is made on the late Minister of Lands—who, if nothing else, is a good South African—for his misrepresented re marks about “poor whites.” I would like the Minister of Lands to realize that all the sympathy and the desire to uplift the “poor whites” is not confined to his side of the House. We, on this side of the House, have shown in our past actions that we have done all we could to help to uplift that section of the community that goes by the name of “poor whites.” This subject was discussed some years ago at a conference which I attended at Bloemfontein, and we all realized the difficulties before us, and my memory of the conference is that it was found that the members of the South African Party had done more for these people than the members who are now so loud in their protestations. Our criticism of the Bill is not offered in any factious spirit. The Bill is a good one in intention, and will go some way towards solving the problem. The Minister would be wise in retaining the board as his advisers, instead of proposing, as he does, to take on himself the selection of settlers and the decision as to the land which shall be used for them. The principle involved therein is a dangerous one. The object of the Bill is to provide primarily for the full use of the Hartebeestpoort Irrigation Scheme, and that area should be specified in the Bill, so also should any areas proposed to be settled under this Act be specifically sanctioned by Parliament. I think if we are met in that way a great deal of the criticism offered would be eliminated. With regard to the question of the selection of settlers, we have heard the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) put up a hypothetical case, and the members opposite chose to take it that he meant that the Minister of Lands might try to use the Bill for his own ends, and also that he was trying to belittle South Africans. The ex-Minister cast no aspersions on any section of South Africans, but very rightly pointed out the unsuitability of a large proportion for land settlement. That was what the ex-Minister of Lands meant when he spoke of a certain type of man. He did not belittle South Africans—we are all South Africans, and we would have strongly objected to aspersions had they been cast upon us. He did say that South Africans were not the best suited for closer settlement. I think it would be wise to restrict this measure to Hartebeestpoort and perhaps the Olifant’s River now, and hereafter such areas as Parliament may approve of from time to time for the purpose of closer settlement under this Act; and if that were done, and the other amendments suggested were adopted, it would be a measure, as far as we are concerned, of which we could approve. What is the object of abolishing the Hartebeestpoort Land Board? I presume it is to make room for the Committee of Control. I agree entirely with having a Committee of Control, who are on the spot watching development, advising and really instructing settlers how to carry on their work. But this Hartebeestpoort Land Board—I am open to correction from the Minister—is a special board made up of particularly valuable men who are experts and the head of the extension department—a very good South African whom we all admire. Why not retain that Hartebeestpoort Board in that area, under the special circumstances? You could have the Committee of Control in addition working under the board. The scheme has cost a vast amount of money, i admit, and it was said it was another South African Party muddle. The S.A.P., like others, cannot see hundreds of feet under ground, and there is no doubt it was a bad muddle as regards the foundations in the initial stages, the engineer there being at fault, I believe. His successor put matters right and was of such calibre that he is now in another country because we could not pay him sufficient to retain his services. After the scheme was completed—and do not let us forget that it was particularly undertaken as a relief work for “poor whites”—men who were on their beam ends and unable to make a living, and they did exceedingly good work and very many proved themselves equal as labourers to people in any other country—we must realize that in that area it was found subsequently, there is a good deal of land not worth putting water on to. I would suggest in dealing with schemes like this, as the hon. member for Potchefstroom (the Rev. Mr. Fick) so ably put to us the other day, we should have “proef kolonies” (test colonies) where men would be strictly supervised and instructed in the rudiments of irrigation and other farming. Irrigation is but slightly understood in South Africa, and we have not a class of expert irrigators in this country. The Oudtshoorn district approaches it more nearly than any other. I thought I was an irrigation farmer at one time, but later on found I knew very little of the subject, which requires much research work in this country. So I would suggest having these schemes so arranged that you have firstly your “proef kolonies,” and then, secondly, go on to “allotment lands” and, thirdly, I hope that the Minister is going to continue to proceed on Clause 11 of the principal Act, and advance four-fifths of the value of the land to any men provided they are approved by the board. Whether a man is a South African or comes from overseas, I maintain we cannot be too careful as to the men we put on the land. Farming has more drawbacks than most other occupations, but has also more compensations to those who like the work. It is a hard life, and as I say, you cannot be too careful in selecting the men you are putting on the land. There is an association in connection with settlers coming to this country which makes very careful investigations before they send men out, but even they can make a mistake. Let us not make avoidable mistakes. We have had some very unfortunate episodes in land settlement in the past, and I think it would be most fatal if the Government, per se, were mixed up with failure of any sort in this connection. When individuals make a failure of it they take the onus on themselves; but should the Government, with the very best intentions in the world make grave errors when it takes up land settlement, it is more serious. I do not care which party initiates it or carries it through, and I do not care a rap who gets the kudos. Let them avoid any mistakes. There are many eyes upon this country in more ways than one, and let us avoid making any mistake that may militate against the successful development of our land by desirable people.
The House suspended business at 6 p.m., and resumed at 8.7 p.m.
I would like again to revert to one particular aspect of the debate which has caused a great deal of annoyance amongst some of us here and that is that members on the Government benches seem to arrogate to themselves the entire sympathy with and understanding of these people with whom we all wish to successfully deal. On this side of the House we have a full understanding of the position and every sympathy with these people, and we have done more to uplift them really and materially than hon. members on the Government benches.
They want more than your sympathy.
There has been a very strong attack levelled against the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) but I feel that he and men like him have done more to uphold the honour of South Africa than most of his critics have. I hope the remarks made by us here will be taken in the spirit in which they are meant. We want to assist on a constructive policy.
We have seen your constructive policy for 10 years.
The constructive policy of the past Government would have much more success if it had the support we were entitled to expect from that side of the House. If it had that support we should have got much further than we have to-day. Instead of making political capital out of every subject and approaching it from a narrow party point of view, if members on the other side had approached this question with a view to the interests of the country as a whole, we should have got much further. Any constructive measure for the good of the country will have our support; but because we have seen dangers and difficulties and made criticisms in connection with this measure you must not take that as obstruction. It is not obstruction. I submit that if the suggestion I make is accepted it will remove any opposition there may be to the Bill on this side of the House.
I welcome the Bill, as I think it is a step in the right direction and a measure for which the country has been waiting for years. I cannot understand the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) who is in favour of the principle of the Bill but thinks that the Land Board should have control. From Clause 3 to the end the Bill aims at bringing groups of people together and placing them under proper supervision. How can that happen if the properties are advertised? Part of the lands should be set apart for a certain kind of settlement under the advisory board. The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) has hurt the feelings of his fellow South Africans.
He intended to.
He tries to make out that the Minister has absolute power; but I would point out that he is only one member of the Cabinet. We have known the Land Bank system for a long time, and I think in certain respects the Bill does not go far enough, as no provision is made by the State for the religious needs of the people. It is impossible for the existing churches within whose boundaries these settlements happen to be, to do all the necessary work. There ought to be places too where unsuitable people can be sent. Another objection is that the supervision is withdraw after the probationer period. What will become of industrial institutions then? I think also it would be inadvisable for the State to take all the initiative. We hope this Government is going to be in power for a long time, but it is quite possible that there might be an unsympathetic Government again. If the Government contemptuously referred to as “the Pact” proceeds on the lines of this Bill, it will acquire for itself the undying gratitude of the country. The churches and philanthropical institutions and such bodies ought also to take the initiative for the establishment of settlements. After a proper enquiry regarding the payability of the scheme, the State ought to grant the land to such institutions. Another alteration I would like to propose is that the law should not exclusively be applicable to lands bought for the purpose.
The Bill provides for that.
I am glad to hear it.
Listening to the remarks of the hon. member for Troyeville (Mr. Kentridge) one would think that we were actuated by a desire to drive the poor whites deeper into the mire. I can assure him that we are very far removed from any policy of that sort. At the risk of reiteration, I would say that it is only the absence of safeguards that we criticise—given these safeguards I think this is one of the best Bills introduced to deal with the poor whites and will really assist them. It is a good Bill spoilt in its application—spoilt because it is proposed to apply to land settlement as a whole and not to one specific scheme. If the Minister will entrench the responsibility of the Land Board, and agree to apply the measure only to certain areas, there is a great power for good in the Bill. If the Land Board system had been found wanting I could understand the Minister desiring to scrap the system; on the contrary the Land Board has done in the past and is doing a very good work in regard to land settlement. Even on the discussion of this Bill I have never heard one word of criticism levelled by hon. members opposite against the system of land boards. The first result of the proposal made in this Bill to whittle away the powers of these boards has been that a wave of apprehension has passed over Natal that Zululand may be flooded with a very undesirable class of settler. I do not say that fear is justified; I think it is not justified; but that is the practical result of the provisions of this Bill. There is no question here, as has been suggested by some hon. members opposite, of millionaires and the “planter type.” It is, I take it, a real honest attempt to assist the poor white and there is no class that requires more assistance. Hon. members opposite have taken exception to the poor whites being described as “a class without hope,” but I do consider them “a class without hope,” and they will remain without hope unless some helping hand is held out to them, and this Bill, in my opinion, provides that helping hand. The regulations that exist to-day with regard to applications for land are no good to these men. They cannot obtain land in the usual manner. The Land Settlement Act, in section 19, states very clearly that no application for an allotment or a holding shall be entertained unless the applicant has sufficient capital to develop and work the holding. These are men without capital, and it requires special legislation to deal with their case, and I believe that this Bill with certain amendments will deal with their case and offer some chance at any rate of partially solving that problem. There must be some weeding out process, some proper form of selection in taking the men whom we are to put into these settlements, and I think they should first of all be put on relief works, railway construction works, or works like the Hartebeestpoort dam, and that proper supervision should be kept of these men. Those who show promise should be taken and placed on the settlements under proper guidance, and I think there would then be a good chance of these men largely making good. We must realize that when we put these men on the land or when we have selected them as probationers, as men without capital, we have got to give them some assistance, and, although Clause 3 has been criticized, I think this assistance will have to be extended to them if there is to be any chance of their making good. This money is taxpayers’ money. I think a probationary period should exist and that a firm control should be kept over these men until, at any rate, they have shown that they are in a position to work these lots and make the class of settlers we want. There is one amendment which I think requires to be inserted very badly, and that is to withdraw the placing of the full power in the hands of the Minister and not only because it is very inadvisable to give one man the sole control of the Crown land of the Union, although that is the principal reason—
Where do you get that from?
I get it from the Bill itself. The Bill says the Minister “may,” not the Land Board. There is nobody to put any brake on the Minister. He has the sole right in his hands.
Read section 3.
There is still another reason in my mind why the Minister should not have that power, and that is to protect the Minister himself, because there is a certain class of men with evil in their minds who will try and twist every action of a man into a wrong channel, and in that connection I cannot help thinking of the famous picture of the “Man with the Muckrake.” It is to protect the Minister from that class of man, the “Man with the Muckrake.” I think it is a very undesirable thing that the honour of Ministers should be questioned in the way that it has been questioned by a certain class of men in this House. After all, the honour of a Minister is the honour of this House. I believe in this Bill; I believe it is a step in the right direction, and I hope the Minister will meet the very real objections which we have to the removal of the safeguards of the old land settlement scheme, and with the retention of these safeguards it is a Bill which I can give my very hearty approval to.
I am very sorry to see that my hon. friend (Mr. Gilson) has also fallen into the trap set for him by the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz). I had hoped by this time that none of the members on the other side would fall into that trap. The hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) also fell into that trap.
Yes, he is there still.
But I thought that wisdom had prevailed on the other side and that we were not going to have any more of that same argument. Apparently we have still a little bit of it. This whole attack has been directed against the system of allotment. That is the position as I understood it of the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz), and very ingeniously he argued here last night that the Minister under this Bill was making the allotments all by himself. I do not know how the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) could have read that into the Bill. After all, the whole Bill is so absolutely plain that anybody, even the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt), can follow it. It is perfectly clear here that no allotment under this Bill will be made or is to be made without the recommendation of the Land Board.
Where is that?
It is perfectly clear; you will find it in sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph (1) of the Bill.
Read paragraph (1) first.
Yes, I will read it. I will read the different sub-sections. Paragraph (1) deals with nothing but the temporary occupation of land by probationary lessees.
Hundreds of pounds of State money.
What does temporary occupation mean? It does not mean that the Government is going to part with that land to these people permanently.
They are going to lend them money.
I will come to the money part in sub-section (3). I am now dealing with sub-section (1). There, the Bill deals with nothing else but the temporary occupation of land. Surely, if it is the policy or the intention of the Government to have probationary agricultural schools, they must have the land for that purpose. They cannot take anybody’s land; they must take their own land for it. They must have their own land and the Government intends taking suitable Crown land for the purpose, but they are not going to part with their property in that land nor does it appear from the reading of the Bill that they will do so. It will be held by them for the temporary occupation by probationary lessees and with the recommendation of the Land Board.
Is he going to turn the probationer off his holding?
In sub-section four of paragraph one the Minister will frame regulations setting forth the circumstances under which lessees may be required to leave their holdings. We do not know what these regulations are going to be.
My friend has no right to assume that they will have permanent occupation of the land. He has set up a hare and the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) is running after it, but we certainly are not going to do so. All this is camouflage, and there is nothing in the whole business raised by the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz). Then we come to paragraph 2, which says that the Minister may, on the recommendation of the Land Board, allot a holding. That is different to temporary occupation. Now we come to section three, and what objection has the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) here? Does he object to the Government advancing money for the purpose of purchasing and maintaining stock, buying implements, etc.? Or does he object to their being paid a maintenance allowance either in the way of wages or loans? Or does he make objection to advances being made to these men for the purpose of paying for labour?
I do not object if it is done in the proper way.
Why should you assume that anything we do will be done in an improper manner?
It may not be your Government, you are not going to be here for ever.
What does he object to? I have read all the sub-paragraphs of this section and I cannot see what he objects to. The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) objects to the land being allotted—he-has something at the back of his head that the land is going to be allotted in some mysterious manner. I am glad that kite did not fly because it is wrong on the face of it. We now come to sub-section four which states that the Minister may make regulations with regard to management of holdings, etc. What is wrong with that? I cannot conceive, any Minister, even though a South African Party man, coming before the House, without these principles contained in the Bill. Then we come to section 3 dealing with the appointment and the functions of Committees of Control. The hon. member for Griqualand (Mr. Gilson) said it would be wrong for the Minister, for one person, to undertake to do everything required by this Act. I agree with him that it would be wrong for the Minister to assume that power, but the Minister says he is not assuming that power. He says: “I want to be guided by the Committees of Control, and I am going to appoint Committees of Control in connection with every closer settlement.” These committees will advise in regard to the general development and improvement of the area; in regard to the subdivision of land into holdings; the selection and training of probationary lessees and whatever the Minister may refer to them. Does not my hon. friend want these Committees of Control, and does he think the hon. the Minister does not require them and their advice and guidance? I cannot understand the opposition that has been raised to this Bill, the argument of the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) last night absolutely puzzled me, and when I came to examine the Bill closely, clause by clause, there was nothing in it to create such a lot of dust. He succeeded in misleading the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan). No land will be allotted without the consent of the Land Board, and every safeguard in the original Act and in our Land Settlement Acts is contained in this Bill.
What about publication?
I take it when it comes to the allotment of land there will be the necessary publication.
Why does it not say so?
It is done away with.
In section 1.
You will have to read to the end.
Oh yes. I see mention made of the recommendation of the Land Board—the Minister may, on the recommendation of the Land Board, allot a holding to any probationary lessee who has completed to his satisfaction a course of training and is otherwise suitable as a settler, notwithstanding the fact that the allotment has not been offered as a holding as laid down by the principle contained in the Act. But I ask what is going to happen to a lessee who has passed through his probationary course and is suitable as a settler if he has to enter into competition with the general public.
That is our point, the land is going to be allotted to him as a matter of course.
Yes, that is our whole case.
Does my friend object to
Yes, because it freezes out all the other people who may want to become settlers.
I have read the Bill, and we have all read it on this side of the House. I want to put this to the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt): if we cut that out—the opportunity for the probationary lessee to be settled by the Land Board on suitable land, and you put him in the same position as the rest of the public and in open competition with the rest of the public, why have a probationary course at all? What is the idea of taking him on the land as a probationer? The idea is to train him up and make him suitable for settlement, and when you have done that and spent money on him, what are you going to do?
Exactly; that is my point.
And then cut him adrift? Is that man going to be thrown on the world and kicked out, after all the money that has been spent on him? What becomes of all the money spent on his training? The hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) is very careful, I know, of how money is being spent. But here we are going to spend money and the hon. members on the other side agree to the money being spent in terms of section 3, and when these people have been put through their training and passed as suitable persons to have land allotted to them, what is going to happen to them then? They will have to be settled on suitable land. No, I cannot see the objection raised by hon. members on the other side. It is so very flimsy. It is very clear that if the Land Board does not recommend, the Minister cannot allot.
None so blind as those who will not see.
I congratulate the hon. Minister on having brought forward this Bill, and I hope the second reading will be agreed to.
The hon. member who has just sat down made a candid admission.
I am always candid.
The candid admission was that he did not understand our objective. The chief objection that I think was taken on this side of the House—I do not speak as a farmer or a probationer, but as one who has had something to do with land laws for many years—is that the basic principle of those laws is that they do not allow the Minister to be put in the position of being suspect. It is not a case of this Minister, in particular. I may have the most absolute confidence in the Minister at present sitting on the other side; but we must remember that this is a permanent Bill and that at no distant date there may be a change of Government, and I, for one, should not like to have a member of my own party being put in the position of having every action he took under that Act made an object of suspicion, innuendo and suggestiveness, such as we have lately seen happening. The reputation of every future Minister is at stake. The hon. member for Somerset (Mr. Fourie) would persist in treating the objection raised by the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) as if it was one on the score of the Minister having the unlimited right of making the allotment of land. That was not the point at all; and if the hon. member had read the Bill carefully or listened to the argument of the hon. member carefully, he would have seen that his objection was to the proposed method of dealing with land before allotment. What he said was: you are giving the Minister for the time being, to whatever party he may belong, the right to dispose of Crown land on so-called temporary tenure. The hon. member drew a distinction between temporary occupation and the permanent right given under allotment. He said that the objectionable feature was that the Minister had the unqualified and unlimited power of selecting the persons he chooses to call “probationers,” and there is no definition of who are probationers. He can not only choose them, but he can make his own definition as to what a “probationer” is, and he can choose the men who are to be these probationers. Some hon. members have dealt with it as if this objection can be cured by constituting a committee. But the provision for constituting the committee is not an obligatory one; Clause 3 is purely permissive; it provides that the Minister may appoint a committee. That is, the Minister under this Bill may appoint a committee, but on the other hand, he may not. I am speaking on purely general principles with no particular application to the hon. Minister. Supposing he does not appoint the committee; supposing we have a South African Party Minister who does not. What would the House say about that? He can, acting on his own discretion, appoint any persons as probationers, and that is the real objection to the Bill.
He is going to get advice from local people.
“He may.” The real point is that he need not. And even if he does appoint committees, these will have no say whatever in the allotment of the land. Let us take this position; supposing a Minister, acting under his undoubted rights under this Bill, appoints probationers of the most unsatisfactory character—not checked or controlled by a committee. On my assumption, the Minister may even advance very large sums of money to these probationers, under all sorts of headings, as contained in paragraph 3 of Clause 1. Let us assume it is not a Nationalist Minister or a Nationalist favourite who has been appointed as a probationer, but a South African Party nominee. The Minister can advance with uncontrolled discretion all kinds of money until the State is virtually bound and pledged to that probationer.
These interjections show how very well-founded our objections to the Bill are, because our objections are directed to show that the Bill does not contain what it is supposed to contain. As I pointed out, the committee has nothing whatever to do with either the allotments or the loans. The Minister appoints probationers. How long are those probationers going to continue under the name of probationers? Because until land is allotted to them the Minister can go on making these advances. What is the value of the allotment clause? As long as the Minister is in power—he may not advance without the recommendation of the Land Board, we are told—but as long as the Minister is in power, he has the right under this to go on advancing money and pledging the interests of the State, and as long as he chooses he can continue to call that man a probationer. There is no qualification required for a probationer, there is no definition and no limit of time during which a man can continue to be a probationer. Yet he can get all these rights and privileges which this Bill allows at the expense of the State. This Bill goes right to the root of all the principles of our land laws for generations. Whether under the old leasehold Acts of 1864, or the old Crown Lands Disposal Act of 1887, or subsequent Acts of 1905, I think there was the most complete power of control over the disposal of Crown land.
We don’t part with the land.
You don’t part with the land, but you part with the money, and with everything else except the nominal ownership. You give the Minister unlimited powers of patronage. I can remember when the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) tried to introduce certain proposals with regard to the export of produce, and there were certain powers left in his hands to enable him to deal with moneys for the benefit of the particular industry concerned. The welkin rang with the protests of all those Labour members and Nationalists who are supporting this Bill.
Parliament will vote the money.
Parliament will vote the money in a lump sum, but it will be divided by the Minister and disposed of as he wishes. The precautions taken under the old land clause were that you had to have the utmost publicity; you placed everything on the Table of the House. If members will look at Clause 16 of the 1912 Act they will see what the basic principle is. Under that Act the Minister must, by a notice in the Gazette and the newspapers, notify that these allotments are available. The notice must state the area and other details with the greatest particularity, and no allotment may be made until the expiry of 10 weeks after the notice in the Gazette. That was the basic principle. If it is the intention of the Cabinet that the issue of land to probationers shall be subject to the control of the committees, provision must be made in the clause requiring every issue to be subject to the approval of the committee, and it must be compulsory that the committee shall be appointed. But I do not think we have had any solid reason given why committees should be appointed in place of land boards. It looks as if an attack has been made upon the land boards. We, on this side of the House, think these boards have done excellent service for the country, and will continue to do so if they are given the opportunity, but their position is being emasculated by this Bill. The grant to the probationer is made at the sole discretion of the Minister, the check by the committee is not a compulsory check, and the check by the land boards comes too late. You say the allotment is subject to the recommendation of the land board comes too late. You say the allot-stable door after the horse is stolen. No Ministry should put themselves in the position of having the power of distributing unlimited patronage. Whether this Government or any other is going to do it, this Bill does allow that subject to the supervision of the Minister of Finance, who says Parliament will vote the money. Yes, it will, but not for each individual applicant, nor will it be shown on the Table of the House. So Parliament ceases to have any effective control after it has voted the amounts en bloc. There are powers of unlimited patronage. The public will know nothing about what is being done, and the public will not have their fair chance of competition for these lands. We say these are provisions which are most detrimental to the interests of the State, and we say that if this Bill is to go through it must be amended in all those vital respects.
On behalf of one of the districts in which land settlement has played some part, I must say we welcome this Bill. The management of these settlements and the whole of our settlement policy in the past by the previous Government is recoiling on their own heads. When we hear from the late Minister of Lands the way in which he dragged discredit on Ministers in this House, and what he said may happen to unscrupulous Ministers, we see recoiling on him the effect of the late Government’s action in the past. The whole country to-day is teeming with discontent with the late Government’s settlement policy. This Bill will to a certain extent meet a long-felt want so far as the settlements are concerned. The Land Board has been brought into discredit by being used as a dumping ground for members of Parliament, who have had to make places for disappointed Ministers to obtain a seat in this House. This is one of the uses to which the board has been put in the past, and if the Land Board has been brought into discredit the late Minister of Lands has no right to say that the Land Board has not the respect that it should have, as the late Minister of Lands laid it down that the only right class of settler was the settler with a large amount of capital. Let us see how the late Government attempted to utilize the Land Act for its own purposes. The late Minister of Lands granted 103 applications for cotton lands in Zululand. Some of the applications were signed on June 8th, but the greater proportion were signed on June 21st, when the Minister was out of office. Why this great hurry? Was the Minister anxious that the applications would not be confirmed by his successor? It was very wrong of him to this when he was no longer Minister of Lands and there was a considerable amount of jobbery about it. Let me give an idea of some of these successful applicants—the right kind of settler. Out of the 103 applicants 21 were men who already owned land, and therefore were not entitled to get a single allotment and consequently the Minister broke his own law.
There is nothing in the Act which says so.
The 103 applicants included Mr. R. G. Ford, attorney, of Vryheid, with political experience, but who, according to his own admission, knew nothing about cotton planting. Applicant No. 43, J. H. Dryburgh, had no previous experience, yet he is prepared to put up £20,000 capital. The other applicants included J. H. Horsfall, labour agent, Vryheid, also with considerable South African party proclivities; applicant 191, C. A. Wheelwright, Secretary for Native Affairs in Natal, and applicant 52, Mr. G. E. Gaze, a very active Labour man, but he did not obtain any ground. The curious part is that most of these applicants were also tainted with the right class of politics. This shows haw possible it is to get around the land boards. I contend that this Bill is a very small instalment of what is due to the settlers, and the late Minister of Lands knows the agitation against the condition of these settlements. He will remember a conference he held at Pretoria at which the settlers told him “the rotten state of Denmark,” and gave him a. good deal of advice the result of much of which is contained in the Bill. The present Minister in bringing in this legislation is trying to patch up the mess which the last Government made so far as land settlement is concerned. If the Minister has an opportunity during the recess he should lift the burden that presses on the settler, and will show that the late Government was not in sympathy with the settler and that during the past five years its policy was a hopeless failure. Settlements like kopjes will be benefited by the Bill. I hope the Minister will not listen to this note of suspicion on the part of the late Minister of Lands, but will remember that the House will always look to him to represent the policy of the Government, but will not look to him to put his own personal friends into land settlement schemes.
I think if there is one speech that has been made in this Rouse which should put the Minister on his guard in respect to the dangers of the unrestricted powers he is asking for is the speech of the hon. member for Vredefort (Mr. Munnik). No charge which could be brought against a late Minister of Lands, which could be conceived and which could be imagined has been left unsaid in the course of this debate. I cannot think it is to the credit of this country that the many things which have been said should have been said. As regards his statement that the land policy of the late Government has been a failure, I cannot, of course, speak for other provinces, but speaking for the province from which I come I say that, with possibly one or two exceptions, which perhaps could not be foreseen, those schemes have been an unqualified success. I do not think we could have had a more energetic, a more reliable, or a more painstaking Minister. If there is one thing which has impressed itself upon me as a mere layman it is this, and I think the Minister might really consider it for a moment: He has, after a process of incubation, hatched a Bill which, as to its many interpretations no two lawyers in this House have yet been able to agree. It is therefore left to the plain, simple farming folk like ourselves to try and understand what is really intended. As far as my intelligence leads me, I cannot agree with the hon. member for Somerset (Mr. Fourie) that this power which we maintain that the Minister is seeking to take, is a controlled power. He says that the Minister cannot distribute these lands without the advice of the Land Board. On this point, I think, the first clause is perfectly clear. It says that the Minister may grant a right of temporary occupation thereof to any person who is regarded by him as likely to be suitable notwithstanding anything contained in section 19 of the Land Settlement Act of 1912 or any other provision of the principal Act. Surely there is nothing ambiguous about that. The Minister may grant this temporary occupation without reference to anybody. He practically lays down that the conditions in Clause 19 of the Land Settlement Act shall not apply, so that the Minister can select anybody, who need not even be 18 years of age. He need not possess qualifications for utilizing the land; he need not intend in good faith to occupy personally and develop the land; he need not be of good character; he need not possess capital: he need not declare that he will work the land by himself or members of his family. In short, he need possess none of the attributes considered necessary to make him a successful settler. We have had this Bill hitherto discussed almost entirely from the political point of view, but only one or two farmers have discussed it from the farming point of view. We can appreciate that we should have had it discussed on the other side from the political point of view because I understand that the farmers on the other side are really almost all lawyers. Speaking as a farmer, and not a lawyer, but as one who has had some experience in land settlement work during the last seven years, I say quite advisedly that the class of men that the Minister wants to help—and everybody in this House is most anxious should be helped—I say that the land that the Minister has selected in Zululand on which it is proposed these people are to be put is the most unsuitable land which could possibly have been selected for the purpose. To begin with, you have these people in very large numbers, but the land in Zululand is not unlimited nor is it suitable on the whole for cutting up into small lots. It is land eminently suitable for cotton growing. Now, anyone who goes in for cotton growing will require 200 acres of arable land, and in addition he will require 600 to 700 acres for grazing. You will have therefore to allot to each of these people about 1,000 acres more or less. You thus get rid quite quickly of an immense tract of country, but you will not settle many people. Then again these people are not to work this land; they are admittedly unfit to do so, so the Minister is going to do this for them. He believes them to be intellectually, physically and financially unfit, and these are the people he is going to try very properly, I say, to lift up. It is quite right that they should be raised in the scale of civilization, but they will not be so raised by putting them on land such as this and starting them out as cotton growers. You can lift these people up and make successful settlers of them only if you go in for closer settlement, with irrigation if possible.
The Bill only applies to that kind of settlement.
Oh no, it does not. I think this Bill can be applied to any land, and I think the Minister’s action in holding up the land in Zululand shows that those lands are some of the lands he desires to allot, and I repeat that this land in Zululand is unsuitable for this purpose. It is eminently suitable for the planter type. Now the planter type is the man who need not necessarily have experience, but he must have capital, and he must have energy, and he must have brains. He has got to break up the wilderness and convert it into lands of the highest culture. The Minister proposes to do all this work for these people. He is going to plough the land, he is going to level it, and he is going to plant.
Bring in an amendment to limit it to the planter type.
The hon. member need not worry himself the amendments are coming forward alright and a vote will be taken and the results placed permanently on record so that the people of South Africa may know for themselves how their Crown lands are being dissipated. The Minister is not alone going to purchase the land, but he is going to plough it for the settler and plant it at the public expense, and when the Minister has rested and wiped the sweat off his brow, he is going to purchase stock for these people. Not only is he going to do that, but he is also going to maintain the stock by replacing animals that die and keeping the stock up to strength. He is going to erect and equip buildings which he may think necessary for the storage of produce. He is also going to look after the health of the settler by the provision of doctors, nurses and hospitals, but I do not see that he is making any arrangement to provide a cemetery, and, as he is going to give all this land away, he should reserve a little bit for a very necessary cemetery. There is another matter so far as Natal is concerned, and that is that the application of this Bill seems to me to be directed against Natal—in saying this I only take the action of the Minister in conjunction with this Bill—we are waiting, therefore, for the reason why this magnificent land which to-day is crying out for the plough is being held up.
The Minister wants to do that now.
No, sir, he is holding up work which ought to be going on now, and in this direction I think it is just as well to sound a word of warning to those who are in the habit of speaking so enthusiastically about the growing of cotton and its possibilities, as though it was going to be a new Golconda to South Africa. They should bear in mind that its future, as regards present high prices, is limited. Experts and men who know, are agreed that we have probably five years to depend upon for as the supply of the world’s cotton increases so prices must gradually go down. These fortunes which are being made and can be made if you have the right land and are working it in the right way, but is not going to last for ever. This, as regards prices, is a magnificent year, but owing to the Minister holding up the land, we are going to lose one of the best years of the whole five, and it is too late to talk about doing anything there this season now. Another undesirable feature is the overriding of the Land Board and I say this: if Natal had thought that the distribution of its Crown lands was going to be the sport and plaything of party politicians, she would never have come into Union. If there is one thing we, in Natal, hold sacred it is the handling of the Crown lands belonging to the people and which should be sold or distributed on conditions beyond breath of suspicion. The men who were selected for our Land Board for dealing with these lands were men who have made it their life’s study, knowing the land in all its aspects, and with a sound knowledge of the type of men suitable for occupying the land. These boards are now to be pollaxed and all that is to go, and instead we are to have the sole control placed in the hands of a movable Minister. I do not mean to suggest that the present Minister is necessarily here for a short time.
He is a young man and he may be here for 20 years.
That is not possible. My hon. friend thinks he has got into that seat of his and is going to remain there for the rest of his life. He never made a greater mistake. We already hear the rumblings of the thunder and the gathering of the storm and he may be one of the first to go under. I hope the Minister, when we go into Committee on this Bill, will help us to make it a bill that will fulfil all the objects we have in view. We sincerely desire it to be a success, but not a success at the expense of other deserving members of the community.
After the speech of the hon. member who has just sat down I say “murder is out.” It is evident what is the head in front of the Opposition, it is because they fear, and maybe rightly, that one of the objects the Minister has in view is settling the land in Zululand—settling people of the Union of South Africa on the sacrosanct land of Natal. He is correct in his fear as demonstrated by the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz), who also saw the danger. These people of the planter type and, might I say, he refers to the members on the other side as being all lawyers, but it appears to me the members on this side (Opposition) are all planters. The planter type, that excellent type, that super-type, that supercillious type, that type that boasts capital and an Oxford intonation. The White River settlement is a type of that, and that is what is troubling the members on this side of the House. They realize that an effort is being made to settle this blot on the escutcheon of South Africa—the problem of the poor white. My hon. friend says he is going to uplift them, but he says they must not be put on the rich cotton lands of Zululand; they must not be able to get more than a competence. He says: “these fellows are down and out, we do not want to keep them down we want to raise them, but we want to raise them just above that level. So far they shall go and no further.” I think we listened last night to the most painful exhibition of scurrilous attack, in innuendo at least, in the speech of the member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz). To-day wiser counsels seem to have prevailed, but I am sorry to see that the hon. member for Yeoville (Mr. Duncan) has followed in his footsteps. His language may not be so bad, it was more refined, but his hints were just as suggestive. Why cast suspicion upon the motives and the possible future actions of the Minister of Lands?
I never did anything of the kind.
I am sorry that our minds were evidently not attuned in sympathy, but that was the impression left on my mind. I very much regret that the hon. member followed these lines, otherwise what was the point of the argument? Another reason why there has been very much opposition, at any rate from the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) is that he is not the Minister who is carrying out the legislation; and I think that the head and front of his opposition—and he ventured to claim credit for this Bill—is that the present Minister of Lands found it on his desk, and the hon. member (Col. D. Reitz) evidently forgot it when he left office. I do hope that the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) had destroyed all the incriminating documents. I would ask the present Minister of Lands to look round and look through the building again, and he may find that of this Bill which he has introduced into this House, very little difference exists between this Bill and that which would have been introduced by the late Minister of Lands, even so far as this Ministerial unlimited power is concerned. I do not want this House to vote for this Bill under any misapprehension. Why, you are never under anything else! But on this occasion I. must confess to a sneaking leaning to the views expressed by hon. members on this side who have read into the Bill correctly. In actual practice it is going to turn out that the Minister will ultimately select the allottees. You may say that the Bill does not actually provide for it; in plain language, the Bill says that the allotments which are made will be made on the advice of the Land Board. But the crux of the whole situation lies, as the hon. member for Rondebosch (Mr. Close) rightly put it, “prior to that.” The actual selection of the probationers ultimately settles the selection of the allottees. The Minister makes the final choice—that appears to be perfectly clear, but I find no fault with it. It is just because of that I propose to vote for it, despite these painful efforts of members of this side of the House, and the pathetic appeals to members of the Labour party “that you can’t vote for this because it means absolute Ministerial control.” Even if it were the ex-Minister of Lands who was sitting there, I will vote for it and that is strange. There is absolutely little difference between Ministerial control and control from the land board. Who appoints the land board? We had some experience of that, and my hon. friend over there is perfectly correct—all these little jobs have been looked upon as rewards for long and faithful political service, and especially for those who have proved themselves unsuccessful in the political contests.
I see that Mr. van Heerden, the unsuccessful candidate of Cradock, has just been shoved on the board.
That is one of those exceptions that invariably and inevitably prove the rule. Why I think I am correct in making this assertion is abundantly proved by the allotment of land throughout the Union. We are giving the Minister absolute power in effect by this Bill. I am perfectly frank about it, and I am voting for it. Under the smoke screen of the land board the man who was Minister during the late regime, and another who has preceded him, have been able to dispose of large chunks of Crown land to their friends.
You are one of them. You got a piece of Crown land yourself.
That is so. That is one of these cases when he handed it over to the enemy. But it is a very small chunk.
Another exception to the rule! You had better sit down. You have put your foot into it twice.
He wanted me, by one of these side winds, with which he is so well acquainted, to fall into the trap!
We thought you were of the planter type!
That is where you made a mistake. If the same occasion arises again he will not adopt the same attitude, having realized that I am not of the planter type. Now my hon. friend here shows how little that party has advanced in regard to land settlement. He was advancing the argument that you want enormous tracts for each individual—200 acres for cotton. I think it is right, and I do not think an individual can work more than 200 acres for cotton. He wanted to lay down that in order for a man to be a successful cotton planter he must have 800 acres additional for grazing purposes, which connotes the old outlook on these things, that each individual must have his land cut off from another individual, and each individual shall have all the implements and the stock necessary to drag these implements to do the work, forgetting that the Minister—as I read into his efforts and intentions, at all events—is out for the real co-operative method in land settlement.
Has each man got a motor tractor!
That is all you want to do. That is what the old Natal Government provided the planter type with, but we were able to put a check on you interesting gentlemen. The Government’s money was spent for mechanical ploughs and other implements and used for the benefit of the comparatively wealthy individual of the planter type. Now what I take it the Minister will do, and the Bill provides for, is to break up the whole vast tracts of ground, and of course anybody who knows anything about the matter would immediately turn to mechanical means. They will then divide up those vast tracts into small holdings. I want to congratulate the Minister on having introduced this Bill. I agree with hon. members on this side of the House that the class the Minister proposes to benefit most do so under tutelage, the training must be there and, even I am prepared to agree, the discipline also must be there. What is the use of your having spent the money, given all the effort and taken the time to train these people—I have yet to learn that there is a very great deal of difference between them and us and even between them and you of the planter type, and I think they will make a success of it—I want to know after you have spent all this money what is the use of it all if you are not prepared to grant them the ground at the finish? One of the things I want to impress on the House in connection with this matter is this. It appears to be a very fine opportunity for doing something towards coping with the unemployment question in this country. The Minister takes power, and I commend him for it, to use and spend money in breaking up the ground, preparing it, planting it, and making houses, bore-holes and so on, and doing everything necessary to bring a farm into a thoroughly flourishing and productive condition. There I see an excellent opportunity for the Minister to do his bit towards solving the unemployment problem. You have bricklayers, masons, carpenters and mechanics out of work and you are going to build houses. I want the Minister to lay down the determination that he will employ mechanics wherever he can on building houses and pay them the standard rate of pay. Use men for fencing. You can have a regular army corps, I am sorry to say, of workers going about from settlement to settlement building houses and making the fences and so on. There is one other thing I want to urge, and that is as to the system of tenure. He does not say he is going to give freehold. He says here when the time comes he will have the power to allot a holding. Allotting might be anything. It might be giving the freehold or selling it, or merely giving an occupational farm. I want him to lay this down—he knows how heavily handicapped he and the State is by the shortage of Crown land. That is only because the State has foolishly allowed the State’s patrimony in land to be alienated from time to time in huge chunks. All I am asking the Minister to do is to hold the land in ownership of the State for two reasons, one is as I have indicated, the State should never part with its land and provided you secure that the man who is occupying it shall not be disturbed in his tenure there can be no complaint. After all it is safer for a man to hold land from the Crown on a perpetual lease subject to beneficial occupation, than to have absolute freehold of it for a few years and then have to sell it. That is one of the reasons I want the Minister to adopt this system. What is the real origin of our poor white question? My hon. friend read from a report this afternoon in which he said it was the continual breaking up of farms. There are other causes, and I fear they are larger. One is because the old freehold owners of farms have had to part with their land owing to their circumstances. Farming is a peculiar method of life—a man is subject to many vicissitudes, there are many things which may make it impossible for him to carry on. The Minister desires to provide for the protection of the man. I ask him to carry that protection right through and instead of handing over the freehold by sale or gift to keep it for the State but, at the same time, secure the man in occupation. Then you will preserve the land and preserve the occupier in occupation. It would be illogical for the Minister to stop short at the actual settling of men on the land. It is not as hon. members over here seem to think that we have to settle the land; we want to settle the people. That reminds me the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) made an unfair gibe at the Minister of Labour when he said that he assisted the poor whites with a speaking trumpet. The hon. member assisted them with a knobkerrie.
I gave them jobs.
It would be illogical to stop with the mere settlement on the land. What is a man to do with his produce? This question was attempted to be dealt with by Canada, although in a timid manner, many years ago, when they wished to develop their dairy industry. The Government took from the dairy farmers all the butter they liked to make at a definite fixed price and then the Government turned itself into a selling agency and exported the butter and sold it. This is a precedent which we might well follow. You should make arrangements for the distribution of the farmers’ produce and—where the settlements are sufficiently large to justify it—the State should erect factories for the manufacture of wool, jam, etc. I congratulate the Minister, in conclusion, on doing something for the country so scon after taking office, even although it may be following somewhat on the lines adopted by the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz).
This Bill is one of the most important measures introduced this session, and it is only a pity that we so often talk about the poor whites with the aim of catching their votes. If these people had no votes, the solution of the question would perhaps have been easier. It is being asserted that the previous Government made a failure of the business, and although I am prepared to admit that it make mistakes, I think it can be said that they did a great deal for these people. I shall be only too grateful if this Government can solve the question, but I prefer to wait and see. The church has done a great deal, and 25 years ago it started the settlement at Kakamas. The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) has been severely taken to task because he criticised that settlement, but the Opposition have taken him too seriously. The hon. member for Gordonia (Mr. Conradie) will admit that Kakamas was not in every respect a success.
But I said that we should be guided by the experience gained there.
Exactly. Let us be honest and not try to cover up the mistakes of these people. If a member points out blunders, he should not be stamped as a hater of his own people. I believe that the new Minister is honest and is trying to do his best, because he knows our conditions. Unfortunately, a great portion of the rural population in the Transvaal will have to go to the settlements, as they have had so many misfortunes in the past. Mr. Mostert, who has been sent to Zululand, is a friend of mine, and I would like to know what he reported. The Minister promised to lay the report on the table, but it has not been done yet.
I said that his final report would be laid on the table.
It would be iniquitous of any Government to send these people to malarial areas where they will die.
What class will live there?
I do not understand the hon. member. I have also taken a hand in establishing poor white settlements. The hon. member for Potchefstroom (Rev. Mr. Fick) was sent here to solve the question. He has studied it for 20 years now, and knows how complex it is. It will be very hard to get the people who are now living in the towns to go to the country. They are not always to blame for the condition they are in. Often hon. members of this House are more to blame.
Yes, S.A.P. members.
The hon. member must not talk like that. It will be a good thing if these people are settled on certain lands, but not all the land is suited to that purpose. Besides, where is the money to come from? There will be an advisory board, the members of which will be paid as are the members of the land boards. There are thus more new appointments. The carrying out of the Act will cost a lot of money, and we should bear that in mind. I agree with the hon. member for Witwatersberg (Lt.-Col. N. J. Pretorius) that it would be a good thing to let these people work on shares. In that way the people will help each other, but I am afraid if we give them all they want, it will cost a lot of money, and it will not make them independent. The employees on Government work when they finish work at 5 o’clock in the afternoon are indolent. There will be many applications from probationers, and once they have been accepted the Minister will have trouble in getting rid of them. The previous Government did good work by means of their afforestation schemes, which showed which of the people worked well. But now the idea is to let them work at a certain wage, and that will naturally be a high one. It would be iniquitous to send these people to malarial districts. I know what it means, as I have been there. It was proposed that the people should work under employers in Zululand, and therefore I would rather wait until I see the final report. The Government should be careful because the experience of the previous Government has shown that land settlement is a thing which easily gives the Government a nasty shock. Hon. members have taken the remarks of the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) regarding the poor whites too much to heart. We should not be frightened to state and to hear the truth. It remains a fact that there is a part of the people who have come in touch with foreign elements, and it is impossible to get them into a church, but I think the religious work may well be left in the hands of the church. After 25 years Kakamas is not a success, and there is still a debt on the settlement in spite of all the contributions by the charitable public. That shows how difficult it will be for this Government to solve this problem.
Is it perfectly clear to the hon. gentleman opposite that the interpretation put on this Bill by the hon. member for Benoni (Mr. Madeley) is the correct interpretation, because if it is accepted as correct we are on common ground, to the extent that the interpretation placed on the Bill by the hon. member is that the Minister is the sole arbiter under the Bill and that no one has any voice or say in the allotment of these lands to probationer lessees, and to all intents and purposes no one has any say in the subsequent allotment when they have served the probationary term. It is also perfectly clear from section 2 that the making of the allotment dependent on the recommendation of the land board is ridiculous. The land board has no power of supervision over these lessees, no power of control, no means of ascertaining the fitness or otherwise of these people, and yet a provision is made that the allotment of these areas will be subject to the recommendation of the board, which has no connection whatsoever with these probationary lessees. That is the only reference in the whole of the Bill to the land board. As one of the Natal members I wish to enter my protest against the Minister having these unlimited powers, and I hold that in the interests of the public the land board should be allowed to function prior to any land being allotted, prior to the placing of any probationer lessees, and should not be called in to function after the probationary lessees have actually been placed on the land. The placing on the land of these probationary lessees means to all intents and purposes permanent occupation by them. That is the point upon which we have based all our objections on this side of the House, and I persist in saying that we want due publication of and gazettal of intention to allot these lands, and for allotments to be made in the usual way by an independent board and not by the Minister. That is the principle which has obtained—
I don’t think we have a quorum in the House.
This is a principle which has obtained in all our land settlement schemes and no good reason has been advanced why there should be any departure from that principle in the Bill at present under consideration. As far as we can gather from the utterances of the hon. Minister there is uncertainty that the land in Zululand will come within the scope of the Bill before the House. It seems a great pity that there is no certainty about it—the allotment of this land was suspended some time ago, and we are now losing the opportunity of putting on settlers with capital, brains and energy. I would like the hon. the Minister to give us a definite statement when he is replying as to whether he intends to bring Zululand within the scope or operation of this Bill.
He told us he is not going to do so.
I did not gather that from his remarks when he introduced the Bill, but I understood there was no certainty about it, but that in any case if land in Zululand was taken it would only be a small area. A great mistake has been made in suspending the allotment of this land to suitable settlers. The Minister stated that all the holdings available were not applied for, and I concluded it was due to the suspension of the allotment of Crown lands in Zululand and not because there was a dearth of applicants.
There were no less than 235 holdings offered and only 115 applications came in.
Everyone applied for the best farms first.
I understand there are applicants waiting at the present time, and I urge the necessity of coming to a definite decision on this matter, so that allotment to people who can carry on without Government assistance can proceed. I also thought it a great pity that the Government thought fit to jettison the agreement entered into between the Minister of Railways and Harbours and the Lands Department regarding the allocation of monies received from the sale and leasing of land in Zululand. I think the scheme whereby the cost of constructing the railway should be met by the proceeds of the sale and leasing of the land a sound one. A very good opportunity has been missed so to arrange matters that sufficient income would be derived from the sale of land there to pay for the cost of the railway if not wholly then partially. Before I sit down I should like to refer to the views expressed by Mr. C. W. Malan, the present hon. Minister of Railways and Harbours, when the question of the amendment of the Land Settlement Act of 1912 was before this House in 1917. These were the views he expressed at that time, and in dealing with this question of ministerial control, he said: “With regard to the Bill itself, I object to the great powers which it is proposed to give to the Minister. Clauses 7 and 13 give the Minister the power without reference to the Land Board to grant large advances of money. The powers are too extensive, and may possibly lead to malpractices. It is very dangerous to put that power into the hands of any Minister, to whatever Government he belongs. The Minister, if he wishes, can benefit a certain section and use his power for political purposes. …”
It depends on the Minister.
Show me the man, and I will show you the law.
What year was it?
That was before the flood.
Yes, for a man who has altered his opinions.
The late Minister of Lands has been taken to task for pointing to the danger of vesting such enormous powers in the hands of the Minister, and has been accused of insinuating that the Minister is not to be trusted. That was a most unfair thing to say with regard to our late Minister of Lands and if he is to be blamed for what he said, the present Minister of Railways and Harbours is just as blameworthy for what he said in 1917. I would like to make a further suggestion regarding this Bill, and that is, that the Minister decide upon the areas which he proposes to bring within the operation of the Bill; that they be embodied in the bill, and there will be no question then as to what the intentions of the Government are.
I have no objection whatever against the principle of this Bill, as it aims at getting the poor man on the land. It is nothing more than the same policy as that of the late Government. It had a settlement at Indwe, and that was a big success. The Prime Minister said at Smithfield that the S.A.P. Government squandered money on the settlements, and now the new Government is proceeding with the same policy. I dislike the unlimited powers given in this Bill to the Minister. It is alleged that the Nationalist party is a democratic party, but it is not democratic to give the Minister such wide powers.
Where does the hon. member find that?
It is clearly stipulated in the Bill that the Minister will select the probationers. Once they are on the land it will be undesirable to let them go, and they will thus have to be left there. Neither is it in the interests of the Minister to have the unlimited powers which this Bill grants him. He will come to this House later on and ask that they be taken away, because he will have no end of trouble with people who go to his office to see him about property, and he will be in the unfortunate position of not being able to refer them to the Land Board. I do not suspect the present Minister, but we have had such mean insinuations in this House that the provision is not in the interests of the Minister. How will the people know that the lands are available if they are not advertised? The Land Board did good work, and the Minister should rely more on them. I see no necessity for an advisory board at every place if we have to pay them at the same rate as the Land Board. Where is the money to come from? It almost appears that the Minister wants to help the poor whites by putting them all on these boards. If these settlements are placed under the general supervision of the Land Board, a superintendent with expert knowledge of agriculture will be quite sufficient.
Some more imported experts, I suppose.
My hon. friend over there is so pleased with the political capital which he made out of the affair with Littlejohn Philip that it is impossible for him to recognize a good suggestion when it is put before him. We shall be fortunate if we can get the advice of a man like Dr. Elwood Mead, who made such a great success of land settlement in America. Regarding the remarks about the poor whites, it would appear that the S.A.P. has no right to say anything about them. When, the Bill is criticized it is said that hon. members are against the poor whites and it is quite forgotten that the previous Government did a great deal for them.
In what way?
Many people have been taken on at afforestation, irrigation and railway construction work. In my constituency two dams were built with white labour. What has the Nationalist party done? During the elections they went about and told the people that the Government wasted money on the dams. In this House, however, they become dramatic in their speeches in order to show their sympathy for the poor whites, whilst out of the House they tell the people that they should not work for low wages. The previous Government tried to give them work.
I hope the hon. member for Ceres (Mr. Roux), who adorns the back bench and condescends occasionally to make unintelligible remarks, will refrain for a moment from doing so. I had hoped that the Minister, in introducing this Bill, would have explained the reasons for departing from two of the outstanding principles of the past land settlement policy of the Union, but I must confess my disappointment in that he in no way dealt with these very important innovations in the Bill. One of the most important features of the land settlement policy of the Union in the past has been the publication of notice to the world of the fact that State land is available for allotment. That is a policy that is completely eliminated under the Bill, because there is no provision whatsoever for publication of the fact that allotment is to take place or that probationary lessees are invited to apply. The second principle is that allotment must be in the hands of the land board to persons who must conform to a certain standard. That is being departed from, as will be seen from section 2, which states that the Minister may, on the recommendation of the land board, allot a holding notwithstanding that such holding has not been offered for allotment as prescribed in the principal Act. There you have the complete elimination of two very important features of land settlement legislation of the Union, which are found also in every important Dominion in the Empire, completely eliminated. It will be remembered by those who have made any comparison of the Acts of New Zealand and Victoria, the most successful land settlement Acts of the world, that these Acts embody these very important features. The new Bill not only eliminates these two principles of the land settlement policy of the past, but introduces new features which constitute an entire innovation. The most important feature is that the Government takes power in this Bill to pay wages to settlers or probationary lessees and to make advances for the payment of labour. The hon. member for Klip River (Mr. Anderson) has referred to a speech that was made by the present Minister of Railways and Harbours in which he deprecated the passing of the Land Settlement Amendment Act of 1917 because of the very wide powers which it would confer upon the Minister of Lands. Those powers are infinitesimal compared with the powers which the Minister proposes to take under the present Bill, because in no part of the Act of 1917 is it even suggested that the Minister should have the power to pay wages and to make advances for the payment of labour. The strongest objection I have to the Bill is the fact that it sets out to deal with two different problems and does not differentiate between these two problems. It sets out to deal with the problem of closer settlement and also to deal with the poor white, who, as has been pointed out in the course of this debate, is one who requires supervision and control. In the King’s speech it was announced that legislation would be introduced for the placing of settlers on the land under conditions of supervision and control, and we can only assume that this is the Bill that was promised, but, so far from dealing with that troublesome question of the supervision and control of the poor whites, this Bill sets out to deal with the poor white as a landed proprietor, under conditions in which he would be entitled to resent any supervision and control, and under which it would be impossible to exercise any discipline. If we refer to the Bill, it will be found that no suitable provision is made for such supervision as would compel these people to work regularly on their holdings. They are apparently to be distributed on holdings the size of which is not specified, and they are under some shadowy form of control which is not even hinted at in the Bill under which these regulations are to be made. No power is taken to enforce discipline of any specified kind. It is stated in the Bill that the Minister may make regulations “as to all or any of the following matters,” amongst which is the delegation to officers or other persons of disciplinary and other functions connected with the training of probationary lessees. What disciplinary or other functions? It seems to me quite impossible in an Act of this sort for the Minister to claim that he can make regulations specifically enforcing any discipline among these settlers m the nature of calling them to book should they neglect to carry out their proper and specified work on their holdings. The whole scheme of dealing with the poor white seems to me to be in a confused state in this Bill, and I should like in that connection to draw attention to the fact that in other countries the problem which we are dealing with here has presented itself and been dealt with in different and more businesslike ways. In New Zealand it will be seen from the various Acts that there proper and definite provision is made for different classes of settlement. You have the settlements known as labour colonies, and I venture to say that kind of settlement is better adapted to the case of poor whites than any form of land settlement known to us. The New Zealand Government has power under the Act of 1908 by proclamation in the Government Gazette to set apart and prepare as a labour colony blocks of land not alienated from the Crown and not exceeding 1,500 acres in extent for labour colonies. A committee is constituted for the management of the colony and various powers of a definite and specific kind with regard to discipline, the payment of moneys are provided for not in the insufficient manner proposed in the Bill before us. The New Zealand Act says that Parliament shall annually vote a sum of money for the maintenance of each labour colony, such money shall be paid to the committee of trustees for disposal. I am illustrating the kind of colony, on a grand scale, which deals with the unfortunate person which we are setting out to deal with under this particularly ill-considered Bill. In New Zealand the money may be expended in payment for work done in such colonies, in the erection and maintenance of buildings and purchasing provisions, building materials, stock and all things necessary for the proper working of such a colony. When we come to the question of discipline, I should like to bring to the notice of the House the provisions of the New Zealand Act The trustees committee may with the approval of the Governor-in-Council, make rules for the collection, spending and allocation of money. They can make regulations regarding cleanliness, good order and health of the colony. They can inflict punishment for breaches of the rules in the way of fines provided such fines do not exceed £2. That seems to me to be a more sensible and businesslike Bill than the one we are asked to assent to here. The New Zealand Act also deals with the kind of closer settlement which the Minister intends to carry out and which we would like him to carry out. I speak for everyone on this side of the House in saying that we desire to see a larger amount of settlement upon the irrigation projects which have now been brought to a completed stage, and we desire to see the satisfactory settlement of practical irrigators on land which is now available, and nothing would please us better than to see the present Minister make an unbounded success of the Hartebeestpoort scheme; but it seems to me, with the Bill before the House, he is only courting defeat and complete failure if he sets out on a system of closer settlement on so ill-considered a measure. In New Zealand the whole scheme of land settlement is outlined in a most complete manner, and we could do good in following the principle of consulting that Act and extracting the best from it for our benefit and guidance, in dealing with these two distinct and separate questions which are aimed at in the present Bill. In order to show that I am not speaking idly when I say that New Zealand has been an example to other parts of the world in her land settlement, I should like to quote from a work by a very well-known writer on land settlement. In a work, “New Zealand in Evolution,” Mr. C. H. Schofield says: “New Zealand has furnished a model for many of the Land Laws of sister States, and has been copied in its most radical moods by States confronted by the same problems.” Then the writer goes on to say that in the good faith of its purpose, and its efficiency in operation, the New Zealand Act has the approval of both parties in New Zealand, and farming is regarded as a suitable occupation for the ablest and best educated, and how satisfactory it is to see so large a proportion of the population of New Zealand settled on the land. The latest budget of New Zealand completely vindicates the policy adopted, and the result is that New Zealand to-day is by far the most prosperous dominion in the Empire, and one by which this country can well take an example. It is the duty of this House to consider methods by which State funds are to be expended, although I am not against a well directed scheme for dealing with the settlement of poor whites, I think this Bill exposes us to a loose system of spending.
Business interrupted by Mr. Speaker at 10.55 p.m.; debate to be resumed to-morrow.
The House adjourned at