House of Assembly: Vol2 - TUESDAY 2 SEPTEMBER 1924
Dr. H. REITZ, as Chairman, brought up the Report of the Select Committee on War Pensions, as follows:
Your Committee begs to report that, owing to the limited time at its disposal and the probability of an early termination of the present session of Parliament, it has not been able to do more than make a cursory enquiry into the comprehensive subject referred to it, and to take the evidence of a few local residents who claim to have been adversely affected by the working of the War Special Pensions Act of 1919 and the amending Act of 1920, which evidence is submitted herewith.
As the result of its enquiry to date, your Committee has come to the conclusion that the subject referred to it is of such magnitude as to necessitate a much fuller consideration than can be given to it by a Select Committee of the House sitting at Cape Town only. Your Committee therefore recommends that the Government be requested to take into consideration the advisability of appointing a Commission, immediately after the close of the present session, in order to continue and complete the investigations commenced by the Committee, and that all documents and papers submitted to it be referred to that Commission.
H. Reitz, Chairman.
Report and evidence to be printed and considered 3rd September.
asked the Minister of Lands:
- (1) Whether it is a fact that the Chairman of the Orange Free State Land Board is a lessee of Crown Land; if so,
- (2) of how many farms is he the lessee;
- (3) what is the size of each of these farms, and where is each of them situated; and
- (4) how much rent is paid for each farm?
(1), (2), (3) and (4). The Government farm H.V. 18, in extent 2,548 morgen, situate in the Barkly West Division was offered for lease for a period of twenty-one years at public auction in May, 1921, and the lease sold to Mr. John Adams, the Chairman of the O.F.S. Land Board, who was the highest bidder at £20 per annum. This is the only Crown land leased to Mr. Adams.
asked the Minister of Finance:
- (1) How does the shipping freight to South Africa from Europe compare with long distance freights in other parts of the world;
- (2) whether an “arrangement” has been arrived at between the British steamship lines to South Africa and the German and Dutch lines under which all competition at continental ports will cease; and
- (3) whether the Minister can indicate what the probable effect of such an “arrangement” will be on exports and imports from and to the Union, and what steps the Government will take to protect the South African producer and consumer?
- (1) The information is not available, and even if obtainable it would be next to impossible to make a comparison without a knowledge of the class or kind of vessel employed on other routes.
- (2) The Government, has no official knowledge of an “arrangement,” although statements to that effect have appeared in the public press. Enquiries will, however, be made.
- (3) Until such time as the Government is in receipt of the fullest possible information, it is quite impossible to say what the probable effect of any such “arrangement” will be on the import and export trade of the Union. Steps will be taken to secure such information.
asked the Minister of Finance whether he will during the next session introduce legislation for exempting the occupiers of small agricultural holdings in labour areas in the Transvaal from payment of pass fees in respect of natives employed by them on such holdings?
It is impossible at this stage to give a definite reply to the hon. member’s question, but the matter will be considered.
asked the Minister of Justice:
- (1) Whether the organizer of the Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union was prevented by the police from forming a branch at Durban and from addressing any public meetings there;
- (2) if so, on whose authority, and on what grounds, was this done; and
- (3) whether there is anything to prevent coloured and native workers from forming trade unions in the same way as other sections of workers
- (1) A native, Clemens Kadalie, applied to the Chief Constable of the Borough Police, Durban, on the 30th July, for permission to hold meetings of natives on corporation ground for the purpose of propaganda in the interest of trade unionism. The applicant was referred to the Chief Native Commissioner for written authority.
- (2) The Durban Town Council with the concurrence of the Chief Constable in the absence of the Chief Native Commissioner s written authority decided that it was inadvisable to allow meetings of natives within the borough.
- (3) So far as I am aware there is nothing. The Deputy Commissioner of the South African Police states that the South African police were not consulted in the matter.
asked the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs:
- (1) How many natives there are in the service of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs as letter carriers, or in another capacity, at Vryburg, Mafeking and Taungs;
- (2) whether it is a fact that at Taungs there is a case where a native does clerical work in the same room with a European lady clerk; and
- (3) whether it is not possible to appoint European youths instead of native letter-carriers and office clerks?
- (1) Vryburg, nil. Mafeking, two. Taungs, one.
- (2) I am going into this and will inform the hon. member of the facts later on.
- (3) This is being done as far as possible.
asked the Minister of Agriculture:
- (1) How many locust officers and sub-locust officers who were employed up to the 17th June, 1924, have since been dismissed;
- (2) what are the names of the locust officers and sub-locust officers so dismissed;
- (3) what are the number and names of locust officers and sub-locust officers who were employed up to the 17th June, 1924, in the following districts in the Transvaal, viz., Marico, Zeerust, Lichtenburg, Zoutpansberg, Waterberg, and Pietersburg; and
- (4) what are the number and names of locust officers and sub-locust officers now employed in those districts?
The reply to the hon. member’s question is contained in the return which I will lay on the Table of the House, viz.:
Return showing numbers and names of locust officers and sub-locust officers employed up to 17th June, 1924, who have since been dismissed, numbers and names of such officers employed up to that date in certain districts of the Transvaal, and the number and names of such officers now employed in those districts.
asked the Minister of Mines and Industries:
- (1) Whether any claims have been leased by the Government on the East Rand (a) to the New State Areas, and (b) to the Modderfontein East Gold Mining Co., Ltd., without being offered for public tender;
- (2) If so, why were these claims not put up to tender; and
- (3) whether the Government will lay the leases upon the Table for the information of members?
- (1) (a) Yes. 58.08 claims on Geduld No. 4. (b) Yes. 300 claims on Welgedacht No. 2.
- (2) These areas were not put up for tender as they were too small in themselves to constitute a workable mining proposition. These areas were disposed of in terms of the proviso to sub-section (1) of section three of the Transvaal Mining Leases and Mineral Law Amendment Act 1918.
- (3) The answer is in the affirmative.
asked the Minister of Finance when the 14th Report of the Public Debt Commissioners, to the 31st March, 1924, will be issued to members?
The report will be issued to members after it has been presented to the Government and laid upon the Table of the House.
asked the Minister of the Interior:
- (1) What steps he proposes to take to enable public servants to obtain copies of the actuary’s report on the valuation as at the 31st March, 1922, of the Union Pension Fund, laid upon the Table of the House on the 27th August, 1924;
- (2) whether he will arrange for an actuary to report on the effect of amending Act No. 27 of 1923 on either or both of the following lines, viz.:
- (a) substituting “55” for “60” years in section 35 (1) so as to allow of voluntary retirement at 55 years;
- (b) in section 34 (1), altering “25” to “15” years and “one-sixtieth” to “one-fiftieth,” so as to make the pension one-fiftieth of the average emoluments for the last 15 years of service instead of one-sixtieth of the average emoluments for the last 25 years;
- (3) whether such report as indicated in (2) could be made available to public servants at an early date; and
- (4) whether the Minister intends to introduce legislation as contemplated in section 57 (2) of the said Act?
- (1) A copy of the report will be given to the Public Service Association which will, no doubt, arrange for its publication.
- (2) (a) and (b). The reply to both these questions is in the negative. The terms of the report make it clear that a considerably enhanced contribution would have to be paid by members before effect could be given to the suggested amendments.
- (3) Falls away.
- (4) Yes, as soon as the actuary reports that this can be done with safety.
asked the Minister of Mines and Industries whether the Adulterated Leather Act is being enforced and footwear having adulterated leather prevented from being imported into South Africa?
According to the legal adviser’s opinion the Adulterated Leather Act applies to sole leather and soles of footwear manufactured in or imported into the Union and prevents leather which is adulterated being used. The enforcement of Clause 3 of the Act falls under the department of my colleague the Minister of Finance, to whom I have referred the latter portion of the question.
asked the Minister of Finance whether he will take steps to stop the importation of second-hand saddlery, much of it being from war areas?
I must ask the hon. member to allow this question to stand over.
asked the Minister of Mines and Industries:
- (1) Whether diamonds have been found on the property of the Reads Drift Land Company; if so,
- (2) what is the value of the diamonds which have been registered;
- (3) whether the required conditions before the property can be proclaimed a public digging have been fulfilled; and
- (4) whether he will consider the advisability of proclaiming that property a public digging?
- (1) The answer is in the affirmative.
- (2) Prospecting on the following farms took place intermittently during the period December, 1923, to July, 1924, and diamonds to the following amounts were found: Kallane, £60 10s. 0d.; Vaalkrantz, £126 10s. 0d.; Stoffdraai, £76 5s. 0d.
- (3) and (4) As the returns of Diamonds won do not disclose payability the question of proclamation has not so far received consideration.
asked the Minister of Finance:
- (1) Why the Commissioners’ names do not appear on the annual reports of the Public Debt Commissioners;
- (2) whether one of the three Commissioners continues to be Mr. Samuel Evans, of Johannesburg; and
- (3) what has been the average percentage cost of floating Union Loans?
- (1) If the hon. member will look at the end of the reports he will see that they are signed by all the Commissioners.
- (2) Mr. Evans is a commissioner.
- (3) I regret that the notice given of this question has been too short to allow of my replying to it to-day.
asked the Prime Minister what further arrangements have now been made, in addition to the correspondence already published, in connection with the visit of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales to South Africa?
No further arrangements have been made.
asked the Minister of Agriculture whether, in view of the increasing distress in the Western Transvaal, he is prepared to consider the advisability of amending the Drought Distress Relief Act (No. 16 of 1924) so that farmers, who more than two years before the 8th April, 1924, suffered loss through drought, may receive assistance under that Act?
The Government does not at present see its way to amend the law as proposed.
asked the Minister of Agriculture:
- (1) Whether he is aware of the urgent need of making a commencement with the construction of the Rhenoster Dam across the Groot Marico River;
- (2) whether the surveys, estimates of costs, etc., have been completed; and, if so,
- (3) (a) what will it cost to construct the embankment, the canals, overflows, sluices, etc., respectively, and (b) at what will the rate per morgen of the irrigable land work out?
(1) and (2) Yes. (3) The final estimates have not yet been checked and as soon as this is done details will be supplied to the Irrigation Board.
asked the Minister of Railways and Harbours whether his department has received a petition from J. Dyason and others, European residents of Groot Marico, praying that the railway station of Groot Marico may be transferred to Marico West; and, if so, whether he will inform the House if that request will be acceded to?
Petitions for and against the removal of Groot Marico station from its present site have been received. Considerable expenditure would be involved in the removal of the station facilities at Groot Marico to Marico West. A scheme for improving the facilities at both places is now under consideration, but it is the intention to confer with the hon. member during the recess in regard to the matter generally.
asked the Minister of Finance what has been done with regard to the first report of the Select Committee on Pensions (on the petition of the Bond of Oud-Strijders), which report was referred to the Government for consideration by resolution of this House of the 26th February, 1923?
So far nothing has been done, but I intend during the recess to take the matter into further consideration.
asked the Minister of Lands:
- (1) Whether it is true that towards the end of June or early in July, 1924, the European workers at the Hartebeestpoort Dam complained that they were underpaid and not receiving proper treatment;
- (2) whether the Minister caused these complaints to be enquired into, and whether he will lay upon the Table of the House whatever report he may have received thereon; and
- (3) what action the Minister has taken or proposes to take in connection with this matter?
This question should be addressed to the Minister of Labour. He is not now in the House and will give his attention to it later.
asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the announcement of a considerable increase in the export freights on Union produce, and if so, what action the Government proposes to take to protect the interests of producers?
Under the present contract the freight rates on certain products are subject to revision every three months and any dispute has to be settled in London by arbitration. The matter is receiving the consideration of the Government.
asked the Minister of Labour what was the approximate cost to the State of the conference on the unemployment question held in Cape Town last week?
I must ask the hon. member to allow this question to stand over.
asked the Minister of Labour what has been the increase during the last five years of the number of natives in the Cape Province, and to what annual percentage is this increase equal?
I must ask the hon. member to allow this question to stand over.
asked the Minister of the Interior:
- (1) How many (a) male, (b) female officials occupied vacant posts on the fixed establishment on the 31st March, 1924; and
- (2) why these temporary officials have not been placed on the fixed establishment in terms of sub-section (6) of section 10 of Act No. 27 of 1923, or the posts filled by qualified persons?
- (1) The information can be given only as at 31st December, 1923, and I would refer the hon. member to annexure “G” of the twelfth annual report of the public service commission.
- (2) Many of them are not eligible for appointment under the provisions of law quoted. Employees that are eligible are considered for appointment from time to time by the public service commission. I am informed that the commission is considering each case on its merits.
asked the Minister of the Interior whether he will lay upon the Table a list of persons, excluding magistrates, promoted in the Administrative division, of the rank of senior clerk and above, during: the financial year ended the 31st March, 1924?
The hon. member must be satisfied with the information for the calendar year 1923 and I would refer him to annexure “B” to the twelfth annual report of the public service commission.
asked the Minister of the Interior what officials, other than the gentleman appointed, were considered for the appointment of Secretary for Labour, and whether any recommendation was made by the Public Service Commission prior to this appointment being made?
The appointment was made on the recommendation of the Public Service Commission, which body considered all suitable officers.
asked the Minister of Agriculture:
- (1) Whether married temporary officials of the Veterinary Department, i.e., stock inspectors, dip inspectors, clerks, etc., working in the same districts as married permanent officials receive the same local allowance; and, if not,
- (2) whether the Minister will give his reasons for the discrimination in his department?
I must ask the hon. member to allow this question to stand over.
asked the Minister of Justice whether he intends to take any action in the case of the officers in his department who received letters of appointment to a certain grade before the 28th March, 1924, and whose appointments were subsequently cancelled?
There are no cases so far as I am aware of officers who received letters of appointment before the 28th of March, 1924, but whose appointments were subsequently cancelled. The honourable member presumably refers to officers who were before the 28th of March, 1923. notified of their appointment after that date to certain grades. As the result of the general reduction in scales the appointment of those officers had, in accordance with the provisions of section 13 (1) of Act No. 27 of 1923, to take effect on the reduced scales. This is a question which not only affects the Department of Justice but all other departments of State, and the correct interpretation of the above-mentioned section is at present sub-judice.
Standing over from Tuesday, 12th August—
asked the Minister of Finance what was the total saving in each local allowance area to the 31st March, 1924, as a result of the recent revision of local allowance; and what was the saving in each of the following grades, viz: (a) third and second grade clerical assistants, (b) above those grades?
District 2, £3,170; District 3, £6,917; District 4, £1,749; District 5, £31,670; Witbank, £582; total, £44,088. (a) £6,594. (b) £4,176.
The House is aware of the circumstances under which the passage of this Bill is impossible this session. The indulgence asked for under the circumstances is a very fair and reasonable one.
Mr. STUTTAFORD seconded.
I do not wish to oppose this indulgence being granted, but the House is granting a very considerable indulgence, for under rule of order No. 78, it seems to be contemplated that only one such indulgence should be given. The proceedings on this Bill were suspended last session and resumed this session. I take it that the House can give a liberal interpretation of the rule, and I certainly am not in favour of an illiberal interpretation. But the hon. member ought to urge those who are promoting the Bill, to get into touch during the recess with the various bodies who feel that a great injustice is being done to them under the measure. It may be said that no injustice is being perpetrated, as no rights are being taken away, but as the law will apply in future to accountants all over the Union, it is not a sufficient answer to say “we are not taking away any rights.”
The hon. member cannot discuss merits of the Bill.
I do not wish to discuss the merits of the Bill. If the promoters of the Bill do not get into touch with the Outside Accountants’ Defence Committee of the Transvaal, the public service organizations and the municipal employees association and meet their views reasonably, there will be great difficulty over the future stages of the Bill.
While we are not prepared to oppose the motion, I wish to add to what the hon. member for Hanover St. (Mr. Alexander) has just said. The hon. member in charge of the Bill and others behind him should, during the recess, see if they cannot meet the point of view of those who oppose the Bill. Unless that is done the hon. member will find the utmost difficulty in getting the Bill passed next session. If we wanted to kill or obstruct the Bill we would fight this motion, and then we would effectually kill the measure. We want a Bill which will provide for equality of opportunity for everybody in a democratic country to enable them to reach the highest position they are capable of attaining. I hope the promoters of the Bill will see that it is made more agreeable to the people of the democratic country, and that accountancy shall not be made a close profession for a few favoured individuals.
I trust the introducer of this motion will recognize that we are not desirous of wrecking the Bill, but while we do not offer objection to it being taken up again next session, we have not accepted the main principles of the measure. We do not want to wreck the Bill, but we are overwhelmed with representations with regard to its unfairness and inequality. Unless something is seriously done in the recess to satisfy objectors, we shall do our utmost to prevent the measure going through next session. There is an opportunity of arriving at a reconciliation of differences. A deputation from the Transvaal arrived here recently to make representations in regard to the very large number of people who will have their living threatened if the Bill becomes law. I hope those who profess merely a wish to maintain the status of their profession will recognize that they cannot cut at the living of a large number of people. It is their interests we wish to protect, but we are not opposing or obstructing the measure.
Motion put and agreed to.
First Order read: Second Reading Financial Adjustments Bill.
This is the usual annual measure which hon. members have been accustomed to call an omnibus Bill. It deals with various financial questions. I have endeavoured, as much as possible, to confine this Bill to purely financial matters. In the past there has been a tendency to incorporate in the Financial Adjustments Bill all sorts of questions from various Bills, but I shall endeavour not to follow that practice but to confine the Bill to purely financial matters. Clause 1 deals with the disposal of the surplus revenue of the main services for 1923-’24. This clause has been introduced as a result of the report of the Select Committee on Public Accounts. The matter was raised by the Auditor-General and was discussed by the Select Committee. The point at issue was whether the amount should be paid over to the Public Debt Commissioner or should be applied to the interests on the accumulated deficit. After discussion the Select Committee on Public Accounts determined that the surplus should be applied to meet the deficiency on the revenue accounts accumulated during the three financial years ended March 31, 1923. Clause 2 makes provision for the treatment of interest received on railways and harbour capital. Last session in the Appropriation Bill it was proposed that this interest, which was payable on railway and harbour capital, should not go into the revenue account of the Union, but should be credited to a special interest capital account. The Select Committee on Public Accounts considered the question, and it was eventually decided, on the casting vote of the chairman, that railway interests should be applied to the payment of interest on public debt through the medium of an interest deposit account. The objection the committee felt to the clause was that it interfered with the public control of the Auditor-General, but the matter has been further discussed, and in this clause provision is made for control which satisfies the Auditor-General. While proper control is being secured, it is desirable that railway interest should not unnecessarily inflate the revenue accounts of the Union. Section 3 deals with the question of the grant from the Union revenues to the provinces in respect of native education. During the negotiations between the Administrators and the Finance Minister, the amount in the case of the Cape Province was accepted at £238,000; this was to be the basic figure on which subsidies should be based in future. A difficulty arose with the Auditor-General, who desired that the provincial auditor should furnish him with a certificate as to the exact amount on which this payment had to be based. The provincial auditor pointed out that it would only be possible to obtain that information with great trouble and expense, and the department came to the conclusion that seeing that this was the actual figure that both parties had in view, it should be the one adopted. The actual expenditure in that year was admittedly more than this figure, but it was abnormal because of war bonus and equipment, and it is felt that £238,000 is, more or less, a reasonable figure. This particular section 4 deals with the creation of a special account which levies in respect of hut tax for dipping purposes in native areas is to be paid and from which fund expenditure in connection with dipping should be paid. There was a large outstanding account of £108,000 due by the Native Affairs Department in respect of advances made by the Treasury for dipping purposes, The Treasury pressed for payment and the 5s. hut tax was applied towards the reducing of the amount paid by the Land Bank for the construction of tanks. It was agreed that £50,000 should be written off and the balance paid by an annual payment of £5,000. A special account had to be created into which the 5s. hut tax had to be paid and all expenses in regard to dipping tanks had to be paid from that fund. The contention of the Treasury has been proved that the Union taxpayer had to pay the amounts for that purpose which originally was intended to be self-supporting. The Auditor-General requires the creation of this fund to be covered by legislation and that is the reason that this clause is covered by this Bill. It is proposed to treat several other dipping accounts in a similar manner because this only deals with Zululand and Natal. Section 5 provides for the payment of local allowances to the Controller and Auditor-General. In 1919, as a result of the Grand Commission Report, local allowances were paid to heads of departments and senior officials in Pretoria. But in view of the provisions of the Exchequer an Audit Act which provides that the salary of the Controller and the Auditor-General should be fixed by Parliament it was said that he should not accept any salary from the executive Government. As a result he has not been receiving these local allowances drawn by the senior officers, and the injustice of this has been pointed out to the Government. It has been going on for some years, and the Government has come to the conclusion that the Controller and Auditor-General should be treated in the same way as other officials. Accordingly this has been made retrospective to the date on which other officials have been receiving local allowances.
Has it been recommended by the Public Accounts Committee?
No, but I have discussed this with several members and with members of the Opposition, and it is agreed that the Government’s action is correct. Section 6 removes a pressing grievance of the Free State prison servants in that they were not provided for under the Police Pensions Act of the Orange River Colony of 1910. This was an omission for which no reason existed. They petitioned Parliament before, and they petitioned again last year, and the matter was referred to the Government for Consideration. The Government has gone into the question and finds that these people have justice on their side, and that we should meet them by putting them on the same footing as the police. There are only a small number of officers at present. Section 7 corrects an inadvertent omission of the Public Services Act of 1923, which provides if an officer or member of the services was compelled to retire by reason of injury or ill health and his capacity was impaired to the extent of less than 40 per cent. If he had the requisite years’ services he could only be compensated by pension as no provision was made for a gratuity which would have been adequate compensation for minor injuries. It must be remembered that a minor injury may disqualify a policeman or a soldier from service. I think hon. members will see that it is reasonable and necessary that this provision should be made, inasmuch as it rectifies an anomaly. The last section will provide for the payment of increased rate of interest by the Treasury in regard to super annuation funds of the railways and harbours. These are the provisions of this measure, and they are all of a financial nature and in the interests of the revenue, the Treasury and the country generally. I therefore move the second reading.
Motion put and agreed to; Bill read a second time.
Col.-Cdt. COLLINS objected.
House to go into committee on the Bill to-morrow.
Second Order read: House to go into committee on the Electricity Act Amendment Bill.
House in Committee.
The clauses and title were agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment, and read a third time.
I move, as an unopposed motion—
Mr. VERMOOTEN seconded.
Fourth Order read: House to resume in committee of Supply.
House in Committee.
When progress was reported on 1st instant, it had been agreed that the sub-heads of Vote No. 28, “Agriculture,” £955,928, be considered seriatim, and sub-head A, “Administration and General,” £40,664, was under consideration, upon which the following amendments had been moved, viz.:
By Col. D. Reitz: To reduce the amount by £500 from the item “Minister”, £2,500.
By Sir Thomas Smartt: To reduce the amount by £1 from the item “Minister”, £2,500.
The new policy of the Minister in regard to the sheep division is surprising, even although the Minister of Justice and others warned them that the Nationalists would dismiss certain officials. This step, therefore, was expected and many of the officials of that department knew fairly well what was coming. I suppose it is an inevitable result of our party system, that a party first looks after its own people. But when party interests are put before those of the State, it is a different matter. The Prime Minister said that we should not give so much time to party organization and should look more to the interests of the State. The Minister of Agriculture cannot take a step which is more detrimental to sheep farming than this. Sheep farming is the only profitable branch of farming in this country. The greatest enemy of sheep farming is scab. In the last three years remarkable progress has been made with the combating of the disease. In 1920-’21, 7 per cent. of our sheep were infected; in 1921-’22 it had decreased to 5 per cent.; in 1922-’23 it was only 3 per cent., and this year it will probably be still less. It seems incomprehensible that at this stage, when we are on the verge of the total eradication of scab, the Minister should effect these great changes. There are many districts almost free. In the Eastern Transvaal I know that the position has of late improved enormously. The farmers exerted themselves very much, and most of the districts are nearly free from scab. And now the Minister comes along and does away with the whole of the sheep division. The sheep inspectors have gained a lot of experience during the last few years, and owing to that experience they are able successfully to combat the disease. I am the last person in the world to underestimate the services of the scientific staff in the treatment of stock diseases, but eradication of scab is to a large extent an administrative matter, in which a general knowledge of farming is required, and in that respect the officers of the sheep division have had a good training. We can only successfully combat stock diseases with the support and the co-operation of the farmers. Does the Minister think he will have the support of the farmers in the step he has taken? In my opinion he will ultimately have to return to the old way of fighting the disease. Perhaps that is his idea, and his whole reorganization scheme is simply a dodge to get rid of the S.A.P. supporters. The Minister says he is economizing, but he knows well that he will have to appoint additional veterinary surgeons. The inspectors now in the service have gained valuable experience, and their methods have of late improved considerably. The Minister ought to consult sheep farmers first in the steps he is taking. The responsible sheep farmers will without doubt reply that scab will increase, and that perhaps what he has done might have been done six or seven years ago, but not to-day. I appeal to the hon. member for Wakkerstroom (Mr. A. S. Naudé), who is a sensible man and will not be moved solely by party considerations. I also want to appeal to the hon. member for Heidelberg (Mr. de Wet). I hope the Minister will give careful consideration to the matter before he proceeds.
I do not know much about sheep farming, therefore I shall not say much about sheep inspectors. The hon. member for Cradock (Mr. G. C. van Heerden) is a sheep farmer and explained things clearly to us. The hon. member for Hoopstad (Mr. Conroy) took to task the hon. member for Cradock (Mr. G. C. van Heerden) because he criticized the Minister, but I think the Minister is suffering from a swollen head. He used the capital “I” too much, and I would advise him, as he is only a young man, to show the House a little more courtesy. I would like to say a few words about the fine locust appointments the Minister made. I could not understand the great expedition to the Kalahari. The locust pest is serious, and the Government should do everything possible to exterminate it. Pests will not disappear of their own accord, and it now seems that we are going to get another pest. It seems to me the Government is going to help the poor whites by making them all locust officers. I am afraid that in the end these people will not exterminate the locusts, because if they do, there will not be a living for them. The Minister appointed men who went insolvent as locust officers. I know what sometimes leads to insolvency, but it is not wise to appoint as a state official one who cannot look after his own affairs. The Minister said the appointment in Zoutpansberg was made on the recommendation of the farmers’ association. In that case the Minister listened to the farmers’ association, but he says he is not always going to do that. He should be careful. I am afraid that the Agricultural Union sometimes makes recommendations which cannot be carried out.
Don’t weep over the appointments.
I suppose the hon. member has never yet seen a locust. He does not know how serious things are, and I do not see why we should suffer from a pest of officials. The hon. member for Pretoria (South) (Gen. Muller) said they were going to settle with the people who fought the rebels, and I am sorry to see that the hon. member still cherishes so much animosity. The Minister of Agriculture set him a better example, because he stated that the previous Government gave full amnesty to the rebels and that those events are now things of the past. The country cannot progress if this sort of thing is allowed. The Minister ought to appoint people in whom the country has confidence and not those to whom we cannot entrust the spending of State funds. The large sum set aside for the extermination of locusts is alarming. Has the expedition to the Kalahari found the locusts’ nests yet? I thought we should be informed how many locust officers had been appointed.
The question and the answer were tabled this morning simultaneously.
Thank you. I thought, however, that it would be available to the public. Now we see that a lot more officers are to be dismissed.
Now that the thunderstorm has changed into the whisper of a soft breeze, I am quite prepared to reply to questions, and I can assure the hon. member that I do not suffer from swelled head. Criticism has been of such a nature that I had to reply in that way. A different tone prevails now, and I shall willingly reply to all requests. I was serious, but not discourteous. The list of locust officers has been laid on the Table, because I did not want to take up the time of the House, and it can be published. I shall see that many of the old hands remain. If hon. members study the list they will see that a number of officials have been dismissed, but I can assure them that it was not for political considerations, as is shown by the fact that Nationalists as well as S.A.P. supporters were discharged. The only consideration was whether the officials gave satisfaction and whether they had the necessary tact. The hon. member for Johannesburg North (Mr. Geldenhuys) says we are now confronted with another pest—too many officials. Very few more have been appointed, and they were necessary owing to the growth of the pest. I simply did what the farmers wanted, as they refused to work under the supervision of certain officials. Officials have been appointed at £30 per month, with an additional £20 expenses for the days they worked. The previous Government paid £30 per month plus an allowance of £10 per month and 17s. 6d. per day. Which is the more expensive? It has been asserted that insolvents have been appointed, but I would point out, that many people go bankrupt, and are rehabilitated later on and absorbed in the civil service. Because a man has been unfortunate as the result of the drought and other circumstances over which he has no control, does that mean that he is never again to be appointed by the State? The opposition has remarked that a certain Commandant J. W. Viljoen has been appointed. He was, however, appointed by the previous Minister, and has since been promoted, probably because he did his work well. The hon. member for Johannesburg (North) (Mr. Geldenhuys) is fond of quoting the resolutions of the Agricultural Union, but he is against the expedition to the Kalahari, although it was recommended by the Union. The expedition arranged matters in British Bechuanaland and organized the kaffir tribes in the desert to fight the locusts, and we may expect a great improvement in those territories, I would like to point out that the Union is being pestered by locusts from those parts. I do not want to say that the pest will be eradicated, as it comes from a Higher Power, I shall, however, do all that is humanly possible to fight it, and I hope the whole country will support me In Pietersburg nine persons have been appointed; six of them belonging to the S.A.P. and three to the Nationalist Party. They do not look like political appointments and I may say here that the Nationalist Party will not follow the example of the S.A.P. The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) says the secretaries of the Nationalist Party are dismissing locust officers, but I may tell the hon. member that the official in question was dismissed by the chief locust officer. The accusation of the hon. member is absurd. I immediately wired to Frikkie van Zyl, the secretary in question, and the reply is as follows: “All lies; I dismissed no locust officers as I know I have no authority to do so.”
Van Zyl wrote the letter.
The hon. member should lay the letter on the Table of the House. The hon. member for Ermelo (Col.-Cdt. Collins) made a few wild statements, and then left the House. I will leave him where he is, and reply to the questions of the hon. member for Cradock (Mr. G. C. van Heerden) because they deal with the same matters. The hon. member says I am in too great a hurry to reorganize. If a Minister says he is considering a matter, the opposition replied that the Government had twelve years for it. The reorganization which is undertaken now was recommended by the officers of the previous Government. The congress of the Cape Agricultural Union, held at Middleburg passed no comment on that. The report of the Public Service Commission shows that it was waste of money to place sheep farming under three different departments and that the senior sheep inspectors were redundant. The Public Service Commission two years ago recommended that the posts of Gen. Enslin and Col. Jordaan be abolished. After this year’s inspection it was again reported that the maintenance of three departments was a sheer waste of money. I did not go as far as was recommended as I kept the sub-division. It is my intention, however, to delegate their work to the Department of Veterinary Research. Then there will also be reorganization in other directions. It is asserted that there will be a deterioration of the wool when the experts are dismissed. I stated that the Division of Wool Experts is not done away with, but rather extended. I said that a few nights ago, and I trust the hon. member will not use that argument again. Regarding the Sheep Division, I wish to point out that two departments have to do with the eradication of disease. All the work will now he done by one, and naturally some sheep inspectors will have to go. There are no sheep farmers in Rustenburg, and the people there keep only a few slaughter sheep, and yet there are five inspectors in that district. The same thing applies to Waterberg with seven sheep inspectors. In Zoutpansberg there were 109 inspectors for different purposes, and that is far too many, and a considerable reduction will be made there. We cannot afford to keep redundant men, much less when inefficient. It has been argued that the veterinary surgeons cannot eradicate the disease, but in my opinion they have the expert knowledge and are the persons best fitted for that work. It is the intention, gradually for the veterinary surgeons to take the place of the chief scab inspectors. At present there are 47 veterinary surgeons and 20 chief inspectors, because a few of the latter have already been pensioned. The others will be replaced in due course. In the past there has been no proper supervision of the work of the inspectors, and by this reorganization I intend to make supervision more efficient. The inspectors will work under local advisory boards, consisting of the magistrate, one practical sheep farmer and the veterinary surgeon, or the commandant of the police in districts where there is no surgeon. The inspectors will send in monthly reports in which will be shown the exact position of their districts. By means of these boards we were greatly assisted in the past in fighting East-Coast fever, and I think they will also assist in the eradication of scab. We are told that scab will now increase, but I am sure that is not going to be the case. It is not intractable if only farmers will co-operate. The Free State is nearly clean. In the Transvaal the position is bad, and I appeal to farmers to co-operate. Simultaneous dipping is necessary, and we shall introduce that system. I will notify the farmers in good time and if they all dip at the same time, we shall at last conquer this disease. I hope hon. members will not try to make political capital out of the abolition of the sheep division as the matter has nothing whatever to do with politics. If hon. members are hurt by the dismissal of Gen. Enslin, I am sorry. I did not blame him. Gen. Enslin received a good salary and also £1,200 for the wool scheme. It has also been said that he did good work, but as I already pointed out he was well paid for it. This should not be mixed up with politics. The hon. member for Cradock (Mr. G. C. van Heerden) wants to know who will take the place of Gen. Enslin. Nobody will take his place. The eradication of scab will fall under the division of veterinary research and the head of that department will be responsible. I hope hon. members will now be satisfied and that the discussion will not drag on any longer.
For a long number of years we have been spending between £200,000 and £250,000 in our endeavour to extirpate scab, and still our diminutive little enemy holds the field. I do not suggest that the money has been thrown away or unwisely spent, on the contrary, I say it has been absolutely necessary to battle against this enemy. It may be asked, has progress been made? Yes, progress has been made, and a great deal of the country has been cleansed, although we have not obtained all we wish. Still we have gone a long way. Is not the country entitled to ask the question, is it not time that some further steps be taken in this direction, that some more effective policy was adopted? A policy that would succeed in ridding the country of the disease and save us from this huge expenditure which has been such a burden to the country all these years. I say the time has arrived. The Minister has enunciated his policy, and I frankly give him credit for all earnestness in his endeavour, but beyond that I cannot congratulate him. It is proposed to abolish the sheep division and to put of merge it under the veterinary department. He bases this on the grounds of economy and efficiency. The economy aimed at is going to prove false economy because the efficiency claimed will be inefficiency. The question is one of administration and not one for our technical men to determine. The veterinary department is a specialist department, and it is because they are specialists that its members are not likely to succeed. They have no knowledge of administration, and it is really administration that we are after. The theory of dipping and cleansing sheep is simple and generally known, but where we fail is when we begin to put theory into practice. The trouble always is and has been how to get hold of our enemy, and that is where the whole problem lies; it is a matter of organizing and directing the farmer, and for that purpose we want whole-time men. I think the Minister is entitled, with a certain amount of seeming argument, to suggest: “You have had the matter in hand for 14 years and how is it that you have not succeeded in cleansing the country of scab.” I think we have to admit that we have failed to that extent, but the fact serves to show what a huge and intricate problem this cleansing of scab is. We have had a special department, many of the men have been first-rate and enthusiastic about their work and have devoted their whole time to the eradication of the disease. But in spite of all that we still have scab to-day. Is it not obvious that if a whole-time service has failed to cleanse the country we are going to retrogress if we now place the service in the hands of a part-time department and a department which has no administrative knowledge. It is going to have a very retrogressive effect if we relax our vigilance, we are going to backslide and lose ground, and ultimately return and retrace our steps. What would the previous member for Cradock think of this policy? I fancy it would be a great shock to him. It would also be a shock to many farmers in my district who, struggling year after year, have succeeded in cleansing the district. It will be a shock to them to find the sheep division abolished and the veterinary department, aided by police, dealing with this matter. It is going to have a bad effect on the country, and I can assure the Minister it is going to have an ill effect on his own party—but that, of course, is a secondary matter. Unless the farmers’ energies are utilized and their best efforts are put forward to this matter, we are not going to succeed. We want men having the faculty of making the farmers put out their best—
Every farmer in this House is desirous of exterminating scab. Ever since 1910 it has been their desire. I am speaking as one who, in conjunction with Gen. Botha, was instrumental in getting the Scab Act passed. If the Minister shows weakness in fighting scab, I would be one of the first to state that no good can result. But when members opposite declare that the new policy of the Minister will lead to an increase of scab, I beg to differ. No separate departments are created. The work is done by the same department. The previous Government allowed sheep inspectors to act as political agents, and there are even cases where inspectors did that for both parties. I expressed disapproval of it, and warned them, and I accuse the previous Government of negligence and of practically encouraging that sort of thing. I sincerely hope the Government and the present Minister will act firmly in this matter. As soon as the sheep inspector takes any part in politics, he should go, as politics do not concern officials and as such. Regarding the dismissal of Gen. Enslin and Col. Jordaan, it has been asserted that the Minister discharged them because he was not satisfied with their services. That is not so. They did their work well, but, fortunately or unfortunately, it became superfluous. I do not approve of commenting adverse to the services of those gentlemen. I think the Minister is prepared to say they were not dismissed because they were incapable, but simply on account of reorganization. I think the two officials in question rendered good services to the farming community. The Minister had to listen to a good deal of advice regarding the eradication of scab. The previous Minister, on the advice of Mr. Petrus van Heerden, created circle committees to combat the locust plague. That proved to be very efficient, but the Minister then did away with them and appointed inspectors everywhere. In my district alone, 35 were appointed. The locusts were inspected until they died, one might say, and not as a result of the spraying of poison. The farmers overstated the quantities of the swarms destroyed, and did it on the instruction of the inspectors, because it gave them a good name. The latter travelled about far too much, thus causing a lot of unnecessary expenditure. Last year we spent more than £250,000 on this, and undoubtedly we did not get value for our money. I heartily endorse the steps now being taken by the Minister in order to effect economies. For years the Unionists have cried for economies in respect of agriculture, and they ought to be the first to approve of the actions taken by the Minister, as he is the first person to do so, and in that way to give some relief to the poor taxpayer who is so heavily burdened by taxation.
I agree with the hon. member that the co-operation of the farmers is necessary in order to deal efficiently with the locust pest. I am grateful to the Minister for replying to my question regarding the measures to be taken in connection with sheep farming. He said that there will be a local board, but I can assure him that it is not going to be a success. The magistrate knows nothing about scab, and yet he will have to hear cases of contravention of the Act. Then too the commandant of the police is to serve on the board. What do the police know about scab? I think it is a wrong step, as it will cause friction between the police and the farmers. It would almost appear as if the Minister thinks that the farmers are criminals. I hold that the officials of the division of veterinary research have not the practical experience to be able to deal with scab.
I know a barman who was appointed scab inspector.
That is wrong and it should never have been done. The policy of the previous Government was to give these people an opportunity of taking a course in Johannesburg where they saw scab every day. It is no easy task to find scab on a sheep. I cannot find it, because I never had it on my sheep. If the Minister wants to eradicate scab I shall support him, but I am afraid the reorganization will act the other way. The Minister has not told us yet what to-day is the percentage of scab-infected sheep. Gen. Enslin stated at the Middelburg Agricultural Congress and it had decreased wonderfully, and as the disease has almost been stamped out, it would be better to continue the present arrangements, for a time. I took it amiss of the previous Government that it did not grant the requests of the farmers, who asked that scab be placed under the ordinary Stock Diseases Act in order to impose more severe punishment. The Minister will do well to reconsider the matter. The Middelburg Congress took no resolution. There was a movement amongst the farmers to place scab under the Veterinary Division, but as the disease is nearly wiped out, that is unnecessary. I would like to know who will supply Mr. Borthwick with the necessary information, as there will be fewer scab inspectors. Are the police going to do the inspection work? I should like to have a clear statement from the Minister.
I would like to take the opportunity of referring to the answer the Minister gave this morning with regard to the increase of freight on various items of produce. From the answer he gave it seems to me evident that he is not aware of these increases in freight. From last week the freight on wool, hides and skins has been put up 50 per cent., and on certain products such as wattle extract it has been put up to such an extent that it will practically kill the industry, and these items do not come under the mail contract, as suggested by the Minister of Agriculture; and if they are not controlled in any way the loss will fall entirely on the South African producer. We ask the Minister to take steps to see that the producers’ interests are protected; and at any rate, to communicate with the shipping companies, to satisfy himself as to the extent their new policy is going with regard to increases of freight. Another hon. member this morning asked what would be the result to the producers in South Africa of the arrangement come to with the German and the Dutch lines for entering the Conference. We now see very quickly the results of the arrangements which have been made. I would suggest to the Minister of Agriculture that he take immediate steps to find out the extent to which these increases of freight are going.
Business was suspended at 12.45 p.m. and resumed at 2.24 p.m.
A few nights ago the hon. member for Pretoria (North) (Mr. Oost) made an attack on the Transvaal Agricultural Union. The hon. member said that the Union tried by means of certain resolutions to influence politicians. The Minister more or less confirmed that. I cannot understand it, because it is only natural that they should try to bring influence to bear on the policy of the Minister. I am not a member, but as delegate of the Witwatersrand Agricultural Society, I several times attended the meetings of the Agricultural Union and I can state definitely that it does not take part in party politics. There are members of the union who spent a lot of money, time and energy in the development of agriculture, and it is a matter, of course, that they take great interest in the policy of the Minister. The Minister said that the union wanted to dictate—that was the word he used—a certain policy to him. I would like to know in what respect it tried to dictate to him. The Union was always prepared to make recommendations and is still prepared to do so, but there is no question of trying to dictate anything to the Minister. The advice given by the Agricultural Union was always gratefully accepted by the Department, and I hope the Minister will in future also take into serious consideration the advice tendered by that body. Regarding the grants to agricultural unions I must say that I am not satisfied with the attitude adopted by the Minister. During the election the agricultural community was promised sympathetic treatment, and the great motto of the Government party is: “more sympathy for agriculture.” The Free State Agricultural Union get much larger grants than the other provinces, and the cause of agriculture will be furthered if the shows in all the provinces are put on the same basis. I want to appeal to the Minister to do that, and I hope he will continue the good work in connection with co-operation commenced by his predecessor. The Department should send out more officials all over the country to enlighten farmers regarding the advantages of co-operation. The fruit growers have tackled their problem seriously, and by means of co-operation have made vast strides. The organ of the Fruit Exchange published an instructive speech by Mr. Herbert Hoover which indicates the right lines on which the matter should be tackled. The interests of the consumer as well as of the producer must be kept in view. It will be a good thing if the “Agricultural Journal” takes over the speech. If the Minister dismisses most of the sheep inspectors, the work will have to be done by others. He asserts that such a large number of inspectors in a district like Waterberg is unnecessary, but we should bear in mind that those districts are very extensive.
I am glad we have a practical farmer as Minister of Agriculture. Bechuanaland had to suffer very much from locusts, and in the past the State has not had value for the money spent. The organization has improved wonderfully, and the appointment of Gen. Bezuidenhout was a great success. He has two S.A.P. supporters under him, and I am sure they are going to do the work better than before. A rebel is one who comes into conflict with the Government, because he has the courage of his convictions and is not afraid to express his views. It is a sign of manliness, and nobody should be dismissed from the service of the State or ostracised by the community on account of his having been a rebel. I am sorry the Minister continues the policy of his predecessor in the matter of the extermination of locusts. Like the Minister, I feel my responsibility for seeing that the country gets value for its money, and that has not been the case in the past. If the Government subsidises the destruction of locusts, we shall be able to do much more. I presented a petition signed by 800 people in that connection. Last month 400 bales were exported to Holland, and this month another 250 bales, and if people are paid pro rata to the quantity we shall make better progress. The magistrate of Kuruman has a good knowledge of how to exterminate locusts, and made great sacrifices and worked out a comprehensive scheme for that purpose. He recommended that people be paid in proportion to the quantity they kill. The grant need not be a very liberal one. At present farmers get 4s. 6d. per 100 lbs. of dried locusts. It would be good business if 7s., which involves a subsidy of 2s. 6d. per 100 lbs. I am sure I shall get by spraying as many locusts as other people kill. I see articles in the newspaper regarding co-operation by kaffirs, but that is pure bosh. The kaffirs in Bechuanaland absolutely refuse to spray poison; they want to catch the locusts. If we wish to exterminate, we must co-operate, especially in Bechuanaland which borders on the Kalahari. The magistrate of Bechuanaland recommends catching the locusts, and farmers give the same advice. To try to exterminate with poison is a hopeless task. They should be caught, and if the Minister goes there he will agree, and see for himself that it is impossible to exterminate with poison. We should assist the people who want to catch them. There is a lot of money in locusts, and people can earn good money by catching them, with the result that the locust, which is now a great pest, may become a blessing.
I am surprised at the remarks of the hon. member for Bechuanaland (Mr. Raubenheimer). He tries to make out that locusts are a blessing, whereas they are a punishment. I welcome the moderate and cautious attitude adopted by the Minister of Agriculture this morning. Since last Friday he has undergone a great change, because his attitude on that day was deplorable. Perhaps he thought he was a general giving orders to people under him. It will be a good thing if the Minister of Agriculture takes up the standpoint of his colleague, the Minister of Railways, who stated that Ministers are not there to dictate to the country, but are, servants of the people. The Opposition still represents the major part of the electorate. I hope the Minister of Agriculture will pay some respect to their views. In reply to the remarks which have fallen from the hon. member for Hoopstad (Mr. Conroy) I want to say that his attitude is characteristic of the autocratic attitude of many of the members opposite. He attacked the hon. member for Cradock (Mr. G. C. van Heerden), and said he was a young member who should not talk too much. But was he not sent here with the same mandate as was the hon. member? The abolition of the sheep division is a big thing, and the Minister should have consulted the farmers about it. It is not right to act so autocratically. I cannot see in what way we are going to economize very much, because the inspection will now have to be made by veterinary surgeons, and advisory boards also are created. Are the members of the boards expected to give their service gratis? The Minister said he would increase the number of wool experts. In what way does he economize? I am convinced the new Government is going to do away systematically with the old officials, to make place for their own supporters. I want to say a few words in the interests of mealie farmers. This is one of the most important branches of agriculture, and the Minister of Agriculture ought to take steps to give practical suggestions to farmers regarding their crops and how to improve them. In that way he can show that he sympathizes with them. But abolition of the sheep division is not indicative of sympathy.
It is remarkable that the Opposition is more concerned about a few officials than about scab. I think the eradication of scab is a more important matter than a few dismissals. The hon. member who has just taken his seat is a practical farmer, but he knows nothing about scab. We should do everything in our power to eradicate this disease. The position is serious, and I do not know whether it is a result of the work of the inspector. There are amongst them some who do good work. Regarding the infection of scab, I think we ought to dip at least twice in order to get rid of it. Simultaneous dipping is absolutely essential. If that system be introduced the disease will be stamped out in a few years time, as the farmers are very desirous of getting rid of it, because many of them have good sheep and their products fetch high prices. They want to stamp out the disease, and they wish to co-operate with the State organization. If the Minister consults the farmers, scab in a few years’ time will be unknown.
At the opening of the debate the hon. member for Port Elizabeth. (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) made a definite and clear statement in the House as to certain actions taken by the Minister of Agriculture. It is true that the debate has gone off that, and I am glad in many ways. However, this side of the House has been accused of running away from the issue; we are told that by the hon. member for Hoopstad (Mr. Conroy), but we have not run away from it. We look upon it as a serious indictment and the country will require a far clearer and more satisfactory explanation of his actions than the Minister has given.
Your newspapers do not say that.
We are not dependent upon our newspapers for our opinions, one would imagine from what one hon. member has said, that this locust business is an industry which we should encourage, that we should foster it and have breeding grounds for locusts instead of eradicating them. I say when these important appointments were being made it was not necessary for the Minister to give them the complexion with which we have every right to view them. They really bear a very sinister interpretation. The Minister says that he takes the sole responsibility and I want to congratulate him on that attitude. Although yesterday his manner was rather offensive,—still I do not wish to irritate him; but when in a truculant manner he said he “would appoint whom he thought fit,” it was naturally looked at as if he was going to ride rough shod over all his officials, and the opinion of the country, and he would act according to his own opinion and his own wisdom. I admire him for the stand he made in his own defence, but if you take his attitude here in regard to this matter in conjunction with the attitude he took up in the country before we met here, when he said, and there is good authority for saying that he was accurately reported, that he “was not going to have any more head official Government,” then it is most disturbing. I want to analyse that, I want to know what he means by it. If it means that he is going to assume the attitude of the absolute autocrat and is going to break down the administration of the Department which has been carefully built up during a long period of years of thought and anxiety and is going to cause turmoil and unrest amongst those officials who have given this country devoted and efficient service, and by every means in their power have got to know the people with whom they have to deal and have shown every sympathy to the farmers—and in parenthesis I want to say that there has been too much “sympathy” shown to the un-progressive farmer then I must enter my strongest protest. I quite agree if the Minister means that the Government only say “we are going to formulate the policy.” That would be alright; but it looks very much as if it means “we are going to do as we think fit” after a few weeks of office, “quite regardless of the views of our head-officials and what the public may think.”
All the civil servants are very happy just now.
I do not know whether they will be happy after.
They have an honest Minister, honest politically.
If the hon. member for Bloemfontein North (Mr. Barlow) would not swallow all his principles,—
My hon. friend has not swallowed anything.
The hon. member reminds me of what an American once wrote; “A kindly Providence has fashioned us hollow, in order that we our principles might swallow.” The Minister further said in this House, “we will only appoint officials who will give satisfaction to the public.” He spoke in Dutch, but I think I am correct in saying that was what he said. Subsequently another hon. member said in Dutch, the meaning of which I think is “The farmers have been dragooned”, or “are being treated with contempt”; and have been suppressed—“treated in a harsh manner” I think that is the best translation. I want to know from the Minister what “public” does he refer to? For years past we have educated the retrogressive farmer who has not wished to be taught. The public I want to see consulted with regard to the well-being of the agricultural development of this country are the men who for years past have been endeavouring to organize and educate the farmers and get them to pull together. What do we find in the House? I was a sheep-farmer, and I know very little about actual scab; and for the very good reason that I hope I share with the hon. member for Cradock (Mr. Van Heerden) we kept our sheep clean, and we do not see scab. But we do know something about the subject. If the Minister means to appoint popular public servants he is on the wrong road, and if he is going to appoint men because they are popular with the neighbourhood and that is their only or their main qualification, he is running straight into the bad old days of me past. I can remember a scab inspector who was appointed—we did not know about his politics, and I do not think the late Minister of Agriculture did—and who did his duty well, and was therefore unpopular with a large section of our area, though I was fined for having a scabby ram on my farm.
I thought you never had any scab?
The scab was on a stray ram which came over the next farm. Although this man had me fined, did I turn on him? When he was dying in poverty in the neighbourhood, who were his friends? The retrogressive people he rubbed up by fearlessly discharging his duty turned him down, but others helped him.
The speech of the hon. member for Heidelberg (Mr. De Wet) had the ring of a practical man, and if members on the other side took a lesson from his experience, there would not be so much room for anxiety about scab eradication. The Minister intimated that he is going to impose simultaneous dipping within a year or two, but he has not intimated whether it is going to be general, or to be applied to sheep which have been infected within a recent period. I go entirely with the Minister when he says that he is in favour of simultaneous dipping, and I believe that the simultaneous dipping of all sheep under proper supervision would do more to eradicate scab than years and years of pottering along the lines they have been going on. But that is not the view held by the majority of the farmers of my district. I have argued with them time and again, and many eminent and thoughtful farmers contend that it would be unfair to include men whose sheep have been clean for years, and compel them because they have slovenly and untidy neighbours. I would like the Minister to consider very carefully the matter of simultaneous dipping, with which the hon. member over there is also in agreement. One matter I would like to be clear upon—the Minister does propose to stiffen up instead of relaxing the regulations, and if that course is to be followed up it is due to the farmers of the Union to see that every reasonable precaution is taken to see that their sheep are not infected by neighbouring states. Last year a committee of this House went into the question of infection from neighbouring States, and it was found that scab was introduced into the Union from German South-West, Rhodesia and Basutoland. From German South-West 15 per cent. to 25 per cent. of the sheep were found to be scabby, in spite of their having passed through the hands of the experts on the border. Basutoland has been without scab legislation, and it is only natural that they should have developed a tremendous amount of scab. In this report it states: “In Basutoland the disease is admittedly bad; 75 per cent. of the sheen were understood to be infected with scab. The Basutoland administration has attempted to deal spasmodically with the disease on the lines of the scab administration of the Union, but lack of funds has prevented any established policy.” During one year no less than 41 flocks of sheep in the O.F.S. were infected from Basutoland, and this does not include infections which take place along the Herschel Barkly East border of Basutoland, that will give some idea of the amount of scab that comes across the border. Basutoland is communally occupied, and everyone has been proclaimed there, within which it is proposed to apply the provisions of the scab law of the Union, unless a barrier is erected to prevent mixing of sheep across this zone, it would be useless, and it would be just as reasonable to declare a zone down the centre of Adderley Street and expect people not to cross it as to expect sheep not to cross this zone. Under our regulations any sheep coming into contact with infected sheep are deemed to be infected. The Report states: “The only way in which this position can be met is by the erection of fences wherever the sheep department may consider necessary in particular … along the whole length of the Barkly East and Basutoland boundary.”
I was dealing with the question of the appointment of public servants. I want to emphasize again that if the Minister appoints public servants because they will be popular that way danger lies. You want men who will do their duty whether it makes them popular or not. The officials we have got are officials who are doing their duty and the result is that those men become unpopular with a certain section, but they become extremely popular with the men who have sheep that are worth looking after. With regard to this question of abolishing the sheep division, I am one of those who maintain we may make this saving at too great a cost to the country. Lately at Middelburg there has been an agricultural conference where a statistical officer gave most illuminating figures showing that there has been a great improvement in the quality of our wool and an increase in the quantity, although there has been a great decrease in the number of sheep. There is no question in my mind as a sheep farmer that it is because the sheep division has been preaching the doctrine so successfully and so successfully demonstrating the value of improving our sheep that we have a larger quantity of better wool from fewer sheep. The work of the sheep division is not only the eradication of scab. As regards scab eradication half the trouble is that the officials responsible for administering the Act are perpetually handicapped by this cry that you have got to be patient with the ignorant farmers and educate them, and so you go on from year to year. I am glad to see the hon. member for Pretoria (North) (Mr. Oost) is in his seat. He made a most envenomed and bitter attack on the Agricultural Union of the Transvaal. The Minister himself appeared to show considerable feeling when he said he would “not be dictated to by any Agricultural Union.” In reply to the attack of the hon. member, and as one of those who were responsible for bringing these Unions into being I can say quite definitely that from the initial stages of these unions the one thing which was decidedly barred was party politics. There have been attempts it is true by individual members to turn those organizations into party political bodies, but our feet have been put on such attempts immediately. It has never even been fully discussed, because we simply will not allow the subject of party politics to come before those meetings. I want emphatically and categorically to deny that any of these unions wish to “dictate” to any Government. But where you have a collection of men, all farmers, you would be very unwise not to give serious consideration to the opinions they expressed. Not one of the agricultural unions in the Union wants to “dictate” to the Minister. Then on behalf of the public servants of this country I wish to enter a protest against statements wildly made that scab inspectors and locust inspectors have been “South African Party political agents.” It is one of those statements that can be made wildly but which will not bear scrutiny. The hon. member for Pretoria (South) (Gen. Muller) said we wanted to have the best and most fitted men, and I certainly agree. The hon. member for Hoopstad (Mr. Conroy) said in regard to some of these appointments that if the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz) had rendered anything like the services to the country those men had done he could be proud of it. I say if every man in South Africa had shown the manliness and true patriotism of the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Col. D. Reitz), and had done his duty to the country as a whole and not merely to a dissatisfied section of it we should be a better country to-day. The hon. member laughs. We were told by the hon. member that every man who had his own particular views and disagreed with the late Government was called a rebel. That is not so. The hon. Minister himself in referring to Gen. Enslin and Col. Jordaan said “General” and “Colonel” with a sneer and then added in a peculiar tone “Mynheer.” (Interruptions). The moment these things are said from this side of the House in vindication of anybody here we have those remarks. You on your side may fling any remarks about which you wish, but I should like to tell you that although you have got a steam roller you are not going to crush the soul out of us.
That would be impossible.
It is just like the bioscope.
Hon. members laugh. The hon. Minister has said he hopes to use the police with regard to this eradication of scab. I would direct his attention to a statement made by the Commissioner of Police when the farmers were tackling him with regard to the increase of stock thefts. If the Minister will read that statement showing the vast areas those police have to cover and the very many duties they have to perform I think he will see that they are not capable of undertaking this work in addition to their present duties.
I do not wish to withdraw anything I said on Friday night. I replied then to all the accusations except one: the dismissal of Mr. Poulteney, and the appointment of Mr. Viljoen in his stead for alleged political reasons. I did not have the necessary information at the time, but I have now received a wire from Pretoria, it was pointed out last year that Mr. Poulteney showed too great a mileage on his returns, the figure sometimes being as high as 3,174 per month, which is quite excessive. I would like to know whether I am not justified in putting a stop to such charges. I am responsible for the spending of the State’s money, and the department is going to be firm on that point in future, despite the attitude of the Opposition. The hon. member for Albany (Mr. Struben) made certain other accusations. He asserted that I said I want officials who are popular. No, I said the locust officers should co-operate with the public and be popular with them. That is what I want, and not officials who travel about too much at the State’s expense. I never said the police had to do the work connected with the eradication of scab. I asked the Commissioner of Police to supervise the work of the inspectors. If an inspector loiters too long at one place the commandant of police has to report it. I want to have their work supervised. I am not going to dismiss all the inspectors, but I want the work of the Department done in a business-like manner, and I want to economize in the interests of the public. The hon. member for Albany (Mr. Struben) made certain allegations regarding my attitude towards the Agricultural Union. I stated clearly that I intended taking their advice, but not in every case. Do hon. members want me to use the Air Force against the locusts or to build railway lines into the Kalahari? That is impracticable, and I must refuse to carry out such resolutions. When their suggestions are good I shall accept them, but if that is not the case I shall not hesitate to reject them. The hon. member for Aliwal (Mr. Sephton) complained about several matters in connection with scab. We are keeping an eye on the importation of stock from Basutoland, but the danger is not so great that we should stop it altogether. The Government watches the border between the Union and Basutoland, but as to putting up a fence, I shall have to confer with the administration of Basutoland. We cannot expect simultaneous dipping throughout the Union, and exceptions will have to be made. It is undesirable, however, to make exceptions of persons in specific areas if they were not free from scab for at least a few years. Last year a representative of the Nederlands Friesland Cattle Association visited South Africa, and it was agreed with him that only the best Friesland cattle should be admitted into this country, consequently very stringent regulations were drawn up. If the best classes only are imported, the regulations will not be found too stringent. The hon. member for Bethal (Lt.-Col. H. S. Grobler) said that I adopted a deplorable attitude on Friday night. I only spoke the truth, however, and cannot see how hon. members can call that reprehensible. I am determined to stop the increase of scab. I shall see that Bethal gets enough inspectors, and shall rely on the support of the hon. member. Of those persons constituting the local board, only the farmers will be paid at the rate of 17s. 6d. per diem, as is the case with all commissions. The magistrate and the veterinary surgeons are officials, and no extra remuneration will be paid to them.
I would like to have a reply to the question I put regarding fertilizers.
Fertilizers are made by the factories, and they fix the prices. The railway rates will be reduced, as was announced by the Minister concerned. The hon. member for Newlands (Mr. Stuttaford) touched on the question of shipping rates. I am considering the matter of their increase. The question is what powers we have under the agreement with the Union-Castle Company. According to the latest agreement, the freights were increased. For instance, on mealies they were increased from 22s. 6d. to 25s.; on fruit from 40s. to 50s., and on wool, from ½d. to ¾d., etc. The company has a right to increase the freights, and if the Government is not satisfied it can ask for arbitration. We have to do with a big ring. We formerly had free ships, but as hon. members know, the other companies have now joined the shipping ring. The Government, however, is considering the matter.
The Minister is adopting this afternoon a much more moderate attitude, which I appreciate. He is now used to giving orders, and it is not surprising therefore that he becomes somewhat hasty when he finds himself in another position. He ought to give just as much attention to the Opposition as to the members of his own party. I am a sheep farmer, too, and I do not object to reorganization, because the Government is trying a new scheme. With regard to the advisory boards I would like to ask how many magistrates know anything at all about scab. That is a hopeless scheme. The magistrate will be chairman of the board and when in court, will have to impose fines in connection with the same things which were dealt with by the board. The replacement of the inspectors by veterinary surgeons will work well, but it would be better to appoint another farmer instead of the magistrate. As regards inspectors in the districts, I should like to point out that the work of that official is very easy in a district where there are many sheep. But in, for instance, Rustenburg there are small numbers of sheep here and there scattered all over the district. In districts like Ermelo and Bethal, scab does not originate with the farmers, but infection arises on account of their moving to districts such as Lydenburg and Rustenburg. The disease is picked up in the Bushveld by sheep from the Highveld when they go there for winter grazing. That is why it is so essential to maintain a good inspection staff in such districts.
The unfortunate position in the past was that the scab inspectors were not full-time officers. Their remuneration was from £300 to £500, but a great part of their time was spent on their own farms. In future I am going to see that all their time is given to this work. It is possible that the magistrate may know nothing about scab, but the East Coast Fever Boards were presided over by magistrates, and the farmers did not suffer as a result. Magistrates have much influence in their respective districts, and they can do a great deal of good and it will not hamper them in the carrying out of their judicial duties.
I would like to emphasize the serious position that has arisen with regard to the ukase to this country with regard to shipping rates. The House must regard this position in the light that it has come upon us on top of the amalgamation of the shipping lines which has just taken place. I understand it takes effect from the first of the month, and here we have the position that these Conference Lines while the Government is trying to foster the country’s industries, assisting the farmer to get rid of his produce—we have these lines stepping in and increasing the rates. I have the complete list of the increases, and it amounts to 50 per cent. on those articles which were controlled by our contract with the shipping companies at the present time, and I have it on good authority that those commodities not controlled by that contract are entirely killed in their infancy. What is the good of wrangling here about economies you are going to effect by dismissing scab inspectors, and by protecting different industries when we have the wholesale attack made at the very root of these industries. Some of these rates are most pernicious and exorbitant. I would ask the Minister to review the whole question of the mail contracts with regard to these Conference Lines. It is the only way we have of holding them and of obtaining redress. The Government, however, will have to give notice of it before the whole question can be reviewed. The Government has been placed in a most invidious position and it should be remembered that some time ago, that in order to protect itself the Government had to launch out and get their own ships. The Amalgamated Shipping Lines should not he allowed to kill the industries of the country by these tariffs.
I desire to emphasize the necessity for this boundary fence. We have the committee’s unanimous report, a committee representative of the whole House. They say the only means of meeting this question is by the erection of such fencing. Some months ago a conference was held on the borders of Basutoland in connection with another matter, and this question incidentally was brought up and the Commissioner of Southern Basutoland said he was entirely in favour of this suggestion and that he would recommend it strongly to his Administration. It is only a question of pushing the matter through. There is another brief matter I would like to draw the attention of this House to. We would like to know whether this Government would be prepared to recommend where a farmer puts up a vermin proof fence adjoining Crown land or a native area, whether the Government would be prepared to pay half the costs. It is going to help us in regard to scab, stock thefts, and help the farmer largely as regards protection against jackals. People little know the ravages of jackals in the Cape Province, and I would like the Minister to consider these few points I have raised just now.
I am not prepared to make a statement on this question, because the Minister of Lands is dealing with it, and if you put the question to him he will probably be able to reply. With reference to native areas, that comes under the Minister of Native Affairs, the Prime Minister, and I am not prepared to make a statement. I may say this, if a certain area is proclaimed for vermin proofing the Government is responsible. If the Provincial Council apply for a certain area to be fenced, and it is proclaimed, the Government is bound to fence it.
But when it has joined a proclaimed area?
With reference to the Basutoland border, I will see what can be done.
It is impossible for us on this side of the House to prevent the Minister of Agriculture, from, as he stated carrying out his policy; but that is not going to deter us from putting on record what we think of it and recording our protests that the Minister’s action is not so much re-organization with a view to economizing. It appears to me to have some other sinister motive behind it. I am very sorry to have to say it, but when one comes to look into this matter of economy, there is certainly no evidence whatever that this change will affect any economies at all, in view of the fact that it is only going to have the effect of swelling the pension list and transferring a large staff to the Veterinary department. It is difficult to dissociate certain ugly features which form part of the history of this country from this movement. We have been told that the chief of the sheep division together with some other members of the staff played a very important part during the late rebellion in the capture of certain men who were out in rebellion, and it is very difficult indeed to dissociate that fact from the retirement of these officials. It is, at any rate, an extraordinary coincidence that this should be taking place at this particular juncture when we have the present Minister at the head of affairs. Then there is the double coincidence. We have the fact that a certain number of men are given billets who were henchmen of the Minister at the time. I have no hesitation in saying that it savours very much of victimization—this policy being followed to-day by the Minister—victimization of which we hear so much from the cross benches during times of industrial trouble, but of which we have heard so little from them during the course of this debate. It is remarkable how well the gentlemen on the cross benches have been muzzled by their colleagues on the Government benches. What I very particularly want to mention this afternoon is this, I urged on a previous occasion the claims of certain show-holding Agricultural Societies which I claimed are entitled to consideration with regard to the discontinuance of the grants. Relying on receiving the grant, they incurred certain expenditure in erecting buildings and in other ways, relying on the Grant. They received notice that these grants were to be discontinued, which meant that they got into debt. I consider that the Government was guilty of a breach of faith, and I am sorry that the Minister ignored my representations when I brought up the matter on a previous occasion. If the Minister is unable to see his way to restore the grant generally, I ask him to remember the cases I mentioned as special cases deserving of his consideration, and that he should make them some special allowance. There is a strong feeling about the way the societies were treated in this respect.
By the late Government.
Yes, by the late Government.
The wool farmers experience a certain difficulty which has not been mentioned yet. They go to considerable trouble to grade their wool properly and pack it neatly in bales, and in that way convey it by rail. I hope the Minister will not refer me to the Minister of Railways, because I want him to stand by the farmers. When the farmer gets to the station and is assigned a truck which was previously used for the conveyance of coal, it is full of coal-dust and impossible to clean with a broom. Even stud sheep have often to be conveyed in such trucks, causing inconvenience and loss to the farmers. The only way to clean out these trucks is to wash them, and the Administration should see that the dirty trucks are cleaned out at a certain point. The farmers in the drought stricken part are grateful for the reduction of rates for the transport of lucerne and I hope this will be applied too to the carriage of mealies. It has been said that sheep inspectors took an active part in politics. I am glad the hon. member for Boshof (Mr. C. A. van Niekerk) was honest enough to admit it was done on both sides. I know as a fact that inspectors on both sides took part in politics. I trust, therefore, that the Minister will keep his word and treat all officials in the same way. The Minister took it amiss from certain hon. members who said that the appointments and dismissals were inspired by political considerations. I do not want to say that such was the case, but the remarks of the hon. member for Somerset (Mr. Fourie) and of the hon. member for Pretoria (South) (Gen. Muller) gave the impression that there was some ground for that suspicion. I accept the statement of the Minister to the effect that the Government is above making political appointments, and I trust the Minister will act up to his statement. I know from experience that scab is a difficult thing to deal with, and I regard with apprehension his statement that it can be easily stamped out.
On a point of order Mr. Chairman—have you a quorum here?
The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN intimated that there was no quorum.
The Division bells were rung, and a quorum formed.
The nonchalant way in which the Minister spoke of the eradication of scab rather alarmed me. It is a very difficult thing to do, and if we are not to go backward the Minister ought to realize that. I trust that when we meet in January again, or a year later, we shall see there has been no retrogression of the wool industry with an increase of scab, and I trust it will be proved that the present action of the Minister was justified.
In regard to the announced retirement of officials of the sheep division, I should like to draw the attention of the Minister to the extent to which the annual payment in respect of officials retired before they reach their pensionable age is growing. In the last ten years that amount has been doubled. To-day it stands at £380,000. We pay that sum annually to officials whom we retrench while they are still able to carry on their duties. I should like the Minister to tell us to what extent the further retrenchment will add to that sum. I consider it false economy to retrench officials who are still able to do their work. There is another expenditure besides the addition to the pension list, that is the payment of leave gratuities. It has been customary for an official before retirement to receive a gratuity in respect of his leave. That makes it very costly to retire an official, and I want the Minister to go into the question.
What about Pilkington?
The hon. member asks about a case I know nothing of. I am only regretting that there seems to be a tendency to add to the pension list unnecessarily. I am sorry the hon. member for Pretoria (South) (Gen. Muller), made use of a remark which I think is an unfortunate one. His suggestion that those who were prominent in suppressing the rebellion would have to be reckoned with, seemed to me a very painful suggestion, and I hope it is one the Minister is not going to act upon. Already I think the appointments made have laid themselves open to a great deal of objection. We come to the appointment of locust officers, and I take it that the whole aim of the locust organization is to be effective. I naturally should be inclined to believe it is more likely to be effective if it work in co-operation with the local farmer, and for that purpose I can see no better method of deciding upon appointments which would be suitable than by consulting the agricultural unions and farmers’ associations. If it is true that the Minister has brought men from outside their own districts and translated them to districts where they are not known, it seems to me that is not going to make for the co-operation which is desirable. The whole organization should be in the hands of people in whose interests it is to exterminate the locusts. A man who is bankrupt and without employment is much more likely to be slack in performing his duty than the man whose very livelihood depends on exterminating the locusts. There is another feature about this matter. I extremely regret the Minister should have selected men who apparently were not the choice of the farmers’ organizations, and whose only recommendation appears to be that the Minister knows them personally, and then there is the coincidence that they took a prominent part in the rebellion. I hope the Minister will not proceed any further on the course of appointing people who are unknown in the districts in which they are going to operate, and whose chief recommendations are that they were prominent rebels. I wish to support the hon. member for Klip River (Mr. Anderson) in what he said in regard to grants in aid of agricultural societies. In my constituency there was a case in which one of the agricultural societies had, with the concurrence of the Agricultural Department, spent a considerable amount of money in improvements, and after this money had been spent and an equal amount raised from a legacy, they were unable to get a refund from the Government on the £ per £ principle. I hope the Minister will see fit to liquidate these matters and see that there is no feeling of bad faith. In regard to freight on wattle extract and other products, I urge upon the Minister the desirability of approaching the shipping companies and endeavouring to secure a much lower rate than the one recently announced.
The hon. member has raised the point that I appointed locust officers outside their own districts. Well I have done so. You cannot expect that I shall appoint an officer only in his own district. The chief locust inspector is a man of the Transvaal and has to organize the whole of the Transvaal. As far as possible men are appointed in their own districts, but I have appointed men who I know are well acquainted with organization work, and I have absolutely so far had no complaint that those men are not doing their work. The hon. member also stated that I should appoint men more in consultation with agricultural unions and societies. I have stated over and over again that as far as possible I will consult those unions, but when I know a man who will do his duty I shall appoint him without reference to those societies if I think fit. With regard to the points of giving grants to the agricultural associations, I may say it is impossible at present to do that. It is a question for the Provincial Councils. But the Land Bank, as I have stated before, is giving £500 towards each province, £500 to Natal, the Transvaal, the Cape Province and the Free State, besides another grant this year on the Estimates to those agricultural societies. At present we cannot go further. With reference to the freight on bark, as I have already explained we will try to reduce that when it comes to the renewal of the mail contract.
*In reply to the hon. member for Colesberg (Mr. G. A. Louw) I wish to say that I know how to deal with scab, and it is my earnest desire to stamp out the disease. I know from personal experience it can be done, and if people will only realize its practicability we shall succeed in our efforts. The Railway Department has to clean out the coal trucks and if it is not done it should, after a complaint has been made to the local stationmaster, be brought to the notice of the Minister of Railways.
What becomes of the sheep in the meantime?
If the hon. member only knew what I was talking about, he would not have asked that. I did not speak of sheep but of wool. The hon. member for Colesberg (Mr. G. A. Louw) asked a question regarding the cheap transport of mealies to the drought-stricken parts, and I wish to say that we are attending to that.
When the Minister was addressing this Committee a few minutes ago I made an interjection. The hon. member for Colesberg (Mr. G. A. Louw) said that sheep or wool are brought to certain stations and coal trucks are supplied for the purpose of conveying either the sheep or the wool to a certain part and the trucks are not in a suitable condition for the purpose. When the Minister was replying I put a question to him as to what is to become of the sheep in the meantime. He thought fit, rather rudely, to say that I did not know what I was talking about. Not long ago Mr. Speaker considered it desirable to read a lesson to hon. members opposite with regard to interruptions on the part of hon. members but that lesson seems to have had no effect. I would ask you, Mr. Chairman, to draw attention to this kind of conduct. I would ask the Minister when I ask him politely to answer me politely.
I may say that when I am asked a question I always answer it. The hon. member (Mr. Nathan) made an interjection and he now asks me to reply to that interjection. The hon. member asks what is to be done in case trucks are not in a fit state to carry sheep or wool. When that happens it may cause a little inconvenience once or twice, but I am certain that if such cases are brought to the notice of the Minister they will not be allowed to continue. The best course in a case of that kind is to bring it forward and I have no doubt that it will be dealt with by the Minister of Railways through the station-master or whoever is the proper party.
The amendments proposed by Col. D. Reitz and Sir Thomas Smart were put and negatived.
Sub-head A, “Administration and General”, as printed, put and agreed to.
On Sub-head G, “Tobacco and Cotton”, £17,424.
I would like to ask the Minister whether the Government intends doing away with the tobacco tax next year.
My colleague, the Minister of Finance, has already made a statement on the subject.
I would like to know whether the Minister will assist co-operative societies to send persons to Europe to be trained as tobacco experts.
We have made considerable progress with tobacco and cotton growing. There is an experimental farm for the purpose at Rustenburg and Mr. Scheffius, the head of the Department, is a very capable man.
We require people who can give us information in regard to the packing and treatment of Turkish tobacco, which is only done in the proper way in Turkey.
The hon. member wants the Department to supply experts to the co-operative societies to teach them how to pack tobacco.
No, only a little assistance.
I am afraid at present we have no funds. The Department has still a number of young people who are being trained overseas.
I would like to ask if there is justification for the employment of these additional assistants in section G. We are gaily going ahead with the expenditure and I would like to know whether there is justification for the employment of these additional civil servants.
I may reply to the hon. member that the cotton industry is a small industry, just starting, and we expect that it is going to be one of the great industries of the Union, and we have to give all necessary facilities for the cotton growers and the men mentioned by the hon. member for East London (City) (Rev. Mr. Rider), are employed to go round and give the farmers advice. We have got these men, but I do not think we shall have half enough when the cotton industry has really got going.
What are “cotton geneticists”?
I dare say, but these must be special cotton experts.
I will find out for the hon. member.
I would like to ask the Minister whether he would take into serious consideration the Eastern Province (Cape) coastal belt for cotton growing. I have seen some wonderful cotton growing there under private enterprise, but there has not been any systematic investigation made. There is an experimental station at Bathurst which I think could very well be used for the growing of cotton and really testing out the potentialities of this area for cotton growing. I believe cotton growing has a very good future in that area.
Does the hon. member ask to have another experimental farm in the Cape Province?
There is one there now which has been used for experiments in wheat mostly, and I think it is wasting its time.
I am sending my experts round and I will try to get all the necessary advice and see what can be done.
Sub-head put and agreed to.
On sub-head H, “Horticulture,” £6,550.
I should like to draw the Minister’s attention to the difficulty which citrus farmers experience with regard to scale. There are farms which do not suffer from the pest, and yet people are not allowed to plant trees again. Their trees were destroyed and they lost their means of living in that way.
There is a danger that the disease might return again, but I will go into the matter and see whether I can meet the hon. member.
I have consulted the botanists about the matter, and they could not tell me whether or not the disease remains in the ground. The Government should take steps to see if that is so after the trees have been removed for five or six years.
Sub-head put and agreed to.
In sub-head J, “Viticulture.” £6,274.
Besides other sums £2,000 has been earmarked for Groot Constantia. That ought, however, not to be debited viticulture, as Groot Constantia is simply the exhibition farm which does not profit farmers. It should be in the same category as the National Botanical Gardens at Pretoria and the Botanical Gardens at Kirstenbosch.
Sub-head put and agreed to.
On sub-head K, “Entomology,” £16,786.
I would like the Minister to give us a little information as to tsetse fly in Zululand, and the investigations that are being carried out and what form they take.
We have a man at present making enquiries and we hope to get a remedy. That is all I can say for the present.
I ask the Minister if he will reconsider the regulations with regard to importation of plants. There is a particular regulation if any two plants are catalogued by name, you are not allowed to import them. It is an arrangement between the florists, and if, as I have said, there are two plants catalogued by the same name, the entomologist will not give permission to import them.
We have to be careful in importing plants from other countries to South Africa, and the experts have to be very careful for the reason that the regulations are so constructed to prevent disease being brought into this country. We are afraid some disease might be imported into the Union.
The position is this, that because two plants are catalogued together they cannot be imported. It is a regulation by which the forests are protected and it is not a question of the importation of disease, and I ask why this should be a close preserve to these men.
I will look into the matter.
Sub-head put and agreed to.
On Sub-head O, “Extension”, £6,182,
I would like to ask with regard to the eight district agents if their appointment is provided for. If they are appointed they are going to do a great deal to keep the farming community in touch with matters generally. Are they made?
Not yet. When the Estimates are passed.
Does the Minister intend to make the appointments soon.
In the future will he extend them? This is one of the most valuable appointments of the service.
Yes. I agree with the hon. member.
Sub-head put and agreed to.
On Sub-head P, “Guano Islands”, £54,720,
During the budget debate I put the question to the Minister of Finance with regard to reducing the price of Guano, and I was informed at the time that the matter would be referred to the Minister of Agriculture. What do I find here, the Guano Islands are making a huge profit of something like £13,000. It is wrong that there should be a charge made where such a profit is being made, and I submit to the consideration of the Minister of Agriculture the advisability of reducing the price to a reasonable amount, say £5. By reducing the price you are going to increase production.
I am sorry, I cannot allow that now.
I would like to ask the Minister if by reducing the price of Guano he is going to increase production.
I may just reply that there is at present a small profit on Guano. It costs a little over £6 a ton, and it is sold at £7. The hon. member will be sorry if it is reduced. The Transvaal and Free State are beginning to order it, with the result that we have not a quantity that will be sufficient to supply the Union of South Africa. If we reduce the price we will get three times the number of orders we are getting to-day, with the result that each farmer who uses it in the coast districts will only get one-fifth or one-fourth of what they are getting to-day. I do not think he is wise to agitate in that direction. It will do his own constituents harm. However, if it is the general feeling, I will consult the Minister of Finance in the matter.
We, in the distance, would also like to have this Guano at a reduced cost, but will the Minister also consider the question of a reduced cost of rail
Let things be as they are.
The Minister ought to help us to get the freight on guano reduced, so that the farmers in the Transvaal can get it cheaper.
I see the miscellaneous expenses include sealing operations, and I would like to point out that the effect of the protection of seals is detrimental to fishing down at Hermanus. There are two rookeries of seals which are supposed to be doing a great deal of damage to the fishing down there. I would like to know if these monies includes the destruction of these rookeries.
I will go into this matter.
Sub-head put and agreed to.
On sub-head Q, “Poultry Industry and Egg Inspection”, £1,725,
I would like to ask the Minister if he will give consideration to the establishment of a poultry division. I am not going to burden him with figures, but I will say that the poultry industry means to America more than the whole of our gold and diamond industries do to us. I think the time has arrived for a division of poultry.
The chief poultry officer—I take it he is acting at the present moment?
Sub-head put and agreed to.
On sub-head R, “Locust Administration”, £201,026,
I do not want to keep the committee long on this point, but I want to ask the Government whether they intend to alter the law with regard to locusts, and whether they will make it compulsory for farmers to kill flying locusts. Although hon. members sneered at the hon. member for Bechuanaland (Mr. Raubenheimer) just now, when he said that a subsidy should be paid for catching flying locusts, nothing better can be done. It was done by the old Crown Colony Government in the Free State with great success, and we have been helped a great deal by natives catching these locusts.
The hon. member can ask a question, but he must not advocate legislation.
I am asking the Minister whether he will consider this legislation.
I am sorry, I cannot allow the hon. member—
I have said it.
I see a tremendous increase in the vote for the destruction of the locusts in the Union and the territories. Is that the sum that may be spent, or will economies be effected?
With regard to the question asked by the hon. member for East London (City) (Rev. Mr. Rider), I may reply that it depends on the locusts. If we get more locusts from other territories, of course the expenditure will be more next year, but I hope that the measures which we are now taking will result in our being free from locusts next year, and then that sum will be reduced.
Will the Minister say whether jobs will be found for those who are killing these locusts?
Sub-head put and agreed to.
On sub-head S, “General”, £57,500,
I would like to know whether the £40,000 for bounties for the export of cattle, also includes the premiums on the export of stock from Rhodesia.
We only pay bounties on the export of beef from the Union, not on Rhodesian meat.
As the Minister of Agriculture has shown himself to be the strong man of the Cabinet, I would like to know whether he cannot reverse two items appearing on the Estimates. There is first the “payment of bounties under the Beef Export Bounties Act 1923, including expenditure incidental thereto, £40,000”—and then there is “improvement of stock £100”—Cannot these two items be reversed, and if they were, we would get something worth having in this country. The Bounties went to one firm and the one firm was a combination which could be spelt “Graaff”. It is a terrible indictment against his own Government for the hon. member for Fort Beaufort (Sir Thomas Smartt) to have to admit that after 14 years they had not succeeded in raising cattle of sufficiently good quality to be able to export good beef, only 5 per cent. being fit for export. In Johannesburg not 5 per cent. coming into the biggest market in the Union is fit for export, and that small proportion reaches such prices that it is not exported, as the local consumption absorbs it. I cannot understand the amount for bounties being £72,000 last year, and only £1,200 paid out and this year £40,000 is again provided. Instead of wasting money on bounties, cannot the Minister reverse the votes and with the money go to other countries to bring in bulls to improve our own stock? The small number of animals coming in here to improve the breed is insufficient—in fact so few that it will do nothing in 10 years to raise the quality of beef. The cattle coming in under the Union-Castle Company scheme do so little to improve the breed.
Order, the hon. member is not permitted to discuss policy now.
I trust the Minister will note the suggestion of the hon. member for Pretoria (West) (Mr. Hay) but I do think there is one thing to regret, and that is that the whole £72,000 budgeted for last year was not expended, as intended, because if there is one thing the farming community is suffering from to-day it is that we do not know what to do with our surplus stock. So if the Government awards bounties for the assistance of the export of this surplus it is doing the greatest service to the cattle farming industry.
The hon. member may discuss details here but is not now permitted to discuss policy or advocate legislation.
May I put it then in the form of a question?
I will put it in this way then. Has the Government as its policy the expenditure of £40,000 in the paying of bounties for the export of beef? Is that the policy and will it also be extended for the export of beef in any other form, such as beef extracts or other products so that as much as possible of the surplus supplies of beef may be got out of the country and sent abroad to other parts which such necessaries of life are urgently required.
I am nut prepared to reply at present whether that policy of the Government will be continued. It is a matter that has to be gone into. This was done by the last Government as an experiment, and we will have to determine whether it is necessary to keep it on. If it is found to be necessary the Government will continue it, if we can find a market; otherwise we will have to discontinue it. In reply to the hon. member for Pretoria (West) (Mr. Hay), there is £40,000 on the Estimates; this amount has not been paid out, and I think it is overestimated. I know certain of our breeders are already intending to export from the country. Then as a result of different experiments on the farm we have very good bulls being sold every year. Whatever we can do to improve our cattle through my department we will do but I do not think it would be advisable to go in for an expenditure of £100,000 to import bulls at the present moment.
I do not quite know whether the Beef Bounties Act is still in force. It is useless to put a sum on the Estimates if that is not the case.
The law is still in force.
I should like to ask the Minister whether he is making any enquiries as to how the question of the export of beef operates under the new arrangement made last year with the Imperial Cold Storage Company. It seems to me to be a matter requiring urgent attention. I find in the press the other day there was a tremendous controversy going on in regard to this matter at Zastron. The local people are saying that the great drawback is the inability to sell surplus cattle as the Imperial Cold Storage Company holds all the compound contracts and buys from Rhodesia. It is alleged there is a far greater import of scrub cattle going on from that country than is allowed by law. It is a most important point. There is another aspect of it. I do not know how the Minister will approach the question but he can get information. I was down at Vryburg last year and saw a tremendous amount of cattle coming in there for their stock sales. I was informed that all those cattle had been trekked from German South West and other portions and on enquiring the prices I found they fetched at the highest between £3 and £4 a head and prices went down as low as 30s. Here we have the cattle of the Union shut out from the markets of the Union by unfair competition and on the other hand you have practically the whole cattle industry throttled in the hands of the Imperial Cold Storage Company.
I am sorry I cannot allow the hon. member to continue discussing a question of policy, which he thinks the Government should adopt.
I am sorry but you will permit me to ask the Minister to look into this matter with a view to amelioration and above all with a view to taking off this big throttling influence of the Imperial Cold Storage Company.
This is a very difficult question but the Government is going to see what can be done. I am appointing a commission to go into the whole question of the meat industry in South Africa. I hope before next session we shall have their report and see what we can do. With reference to the importation from Rhodesia I might just say that the remarkable thing is this, that the last Government put an embargo on cattle and yet since that was put on the importation of cattle has increased. The importation during the four months ending the 30th June, 1923, was from Rhodesia 7,360 while for the corresponding months of 1924 it was 9,091.
May I ask the Minister whether he is going to take into account the interests of the consumers?
I want to ask the Minister about the payment of bounties for the export of beef. I take it that the £40,000 means that the Government is adopting and carrying on the policy of the late Government in respect of these export of beef bounties. Previously provision has only been made for the year and not for subsequent years. Under the Act the Board was to furnish the Government with information as to whether the bounties should be renewed in the subsequent year, and it was for the Government to decide on those reports whether they should be renewed. The Government was not forced to renew them. I take it that the Government has put in this item of £41,000 on the strength of the report made by the Board. Perhaps the Minister will tell us if that report was one favourable to the continued existence of the scheme introduced by the late Government.
The hon. member knows that we have only been in office a little while and that for the most part we have taken over the estimates of the previous Government. We have not had time to go fully into the matter. This item of £40,000 is on the estimates and if it is passed we will carry on just as the previous Government did last year and the bounties will be paid out. Whether we will continue it depends upon what difficulty the industry is faced with in the future. The Government will then decide what policy it should adopt.
Will the Minister tell me whether the statutory report which is to be made by the Board was favourable? I take it that it must have been, because of the fact that they have continued this item on the estimates.
I will obtain the information for the hon. member.
There is a small item, “Improvement of stock, £100”. It is only a small item at present but it may be the beginning of something that will grow. Will the Minister tell us what this idea is?
Does the hon. member wish to increase it? If it is necessary it may be increased in the future in the interests of the farmers.
The Minister does not follow me. I was asking what the idea was of this item “improvement of stock, £100”. I would like to know what it is for.
I would like to know from the Minister what stock he is going to improve for £100 and how much stock he can improve for £100. I find that £100 does not go very far on my farm.
I might just say that this item of £100 is to provide for expenses in connection with the provision of bulls of superior quality to be resold to farmers fulfilling certain conditions at cost price. The scheme is only an experimental one at present and is on trial in the north-western area of the Transvaal where farmers hitherto have not been able to keep high-class bulls. If the scheme is a success, it is hoped to extend it to other areas in the Union.
Whose brilliant idea is this?—£100 for the purpose of buying bulls?
No, for monkey’s clothes.
I would like to know and I think we are entitled to know why this item of £100 has been put on the estimates, a new item, for the improvement of stock. The Minister tells us in all seriousness that this money is going to be used for the purpose of buying bulls. I was in England in 1922 and I remember that a lot of cattle sent there from this country for sale fetched thousands of pounds. I think the House and the country should be given more information about this item.
If the hon. member had listened to what I said, he would not have made those remarks, because, although I do not agree with some of the policy of the late Government, I quite agree that this expenditure of £100 was a very sound one. It was on their estimates which we have taken over and the hon. member (Mr. Nathan) is, therefore, very late in criticizing the present Government for this item. The £100 is only for incidental experiments. The breeders of stock in certain parts of the Transvaal have asked the department whether they cannot acclimatize these bulls. Breeders have given 60 bulls to the Government to be stabled there and the item is to provide the cost of these bulls being inoculated and acclimatized and then they are to be sold to the farmers. The £100 is to help those farmers to get good stock.
The explanation given by the Minister now is quite a reasonable and a feasible one and I am glad to see that he is giving the late Government the credit for it. If you look at the first print of the estimates handed to us this year at page 138 you do not find anything at all about this item. On the second print which the present Government has issued you find this item.
Sub-head put and agreed to.
Vote put and agreed to.
On Vote 29, “Agriculture (Education),” £170,041,
I want to raise rather an important question. I am sorry that the Minister of Labour is not in his place because it rather concerns him. The Minister has proclaimed all over the countryside that it is the policy of this Government to extend the field of European labour wherever it is at all possible in all departments of work in this country. I notice that on this vote there is provision for a good deal to be spent on labour. On page 141, Elsenburg, will be found a vote for general maintenance expenses, farm, etc. £3,250. I have not the remotest doubt in my own mind that this vote will be used to pay for coloured labour. You are using coloured labour to work the farm at Elsenburg. It has always struck me that in this school where there are about 73 students, why you cannot employ the students, in part at any rate, to work this farm. Of course, you may say, and probably will say, that the students have got their studies to carry on and have not the time to give to the manual labour of the farm. But why can’t you take another class of labour, say poor white boys, who are not students, and employ them? We know perfectly well that the farmers throughout the country are prejudiced in favour of coloured or native labour, they are so accustomed to working with coloured labour that they dislike to employ white labour. In my opinion the best opening in this country for European labour is on the land if the land owners would only take them up and make use of them. Here we have the Government setting a bad example. We are accustoming the farmers to nothing else except coloured labour. I mentioned this to the Committee of Public Accounts in days gone by, and I advise the Minister of Labour to go into this matter and accustom these boys to work European labour for the start off. In that way they would train the poor white boys as farm labourers, and they can later work on neighbouring farms and obtain work.
I have already given instructions along the lines mentioned by the hon. member. It is certainly a kind of labour that might be done by poor farmers and help to solve the unemployment problem in this country. I have given the instructions in that direction, and it is a pity it was not done years ago.
If the Minister will look at page 146, “Grants in Aid of Faculties of Agriculture.” These are grants to the agricultural schools which cost this country £140,000 a year, and in addition to that they are making grants in aid of Faculties of Agriculture. There are two of these Faculties—one is at Transvaal University College, which has 38 students, and cost £13,900. That is a rather expensive luxury when it is considered that it cost £366 per student. Then we come to the University of Stellenbosch, six miles from Elsenburg, where there are 70 more students. At Stellenbosch there are 68 students, and the total cost is £13,193, or £194 per student. That is very expensive, especially when you consider that they are within six miles of Elsenburg. One Faculty of Agriculture is quite sufficient for this country. The total number of students is at both these Faculties, 106, and it appears to be a very expensive piece of business.
I am rather surprised at the hon. member criticizing the Faculties now. They have been going on for years, and if he did not agree with it why did he not bring it up before the previous Government. I will go into the question and see what can be done.
Did I understand the Minister correctly in his reply that he is going to do away with coloured labour at the school of Agriculture and carry on the work by pupils?
My reply was that I had given instructions that as far as possible white labour should be employed in the schools.
Vote put and agreed to.
On Vote 30, “Forestry,” £167,802,
I would like to ask the Minister if he is going to extend the policy of afforestation throughout the Union. I understand we are making plantations here and there. What we are concerned with is this. That all the authorities throughout the world who have been studying this question are satisfied that the best wooded country is the best watered country. It not only concerns rainfall, but it induces rainfall, and for that reason I would like to suggest to the Minister that if he does not he can encourage tree planting all over South Africa, if he would give trees to the farmers according to the amount of acreage they possess.
You are discussing the policy of the Government, and you cannot do that now. You could have done it on the motion to reduce his salary.
I think you should induce farmers to plant trees by giving them free.
I am quite prepared to extend plantation as far as possible, and I am in favour of helping farmers as far as possible, but whether the Government can supply trees and seed free that is a question of policy which the Cabinet has to decide upon.
I hope the Minister will be firm in the matter and not supply them. They are extremely cheap, about 1/6 per thousand, and if you give them for nothing the farmers will regard them as being of no value.
I do not know whether we can get trees at 1/6 a thousand.
1/6 a hundred.
Nor 1/6 a hundred. The cheapest I know of is 5/- a hundred. If the hon. member for Cape Town (Central) (Mr. Jagger) applied to the Department for trees, that is what they will charge him. My point is not so much that you have to give the trees, but the Minister, if he insists in his wisdom upon tree planting, this may carry with it the giving of trees free as an inducement, and the whole country will benefit. That is all.
I am not in favour of the free issue of trees. I would like to ask the Minister whether he is prepared to let the people do piecework on the afforestation schemes?
I will investigate the matter personally, as I also am in favour of piecework.
Vote put and agreed to.
On Vote 31, “Posts, Telegraphs and Telephones,” £2,675,350,
There are just one or two points affecting the staff to which I want to draw the attention of the hon. Minister. First of all, there is the matter of the proportion of unestablished men to the established men in the Engineering Branch. The circular which was issued gave a great deal of alarm to the men. Apparently the policy has been to keep a number of men for years and years as unestablished men in the service—as a sort of reservoir—and they are, roughly, equal in number to the established men. They feel their position is very insecure, and they have always been urging the Government to reduce the number of unestablished men and to make them established. I hope that the present Minister is going to alter the position in this respect. They are not temporary workmen, as they are called in the circular. The S.A. Telephone and Telegraph Association has asked the Minister to appoint men who have been five years in the service as established men, and that is a reasonable request. The construction work of the Department varies from time to time, but there is always a certain amount going on all the time, and there is the maintenance of costly plant to be provided for. Some of the work is done by “casual” labour, and there is room for better treatment of these men, too. In our lifetime there will always be construction work to be done by men who ought to be on the establishment. Annual increments have been withheld, and the men feel they have been badly treated. I hope that the Minister will get into touch with their organization, and see whether something cannot be done to deal with their grievances. I hope that the Minister will increase the established men in the Engineering Branch, and see that a proper living wage is laid down for all of them, and that no differentiation is laid down between them and the permanent staff, because, in all fairness, they are all part of the permanent staff. I think I can save the Minister a sum of money which is down for preparing a new workshop for mechanics. The original idea was that the Marconi people should be housed in the G.P.O., but that has been abandoned. The money is supposed to be spent in erecting a corrugated iron shed for them at the Dock Road end of Bree Street, which, I think, is an absolute waste of money, as they can be accommodated in the existing Post Office, and later on shifted to the new building on the Parade. In the corrugated iron shed in Bree Street they would be most inconveniently housed, and I cannot understand why it should be done. Then there is a question which affects all men in the public service; and I hope the Minister is going to tell us that he is going to tackle this question of local allowances. On the railways men get the same local allowance throughout the Union whether married or single, but in the Public Service a differentiation is made. I suggest that the same treatment be given to men in the Public Service as in the Railway Service. You have to pay men according to the work they are doing, and not according to the size of their families, or as to whether they are married or single. The Minister knows that this has been a burning question for years, and I hope that, in his reply, he will give some indication of what the policy is to be.
I would like to get a little information from the Minister on one or two points. The Postmaster-General has been attending the International Postal Congress at Stockholm, and the annual finances of the Post Office will depend to a great extent on the agreement arrived at that Conference. I saw a paragraph in the newspaper the other day that some agreement had been made by which South Africa would lose £40,000 per annum. I hope that is not the case; and I shall be glad if the Minister will enlighten us on the matter. The question was raised earlier in the session of a trial aerial service between Cape Town and Pretoria. Has anything been done in that direction? As the Minister knows, there was some correspondence between his Department and the Defence Department as to whether the latter would use airplanes and its personnel in instituting a trial mail service between these two places, but nothing had been arranged at the time the last Government went out of office. Then there is the question of the mail contract. As the Minister knows, there has been some correspondence with the British Government on this question, and I understand the Minister was taking up the matter with the British authorities, and if he can give us some information I shall be glad if he can do so. Then, as the Minister knows, there is an agreement with the Marconi Company in connection with the erection of a high-power station in South Africa. Recently I understood there had been some negotiations between the Company and the Government in regard to the substitution of the beam system. Has anything definite been arranged? As the Committee may remember, the House went very carefully into the original agreement, and every safeguard was adopted which could be thought of, and if any alteration of the system is being made, it will necessarily mean, I suppose, an alteration in the terms of the contract, and if that is the case, it will naturally have to be brought before Parliament. Then there is another question. Is there any prospect of an early reduction of the postage? The position is this. I understand last year the Post Office made a profit of about £300,000. This year the anticipated profit was £500,000, and before the change of Government took place there was a discussion as to whether it was possible to reduce the inland postage on letters, and at the same time it was thought inadvisable to do so, although the Post Office finances were flourishing. The consolidated revenue fund required all the help we could give from the Post Office, but it was understood the matter would be reconsidered at the end of July, and if the general revenue of the country had so increased as to warrant the Treasurer in doing without this very material contribution from the Post Office funds, then there would be a reduction in the postage. I should be glad to know whether that matter has been gone into again, and what the prospects are of our getting a reduction in postage. I understand, if there is a reduction to the old penny rate, it will mean a loss of between £300,000 and £400,000; but, even then, the Post Office will be on the right side. There will be a surplus of £100,000 or £150,000. The last point I should like information on is as to what is the position in regard to the automatic telephone system? An automatic installation was to take place at Port Elizabeth and another in Maritzburg, but I saw a paragraph in the newspapers warning the Government against going on with this system, because it would displace a certain amount of labour. Labour will almost always be displaced when any innovations or inventions are put into operation, and I hope the Government will not delay the gradual installation of the automatic system, as it is necessary. When a system has to be renewed in the course of time, it is only reasonable and right in the public interest that the newest inventions shall be installed. We should have labour-saving machinery, and the best methods, and the question of displacing labour, after all, is a secondary question. The amount of labour which would be displaced can very easily be absorbed into the Post Office, and the public will have a better system and a cheaper one.
I would like to ask the Minister how much longer they are going to keep that land on the Parade at Cape Town to extend the Post Office. I believe the present Post Office is not over-staffed but overcrowded. I believe there are over 2,000 employees in the Cape Town Post Office. I believe some time ago the then Minister of Posts and Telegraphs acknowledged it was overcrowded and said they would go on with the extensions.
I must point out to the hon. member that that would be more at home on the Loan Vote.
It will be quite interesting to hear the new Minister of Posts and Telegraphs telling the old Minister of Posts and Telegraphs how much better he is going to conduct the department than the old Minister conducted it. I also would like information from the Minister as to the progress being made with the installation of the automatic telephones at Port Elizabeth and Pietermaritzburg. I am concerned much more, however, as to the displacement of the “hello” girls who are at present operating the existing systems, and doing it remarkably well. I am interested to know what the Minister is going to do with that large number of girls, who have given us so much satisfaction in the past, when the automatic installation is complete. I understand the Postal and Telegraph Clerks’ Association are up in arms because there has been some suggestion that the Minister is likely to retain the services of those girls. I would also like to enquire why it is that in Durban under the finely managed municipal telephone system the public has the privilege of enjoying public calls for the price of the humble penny, while the Government requires us to pay three times that amount when using the Government telephones. I also hope some relief will be given in regard to postal rates and I would like to suggest to the Minister what a glorious opportunity it is for him to have his name handed down like that of Lord Roland Hill as the father or stepfather in South Africa of the penny postage. I hope the financial situation will be such as will enable him to do so. His predecessors in office said repeatedly that when the finances of the country permitted they would revert to the penny postage. Now we hear from the ex-Minister of Posts and Telegraphs that the finances so far as the postal department is concerned are remarkably good. I see that all the commercial men at ail the conferences which have been held recently are calling out for a reversion to the penny postage. I hope the means will be found and the opportunity taken advantage of to do that. I learn, too, with pleasure that the Minister is gradually replacing natives with white men and boys in his department in Natal, and I hope he will continue the good work so far as that is concerned. There is one suggestion I would like to make and that is that Europeans should also be employed on permanent maintenance work in telephone exchange areas and in the maintenance of trunk telegraph lines. There are no fewer than 53 natives employed as linesmen in Natal and here I think is an avenue which could well be used to provide work for Europeans
On the motion of Mr. C. A. VAN NIEKERK, it was agreed to report progress and ask leave to sit again.
Progress reported; House to resume in Committee to-morrow.
The House adjourned at