House of Assembly: Vol2 - WEDNESDAY 14 MARCH 1962
Mr. J. J. FOUCHÉ, as Chairman, brought up the Report of the Select Committee on the Legislative Effect of the Old Age Pensions Bill, reporting the Bill with an amendment in the Afrikaans version.
Mr. J. J. FOUCHÉ, as Chairman, brought up the Report of the Select Committee on the Legislative Effect of the Disability Grants Bill, reporting the Bill with an amendment in the Afrikaans version.
Mr. J. J. FOUCHÉ, as Chairman, brought up the Report of the Select Committee on the Legislative Effect of the War Veterans’ Pensions Bill, reporting the Bill without amendment.
Mr. J. J. FOUCHÉ, as Chairman, brought up the Report of the Select Committee on the the Legislative Effect of the Blind Persons Bill, reporting the Bill without amendment.
Bill read a first time.
First Order read: Adjourned debate on motion for House to go into Committee of Supply on Estimates of Expenditure from Railway and Harbour Fund, to be resumed.
[Debate on motion by the Minister of Transport, upon which an amendment had been moved by Mr. Russell, adjourned on 13 March, resumed.]
Mr. Speaker, when the debate was adjourned yesterday afternoon, I was expressing amazement at the omission on the part of the Minister to explain to this House why the Railway Administration did not spend the full amount voted for capital expenditure last year; why the Administration was only likely to spend R77,000,000 out of the total sum of approximately R103,000,000 voted last year. I think the Minister owes an explanation to this House why this has happened because this is the third successive year that the Railways have bitten off far more capital than they can chew.
I have already explained that over the past three years the Minister has come to this House and asked for capital funds which in total exceeded the amount expended by not less than R93,000,000. I am sure the hon. the Minister will remedy this omission in his reply and will not ask Parliament in this cavalier way for vast sums of its rather limited supplies to be allocated to the Railways and then for the third year in succession fail to spend the full amount. Prima facie, I think the Minister will agree that this must indicate very bad planning on the part of the Railways. There must be something seriously wrong with those departments which have to estimate year after year what their capital requirements will be for the ensuing year. Very few departments come to Parliament lightheartedly and ask for vast capital amounts in view of the fact that capital resources are so limited in this country and the Railways should not come lightheartedly and ask for vast sums to be voted for capital expenditure and then find a short time afterwards that they are not capable physically or otherwise to spend those amounts.
An equally amazing omission is the fact that nowhere in the Minister’s Budget statement is there anything to indicate what the Railways are going to do about the new departure in our economic development to which this Government has apparently committed us. I refer to the border development scheme of the Government and the creation of independent Black states. Surely the Minister realizes that, whilst the Prime Minister and the Minister of Bantu Administration are entitled to dream about these things, he is the Minister who must put rails under those dreams. He must provide the railway facilities for those dreams. Because, unless those visions are just to remain visions, something concrete must be done. He is the one of the few Ministers on whom the onus rests to make that policy possible. When we look at the Estimates of Expenditure which have been presented to Parliament, we find that, as far as railway transport and the Bantu population are concerned, apparently the only large-scale capital investment will be in respect of providing railway services between the existing large Native townships on the borders of our existing big industrial centres and those industrial centres. How is the Government going to get large-scale development in the border areas and in the Bantu states to be established if no railway facilities are going to be provided there? This surely is also something the Minister should take the House into his confidence about and tell us to what extent he will co-ordinate his policy with the general Government policy of developing border areas and new Black states. It has taken the Minister four years, four years of persuasion from this side of the House, to get the Minister to admit that he must change his rates policy to accord with the general Government policy of establishing border industries and industries in the Black states. How long will it take him to realize that the future implementation of Government policy requires that the Railways itself will have to depart radically from its pattern of investment in the past and divert a lot of the investments which hitherto have mainly been concerned with providing transport facilities for the existing industrial centres, to providing transport facilities for the new industrial areas which are to be established? The Minister surely must realize that it is no use having a nice rates policy for border industries and for the new Bantu states if the railway facilities are not there for those areas.
I was also very pleased to see that the Minister now has an index of labour productivity, according to his speech, which he tells us is positively encouraging. I would have been very surprised if labour productivity had not increased in the past five years, at least, particularly if you take into account that between 1955 and 1961 the capital expenditure on the Railways increased from R895,000,000 to R1,556,000,000, an increase of R661,000,000, or equivalent to a 70 per cent increase in the capitalization of the Railways. In that same period the Railways staff increased insignificantly from 210,000 to 216,000, so, if that capital expenditure was economic at all, there should be a considerable increase in productivity. But I should very much like the Minister to give us an indication as to what the order of that labour productivity is, because, particularly in the present context where there seems to be a lot of difference about whether Railway wages should be increased or not, a figure like that would be of great assistance to everyone concerned with this problem. The Minister must realize that in the modern world one cannot increase wages more than productivity unless you want inflation. On the other hand, it is no more than fair to the people engaged in an industry to advance their wages at least at the rate equivalent to the increase in their productivity.
I conclude by saying that I am sure that these omissions in the Minister’s speech will be remedied in his reply.
The hon. the Minister of Transport has submitted for approval to the House a good and brilliant Budget, and everybody who is interested in the welfare of our transport service will testify to that fact, welcome it and acclaim it. The best testimonial which the Minister could have got is the attitude and the speeches of members of the Opposition. Except for two Opposition speakers, very little has been said about this Budget, and there has been very little criticism of it. They did raise other matters affecting our transport service, and I shall come to that later on.
Our transport service in South Africa—and this has been said here over and over again but we must repeat it for the purposes of this argument—is of national scope, so much so that we should like to regard it as a joint asset, not as the property of some political party or other but as the joint asset and property of everybody in the Republic of South Africa. Because that is so. our transport service deserves the care and sympathetic protection of every right-thinking person in South Africa. Our transport service has been built up with our own human material. Both Afrikaans- and English-speaking, and not only the Whites but also the non-Whites. have made their contribution towards building it up. Tributes have been paid here over and over again to the railwaymen. We all recognize the fact that the Railways can be grateful for the servants it has at its disposal, but I should also like to emphasize another aspect this afternoon, and that is that every railway servant can feel grateful and proud and happy that he occupies a post with an employer like the South African Railways. I want to emphasize that. Here I also include the artisan staff. Is there any member here representing a constituency who does not receive representations almost every week from people who formerly worked on the Railways, who tried to improve their position elsewhere and then came back to ask us to make representations that they should be re-employed? We know how many petitions are submitted from time to time to the Select Committee on Pensions asking for the condonation of a break in service for pension purposes. I want to emphasize therefore—and I also say this to the Railway artisans if I may issue a friendly warning—that the railwayman should think twice in these days before leaving the Railway Service to seek a post elsewhere. Every railwayman can be grateful for the fact that he is in the employ of the South African Railways where he has security and where he is building up a pension for himself so that one day when he retires he will not have to go and ask for a pension but will be justified in claiming a pension to which he himself has contributed.
What has been the attitude of the Opposition in this debate? I have already said that there has not been much criticism of the Budget as such, but it is perfectly clear that we have had an organized campaign here to exploit petty grievances, to create grievances artificially, a deliberate attempt to stir up dissatisfaction in the transport service. There was an organized campaign on the part of the Opposition, not to criticize the Budget or to make constructive contributions, with a few exceptions here and and there, but to stir up grievances and dissatisfaction in our transport service. It was a deliberate attempt to create bad feelings between the railwaymen, the staff associations and the Minister. Having regard to the scope of our transport service, which plays its role in almost every branch of our national economy, any party or any person who behaves in this way is certainly not rendering a service to our transport service as such; on the contrary he is committing an unforgivable sin against the country in which he lives and which is served by that transport service. I do not think that the attitude adopted by the Opposition so far in this debate is a credit to it. It simply reveals and confirms that as long as the Opposition continues to adopt the attitude which it has revealed in this debate, it has no ambition or hope of ever taking over the reins of government in this country.
Stop being abusive now and reply to our arguments.
I have great hopes for the hon. member for Orange Grove (Mr. E. G. Malan). I think his conscience is troubling him. I am glad therefore that when one analyses the attitude of the Opposition in this debate in a very gentle way, he regards it as abuse. I do not blame him, however, because that is in accordance with his whole line of thinking when he takes part in a debate.
Reference has constantly been made to this report that appeared in the Press in connection with the demand made by the artisans, or certain branches of their association, when they very dramatically demanded that the Minister should resign. The Opposition kept on harping on it and conducted the whole debate on it. To test the honesty of the Opposition I want to ask the Leader of the Opposition, or in his absence the hon. member for Wynberg (Mr. Russell), or in his absence the hon. member for Turffontein (Mr. Durrant)—perhaps he will be impetuous enough to reply—whether the Opposition, with its hand on its heart, can give the assurance to this House and to the railwaymen that under similar circumstances they would have acceded to the demand which is now being made by the artisans?
The hon. member says, “Yes”, but now he will have to bear the consequences of that reply. If it is necessary to raise the tariffs in order to comply with the demands which are made from time to time—and it is only human nature to do so—it must be noted by the public that tariffs would have to be increased in order to find the millions which would be needed to accede to the demands made by this staff association.
I did not say that tariffs must be increased.
No, the hon. member wants to say what is popular, but he refuses to bear the consequences of it. That money has to be found somewhere. The Minister has clearly explained in his Budget speech how the Budget was framed, how the surplus was achieved and how it was to be used. But the hon. member is prepared to say off-hand—and in doing so he binds the Opposition—that if the Opposition came into power he would be prepared to accede to such demands under similar circumstances.
The main Opposition critic, the hon. member for Wynberg, made a disjointed, irresponsible attack here on members of the Railway Board. I deplore the fact that the hon. member devoted so much of his time to an attack on the members of the Railway Board. He mentioned the names of certain persons. He dragged in the name of the Minister of Information and sought a motive behind it. The hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) (Mr. van Rensburg) then stood up and gave the facts and stated the position as it is to-day and as it was in the past, and thereafter not a single member of the Opposition made any further reference to the Railway Board. The attack launched by the hon. member for Wynberg was a disjointed, irresponsible attack and I think he owes an apology to the members of the Railway Board. Because there has been no further criticism of the Railway Board, I take it that the Opposition accepts the position as being correct and that the policy followed by the Minister in constituting the Railway Board was correct. I leave the Opposition there for the time being.
Our transport service has a proud past that we can feel happy about. Over and above its primary duty and mandate to transport the goods and passenger traffic that is offered, the Railways have this great duty: taken as a whole the Railway Administration is also an employer. That is a fact that we can never emphasize enough and we can thank our lucky stars that we have an employer such as the Railways in South Africa. We know that the Railways achieved what they did under very difficult circumstances, because the Railways frequently gave employment to people who were not suitable perhaps for employment in other spheres. [Interjection.] Surely the hon. member knows that is so. but the difference is this. I am not looking for a little popularity or a few votes. I repeat that the Railways often employed people who would not have been employed by private undertakings, and that is a fact that we cannot get away from. But the hon. member interjected before I had completed my sentence. What did the South African Railways do, over and above its primary function of transporting goods and passengers? It uplifted those people and placed them in good positions. To-day some of them occupy very high positions in the Railway Service. The Railways did welfare work by employing those people in difficult times, and the hon. member must not tempt me to say under what circumstances those people were not employed by private initiative, by the employers of those days. There were employers in South Africa who were not very sympathetically disposed towards Afrikaans-speaking people and who tried, although they needed the services of these people, to strangle them economically at a time when our nation was going through troubled waters and at a time when these Afrikaans-speaking people needed that employment. The Railways then stepped in and employed those people.
You can do very much better than that.
Yes, but the hon. member cannot. And if I tried to do better, the hon. member would not be able to grasp it at all. I say that in this way the Railways did welfare work over and above their primary function. Think of the recreational facilities which the Railway service provides for its employees in order to produce happy families. I know that weighs very little with that hon. member. Only material things count as far as he is concerned, but here the Railways are rendering a service to our people which must not be underestimated. If one takes the trouble to go and look at the libraries which have been provided to encourage the railwaymen to read and if one looks at the quality of the reading material available there and at the bursaries given by the Railways, one realizes that the Railways also serve an educational function. But there is one thing for which this House can be very grateful and that is that under the present Minister’s policy, a housing scheme was established which is of great value. That expenditure of millions of rand on housing for the railwaymen is something for which we can be grateful. You can only have happy families and a happy staff if you create circumstances in which they can be happy. To that end of the first thing that is needed is a house in which to live. We can only be very grateful for the housing that is provided by the Railways.
If there is one thing for which South Africa can be grateful, it is the fact that our transport services are not in the hands of private initiative. In that regard we have heard nothing in this debate from the Opposition, but there was a time when the Railways went through troubled waters and when there were suggestions from members of the Opposition that the State should sell our transport service and that it should be taken over by private initiative. [Interjections.] The hon. member does not want to hear of it, but pleas were put forward that the transport service should pass into the hands of private initiative.
But we cannot just live in the past and content ourselves with the past achievements of the Railways. Our transport service also has an enormous function to perform in the future. At the moment we already have just less than 14,000 miles of open lines, 17 per cent already have been electrified and large sections have been doubled. We know that railway construction is taking place at a very high cost. It costs approximately R100,000 per mile to construct a single line according to class 1 standards under average circumstances, while the cost of double lines is approximately R160,000 per mile. It costs about R24,000 per mile to electrify a single line. It is clear therefore that it involves huge expenditure. But I repeat that our transport system has a great function to perform in the future and we have to keep pace with the demands which are going to be made upon our transport services in the future. We have the normal expansion of this country, a country with long distances. Agricultural products are produced throughout the whole of the Republic; our minerals and our mines are spread over the whole country; they are not centralized at one point. In terms of the relevant section of the Constitution, under which the Railways were instituted, this service must be provided for the development of the country even if it entails these high costs. We know that it cannot be done at a profit but that it must be done to provide the necessary transport. It will also be necessary in the future therefore to build new railway lines and to modernize existing lines. We are glad therefore that the Minister has announced that an inquiry is to be instituted into the question of electrifying certain lines. This is how our transport services keep pace with the demands made upon them, but we know that ever-increasing demands will be made upon them in the future.
May I on this occasion, on behalf of the agricultural industry, say a word of hanks to the Minister and to our transport service for the rapid transport of our products. We know that at the moment we are saddled with surpluses in many commodities and that those surpluses have to be transported quickly for export purposes, and we can only express our appreciation of the way in which the Railways are tackling this task.
There is another matter that I want to bring to the notice of the Minister and that is the function and the task of our transport services in times of crises. Here I am thinking particularly of military crises which may arise. We have duly noted what the hon. the Minister of Defence said on his policy motion in the Other Place a few days ago, and we know how sensitive the transport system can be in times of military crises or war. That is why our transport service, which also constitutes our lines of communication, must be equipped in such a way that it will be safe, that it can be utilized safely and that it can be adapted to meet our needs in these difficult times and circumstances. I repeat therefore that it is a disservice and an unforgivable sin to stir up grievances and dissatisfaction, as the Opposition has done in this debate, in the minds of the staff who are responsible for the smooth functioning of our transport service. It is our joint property; it has a very great function to perform in the future and it has to contribute a very great deal to our internal security in times of crises. That is why, unlike the hon. member for Drakensberg (Mrs. S. M. van Niekerk) and others, we do not seek to make petty political capital out of this great and fine organization; we prefer to try to make our contribution to place it on a higher level, and in this respect it does not concern me what the railwayman’s political affiliations are. What we ask of him and what the Republic of South Africa demands of him is absolute loyalty to the Republic at all times but particularly in times of military crises that we may experience.
Then there is a matter that I have to settle with the hon. member for Orange Grove. We in this House have a fine code of conduct that we have to follow and that you, Sir, in your position as Speaker, have to maintain. Apparently, however, there is no code of credibility that we have to maintain here. Two days ago I was obliged, at the request of Mr. Speaker, to withdraw an accusation which I had made against the hon. member for Orange Grove. The hon. member began his speech in this debate by making an accusation. He said that last year the hon. member for Uitenhage had commenced his speech by launching an attack upon the artisans of our transport service, and he said that this year the hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) had done so. I then made an unparliamentary remark by saying to him that he was telling a deliberate lie. I was then asked, quite correctly, to withdraw it and I withdrew that statement simply because it was unparliamentary. I have now taken the trouble of reading the speech made by the hon. member last year; I have taken the trouble to get from Hansard the relevant extract from the speech of the hon. member for Bloemfontein (East), and I deny once and for all that either of these two hon. members made an attack on the artisans in the transport service, either last year or this year. But I want to quote now what the hon. member for Orange Grove said last year (Hansard, Vol. 107. col. 3047)—
This allegation and this blot upon the staff at the Maquassi Station in the constituency which I represent, I fling back in the teeth of the hon. member for Orange Grove with all the contempt it deserves. It is an infamous lie; the statement made here by him is false. I have taken the trouble to institute the necessary investigations and I deny this accusation and this allegation of the hon. member for Orange Grove.
On a point of order, the hon. member quoted here what another hon. member said and he then added, “It is an infamous lie.” Surely that is not parliamentary language.
The hon. member may proceed.
I say, for the information of the hon. member for Germiston (District) (Mr. Tucker) for whom I have very great respect, and I know that he also has respect for the truth—that this statement casts undeserved blame on railway servants in my constituency. I contend that this statement is unsupported by facts, that there are no grounds for it, that it is simply street gossip. That is how we have come to know the hon. member for Orange Grove, who unfortunately is not in the House at the moment; we have learnt that is where he ferrets out his arguments. I am sorry to have to use this language but apparently it is the only language that the hon. member understands. I want in this House to absolve those staff members, who have a proud record, from all blame and say to the hon. member for Orange Grove that since we have a certain code of conduct to observe in this House, he would be well advised in future to show a little more respect for the truth. I do not accept his statement, and although I was prepared yesterday at the request of Mr. Speaker to withdraw an accusation which I had made against him, I hope that he will be magnanimous enough on this occasion to stand up in this debate and to offer his apologies to those staff members at Maquassi Station for the untruth that he told in this House.
If I had one regret to express about this debate, it would be that the executive representatives of the seven major trade unions of railway servants could not be present in this House during the course of this debate. Sir, so far 11 members on the Government’s side, including the last speaker, have taken part in this debate, and if I had to describe them I would say that they have given us a pitiful exhibition of bankrupt thinking. If the 11 members who have now participated in the debate could have seen the expression which flitted across the Minister’s face while they were speaking, they would have seen an expression of boredom and they would have seen expressions of pain. It is obvious why these hon. members produced this reaction on the part of the Minister, because they have dutifuly recited the obviously prepared briefs of the General Manager’s report, which each one of them had obviously been allocated to recite in this House. If these hon. members could have seen the Minister’s unfavourable reactions to their speeches, then I think that they will agree with me that if they had any hope of a ministerial recommendation of an extension of the membership of the Railway Board, then they can now forget it, because I am sure that they will not get that recommendation from the hon. the Minister. Let me mention a few other salient facts with regard to the contributions to this debate of hon. members on the Government benches. No effort has been made by Government members either to analyse the White Paper that has been presented to us or to analyse the various reports of the General Manager and the Auditor-General. No, they filled up their allotted time by merely quoting in extenso the figures that the Minister has placed before us in the White Paper and in these other reports. With one possible exception no plea has come in the course of this debate from any Government member for consideration to be given to the conditions of service of the railwaymen.
Their general attitude to the propositions put forward from this side of the House has been, “Why pester the Nationalist Party Government? We have thrown what crumbs we could to the railway servants.” The hon. member for Wolmaransstad (Mr. G. P. van den Berg) says that the railwaymen must be satisfied and even thankful that they are employed in the Railway Administration. Sir, not one constructive proposal has come from any member on the Government benches. No. Sir, I beg your pardon. there was one small exception, and that was the proposal that came from the hon. member for Langlaagte (Mr. P. J. Coetzee). He made a very constructive proposal. The hon. member says that when he travels on the Blue Train to Johannesburg he finds it a little inconvenient to arrive at 2 p.m. and he suggests to the Minister in order that he may have lunch in Johannesburg before he sets about his business in the afternoon, that the Blue Train should arrive two hours earlier—a very constructive proposal.
Do you think you are being funny?
Wherever any reference was made to the staff we had unbridled attacks on staff organizations and their democratically elected executives. That was the sort of thing we had, for example, in the speech from the hon. member for Parow (Mr. S. K. Kotze) who is now running out of the House.
No, I am not running away.
The hon. member for Parow had a lot to say about the artisans when he commenced his speech.
A lot to read.
The hon. member for Parow contended that the requests for pay increases from the artisans was nothing but a political manoeuvre on the part of the artisans’ executives, because the hon. member reasons that because the pay request came before a general election or before this Budget debate, it was nothing but a political manoeuvre on the part of the executive officers of the Artisans’ Staff Association, whom the hon. member alleges were discredited by the mass of members of the Artisans’ Staff Association. The hon. member for Parow should take better notice of what goes on before he speaks in this debate. He ought to know that this request has been made by the artisans over a very long period of time. The hon. member should have taken greater notice of the speech made by the hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) who is the chairman of the transportation group in his party, because the hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) confirmed the stand taken by the executive officers of the Artisans’ Staff Association. Let me quote to the hon. member for Parow what the hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) had to say in the course of his speech. He said this in referring to the Minister—
In other words, the hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) clearly stated, as we have stated on this side of the House, quite contrary to the viewpoint of the hon. member for Parow, that these demands of the Artisans’ Staff Association have been made over a long period of time. As the Minister well knows they have been made since July 1960, and as recently as November of last year the Minister made certain promises to the artisans when they presented their claims for pay increases at their congress. Let me remind the House and the hon. member for Parow that the hon. member for Edenvale (Mr. G. H. van Wyk) who, let me say, in presenting his very well prepared written brief, which the hon. member obviously did not understand, quoted reams of figures to show how financially sound the position of the Railways was to-day and therefore how the Railways should meet the rightful demands of the Artisans’ Staff Association. That was the full implication of the speech of the hon. member for Edenvale.
A stupid chap like you should not make that kind of remark.
Sir, this is understandable coming from the hon. member for Edenvale. We can understand his taking up the attitude that some consideration should be given to the demands of the Artisans’ Staff Association because in the hon. member’s constituency there are many more railway workers than there are in the constituency of the hon. member for Bethlehem (Mr. Knobel) who in the course of this debate described the demands of the railwaymen’s trade union as highly irresponsible and as traitorous acts to a firstclass Minister. The hon. member for Bethlehem was obviously concerned at the growing discontent of the railwaymen. He tried to save the situation by using these words, that we in this House should keep our noses out of these disputes of the railwaymen with the Minister. Like the hon. member for Kroonstad (Mr. J. A. van der Merwe) he attempted to draw a red herring across the trail when matters were getting too warm in this debate by coming back with the old race bogy and alleging that it was the policy of this side of the House to replace the White workers of the Railways with non-White workers. I want to remind the hon. member for Bethlehem that in fact is the policy which the present Minister is following at the present time. Sir, that is the sum total of the contributions made by the 11 members on the Government benches. I repeat that I regret that it has not been possible for the executive members of the workers’ associations of the seven trade unions to be present in the course of this debate to hear the attitude adopted by hon. members opposite when it comes to the vital interest of the men who make the wheels of the railways turn.
I would like to come back for a moment to the pattern of the Budget speech presented by the hon. the Minister. It is quite similar to that of former years, because the hon. the Minister when announcing his surplus has always taken the attitude of claiming a little bit of praise for himself; he has the answer to everything and everything is rosy in the garden as far as the Railways are concerned. I want to admit to the credit of the Minister that this year he has been a little bit more modest. I say “modest” because he has refrained this year from quoting the globular figures that he has been accustomed to quoting in the past six years when he has presented his Budget. But then, Sir, we see little phrases such as these, the position on the Railways can be regarded as reasonably satisfactory, and then we have the old pattern of quoting globular figures in one or two instances over a period of five years. Then we have the statement that reasonable progress has been made, that the additional tonnage this year reflects an increase of only 4 per cent as compared with 7 per cent last year; and then, of course, we have the old gag of coming back, as the hon. members for Edenvale and, I think, Parow did, to quote impressive figures of increases in tractive power and truck loadings and the number of trucks required. But, Sir, what does the Budget not say? There is no mention in the Budget, for example, of the tremendous capital outlay and the consequential increasing interest burden and depreciation charges which now represent such a high percentage of Railway expenditure. According to the latest report of the General Manager, this is an all-time record because to-day it represents no less than 28.91 per cent of the gross expenditure of the Railways. While there is this wonderful percentage of 28.91 per cent representing interest and depreciation charges, there is no mention in the Budget that at the same time there has been a decline of 8.41 per cent in the income of railwaymen in relation to the gross earnings of the Railway Administration, which, when reduced to simple language, simply means that the railwayman’s basic pay has been pegged since 1955 in order to be able to pay his ever-increasing interest burden.
That is nonsense.
There is no mention in this Budget speech of the target aimed at to increase the carrying capacity of the Railway Administration, which target the Minister has not yet reached. Nor is there any mention of the increased expenditure due to the continued increase in the non-revenue-earning traffic carried by the railways, which now stands at the enormous amount of 12,000,000 tons. There is no mention in the Budget speech of that aspect. There is no mention in the Budget speech of the ever-increasing interest burden resulting from a doubling of a capital investment of some R800,000,000 during the period of office of this Minister, with only an increase of 12 per cent in the carrying capacity of the entire railway system. Sir, I want to remind you that when this Minister took office the railways carried all forms of traffic amounting to some 82,000,000 tons per annum, but in the White Paper that the Minister has tabled here, a White Paper which is nothing more than a re-hash of facts and figures in the General Manager’s report, he presents the picture in a most favourable light in this way; revenue-earning traffic is shown as 75,500,000 tons. Sir, when this Minister took office it stood at 63,000,000 tons. During his period of office, therefore, he has spent over R800,000,000 in order that the railways can carry 13,000,000 more tons of payable traffic, with a staff of something like 100,000-odd White employees. Let me say that the chairman of any other large corporation, on the basis of these figures, would have been sacked long ago.
There is no mention in the Budget speech of a statutory fund like the Rates Equalization Fund, which has been bankrupted in the same five-year period to which the hon. the Minister referred. There is no mention of the fact that the net revenue account has been raided on a large scale to meet the shortfall in statutory funds. There has been no mention by any member on the Government benches or by any member of the Railways Committee of the present R48,000,000 shortfall in the Superannuation Fund. Sir, one could go on and on like this. Here again we have had the clever technique of the Minister of cleverly manipulating the figures in order to present a Budget surplus, but he ignores all the other difficulties and all the other facts. No wonder that the hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) gleefully commenced his speech by quoting from three or four leading articles which commented favourably on the surplus presented by the Minister. The plain fact of the matter is that what has been produced as a surplus in this Budget has been produced at the expense of the standard of living of the railwayman. The question I wish to discuss, therefore, is who has saved the day as far as our national transportation system is concerned—the Minister with his policy of spending millions of rand on capital development and with the application of what I call a sweated-labour policy, or the railwaymen and their families, who have kept the wheels of the railways turning and who have received no consideration whatsoever in this Budget? Sir, I would like to remind the Minister of what he said in this House some years ago. He said this—
Sir, I do not think that even the Minister will deny that he is faced with growing staff difficulties to-day. I do not think the Minister will deny that he is faced with possible strike action that may disrupt our entire transportation services, and therefore I think it is imperative, because of the growing public alarm at the possible collapse of our transportation system, that we should have a statement from the hon. the Minister to-day as to what he proposes to do in regard to these justifiable demands of the railway staff assocations, who, in this Budget, and in this debate, have received but scant consideration from Government members, and who have been intimidated, as they were in the speeches made by the hon. members for Parow, Bloemfontein (East) and Bethlehem.
Sir, I call the Minister’s policy a policy of sweated labour. One cannot make a statement like that without some attempt to justify it. I want to remind the House that when the Minister took office this is what he said in speaking about the railwaymen and their work—
When the Minister was challenged on this statement made by him he added—
Sir, this attitude of the Minister has persisted in the years that he has held this portfolio— the attitude of: “I know how to talk to the railwaymen; I know what to do with them when they become difficult. I can handle railwaymen; I was one myself. I can talk straight to them; they take it from me. I can take a tough line; I can handle them.” When the Minister took office, he said that he had the guts to say that. To-day, to use the Minister’s own words, I would like to test the hon. the Minister’s guts. Will the Minister, when he replies to this debate, say that the claims of the railwaymen are justifiable; will he say that the railwaymen of to-day have the right to put a claim to him for an increase in their basic pay; will the Minister stand up to-day and say that their basic pay is sufficient and that he will announce no increase in the course of this Budget debate; that he will refuse to give consideration to the proposal of the Federal Consultative Committee for an overall 5 per cent increase in basic pay? Sir, the Minister is silent now. I do not see the strength of mind and the strength of purpose that the Minister exhibited in this House some six or seven years ago when he said that he was going to take the tough line with the railwaymen. Where is the Minister’s toughness this afternoon? Let me ask the Minister this direct question again: The Federal Consultative Committee will meet a little later in the course of this month. The Minister knows what requests they are going to put forward, and he knows what promises he made to the railwaymen when they last made that request for a 5 per cent increase in their basic pay. Will the Minister refuse to give consideration to the proposal of the Federal Consultative Committee of staff associations for a 5 per cent increase in basic pay? Now, Sir, we do not see any sign of toughness.
You do not expect me to reply by way of interjection to all your nonsense.
The hon. the Minister can say by way of interjection: “Yes, I am prepared to give consideration to it,” or he can say: “No, I am not prepared to give consideration to it.” While the hon. member for Umhlatuzana (Mr. Eaton) was putting the position of the Airways artisans, the Minister had a great deal to say.
I will reply at 4.20 p.m.
May I ask the Minister whether, when the railwaymen come along to put forward this request to their representatives, he is also going to describe their request as “nonsense”?
No, they are more sensible than you are.
You see, Sir, the Minister is not adopting a tough line this afternoon; the guts is not there this afternoon, because the issue has now to be faced and the Minister has not got the guts to face it without consultation with the Cabinet, and his Prime Minister has already told him that he cannot give it. That is the essence of the matter.
Moderate your language.
Sir, I used the words that the Minister used; they are not my words.
Tell us something about the hotel King David.
One cannot help coming to the conclusion that this so-called tough line that was taken with the railwaymen is nothing but a shallow farce, and therefore it seems to justify the resolutions adopted all over the country by the artisans calling for the resignation of the hon. the Minister. All over the country, in all the constituencies represented by hon. members opposite, the artisans are calling upon the Minister to resign.
The Minister’s Budget speech refers to measures introduced to promote staff efficiency and to increase staff productivity. He referred to this in several Budgets in the past; it is nothing new in this Budget. As a result of this staff efficiency, the Minister now comes with a new phrase which we have not seen in the past six years. Let me quote his words—
I want to ask the Minister what index was used upon which the Minister based his calculations. Looking through the General Manager’s report one can find no reference to this index of productivity. There are no comments in the General Manager’s report in regard to these calculations which the Minister says have been made. Sir, I will agree with the Minister to this extent that the productivity of the railway workers has increased, but in the picturesque language of the Minister I would also say that they have had to sweat it out in order to lift this Minister out of his difficulties and to meet the transport requirements of our country. The railwaymen have done this at the cost of sacrificing their living standard, with no just reward. They have done it on the promises of the Minister over the past three years that when the financial position of the Railways improves they will get the increase for which they have asked. The entire pay benefits as listed in this propaganda White Paper tabled by the Minister represent over a period of eight years a 2 per cent increase in pay granted to White and non-White employees on the Railways, and it does not help hon. members at all to come and quote a globular sum of R9,000,000 or R7,000,000. When you relate these figures to the overall earnings of the railwaymen—what they actually take home in their pay packets—then you see that over the period of office of this Minister the railwaymen have in fact had an overall 2 per cent increase only in their pay. This year there are no increases in their pay for the railwaymen in the Budget presented by the Minister. Whether a man is a skilled worker or an unskilled worker or a clerical worker in the Railway Administration to-day, the fact remains that the value of the pay packets that they take home does not compare with the gross pay packets of the majority of workers in other spheres of our national economy, and that is the fact which the Minister cannot get away from, and it is on that ground that the raildwaymen are asking for an overall increase in their basic rate of pay. It is clear that the Minister is going to face increasing demands for an increase in basic pay not only from the Artisans’ Staff Association but also from six other associations. It must be remembered that when the Minister met the Federal Consultative Council some two years ago when they presented their demand for a consolidation of pay, they also at that time asked for a 5 per cent increase in basic pay. The hon. Minister got them to accept consolidation on the ground that for the time being, until consolidation had been settled, they would drop the claim of a 5 per cent increase, and it was on this condition that the staff associations accepted consolidation on the basis presented by the hon. the Minister, and there is a growing feeling to-day, and I say justifiably so, amongst the railwaymen in the country that the Minister has broken faith with them in this regard, and it is this feeling that has led to the demand of the artisans of the Railway Administration that the Minister should resign. It is this feeling that he has broken faith with them that has led to their demands that he should resign.
How did the Minister apply this what I refer to as sweated labour policy? Let me give you two examples, Sir; When the hon. the Minister met the Federal Staff Consultative Committee in June 1960, he then told them that he had abolished some 17,000 posts in the Railway Administration, of which some 3,745 were Whites; in March 1961, in the Budget presented by the hon. the Minister we were again told by the hon. the Minister in that Budget speech that the staff establishment had again been further reduced. Now, Sir, when you look at the General Manager’s Report for this year (page 122), it states there quite clearly that the staff position has deteriorated so that the department was obliged to increase the establishment. Such positions as guards, ticket examiners, shunters and checkers had to be filled. It is clear from this that the hon. the Minister will face demands, apart from these basic increase demands, from the staff associations that the establishment in these various spheres be brought up to the right strength because of the load presently placed on railwaymen to execute their duty satisfactorily in view of the traffic carried by the Administration. Another example of this so-called sweated labour policy that the hon. the Minister is following, to work on the lowest possible minimum and extract the last from the staff: In 1958, the hon. the Minister stated that as far as the clerical position of the Administration was concerned, because of shortages he was now going to resort to the engagement of female staff. But in 1959, precisely one year later, the Minister stated, and the General Manager stated in this report, that there was no longer a shortage of clerical staff, and in consequence he sacked casual staff and pensioners, who were occupied temporarily in those positions. What is the position now? We now have to hear, Sir, that to ease the position in some systems—in ’59 they were sacked because the clerical staff was up to strength—approval has been given for the engagement of female applicants in a casual capacity in the clerical divisions. These statements reveal clearly the application of a policy by the Minister to sweat it out of the clerical graded staff as far as possible, and only when there is a near breakdown in the administrative services, only then does he permit the filling of existing vacancies. Mr. Speaker, one can tell the story in nearly every branch of the railway service. I can give just one other good example: The class of worker falling into the lower grades, represented by Spoorbond; there you have the field of shunters, porters, plate-layers, cloakroom-attendants, that class of worker for whom the hon. member for Germiston (Mr. Cruywagen) made such an eloquent appeal in delivering his maiden speech. This class of worker is not only exploited financially as far as the Railway Administration is concerned, and not only exploited politically as far as the Nationalist Party is concerned, but more, they are being grossly intimidated, because we now find the position in relation to the demands of these workers for better working conditions that they are now being threatened that if they don’t carry out their jobs, if they don’t pull up their socks, the Minister may follow the policy of replacing them by non-White workers.
That is quite untrue.
The Minister says that it is quite untrue, but what then of the speech made by the General Manager of Railways under instructions and with approval of the Minister, where the Spoorbond workers were warned about the position? I do not want to read the whole speech. It is there clear to see. But the whole intent of this speech was that if they do not pull up their socks, their jobs will be handed over to the non-Whites.
If words have any meaning, that is perfectly clear. Why then must such phrases be used as that “the writing is on the wall” when you talk to members of the Spoorbond and with this class of worker? What does the writing on the wall mean?
I think it is scandalous the way you are twisting that speech.
There is no question of a twist. The position is that so bad was the impression created by this speech, made with the full knowledge of the hon. the Minister, that a well-known member of the Spoorbond …
On a point of order, is the hon. the Minister entitled to say that the hon. member is twisting a speech?
The hon. member may proceed.
May I follow up this point of order? The hon. Minister of Transport said that the hon. member for Turffontein was twisting a speech. He was accused of twisting a speech made in this House, not outside.
The hon. Minister should withdraw the word “twisting”.
I am quite prepared to withdraw the word “twist” and say that the hon. member is deliberately misrepresenting a speech made by the General Manager of Railways.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, is the hon. Minister entitled to say that the hon. member is deliberately misrepresenting speech?
Mr. Speaker, in deference to the Chair, I am quite prepared to withdraw that too.
Mr. Speaker, if my interpretation is not right, the important thing is what is the interpretation of the members of Spoorbond, this class of worker who read the speech and listened to the speech, and the impression of these workers I can clearly define. It was put to me by a prominent member of Spoorbond: “Under this policy we are becoming the White Bantu workers of the Railway Administration.” That was the overall impression left.
No, that is the impression made on this class of workers that they are becoming the White Bantu workers of the Railway Administration. Sir, why make a speech of this nature to these people? There is the clearest implication in clear English words that have but one meaning, that if you don’t pull up your socks, if you don’t toe the line as far as the Nationalist Party is concerned, we are going to replace you and fill your jobs with non-Whites. [Interjections.] All the protestations of hon. members will not help them, because it is going to be one of the matters that I have no doubt in my mind, whatsover, will be presented to the Minister when he meets the consultative committee later in this month. And then we will see! But you see, Sir, anything is done to stop the growing pressure of the railway workers of our country in regard to their rightful demands which the Minister promised himself to consider and which to-day he cannot say he will consider and that he will give favourable consideration to these demands. Sir, it is useless for the hon. member for Wolmaransstad (Mr. G. P. van den Berg) to come here and say that because we are prepared to say that the railway workers should get the increase, the justifiable increase in basic rates, of necessity it means an increase in tariffs. That is arrant nonsense! Because an increase in rates of pay is not of necessity dependent on an increase in tariffs.
But, finally, I want to answer one question and that is whether the demand of the railwaymen for an increase in basic pay is justified. I think it is a fair question which one should try and answer. I am not interested in answering this question. in considering this propaganda White Paper that we have had. The figures of the Auditor-General and the figures in the General Manager’s Report are to me of more concern, and on the Minister’s own index of productivity, they are justified. These increases are justified if we take what the Minister terms “the index of productivity”. What the railwayman takes home in his pay-packet is what counts, that is what he looks at. Now the Auditor-General shows quite clearly these figures, irrespective of what is said in the White Paper, that the monthly paid staff of the Railway Administration in the last three years have taken home in their pay-packets at the end of the month only R62,819 more than they took home in 1959. Now that is a fact. If hon. members want to dispute it they must say that the figures in the Auditor-General’s Report are false. But the Auditor-General’s Report clearly indicates that monthly paid workers in the Railway Administration have taken home in their pay-packets only R62,819 more than they got in 1959. If any proof is needed that an increase is justified, it is also to be found in the table of percentages quoted by the General-Manager in the front pages of his report. What do these percentages show us? Let us see how the hon. the Minister to-day can argue himself out of these figures. I put them as simply as I possibly can, so that we can get a straight answer from the hon. the Minister.
Read that speech of the General Manager.
In 1957, some 112,500 railwaymen hauled 75,000,000 tons of goods on the Railways. Therefore, according to the percentages quoted by the General Manager, of the gross revenue through hauling the 75,000,000 tons of goods, the railwaymen got in earnings 55.61 per cent; some six years later, in 1961, with a reduction of staff, 110,500 men on this occasion, they hauled 88,000,000 tons of goods and their earnings on this occasion represented only 47.2 per cent of the gross earnings of the Administration. It is like a little sum in Standard VI, a problem sum that is presented to any Standard VIII pupils, and the conclusion is so easy to arrive at: In other words, these figures mean simply that the railwaymen, in spite of vastly increased efforts, hauling millions of tons of goods more on the Railways, their earnings in relation to the gross earnings of the Railway Administration were 8.41 per cent less in 1961 than in 1957. On the basis of these figures it would appear that their demand for a 5 per cent increase is fully justified. My advice to the railwaymen when they meet the Minister is “don’t be bullied, don’t be over-awed, don’t weaken your case, because you are entitled to the reward of your labours”. The Minister’s answer when he replies to the debate is always “I never get a constructive proposal”. Well, I want to conclude by making one to the hon. the Minister. You see, this Minister is the negotiator between management and staff; he is the negotiator between the Government and staff, and my suggestion, my constructive proposal is that the Minister should drop this dictatorial attitude; he has all the answers as evidenced by his attitude to the member of Umhlatuzana (Mr. Eaton). Therefore I would suggest to the hon. the Minister that he should refer in the Library to “Personnel Management and Industrial Relations”, a very excellent book, and another very excellent publication, “Management of To-morrow”, because that is the function that the Minister fulfils. It describes negotiations between management and labour and between government and labour, and I would like to read a very pertinent passage where it says here … [Time limit.]
May I ask the hon. member whether he will lend me the speech of the General Manager to which he referred so that I can read it? Will he give it to me?
Mr. Speaker, I have sat here wondering why the Whips opposite …
May I put a question to the hon. member?
Not now. I have not even commenced my speech, so why does the hon. member want to put a question? As I said, I sat here wondering why the Whips reserved that hon. member as their last speaker, and it seems to that what he said came as a great surprise to them and that they are bitterly disappointed. He said things which they did not expect. That reminds me of the psychiatrist who tested three madmen. When he made a circle of his thumb and forefinger and asked the first one what it represented, he replied that it represented a tennis-ball. The psychiatrist said, “Quite correct, that is in the right direction”. Then he asked the second one what it represented, and he replied that it represented a golf ball. Then he said, “But it seems to me you are becoming normal”. Then the asked the third one, and he replied, “It is Thursday”. The psychiatrist asked, “Good heavens, how do you arrive at Thursday?” and the madman said, “That is easy, Sir”, and he counted on his fingers and said, “It is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday”. The psychiatrist was astounded at that reply, just as astonished as hon. members were at the unexpected things said by the hon. member for Turffontein. I do not know why they selected him as their last speaker.
We had quite a mixture of criticism here and if I had to analyse it I would say there were three categories. In the first category there was the skilled criticism, and there I want to pay tribute to the hon. members for Jeppes (Dr. Cronje), Port Elizabeth (South) (Mr. Plewman) and Umhlatuzana (Mr. Eaton), who to some extent voiced skilled criticism. The hon. member for Umhlatuzana spoke about pensions and I do not blame him; in my opinion, he to some extent had a leg to stand on and raised a point which could be debated. The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (South) spoke about the capital investment in the Railways and the interest we have to pay on this increased capital investment. The hon. member for Jeppes raised the difficulty in regard to loan funds which were not used. In passing, I just want to say that loan funds asked for but not used by the Railways do not constitute a loss to the Railways. It may cause a little inconvenience to the Treasury, but not to the Railways. So much for the skilled category of criticism. Then we had the second category of criticism; the semi-skilled, and the hon. member for Drakensberg (Mrs. S. M. van Niekerk) was semi-skilled in her criticism. She raised one matter which at least had some substance, namely the housing at Danskraal. But now I can well understand why she becomes so enthusiastic about Danskraal. On one occasion I followed in her wake when she had been doing home visiting, and I did the same, and everywhere I went the railwaymen told me, “But we must believe Mrs. van Niekerk because she says that she is the shadow Minister of Transport in the next United Party Government
But that is a lie.
Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, may the hon. member say that?
Did the hon. member say that?
Yes, Sir, and I withdraw it.
I take it that the plea she made in regard to housing also has some substance in it and can be discussed. But then the hon. member dealt with the artisan staff, and the hon. members for Wynberg (Mr. Russell) and Orange Grove (Mr. E. G. Malan) and finally Turffontein (Mr. Durrant) all discussed this matter. Are they wooing the artisans to that extent? It was unprecedented wooing. And I should not call it wooing, but real vulture politics, to see what advantage they can derive at this moment from the differences between the hon. the Minister and the artisans. The hon. member for Turffontein could not wait until the ink had dried in the report that the dispute between the Minister and the artisans had not been yet solved. I want to ask those hon. members whether they now want to compel us to constitute an Opposition from our own ranks? We shall be compelled to take over the role of the Opposition. We are inevitably being forced into that direction. We heard nothing from them which was worthy of an Opposition. The discussion by the Opposition of the dispute between the Minister and the trade union smacks of unskilled criticism, based on the assumption that they can derive a little political gain from it. I say that it is in the interest of South Africa and of any country that there should be trade unions. I grant any worker or group of workers the right to organize themselves in a trade union, but I say that trade unions in the hands of good leaders, but supported by an irresponsible Opposition, are utterly undesirable, and it does not behove an Opposition which is also responsible for good government to do such things.
Now I want to state a second proposition: Trade unions in the hands of irresponsible leaders (and that can easily happen), supported by an Opposition which, through their failure to realize their responsibility, grasps at every dispute, as was done here, are extremely dangerous. This attempt to make political capital out of this dispute I regard as extremely irresponsible, and I want to ask the Opposition whether it is in the interest of South Africa to act in this way at this period in which our country finds itself, in which the negotiations have not even yet been concluded. Why make such a fuss at this stage and take up the valuable time of the House, so that four speakers used practically all their time in dealing with this matter and in putting up a case which does not even contain all the facts? That is irresponsible behaviour on the part of the Opposition.
But there was a second thing in this debate which I found very reprehensible, and that is the attempt to play off the authorities against the employees. The Opposition should really have a sense of responsibility, which is obvious from their criticism. Nobody begrudges the Opposition the right to criticize, but it should be based on the realization that they are coresponsible for the good government of the country, even though indirectly. Take the attack on the Railway Board. Details were entered into. Why? It was done to disturb the relations between the Administration and the Railway Board, the Minister’s closest advisers. The Railway workers associate themselves with the Administration. This was a deliberate attempt to drive in a wedge at this stage whilst the Minister was negotiating with the trade unions concerned. And just see what he said! There we have the hon. member for Wynberg, and I really cannot understand him. I want to mention a third example, the matter dealt with by the hon. member for Durban (Point) (Mr. Raw) in regard to the purchase of the Viscount aircraft. I do not want to go into the details of the matter, because I think the Minister will reply to it, but the object of raising it at this stage is not to object to the sale of the aircraft or the purchase of aircraft, but to fit in with the whole pattern of propaganda which is being waged against our country. They want to retain intact, as a whole, the whole picture they are creating abroad against our country. This allegation is utterly deplorable. The àrgument of the hon. member for Durban (Point) in connection with the whole matter left a bad taste in our mouths. Why does the hon. member and others opposite not object to the trade Britain has with Communist Russia? Will the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (West) (Mr. Streicher) object to the fact that Red China buys some of our wool? Does he object to that?
You objected when Dr. Moolman defended it.
To say clearly at this particular stage that the Railways entered into a transaction with a communist country is utterly deplorable. I can imagine the headlines in the overseas Press, and that they will more or less be as follows—
I can imagine that, after the hon. member for Durban (Point) has spoken, another headline will read as follows—
Or another headline, with a little description included in it—
You are giving them ideas.
I have a good idea in this connection, because it has often happened already. I can foresee all those headlines. Therefore, I blame the hon. member for Durban (Point) very much indeed, because at this particular stage—and he knows what I mean—he gives this slant to this transaction to throw even more suspicion on South Africa’s position in the eyes of the Western Powers.
Our Railways have given enough proof that they are fulfilling their function as described in Section 103 of our constitution. That section provides that the Railways and Harbours of the Republic should be managed according to business principles, proper consideration being given to the development of agriculture and industry in the Republic and the promotion of agricultural and industrial populations in the interior areas of all the provinces by means of low tariffs. Our Railways have complied with this object. The efficiency and the reasons why the Railways could comply with that object, as described in the constitution, have been proved over and over, and I am not going to waste the time of the House on that. A further fact is that the Railways are making thorough preparations for further industrial and agricultural development, particularly with a view to the development of border industries. For both of these, the development of the agricultural economy and the border industries, the Minister has seen fit to appoint a Commission of Inquiry to report and to make recommendations in regard to the effect of the existing railway tariffs and transport costs on the general economy of the country, and in particular on the geographic siting and development of industries, in regard to the adaptation wherever necessary of the tariffs policy and the method of fixing tariffs with a view to promoting the decentralization of industries in the border areas. That clearly proves that the Minister and the Railway Administration are making investigations, with an eye to the future, to enable the Railways to keep pace with the development of our economy, as they also did in the past. The third consideration is that our whole pattern of transport contains many advantages. We are unique in the world in having our particular type of transport pattern. Nowhere else in the world do railways, air services, road motor services and harbours fall under one Minister. In South Africa this system is achieving good results. If I can reply to the hon. member for Durban (Point), who is now absent, in regard to his plea that we should separate the Airways from the Railways, I would say: No, that will not be in the interest of South Africa, because this mutual support and experience in the financial sphere, the technical sphere and the sphere of publicity and advertising and the sphere of the provision of refreshment services, the exchange of information and knowledge between the Railways, the Airways, the Road Motor Services and our Harbours will make it uneconomic, inadvisable and unproductive if we are going to separate and put into different compartments these four services. I want to prove what I say here. Our Airways was able to maintain this competitive position it holds at the moment only because it had behind it the strong financial support of the Railways. The cost structure of our Airways, Harbours and Road Motor Services was made possible as the result of this exchange of valuable experience at all levels. Hon. members of the Opposition should rather discuss these matters. They should rather analyse these things and see where we have made mistakes in these respects. Our successful harbour development and administration is due to the co-ordination of railway and harbour development in the Republic according to a set plan, and taking into consideration the transport requirements of the country as a whole. The Departmental Commission which went overseas in 1946, and visited Europe and North and South America, found that our harbours compared very favourably with those in the rest of the world. The system by which we keep the accounts of all four of these transport services separate from each other and submit the Estimates of revenue and running and capital expenditure to Parliament separately, although it is included in one big budget, is the most effective system of co-ordination we can devise. Mr. Speaker, efficiency, a low cost structure, savings, the mutual exchange of knowledge have enabled our Railways, under the existing system by which these four services have been constituted, to comply with the requirement imposed on our Railways in the constitution, namely to be run as a purely business undertaking, but still on the basis of business principles to contribute to the development of the country in the economic and agricultural spheres.
The hon. the Minister has submitted a Budget to us of which we can be very proud, it is a record Railway Budget for South Africa. This Budget testifies to the sound economic position of the Railways. It testifies moreover of effective planning. Modernization, electrification are all further forward steps. But the main thing is the cooperation of a hard-working, happy and prosperous Railway organization which was able to keep pace with the ever-increasing demands made on our transport system. It is indeed an achievement. I listened attentively to the criticism which came from the side of the Opposition, it was feeble criticism. Actually we had one popular cry only and that was in connection with the agitation for salary increases for the artisans. The hon. member for Umhlatuzana (Mr. Eaton) also pleaded for salary increases for the artisans and I want to be fair. He suggested that the Tariff Reserve Fund should be utilized for this purpose. I think the hon. member has forgotten that it was only last year that he cried out more or less in despair in this House that there was nothing in the Tariff Reserve Fund. He said: “No benefits for the staff for the next two years. Taking everything together the indications are that for the following few years the railway workers will indeed have a hard time and no further relief is to be expected until such time as the Tariff Reserve Fund has been built up further.” That was what the hon. member said and he cried out: “When will that be?” The hon. the Minister is now reproached for not having granted an increase and for not having utilized the Tariff Reserve Fund for that purpose and that while the Minister is trying to build up that fund by pouring some of the surplus into it.
The hon. member also pleaded for the railway pensioners. In 1959 when, the National Party gave a 10 per cent increase to the pensioners it did so on the recommendation of the actuaries. The actuaries investigated the matter thoroughly. They stated clearly that the fund could not carry an increase of more than 10 per cent without suffering. The actuaries are the people who evaluate the fund. I hope, Mr. Speaker, that the day is not far distant when that fund will be able to afford an increase in pensions. However, I want to pose this question: What is the reason why the railwayman, I mean the retired railwayman, finds himself in such a plight, particularly the pensioners who retired years ago? When we analyse the matter, we find that the main reason why their pensions are so low, is because their salaries were so very low under the United Party Government, when the Opposition was responsible for the government of the country. Had the salaries not been so low their pensions would have been higher. To-day. however, under the National Party regime. salaries have been increased with the result that these people will get a decent pension when they retire. Seeing that we are talking about pensions. I want to give comparative figures to show what the position was in 1948 when we took over from the other side and compare it with the present-day position. Take the average pension of a servant with 30 years’ service. Had he retired in 1948, the cash value he would have received for his pension would have been R956 as against R1,860 today. Let us take the railway worker with 30 years’ service. The cash value of the portion which is converted was R506 in 1948. To-day it is R1,601. That is more than treble. Take the case of a chief clerk with 40 years’ service. Had he retired in 1948 the cash value in his case would have been R2,741, to-day it is R4,530. It is very clear from this, Mr. Speaker, that when the railway worker retires to-day his position will be more than double as good as it would have been had he retired under the United Party regime.
I want to continue. We gave an increase of 10 per cent in 1959. In addition they have received allowances. Those allowances were of great assistance to the people, and I want to plead for those allowances to be added to the pensions because those people are worried that we may perhaps not remain in power forever. They would like to be assured that it will not be taken away from them. They would like to have those allowances consolidated just as the cost of living allowances have been consolidated. I want to make this further plea to the hon. the Minister that in the case of a man who does an extra little job to augment his income, he should be allowed to do so without having his allowance affected.
I wish to deal with the speech made by the hon. member for Drakensberg (Mrs. S. M. van Niekerk). She practically had tears in her eyes when she pleaded for the railway workers because she maintained that they had not received any increases since 1955. When she was interrupted she qualified that statement and said that the railwayman did not get more money to take home. By way of further questions and interjections reference has also been made to the non-pensionable allowances. She admitted that but said that had not increased the basic wage. I want to deal with that for a moment. The hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) (Mr. van Rensburg) alleged that there had been increases in 1951, 1955, 1956, 1958 and again in 1961. I want to mention those increases briefly. In April 1948 the wage was 3s. 6d. per hour; in 1951 it was increased to 4s. per hour; in 1955 it was increased to 4s. 4¼d. per hour; in 1956 it was increased to 4s. 10½d. per hour. In 1958 the non-pensionable allowance of R10 was added—jocularly referred to as the National Party allowance. That has now been consolidated and it forms part of the basic salary. To this must be added the additional R3,000,000 which came out of the coffers of the Railways to effect the adjustment. We had consolidation in 1961 which involved the Railways in additional expenditure of R13,000,000. What are the wage figures in respect of the railwayman? In April 1948 the railwayman received a monthly salary of R101.44. To day he receives R161.38. If we take it annually he earned R1,215 per annum at that time and to-day he earns R1.936—an increase of over 50 per cent, which the hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) alleged and which was denied. Mr. Speaker, it is essential that we mention these things. There is another point. I have mentioned the increases, but what is so easily overlooked is the fact that last year’s consolidation cost the Railways an additional R13,000,000 million. It was consolidated and is regarded as basic salary to-day. The adjustment cost an additional R3,000,000. The nonpensionable allowance of R10 per month has been added to the basic wage. Had consolidation not been regarded as a basic wage increase at that time, this R10 means that it is indeed an increase to-day, over and above the R3,000,000 which the Government had to contribute in order to pay the increased pension contributions. I want to add that the cost of living allowances and the non-pensionable allowances were not regarded as permanent allowances. They could have disappeared. When we look at the people opposite we remember that in 1922, within the space of one year, they took away the entire cost of living allowance. The National Party Government has not take it away. In the first place they consolidated the cost of living allowances and this non-pensionable allowance has also been consolidated to-day. I merely want to mention that this is greatly appreciated by the railwayman.
In general hon. members opposite were very concerned about the 22,000 artisans. But what about the remaining 78,000 workers on the Railways? I myself should very much like to see a bonus system. I trust the hon. the Minister will see his way clear to introduce a bonus system for the shunters, the engine drivers and conductors in respect of an accident-free year. Mr. Speaker, My time is too limited to enlarge on this but I want to mention this briefly to the Minister without detracting in any way from the general increase when funds permit it.
The hon. member for Drakensberg also had a great deal to say about housing and her complaint was that the people could purchase those houses. The hon. member has her own reasons but I want to tell her that had she been in closer touch than she is with the railwaymen who have for years looked forward to the day when they will own their own home, if she were to see how proud and grateful those people are to own their own homes, how beautiful they keep their gardens and lawns, how proud they are of being master in their own homes, homes where they can live happily with their own families in a good residential area—the pride of the railwaymen …
On the conclusion of the period of 13 hours, allotted for the motion to go into Committee of Supply, the business under consideration was interrupted by Mr. Speaker in accordance with Standing Order No. 105 (2).
The approach of the Opposition to this Budget debate can best be described in the following words—
Of shoes and ships and sealing wax,
Of cabbages and kings
And why the sea is boiling hot
And whether pigs have wings.”
It is supposed to be a Budget debate, Sir, but I think only three members on the side of the Opposition made an attempt to deal with the Budget. For the rest we heard about the claims of the Artisan Staff Association for many weary hours. As a matter of fact, I was wondering what they would have done to fill in the time had the differences between the Artisan Staff Association and myself not arisen.
Hon. members used their imagination in raising imaginary grievances very often; some of them made allegations which, to say the least, were completely untrue. I had to listen once again to the most puerile arguments that I think one can hear in any debate in this House.
I first want to deal with the amendment moved by the hon. member for Wynberg (Mr. Russell). Paragraph (a) of the amendment reads—
That is the usual type of amendment, Mr. Speaker. Hon. members of the Opposition, of course, have no responsibility. They are not responsible to balance the budget of the Railways. They can, of course, as an Opposition without any sense of responsibility make the most outrageous demands and always, Sir, with the objective of endeavouring to gain the support of a section of the railwaymen. Paragraph (b) of their amendment reads—
What did they produce in support of this amendment, Sir? Only the composition of the Railway Board. Apparently because certain politicians have been appointed as members of the Railway Board they felt justified in stating in their amendment that the Railway administration and management should be placed on a business basis distinct from a political basis. Nothing else. But what they did do was, instead of pleading that the Railways should be placed on a business basis, to do just the reverse. One member pleaded that the Rates Equalization Fund must be used for granting benefits which would result in recurrent expenditure. Another member opposite said that the Rates Equalization Fund should be built up to R60,000,000. Hon. members demanded increased pensions, higher wages and salaries. They demanded that the R6,000,000 which was allocated from the Loan Fund to the Betterment Fund should be repaid. They demanded that debit balance in the Higher Cost section of the Renewal Fund should be wiped out. But at the same time they said that we must not increase rates and tariffs. I must wave the magic wand to get these additional millions of rands of revenue without raising any rates and tariffs. As a matter of fact, the hon. member for Turffontein (Mr. Durrant), in reply to an interjection, said that all these millions of rands of expenditure could be embarked upon without raising rates and tariffs. I do not know whether he also regards himself as a businessman. I can only say that what they did suggest as to how these millions of rand of expenditure should be met was to use the amount which was granted to the Commissioners as an increase, amounting to R1,800 per annum. The hon. member for Wynberg (Mr. Russell) is a businessman. If this is how he runs his business I think he would have been insolvent years ago. I come to part (c) of the amendment—
But not a single member said a word about this part of the amendment. [Interjections.] No, he did not, he never discussed the negotiating machinery at all. He made certain references to the differences between the Airways staff and the Artisan Staff Association but nothing was said about the negotiating machinery of the Railways Administration. Why on earth put something like that in an amendment when they know nothing about it, when they have no information about it and when they cannot say anything about it? They did so merely as an eye-wash.
I think many members on this side of the House will agree with me that this debate is becoming a farce. I think we should really shorten the time by 50 per cent at least. We will probably get more intelligent speeches from the other side and they will at least know their briefs when they come to this House to take part in this debate. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, the Opposition is responsible for making this debate into the type of debate you would expect to find at a third-rate debating society. I can aptly apply the words of Montesquieu to them—
The hon. member for Wynberg fortunately withdrew a very offensive remark which he made in the course of his speech when he described the appointment of Mr. de Villiers to the Railway Board as “a sordid politicial manoeuvre”. I was going to describe the actions of the Opposition, in exploiting the grievances of a section of the staff, for political gain as sordid but I will not do so now. I will say instead that the actions of the Opposition have been deplorable in exploiting the grievances of a section of the staff for political gain. These hon. gentlemen are prepared to go to any lengths to scrounge a little political support. Mr. Speaker, they are not concerned about the welfare of this huge organization; they are not concerned about the welfare of South Africa; they are only concerned about the petty political advantages that they can gain by exploiting this type of grievance. These hon. gentlemen have deliberately created the impression in the course of this debate that practically nothing has been done for the Railway staff during the past seven years. And they do that, Sir, when they have the White Paper before them setting out the concessions which have been made and the benefits which have been conferred upon the Railway staff. What are the facts? I only hope that the Press, especially the Opposition Press, who has given great prominence to the artisans’ case, will in fairness also report what I am about to say. Each year since 1954, when I became Minister of Transport, concessions in regard to wages and working conditions have been made to the whole or to sections of the staff. Together with the concessions that I propose in this Budget, namely, the consolidation of the non-pensionable allowance with the basic wage, a total amount of approximately R47,000,000, which is recurrent expenditure, has been made. An average of approximately R7,000,000 per annum has been made in concessions to the staff since 1954. In regard to departmental housing, in these seven years a total amount of R48,000,000 has been spent. In other words, the total concessions made to the Railway staff in seven years amounts to R95,000,000. In addition to that, I gave the staff a widows’ pension fund which they never had before. I gave them improved pensions. I raised the means test for pensioners, costing almost R6,000,000 per annum. I spent R3,000,000 improving ablution and mess facilities. I introduced a new house ownership scheme that they never had before. As the result of consolidation last year, some of the graded staff’s pensions will be increased by as much as 40 per cent. I think I can say without any fear of contradiction that more has been spent on staff improvements during the past seven years than in any comparable period in the history of the Railways.
But in spite of this impressive record the Opposition deliberately attempts to create the impression that practically nothing was done for the railwayman. The Opposition took great delight in the calls made upon me by a section of the artisan staff at certain meetings to resign. I want to state categorically that I have the full confidence and support of the overwhelming majority of railwaymen. There are seven staff organizations representing more than 100,000 White workers. Six of these staff organizations have, a little more than a week ago, expressed their full confidence in me and their sincere appreciation and gratitude for what I have done for the railwaymen during my seven years of office. From reports that I am receiving it appears that there are numerous members of the Artisan Staff Association who also have full confidence in me and who dissociate themselves with the resolutions adopted at certain meetings. Of the more than R100,000,000 which has been spent on improving wages and conditions and to provide houses and other benefits, the members of the Artisan Staff Association have received their full share. But, unfortunately, whilst the overwhelming majority of railwaymen and all the other staff associations are grateful and appreciative, the Artisan Staff Association apparently has no gratitude or appreciation. For several years all the staff organizations placed consolidation of the cost-of-living allowances and the non-pensionable allowances with basic wages as Priority No. 1. At the end of 1960 the Artisan Staff Association submitted certain demands to me, of which the most important was the consolidation of only £57 of the £300 cost-of-living allowance for married servants, plus 9d. per hour increase in wages. I stated at the time that I could only consider that matter at the end of that financial year when I had more or less an indication of what the ensuing year would hold in regard to finances. In February of last year I decided to consolidate the cost-of-living allowance with wages and that the Administration would bear the increased pension contributions which the staff had to pay, and I decided to consolidate not £57 but the whole of the cost-of-living allowance. In other words, I did more than I was asked for by the Artisan Staff Association.
You mean 57 per cent?
£57, not 57 per cent. This in effect meant that consolidation was granted in addition to an increase in wages and salaries. At that time I gave an undertaking to all the staff organizations that I would consider consolidating the non-pensionable allowances with basic wages at the end of this financial year if finances permitted. Mr. Speaker, in spite of the fact that finances do not permit of consolidation, in spite of the fact that I budgeted for an estimated surplus of only R500,000 at the end of the next financial year, I was and am still prepared to consolidate, which will result in a deficit of over R3,000,000.
How will the deficit be recovered?
I hope our economy will improve to the extent that it will be covered by increased revenue, but if that does not happen the rates equalization fund will have to cover it. [Interjection.] No, that is not recurrent every year. The hon. member raised quite a different point.
On 14 November last year the Artisan Staff Association had their annual meeting with me and stated that wage demands should receive priority over consolidation. I informed them that if I had to concede to their demands it would cost approximately R2.7 million and I could not consider that until towards the end of the financial year, when I had more or less an indication of the probable financial position for 1962-3. When the time arrived in February I had to take into consideration three things, whether I could decide to consolidate, which would benefit all the staff and which the majority of staff organizations wanted, whether I had to give concessions to only one group of the staff which would cost R2.7 million, or whether I could do both, which would cost between R6,000,000 and R7,000,000 and which would inevitably result in a substantial raise in rates and tariffs. I was quite convinced at the time, and I am now, that raising rates and tariffs at this stage would be detrimental to our economy. If any set-back takes place in our economy, the Railways woud be the first to suffer. Now, when confidence is being restored in South Africa, when the tempo of industrial development is again increasing and we are doing everything in our power to attract overseas industrialists to invest in South Africa, I think it would be wrong and would not be in the interests of South Africa to make a substantial increase in rates and tariffs at this stage, and that is why I decided against it. There was only one alternative left and that was to benefit the whole of the staff instead of only one section of it, and that is why I decided on consolidation.
I said earlier in my remarks that hon. members have been pleading for increases, for more expenditure, but not one of them has had the courage to stand up in this House and say: We also want an increase in rates and tariffs so that you can meet that expenditure. After all, Sir, there is such a thing as political honesty and I think hon. members should observe it and they should at least have the courage that where they demand increased expenditure running into millions of rand, they do not want any economy because they say the staff will suffer, and they agree that the efficiency of the Railways is at a very high standard to-day, not one of them has the courage to stand up to demand an increase in rates and tariffs so that the demands of the staff can be met.
That is not true.
It is true. The hon. member for Turffontein (Mr. Durrant) was very anxious to disclaim any desire on the part of the Opposition for an increase in rates and tariffs.
Is that the only way?
The hon. member knows so little about the running or the financial part of the Railways that he wants to use his imagination to increase the revenue of the Railways, and that is quite impossible. Yes, that is the only way.
I want to emphasize that I am not only as Minister of Transport responsible for the artisan staff; I am responsible for all railwaymen. The Artisan Staff Association, or some of their members, have, hon. members are only too ready to say, made sacrifices during the economy campaign. My reply to that is that there are other groups of the staff who have made even greater sacrifices. There are thousands of workers who are in receipt of much lower wages than the members of the Artisan Staff Association. Except for one speech on that side, I have not heard the Opposition putting up a fight for them, as they do for the A.S.A. My policy has been, and will be in future, to improve wages and working conditions for all members of the staff when finances permit.
I said earlier in my remarks that it is deplorable that the members of the Opposition are so ready to exploit the grievances for political gain. I want to give another example, to show that they are only concerned about one thing, not so much the welfare of the railwayman but to see what political support they can get. Of course, there is a party outside fighting them. They know they cannot get the railwaymen to change their political allegiance from this party to theirs, but they are afraid of losing the allegiance of those railwaymen who support them and that they will go over to the Progressive Party. I can give another indication. There was a Go Slow strike in the Airways during the week-end. Now one would have thought that the Opposition would have taken the opportunity to discuss this matter, because after all it is a serious matter. That Go Slow strike disrupted certain of our services. But what happened? The hon. member for Umhlatuzana (Mr. Eaton) mentioned it, but he was quite non-committal. Not a single other member mentioned that strike again, and do you know why, Sir? They were afraid to adopt a standpoint. The hon. member for Umhlatuzana was dancing on eggs while he spoke. He is afraid of stating that he supports the standpoint of the Artisan Staff Association, or that he supports the Airways artisans. He is afraid and is jumping on eggs, afraid that they might lose some support from one of the organizations if they adopt a standpoint.
I said both have a common problem.
By way of interjection, I asked him two or three times what he would suggest and the most he could suggest was the appointment of a commission. He knows precisely what the differences are between those two organizations, but he is afraid, and so is his whole party, of adopting a certain standpoint for either one side or the other, because they are afraid of losing support. They are only concerned about support, and not about the rights or wrongs of the matter.
There have been numerous matters raised by members of the Opposition which can be much better dealt with in Committee. I am not going to take up the time of the House in replying to them now. I want to confine myself to dealing with certain matters which, if not replied to. might leave the House and the country under a wrong impression. The first is the Railway Board. I think the hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) (Mr. van Rensburg)— and I want to congratulate him on his first speech as chairman of the Select Committee— dealt so effectively with the charges made by the hon. member for Wynberg that there is very little left for me to reply to. That is in regard to the so-called political appointments, but I think I shoud deal with the increases granted to the Railway Board last year, and not this year. The increases were granted last year, but they could not be voted last year because the Additional Estimates had already gone through the House, and consequently the House have to vote those increases this year. Now, since 1910 for many years the Railway Commissioners were remunerated at a higher rate than heads of departments, including the Chairman of the Public Service Commission. The Railways Commissioners were remunerated in 1924 higher than the Chairman of the Board of Trade and Industries. In 1928 the Wage Board was established and its Chairman was appointd at a salary of R4,500, which was reduced to R3,000 in 1937. The Railway Commissioners were from 1910 remunerated at R4,000. The salary of the Chairman of the P.S.C. was increased to R4,000 during 1936, and those of heads of departments to R3,600 in 1938. In other words, after 26 years the Chairman of the P.S.C. came level with the members of the Railway Board. With the exception of the Railway Commissioners, all these officers were all awarded a cost-of-living allowance in 1941, which was increased from time to time until it was consolidated with their basic salaries on 1 October 1958. On 1 January 1956, the status quo which had existed from 1910 to 1936 between the position of the Railway Commissioners and the Chairman of the P.S.C. was restored, when the remuneration of the Railway Commissioners was increased to R4,800. In other words, the first increase the Railway Commissioners received was in 1946, 36 years after Union. The Chairman of the P.S.C. received a raise to R4,600 in 1947, with his cost-of-living allowance which, as I have stated, was not paid to the Railway Commissioners. During 1950 the Chairman of the P.S.C. went further ahead when his salary was increased to R5,000 and his cost-of-living allowance to R512, making a total of R5,512. At the same time the salaries of members of the P.S.C. were increased to R4,600 and their cost-of-living allowance to R512, making a total of R5,112, so that even their income exceeded that of the Railway Commissioners. Heads of State Departments at the time were earning a total of R4,712 per annum. With the partial consolidation of the cost-of-living allowances of civil servants on 1 October 1953, the position was as follows. The Railway Commissioners were receiving R5,300, the Chairman of the P.S.C. R6,268, members of the P.S.C., heads of departments, the Chairman of the Board of Trade and the Chairman of the Wage Board, R5,868. The Deputy Chairman of the Board of Trade received R5,267. On 1 April 1955, the remuneration of the Railway Commissioners was increased to R6,000, but they soon again fell in arrear, because in 1958, after full consolidation had taken place, salaries were adjusted and the Chairman of the P.S.C. received R7,200, members of the P.S.C. R6,800, the Secretary for Finance R7,200, other heads of departments R6,800, the Chairman of the Board of Trade R7,200, the Deputy Chairman of the Board of Trade R6,400, and the Chairman of the Wage Board R6,800. Since April 1961, the remuneration of the Railway Commissioners was R6,800, which is still R400 less than the Chairman of the P.S.C. and on a par with the salaries of the other officers who over the years were paid less than the Railway Commissioners. Now those are the facts.
With regard to these privileges, some of these privileges have been enjoyed by the Railway Commissioners for the last 50 years. The gold pass was granted to them in 1910, I think. The £200 entertainment allowance—heads of departments receive from R200 to R400 per annum entertainment alowance and expenses of R3.50 a day during the Parliamentary Session. Civil servants receive R3.50 a day, which is being increased to R5 per day from 1 January 1962. They receive their travelling expenses and railway concessions. They have the right to have conveyance for their families between Pretoria and Cape Town. They receive 38 days’ leave per annum. They receive Civil Service pensions, whilst the Railway Commissioners receive a gratuity representing seven per cent of their annual salary at the date of vacating the position for each completed year of service.
I must deprecate the fact that hon. members have endeavoured to exploit the well-deserved increase of the Railway Commissioners. I am surprised that the hon. member for Wynberg lent himself to that. If he had only inquired into the matter he would have seen that this increase was perfectly justified, that where the Railway Commissioners were for decades ahead of other public servants I have mentioned they lagged behind for years, and even now they are still behind. The work of the Commissioners has increased considerably over the years. Despite the fact that they do not have executive functions, except that they are the last board of appeal, their functions have increased. Their work has increased over the years with the expansion of the Railways. I am surprised that the hon. member for Wynberg used so much of his time in condemning this increase granted to members of the Railway Board. But the purpose was to try to play off this increase against the demands made by the Artisan Staff Association. In other words, Rl,800 per annum granted to the Railway Board is such a huge increase that it justifies the demand of R2.7 million by the artisans!
I now want to deal with the few criticisms that have been made of the Budget. The hon. members for Port Elizabeth (South) (Mr. Plewman) and Wynberg referred to the fact that the actual surplus for 1960-1 amounted to R23.6 million, compared with the figure of R19,000,000 anticipated when I placed my Bulget before the House last year on 8 March 1961. The hon. member for Port Elizabeth (South) suggested that there was an error of 17 per cent over the remaining 20-odd days of the financial year. They based all their criticism on this so-called bad estimating of revenue and expenditure. I must say that this is a surprising statement to come from a former Controller and Auditor-General, as he should know something about the accounting processes involved in bringing to account the thousands of revenue and expenditure items involved in the activities of the Administration. That is why I am so surprised that he should make a statement such as that when he should know better. Whilst we are endeavouring, with the aid of electronic equipment which was taken into service last year and is due for delivery this year, to expedite our accounting work, I take it that the hon. member does not seriously suggest that in delivering my Budget speech on 8 March 1961, I was aware of the actual results up to and including 7 March 1961. Many substantially smaller undertakings than the Railways are nowhere near such a Utopian state of affairs. I can tell the hon. member that when the Budget speech was presented we had actual figures for the first nine months of 1960-1 financial year. The revenue from all services over the last three months amounted to over R105,000,000 and expenditure to nearly R101,000,000. Actual revenue proved to be R2.2 million more than estimated, or only 2.1 per cent above the estimates for the last three months of the year. Expenditure was down by R1.7 million, equal to 1.7 per cent of the expenditure over the last three months. To anyone who knows anything about forecasting, this is by no means an unreasonable margin of variation. Revenue must always be conservatively estimated, especially in an undertaking like the South African Railways, which earns on all services well over R1,000,000 a day and whose traffic is subject to many influences which can quickly affect the earning capacity. Similarly, it reveals no defects in actual expenditure estimates to vary by such a relatively small amount from the estimate. Some allowance must be made for possible contingencies as the Select Committee frowns upon unauthorized expenditure. Incidentally, unauthorized expenditure for 1960-1 was a particularly low figure, only R31,924, which is a great improvement on the figures of millions of rand which applied during the time the United Party was in power. This is an unmistakable indication that our present financial control is far superior to the conditions that obtained prior to 1948.
In regard to the Betterment Fund, the hon. member used practically the same arguments he used last year, and I fully replied to them then. The hon. member says that the R6,000,000 which was appropriated from loan funds must be repaid and I explained why it cannot be done this year. The hon. member for Jeppe (Dr. Cronje) had some difficulty in appreciating why the possibility of a reduction in the working capital appropriation for store stock was not foreseen at the beginning of the 1960-61 financial year. The reason is simple. As the result of the inquiry of the Moffat Committee, an energetic campaign was instituted to reduce stockholdings and to eliminate dormant and obsolete stock. The wide diversity of materials, spares and other stores held by the Administration makes it quite impossible to forecast what the monetary result of this would be. It was only towards the end of the year when a review of the position could be made that a definite reduction could be decided upon.
In regard to loan funds, the hon. members for Port Elizabeth (South) and Jeppes and Wynberg referred to the under-spending of loan funds in 1960-1, as well as in 1961-2. In regard to 1960-1, the figure of R60,000,000 the hon. member takes from the table at the foot of page 47 of the Controller and Auditor-General’s Report for that year, and although I agree that the degrees of under-spending is greater than we could wish, it is not correct to say that the amount of R132,000,000 was under-spent by R60,000,000. Towards the end of that year it became clear that certain loan funds already held by the Administration for the purposes of financing stores stock would not be required, as the result of the steps taken to reduce stockholdings. Obviously it was more advantageous to use the loan funds for other authorized purposes, such as new works in hand, rather than to draw additional interest-bearing capital for this purpose. The amount involved was R9.6 million. In addition, as the House will recall from my Budget speech last year, in view of the surplus achieved in revenue services it was decided that R4,000,000 of the loan funds appropriated in 1959-60 should be redeemed by the appropriation of a similar amount from the 1960-1 surplus. Consequently an amount of R13.6 million was used to finance loan fund expenditure which it was originally anticipated would have to be financed by new loan fund drawings. This position could certainly not have been foreseen at the time my Budget speech for 1960-1 was presented in 1960, in February. The actual spending of loan funds was thus in reality not R60.1 million, but R46.5 million less than originally intended. I do not say that is satisfactory. In fact, I am taking steps to ensure closer control over the physical progress of work in relation to the amounts authorized in the Brown Book. But the hon. member must realize that financial control was introduced only a few years ago, and financial control is still being extended. I submit that this is legitimate criticism. I am not satisfied with that and steps are being taken to improve the position and I trust that we will not have a repition this year. The hon. member wanted reasons for the under-spending. I will give some of the reasons. There is postponement or cancellation of work. This often arises from new factors that come to our notice. Work is held in abeyance. New developments may necessitate such a step pending further investigation. The progress is slower than expected. This can flow, for example, from slower progress in contract work. There may be revision of a scheme resulting in decreased expenditure being required. Although as much as possible is done to avoid this, special circumstances may arise which necessitate that the scheme be revised, with subsequent holding up of the work. There may have been greater progress in the preceding year than expected leaving less to be completed. The estimates have to be drawn well in advance of their submission to Parliament and it is not always practicable to amend them in time to allow for such a changed situation. Work delayed by revision of plans and estimates. Where it is found that revisions of a scheme entail substantially higher cost the matter must be fully investigated from an economic justification aspect. Delays attributable to negotiations with and requirements of other bodies and departments. This is a factor which can seriously delay progress and is one over which the Administration has little, if any control. Delayed deliveries of equipment and material items also means that available funds cannot be absorbed. This is an important factor affecting rolling stock, machinery and road vehicles. It cannot be foreseen with certainty when tenders are invited what delivery periods will be offered and even after placing of contracts factors intervene which delay deliveries.
As I say, I fully agree that the position is unsatisfactory and I can assure the hon. member that attempts are being made to improve matters. The financial control is creating a new organization to see that there is better co-ordination and that pace can be kept with expenditure and the progress of the work.
The hon. member for Wynberg (Mr. Russell) raised the question of guaranteed lines to the Bantu townships. It is quite true that the Treasury, in terms of the guarantee, must reimburse the Administration for all losses sustained in providing rail transport to serve the non-White resettlement areas at Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town. Agreement has only now been reached by my Department with the Treasury on the actual terms of the agreement and it should not be long now before it is finally concluded.
That is after five years.
I agree it has taken some time to settle all the details but the agreement is much more involved than the ordinary guarantee applicable to a new line. The latter type is a comparatively simple matter to provide for and the accounting work entailed in segregating the revenue and expenditure does not offer undue difficulty. With the services to the resettlement areas, however, provision has not only to be made for the new sections of railway line that have been built but also improvements, such as doubling of track, on existing open lines. As these also carry the ordinary passenger and good trains services a satisfactory basis, acceptable to the Treasury and ourselves, has had to be found as regards the revenue and expenditure to be brought to account under the guarantee. In addition, some of the resettlement services operate over existing sections of line where little or no expenditure on improvements has been necessary. A tremendous number of transactions in the shape of tickets, etc., is involved and, in the interests of economy procedures have had to be decided upon which avoid unnecessary detailed workings provided the result is equitable to Treasury and ourselves. In the meantime, Treasury has been making globular payments to the Administration. These have been calculated as carefully as the available information permits. In fact on the basis of the procedures as finally determined we find that whereas by the end of the current financial year Treasury should have paid us R8.6 million we shall actually have received R8,000,000.
There was one other criticism of the Budget and that is in regard to the Higher Replacement Cost Section of the Renewals Fund. The hon. member for Wynberg alleged that this had been abandoned, but that is not so. What is really being done is to place the financing of the higher cost of replacing assets on a much healthier and stable basis. As a member of the Railways and Harbours Select Committee, the hon. member knows that the Higher Replacement Cost account has had to rely on being maintained by appropriations from net revenue, that is to say after it has been determined what surplus of revenue is available after meeting expenditure charges. The result has been that in years when the revenue surplus has not been enough to allow of an appropriation to the Higher Replacement account it has not been credited with sufficient funds to cover the annual needs. The basis we now propose to introduce accepts that provision for higher replacement costs is a definite charge against revenue. It will be raised through the medium of a percentage enhancement of the normal depreciation contributions, and I may add, the percentage figure has been determined by special statistical and financial studies. Records of expenditure incurred in financing higher replacement costs will continue to be kept separately so that if the percentage enhancement does not result in adequate funds being set aside for this purpose remedial action can be taken.
In other words you are going to keep that Higher Replacement Cost account going to use it internally?
It is going to be a separate account as in the past, but what I am not doing is to wipe out the debit balance in that account. The general Renewals Fund is strong enough to carry that debit balance and I am making new provision for the future and a separate account will be kept.
The hon. member for Umhlatuzana (Mr. Eaton) pleaded for increased pensions because the Superannuation Fund is so strong. But the hon. member knows that this Fund belongs to the staff and that it is controlled by the Superannuation Fund committee and that it is based on actuarial valuations and that no expenditure can be embarked upon unless an actuarial report has been received as to the soundness of the Fund. At the present time I am making provision for an appropriation of some R57,000 out of revenue on the recommendation of the actuaries to pay into the Superannuation Fund. So the strength of the Fund has nothing to do with that. The Superannuation Fund can make a recommendation for increased pensions based on an actuarial report. I told the hon. member that last year and I repeat it now.
There is still an R48,000,000 shortfall.
The hon. member for Orange Grove (Mr. E. G. Malan) mentioned quite a few matters here, but there is only one matter worth replying to, and I reply to it only because I know what misrepresentations will again be made outside in connection with this matter. The hon. member asked what would now happen to the Railways in the Bantu homelands. In other words, he would like to create the impression that these railways will be handed over to the Bantu in those homelands. But the reply is that those railways of course remain the property of the Republic.
Although they are in a foreign country?
Mr. Speaker, that shows how little the hon. member thinks for himself. The railway through Bechuanaland up to Vryburg in the area of the Republic belonged to the Rhodesian Railways until two years ago. They therefore had railway property in our Republic—the whole line from the border, from Mafeking to Vryburg —and it is only two years ago that we purchased it and took it over. Why cannot the railways in the Bantu homelands still belong to the Republic?
But they will now become independent.
My reply to the hon. member is this: The Republic of South Africa was independent and Rhodesia had their railways in our territory. The hon. member should now understand the position very clearly so that there can be no misunderstanding and no misrepresentations can be made outside. The railways in the Bantu homelands are and will remain the property of the Republic of South Africa. In regard to the rest of the matters he raised, of course he heard the bell ringing but does not know where the tongue is. The hon. member generally goes around and talks to every available railwayman in order to ascertain whether he does not have a small grievance which he can come and exploit in this House.
Now I want to deal with the hon. member for Durban (Point) (Mr. Raw). The hon. member sent me a note to say that he was committed to be away from Cape Town until Monday. I do not accept that excuse and I take the strongest exception to that hon. member’s absence to-day. The hon. member made false accusations here yesterday; he made false, untrue statements, and by way of innuendo he endeavoured to create suspicion against certain officials of my Department. He knew that I would reply to-day and there was no excuse for him to be away. He should have been here to take his medicine, and if he knew Monday that he would be away he should not have made that speech; he could have waited until Monday when we have the second reading debate on the Appropriation Bill. As I say, I take the strongest exception to his action, but I shall deal in his absence with the matters raised by him. I may say in regard to this hon. member that I think he is the one member of the Opposition who is politically quite unscrupulous. That hon. member would make use of any misstatement …
On a point of order, surely the hon. the Minister is not allowed to call an hon. member politically unscrupulous.
The Afrikaans for “unscrupulous” is “geweteloos” and the term “politiek geweteloos” (politically unscrupulous) has always been allowed in this House.
On a point of order, Sir, are you going to give a ruling on the use of the word “unscrupulous”?
I will consider the point.
The hon. member for Durban (Point) will make use of any misstatement and wrong information in such a way that he can gain a little political advantage. I want to give examples. He says that I have done a great disservice to South Africa because we purchased two Viscounts from Cuba. He said that we would lose the friendship of the United States of America and Britain because we had purchased these aircraft from Cuba. He went on to say that we had paid an exhorbitant price for them; that we were selling two Constellation aircraft to Cuba to assist Castro; that I was hiding the deal and that I did not reply fully to the questions put on the Order Paper. What are the facts? Hon. members on both sides of the House will remember that those are the accusations which the hon. member made the day before yesterday. What are the facts? First of all in regard to his questions, he puts his questions in such a hamhanded and amateurish way that he cannot expect to get information for which he does not ask. But let me deal with his other allegations. What are the facts? Two Viscount aircraft were purchased by the South African Railways Administration from Mon. Perez de Jerez who assured us that the aircraft belonged to a Swiss corporation which he controlled, and we have in our possession a letter to that effect.
Did you believe it?
I repeat that we have a letter from the seller to the effect that these aircraft that we had decided to purchase and in respect of which we entered into an agreement with him, belonged to a Swiss corporation which he controlled. That is the first reply.
What is the name of the corporation?
The two Viscounts are almost brand new. The one has done 700 flying hours and the other 3,500 flying hours. An aircraft which has done 700 flying hours is a brand-new aircraft, and 3,500 flying hours is less than our own Viscounts have done on our internal services. A new Viscount to-day costs R1,150,000, and would probably take 18 months to two years to deliver. We require these Viscounts urgently for our internal services. The two Viscounts we purchased from Perez de Jerez will cost R1,540,000; two new Viscounts will cost R2,300,000. We had four Constellations—we let two to Trek Airways for overseas flights. We cannot use the Constellations on internal services; they are quite uneconomic, and we cannot use them on external services. We are members of I.A.T.O. and we cannot charge lower fares in the Constellation than we charge in the Boeings, and certainly no passenger in his right mind would travel to Europe in a Constellation at the same fare that he would pay to travel in a Boeing. They are uneconomic for both overseas and internal services. We have tried for a considerable time to sell these Constellations but we simply cannot get a buyer in the world market. We had one offer of R20,000 for each Constellation, and that offer was eventually withdrawn. We traded in these two Constellations in a deal for the purchase of the two Viscounts to Perez de Jerez for R180,000, after spending R11,400 to get them into flying order. What Perez is going to do with these Constellations I do not know.
Did the Viscounts come from Cuba?
We insisted on trading in the Constellations; it was not on the initiative of the seller of the Viscounts that we did so, as the hon. member tried to insinuate. He said that we were selling Constellations to Cuba. It was in our interest that Perez took in these Constellations as part-payment for the Viscounts. These aircraft, the Viscounts, belonged to the Cuban Airlines originally; Jerez assured us that he had purchased them from the Cuban Airlines and that they belonged to his corporation. But the hon. member says that because of this deal we are going to lose the friendship of the U.S.A. and Britain. I do not know if that hon. member wants to suggest that Britain has severed all trade relations with Cuba. Britain has not done so.
Did they not refuse to service those Viscounts?
No, we know nothing about servicing of Viscounts. Why would they take Constellations which are also American planes? Where does the hon. member get hold of that information?
It was reported in the papers.
And does the hon. member believe the papers? There was no such report in the papers that was authentic at all. If a report like that appeared in the papers, it was absolutely rubbish; there is no truth in it whatsoever. Somebody who had sucked it out of his thumb evidently gave the newspaper that information.
Do you know that it is untrue?
We have no information and the papers have no information.
How then can you say it is untrue?
I say it is absolute rubbish, but even if that was so what difference does it make? Britain still trades with Cuba and Britain trades with Communist China and with Russia, but now we are told that we would lose the friendship of Britain because we buy two Viscounts that formerly belonged to the Cuban Airlines. What utter rubbish and nonsense. We are told that we would lose the friendship of Britain who trades with Communist China and sells Viscounts to Communist China, because we bought two Viscounts that originally belonged to the Cuban Airlines. What arrant nonsense. And in any case, does this hon. member want South Africa to be bullied by those nations and prevented from buying where we want to buy? I want to go further and say that the Ansett National Airlines of Australia also bought one Viscount. So, according to that hon. member, Australia is going to be in the same difficulty as we area. But, of course, when Australia does so it is perfectly in order. It is only wrong when we do so. The main purpose of that hon. member is to damage South Africa as long as he can gain some political advantage out of it. His main purpose in making those false accusations and in raising the whole matter in the way he did was to harm, to sabotage, his own country. We have come to expect that from many members on the other side. That same hon. member talks about increased inroads in airways of railway mentality. Sir, the South African Airways have been praised by all and sundry. It has been praised for its high standard of service, its high standard of efficiency and its safety. The South African Airways can compare favourably with any international line in any part of the world. The hon. member for Durban (Point) makes derogatory remarks about the South African Airways; he talks about the railway mentality intruding into the South African Airways. But South African Airways have always been run by the Railway Administration since its inception. But why does he talk in this disparaging way about the South African Airways, saying that the railway mentality is intruding into the South African Airways? Because two engineers from the Railways have been transferred to Airways. I wonder, Sir, whether it is because those two engineers have Afrikaans names. That is why the matter is raised here and that is why he talks about the railway mentality intruding into the South African Airways.
That is the way you think.
The hon. member has taken a great interest in Airways, judging by the number of questions he has placed on the Order Paper, and he should know that there is no university in South Africa giving courses in aeronautical engineering, so if you require engineers in the South African Airways you have to get them from the Railways, or you have to get mechanical or electrical engineers from outside. There is not one university in South Africa giving courses in aeronautical engineering. Where must we get them from? He should know that the only way in which we can get them when we require them in the South African Airways is by transferring them from the Railways. As I say, apparently it is because both these engineers have Afrikaans names that this matter was raised here. The hon. member for Durban (Point) stated that because Mr. Scott, who was the chief engineer of the South African Airways, was superseded by this Afrikaansspeaking engineer, Mr. Kok, he resigned from South African Airways. With that he attempted to justify his case. I am going to reply by reading out a letter that I received from Mr. Scott. I do not think he will take any exception to my reading his letter to the House. It is dated 1 February 1962. which is before this debate. He wrote to me as follows—
Which were repeated by that hon. gentleman—
It is my intention to continue to serve the interests of South African Airways and I also hope that I can be of considerable service to South Africa in the aviation field. It is my earnest belief that I can and will do more for my country in my new capacity and I can assure you of the same loyal support in the future, as I have tried to give you in the past.
I think that hon. gentleman owes this House and Mr. Scott an apology. I think it is absolutely shameful the way he dealt with this matter. The hon. gentleman also cast suspicion, directly and indirectly, on the route captain, Captain Rademan. He said that the fleet captain of the internal and regional services was expected to check pilots employed with these services, that he has done very little flying on Viscounts and Skymasters in the internal services, having spent most of his actual time on Boeing aircraft. He went on to say—
Sir, what are the facts? The fleet captain (internal) undertakes the checking of pilots on internal and regional services in conjunction with flying instructors, and in case of doubt as to the proficiency of a pilot the fleet captain conducts a separate check. When available, the fleet captain is also utilized on Boeings. The insinuation of the hon. member that the incumbent of this post is neglecting his true functions is regrettable. Captain Rademan, the officer concerned, is not only one of our most experienced pilots but also a conscientious worker, and I regard the hon. member’s remarks not only as unfortunate but as quite offensive.
The hon. member for Durban (Point) said that there was a railway doctor who interviewed applicants for a probable health post in Airways and then gave it to himself. There is not a word of truth in this. The management and I have inquired into the matter. There was no such post as a health post in Airways; there was no doctor who ever interviewed applicants. That statement is devoid of all truth.
There is one further matter. Just to show hon. members and the public the type of man we are dealing with, the hon. member said in the course of his speech that when an aircraft of Trek Airways crashed in North Africa in 1960, assistance was requested from South African Airways and that such assistance was in the first instance refused. Subsequently, he said, instructions were given from a higher level that a relief aircraft was to be provided to uplift passengers of the crashed machine. He says that first of all the request for assistance was refused and that subsequently instructions were given from a higher level that a relief aircraft was to be provided. Now, what are the facts? South African Airways received the request from Captain Snelder of Trek Airways at 12.45 p.m. on 3 September 1960. I want hon. members to note the times. S.A. Airways received the request at 12.45 p.m. on 3 September 1960 for a relief flight to uplift 60 adults and 3 children. The point of uplift was uncertain. A relief Skymaster of S.A. Airways was ready by 13.25 hours, less than an hour after we had received the request, but was advised that the Airline at that stage was not yet in a position to indicate where the passengers would have to be picked up. It was only at 18.30 hours that Trek could confirm that Cairo would be the destination and they requested that the flight depart by midnight. The flight actually departed at 0.1 hours, at 1 o’clock in the morning, on 4 September, uplifted the passengers at Cairo, departed from there at 7.55 hours on 5 September 1960, arriving in Johannesburg at 7.35 hours on 6 September. At no time was there any refusal to assist and crews were available to leave at short notice. The events were again discussed with officials of Trek Airways who confirmed that S.A. Airways at the time did everything possible to assist them, and they have only gratitude for the assistance that was rendered to them. Sir, can I be blamed by any member of the House for describing that hon. gentleman as being politically quite unscrupulous?
Order! I have had an opportunity of considering this matter now and I think the word “unscrupulous” is unparliamentary.
Very well, Mr. Speaker, in deference to the Chair, I withdraw the word “unscrupulous” and I will say instead then that he is entirely without any political conscience.
That is why he went to Natal.
The hon. member for Pinetown (Mr. Hopewell) wanted to know about Umlazi. The provision of transport facilities to Umlazi township was considered by the parliamentary committee for the conveyance of non-Whites, when it was agreed at that time that the provision of the rail facilities should be held in abeyance until the end of 1962 in order that a clear picture may be obtained of transport requirements. By that date too the rail services would be introduced from Kwa Mashu to Dalbridge. Putco operates a temporary road service from Kwa Mashu to Durban. The Durban Municipality has a limited road service from Peadlands, adjoining Umlazi, to Durban and has applied for an official road certificate. A final decision has not yet been taken in this regard. The position at present is that road transport will cater for all resettled Asiatics from Chatsworth whilst temporary road transport will cater for the Bantu from Umlazi until finality is reached at the end of the year in regard to rail facilities.
*The hon. member for Langlaagte (Mr. P. J. Coetzee) asked for more funds for the home ownership scheme. I give as much money as I possibly can for that purpose, apart from the repayments which come to hand and which are used again. But departmental houses are also made available to the staff. The shortage of garages is gradually being complemented. Every year in the Budget provision is being made for a certain amount for the building of garages. In regard to the running times of the Blue Train, the idea is to go into the matter again after all the improvements to the line have been completed, in order to shorten the running time. The use of diesels between Klerksdorp and Beaufort West: The reply is that there are not enough diesels. We only have the diesels used in South West and about 57 which are at the moment being used on other lines. I agree that it is inconvenient, but if diesels have to be used there special depots will have to be established for maintenance, etc. The expenditure will be out of all proportion, just for the use of one or two diesels on that line.
I want to congratulate the hon. member for Namib (Mr. Cloete) on his maiden speech. He asked that road services in South West Africa should not be curtailed. I can assure him that I am very sympathetic and that I will consider his request.
The hon. member for Simonstown (Mr. Gay) said that the development of harbours was lagging behind. I don’t agree with him. I have said on previous occasions that harbour development must be co-ordinated with railway development. You have got to have adequate rail take off. It is no good developing harbours to an extent that the Railways can’t cope with the traffic. Harbour development, however, is not being neglected. We have spent millions of rands during the last few years on harbour development. We have spent millions of rand in Durban as the hon. member knows. In Port Elizabeth we have built new berths and are providing a bulk ore loading plant which will be completed by the end of this year, in other words, making Port Elizabeth the export harbour for our ores and minerals. There is no neglect there. Port Elizabeth can cope with all the other traffic that is offering. In East London we have widened the turning basin and there is room there for additional berths when they become necessary. Cape Town can cope with all the traffic in the foreseeable future, but in addition to that we are going to build a new oil dock to provide for tankers as a result of the establishment of a new refinery in Cape Town. The hon. member spoke about giant tankers to be accommodated in our harbours. He probably knows that Cape Town can only accommodated 35,000-ton tankers at present, but we intend deepening the approach to the harbour so that the new oil dock can accommodate 65,000-ton tankers. It is quite uneconomic to deepen the other harbours to accommodate these huge tankers. We only receive very few of them and it would be uneconomic to deepen those harbours to the extent that they would be able to take these large tankers. In regard to the mechanized unloading of coal, I said by way of interjection, that matter is still in the experimental stage. They are using hydraulic power to get the coal out of the hold with a flow of water, and then of course the Hangklip is not a suitable type of ship to use that sort of equipment. I do not think that it will be necessary to buy a new collier, because the Hangklip is quite sufficient for the next four or five years for all our needs, for the amount of coal that we still require to be conveyed by sea.
What about the inconvenience to all the other ships in the harbour?
Well, it does not take long with grabs to unload the Hangklip. The hon. member mentioned the fishing harbours. That is a matter for the Department of Economic Affairs. They are responsible for the financing of fishing harbours. A committee was appointed last year to go into the question of building a harbour in Cape Town, in Table Bay. That committee has reported and the report is under consideration now, but the financial responsibility is that of the Department of Commerce and Industries.
*I also want to congratulate the hon. member for Germiston (Mr. Cruywagen) on his maiden speech. He touched on a few important matters. He referred to the possible reduction of staff at Germiston as the result of the electrification of the Union-Volksrust section. I do not believe that there, will be a great reduction in staff, but if perhaps there is a reduction to some extent it will be done very gradually in order to cause as little inconvenience as possible. In regard to research in connection with aviation medicine, I just want to say that as far as I know no airline in any country has its own section for research. We have a railway doctor who concentrates on this aspect of medicine. Then we also receive all the information from other airlines in regard to what is done in this sphere, and it is felt that at this stage it is not justifiable to establish a special section in that regard.
Finally, I just want to say that a tremendous amount of work has been done during recent years to put the S.A. Railways and Harbours and Airways on a very high level of efficiency. The outstanding proof of this is the following: ried 57,000,000 tons with a staff of 234,000. This year it is estimated that the Railways will carry 90.200,000 ton with a staff of 214,000. In other words, 20,000 fewer will transport 15,000,00 more tons. That is proof of increasing efficiency. The S.A. Railways is one of the few, if not the only railway system in the world, which can balance its budget without a State subsidy. I may say that we are trying to achieve an even higher level of efficiency. We are not satisfied with what has already been attained: we are aiming much higher. As hon. members know, the Railways are completely dependent on the traffic offering. We cannot manufacture traffic. If there is economic deterioration, our revenue decreases, but it is almost impossible then to reduce expenditure accordingly, because as a State undertaking we cannot just retrench personel as we like. I do not thing that there will be an economic set-back. I have already said in my speech that confidence in South Africa overseas is fast being restored and unless something unexpected happens the tempo of economic and industrial development will increase steadily. South Africa is economically sound and viable and it has a tremendous potential. Therefore I feel that in spite of the fact that I budgeted for a deficit, we can nevertheless meet the future with confidence and courage. We have so much confidence in South Africa that we know there will only be progress in future and no deterioration.
Question put: That all the words after “That”, proposed to be omitted, stand part of the motion.
Upon which the House divided:
Ayes—90: Badenhorst, F. H.; Bekker, G.
F. H.; Bekker, H. T. van G.; Bezuidenhout, G. P. C.; Bootha, L. J. C.; Botha, H. J.; Botha, M. C.; Botha, P. W.; Botha, S. P.; Cloete, J. H.: Coertze, L. I.; Coetzee, B.; Coetzee, P. J.; Cruywagen, W. A.; De Wet, C.; Dönges, T. E.: Du Plessis, H. R. H.; Faurie, W. H.; Fouché, J. J. (Jr.); Frank, S.; Froneman, G. F. van L.; Greyling, J. C.; Grobler, M. S. F.; Haak, J. F. W.; Heystek, J.; Hiemstra, E. C. A.; Jonker, A. H.; Jurgens, J. C.; Keyter, H. C. A.; Knobel, G. J.; Kotzé, G. P.; Kotzé, S. F.; Labuschagne, J. S.; Le Roux, P. M. K.; Loots, J. J.; Louw, E. H.; Luttig. H. G.; Malan, A. I.; Marais, J. A.; Marais, P. S.; Maree, G. de K.; Maree, W. A.; Martins, H. E.; Mostert, D. J. J.; Mulder, C. P.; Muller, S. L.; Nel, M. D. C. de W.; Niemand, F. J.; Otto, J. C,; Pelser, P. C.; Potgieter, J. E.; Rall, J. J.; Rall, J. W.; Sauer, P. O.; Schlebusch, J. A.; Schoeman, B. J.; Schoonbee, J. F.; Serfontein, J. J.; Smit, H. H.; Stander, A. H.; Steyn, F. S.; Steyn, J. H.; Treurnicht, N. F.; Van den Berg, G. P.; Van den Heever, D. J. G.; Van den Ahee, H. H.; Van der Merwe, J. A.; Van der Spuy, J. P.; Van der Walt, B. J.; Van der Wath, J. G. H.; Van Eeden, F. J.; Van Niekerk, G. L. H.; Van Niekerk, M. C.; Van Nierop, P. J.; Van Rensburg, M. C. G. J.; Van Wyk, G. H.; Van Wyk, H. J.; Van Zyl, J. J. B.; Venter, M. J. de la R.; Venter, W. L. D. M.; Verwoerd, H F,; Viljoen, M.; Visse, J. H.; Von Moltke, J. von S.; Vorster, B. J.; Waring, F. W.; Webster, A.; Wentzel, J. J.
Tellers: D. J. Potgieter and P. S. van der Merwe.
Noes—42: Barnett, C.; Basson, J. A. L.; Bowker, T. B.; Cadman, R. M.; Connan, J. M.; Cronje, F. J. C.; De Kock, H. C.; Dodds, P. R.; Durrant, R. B.; Eaton, N. G.; Emdin, S.; Fisher, E. L.; Gay, L. C.; Gorshel, A.; Graaff, de V.; Hickman, T.; Higgerty, J. W.; Hughes, T. G.; Malan, E. G.; Mitchell, D. E.; Moore, P. A.; Oldfield, G. N.; Plewman, R. P.; Ross, D. G.; Russell, J. H.; Steenkamp, L. S.; Steyn, S. J. M.; Streicher, D. M.; Suzman, H.; Swart, H. G.; Taurog, L. B.; Thompson, J. O. N.; Timoney, H. M.; Tucker, H.; Van der Byl, P.; Van Niekerk, S. M.; Warren, C. M.; Waterson, S. F.; Weiss, U. M.; Wood, L. F.
Tellers: H. J. Bronkhorst and A. Hopewell.
Question affirmed and the amendment dropped.
Motion accordingly agreed to.
House in Committee:
The Committee proceeded to consider the Estimates of expenditure from Revenue Funds.
On Head No. 1.—“General charges”, R7,947,130.
May I claim the privilege of the half-hour? Mr. Chairman, I do not think that the hon. the Minister of Transport has enhanced his reputation to-day. Unfortunately, he was much as we have come to find him in these debates. According to him the Opposition was puerile, foolish, critical, ham-handed, without political conscience, unscrupulous and only out for votes (just after an election, mind you). He quoted Montesquieu as saying “The less men think, the more they talk”. I wonder, Sir, whether one can’t reply with a Chinese philospher’s words—
Sir, we had an hour and 20 minutes of the Minister answering our “nothing”. I am sure that is proof that our criticism was very effective. I regret very much the vitriolic attack which he made on the hon. member for Durban (Point) (Mr. Raw). That gentleman, who was unavoidably absent, will be back here on Monday, and will have a chance of replying to him then. He used unnecessary violence in his attack on my colleague and did no credit either to his own case or to his reputation as a fair debater.
I know that we cannot on this occasion continue the debate on the motion to go into Committee of Supply. We have just finished with that debate, but we will come back to answer the Minister at the second and third reading of the Appropriation Bill, and on that occasion we will be able to reply to his many untrue statements, his many exaggerated arguments, his faulty reasoning …
The hon. member must come back to the Head under discussion.
Yes, Sir, may I call your attention to the fact that Head No. I is called “General Charges”. I propose to make many “General charges” against the Minister on this Head. As you know, Mr. Chairman, it will be impossible for me not to refer to certain things which took place during the debate on the motion to go into Committee of Supply, because the Head, being what it is, deals with ministerial policy with which we also dealt in the previous debate. In so far as I do deal with policy I shall be strictly in order. Now I must say that I am quite unconvinced by the argument which has come from the other side, and from the Minister in defence of the present Railway Board. I therefore move—
Hon. members will know that having moved that amendment, it will of course be incumbent on me to repeat, in this Committee, the same kind of arguments which they may have heard on another occasion. The amendment is intended to remove from the Railway Commissioners the proposed increase the hon. Minister intends to grant them. Sir, the hon. the Minister shoud not remain under the impression that we are convinced by his only halftrue statement that: “Mr. Russell declared it to be a political manoeuvre to put Mr. de Villiers on the Railway Board.” That is only part of the story. My protest was not that this individual was put on the Railway Board. I have great admiration for Mr. de Villiers. He has worked his way right up to the top. He has made admirable progress. He is also a nice man—but, being a politician and a nice man is no qualification for the Railway Board. My complaint is that a political manoeuvre was used to get an English-speaking Minister into the Cabinet. In order to do so a vacancy had to be created in this House; and so Mr. de Villiers was put onto the Board, not for his ability but because he represented the seat of Vasco. He had to make way for somebody else. To do that, Dr. van Abo, who fulfilled a function which we had been told was absolutely essential, and helped to balance the Board, was removed from the Board. Dr. van Abo was removed from the Board and found a shunting place inside the Railway Administration as a consultant engineer. Apparently his services were too valuable to be lost to the Railways. But he had to get off the Board, for political reasons. So they put him into another job. And we witnessed this musical-chair arrangement. That was the political manoeuvre to which I strongly object; not because Mr. de Villiers has been appointed—that is a different matter entirely— but I object to the whole manoeuvre, using the Railway Board for political purposes as distinct from strictly business purposes. I say that Board …
Did you say that it was deliberately done?
I say that it was very deliberately done; of course it was. The Minister in his reply showed that it was purposely done. He said that it was a “happy coincidence” that Dr. van Abo wished to leave the Board, although he was such a valuable man. But Dr. van Abo did not want to retire from Railway work; therefore he was kept on, although he could not be retained on the Board. The Minister told us last year that the Board was, then, perfectly balanced. He suggested that he aimed to have different sections of our economy represented; an engineer like Dr. van Abo was necessary to give technical advice on the construction of lines. Finance and economics should be represented and that is why we had Mr. Botha on the board. The Minister thought (I don’t agree with him) that a man with political experience, like the late member for Boemfontein (District) would be the right man to handle staff matter. So the third member appointed was Mr. du Plessis. Now he himself has been forced to upset the balance of the Board. He knows he has, for political purposes, done something he should not do. Now, he chooses this juncture to increase their basic salary …
I increased it last year. Parliament is only voting the increase now.
The only time that we had cognizance of this increase was just a few weeks ago during the Additional Appropriation Bill. That was the first we knew of it. The hon. the Minister may have increased it last year, but he requires the approval of this House, and this House, even now, has not yet approved of it. He will have to regularize it later in a Finance Bill and get that through. If it were possible that hon. members over there were as convinced as we are convinced that these basic salary rises should not be granted to the Board when you refuse it to the railway workers, this amount would be voted down …
Order! The hon. member must address the Chair.
Sir, I am addressing the Chair. If that were to happen, Sir, the Railway Commissioners would not get their increase. The Minister is quite wrong when he says that we agreed to it last year. We have not even agreed to it yet. That is a very feeble excuse. Mr. Speaker, I take great pleasure in moving this reduction because the hon. the Minister has turned his back so definitely and conclusively on successive attempts which the railwaymen have made to get an increase in their basic wages. In particular he has turned his back on the Artisan Staff Association, the members of which have always given most useful and loyal service to the Railways. Because he has done that, I think this increase is ill-timed, unjust and ill-omened. It may lead to a dislocation in our transport service. Why has he chosen this juncture to refuse to give any increase to the artisans? It has been said that we are dragging in politics by interfering in a Trade Union matter like this. That is not correct. This is not like an ordinary trade dispute. An ordinary trade dispute takes place when there is a difference between the members of a trade union and their management. They have various means of settling such a dispute. They can either go to conciliation or oppose each other and a strike may result. In this case the state is the boss. Where the state is the boss, the matter becomes political. The Minister is the negotiator and if we are dissatisfied with the way the Minister negotiates and if the Trade Unions are not satisfied with the way the Minister is handling the dispute it is quite correct that the shareholders of this vast organization, Members of Parliament, should take an interest in the matter. If we feel that the men are right, we are right to battle for their rights. Whenever we vote Supplies to the Executive, that is the time for us to voice the wrongs and complaints of every Dick, Tom and Harry. The basic idea of submitting Supply votes to the House is that we can refuse to vote Supplies to the Minister until all of the little men have their wrongs righted. In this case we believe that the A.S.A. is right and we back them in their present stand for an increase in basic wages. Now the Minister has suggested that we should interfere in another affair— a trade union dispute between the Airways artisans and the Artisans Staff Association. I regard that as an entirely different kind of matter …
They have threatened to go on a go-slow strike …
We are in Committee, and my time is limited. I can give the Minister time to question me if I take another ten minutes. To me the dispute between the Air Force artisans and the A.S.A. is a distinct trade union matter. That is a dispute within a trade union. It is a private fight and I am not the referee. It is for them to settle their own affairs in conjunction with whoever is the arbitrator in that matter. I do not know all the details of the quarrel nor do I wish to know them. That is something which they can work out themselves. That is why I take sides in one dispute but am not qualified to speak in the other. Mr. Chairman, I have listened in the past, this year and last year, to the Minister’s commendation of the Railway Board. He has told us how they compare in salary with other state officials. He has compared their emoluments with those of the Chairman of the Board of Trade and Industries and the Public Service Commission.
But there is one thing which I think he has not realized and that is that the Railway Board members are paid to perform functions which, at the present moment, they do not perform. They only fulfil part of their many functions. That is why I think the time is ill-chosen to give them this spectacular rise.
That was changed in 1912.
What was changed in 1912?
Their functions; their executive function was taken away in 1912.
Of course, But does the Minister realize what advisory functions they have? I would be surprised if he did …
Do you realize it?
Let me enlighten hon. gentlemen opposite. These are some of their statutory functions. “The Minister shall consult them on general policy of the Railways & Harbours. He shall consult them in connection with any substantial alteration to tariffs, rates, fares and charges on or at the Railways and Harbours. He shall consult them on his estimates of revenue and expenditure.” Did the Minister consult them about their own salary increases?
And they agreed to it, naturally. Does he consult them about “all Bills affecting Railways and Harbours which the Minister proposes to submit to Parliament”?
I am surprised that the Minister can say “yes” with a straight face. Does he consult them in connection with “the expenditure of any sum exceeding £5,000 in respect of any one Railway or Harbour work or service”?
Does he consult them with regard to “the general policy regarding diminution of expenditure”?
Really, how the Minister can say “yes” without blushing, is beyond me. I am surprised at him. There are many other functions, Sir. According to this list in the Act from which I am reading he shall consult them on an infinite variety of subjects before he comes here with his Budget. The Minister knows that the Board fulfils few if any of their statutory duties. He knows that originally these Commissioners were given their salaries, their positions, their “perks”, their gold passes because they, together with the Minister were the executive controllers of the Railways …
For two years.
Their function and their status are based on the Act of Union, but their work has been changed and …
But they only had those functions for six years.
Of course they only had them for six years but they still get all the “perks” of yesteryear and even their free newspapers. They have retained their status and everything else but their executive authority. They have retained all their concessions and perquisites, all their sweetnesses of office. I know. therefore, Sir, that the railwaymen feel that these are the last people to whom the Minister should have chosen to give a rise. Especially at this juncture when he says he has not got the money to give a rise to worthy artisans. He is increasing the salaries of these gentlemen at this time; these gentlemen who hold very plushy jobs. I think the Minister must, therefore, realize that it aggravates and annoys the Artisan Staff Association. To my mind they are merely relying on a ministerial promise to give them increases. Does the Minister not remember saying to them: “Tighten your belts and work. When times are bad you must suffer. When times are good you will profit”? This Minister is the person who wanted to nationalize the gold mines so that the employees could share in the profits …
That was why I gave them millions of rands over the last two years.
What increases have they had in basic wages? That was what they asked for. The Minister in a most insulting way, although I know it is unintentional, talks about what he has given the railwaymen as “concessions”. Members opposite have read out long lists of “concessions”. They are not concessions; they are benefits which the railwaymen have earned by the sweat of their brow. How can one say they are concessions? It was nothing less than what they have deserved; what they have worked for. To call them “concessions”, I think, implies that the railwaymen are really not entitled to them. The Minister should use another word. He can use “concessions”, if he likes, in connection with the Railway Board; it may be true in that case because the members of the Railway Board get a large number of concessions they do not earn, including this new increase in salary. But I do not think he should infer that he is handing out largesse to the working man. Their so-called “concessions” are really benefits which in fact they have earned and worked for and are an ordinary part of their emoluments and a reward for their labours.
I wonder whether the Minister has not seen—I am sure he has but I wonder whether he has remembered—that the Artisan Staff Association, like all of the workers on the Railways have increased their productivity quite spectacularly. The Minister says he is going to run the Railways on business-lines. The businessman always increases wages and salaries on the basis of increased productivity. I have not got the exact figures for the Railways, but I think it will be true to say that this year the general productivity increased some 12 per cent. In the past few years a comparison between labour costs and revenue showed a betterment of some 7 per cent or 8 per cent. In other words, these men have earned their rise the hard way. They want a 5 per cent increase in basic wages and the artisans want an increase in their basic wages of R6 a month …
There has been mechanization.
Mechanization is not the only cause. They have earned it the hard way by increasing their productivity. I do not think the Minister will be so ungenerous as to deny that by their spectacular efforts they have helped him to eliminate a really depressing deficit of nearly R16,000,000. They turned it, in one year, into a surplus of some R6,000,000. They themselves have had many benefits (I refuse to call them concessions). The Minister has given the House the figures in connection with consolidation. But the railwaymen did not take any extra money home through consolidation. They actually made sacrifices in loss of overtime and Sunday time. I know consolidation was something which they wanted; it was one of their first priorities, but the Minister promised them more than consolidation. He told them quite distinctly that when times were good they would share in the profits …
Times are not good.
The Minister has told us that times are not good. If times are not good and he can produce a surplus of some R8,000,000 then I shudder to think what the poor railwayman would get if the Minister had some really bad years. This year he will have a really good surplus, which he foretold would be a deficit. Actually the railwaymen have been told, they have been led to expect an increase when the Railways get surpluses. I think the Minister is quite wrong in denying them some increase. They feel that they have been wronged. I have said before and I say again—and I am not looking for votes; if I were, it would be an inopportune time to look for them now because the election is just past—that these men have been models of restraint. Since I have been in Parliament they have worked through war and peace. They have been orderly workers, good workers, hard workers. They have not taken the law into their own hands. And when the whole of the vast organization of 17,000 artisans talk in terms of striking they must feel seriously aggrieved; they must feel that they have genuine claims which the Minister has left unsatisfied. He should not only listen to them but yield to their modest demands. I believe they have earned an increase by their own efforts and by their increase in productivity.
Where must I get the money? By raising the rates and tariffs?
I will tell the Minister what I would have done. I do not know how the Minister feels about it, but I have said all along that the first charge on any business— and I regard the Railways as a business— should be a fair wage to all the workers. And if giving the workers a fair wage means an increase in tariffs, I would increase tariffs. And I think the Minister should too. Would the Minister not do that to give the railway-men a fair wage?
If the time was propitious to increase tariffs.
If the Minister felt that the men were genuinely entitled to a fair rise in wages, would he not raise tariffs to give it to them?
If the money were available.
Has the Minister not got R22,000,000 in the Rates Equalization Fund? Is that Fund not meant to give the railway-men a rise, without increasing rates and tariffs? Isn’t that their insurance fund? To change the subject I will take this Fund as another example of how the Minister misinterprets points we make to advance false arguments. I implored him not to say that I had said “You should build up the Rates Equalization Fund to R60,000,000 this year”. I said “Please do not say that because I have merely urged that it should be done gradually”. Yet the Minister said in his budget reply: “How can I get the money; the hon. member suggested that I should build up the Rates Equalization Fund to R60,000,000 this year?”
I did not say this year.
The Minister did. The Minister used it as an example of the amount of money we demanded he should raise this year out of revenue.
Then I must apologize.
I accept that. On three occasions the Minister has lumped all our demands together, fixed a financial value to them, and said: “How do you expect me to run the Railways and grant all these demands at the same time?” We have priorities just as the Minister has priorities. One of our priorities is to build up the Rates Equalization Fund gradually until it is R60,000,000. Then the worker will be more secure and so will the users of the Railways and the railway rates could remain constant. I do impress upon the Minister that he should listen to the just demands of the railway workers. Please do not say that we are trying to collect votes by doing this. I have been talking in this way ever since I have been in this House. I ask the Minister not, at this juncture, to give this rise to the Railway Commissioners. It is not too late to reduce their suggested salaries by the amount I have suggested.
I support the amendment moved by the hon. member for Wynberg (Mr. Russell). I do not think this is the particular juncture in the history of the Railways for such an increase to be brought about; this is the least opportune time. However deep or however shallow the dissatisfaction among the staff might be with regard to what they feel is their just grievance, however justified or unjustified the artisan staff’s claim for an increase in wages might be, I do think that it is likely to prove a considerably aggravating factor for them to feel that they are being refused. Men who in deference to the Minister’s appeal, have given up their claims during the past year or two until such a time when the finances of the Railways permitted of an increase in wages—an increase in wages which when it is being awarded is made to the men at the top but not to them, they whose efforts have made that increase possible. Therefore, I think it is about the worst possible time that the Minister could have chosen to bring forward such a proposal. Although the hon. the Minister rightly said that this increase was mooted last year but that it was too late to come before the House, I think he must also accept that this is not an increase of which Parliament has approved. It only becomes that after it has been through the process of acceptance by Parliament which will not take place until the final stages of this debate have been reached. Until that stage is reached it is merely a proposal by the Minister and by the authorities concerned, a proposal which we have a perfectly legitimate right to reject, or to accept. The effect of the amendment is that we should decline to accept that recommendation, and I believe that is a correct amendment. I believe it is for the good of the Railways as a whole. I believe it will help to make the hon. the Minister’s difficulties in connection with bargaining with the Artisan Staff Association considerably easier. Because it will remove that point of friction which will otherwise exist. I would therefore appeal to the hon. the Minister, for despite the tough attitude that he can adopt at times, he is by no means without the business acumen which his post requires, to reconsider this matter. He knows full well that what we are saying is founded on facts. I ask him to be big enough to accept it as such. If the Railway Commissioners are asked to tighten their belts for the next year or two, surely it is not asking any more of them than what has been asked of the staff themselves. Surely it is not asking them to accept anything more than what the staff have already accepted. So I do not really see any hardship in it. A relatively small inincrease—in total it may amount to a very large sum as the Minister has pointed out— per individual amongst the lower paid groups means tremendously more to those individuals than a corresponding percentage increase to those who are already very well paid. Even assuming that the increase is justified by the work done by or the responsibility of the Commissioners, they will not suffer the same amount of belt-tightening and hardship which the artisan staff have had to suffer, if their increase is not granted. I think it is the duty of the House to endeavour to come to a solution which we believe will be in the best interests of the transport service as a whole. I believe that best interest will be served by the acceptance of this amendment which has been moved by the hon. member for Wynberg. I want to ask the Minister not to treat it light but to give it the consideration which I believe it warrants.
The hon. member for Wynberg (Mr. Russell) moved an amendment to reduce the salaries of the Railway Commissioners. But during the Budget debate the hon. member made an attack on the political appointment of Railway Commissioners. We gave the hon. member an answer from this side of the House, and we have not yet had a reply from the other side. But the hon. member gave away the real reason, which is also the one that we said was the real reason for the attack; and that is, as he has put it here and as he has now repeated, that this was purely a political manoeuvre, according to him, and it is because he regards it as a political manoeuvre that he attacks it. But then he should not attack the Minister of Transport; then the correct occasion to attack the Government would be in the main Budget debate.
But the Minister of Transport is responsible.
No, Mr. Chairman. If it is a matter which does not concern the Railway Board, but if, as the hon. member has said, it is a question of bringing an English-speaking member of the Cabinet into the House of Assembly, then the responsibility does not rest with the Minister of Transport, but with the Prime Minister, and in that case he should have attacked the Prime Minister.
The Minister of Transport would not like that.
The hon. member for Wynberg says that the real reason why the Opposition is dissatisfied, is because the demands of the Artisans’ Staff Association have not been complied with. But is the hon. member not aware of the fact that the artisan staff does not constitute the entire staff of the Railway Service? On the contrary, as the hon. member himself has said, the Artisans’ Staff Association consists of only 17,000 members. But does the hon. member not know that there are at present seven staff associations on the Railways with a total membership of 78,594? Now I want to ask the hon. member this: Does he think that the other staff will be satisfied if the Minister makes this concession to the artisan staff; does he think that the other staff, well knowing what the policy is that has been followed in the past by the Minister, namely when concessions are made, they are made to all members of the staff, would be content if the Minister changed his policy and only made concessions to the artisan staff? Here the hon. member comes along and he does not consider the other members of the Railway staff at all. He only concerns himself with the demands of the Artisans’ Staff Association because it suits him politically.
But the hon. the Minister’s position is quite a different one from that of the hon. member for Wynberg. The hon. the Minister is the responsible Minister who has to consider all the members of the Railway staff in these matters. That is why I say I am convinced that since we have a big staff. it is our duty and the duty of the Minister to consider the staff as a whole in this matter. I should very much like the hon. member for Wynberg to get up and tell us whether he thinks the hon. the Minister should not consider the other members of the Railway staff at all. The seven staff organizations which exist on the Railways all asked the Minister for consolidation of the non-pensionable allowance and that request was acceded to. The Federal Consultative Council of Staff Associations was satisfied with the position.
What were they satisfied with?
They were satisfied with the consolidation of the non-pensionable allowance.
Because of the agreement which was made.
That they would be given an increase of 5 per cent.
No, the hon. the Minister has told us specifically that the Federal Consultative Council of Staff Associations was satisfied with the consolidation of the non-pensionable allowance. The Artisans’ Staff Association also asked for the consolidation of the non-pensionable allowance and it was given to them. Here the Minister made a concession or gave a benefit, or whatever the hon. member for Wynberg chooses to call it, to the staff as a whole. I should like to put this question clearly to the hon. member for Wynberg so that we can have certainty about this matter once and for all: Does the hon. member want the Minister to follow the policy of only giving increases to a section of the staff?
I want a reasonable wage for everyone.
Very well. The rest of the staff is satisfied. The rest of the staff has not made any demands; the demands which they made previously were complied with when the N.P.T. was consolidated. Does the hon. member know what it would cost the Railways if increases were granted on the basis of the proposals of the Artisans’ Staff Association? But the hon. member for Wynberg is now dragging across the floor of the House a matter which is not in the interests of the Artisans’ Staff Association itself and I think that Artisans’ Staff Association will not be thankful to the hon. member for the assistance which he is trying to give them, because it is the wrong kind of assistance which he is trying to give them in this way. They refuse to accept that kind of assistance because the Artisans’ Staff Association believe that they are strong enough and man enough to put their own demands to the Minister and to conduct their own negotiations with the Minister. I am of the opinion that we are not doing a service to the Artisans’ Staff Association and to the country by debating this matter across the floor of the House. I do want to ask the hon. member for Wynberg to prove that he is in earnest professing to serve the Railway staff, and if he is he should discontinue this debate that we are now conducting about wage increases for the artisan staff. Then, I think the Artisans’ Staff Association would be grateful to us for it.
I want to deal with the amendment moved by the hon. member for Wynberg (Mr. Russell) in respect of the salaries paid to the members of the Railway Board. And in doing so I do not intend to cast any reflection on any individual member of the board. Indeed, Sir, I have the highest regard for the members of that board. I want to answer the charge made by the hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) (Mr. van Rensburg) who alleged that we had implied that the appointment made to the Railway Board was nothing but a political manoeuvre.
The hon. member for Wynberg said that.
The hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) accused us of a political manoeuvre in respect of the matter. Of course, what happened on the Railway Board is a political manoeuvre. Was it not a political manoeuvre to appoint the hon. member for Vasco to the Railway Board? But the hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) says that it is a political manoeuvre on our part to exploit the feelings of the railway worker by moving this amendment. That is pure nonsense, Sir. The attitude which this side of the House has adopted in respect of the Railway Board has been quite consistent over a number of years. I want to remind the hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) that the last increase given to the Railway Commissioners was in the Additional Estimates of 1956. He was in the House at the time. It was at that time when the then member for Sunnyside took up a very strong attitude on behalf of this side of the House in respect of the increase which was granted at the time.
That was not the last time.
If it was not the last time, the attitude of this side of the House has been consistent in respect of the increases granted to Railway Commissioners over the last few years. I am referring in particular to 1956, if the hon. member will allow me to do so, because the question of the functions of the Railway Board was also queried by this side of the House at that time. I do not want to read the whole speech of the then member for Sunnyside but he said this—
Our attitude in respect of this matter has been completely consistent through the years. Completely and absolutely consistent just as it has been in respect of the justifiable demands of the railwaymen for increases in their basic pay. The hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) wants to know how we are justified to plead for an increase in the basic wage of one particular section of the Railway staff when there are six other associations who are equally entitled to an increase. Is it fair to plead for an increase in respect of one section and to exclude the rest of the 78,000 White employees of the Railway Administration, he asks. I agree with the hon. member, Sir. But where have we on this side of the House during the course of this debate or any other debate pleaded for an increase only in respect of the Railway artisans? The whole kernel of our case has been that there is a definite need for a review of the basic salary in respect of all Railway servants.
Business suspended at 6.30 p.m. and resumed at 8.5 p.m.
I wish to raise two matters with the Minister. The Minister in his Budget speech referred to the Planning Council and I gathered from his observations in regard to this council that in fact it has undergone reorganization and the council is now much smaller than it was before. According to the Minister’s statement, the Chairman of the Council has now been made a Deputy General Manager. I gather from the Minister that the Council has been much reduced in size. The former Council, when it was first announced, was a large body representing various aspects of the Administration, but it appears now to have been reorganized and the Council seems much smaller. The Minister has laid emphasis on the need for forward planning. We know that when the original Council was set up it was a step taken in order to overcome the difficulties the Administration was facing at that time. One may say that it was a matter of expediency, and the Council was formed with the idea of assisting the Minister to overcome the immediate difficulties that in the near future the Railways would be facing at the time. Now the Minister in his speech seems to have created the impression that greater onus will be placed on this new Council for considering plans for the future development of the Railways. I hope I am right in that, because if I am I want to say to the Minister it is encouraging that the Minister does take some note of the constructive proposals made from this side of the House from time to time. I have spoken on this matter on many occasions. One of my main contentions was that the Council seemed to work too much on a plan for a couple of years, without taking into consideration possible developments in the future. I want to ask the Minister whether he will not take one further step and that is that members of this House, or at the very least the members of the Railway Select Committee, should have the benefit of the thinking and the plans that motivates this Planning Council. The Minister is always at great pains to point out that when he prepares his Budget speech and makes his Estimates for future Railway revenue, the Department and he himself consult the various aspects of the economic life of our country. Surely in the development of transportation and especially railway transportation, that is not a matter for itself. What-ever plans are developed in regard to railway transportation must conform with the over-all needs for transportation of the country as a whole, of which the railways are only a part. If the Minister is prepared to consult commerce and industry in regard to his budget proposals, surely, by the same reasoning, it is reasonable to request that the Planning Council should not plan on its own but must consider the economic trends for the future and relate them to railway development. It that is so, why not give us the benefit in this House so that we can argue constructively on railway matters? It is no longer a matter of expediency. It is a matter of planning for the future, and if that is so and we are expected to give constructive suggestions, what is the use of us making suggestions if the Minister already has proposals from his Planning Council of which we are entirely unaware? I would strongly plead with the Minister, if he does not want to make it a document tabled in this House, there are other means whereby members can be acquainted with the propositions put forward by the Planning Council from time to time, so that we can have an opportunity of considering them and expressing our views about them. At the very least I would ask the Minister whether it is not possible to evolve machinery whereby the report of the Planning Council can be referred to the Select Committee every year for their consideration. It is a constructive proposal I am trying to make to the Minister, which I sincerely believe would be in the interest of the Railway Administration.
The other point I wish to raise with the Minister is this. I think it was in August last year that the Minister indicated that he was prepared to consider giving the right to commercial lines to operate certain routes at present operated by S.A. Airways, and that he considered doing so in view of the losses on some of these routes, these intermediate routes, these small-distance hops on which the Dakota type of aircraft formerly operated. The Minister certainly created the impression when he spoke at the opening of the J.B.M. Hertzog Airport that he was prepared to consider applying such a policy by the withdrawal of S.A. Airways from the short routes and that he would leave it to private enterprise to operate internal airlines as a subsidiary to S.A. Airways services. I would like to ask the Minister in his reply to indicate what his policy will be in this matter, whether it is in fact his policy to cut out these short-distance hops which are uneconomic and to give commercial airlines the opportunity to operate them as a subsidiary service, to link up with the main service.
In his Budget speech the Minister indicated that the Railways were going to do much more to make passenger trains more attractive. I must say that just recently it has been a real pleasure to travel on a passenger train. I am thinking, e.g., of the Orange Express. If one can learn to travel by train and to relax—you know, there are people who can never relax and they never learn how to travel by train—it is a great pleasure just lately to travel particularly on the Orange Express. The Minister said that more observation coaches are now being built and I want him to consider giving one of them to the Orange Express.
There is another matter in regard to passenger trains which I should like to bring to the notice of the Minister. It sometimes happens, although not very often, that one travels by train and gets to a station at night and people on the station are very rowdy. I personally have seen how young men make a lot of noise and carry on next to the windows of such a train and a passenger, perhaps an old lady, eventually opens her; window and asks them not to make so much noise, and then they set out to make even more noise than before. I, have wondered whether a little more attention cannot be given to that inconvenience sometimes suffered by passengers, and whether the police on duty cannot see to it that no one is allowed to disturb the travelling public after a certain hour of the night.
Then there is another little matter, one which greatly affects Capetonians, and that is the loud noise made by the fog-horn when there is a fog. I know the Minister will tell me that this noise is necessary to warn ships approaching too near to the land. But if the Minister lived in Sea Point, like the hon. the Minister of Finance does, and was there the week before last, he would have discovered that one could almost smell that fog-horn had eaten onions, so bad was the noise. Now I think that the technicians of the Railways are so efficient—I have heard that they make fine instruments for the hospitals for listening to the heart, work which can hardly be done anywhere else in the country, and I want to praise them for that. I believe that if they put their heads together, they could devise something so that ships could hear that noise but not the people on shore. I am sure that the Minister of Finance, who now lives in Sea Point, will make funds available to assist the Minister to see whether the Railways cannot devise something which is just as effective but less distracting to the public.
Will it not help if the hon. member for Turffontein stands and shouts there?
With regard to the remuneration of Railway personnel, I am afraid that those in the road motor services have not received fair consideration. We all appreciate the wonderful development of our road motor services, and that service, which was once the ward of the Railways, is now an integral part of the system. It was developed under very impecunious conditions. Conductors were obtained for a few shillings a day and farmers’ sons were recruited as the drivers of these buses, and with inadequate machines a wonderful service was provided, which has been of tremendous advantage to the agricultural community. I think the development of our road motor services has been phenomenal and I would like to congratulate the Minister on the way that service has been improved. A first-class type of bus is now being used on the roads and the Government contributes to the maintenance of the roads in certain areas, which facilitates the working of these buses. But I am afraid that the personnel of these buses have not received the consideration they merit. I know of bus conductors, for instance, who do hard work. Often provision is not made for the unloading of the buses and the driver and conductor have had to unload 50 bags of maize at a road siding. It is hard work and they have long hours and they receive no overtime. The conductors do not qualify for pensions. In the country districts which are not served by the railways, they are of inestimable value for the development of the country and for the farmers. Depots are established and the local man who has to run this depot has to do exactly the same work as the station master of a small railway station, or even more work. He has to receive and deliver goods and we find that these men are inadequately paid and there are no pension facilities for them. I can quite understand that in the early stages of the development of road motor services the returns were such that the personnel had to be sought from people who were prepared to accept low wages. But now, with the figures the Minister has presented us with, we see that the road motor services are an integral part of the railway system and I would appeal to the Minister to include the personnel of the road motor services in the same way as the personnel of the Railways and that they should enjoy the same privileges and also have the advantage of partaking in the home ownership scheme, etc. These are all denied to the personnel of these services, and I appeal to the Minister to give his personal attention to their needs. Perhaps the Minister should more greatly appreciate the sacrifices these people make. Speaking for the farming community, I can say that this is one of the finest services ever provided for the farmers throughout South Africa. It is well run and a most convenient service. A few years ago in Grahams-town the wagon traffic was competing with the Railways on the route from Grahamstown to Port Elizabeth, and Parliament had to intervene to protect the Railways from wagon competition, which it did. The road motor services came in without any privileges being provided for them, and they cleaned up the roads. You do not see a wagon today. In the Albany district where you could find 40 or 50 wagons on one road in a morning, to-day you only find wrecked wagons standing about on farms. The road motor services have undertaken all this work, and more economically. They help farmers to do their transport on business lines and it has been an enormous advantage, but it has been brought about to a great extent by the sacrifices and the services of the personnel. In my appreciation I would like to include station masters and everyone at our railway stations who have helped these people, but they have developed a service of which we are proud, and when salaries are increased the Minister should think of them also, the men on the lower rung on the ladder, and the personnel of the motor services are on the lower rung of the ladder, and I think they deserve the greatest consideration from the Minister and his Department.
I should like to bring to the notice of the Minister the conditions on the Railways and the facilities provided, particularly in regard to the East Rand. We realize the problem the Minister had in completing the great capital works which he undertook. We are also very grateful for the better type of passenger coaches provided for the local suburban traffic, and also for the better train times instituted and for the fact the the trains are much more on time now, and we are also grateful for the elimination of the dangerous level crossings we had on the East Rand. They have all been removed now, but what we find there now is that the facilities we still have on the various stations are precisely the same as they were at the time those stations were built. It is true that improvements were made on certain stations, but I am pleading for those stations where no improvements have yet been made. I particularly want to plead with the Minister for one of the oldest stations in the Republic, at Brakpan. Since the time that station was built no additional facilities have been introduced. I want to say that from Brakpan the railways transport thousands of workers every day, and if we look at the conditions under which they are conveyed and we see that there are no shelters or roofs on the platforms, one feels that these passengers are really being neglected. If we see all the amenities enjoyed by long-distance passengers on the railways to-day, we are very grateful for that, but we want to plead that better provision be made for the users of suburban train services. If one watches the thousands of people who congregate there in the morning, without any shelter from the rain, and the only shelter there is is at stations like Germiston and Johannesburg, we want to plead with the Minister that provision should be made for those people. When we look at the smaller stations on the East Rand such as Schapenrus and Anzac where there are still subways connecting the various platforms, in those subways the most insanitary things are done. In view of the fact that apartheid is not applied there and that Whites as well as non-Whites have to make use of these subways, we want to ask the Minister to eliminate those subways and rather to provide bridges. These subways are badly lit, and at certain stations we know that many women have already been attacked, due to the bad lighting and the lack of police protection we have there. I think the time has arrived when a town as big as Brakpan should be given a more modern station with more facilities.
I want to ask the Minister about the basis on which interest accrues in respect of certain funds which are in the hands of the Administration. In the coming year the interest payable on the superannuation fund and other funds is calculated at roughly R15,000,000. On the other hand, the Administration is likely to get from these funds which it invests with the Public Debt Commissioners something in the nature of R19,000,000. The basis on which interest accrues on certain of these funds has been set out in paragraph 16 of the White Paper, at page 7, and the question I want to ask the Minister is how the rates of interest set out therein are fixed. I accept that the position is that the Administration in respect of the superannuation fund and the pension fund actually makes a greater contribution than the revenue it gets, but in respect of other items I would like to ask the Minister how the basis of 3 per cent is arrived at and whether this is reviewed from time to time or not. The Administration, as I say, gets in revenue something between R4,000,000 and R5,000,000 a year purely from the investment of these funds and it seems to me that it is fair that the Administration should get a certain amount of management charges, but whether in principle it is right for so much as R5,000,000 to accrue to the Administration merely through the management of funds is the point I would like to raise. There must be some basis on which the interest rate is arrived at and I wish the Minister would explain how it is arrived at.
I am very pleased that the minor storm which the hon. member for Wynberg (Mr. Russell) raised, has calmed down. I am pleased that we are getting away from this petty amendment which asks for the salaries of the members of the Railway Board to be reduced, people who are not present in this House to defend themselves. I want to ask the Minister please to make a statement of policy in regard to the transport service in the North West and in this connection I want to mention three aspects.
The first is the much discussed question of a railway line from the south to the north through the North West to join the South West African line. The second is the expansion of the motor transport service in the North West and the third is the revision of road motor trariffs, concessions and facilities to bring it more into line with those of the Railways. That area is very vast. I want to refer to the northern portion which is bordered on the south by the railway line from Hutchinson over Carnarvon to Calvinia from where it is linked with Klawer on the Bitterfontein line by road transport. Along the east it is bordered by the railway line from Hutchinson as far as the Orange River Station near Hopetown, and in the north by the railway line from De Aar to Windhoek.
It is hardly necessary to point out the advantages of such a line. Such a line would open up the area for industrial and mining development. It would ease the traffic between Windhoek and De Aar, particularly on the line between De Aar and Cape Town and it would be a blessing to the farmers who send their products to the south. The objection which is raised against such a line is, of course, that it would not be profitable and I admit that there may be something in that. But I wish to state that not all railway lines are profitable. The rule in this country, as in other countries, is that the one line should subsidize the other. That can also happen in this case. It is true our Constitution lays down that the Railways should be run on business lines, but it provides at the same time that the Railways should make its contribution to the development of farming and industries in the hinterland. As the position is at the moment we have to depend on road transport. That services was introduced because the Administration found it cheaper than to construct a railway line. We would have been satisfied had that road motor service met all our demands and had we not been discriminated against as far as tariffs, concession and facilities were concerned. Where such a bus service takes the place of a railway service, I maintain that the tariffs ought to be more or less the same. It so happens that some of these road motor services are introduced for special reasons, practically in competition with the Railways. Where you have these special road motor services the users can be expected to pay for them. I am, however, referring to the case where you have a road motor service instead of a railway service. During the recent droughts it was once again proved how unfavourably and harshly this affected the farmers in that area. Hon. members will convince themselves of this fact if they compare the two sets of tariffs. It is not necessary for me to enlarge upon that. I have sufficient confidence in the Minister who, in spite of what the Opposition has said, has succeeded within a period of three years to convert a large deficit into one of the biggest surpluses we have ever had, and I trust the Minister will give his attention to this matter.
I want to raise the question of the harbour at Port St. Johns. The Minister will know that before the war this harbour was regularly used by coasters. The coasters used to bring up bulk cargoes like sugar, and used to take away marble. There is a marble mine there which was working quite effectively while it had this transport by means of coasters. However, the river slowly silted up and eventually the service had to be abandoned. After that there were certain ex-servicemen who with the assistance of the Demobilization Committee tried to establish a fishing enterprise and bought a boat, but in time they found that the boat could not cross the bar and that enterprise had to be abandoned. I think through the aegis of the Cape Eastern Public Bodies Association certain small harbours made representations to the Department for assistance and the Minister in reply to me might tell us what happened to Port Alfred and the other places which applied for assistance. Port St. Johns harbour is becoming important again because of the policy of Bantustans. Port St. Johns itself, as the Minister will know, is a White area. The Department has refused to buy the farms around Port St. Johns and I take it that one of the reasons is because this must be a White area for defence purposes. There is no real harbour in the Transkei area. There have been rumours from time to time about submarines appearing along that coast, and I submit that if a small harbour was constructed there, enabling small boats to seek refuge in the harbour, it would serve a good purpose for defence purposes. Also in times of trouble, when the roads may be cut, Port St. Johns could become a point of access to the Trans-kei from the sea. It is not only for defence purposes that this harbour could be of importance, Sir, it could also serve another important purpose and that is the establishment of a fishing industry. As we all know, fishing trawlers can be seen daily along the coastline operating from Durban or East London but they are not able to operate from the Trans-keian coast at all because of the lack of facilities. I know this too, Sir, that the Minister’s Department has been asked to investigate the possibility of either re-opening the old harbour or building a new harbour. It is not much that has been asked for. I know too, that at the instance of the Commissioner General for the Xhosa group, a team of specialists were sent down to Port St. Johns to investigate the possibility of opening up the harbour and establishing an industry there, such as the re-opening of the marble mine for instance. I would like to know from the Minister what the results of the investigations have been, the investigations which his Department has carried out. This is not the first time that this matter has been raised. In 1950 a Bill was introduced to develop the fishing industry. I raised the question then with the Minister of Economic Affairs and asked that some assistance be given to Port St. Johns in establishing a fishing industry there. However, nothing materialized. Subsequently I again raised the matter with his predecessor and I think an investigation was carried out but again nothing was done. Now this investigation has again been carried out and I should be glad if the Minister could give me information as to the results of that investigation and if he could also let us know if there is any intention of opening up that harbour or building a new harbour at Port St. Johns.
I want to associate myself with the remarks of previous speakers who have congratulated the hon. the Minister on his Budget. I think the Minister and his staff have deserved the congratulations of this House on the Budget which the Minister has introduced this year.
It has already been done on previous occasions and at congresses and in the Press, but I (as a member of the head committee of the North Western Agricultural Union) wish to avail myself of this opportunity of thanking the hon. the Minister and his staff for the gigantic task which they performed during the drought. They gave wonderful assistance to the farmers of the North West. I regard it as a privilege to be able to thank them across the floor of the House this evening. I want to say thank you to the Minister for that wonderful assistance. I think it was only then that we realized the real value of the Railways to the country. Particularly in that part of the country where I live where the services which the Minister offers are not so easily available, we realized, by way of contrast, the valuable services which the railways of the Minister were giving in those parts where those services were indeed available or at any rate more available than in our part of the country.
I also wish to avail myself of this opportunity of thanking the hon. the Minister for that wonderful service which he has placed at our disposal, namely the luxury bus service from Cape Town to Karasburg. I can assure the hon. the Minister that is greatly appreciated. I wish to avail myself of this opportunity—I believe it is a profitable service— of asking the hon. the Minister to consider the possibility of doubling the services which we have at the moment, which is once per week from Cape Town to Karasburg and back. I think by doubling it the chances are good that the service which shows a profit at the moment, will show even greater profits. My argument is this that many people who wish to avail themselves of this service to-day cannot do so because it is impossible for a businessman or a farmer to leave Namaqua-land on a Sunday and only to return the following Friday evening. If that service could be doubled I think many more people would make use of it. It would mean a very great deal to us.
During the few minutes at my disposal I should like to draw the attention of the hon. the Minister to certain statistics which I hope he will bear in mind when deciding on his future policy for the North-western area. I know the Minister has certain statistics at his disposal but I am afraid those statistics do not give him such a good picture of what is really happening there, a true picture of what the real potential of that area is and of its value as an earner of foreign exchange. That is why I seek your permission, Mr. Chairman, to give the hon. the Minister a few statistics which he may perhaps find interesting. During the past year the area of Namaqualand produced 198,816 bags of wheat. I am only referring to that area whose products are loaded at Bitterfontein, the area which markets in Cape Town via Bitterfontein. That area marketed the following large and small stock: 169,980 head of sheep and 7,404 head of cattle. The total karakul yield of that area was 114,000 pelts. Those pelts sold overseas at R180,000 which earned considerable foreign exchange for this country. I am not even referring to the other agricultural products, such as lucerne and the cash crops which are produced along the Orange River and which are difficult to market because of transport problems. There is a terrific transport potential which cannot be exploited to-day due to the lack of transport facilities in that huge North-western area.
What I should like to bring to the notice of the Minister however, is this: According to the statistics the average annual traffic from Bitterfontein is 58,304 tons and the traffic to Bitterfontein 147,114 tons I admit, Mr. Chairman, that these figures are not impressive. But when we go further and we analyse the true position in respect of the transport figures for Namaqualand the picture changes considerably. There are sillimanite mines in the vicinity of Pofadder. One private entreprenuer produced 72,711 tons of sillimanite last year from that mine. Another one produced 18,846 tons of sillimanite. I just want to explain that this product is not included in the production figures for Namaqualand because on account of the high cost of road transport, this product goes to a point nearer the mines, namely Ka-kamas—146 miles from the mine. From there this product is conveyed in a roundabout way to Cape Town. It is a very wide detour. But this product is never included when the potential traffic of Namaqualand is calculated.
The fact of the matter is that the traffic from those two sillimanite mines exceeds by far the total traffic from Bitterfontein. It is never given as traffic from Namaqualand because it is taken northwards out of Namaqualand to the constituency of Gordonia where it gets loaded at Kakamas and from there it comes to Cape Town in a roundabout way. But that is not all. In the immediate vicinity of those mines there are large deposits of a variety of minerals. I want to mention a few of them, Mr. Chairman. We have the baryte mines, there is iron ore, there is manganese-bearing ore, we have hematite, there is beryllium, scheelite, wolfram, there is spodumene, which contains lithium. There is galenite, tantalite and there is marble. I want to tell you something interesting about the marble, Sir, so as to give you an idea of the whole picture. The position is that the marble which we produce there is of the highest quality, it is equal to the best in the world. We sent that marble for certain works down to Cape Town with success. The monumentalists here in Cape Town were very anxious to process that marble, but we found that we could not sell it at the price and deliver it here at Cape Town at which it was being delivered by Italian firms. This may sound ridiculous but that is the position. Had time permitted me to enlarge on this subject to-night, which I have just mentioned in passing, Mr. Chairman, I think the Minister would have been convinced that we do indeed have a case when we ask him to give his attention to this matter and conduct an inquiry into it. I realize what his problems are and I am not asking for anything big. That is not our intention at all. All we want is that when the Minister determines his future policy he will bear in mind the potential which is locked up in the North-western area and that the position will perhaps be investigated and considered in the future.
The first thing I want to do is to congratulate the hon. member for Namaqualand (Mr. G. de K. Maree) on his maiden speech. I hope that his stay in this House is going to be very pleasant. He represents an area which is a second Transvaal, or rather which exceeds the Transvaal in mineral wealth. I hope that the hon. the Minister of Transport has taken heed of his requests and that the Government will develop that vast area of mineral wealth. It only requires the help of the Government and the hon. member for Namaqualand to develop this area.
I now want to come back to the Budget. I support the amendment moved by the hon. member for Wynberg (Mr. Russell). I notice that the hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) (Mr. van Rensburg) has charged this side of the House with trying to make political capital out of the recent appointment to the Railways Board and out of the rise in the remuneration of the members of that Board and out of the situation which we have outside as far as the Artisan Staff Association and the other Railway workers are concerned. In dealing with the question of trying to make political capital, I think we should examine the position in regard to the recent appointment to that Board. I do not want to cast any reflection on the individual who has been appointed. But are we to assume that it was by a mere coincidence that a vacancy was found on the Board? Are we to assume that there has just been a natural retirement and that somebody had to be found to fill the position? The Railway Board, which is a board of appeal, one would have thought that the Minister in making an appointment to it, would have tried to balance the Board by appointing a judicial officer or a legal man to assist them in their office of having to deal with appeals. I think, Sir, that one would have to be stupid not to see the political link with the recent appointment. In regard to the rise in the pay of the members of the Board the Minister went to great lengths to try to convince this House why it was necessary to increase the pay of these members. He quoted certain other increases that had taken place in various other departments. But if the hon. the Minister is going to use that as his yardstick I am afraid he will find a great number of anomalies in his own Department as far as pay is concerned. You need only look through the pay scales and you see quite a number of these anomalies.
When we come to the unrest outside, the hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) rather resented that we on this side of the House had taken the interest which we had in what is happening. I do not think that everything that we read in the newspapers is wrong, there is unrest amongst the artisans’ staff of the Railways. I am not concerned, Sir, whether seven other associations have expressed their confidence in the hon. the Minister. We as members of this House and as directors of the Railways, are concerned with the situation. It is our duty to go into these matters. The third leg of our amendment was quite simple; it said—
“To appoint a commission of enquiry into ways and means of improving the existing negotiating machinery.”
It is quite clear and straight-forward. I do not know why the other side of the House is charging us with trying to make political capital out of it. That is the last thing we want to do. I would like to say this: The Minister, in stating his case for the rejection of the claims also went to great lengths to tell the House what he had given the Railway staff over the last few years. We do not deny that, Mr. Chairman. But at the same time the Minister has received in return the greatest loyalty from one of the biggest organizations that we have in this country, a loyalty which has enabled him to come to this House with a surplus. They were very loyal to him; they played the game and they expect something in return. I am not saying that the Minister is not playing the game with them, but they expect to be heard. I am convinced that the hon. the Minister has not got the machinery in his Department in order to deal with a matter such as this. In the industrial world outside we have the Industrial Councils, whereby we meet the workers and discuss these matters. It seems that the Artisan Staff Association has approached the Minister and that their requests have been rejected. He was a very good Minister of Labour, and he knows the background of conciliation. He knows that when the workers come forward and request or demand certain conditions that there must be some form of conciliation. You must hear the other side of the story. We must accept this fact, Sir, that conditions outside are becoming difficult. The cost of living is rising, it changes from day to day. Industrial agreements in the engineering industry, and in the motor industry are only signed up for two years at a time. We review them at these periods. It is on an occasion like this when the conditions of the Artisan Staff Association should be reviewed by some form of commission. I would like to see a permanent body established on the Railways to deal with these matters. It is wrong that there should be a direct approach to the Minister. He and the Cabinet should have the last decision. There should be a stage of getting together at a round table first to find out exactly what the position is. These things should be done, Sir.
When we think of the artisan staff we must also think of the wage scales of all the railway workers. I want to ask hon. members opposite, who seem to be bound to support the Minister, whether they think a daily rate of R2.40 for a married man as a rail worker is enough for him to live on? If you do a simple sum of mental arithmetic and you multiply that by 30 you will see what the man earns per month. Could hon. members opposite live on that? What are they doing about it, Sir? They are doing nothing at all, other than praise the Minister for what he has done— and we acknowledge what he has done—but we must admit that these people are justified in their grievances. I feel that the machinery does not exist in the Railways to deal with this situation. It is not a question of the Minister saying that he does not hide behind the Cabinet. It is a question of setting up some sort of organization to go into what is happening. We want to know and the public want to know. There is something wrong.
I am surprised that the hon. member for Salt River (Mr. Timoney), who represents a great number of artisans …
No, only the labour force.
Well, in that case, I am not surprised. The hon. member has not done the Artisan Staff Association a service nor has he done a service to the artisans of the country by trying to debate this matter across the floor of the House. The artisans have their staff associations which handle their affairs.
That is the fourth time you have said that.
If the hon. member for Turffontein (Mr. Durrant) would only listen he would learn something. This matter which hon. members opposite try to raise in this House is a matter which is still being discussed by the Artisan Staff Association. The chief secretary of the Artisan Staff Association said the following yesterday in a statement to the Press—
In other words, the branches of this staff association are still discussing this matter. Hon. members opposite are now trying to make the task of the association very difficult. Hon. members are not promoting their case. However, I leave it at that.
I am pleased to see that the hon. member for Wynberg (Mr. Russell) has at least taken my advice and has remained quiet on this subject. He could probably not get hold of the hon. member for Salt River to tell him that they should no longer discuss the matter.
Mr. Chairman, I wish to raise a few matters under the Minister’s policy in respect of the air and train services and railway lines. As far as the air service is concerned, I want to express my appreciation to the hon. the Minister for the improved air service time-table between Cape Town and Bloemfontein, which came into operation at the beginning of this month. The commercial world in Bloemfontein is, indeed, very grateful for this improved service, and we are grateful to the Minister for having responded to our representations. I trust that the support which the service will get from the public of the Free State and of Bloemfontein will be so good that we will be able to retain it.
As far as the train service is concerned, the Minister complained last year about the poor way in which the Blue Train between Cape Town and Pretoria was supported at times. I realize that this service was originally introduced between these two cities so as to provide a first-class train service between these cities. I understand that it runs twice a week at the moment—twice to Cape Town and twice to Pretoria. I should like to learn from the Minister whether he does not think that the service will be more profitable if one of those services was via Bloemfontein. I am convinced that more passengers will be found for the Blue Train between Kimberley and Pretoria via Bloemfontein than is the case to-day between Kimberley/Pretoria via Klerksdorp and Potchefstroom. I should be pleased if the Minister would take this matter into consideration. Mr. Chairman, I think that in this way the Blue Train could be run on a more profitable basis, and one of those services will still operate once per week between Kimberley to Pretoria via Klerksdorp and Potchefstroom.
There is another matter. In his Budget speech the Minister mentioned that good progress had been made with the decentralized traffic control system between Hamilton and Springfontein. I am informed that there is a great delay in transporting goods between Bloemfontein and Springfontein. The position is that the railway line between Johannesburg and Bloemfontein has already been doubled, but the line from Bloemfontein to Springfontein is still single. The position is that the traffic from East London goes over Burghers-dorp to Springfontein, but, at the same time, the traffic from Port Elizabeth comes over Naauwpoort to Springfontein. The traffic from two areas must, therefore, be conveyed from Springfontein to Bloemfontein on a single line. That is the reason for the traffic hold-up. My question to the Minister is whether he thinks that decentralized traffic control will solve the problem of this line. Should a solution not rather be sought in the doubling of the line between Bloemfontein and Springfontein?
I want to raise a question with the hon. the Minister in regard to port development, mainly regarding the small fishery harbour, and the tanker harbour development. My criticism is not so much that development is not taking place, but that decisions and development are not made speedily enough. Obviously any harbour development must be a long-term proposal. But we know far ahead that these additional requirements are going to be needed. We know for instance what the Minister said in connection with the proposed refinery, that certain additional tanker harbour facilities will be required, but we have known it a long time. I do not subscribe to the Minister’s doctrine that the requirement must be first there before we provide the facilities to meet it. I think the two should run concurrently. They could run concurrently subject to planning ahead, so that by the time the need arises we are ready with the answer. The point I want to make is that perhaps the Minister could ensure the people or bodies concerned come to their decisions more speedily than they do to-day. There are so many of these plans which are changed every year. One year it is decided to carry something out here and next year it is moved somewhere else; the following year we are still talking. In the meantime the ships have arrived and we are not ready to meet demands. If the initial planning stage could be speeded up, the engineers and the other people who have to do the actual con-structural work, will then be able to carry those plans into practical effect more speedily.
In regard to the provision of an additional fishing harbour, I think the hon. the Minister will agree with me when I say that this has been a matter of priority as far as the Cape Town docks are concerned for anything up to the last 12 years. Although it may be the responsibility of the Fisheries Development Corporation when it comes to the financing of the scheme, the Corporation cannot act without the closest liaison with the Railways and Harbours Administration because it forms portion of the facilities of their port. And any port can only be under one administration, unless we are to have a completely separate small fishing harbour. But I am referring to the big one necessary at Cape Town from where you base your deep-sea trawling. In the planning of that port I think we must again look well ahead and envisage the change in the trend of development which is taking place in deep-sea trawling. There are examples of that change at our ports practically every month. We had the new trawling vessel of the Portuguese fishing fleet in recently, a ship which differed out of all recognition as far as the ordinary size and facilities of trawlers were concerned. We have the Russian trawlers which operate off the coast of South West Africa, which is quite a different type of ship from the one which we associate with deep-sea trawling. I believe that any port fishery facilities which the Minister and his advisers finally approve of for deep-sea fishing, unless we envisage that development of that type will very soon be found to be inadequate and will also debar the people of our country from reaping the benefits of the undoubtedly very rich fishing fields which we have off our coasts. In that regard I would like to ask the Minister that in dealing with these particular matters talks should be speeded up so that the actual work on the site can be started so much sooner. We must look ahead. We should not plan for the demand as it is to-day but for the demand which is likely to exist the day after to-morrow. To judge by world trend, these ships are going on increasing in size.
I want to come back to another aspect which I have raised before and that is our suburban railway service. I want to touch for a moment on the new coaches which the Minister has dealt with very extensively in his report and also in the Estimates before us. As the Minister knows there has been a great deal of criticism—I think not always justified—with regard to the facilities offered by the new coaches. There is no question about it that there has been a substantial improvement in the railway suburban service. It may be that the little bit of prodding that has taken place has helped in some small way, but that improvement has undoubtedly been there. Again I would like to ask the Minister to ask his planners to attend to something which I think is still a defect even in these new coaches. The new coaches are magnificent coaches for short-distance travelling. When I talk about short-distance travelling, I think about the distance between Cape Town and Wynberg for instance where people are not obliged to remain in the train for a long time. Consequently if they are crowded and they have to use the portion of the coach reserved for standing it does not impose an undue hardship on those people, unless they are old or infirm in which case any normal-minded person would give up his seat. But when you go beyond Wynberg, when you travel the dong distance, and I refer now to my own constituency, Simonstown, the position is somewhat different. The Railways provide the only service between Simonstown and Cape Town, there is no other public transport service between those two points. The people of Simonstown area have to use the raiway service for the full range of the journey to Cape Town. There are about 23 stations on that line and sometimes the train stops at every one of them. The train is filled to capacity before it leaves Cape Town. It is then that the coaches show a distinct defect as far as the long-distance traveller is concerned. If the pasenger does not get a seat at Cape Town he has to stand all that way, very often after having a hard day’s work behind him. I can tell the. Minister this, that in the reverse direction, in the case of trains coming to Cape Town during the peak hours, there is standing room only by the time the train from Simonstown reaches Muizenberg. That means that passengers boarding the train at Muizenberg have to stand for the whole of the journey to Cape Town. I would ask the Minister to have that aspect reviewed and to see whther a further improved type of coach could not be introduced on longdistance runs, a coach where it will be taken into account that it is not a short-distance journey, but a long journey undertaken very often by people of advanced years or people who have done a hard day’s work before they boarded the train. I think as a practical man the Minister will agree with me that there is that handicap. I have done a lot of train travelling so as to get to know what I am talking about. Other than this defect I think that to a very large extent the complaints that have been made are the usual type of complaint; they are just teething troubles, people have to get used to a new idea. These coaches have speeded up the travel and I hope they will remain the success they are.
Don’t they clear up from Wynberg?
It just depends on what time of the day it is. If you get a train coming in during the peak hours, when it is fully loaded, the load is increasing all the way from Simonstown to Cape Town. Going out, it depends on how the train is routed, whether it runs express for some part of the journey and then you do get some relief. In other cases, again during peak hours, due to the train being express for portion of the way a large number of passengers wait at the first station where it does stop and then the train remains full right down as far as Muizenberg.
The third point I want the Minister’s Department to give some attention to is the antiquated state of certain of the stations. Some of those stations have been in existence for well over half a century. The original platforms and the original station buildings are still doing duty although they are out of all relation to what is demanded of them. I refer in particular to the station at Retreat, where due to the tremendous development which has taken place in lower Retreat, where a big Coloured housing scheme has been carried out, extensive development has also taken place in other parts of that area, in the White areas and you now have a tremendously increased number of passengers boarding and leaving trains at the Retreat Station. The platforms are narrow, the buildings are very small, and there is room there for very substantial improvement. There is also room for substantial improvement in the methods of crossing from the upper platforms to the lower platforms. The old bridge still remains there which for elderly people is most difficult. I believe that station was surveyed a matter of nine years ago with a view to fairly extensive improvements to be carried out. Maybe the development of the faster service on the subsidiary line through Health-field by the other route, and the doubling up of other portions of the line had to take priority. But I believe the time has come when improvements at Retreat cannot be deferred much longer, and I believe it is in the public interest that attention should be given to that station and to others similar in the southern area. The hon. the Minister has referred to the increase of passengers on that line, and I think it will assist further to attract passengers if these shortcomings could be removed.
I think the Opposition is very grateful for the small problems which have arisen in connection with the Artisan Staff Assoications, because had they not the Opposition would definitely not have had any case at all and they would have found it even more difficult than they did to fill the time allocated to the motion to go into Committee of Supply. I even think that in the Committee Stage they are finding it difficult to fill the time. In answer to the hon. member for Salt River (Mr. Timoney) I want to say at once that the Minister has always been one of the most accessible Ministers that we have ever had and in addition to that he is a person who during those difficult times, could depend on his staff and a person who, when times were brighter, never left his staff in the lurch. We can, therefore, confidently leave the matter in his hands. But, as I have said, the Opposition has only used that in order to fill the time because they have no other criticism to offer on the Railways.
There are four small matters which I wish to bring to the notice of the Minister and in this connection I should like to know what the policy of the Minister is more or less. The first point I want to raise is his policy in respect of station buildings. I am aware of the fact that when I raised this matter on a previous occasion the Minister adopted the attitude that station buildings which do not really yield any revenue, should rather be pushed a little into the background because the Railways had other problems which demanded attention and that capital should be utilized for those problems, such as the acquisition of rolling stock, tractive power and so forth. But it seems to me that there has been a very big improvement because I notice on page 51 of the Brown Book that provision is being made in the Budget for a large number of new station buildings this year. I want to emphasize once again that the station building at Randfontein in my constituency was built as long ago as 1893. After that minor alterations have been effected, but the original building still stands and you really feel that the Randfontein station shows up very badly in comparison with the other buildings, and it is as though this Minister compares badly with the others. We were given a brand new police station a year or so ago, we were given a brand new office for the Receiver of Revenue, and at the moment they are building new offices for the Commissioner of Bantu Affairs and we are getting new buildings in many other spheres, but it seems to me that the station is lagging far behind and that we are being neglected in that respect. That is why I am asking the Minister to bear Randfontein in mind when he again hands out station buildings.
I want to raise another matter and that is in connection with the housing of the workmen who work at the loco sheds on the West Rand. A new loco shed was erected about a year ago at the West Rand station to serve the trains to Mafeking, steam trains. At the moment the people who work there are not being housed there. I believe they come from various places down the line. I realize what the difficulties are. There is no town planning scheme for the area round the station at the moment, so that it will probably be difficult to provide housing at the site. I want to know from the Minister what his policy is as far as these people are concerned. Must they continue to travel to the loco shed or will the Minister consider providing houses in the vicinity? I want to point out again that Randfontein is situated about six or seven miles away and that the housing facilities there are very good; the houses are next to the railway line so that the problem may be solved there.
The third point I wish to raise is the problem of the sick fund. I get the impression that for some reason or other the doctors are not interested in the sick fund of the Railways and that there is no great desire to become a Railway doctor. I recently spoke to one of the doctors at Randfontein about this and he made it quite clear to me that the remuneration which attaches to the post was such that it did not warrant a doctor devoting time that he could otherwise have spent on his private practice to duties as a Railway doctor and that the tariff which was recently laid down for my constituency, Randfontein, was so small per patient per annum, that the doctors really did not see their way clear to undertake those duties. I spoke to various other doctors and they all felt the same way about it. I realize that the sick fund is built up from contributions by the staff. I have, however, also been approached by the railway staff at Randfontein and they too have stated their case very strongly, and if necessary they will be prepared to pay higher contributions if by doing so better medical services will be available to them. At the moment the position seems to be that those people have often to be satisfied with doctors who cannot make a living in any other way, doctors who fall back upon this as a source of income. I wonder if the hon. the Minister could tell us something in this connection.
The fourth point I wish to raise is something which worries all of us and which should perhaps receive attention to-day. We know what the international situation is and that the question of economic sanctions, or whatever it may be, against South Africa is often raised at UNO and elsewhere. As far as the Railways are concerned, I think there is one respect in which we will be particularly vulnerable if such sanctions are applied and that is our consumption of crude oil for our diesel engines. If those supplies of oil were cut off completely because of economic sanctions the Railways will experience great difficulties in many spheres. I want to go further, although you do not wish to talk much about this, Sir, and point out that in the event of a war one or two bomb attacks would probably paralyse the entire electric power system in many parts of the country and it seems to me that we will have to depend on steam locomotives which will be the only reliable tractive power in those circumstances. I appreciate that the big problem is to get steam locomotives to travel long distances without having to stop. According to my information the ordinary steam locomotive cannot travel very far without having to take water and that is why we are continually having delays along the road. I learn from certain officials, however, that the condenser-type of locomotive, Type 25, can travel a long distance, 500 to 600 miles, without having to take fresh water because the locomotive condenses its own steam and uses it again. At the moment 90 of those locomotives which were acquired in 1953-4 are in use and they have a very high tractive power, namely, 45,360 lbs. I want to know from the Minister whether there is any possibility of acquiring more of these locomotives with a view to possible boycotts or sanctions, or alternatively, whether some of the existing locomotives can be converted into the condenser-type of locomotive so that they will be able to travel a longer distance on a limited supply of water. I am thinking in terms of distances, particularly to South West, for instance, should we have difficulties with our oil supplies.
The hon. the Minister indicated in his Budget speech that he was setting up a commission to inquire into the whole rating policy of the Railways. I should like to ask the hon. the Minister whether this investigation would probably also cover the problem which we have brought to the House from time to time with regard to port-to-port railage on raw wools. The Minister has indicated that he has that in mind and it naturally follows on the assurance he gave us when we raised this matter during 1960. I would like to say here that I know that if this inquiry reveals what I think it will, we will find that a large number of our industries will benefit, and not only will these industries benefit but they will also be in a position, especially those who are using large quantities of raw material, to increase our export. While I don’t want to burden the House with details which I would have normally gone into if I had not the Minister’s assurance that the matter is receiving attention, I nevertheless want to say that the wool trade, which of course makes a very big contribution to our export and is a great winner of foreign exchange, has established in that complex Port Elizabeth-Uitenhage a vast number of processing industries. As a matter of fact, just on a brief survey I found that with their stocks in trade and machinery and buildings, they possibly have invested some R40,000,000. That is an enormous amount of money and if you take it that the export over a normal year, export of tops, noils and scoureds on an average is some R20,000,000, which is a production brought about by this industry, and which has a labour force of some 7,000 and a wage bill per annum of approximately R1,375,000, you will realize that this is a vast and energetic industry, and any reduction that can be brought about on the port-to-port basis for raw wool, is likely to have the effect of increasing very largely the production of those industries. It will not only earn for us more foreign exchange, but it will also relieve the labour position, which, of course, we know at the present moment is pretty serious. I therefore am very pleased indeed that this inquiry is about to be started. To give you some idea of how disturbed we have been in the past. I want to say that very few people realize that when you come to rail rates, you find that on a clean basis cost you could rail or ship grease wool from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, nearly 500 miles, at a cost of some 2c, whereas on the same wool from Durban to an overseas port, a distance of 7.000 miles, it would only cost you 4¼c. I had intended going into more detail, but we have dealt with this matter on both sides of the House during the last two sessions, and the Minister having given me the assurance that this is going to be covered by the commission, I will leave it there.
The hon. the Minister said this afternoon that it was expected that in the next year approximately 90,000,000 tons would be transported by the South African Railways network. Apart from that, if we look at the achievements of the Railways in recent years, we are grateful that so much progress has been made in our country, but when we look at the development in the interior there is a measure of concern in regard to transport in the future, and in regard to this I should like to bring two matters to the notice of the Minister, although I suppose that these things are already receiving his attention, or that of the Planning Council, and that is, namely, the transport of steel to our harbours for export to the East, and the transport of maize to our harbours for export to Europe and the East. Mr. Chairman, in both cases this traffic amounts to several millions of tons and if it has to be transported in the near future I consider that we definitely will need faster transport in order to do it. As I and bodies on which I serve in the Transvaal, like cooperatives, see it, there is a measure of concern over the question as to whether we will be able to transport our maize from the interior to the ports. Let me say immediately that there is great appreciation throughout the country for the great task which is already being performed by the Railways, and if we discuss the matter here it is in no spirit of criticism, but it is a real source of concern whether it will be possible to handle this traffic from the interior to our ports. The position at the moment is that if the season had not taken an unfavourable turn, it was estimated at one stage that approximately 70,000,000 bags of maize would be produced in the interior, which would have meant an export surplus of about 40,000,000 bags. If that happened, I seriously doubt whether it would have been possible to transport all that maize to the coast for export. Then in regard to the obligations we entered into in regard to exporting steel to the East, I also doubt whether all of it could have been transported. In fact, as somebody who knows the difficulties we experienced last year in transporting a crop of 52,000,000 bags to our ports for export, I doubt whether, if the crop had been normal, we could have exported it. And these are both commodities which earn foreign currency for us. I will appreciate it if the Minister can give us an assurance, which will be conveyed to the country outside, which will pacify the producers and their representatives, namely the co-operatives.
Since last year the electric system up to Beaufort West, with the junction at Touws River, has been taken into use, and in the north there is the doubling of large sections of the line from the Rand to Durban. I am not really concerned about those sections, but about the line from the interior to Cape Town. I regard Cape Town as the most important harbour for our exports to Europe, and therefore I particularly want to ask the Minister to give us the assurance that this traffic to Cape Town harbour and the necessary loading facilities by means of elevators at the coast are receiving attention with a view to future developments. It can easily be understood that it will not be of much use if we produce on a large scale in the interior whilst the goods cannot be exported abroad where we have to find a market. I think the hon. the Minister will agree with me that there is cause for the concern I am expressing and a reassuring statement will be greatly appreciated.
I wish to appeal to the hon. the Minister to give serious consideration to the development of Port Alfred to make it available for coastal shipping trade. Port Alfred as a port in the early ’eighties had something like 280 ships calling there and nearly R1,000,000 has been spent on its development, and at comparatively small cost it could be opened up to-day. I imagine that if a dredger called in for a short period once a year, it would keep the port open—it would certainly keep it open for the development of a fishing trade. At present the boats in the river are only able to proceed to sea at high tide, and one cannot always choose one’s time to go in and out at high tide. The people at Port Alfred look out on the richest line-fishing grounds around our coast, and from Port Elizabeth to Natal the only port is East London. I think a developing nation, which should develop a maritime population, should give facilities to the public to go out to sea. Young men learn to have a love for the sea. In a place like Port Alfred we have fishing folk who hunger to take part in the fishing trade, and I have no doubt that if only the river were made available to fishing boats, a very lucrative fishing industry could be developed there. I imagine it would be all to the good if we could have as many small ports on our coast as possible, especially on the East Coast. As I said, the eastern coast is a coast where there are no fishing facilities. People actually go off to sea to fish off the beach and we have had some drowning incidents and serious fatalities. There is the urge for people to proceed to sea and take part in fishing and the risks and the adventure that the sea offers. Considering the amount of money that has been spent on Port Alfred, considering the enormous amount of capital development that is lying idle there, it does seem that more consideration should be given to opening up that river. It is a tidal river for 17 miles, it is not just an ordinary type of river, but a river that could be developed into a mighty port if it were only better situated geographically in this country. It could have been developed at a fraction of the cost required to develop East London, but it was not strategically suitably situated. I think, however, in the development of our country to-day, it is necessary that ports like Port Alfred should receive greater attention, and I do appeal to the hon. the Minister perhaps even to conduct an experiment. Send a dredger for a short period to the river mouth and see how long it will remain open. We have no doubt that if the bar was cleared, it would remain open for years. I remember as a child, many years after the port had been neglected and deserted, fishing trawlers used to go out to sea from Port Alfred; they used to go out and fish, following on the earlier procedure when it was a port, and it was only in latter years that it silted up and developed a dangerous bar. I appeal to the hon. the Minister to give my appeal his close and serious attention. It would mean a great deal to our eastern areas, and a coastal folk of many thousands of people would find a good living there. As our Natives are developing to-day, they cannot just live on mealies and milk forever, and we cannot produce the mutton and beef in that particular area to satisfy their needs. I think it would be of general advantage to this country if only a fishing port were developed at Port Alfred.
I read recently about a poll some English newspaper had taken in respect of a shadow Cabinet to be constituted if this Government were to fall, and in that Cabinet Minister Ben Schoeman got most support as Minister of Transport. The hon. member for Wynberg, who is certainly regarded as the shadow Minister of Transport if the United Party should ever come into power, was not even considered. If this does not prove to anyone who wants to fight the hon. the Minister and his administration that by doing so he would be knocking his head against a steel locomotive, then I do not know what would convince him of his foolishness. It may be accepted that the readers of the newspaper concerned are not Government supporters. I just wanted to make this remark to show how stupid and unnecessary were all the attacks made on the hon. the Minister and his administration to which we have had to listen for the last few days. I just want to raise a few matters in connection with the constituency of Marico to which I also referred last year during the Budget debate, and I want to take this opportunity to thank the hon. the Minister for the sympathetic manner in which he considered those requests. I am referring in the first place to the request of certain companies which export fluorspa and manganese and which negotiated with the Railways about cementing the loading platforms at the different stations. After consultation this was granted to them, and what I particularly want to thank the Minister for is that the previous rental per month for the old loading platforms remained unchanged after they were cemented. That is a special concession for which those companies are very grateful to the Minister.
In the second place, I again want to plead for a thorough investigation of the possibility of expanding the railway lines in the Bushveld complex of the north-western Transvaal. There are various railway termini like those at Beestekraal, Middelwit, Thabazimbi and others which all stretch from the industrial areas to the north-west but which then come to an end, and in my opinion, and also the opinion of the inhabitants of that area, they do not come near enough to the heart of the real Bushveld, the cattle-raising area. Recently a strong deputation was sent to the Minister and they received a very friendly welcome from the Railway Commissioners, and I want to thank the Minister for the way in which they were received. The result of the interview is that an investigation will now be made in loco by the commissioners personally. They will particularly devote attention to the possible extension of the line from Middelwit to Dwaalboom. If that is done it will greatly assist the inhabitants of that part of the Bushveld who experience great difficulty in transporting their cattle, by bringing them much nearer to a rail terminus. It will be much more convenient and save them costs. We know that those areas are fairly well served by railway bus services, but we also know that for the kind of transport required in those areas, where chiefly slaughter cattle are produced which have to be transported to market, it is not so effective and it is a much more expensive form of transport. During the foot-and-mouth epidemic, which was accompanied by certain regulations which were applied, and also during the severe drought, the Department of Agricultural Technical Services rendered great assistance in respect of the speedy transport which was required. The farmers were assisted by the Department of Agricultural Economics and Marketing in regard to subsidies on fodder, and the Railways, if I understand the position correctly, grant a rebate of 87.5 per cent for the transport of cattle from drought-stricken districts to areas where they can obtain grazing. Now it will be realized, if these people had been nearer to railway lines and stations, how much easier it would have been for them to make use of these concessions, and what it will mean to the more intensive agricultural development of these areas.
I also want to thank the Minister for his concessions and for the friendly and patient way in which he, the General Manager and the System Manager listened to me every time when I referred to the fear which exists in the minds of the Railway staff at Zeerust, and also in the minds of the public of Zeerust in respect of the possible removal of the locomotive workshops from Zeerust and the consequential transfer of Railway staff from Zeerust, possibly to Mafeking or to Krugersdorp, to operate the section between Mafeking and Zeerust from there. I have listened to the speech of the hon. member for Randfontein in which he pointed out to the Minister that in his area there is room for the establishment of housing facilities for Railway officials who are transferred from other areas and who experience a lack of accommodation in the Krugersdorp-Randfontein complex. That rather strengthens my fear that this development which Zeerust is afraid of is in the process of taking place. Last year already a number of railwaymen were transferred from Zeerust. More are on the point of being transferred. It is estimated that within the near future another 30 or 40 will be transferred. Now I am informed that these transfers really serve no practical purpose. The conviction is held that it will make no difference at all whether the service is run from Zeerust to Krugersdorp or vice versa. As against that, the new scheme will result in great disruption for the staff and the economic prosperity of the town will suffer a severe setback. [Time limit.]
I just want to reply to the few points which have been raised. I want to say to the hon. member for Marico (Mr. Grobler) that I have no knowledge that more members of the staff are to be transferred, but it is not such an easy thing in this industry to switch over from one place to another. But as I promised the hon. member at the time, we shall do everything in our power to see to it that as few members of the Railway staff as possible are taken away from Zeerust. As far as the plea of the hon. member for Randfontein (Dr. Mulder) for a new station building is concerned he pointed out that the station was built in 1893. It has, therefore, practically become a historic monument and it would be a pity to destroy it. In any case it seems to me that Randfontein has been particularly fortunate in that all the other departments have erected new buildings there, and I think that this old historic monument will have to be preserved for some time yet. In any case I may just say to my other friend who also raised the question of station buildings, that we are replacing them gradually and new ones are constructed gradually where it is essential. It costs a great deal, however, to build a new station and our capital is limited, particularly now that the Railways have reached the stage where they have made up the leeway and have to keep pace with the development in the country. Treasury is holding the purse string very tightly as far as the provision of capital is concerned. The Minister of Transport is consequently obliged to keep his capital requirements as low as possible. There is, however, a large number of station buildings which have to be replaced. Similarly there are also many stations where new buildings have to be erected. In this connection priority lists are prepared and it may be that the stations which I have been asked for to-night are high on that priority list. I want to ask hon. members, therefore, to keep up their courage. They will be pleasantly surprised if their stations receive new buildings in the near future. They know at least that their respective stations will get to the top of the list some day or other.
As far as houses for the workmen of the loco sheds on the West Rand are concerned, I merely wish to say that it has not yet been decided whether or not to provide housing. That matter must still be considered. It must also still be decided where to construct them. As far as the sick fund is concerned, the hon. member also asked that a higher per capita fee be paid to doctors so that more capable doctors would apply. Doctors’ fees were increased recently. I agree with the hon. member that the remuneration which they receive does not always offer sufficient inducement to attract the best medical forces. In order to pay higher remuneration the board of the Sick fund was obliged to increase the contributions of the staff to the fund and as the hon. member probably knows, the staff objected strongly to this increase in their contributions. From 1 June 1962, however, the remuneration payable to Railway doctors and Railway specialists has been increased at a total cost of R296,000. That may perhaps assist to attract more capable people. The hon. member also said that we were very vulnerable as far as our supply of crude oil was concerned in case sanctions were applied. That is right and that is why it is not my policy to go in for Diesel engines on a large scale. However, the Administration was compelled to acquire Diesel engines for use in South West Africa on account of the water difficulty they have there. There are approximately 57 Diesel locomotives which will be used principally for shunting purposes in future. The policy is to electrify—to convert our cheap coal into electric power. I do not believe that the danger which exists as far as the dislocation of our electricity supply system is concerned during a war is greater than the danger which exists that our railway lines may be destroyed. If the railway lines are destroyed, it will in any case not be possible for a steam locomotive to travel on them. Electric power is, of course, very much more effective than steam power and that is why our policy is to electrify wherever it is economically justified.
The hon. member for Pretoria (District) (Mr. Schoonbee) asked me whether I could give the assurance that we will be able in future to convey the ore and maize which arrive at our harbours for transport. I can give him that assurance. The Cape Town harbour, particularly the grain elevator there, has tremendous capacity whereas a very small portion of this capacity is being used at present. We are negotiating with the Maize Board at the moment for the erection of a grain elevator at East London. That will increase the availabile capacity even more. We are, of course, still increasing the carrying capacity of the Railways and consequently I can give him the assurance that we will indeed be able in the future to transport the ore and maize which offer.
In regard to Port Alfred, I can only inform the hon. member for Albany (Mr. Bowker) in connection with this hardy annual, that the Railway Administration is responsible for the administration of commercial harbours and by no stretch of imagination will Port Alfred ever become such a harbour. It can become a fishing harbour and the Minister of Economic Affairs will then be responsible for the finances. We will do the building however. I would suggest, therefore, that the hon. member makes representation to the Minister of Economic Affairs.
My reply to the hon. member for Port Elizabeth (Central) (Mr. Dodds) is that a committee has been appointed to inquire into rates and tariffs. It will also investigate the question of port to port rates. Representations can, therefore, be made to it.
*The hon. member for Bloemfontein (East) (Mr. van Rensburg) asked whether it was not possible to make the Blue Train run via Bloemfontein for one of its weekly trips. That could have been considered if it were not for the fact that the route would then be appreciably longer than the one via Kimberley. The whole idea of having the Blue Train is not so much to transport intermediate passengers, but the transport of point-to-point passengers. It is the intention to provide such passengers with a fast, luxurious and direct trip. Anything which is done to make the journey longer will therefore not be appreciated by the type of passenger we really want to attract. In this regard I must say that the support enjoyed by the Blue Train just recently has been much better than it was in the past. In fact, very often one cannot find a seat on it nowadays. The hon. member also asked whether the introduction of centralized traffic control between Springfontein and Bloemfontein would solve the traffic problem. That is of course the idea of introducing traffic control. It can increase the carrying capacity of a section by up to 50 per cent. That means that the whole section can be controlled from one central point. All the crossing points are controlled automatically. All signals are electrical and therefore the sections between stations can be further divided into block signals. The result is that many more trains can cross such a section than in the case of ordinary control. The establishment of centralized traffic control can therefore solve traffic problems by increasing the carrying capacity of the section.
The hon. member for Simonstown (Mr. Gay) talked about long term planning. I agree with him in this respect. He mentioned the provision of facilities for oil tankers in Cape Town harbour and about a fishing harbour. We could not very well build a new dock which I estimate will cost about R8,000,000 if there was no prospect of a refinery being erected. Consequently, before we could start with the building of such a dock, we had to have the assurance that a refinery would be erected. This assurance we now have. Our plans have been almost completed and there will, therefore, be no delay on the part of the Railways. We are ready to start almost immediately with the building of the new dock.
The actual site in the harbour has been decided upon and the plans are being drawn up. The fishing harbour is, of course, the responsibility of the Department of Economic Affairs. The Railways only do the building work. The provincial administration appointed a committee last year to find a site for a fishing harbour in Table Bay for deepsea trawlers. This committee has reported and its report has been submitted to the Railway Administration for its comments. The Department of Economic Affairs is also considering the report and recommendations at the moment. Immediately the Department of Economic Affairs takes a decision on the actual site of the fishing harbour, we are prepared to start work on it immediately.
It affects the Railway Administration too to a great extent.
Yes, because it will bring considerable relief to Table Bay harbour. I am, therefore, anxious that this fishing harbour be built as soon as possible. As a matter of fact, I have been pressing for it for a number of years. I do not, however, want to assume financial responsibility for it because fishing harbours are run at a loss and I do not see why the Railways should bear that loss. That is a liability for the Central Government.
The hon. member also referred to the suburban services and mentioned defects in the new coaches, inter alia, that they do not have sufficient seats. I can assure him that the public will adapt themselves to that. When this type of coach was introduced on the suburban services of the Witwatersrand, we received the same complaints during the initial stages. What is more, they have to make longer journeys than is necessary on the suburban services of Cape Town. From Springs to Johannesburg, for instance, is a longer journey than from Simonstown to Cape Town. However, the travelling public adapted themselves to these coaches and I think they will do the same in time in Cape Town. We have got to have these coaches with fewer seats so as to be able to accommodate more passengers thereby making the operation of these trains an economic proposition.
In regard to station building which was also referred to by the hon. member, I have already replied to other hon. members to the effect that the building of station buildings is a matter of priority and that these buildings will be built or renewed as and when funds permit.
I want to congratulate the hon. member for Namaqualand (Mr. G. de K. Maree) on his maiden speech. He put his case very well. As far as the doubling of the bus service between Karasburg and Cape Town is concerned, I shall ask the Management to go into it and determine whether it would be a paying proposition to do it. As for the building of a railway line, I want to point out that all investigations hitherto have shown that it will not be economic. It costs a great deal to build a railway line; R200,000 per mile is still fairly cheap. The hon. member will therefore realize that when we have spent millions of rand on the building of a railway line, there must be sufficient traffic on the line to justify this expenditure and to cover the operating costs. Agricultural produce and ore are low tariff articles which yield very little income. We do not want to make a profit on the running of such a railway line; we merely want to cover the expenditure connected with it. If there is going to be sufficient traffic to ensure that the expenditure will be covered, I shall be quite prepared to build such a railway line. If there is a great potential in this area and further development takes place the hon. member may rest assured that attention will be given to the building of a railway line in this area in the future.
The hon. member for Salt River (Mr. Timoney) spoke about conciliation. I do not know whether he is aware that there is conciliation machinery on the Railways. There is, for instance, a conciliation board on which the Management as well as the staff are represented. This board discusses all matters affecting the staff and makes recommendations to the Minister. Staff associations, however, have also the right to come direct to the Minister. There are, however, certain weaknesses in our conciliation machinery and I am giving attention to these at the present time. In Section 28 of Act 22 of 1960 there is, for instance, a provision which provides for the appointment of a commission under the chairmanship of a Judge or ex-Judge if a considerable number of servants are dissatisfied and where this might lead to disorganizing the Railways. The Minister must, in such circumstances, make a report to the State President who must then appoint such a commission of inquiry. That commission’s report is laid upon the Table and there the matter is left. It can be decided either to accept the recommendations made or not to do so. There is also another provision to the effect that if one-fifth of the servants in a certain grade send in a petition, the State President may appoint a commission. That is entirely within his discretion. As I said, there are certain weaknesses in the conciliation machinery and these are at present receiving my attention.
The hon. member for Transkeian Territories (Mr. Hughes) raised the question of Port St. Johns. I want to inform him in this connection that an engineer of my Department did visit Port St. Johns at the request of the Commissioner-General and other bodies. That visit was made merely for the purpose of giving advice. The Railway Administration will not assume the responsibility of building a harbour there. There is no rail connection with Port St. Johns. To build a commercial harbour there will, in the circumstances, involve an expenditure of many millions of rand. It will, furthermore, be a quite uneconomical proposition. A fishing harbour there is the responsibility of the Department of Economic Affairs. That Department has to find the finance for it while my Department will build it. I cannot, however, hold out any prospect of a commercial harbour being built at Port St. Johns in the forseeable future.
Were any surveys made in this connection?
No, no surveys were made. To build a harbour at Sordwana Bay for instance and to provide for only two berths would cost about R16,000,000. It will, of course, be an artificial harbour. I have just received the following note in connection with Port St. Johns. My engineer was told that the object of the meeting was to discuss the possibility of developing Port St. Johns as a harbour. It appeared that the idea was that a harbour could be constructed cheaply in the small basin sheltered by a cape. The Harbour Advisory Engineer indicated that any construction in the open sea would be very expensive. Considered facilities could be provided for vessels of the coaster class much more cheaply and more reasonably by dredging entrance to the river as far up as the old jetty. It would be necessary to rebuild the jetty and also have a dredger based permanently at the port. Purchase of dredger would be in the order of a R1,000,000, and the restoration of the harbour and the equipment for the jetty about R400,000. He mentioned, however, that traffic offering could probably be dealt with by the railway from Umtata and very good R.M.T. services. That is only for a very small harbour to provide for coasters.
That is all we want.
Well, if it is only for a coaster service then probably the R.M.T. service could cope with the traffic. Otherwise a rail connection would have to be built. Of course, that is a matter for the Central Government. I am not prepared to build a harbour to be run at a loss. If the Government wants to subsidize me or to carry the losses then I am quite prepared to build it.
The hon. member for Port Elizabeth South (Mr. Plewman) is not here.
*The hon. member for Prieska (Mr. Stander) also spoke about the construction of a railway line in the North Western districts and the expansion of the motor services. As far as the construction of a railway line is concerned, I have already replied to the hon. member for Namaqualand and what I told him is also applicable to the request of the hon. member for Prieska. It is only a question of whether the area offers sufficient traffic to cover the expenditure. As far as a revision of the road motor service tariffs is concerned that is also a matter that will be investigated by this committee which I have appointed. All representations in that regard should be made to them.
The hon. member for Albany (Mr. Bowker) made a plea for the staff of the road motor services. I can assure him that their claims will be considered at the appropriate time, together with the claims of all other sections. I am sympathetic not only to one section, but to the whole of the staff, and where I can assist them I shall certainly do so.
*The hon. member for Brakpan (Mr. Bezuidenhout) asked for improvements to the Brakpan station. He probably heard the answer I gave the hon. member for Randfontein. As far as shelters are concerned I shall ask the Management to go into the matter to see whether shelters can be provided. As far as overhead crossings and subways are concerned it would be most uneconomic tp close the subways now and to build overhead crossings at great cost. What I will ask the Management to do is to see to it that there is sufficient lighting in the subways, and that where there are Railway Police at the station they should keep an eye on the subways.
The hon. member for Bethlehem complained about trains standing at stations overnight and people making a noise and thus disturbing the travelling public. If there are policemen at the station they should of course see to it that does not happen, so that passengers will not be disturbed. Then one must also remember that there is no regulation or law which says that people may not talk loudly at a station or that they may not sing for that matter. As they lack the legal authority, it is very difficult for the police to remove people from stations, unless they are causing a disturbance. Then, of course, the police can act.
Then the hon. member also spoke of the terrific noise made by the foghorns and he asked that technicians should design something that can be heard by the ships but that will not be heard by people ashore. I suppose the hon. member has in mind something like a dog whistle, the noise of which cannot be heard by the person blowing it, but which has such a high tone that a dog can hear it. The snag is that all ships would have to have this particular equipment to enable them to hear this noiseless noise. It would be very difficult to persuade all the shipping lines in the world to attach this expensive equipment to their ships for the sake of a few of the residents of Green Point. But I would like to point out to the hon. member that it is amazing how people can adapt themselves. I remember the days when I was a fireman and when the locomotive had to stand over at night occasionally for an hour or so to bring back another train. I would then prepare the fire, put a piece of remnant cotton underneath my head with a chunk of coal, below it, put my feet aloft next to the boiler, with two irons sticking into my back—and how I slept! That locomotive could blow off steam as loudly as it liked. I never used to hear it. I am sure that the residents of Green Point have so adapted themselves to the noise of the foghorn that it does not bother them any more. In fact, my colleague’s wife has told me that she likes it. She says that when she hears it at night while she is asleep, she sleeps very soundly.
The hon. member for Turffontein (Mr. Durrant) wants to know whether the Planning Council has been reorganized, and why that is so. The hon. member probably knows that there is a Planning Council and also a Planning Division. The Planning Division actually does the work. That is under the management of Mr. Rezelman. He is the chief of the Planning Division. The Planning Division does the actual work, the enquiries, the investigations, and they make recommendations. Those recommendations are then considered by the Planning Council. The Planning Council has been reduced in size. It consists of the Deputy General Manager, Mr. Lourens, as Chairman, the Assistant General Managers, Technical and Operating, together with the Financial Manager, the Head of Planning and Productivity and the Chief Civil Engineer. They consider the recommendations of the Planning Division and in turn they make recommendations to the General Manager. As constituted now it works much more efficiently than previously, when it was a rather unwieldy body. I cannot agree to submit the recommendations to hon. members, not even to the Select Committee. The Planning Council is not only concerned with long-term planning but also with short-term planning. Even in regard to long-term planning conditions change. Planning must be flexible because conditions change very rapidly. For instance, plans formulated to-day to be put into operations in two years’ time, might change within a year because circumstances change, and perhaps to such an extent that the whole plan must be changed. It would be misleading to hon. members, to the House and to the Select Committee if the plans of the Planning Council have to be laid on the Table of the House or submitted to the Select Committee. I think it would rather embarrass the Administration in carrying out its development. That is why I think it is quite inadvisable to lay the plans of the Planning Council on the Table of the House or even to submit them to the Select Committee.
What about my question in regard to commercial air services?
Oh yes, it is my policy to allow private enterprise to operate feeder services, and if they are prepared to do so, even to take over some of the intermediate services. I have already told the Chamber of Commerce that. I think it is right that the S.A. Airways should not have a monopoly of internal services. I am quite prepared to surrender the service to, for instance Oudtshoorn or Grahamstown. to private operators provided they are prepared to give as good a service. I will encourage private operators to introduce feeder services, as long as they do not come into competition with the S.A. Airways on the main routes. That is my policy.
You will accept new services?
Yes, feeder services, as long as they do not compete on the regular routes of the S.A. Airways. Feeder services for instance from Pietersburg and Louis Trichardt to Johannesburg. They are quite at liberty to introduce such services, and I shall see to it that they get the necessary certificate from the National Transport Commission.
Mr. Speaker, there is one matter I want to put right. In the debate on the Second Additional Estimates I replied to questions by the hon. members for Wynberg and Port Elizabeth (South) that the amount of R650,000 paid as compensation for unexploited minerals in connection with the Ogies/ van Wyksdrif line was a final payment. The amount I mentioned is in respect of payments received to the end of the current financial year. But further claims to the extent of R750,000 are anticipated in the next five or eight years. Hon. members will see that under Head No. II, New Works on Open Lines, Item 4, provision is made for R175,000 for the ensuing financial year and R575,000 for subsequent years. I want to make sure that there is no misunderstanding.
Does that refer to the coal rights?
Those are the coal rights that were expropriated. The hon. member knows about it. The coal is unexploited and they have to be compensated for it.
There is only one more matter and that is in regard to the remuneration of the members of the Railway Board. The hon. member for Wynberg moved an amendment that the amount be reduced. I am quite convinced in my own mind that if the increase in the salaries of the members of the Railway Board was not to some extent combined with the appointment of Mr. de Villiers and the election of my colleague, nothing would have been said about it. I say again that the increase is perfectly justified. The members of the Railway Board are doing more to-day than they have ever done in the past. They are fully occupied. They occupy a very high position in the service. After all, they are just under the Minister. They also occupy very responsible positions. Their functions are largely in an advisory capacity, but they also function as an appeal court. They have to make recommendations in regard to the building of new lines. They have to be consulted in regard to and have to give advice on financial matters. Members of the Railway Board to a very large extent fill the same position as a Deputy Minister of other Departments. They receive a very much lower remuneration than any Deputy Minister. And if I have to compare the responsibilities of the members of the Railway Board with the functions and responsibilities of the members of many other boards, the chairman of which receive higher remunerations, then I am quite satisfied in my own mind that this increase is perfectly justified. I say again this increase was actually granted last year when consolidation took place. But there was no opportunity of placing it before the House, and that could only be done this year. They have already been receiving that salary since last year, so that it is not an increase that can be brought into relation with the claims of the artisans association or that of any other section of the railway service.
I only want to say this to hon. members, that I have proved my sympathy to the railwaymen. I am responsible for all the railwaymen and when I improve the position of railwaymen I have to take into consideration the claims of all railwaymen. And every section of the railwaymen can make out a very good case for improved conditions and improved wages. I have to take that into consideration. If I have to give the Artisan Staff Association an increase of R2,700,000 at this stage and I have to accede to the demands of other sections of the railwaymen, I will probably be saddled with an expenditure of R16,000,000 to R20,000,000, and I do not think I can possibly justify an expenditure of that amount and of that nature at this stage. It is not a question of not having sympathy. I know they can make out a good case and they have made out a good case on the merits. Other sections of the staff are also doing that, and if I have the money I shall certainly give it to them. But I have to place the interests of South Africa first. It is not in the interests of South Africa that there should be an undue rise in rates and tariffs at this stage. That is why I cannot make the concession. I have not the money, in spite of having all sympathy with the workers.
Before the hon. Minister replied in regard to various matters raised in the course of this debate, the hon. member for Marico (Mr. Grobler) addressed the Committee and I was quite surprised that he gave some significance to the question of a poll of public opinion that was held by a Johannesburg newspaper. He said it was significant of the high esteem in which the hon. Minister of Transport was held by the public that he was nominated as Minister of Transport. I wonder whether the hon. member for Marico also agrees with some of the other nominations made. For instance, the Prime Minister was nominated as Sir de Villiers Graaff.
I can assure you I am not flattered to be a member of that Cabinet.
I understand the hon. the Minister’s embarrassment because the Minister of Bantu Administration and Development in that shadow Cabinet was Mr. Albert Luthuli.
That is what I say.
However, Mr. Chairman, I did not enter this debate to discuss the question of the advisibility of such a Cabinet or the wisdom of the Cabinet selected by the public poll. I want to take up the hon. Minister of Transport on the theme with which he ended his speech this evening, and that is looking after the interests of all sections of the Railway staff. I specifically want to refer to the position in regard to the clerical staff. If we refer to the latest report of the General Manager of Railways we find on page 122 of that report that the position of the clerical staff is dealt with, and it states as follows—
The position in regard to the clerical staff then is that there is a dearth of experienced male clerks. And when we inquire into the reasons why such a dearth should exist, one has to look at the present facilities in connection with the clerical staff, because it happens on numerous occasions, particularly in the Public Service, that people enter the Service and after receiving training they go to Commerce and Industry. You will find, Sir, that salaries and working conditions have to be commensurate with competition from Commerce and Industry. It is here that I think the Railways in regard to its clerical staff is found wanting, because with the recruitments of clerical staff I may say there can be little criticism of that recruitment, apart from saying that if there is such a shortage, if a campaign can be embarked upon whereby recruits can be obtained via our schools—young people leaving our schools, particularly those wishing to make a career in the clerical world—then something could be done to attract people to the Railways through the conditions of service. Now the commencing salaries for young people in such a service are very important. The commencing salaries for young persons in the Railway service are good, but when one looks at the scale of salaries one soon realizes that their advancement and opportunity for advancement is indeed limited. That is why I wish to speak to the Minister in that connection, because in the Head before the House we have a summary of staff in tabulation form —at the back of this document—and it shows that clerks, Grade 2, at the minimum scale of pay receive R732.
At 10.25 p.m. the Chairman stated that, in accordance with Standing Order No. 26 (1), he would report progress and ask leave to sit again.
Progress reported and asked leave to sit again.
House to resume in Committee on 15 March.
The House adjourned at