House of Assembly: Vol2 - WEDNESDAY 6 FEBRUARY 1985


laid upon the Table:

National Key Points Amendment Bill [No 40—85 (GA)]—(Standing Committee on Defence).

To be referred to the appropriate Standing Committee, unless the House decides otherwise within three sitting days.


Mr Chairman, with your leave I should like to make the following statement on the business of the House in connection with the various Appropriation Bills on own affairs of the House of Assembly:

The debate on the Second Reading of the Part Appropriation Bill will commence on Tuesday, 19 February, and the reply to the debate will be delivered on Wednesday, 20 February. The Third Reading will also be taken on Wednesday, 20 February.

†All stages of the Additional Appropriation Bill will be taken on Thursday, 28 February.

The Budget Speech on the Main Budget will be delivered on Monday, 25 March. The debate on the Second Reading of the Bill will commence on Tuesday, 26 March, and the reply to the debate will be delivered on Thursday, 28 March.


Mr Chairman, I move:

That Order No 8 for today—Resumption of debate on discharge of item for Second Reading of the South African Iron and Steel Industrial Corporation, Limited, Amendment Bill [No 2b—85 (GA)] and the withdrawal of the Bill—be discharged.

Mr Chairman, I take it the hon the Minister has moved this motion in terms of Standing Order No 44, and is therefore asking the unanimous consent of all hon members. I simply wish to state, so that there will be no misunderstanding …


In the motion I have just moved I simply ask that the discussion of the Bill should stand over until tomorrow.


Is the hon Minister really sure about it? [Interjections.]


Mr Chairman, I am asking you to clarify the matter, not the hon the Minister. The hon the Minister, in his motion, asks that this particular Bill be withdrawn. That is in fact what his motion amounts to. Firstly, we have not even begun the discussion of the first order of the day, and the hon the Minister is already moving a motion relating to the eighth order of the day. I submit that the hon the Minister has no authority even to refer to the eighth order of the day at this stage because no motion has been moved asking for that particular order of the day to be given precedence over the first order of the day. That is the first point I want to make.


Order! I believe I can clarify the matter for the sake of the hon member for Hillbrow. We have not yet come to the Order Paper. As I understand it the hon the Minister has merely moved the discharge of the eighth order of the day. If I remember correctly this has been done in accordance with Standing Order No 44(f). In terms of Standing Order No 44(f) no notice is required to be given. The effect of this will be that the debate for the discharge of the item will not be continued with, which means that there will be no further debate as to whether it should be discharged or not. It will then remain on the Order Paper for the joint sitting. That will be the effect of the motion of the hon the Minister.


Mr Chairman, I was coming to that. I was merely making a preliminary point before dealing with it, namely that we have not really reached the order of the day at the present stage because it has to be given precedence first. The motion deals with the eighth order while we have not yet reached No 1. However, I shall leave it at that for the moment. The effect of the hon the Minister’s motion is to restore the status ante quo. Furthermore, the effect will be that the Bill will remain on this Order Paper for discussion. Since we are arguing this point, and since we are dealing with a new Parliament in the sense that we have had joint sittings which we have not had before, would you perhaps give a ruling on Joint Rule 36, which is relevant in the sense that it stipulates that:

No Bill introduced under these Joint Rules and Orders shall be withdrawn without the unanimous concurrence of all the members present of each House.

I should imagine that to withdraw a Bill once it has been tabled in a joint sitting will require a unanimous decision. Sir, for future reference I should like to hear your ruling on this.


At this stage I think the hon member’s argument is a hypothetical one. It is not necessary for me to give a ruling in regard to Joint Rule 36 because it is not being applied at all in this case. If the hon member wishes to have a ruling on it he can approach me privately.


Mr Chairman, on a point of order: If this House does not want an atmosphere of no confidence to envelop the work of standing committees, I think we shall have to obtain clarity on this issue as soon as possible, because a standing committee came to a unanimous decision and made a recommendation, and the hon Minister then tried to withdraw the Bill. If the House does not wish for an atmosphere of no confidence to envelop this situation, I ask you to give a ruling on this matter as soon as possible.


Does the hon member mean that he wants a ruling on the application of Joint Rule 36?


Yes, I want to know whether or not a Bill can be withdrawn, as the hon Minister for Trade and Industry wanted to do. [Interjections.]


Order! The Committees on the Standing Rules and Orders will surely give attention to that rule at the appropriate time. That would be the correct forum in which to give attention to this rule.

Question agreed to.

PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERS’ AMENDMENT BILL (Second Reading) (Introductory Speech delivered at Joint Sitting on 4 February) The MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS:

Mr Speaker, I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The Professional Engineers’ Act of 1968, in terms of which the South African Council for Professional Engineers was established, also provides for the establishment of boards of control in respect of any profession related or allied to work reserved for professional engineers. The work performed by an engineering technician is an example of the kind of work in respect of which a board of control may be established.

The main function of a board of control is to promote a high standard of education, training and conduct of persons registered by it. A board of control may call upon advisory committees to assist it in the performance of its activities. It now appears, however, that the Act does not permit a board of control to delegate some of its powers to such an advisory committee. This is a shortcoming in the Act because a board of control cannot function efficiently unless it is vested with the power to delegate.

The Bill seeks to remedy this shortcoming. According to information available to the Department of Public Works and Land Affairs, approximately 35 000 persons may eventually be registered with boards of control established under the principal Act.

Finally, I wish to point out that section 32 of the principal Act is now being repealed. This section, which applied the Act to South West Africa, is no longer necessary as that territory has its own legislation regulating the engineers’ profession.

Second Reading resumed


Mr Chairman, before I begin speaking on the Bill I should like to refer this House to a statement made by the hon the Minister in another House about debates which take place in this particular House. In this afternoon’s Argus, in the column “Something Stirred in Parliament: A Gallery View by Frans Esterhuyse,” appears the following statement:

Dr Lapa Munnik, Minister of Communications and of Public Works, in thanking the House (that is the House of Representatives) for its support on three of his measures said he valued the brief statements of approval as compared with ‘half-hour speeches’ in the House of Assembly to say the same thing.

I am told that after me there will be three members of the NP who intend to make ‘half-hour speeches’—I hear it is two now. [Interjections.]


Order! The hon member must be allowed to continue his speech undisturbed. The hon member may continue.


The hon the Minister must please take his caucus in hand and see that government members do not make half-hour speeches, and filibuster in this house. [Interjections.]

Now this particular Bill is rather important. In the first instance I suppose it is necessary for me to disclose my interest in this Bill. I have a son and a son-in-law who are both engineers. However, let us deal with the original Professional Engineers’ Act, which has played a very vital role in the process of professionalising engineers. As a result of this Act there is an Education Advisory Committee of professional engineers to ensure that the training of engineers at our universities will be of the high standard that it is. In addition to the training and the qualifications required of university graduates in order to become professional engineers, a term of so-called apprenticeship is necessary for the qualified engineer straight out of university, before he is admitted as a professional engineer. Last year we amended this Act to provide for the establishment of additional boards of control for engineering technicians and engineering technologists. This is very important because this is where the 35 000 people to whom the hon the Minister referred in his introductory speech will come from in view of the fact that there are large numbers of technologists and technicians in the engineering industry.

Previously the engineers, through their Federation of Societies of Professional Engineers with their headquarters at Kelvin House in Johannesburg, used to act on behalf of the whole engineering profession. They have played a very important role.

Now that this Bill is coming into operation providing for the technicians and the technologists, it is very necessary that certain provisions be made. Let me say this for the quality of our South African engineers: They have participated in overseas conferences and overseas seminars, and as far as our research is concerned, they can hold their own against their colleagues from any other country in the world.

The Bill deals with the South African Council for Professional Engineers. There are now going to be three boards—one for professional engineers, one for technologists and one for technicians. This is where the problem arises because up to this stage the South African Council for Professional Engineers has not yet defined its greatest problem. Its greatest problem is what work should be reserved for professional engineers, what work should be reserved for technicians and what work should be reserved for technologists, and what will be the penalty that will be imposed on any unregistered person who undertakes such reserved work without being qualified, or registered.

I think this is a very vital matter which the hon the Minister must investigate as soon as possible because I think it is absolutely essential that the actual scope of these three groups should be adequately defined.

In the case of an architect, for instance, he signs the plans and therefore, once he signs the plans, he has the legal responsibility for what he undertakes. In so far as the engineers are concerned, however, nothing like this is taking place.

Let us consider the difference between a medical doctor and a paramedic. In that particular case the definition of what each can do is very rigid. It is laid down by the Medical and Dental Council what exactly a medical doctor can do. He may perform an operation; a paramedic may not. A nurse may give an injection; many other people may not.

I think that it is very important that the South African Council for Professional Engineers should at least attempt to define its actual role in this profession in South Africa so that the engineers themselves will know where they stand.

It is here where one sees the great diversity of engineers that exists. There are the mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, civil engineers, aeronautical engineers, production engineers, chemical engineers, mining engineers, industrial engineers and agricultural engineers. How does one specify the limits within which each of these specialities should operate?

In the medical profession it is absolutely clear within limits what a thoracic surgeon can do, what an ear and nose surgeon can do, what a physician can do and what a general surgeon can do, but in the case of the engineers this has not been specified. I think therefore the whole question is this: For what will the professional engineer legally be responsible? That is what should be defined so that it will be clear what he can do.

I would now like to refer to the question of the funds held by the South African Council for Professional Engineers. They have over the years stockpiled a large amount of money. I think that the scope of the council should be extended in order to look after the interests of the engineering profession as a whole. They can do that by improving the standards within the profession itself, by utilizing funds for that purpose, by providing special postgraduate courses and seminars for engineers who are already qualified, in order to bring them up to date. It is also very important that they should carry out promotions among school-leavers to attract them to the engineering profession. Finally, and most important of all they should also promote the question of discipline within the engineering profession itself. It cannot be left to the institutes at Kelvin House to fund these matters. I believe that the time has come for something to be done to ensure that the South African Council for Professional Engineers carries out the functions which this House gave it the power to carry out.


Mr Chairman, to a great extent I agree with what the hon member for Bezuidenhout said about this group of workers of South Africa. But in general I cannot agree with him that it is the responsibility of the hon the Minister. Just as all the other professions are now doing, this profession must put its own house in order. One must not always burden the Government with all kinds of things which are not in its sphere of operations.

I now want to turn to the measure before us. I agree with the hon the Minister that since this Act was passed in 1968, good progress has been made in the field of professional engineers. This side of the House agrees wholeheartedly with the amendment before us this afternoon. We feel it is a good thing that the Act is being improved further, because we believe that the Act was created to help the profession, as the hon member for Bezuidenhout has already said. If we can improve the existing Act, it is the task of this Parliament to do so. In this way we enable the people concerned to serve the country better. The Government and a large part of South Africa’s population support the philosophy of the free trade system. Just like other legislation dealt with by the hon the Minister during the past two days, this legislation must be dealt with as being, and can easily be seen as being the creation of monopolies in the labour market. For that reason we as the legislature must handle legislation of this kind carefully as regards the powers and rights we allocate to professional bodies. Specifically in a developing country like South Africa, it is important that the role of the legislature should be that of the guardian of consumer rights and the creator of negotiating structures for the workers.

In my opinion the aim of the legislation is to protect the public against inferior professional services. This can only be achieved by assisting the profession to put its own house in order and keep it that way. The profession must constantly strive to maintain high standards and ethical codes.


But they do not do so.


I do not agree with the hon member; I think this is being done fairly well at this stage. At the same time the profession must see to it that those persons admitted to its ranks are properly educated and trained, so that they can receive a reasonable remuneration for the qualifications they have obtained and so that they will render a satisfactory service in accordance with the qualifications they have.

Any amendment we make to this legislation must be approached from this angle if we want to propagate the free trade systems, as I believe all parties in this House would like to do, so that we can ensure that the country will make progress and grow in an orderly fashion in the industrial sphere.

The hon the Minister is introducing the amendment at the request of the profession and it was unanimously accepted by the standing committee. Because we have the approval of the profession, we have already satisfied one group of the community and we need only ascertain whether the consumer will also be satisfied with the measure.

The measure provides inter alia for the delegation of powers to the subcommittees appointed by the control boards. Furthermore, the control board may withdraw or amend these powers at their discretion and in my opinion this makes sense, otherwise what actual right would those control boards have to exist? It is a good thing that some of the powers cannot be amended or withdrawn by the control boards, because it would create chaos if, for example, that committee were given the power to take disciplinary steps against members it had appointed and those disciplinary steps were later suspended by the control boards. This is merely one situation the legislation proposes.

We on this side of the House agree that committee members entrusted with a task, must have the right to complete that task after their period of office as members of the committee has expired.

In our opinion, the fact that the measure now severs the department’s links with South West Africa is a logical step, and we were grateful that the CP supported this step in the standing committee. This indicates that they support this measure and are beginning to adopt these standpoints with regard to South West Africa. This is gratifying to us because it proves that the CP is prepared to concede that that state has become self-governing, and that it is competent to make its own arrangements in this connection.

Because we are engaged in a new dispensation in which the Government is bringing about changes and improvements, I should like to put a question to the hon the Minister. I just want to suggest something to him which he can consider in due course.

In my opinion it has always been wrong that legislation of this kind should be dealt with by the Minister of Public Works, as was again done today under this portfolio. As the hon member for Bezuidenhout indicated, there are several professions not concerned with Public Works at all which are nevertheless connected with this legislation. In my opinion it is logical that laws in connection with valuers, land surveyors, chemical and agricultural engineers and many other professions belong under the Department of Manpower instead, and perhaps we should connect them to that department in future.

If we want to take rationalization in various State departments further, I think that we shall have to look into this because the training of and better control over South Africa’s manpower, particularly its professional people, can be dealt with more effectively in that department. The training and the control of professional people and their associations is part of the ordering of the work force of the Republic of South Africa. It is in the interests of the respective professions as well as in the interests of the State for all professions in the RSA to receive recognition from the authorities and for them to be allowed to compete freely in whatever field they want to pursue their professions.

Consequently, in my opinion the regulation of the profession to which this Bill refers and other legislation introduced by the hon the Minister belongs under the Department of Manpower. But I am not suggesting that this hon Minister is not competent to deal with the legislation. I am merely referring to the function as such, and I am asking whether in future this function should not be channelled to the other department instead. Consequently I am suggesting that the hon the Minister investigate the possibility of doing something of the sort.

One cannot say much more about this legislation except that, in my opinion, it was discussed thoroughly in the standing committee, and I take pleasure in supporting the legislation on behalf of this side of the House.


Mr Chairman, I do not know whether the hon member for Boksburg expects the CP to be opposed to draft legislation merely because it is being improved. The CP will support all legislation which is in the interests of South Africa. As far as South West Africa is concerned, the hon member heard something but did not know the rights of it.

We on this side support the Professional Engineers’ Amendment Bill, irrespective what field they are trained in. The tightening up of the law is essential, and if it had not been essential the engineers would not have asked for it themselves.

There is probably no one in this House who does not welcome the fact that this very important profession is now being granted certain concessions to enable it to regulate its own affairs and to take steps against persons who have committed some misdemeanour or other. This is only fair.

In this Bill the control board’s function is not only being facilitated. It is also being applied in such a way that it can be delegated, and it is always a good thing when this happens. We would be doing this cause a great deal of harm if we did not support this Bill, and for that reason we support it. Every one of us is convinced that in the complex times in which we are living and in which the world finds itself, and because we are proceeding to make things easier and get things done more quickly, it is very important for this profession, irrespective of the field in which they are trained, to be able to continue their task of developing whichever country in which they may find themselves unhindered, in the interests of the people living there. For this reason it is a privilege for me to support this legislation on behalf of my party, the CP.


Mr Chairman, it is actually a macabre joke that this legislation has to be introduced as a result of delegation problems, because the previous legislation, that of 1983 which made provision for the control boards for technicians and technologists, in fact inserted a clause under the heading “Delegation”. Today section 30, the heading of which is “Delegation”, must be amended in such a way that the necessary delegation is in fact possible. As the hon the Minister has indicated, the delegation at issue here is that of a control board to delegate its powers to a committee. What are of particular importance are the non-reversible powers in respect of membership, the cancellation of membership and the competence to inquire into cases of persons accused of misconduct, which are being delegated. Even the decision they then take at an inquiry into a person’s misconduct cannot be reversed by the control board established for technicians and technologists— it may only be modified by the full control board.

This makes the administration of the specific control body far cheaper, because a small committee, even a one-man committee, can dispose of matters. Before this power to delegate was introduced by this legislation for this control board for technicians and technologists as well, this could not take place as it did in the case of the SA Council for Professional Engineers. I must say that I am very satisfied with this Bill.

Technicians and technologists find themselves in a similar position to nurses. They are virtually unique as far as professional bodies are concerned in the sense that both can be registered with a body. The grading done by the control board for technologists and technicians is very complex. There are various categories from 1 to 10 and each category is subdivided into sections from “a” to “h” according to the applicable experience and training. In spite of this no work is being reserved for them. Nor are there any provisions in respect of compensation structures for them. These are two matters in respect of which there are clear provisions in the Professional Engineers’ Act. In regulation No 1113 of 1972 one finds a list comprising approximately 30 columns scheduling all the different kinds of work which may be done by engineers and which is reserved for them and the tariffs at which they must do that work. But there is no schedule of any tariffs or reserved work for these two categories of workers. I am very much in favour of there being no reserved work for certain professions, in contrast with what the hon member for Bezuidenhout said, namely that he would also like to differentiate between the different engineering disciplines. I am totally opposed to any job reservation for certain groups.

When a professional body is established for a professional group, the spokesmen of that profession normally place a great deal of emphasis on there then being a far better code of conduct and more control with regard to the conduct and training of the members of such a body through its articles of association. Far better standards of education can also be laid down for the people working in the profession.

I suppose this is true, but with the exception of technologists and the nursing profession, in practice it is usually the case that the economic value of a code of conduct means very little to the public. It frequently does not have the value which was attached to it when those bodies were established.

I should like to give an example in this connection. If consulting engineers have planned a certain job and the contractors carry out that work under the supervision of the consulting engineers, but something still goes wrong, usually the client has no right of recourse against the consulting engineers in terms of the code of conduct. I do not know how this works, but I do know that this is how it works.

I could give many similar examples. For example, certain roads were built where the specifications were not met while representatives of the consulting engineers were on the scene. Certain problems which were foreseen cropped up, but not a word was said about this. Consequently, as far as engineers are concerned, I do not know whether the argument regarding the reservation of work being in the public interest carries any weight. That is why, in contrast to the people who had such a lot to say about it being in the public interest for certain professions to be protected, I have adopted the standpoint that this is not always the case. I could mention other examples which worry me. I am glad that the Competition Board is giving attention to this at the moment.

There are certain professions that set such high admission requirements for prospective candidates at universities that they create an artificial shortage in the market. This leads to the members of that specific profession being in an unassailable position when it comes to the negotiation of fees.

Another example is that of a student at a university who has obtained a very difficult university qualification. In order to enter a certain profession he must still pass such a difficult entrance examination that most students are not able to become full-fledged members of that profession. In spite of the fact that they are academically qualified to do the work required of them in that profession, they then remain in a constant state of apprenticeship. Their employers must approve and sign all their work, otherwise it is not really acceptable.

To a certain extent we find ourselves in the same position today as far as professional engineers and their technicians and technologists are concerned. Although professional engineers have obligingly created a body to protect the interests, the education and the ethics of technicians and technologists and to exercise control over them, there are still technicians who are not allowed to do any engineering work on their own. They may not even take a sample and wash and analyse it in their laboratory, and then give the results of that analysis unless that laboratory is under the supervision of a professional engineer.

I see the hon the Minister is writing this down, but I have checked this thoroughly and it is a fact. This is the problem we are facing in South Africa. That is why I feel that in future when we look at the professions again, we must be very careful when we establish a profession, not to create a too wide field for it, particularly if this means that no other person with a lesser qualification may also operate in that field.


Mr Chairman, the hon member who has just resumed his seat, made some interesting observations. However, I think he has a problem that only the Minister can solve. He spoke about the high standards of the profession, and I agree that is what this is all about. What we are dealing with here today, is not necessarily the high standard of the profession as regards educational standards but with a Bill that does something about the high standards required in the professional conduct of engineers.

This is another piece of legislation that has been requested by the professional body, in this case Scape. It is incumbent upon us as legislators to encourage at all times the highest degree of professionalism in engineering and architecture and in all other fields. As a result of the training that they receive in this country, our engineers can hold their heads high among engineers anywhere in the world. South African engineers are regarded with some jealousy by those in other countries. I know that there are many South African firms that are busy, right at this moment, doing work for governments of other countries. It is not for me to say publicly who they are. However, I happen to know this because, like the hon member for Bezuidenhout, although I may not have an uncle in the furniture business I do have a son in the engineering profession!

However, it is also true that there is a tremendous amount of work that has been and is being done by this profession in this country where our expertise can be seen. One has only to look at those three magnificent bridges on the Garden Route and at what is happening in Richards Bay right at this moment. One has only to appreciate the magnitude of the Du Toit’s Kloof project to realize what is going to be achieved when those gentlemen start driving a tunnel through that mountain range. One has only to see this to realize what a high degree of professionalism and what a high standard of engineering we have achieved in South Africa. We can be very proud of this.

There is only one sad note that I feel I must sound. There are not enough young men and women entering the profession today. However, what is even sadder is that we are not doing enough to encourage members of the other race groups to enter the engineering profession. We can look around us. We have a number of Asiatics, Coloureds and Black people entering the medical profession. They enter all kinds of professions, the legal profession for instance. However, when one looks at the engineering profession one finds that that is one profession which, for some reason that I have never been able to understand, we have not been able to encourage members of the other race groups that are part of this wonderful society of ours, to enter. This is something to which the profession and its professional body should be addressing themselves. This is something which they could well have a good look at. They could encourage those matriculants with good marks in mathematics from schools for the other race groups to consider the engineering profession as a career. Sir, we support this measure wholeheartedly.


Mr Chairman, I should like to reply to a few of the points raised here by hon members, but they must understand that much of what has been said here does not have anything to do with the amendments we are busy with today. For that reason I will not be answering all the questions now, for example on how good or how bad the training is. I think that the hon member for Umhlanga did a very good job of taking up the cudgels for the quality of people we have. He also praised the projects undertaken by our engineers. As in any family there will also be a black sheep here and there. In the medical profession one will also find the odd black sheep. [Interjections.] May I then not talk about black sheep?

†The hon member for Bezuidenhout raised a few points and drew a comparison with the Medical Council. That comparison is not really valid in the sense that the Medical Council is an autonomous body. I am not sure whether it lays down exactly what an ear, nose and throat specialist can do, but he can surely also take out an appendix in an emergency. There is no fixed rule in this regard and the Minister very definitely does not tell the Medical Council what to do and what certain doctors should do. For similar reasons there is a body of professional engineers and, like the Medical Council, it is responsible for the codes of the profession, it looks at the training, etc.

The first amendment in the Bill is merely a consequential amendment changing the name of the department from the Department of Community Development to the Department of Public Works and Land Affairs. In that regard we just want to bring the Act up to date. Then the Bill proposes to add an additional subsection to section 30A.

*Its only purpose is, in fact, to give the board of control powers of delegation. Then it would, for example, be able to delegate certain powers to a body which could investigate or go into the teaching qualifications of the people concerned. The board of control could delegate to another body the power to investigate misbehaviour, for example. The matter would have to be referred back to the actual board of control, however, so that it could finalize matters. Here, too, certain provisos have been built in. What is important in my opinion, is that the Minister should be involved as little as possible with the board of control. He should leave it to the professional council and the board of control to deal with their own affairs. There should not repeatedly be ministerial interference in the sense of telling them how the people concerned should be trained or what they should do.

†I want to point out to the hon member that in terms of section 7(4) regulations have already been published in the Gazette laying down what certain people can do. This was asked for by this professional body. That is their right and those regulations have already been published, although I cannot give the hon member the exact date on which they were published.

*The hon member for Boksburg put the very interesting question as to why this legislation fell under the Department of Public Works. Let me tell him that as far as I am concerned the only reason seems to be one of tradition. I had to make a study of the Act which had nothing to do with me as a medical doctor but only concerned my department because we have engineers in our employ. I am therefore inclined to agree with the hon member that, viewed superficially, this type of legislation should fall under another department. I would not, however, put it under the Department of Manpower. I would rather let it fall under the Department of National Education, because there are educational qualifications to be looked at and a curriculum, etc, to be drawn up. Because this legislation traditionally falls under my department, however, I am prepared to give attention to the matter. I am also in close touch with the Board. A while back I had a long meeting with the Chairman, the Vice-Chairman and members of the Board because they wanted to explain certain matters to us, and they asked for precisely those aspects included in the Bill. I have the utmost respect for their integrity and competence and I am sure they will be able to regulate their own affairs very well. We shall, however, have a look at the specific point raised by the hon member.

I want to thank the hon member for Nigel profusely for his short but forceful support. As he put it in a nutshell, the relevant Board asked for the amendments so as better to be able to regulate their own affairs. These are actually the two main ideas.

The hon member for Heilbron made an interesting speech about a number of points. I am not so conversant with the facts that I can reply to all those questions of his today. He spoke of certain things that cannot be recovered from the consulting engineers. I can only say that while the hon member was speaking a colleague of mine, who is an engineer, said every so often: “That is not quite correct”. That is all I can tell the hon member. My colleague is himself an engineer. [Interjections.] Even when the hon member spoke about the technician who could enter a certain building but could not wash the samples, I heard from behind me: “That is not quite correct”. I cannot vouch for it, but I can indeed say that I am certain that the hon member for Heilbron would not have said it if he did not have a good reason for doing so. Besides, these are matters that should surely receive attention. I think, however, that such matters should be raised with the professional Board itself, and not actually be referred to the professional Board by the Minister. I nevertheless found it very interesting, especially the points raised by the hon member about the equal status and equal opportunities of technicians, technologists and nurses when it comes to salaries, etc. I found it very interesting and I thank the hon member for his contribution.

†The hon member for Umhlanga also hit the nail on the head when he said that it was important for the maintenance of standards of conduct that the people’s integrity be sound. He made the interesting observation that more people should join this very important profession. I think the few schemes he mentioned—the bridges that won international recognition at international symposia for the way in which our engineers constructed them—illustrate the importance of this profession. For that particular reason, my other department—there I wear my other hat—decided to put the bridges on some of our postage stamps, just to show the world what our engineers actually do. I think he made a very good point when he said that this particular amending Bill is mainly designed to deal with standards of conduct, and not actually with qualifications, because the latter is something that is looked at in another way.

In closing I want to turn to the initial remark made by the hon member for Bezuidenhout in respect of a quotation in The Argus of something I said yesterday in the House of Delegates. The quotation is correct. I did, however, add—and I do not know whether this appeared in The Argus— that it was obvious that, as part of the new process that is taking place, we would have to change our style of debating slightly in this Chamber. This is especially necessary when there has been full agreement on the standing committees. In standing committees the main aim is—and this is why standing committees exist—that matters should be thrashed out and then, if there is full agreement, improvements to the Act can be brought about. A standing committee is at present deliberating upon one of the Acts under my portfolio. This standing committee has asked for more information and memoranda, and they might come up with something quite different but which could be quite acceptable to me. When, however, the matter comes up before the respective Houses, some differences become apparent. Something that I found very interesting in the other two Chambers was that those hon members do not take as long to debate an issue or put as many questions to the Minister concerned, whereas we have learnt over the years to debate an issue, in this House even if we are in agreement. In fact, sometimes we take as long to agree on something as we take to disagree on it.


They do not have the experience that we have.


I did not mention it in a derogatory sense; I only said that we would learn from experience that there will be a change in our style of debate regarding matters about which we are in agreement with one another, because the standing committees will iron out the problems. If we were to repeat, in this House, all the speeches made in the standing committees, it would be a total waste of time as far as this House and the standing committees are concerned. I am just mentioning this today as a point of observation in regard to the other two Houses, it being something I find interesting. It is not that they did not know how the Acts were put together; on the contrary, they asked very good questions, and it was clear that their speakers made a thorough study about the legislation, which of course was totally new to them.

With these thoughts I should once again like to thank the hon members for their contributions and for the study they made of the legislation.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Certified fair copy of the Bill to be transmitted to the State President for his assent unless the House decides within three sitting days to refer the Bill to a committee.

COAL AMENDMENT BILL (Second Reading) (Introductory Speech delivered at Joint Sitting on 4 February) The MINISTER OF MINERAL AND ENERGY AFFAIRS:

Mr Speaker, I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The principal Act provides, among other things, for funds to be raised by means of a special levy on coal sold or used. The total proceeds of the special levy imposed in a specific year is matched by the State on a rand-for-rand basis. The proceeds are used for scientific, technical and industrial research in connection with coal-mining and safety in and at coal mines. The person designated in terms of the principal Act to utilize these funds is the Government mining engineer and he is assisted by a body known as the Coal Mining Research Controlling Council, consisting of representatives of the Department of Mineral and Energy Affairs, the CSIR and the coal mining industry. Hon members will agree that the importance of this kind of research cannot be overemphasized.

Indications are that the existing tariff structure may have to be adjusted beyond the existing ceiling of 0,55 cents per ton, as prescribed in the principal Act, as a result of a possible budget deficit. The Bill, therefore, provides for a maximum special levy of one cent per ton sold. It is not the intention to impose the proposed maximum levy immediately. The amendment, however, caters for the possible future financial needs during this or the next financial year depending on the availability of scientists and the need to expand the research programme for the benefit of the coal-mining industry.

*Hon members may find the type of research which is being carried out at present interesting. I should therefore like to refer to a few facets of the work which is being done.

Firstly, research is being carried out into the effect on the surface above of the total extraction of underground coal reefs. An attempt is therefore being made to ascertain whether there is any damage to the aboveground structures, what the nature and extent of such damage may be, etc. Research is also directed at a determination of the effect this type of mining will have on the underground water table and the agricultural potential of the soil. I am of the opinion that hon members will therefore agree with me that this research is not only to the benefit of the coal mining industry, but in particular it is also important to agriculture, in the endeavour to strike a harmonious balance between the utilization of two such important natural resources as these.

Additional research programmes include investigations to the explosiveness of coal dust. In this connection a coal-dust testing gallery is inter alia being operated at an annual cost of approximately R700 000. Additional programmes include investigations into the origin of stray currents as a result of lightning, spontaneous combustion, safety in regard to blasting material, the effect of multi-seam mining, supporting techniques and a whole series of other phenomena and aspects which the industry has to contend with.

†The Chamber of Mines who supports this Bill, is playing a key role in the strategy to eliminate safety and health hazards in the coal-mining industry. It is also understood that the co-operation and team work between the Chamber and the Government Mining Engineer in this field is laudable. I therefore wish to place on record my sincere appreciation of the Chamber’s sterling support.

Second Reading resumed


Mr Chairman, we supported this amending legislation on the standing committee, and consequently we shall also support it at the second reading.

Although South Africa is generally considered to be one of the leaders in the sphere of mining and mine safety, one can never guarantee that accidents, or even disasters, will never occur. One need only think of the recent disaster at Hlobane. One then realizes that research in the sphere of mine safety can never really be regarded as having been finalized. The same also applies in respect of mining methods. I can point out that better recovery techniques have, during the past decade, made as important a contribution in respect of exploitable reserves as have new finds. Of course new methods also result in new unknowns, hence the greater demands that are being made on research efforts.

†In regard to the hon the Minister’s motivation for the Bill, I should like to refer to some of the terminology. I hope it is only a question of the terminology and not an indication of a lack of control on the hon the Minister’s part. In the memorandum and in his motivation in his Second Reading speech the reason for the increased levy is given as “a possible budget deficit”. As the responsible person the hon the Minister is having a problem with cause and effect. He must not offer the effect as justification for this Bill. The possible budget deficit is the effect of overspending. We therefore want the reasons for the overspending, the cause, in other words, of the possible budget deficit.

One can also read two meanings into this. Firstly, if there is a budget—that is, if “possible” refers to budget—why was it then exceeded? It seems to me a terminal disease of this Government to exceed budgets, from the largest to the smallest one, as in this case. This, of course, makes the task of the hon the Minister of Finance in controlling the economy quite impossible.

Secondly, if “possible” refers to deficit—I assume that it does—then the real reason for the amendment is in fact a lack of control— the cause of the terminal illness of this Government. One would expect that in the present economic climate strict control would be exercised over expenditure. One wonders what would happen to a chief executive in the private sector who says one month before the end of the financial year that he expects the company may have overspent. I will say that he may just possibly be fired because the company may just possibly go bankrupt. He cannot just do as the hon the Minister does, namely retrospectively to raise the levy. He cannot go back to his clients and say that his company is bankrupt and that they should come up with more money. This hon Minister comes to the House one month before the end of the financial year and he can only tell us that the budget “may possibly” run into a deficit. He does not get fired. No, he merely covers for this possible deficit by raising the levy. He can now balance his budget, but what about the people who based their budgets on the levy as it was? I trust that the hon the Minister can assure us that he will not apply the maximum levy as proposed. I hope also that in future the budget will be made known well in advance so that those who are subjected to this levy can also plan their budgets and not find themselves out of pocket at the end of the year.

Another example of strange terminology is where the hon the Minister says:

It is also understood that the co-operation and teamwork between the Chamber of Mines and the Government Mining Engineer is laudable.

Here again, one can only guess what the future of a top executive and his firm would be if he were to say: “It is understood that the teamwork between production and sales is laudable”. It is the job of this hon Minister to know that things are going well. He would then not have to come to this House with such humble, or perhaps unsure, language. I want him to give me his categorical assurance that the co-operation between the industry and the mining engineer is laudable. In conclusion, we know what happens when officials in this Minister’s department are not happy with their financial state. We will therefore support this Bill to make the levy meet this “possible” deficit.


Mr Chairman, we on this side of the House are very pleased that we have now been able to hear the hon member for Greytown confirm that they support this legislation. We expected this, because it follows the line taken on the standing committee. I think the hon member merely wanted to chat for a while in this House because he was unnecessarily wilful in his efforts to make an issue out of a bit of terminology. It was nothing but absolute wilfulness on his part.

I should like to express a few general thoughts on this amending Bill and also say something more specific in connection with the functioning of the standing committee and our experiences there.

Hon members should note that the amending Bill we are dealing with today is numbered: 1—85 (GA). This is truly an historic document, and I want to suggest that Dr Alberts and Mr Nieuwoudt frame this document and hang it up in their office. Some people do not regard it as historic, but it is historic for us because it is the first document of this type to be tabled and receive attention here.

It is not only historic; it is also informative and cheering that this particular Bill, No 1— 85 (GA), was unanimously approved by all the members of the standing committee that were present at that first meeting of the committee. With this amending Bill we easily cleared the first hurdle. It was not a problem. On the road ahead we will probably not always clear the hurdles so easily. We must have no illusions about that. [Interjections.] The hon member for Rissik referred here to the Group Areas Act. In this set of circumstances there will of course be matters on which we will differ and encounter hurdles in the discussion and the eventual decisionmaking that will not be so easy to clear. Yet we are already hearing positive sounds—I a n not talking about the negative sounds that constantly emanate from those hon Opposition members. I believe that there is indeed an arsenal of goodwill in this country among the people who deal with these matters, and that that arsenal is full to overflowing. The trick will be to tap goodwill out of that arsenal, with forethought and responsibility. I hope that this first warming-up exercise we experienced with this standing committee’s handling of such an amending Bill as this one will be the prelude to greater cooperation in everyone’s interest in the times that lie ahead.

Why was there unanimity on the standing committee as well as among the hon members who are in this House today? It was not because this amending Bill was not of much consequence. Later in my speech I shall try to point out the implications of the increase in the special levy that is being proposed in order to demonstrate, among other things, that it affects more workers than we think.

The unanimity was also not because we did not touch on the principle. The members of the committee, however, were agreed that the amendment ought to be introduced. The criterion was established at that meeting, a criterion that will have to be maintained in future when there is discussion of amendments or the repeal of laws or new legislation by any standing committee. The criterion established by that committee was to give answers to two very important questions, firstly, whether it was necessary for the legislation, as proposed, to be amended, and secondly, whether such an amendment would be in the interests of the country and of the people involved in it.

To the question of whether the statutory amendment was necessary, the answer was an unequivocal “yes”. It is clear that even in the very near future appropriational shortages could arise for coal mine research, and so we can make it legally possible to make an adjustment in case it may be necessary, and then obtain the approval of the hon Minister of Finance. The funds that we raise by means of special levies, which are further supplemented on a rand-for-rand basis through appropriation by Parliament, are funds that will be used for a very important purpose. The employers in the coal mining industry are in agreement with the Government that the health and safety of the workers in our coal mines must be seen to. In his Second Reading speech the hon Minister made it clear that the Government Mining Engineer was assisting in the attempt to create favourable conditions for those who were prepared to earn their livelihood underground. The Government Mining Engineer is being supported by interest groups and individuals who, as a result of the Republic’s long-continued orientation towards research and experience in the field of mining technology, health care, safety, and other aspects, are known throughout the whole world as absolute experts in their field.

As we continue to exploit our mineral resources we are delving deeper and deeper, and the deeper we delve towards the treasures below the earth’s crust, the greater will be the need for the continuous and extensive research programmes that will have to be initiated.

The next question that the members of the committee and the hon members of this House will have to ask themselves is whether an amendment of the Act, such as the one we dealt with today, is in the interests of the country and of everyone who is involved in it. We do not have to use figures to prove that the Republic is a rich country. We have enormous natural resources at our disposal, including coal. Our coal reserves cannot be small if, during 1983, we mined almost 140 million tons, and the figures are still rising. As part of this wealth we also have at our disposal an immense amount of technical knowledge and expertise, especially with regard to the mining industry for which we cannot praise our scientists and technologists enough. We also have a stable Government which creates the milieu for progress in which the coal mining industry can also prosper.

Even if we possessed limitless wealth it would have been of no benefit to us unless the conditions for progress, development, growth, and utilization were favourable.

We have also at our disposal many hands of people of all population groups who are prepared and are able to take up the pick and shovel, literally and figuratively, and to do what their hands find to do, and in that way find employment for themselves, not only in their own interests but also in the interests of this country and all its people. If we also add to this the fact that coal supplies 85% of the energy needs of our country we realize how indispensable that commodity is to us. Every household in Soweto, every small manufacturer who has to generate steam in his backyard, makes use of it. So we can draw the line all the way through to the Sasol plant and our enormous power stations as well as to many other places that are dependent on coal as a source of energy.

Because all this is true, we say that the hand that holds the pick and the shovel must be cared for, and the best method sought for guaranteeing the workers health and safety, as far as it is possible. The contribution of those workers whose interests we must look after, is indispensable in the process of bringing the coal to the surface, and the profit from this is added to other finances without which a responsible government would not be able to allow every subject to share in the welfare of this land. Because we are interested in the weal and the woe of the almost 100 000 people involved in the coalmining industry, I am happy to support, on behalf of hon members on this side of the House, the amendment under discussion.


Mr Chairman, I had intended only to react to the measure we have before us at present. However, I now want to say a few words to the hon member for Rustenburg. I hope that this is the first and the last time that he takes the opportunity, during the discussion of a piece of legislation in this House, of telling all the standing committees of this House how they should actually manage their affairs if they hope to be at all successful. As far as I am concerned it has nothing at all to do with the subject now under discussion.

Furthermore, there is another matter I should like to take up with the hon member for Rustenburg. What is historic for hon members on that side of the House is definitely not historic for us on this side of the House when it has to do with this mixed Parliament and these standing committees in which we now find ourselves. [Interjections.] The hon member for Rustenburg must now take note that it is historic for us because it is one of those things that happen and that contribute towards the abdication of the White man in this country. We on this side of the House are not in the least prepared to regard that as historic. [Interjections.] Now I also want to put it to the hon member for Rustenburg …


Is that why you were not at that meeting?


I shall tell the hon member why I was not at that meeting in a moment. When one does not receive notification of a meeting in time it is not in fact possible for one to be present there. When those who are responsible for the organization do not arrange things so that one receives notification of a meeting in time, it is impossible for one to attend such a meeting. [Interjections.]

I want to make it very clear here today that if the hon member for Rustenburg wants to carry on in this way when it comes to the Bills of this particular standing committee he will simply have to accept the consequences. But I am not prepared to argue the matter any further with him now; I prefer to direct my attention to the hon the Minister. The hon the Minister and I have indeed been sitting here since yesterday, waiting for an opportunity to be able to say something in this House. [Interjections.]

The CP supports the amendment under discussion. In the first place it is for us in the present case mainly a question of an increase in the special levy of 0,45 cents per metric ton of coal. I should just like to make two specific observations in this regard. If the hon member for Rustenburg had not provoked me, Mr Chairman, you would have seen how short a speech I really would have made. [Interjections.]


First tell us why you were not at the meeting.


I have already explained why I was not there! Do you not have ears to hear? [Interjections.] If the hon member wants to hear it again, he must come and see me privately in my office; then I will enlighten him. [Interjections.]




Mr Chairman, I am actually speaking to the hon the Minister now. I put it to him that this increase in the levy would normally have been regarded as a problem situation by us because we do not want tariffs and levies to be raised at the present time. With reference to the legislation under discussion, however, it is a question of “the end justifying the means”. It is a question here of the very important research being done in connection with the mining industry. One should not like that research, which affects a wide range of matters—among others safety and so on— to suffer because of a lack of money. For this reason we are prepared to support this increase in the levy because it concerns a very important matter that must be attended to. We should like the mining industry and the State to continue to do this important research and to ensure that the mining industry in our country is in all respects operated at such a standard that it will not be to anyone’s detriment and that no one’s safety will be jeopardized. That is why it is a pleasure for us on this side to support this amending Bill.


Mr Chairman, the hon member for Greytown referred very cynically to the hon the Minister who, as he put it, used “humble or unsure language”. I am of the opinion that the hon member was not merely being cynical but that his attitude almost bordered on arrogance. By now, however, we are used to the hon member coming to this House and saying that his party supports an amending Bill, but then at the same time taking a few swipes as well. Unfortunately, in this case the hon member was unable to determine what the actual situation was. He said that clarity did not exist over what the expenditure in connection with the research would be, that uncertainty existed about the matter, etc. It would have been very simple for the hon member to have ascertained what was being envisaged with the research. Furthermore, I think that he would have found out for certain that more funds were necessary for this research. The Chamber of Mines, the CSIR and other bodies are involved in this matter, but now the hon member maintains that this Government has no control over the expenditure. I regard this as a sweeping statement that the hon member is making, since we are dealing here with a negligible increase. The amendment deals with the ceiling that is being raised with regard to the levy that has to generate funds for research.


It is an 80% increase.


There that hon member is making another mistake, because the amendment refers to the ceiling; the increase need not necessarily reach the maximum amount. It is at this stage the ceiling, but even if the maximum is reached it is still not a large amount—it is only slightly more than a million rand that is being utilized for this whole research project, because the State is contributing on a rand-for-rand basis towards this research. I reckon that the hon the member must now be very happy because I have spent more time on him than was really warranted, but if I had not reacted perhaps the hon member would not have felt so happy. The hon member made a little statement that really did not have much substance, but I thought it proper to react to it all the same.

I should like to congratulate the hon member for Rustenburg, who spoke on the matter, and who is also chairman of the standing committee concerned, on his speech in this connection. He gave a thorough analysis of the matter.

Next, I come to the hon member for Koedoespoort who also spoke. Well now, he is also perfectly happy about this amendment. We must allow him the pleasure that he derived from the bit of dust he kicked up. We know that it is merely the old tradition of our good friends in that party always to sing the same old song, and we are gradually becoming used to it now. It really does not have much effect any more. I wonder what the hon member for Rissik has to say about this. [Interjections.]


I say that you can say thank you to us for supporting the Bill.


I want to thank the hon member for Koedoespoort for supporting this legislation.

The special levy that is under discussion here is being utilized for coal mining research. There is of course another fund that is called the ordinary levy and that is used by the CSIR for coal research, research on the product that is produced from this mining. We must therefore differentiate. I want to explain that this special levy is used to promote and improve the mining process. The other levy, the ordinary levy, goes to the CSIR and that research is concentrated purely on coal.

The amending Bill seeks to raise the ceiling adjustment of the levy to 1 cent per ton. This is claimed from the industry and the State contributes on a rand-for-rand basis, as I have already said. The work that is being done with the funds obtained from the special levy which, in terms of the legislation, may be raised, is therefore generally related to the safety and consequences of the mining process, because every mining operation, of whatever nature it may be, has an effect on the environment—the surface and so on.

It is the responsibility of those involved in the industry to see that as little damage to the environment as possible is done, and to determine whether people are being caused any inconvenience or hardship. This research can make a contribution—in fact, it has already in the past made a contribution—towards restricting the detrimental effects of mining to a minimum.

This entire matter is therefore also the responsibility of the Government Mining Engineer. This research is also being done under his supervision, if I may put it that way.

The research that is intended to improve the mining process is important because the product that is mined or extracted here is very important. Hon members have already referred to the importance of coal and pointed out the fact that 85% of this country’s energy needs are supplied by coal.

There is the liquid fuel, that is to say petrol, that is also produced from coal. As an export product, coal is an important earner of foreign currency.

The hon the Minister could perhaps see fit to avail himself of this opportunity, since we are dealing here with the mining of this very important product that for various reasons is of great value to the country, to enlighten us further about the future of this product, its use, the possibilities for greater production of fuel from this very interesting product, and so on.

Since we are now concerned with an energy matter and because fuel is so expensive it is possible that an alternative may perhaps be found in the future. I think our people involved in these matters are ingenious people and the possibility is not ruled out that an alternative product may in future be found which could be utilized and made available to the country at a lower cost. We hope that at some time or another this will happen.

If one considers the mining of coal one cannot help realizing how wonderful it is that minerals and other substances by which man can profit, have been stored away in the earth for him.

If one considers all the minerals and other substances that are extracted from the earth—iron and all the other metals and substances that can be turned to the advantage of mankind—one is impressed and grateful that these things, that are to man’s advantage, have been stored away in the lap of the earth.

Mining research is aimed chiefly at promoting the efficiency and safety of mining. These two concepts are of great importance in mining. The bodies involved in this programme are the Chamber of Mines, the CSIR and the South African Bureau of Standards. As the hon the Minister reported, the Chamber of Mines has done pioneering work in this area and it deserves our praise, appreciation and thanks for this.

The importance of this research to the industry itself, to the agricultural sector, and to the health and safety of employees requires that it be continually pursued and developed. It includes: research on the effect of total extraction of underground coal seams on the surface above, in other words the caving in of the surface; damage to structures; the influence on the underground water-table; and the agricultural potential of the land. These factors involved in mining action are of the greatest importance. Furthermore, research is being done in connection with pillar design strengths where the chamber and pillar mining method is applied. The question arises: what is a safe standard for pillar support?

One can go on in this vein. There is, among other lands, multi-seam mining, which has an effect on the surface as well as on safety underground. This is the process by which two seams of coal are extracted simultaneously. The height of the roof is of importance and other supporting equipment and methods come up for discussion.

There is also the factor of the explosiveness of coal dust and a considerable amount of research is being done on this. Investigations are also being carried out on methane gas and spontaneous combustion. Another factor is the safety of blasting materials and the accessories that can in this connection legally be prescribed.

There is an interesting feature concerning coal mines which is probably not generally known. It is that lightning can sometimes cause a fire or an explosion underground. The interesting term “stray current” is used in this connection. This is when a charge of electricity or bolt of lightning strikes the ground seeking a place to earth. The lightning above ground then sometimes causes an underground fire.

If one takes an overall view of the matter it appears that this is important research that is being discussed here. The funds that are being appropriated for it are being very beneficially utilized. The research is not only of economic importance for the country in that coal is being mined efficiently but, as the hon member for Rustenburg said, it also promotes the safety of the mining industry and of the people who are involved in that industry.

If one thinks back to some years ago when more than 400 people lost their lives and were buried in a coal mine, one realizes the danger involved in coal mines. We are therefore pleased to support these amendments and in spite of the negative ideas that were expressed during the debate, we believe that the hon the Minister and his department are in this respect doing good work in promoting the general interests of our people.


Mr Chairman, when one is dealing with a levy imposed on an industry … [Interjections.] A moment ago the hon member for Stilfontein said that as far as the hon members of the CP were concerned, these wandering currents …


Stray currents.


Yes, stray currents. When one has to evaluate a levy imposed on an industry, it must be weighed up in terms of two things. First, what is the extent of the industry concerning which the research has to be carried out and, secondly, what progress has been made as a result of the research carried out. These are the two points at issue. In the first place, we must determine the extent of the coal industry in this country. The proven coal reserves in the country at present comprise 113 billion tons, and the economically recoverable portion amounts to 57 billion tons. A few years ago the figures were 110 billion tons and 51 billion tons respectively. Today the proven bituminous coal reserves comprise 113 billion tons whereas a few years ago they were 110 billion tons. Therefore this indicates that the proven coal reserves of 110 billion tons have increased to 113 billion tons while the recoverable portion has increased from 51 billion tons to 57 billion tons. What is the reason for the recoverable portion increasing more rapidly than the proven portion? The proven portion increased by only 3 billion tons, as against an increase of almost 7 billion tons in the case of the recoverable portion, and this can only be ascribed to two causes viz the economic price of the coal but, far more important, the development that has taken place due to improved mining techniques.

Mining developments in regard to which considerable progress has been made are, for the most part, the longwall method of recovering deep-level coal and the opencast methods used for coal at shallower levels, whereby between 90% and 100% recovery is achieved. If that does not represent progress to justify this levy, then I do not know what does, because how high is the levy really? The part of the levy contributed by the industry, together with the Government’s share, amounts to a mere R1,117 million. The maximum ceiling levy together, with the Government’s rand for rand contribution, after the increase, amounts to approximately R3,1 million. However, what is this in comparison to the pithead cost of coal? If one were to multiply the amount of coal produced in the country by the pithead cost, viz R14 x 140m tons, then the value of the coal at the pithead is approximately R2 000 million, and it is in terms of that figure that one should consider a maximum levy of approximately R15 million. This amounts to a figure of 0,07%. Bearing that in mind, was it at all necessary for the hon member for Greytown to kick up a fuss about this and argue about the matter? I venture to say that the fact that we invest in mining research affords us the opportunity to obtain more and more oil, like the widow of Sarepta, but we, of course, get more and more coal, and as the hon member for Welkom said, this increases the assets of our country.

It was a privilege to speak after the hon members for Rustenburg and Welkom because they are authorities on the mining industry. Unfortunately I find myself in the company of other hon members, inter alia the hon members for Greytown and Koedoespoort, who lack that knowledge, and perhaps it would be fitting not to raise our voices when we rise here to speak.


Mr Chairman, I suppose we are following the normal procedure in this House. Mention was made earlier that the other two Houses are still inexperienced and possibly tend to cut their deliberations short. I am beginning to think that we could take a lesson from them because when we debate a Bill of this nature, to which everybody has agreed, I cannot understand why it should take so long.

I am going to confine my comments specifically to the Bill before us. In doing so, I should like to make it clear that we will be supporting this Bill. One is very much aware of the contribution the coal industry makes to the economy and of its strategic importance in providing our fuel needs. The reasons which the hon the Minister has given as to why he requires the power to increase the levy were in my opinion justifiable reasons. One would obviously express the hope that it will not be necessary to increase it to the limit that is being prescribed.

As regards the question of ongoing research, we accept it as being of extreme importance in the mining industry. The fact that we in this country have a very high reputation in regard to our safety standards is something of which I think the mining industry can be extremely proud. Backing this up is the very serious view that is taken in mining circles of any form of negligence. Our mining operations—not necessarily in regard to coal alone, of course—arouse considerable interest overseas. This has been brought about by the knowledge and expertise which exist in this country. For this, obviously, the research structure can take considerable credit.

I am delighted to see that ongoing research will be carried out in regard to underground water reserves as well as the effects of mining on agriculture and the environment.

In the light of the possible budget deficit, we accept that this legislation is necessary and therefore we have much pleasure in supporting it.


Mr Chairman, I would like to pass some general remarks, and in doing so, I will most probably deal with most of the points raised by the hon member.

First of all, I would like to thank hon members for supporting the Bill. It is probably the shortest Bill which could be introduced into any House. It contains a one word amendment, although one could probably talk about this one word amendment for hours on end. Perhaps it is important that one should talk for hours on this subject.

I have to refer to one specific remark made by the hon member for Greytown about the doubt in his mind about the relationship between the Government Mining Engineer and the mining industry.

*I want to give the hon member the assurance that we have no doubt that there is absolutely perfect co-operation among the Department, the Government Mining Engineer and the mining houses. Moreover that is why, at the end of my second reading speech, I thanked them for the perfect cooperation. I think that the hon member wanted to discuss this complex and interesting subject at length and it is a pity that a professional colleague of mine now wants to get semantic about a fine industry like the coal industry. [Interjections.]


Ferdie is a “meid” (ninny).


Mr Chairman on a point of order: May the hon the Minister of Transport Affairs say that the hon member for Lichtenburg is a “meid”?


Mr Chairman, he put questions to me while I was not in the House, and when I entered, he stopped. He is not prepared to do so in my presence. However, I withdraw that.


Mr Chairman, I should be obliged if hon members could settle their private differences so that I could proceed with my speech. I think it is important that we discuss this industry at length. We could talk for hours about the levy of one cent per metric ton which is now to be imposed in terms of the amendment embodied in this Bill. I should like to motivate my statement.

The mine industry in South Africa—and when I say this I include the coal-mining industry because I regard coal as a mineral—is the most important industry in South Africa. If we look at our export account for 1983 we see that it amounted to more than R20 billion. Of this, R15 billion was earned by the mining industry. Most was earned by the gold industry, but second on the list is the coal industry. I regard it as being of the utmost importance that we draw the attention of the public to what is important in South Africa, particularly as far as the mining industry is concerned. We in this House must tell the public at large why the coal industry is so important and what we are going to do with this special levy of, at most, one cent per metric ton of coal which is now being given legislative form. I do not wish to embroider on this for too long but I should like to single out a few facets. As hon members have rightly pointed out, this levy of one cent goes, in the first place, towards research. It goes towards research into the optimum utilisation of the reserves available to us in South Africa. The hon member for Heilbron clearly outlined to us the extent of our reserves. The important aspect is not the extent of the reserves at our disposal but that portion of them that we are able to recover. It is no good having coal under the ground if we are unable to recover it. That is the first aspect relating to research and I shall come back to that in a minute. A hundred thousand people are involved in this mining industry. Those hundred thousand people go down those mines every day, 365 days a year, and every time they go down the mines, they endanger their lives. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that we should carry out research to ensure the safety of those people. It is therefore important that we should make provision for a levy as we are doing.

I have said that we must ensure the optimum utilization of our reserves. However, there is more to it than that. What do we do with the coal once it is recovered from the soil. The pattern of utilization of coal involves the following: Firstly, we use coal to generate electricity. Secondly, we manufacture our synthetic fuel with coal. Thirdly, we have an enormous export programme. Moreover there is a fourth use for coal which I do not wish to discuss today, viz the use of coal as a primary source of energy for thousands of people in South Africa who lacks electricity and use coal as a primary source of energy for heating, cooking purposes etc. We must maintain an absolute balance among these three patterns of consumption. Then there is refinement; in other words, the coal that is recovered from the soil must be refined. Refinement research, too, is something that must certainly be done extremely well.

Now, it may be said—and it has been said—that we have increased the tariff by 80%. I think that the hon member for Greytown said by way of interjection that we have now increased the tariff by 80%. Let us investigate the facts of the matter. I do not think we can permit this mistaken impression to be conveyed to the public at large. What are the facts? At present we have a ceiling of 0,55 cents per ton. However, what are we in fact levying? We are levying 0,399 cents per ton. The reason for this is that the annual levy is determined by the budget, and the hon member has said that we have a “possible deficit”. That “possible deficit”, however, ensures that when we submit our budget for the subsequent year together with the mining industry and the research institutes, we have sufficient funds, and do not need to operate on a deficit. That is what is at issue. Our present budget does not have a deficit because we do not need to approach Parliament to supplement such a deficit. We can simply decide, together with the mining industry, to increase the 0,399 cents per ton to 0,4 cents or 0,45 cents per ton. Therefore we do not have to introduce this legislation but I just wish to reiterate that we are in fact introducing it in order to ensure that as we obtain the necessary scientists, we are able to carry out the research projects we should like to tackle without first approaching Parliament to request an increase. This enabling legislation will enable us to decide in future, in conjunction with the industry with which we enjoy such good co-operation, to increase the levy to cover research expenses.

If we compare South Africa’s research account for an important commodity such as energy with that of other countries, and we index the funds we allocate for research, it is evident that for every unit South Africa spends on research, Australia spends 6,5 units, Japan 10 units, New Zealand 14 units, England 5,5 units and the USA, 8,5 units. The only country that spends less than we do, is Italy, and they spend half as much as we do. In fact, therefore, we spend hopelessly too little on research in relation to the other countries, if one bears in mind the importance of this commodity for South Africa, not only with a view to our internal needs but also with regard to the earning of foreign currency. I think that we, together with the mining industry, will have to consider stepping up our research programmes somewhat for the future.

There is one final matter I want to touch on. Hon members have repeatedly referred to it here. It is being asked what we are going to use this research for. Perhaps one should just summarize it. I am just going to single out a few important aims. They are of cardinal importance because this kind of research will determine for how long South Africa is still going to have coal and will be able to meet its needs.

Firstly we must consider new technology. The first aspect of new technology that we must consider is that of longwall mining. Once we have determined a deposit of coal in situ we must have a technique to recover every ton of coal of that deposit. That is one aspect of technology on which we are doing a great deal of research at present. Many of our mines are already applying this technique in order to recover all the coal we find in a particular complex. However, this has an important side effect. If one recovers the entire seam, the surface will definitely be disturbed. There will certainly be sinkholes on the surface, and those sinkholes will effect the farming community. The hon member for Welkom, the hon member for Rustenburg and the hon member for Mooiriver, and, I think, the hon members for Heilbron and Greytown, referred to this. This will cause one to disturb the surface. It is important that we carry out research to determine how this disturbance of the surface will take place. If a surface disturbance were to take place, then in my opinion it would be of cardinal importance for our farming community that we should know what to do about that disturbance effect and how we should compensate and accommodate the farming community in that regard. Therefore this is an important aspect of research.

There is a second aim. In the past our mining techniques have entailed the use of supporting pillars. This meant that we left large quantities of our coal underground. In the old days we sometimes recovered no more than 10% of the available coal. The other 90% remained under ground. In this regard there is an important factor that crops up. I think that the community ought also to know about this. When we make use of pillars in our mining industry, we must do so in such a way that we do not sterilize the coal in the pillars underground. If we utilize safety factors and the safety drops lower than a certain level we sterilize the coal—the relevant figure may be 60%, 40% or 80%—and it is no longer possible for us to extract it at some time in the future. We in South Africa really cannot afford to sterilize our reserves so that it can never be recovered. For that reason I regard it as being of cardinal importance that we should research mining techniques of that kind and ensure that if we use bord and pillar mining techniques, we are able to recover the remaining coal sometime in the future.

There is a third goal I wish to touch on. It realtes to a matter which is politically critical at the moment. We have a new technology that we are applying in South Africa, viz the recovery of coal by the opencast method. This means that we remove the top soil and recover the coal. Thus no tunnels, shafts or pillars are involved. We recover the coal and then rehabilitate the soil.

In this regard there are two important factors. The first is that one cannot get away from the fact that use of the opencast method is going to result in a certain amount of pollution of the environment. The other day, in the vicinity of one of our new opencast mines, we received a fine letter from a very friendly woman. She wrote that she did not mind; she thought it was important that we should recover all the coal. But the only problem was that her white leghorns had now become black australorps. [Interjections.] I have a great deal of sympathy with this woman whose white leghorns have become black australorps, due to the coal dust. This is an aspect that we must research to ensure that these mining methods do not have a detrimental effect on the farming community in the vicinity. If there are disadvantages, they must be limited to the absolute minimum. However, there is another very important point. We are disturbing the ecology; we are disturbing the environment, the surface. Therefore I consider it to be of cardinal importance that we carry out research to ensure that when that mine has been worked out, we rehabilitate the surface to ensure that it can be utilized again by the farming community.

I should like to give attention to these general remarks. There are several more remarks. The hon member for Welkom referred to one of our most recent problems, viz that of stray currents. If there is a thunderstorm, and lightning strikes close to a coal mine, stray currents occur in the earth’s crust. It has happened in the recent past— some months ago—that a fire was caused in a mine, and we shall have to carry out research to ascertain what the effect of this is.

I think I have replied to most of the arguments advanced by the hon member for Greytown. I thank the hon member for his support of the legislation. I am sure that his remarks about the language use are valid. In future I shall ask the hon member to write my Second Reading speech; that will mean less work for my department and myself, and then he will not have a language problem. Perhaps it will be me who will have the language problem.

I thank the hon member for Rustenburg, too, for his speech. I think he pointed out that this was the very first Bill to be tabled under the new dispensation. It was the very first legislation to be disposed of by a standing committee.

It is a pity that the hon member for Koedoespoort used this as an opening to drag CP ideology into the discussion of a Bill which has nothing to do with it. I regard it as a pity that he spoke in such derogatory terms about the mixed Parliament. I think we are all very proud of the fact that we have a tri-cameral Parliament, and it is a pity that he is not proud of it too. In any event, I thank him for his support of the Bill.


What does Wonderboom say? [Interjections.]


In the next election Wonderboom will say with a large majority what I said today, and I challenge the hon member to go and stand in Rissik. [Interjections.] The hon member for Koedoespoort expressed the wish that we should not effect the increase of one cent immediately. I can give him the assurance that we shall increase the levy from the present level of 0,399 cents with the utmost responsibility, if it is necessary to do so. We should like to increase it, because we should like to ensure the future safety of our mining industry.

I am also very grateful for the support of the hon member for Welkom. The hon member presented a survey of mining processes. What he says is very true; I have dealt with it briefly. That is a matter that must still be researched. The hon member asked whether I did not wish to say something at this juncture about the future of more synthetic projects. I do not wish to ignore the hon member, but I do not think that this is the appropriate occasion. Nevertheless, I am very grateful for the question because I undertake now to make known in the discussion of the Vote of this department a great deal more information about our view of the future and our expectations for the future with regard to more synthetic projects.

I thank the hon member for Heilbron for his speech. He referred to the importance of our proven reserves and emphasized how, using new mining techniques, we could recover more of our proven reserves. I thank him once again for his speech.

†I want also to thank the hon member for Mooi River for his support of the Bill. He referred to the fact that once a Bill has been passed and debated in the standing committee we should not have a long debate on it in this House. I cannot fully support that idea. I think it is important that we also tell the public, the outside world, about the important factors and issues of the Bill in question. In the standing committee discussions take place behind closed doors but here, in this House, it is debated in public. I think certain of the issues debated in the standing committee should also be debated in this House so that the people outside can hear what it is all about. He made the point that the effect of the various mining methods on agriculture and the environment is of importance. I think I have dealt with that sufficiently.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Certified fair copy of the Bill to be transmitted to the State President for his assent unless the House decides within three sitting days to refer the Bill to a committee.

NUCLEAR ENERGY AMENDMENT BILL (Second Reading) (Introductory Speech delivered at Joint Sitting on 4 February) The MINISTER OF MINERAL AND ENERGY AFFAIRS:

Mr Speaker, I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The adjustments and corrections that are being proposed in this Bill are of a relatively simple nature. The main object of the Bill is to effect a change with regard to the position of the chairman of the Atomic Energy Corporation and to clarify certain of the provisions to avoid any possible misinterpretation.

The provision which requires the chairman of the Corporation to be a full-time chairman is deleted, to bring the principal Act in line with similar legislation for other State Corporations. The result of this change is that the chairman no longer needs to be also the chief executive officer of the Corporation.

This amendment leads to a few other consequential amendments, for example the deletion of references to the chief executive officer in the principal Act.

*Furthermore the amending Bill makes provision for a clearer definition of the powers of inspectors and for effecting textual improvements. At the same time provision is being made for the substitution of certain designations in order to adapt them to new designations of posts and departments.

Second Reading resumed


Mr Chairman, we intended supporting this legislation as it is worded at present. It is very difficult for us to make a decision now if the hon the Minister cannot explain to us now precisely what his proposed amendment entails. However, if he can assure us that it is merely of a technical nature, we shall support the second reading of the Bill and discuss the amendment in Committee.


Mr Chairman, I should like to clear up this matter. The answer to the hon member’s problem is really very simple. Provision is made in the legislation for the Director-General to serve on the board of directors of the Atomic Energy Corporation. The proposed amendment aims at altering that provision so that an officer of the Department of Mineral and Energy Affairs, designated by the Minister, will serve on the board of directors. The idea behind that is that the Director-General is really the adviser of the department, and when the board of directors of the corporation makes decisions he is compromised. We are therefore of the opinion that he should not serve on that board of directors. In future we will decide for ourselves whether the Director-General or another senior officer should serve on the board of directors of the Atomic Energy Corporation in order to rectify the relationship in respect of advice to the Minister.


Mr Chairman, on a point of order: I take it that the hon the Minister is acting in terms of the rules which provide that one must give notice of an amendment within 3 days. That is all that he has done. When we get copies of the amendment, we can deal with it in the Committee Stage.


That is correct. At this stage the House will deal with the second reading, and it can subsequently deal with the Committee Stage.


Mr Chairman, it now appears that the hon the Minister was so anxious to see his name on Act No 1 that perhaps he did not look so well before referring the legislation to the committee. This sounds like a reasonable amendment to us and we therefore support the second Reading.


Mr Chairman, the functions and activities of the board of the Atomic Energy Corporation are centered mainly at Pelindaba and Valindaba. As is the case with many good things in this country, these two installations are situated very near to Krugersdorp. Last year I again had the privilege of paying them a visit, and once again I was impressed with the excellent quality of the work being produced there and with the excellent quality of our scientists. One is proud to live in a country where people produce work of that quality.

The importance of nuclear energy is increasing daily. One thinks of the field of energy as such, viz Koeberg, and everything connected with that, as well as of health aspects, research, radiation against cancer, the use of radio isotopes and the radiation of food. Very recently we had the problem of Salmonella in rooibos tea, and radiation was used to solve this problem. It is therefore imperative that legislation by means of which this nuclear energy is administered and controlled be constantly scrutinized and kept up to date. It was therefore necessary to look at this legislation once again and effect these improvements.

Another reason why it is necessary to have another look at this legislation and to improve it is the fact that the use of nuclear energy is often accompanied by a great deal of emotion—for safety reasons, for political and many other reasons. To support my standpoint, I have here a report from Rapport, a topical comment in which a person writes the following with regard to nuclear energy and Koeberg:

Diegene wat die grootste risiko’s moet loop, word deur die Groepsgebiedewet min keuse gelaat waar om te bly.

In other words, politics, which has nothing to do with the matter, is now being brought into the nuclear energy problem. He goes on to say:

Kernkrag roep die nagmerrie van die kernbom met al sy amptelike geheim-houding daarin op.

He says that these considerations he has submitted are sufficient reason not to leave decisions about nuclear energy to politicians and nuclear experts alone. He asks for a referendum to be called each time a change is effected.

There was a huge front-page report about a uranium mine that had to close down in Beeld of 2 May 1984 under the headline: “Verset laai op teen kernkrag na The Day After”. On the same day The Argus also carried a major report under the headline “Freak radiation spill in Mexico”. This was supplemented by colour photographs and everything connected with that.

What I am trying to illustrate is that when we are dealing with nuclear power it is linked to a great deal of emotion and it is therefore essential to look at this legislation on a regular basis and to bring it up to date so that the population can be confident in the knowledge that the legislation is in order.

I want to mention a final reason why it is necessary to look at this kind of legislation regularly, viz the purely practical reason. People make laws and amend them again later. This is precisely what we are doing here as well. We are amending the Nuclear Energy Act, 1982. Just as in the case of the constitution, we have tested the Act we are amending now in practice to ascertain how it works. We have already heard lengthy arguments on the workings of certain new parliamentary procedures. There was even the question as to whether we should not tackle matters somewhat differently in this respect. It is therefore clear that one tests things in practice in order to ascertain how they work. If circumstances change or things do not work as expected in practice, or even when improvements are deemed to be necessary for mere practical reasons, if is necessary for one to amend the existing legislation. I am therefore advancing these three aspects as the reasons why I deem it necessary that the existing legislation should be improved and why I support the present amendments wholeheartedly.

The first amendment to which I want to refer is to be found in clause 2 of the Bill. It simply deals with the omission of the word “full-time”, where it has a bearing on the chairman, to whom reference is made in section 5 of the principal Act. The amendment therefore means that it need no longer be a full-time chairman.

One could therefore go on to ask what the task and functions are of this chairman. Then I believe we should link the task and functions of the chairman to what the Act provides they should entail. Surely the chairman should strive to see to it that what the Act provides should be done is done correctly. Consequently, one asks what the real purpose of the principal Act is. I can best answer this question by quoting what appears in the Act itself. The long title of the Act reads as follows; and I quote:

To provide for the establishment of the Atomic Energy Corporation of South Africa, Limited, and of a Council for Nuclear Safety, and to define the powers and functions of the said Corporation and Council; to regulate the licensing of certain nuclear activities and security in connection therewith, and the liability in respect of nuclear damage; to provide for the control of source material, special nuclear material, restricted material and radio-active nuclides, and in respect of certain patents for inventions relating to nuclear or atomic energy; and to provide for matters in connection therewith.

These, then, are the objectives of the legislation we are now trying to improve. We also want to see to it that the chairman of the Council for Nuclear Safety can carry out his task properly. The task of the chairman is essentially to see to it that the functions of both the Council for Nuclear Safety and the Atomic Energy Corporation are carried out.

One could really say that the powers of the corporation are literally set out from “a” to “z” in section 4 of the principal Act. This is done in the altogether 23 subsections “a” to “w” of section 4 of the principal Act. Of course, I am not going to quote all 23 here now. I think it would suffice to say that the Atomic Energy Corporation has on occassion briefly summarized its functions in the following seven main points. Its first function is to account to the board and to the Minister for all its activities and for their proper execution. The second function has a bearing on the licensing branch. However, I shall refer to this again a little later.

The third function entails control over all sales of uranium, and in particular to ensure guarantees for its use for peaceful purposes. Of course, this is a very important function. I shall deal with the fourth function in more detail a little later as well. It entails control over budgets and the co-ordination of functions which include loan programmes.

The fifth function is that of liason with a view to making available proper versions of facts about nuclear energy. I have already mentioned the emotional aspects involved in this matter. The sixth function concerns the safety policy, and the seventh function entails the co-ordination of the activities of the subsidiaries of the corporation itself, although each of them functions under the jurisdiction of its own separate board of directors.

Then I do, of course, want to point out that another important task of the chairman entails proper control over co-ordination between the two bodies concerned. Therefore, the real purpose of what I am saying is to indicate that I am wholeheartedly in favour of the chairman concerned no longer having to occupy his post on a full-time basis, although this has been the case thus far. Where one often deals with large business undertakings in the private sector, it often appears that the chairman of such an undertaking does not always occupy his post in a full-time capacity. Think of people like Dr Anton Rupert and Mr Harry Oppenheimer. In the private sector one therefore also finds that people who are extremely suitable for a task do not necessarily perform that specific task on a full-time basis. In fact, I would say that if one were to make it compulsory for the post of chairman to be full-time, one would necessarily be excluding a large number of people who are just as suitable, or even more suitable for the post because one wants to confine them only to that one task.

I should now like to refer to clause 5, which amends section 17 of the Act to read as follows, and I quote:

17.(a) … a Director; or (b) an officer of the corporation, appointed by the board of directors, shall be the accounting officer charged with the responsibility of accounting for all the money received, and for all payments made, by the corporation.

Without expanding dramatically on that, I want to say that at this time when we are experiencing serious financial problems and when problems have arisen in similar corporations—money has disappeared to Switzerland, and so on—this aspect, viz that the accounting officer is being charged with the responsibility of accounting for all the money received, is an improvement which arises out of the above, but that it will by no means do any harm, and that it is really essential that this corporation, too, should once again ascertain whether the accounting aspects, the regulations relating to them and the methods being pursued—in respect of the appointment of people as well—are still quite up to date, fresh and healthy.

Finally, I want to refer to clause 7. The wording of this clause has been improved and it concerns the substitution of “tests” that can be carried out on the site by the word “inspections”. I have already referred to the licensing branch. Section 46 of the Act does in fact deal with the activities of the Council for Nuclear Safety. That entire chapter of the Act—section 24 to section 46—deals with the activities of that council. The purpose and functions of the licensing branch of the AEC were summarized as follows by the AEC: Firstly, the branch serves as an executive arm of the Council for Nuclear Safety. Secondly, they determine the safety standards for nuclear installations and nuclear-hazard material. Thirdly, they do danger analyses; fourthly, they recommend nuclear licences on certain conditions; fifthly, they carry out inspections on nuclear safety. This is precisely what this clause of the Bill, which is amending section 46, is about, viz the inspections regarding nuclear safety and matters connected with that. Finally, the use of radio—isotopes is also controlled, but this last function is going to be taken over by the Department of Health.

For the reasons I have advanced here, I take great pleasure in supporting this legislation. In a pamphlet issued by the Nuclear Development Corporation which deals with their work we find that as far as safety aspects are concerned, the corporation prescribes that in order to ensure that nuclear energy is used safely, every user of nuclear energy must comply with the provisions of the relevant licence or authorization, as determined by the Atomic Energy Corporation. Such a licence or authorization is only issued after a thorough safety evaluation by the licencing branch of the AEC, which therefore always takes care that the prescribed conditions are complied with. I therefore think that it would be a good thing if we brought this legislation precisely up to date again, so as to carry out this task better in practice. The pamphlet of the Nuclear Development Corporation, which is a subsidiary of the AEC, goes on to say that nuclear energy has taken up its rightful place in the general set-up of energy in South Africa and that it will contribute a great deal to ensuring the health and welfare of a nation longing for the advantages that can only be provided by an adequate supply of energy well into the future. It is the task and function of Parliament to provide legislation—the best possible legislation—so that this task and function can best be carried out. I believe that these proposed amendments to the principal Act will contribute to this, and I therefore support them wholeheartedly.


Mr Chairman … [Interjections.] … at this time of the afternoon when it is so calm, peaceful and quiet in this House—except for a few grumbles from the other side just to show that they are at least still sitting here in the benches—it is of course always a pleasure to address the House, particularly if one addresses it after a fine speaker like the hon member Dr Vilonel. [Interjections.]




If some of the hon members have questions they can put them through you; I am prepared to answer them.

It has come to my attention that there are a few people in our country who are again objecting so frivolously to the piece of legislation before us at present. In particular it is those who object to nuclear energy who are once again making their voices heard there in the Transvaal where we live, and I am sure here in the Cape as well, since, according to them, one of the big problems, viz Koeberg, is situated near here.

They are objecting in particular to this definition we want to broaden, the definition of “special nuclear material”, since they are again having visions that we are in the process of manufacturing all kinds of material and waste material and special material with which we want to manufacture atom bombs and can build all kinds of nuclear weapons. That is why they say that this kind of legislation should be restricted as far as possible, and we should really not permit amendments of this nature. Of course, there are the pacifists who will visualize a testing site somewhere in the Kalahari and will conjure up in their minds a small testing site here in the Karoo as well.

If we look at the legislation before us, it is abundantly clear to us that this piece of legislation has really only been drawn up to make existing legislation on nuclear energy and whatever is linked to it more streamlined. I think it is important to say that energy is worth more to our country than money. When I say that energy is worth more to us than money I am referring to nuclear energy in particular.

If we look at the requirements of the world in respect of power and we consider that approximately 80% of the world’s population is poor—they have a per capita income of probably not more than $600 per annum—one reaches the alarming conclusion that the wealthy 20%—the remaining 20%— use practically all the power generated in the world.

If we analyse the figures a little further, we find that if only the wealthy 20% of the world population uses power, our ordinary fossil fuel such as coal, oil and natural gas, will probably only last until the year 2025, or at most, until the year 2040. If one considers that the pressure on the wealthy 20% of the world is to meet the needs and upgrade the standard of living, and so on, of the remaining 80%, the situation is that there is going to be an increasing demand on the sources of fossil fuel available in the world. The danger is in fact that the potential that exists will be exhausted sooner. There is only one answer to that problem, and that answer is nuclear power.

I think that in this regard—irrespective of what the other parties say—we should at least give the NP Government credit for its far-sightedness and for having the ability to realize that the answer to the future needs of our country lies in nuclear power. We do not have an inexhaustible source of coal supplies in this country. If we look at the situation from a practical point of view and we consider what happened recently in Britain when the coal miners were on strike, we realize what kind of problems we will have to contend with if we land up in an energy crisis.

The same applies locally if our lights were to be turned off for only one night. Of course, there will be certain people on honeymoon who would not mind, but the rest of us like to have our lights, power and energy all the time.


We are not yet as old as you are.


I want to tell the hon member for Roodeplaat that not all of us need lights. Mr Chairman, if we analyse our need for power properly, we realize that the activists and pacifists who say “down with nuclear energy”, have hold of the wrong end of the stick completely. It is essential that we in this House should do everything in our power to ensure that our nuclear power industry runs absolutely smoothly. We therefore take great pleasure in supporting this legislation.


Mr Chairman, the CP supports the second reading of this amending Bill. This legislation concerns three important matters, of which the first and the third are most important to me. The importance of nuclear energy need not be debated. In the times in which we are living it is true that power has to be supplemented due to the lack of certain commodities. Apparently, throughout the world nuclear energy is the source of power that is going to become very important in all respects in the future.

We on this side of the House welcome the broad definition of the special nuclear material, which is now contained in this Bill. We are convinced that it is important that this matter be defined as broadly as possible so that no one can be in doubt as to what is meant by it. It is also very important in view of all the stories that people spread about nuclear energy. One must define matters in such a way that no one can be in any doubt as to what is meant by it and what is included.

Secondly, I now want to discuss the third matter because it is extremely important to us. This is closely linked to the first point. It concerns the inspectors and the powers they are now being given. I think this improved definition of their powers is essential, particularly if it is seen in the light of the importance of nuclear power and nuclear energy. There must be no doubt about the powers of the people involved in testing and inspection. The public at large must also be assured that this work is done so thoroughly that there will be no doubt about safety or other issues that could arise. Our people must be at ease about this important matter.

The third question is that of the full-time chairman, which now falls away. I think the corporation concerned is convinced that this should be the case. It is being brought in line with other State corporations. We hope that this amendment will be important to the administration and organization of this corporation. Only future practice will show whether this was a wise step, and if it was not sufficiently wise, it can be revised at a later stage. We take pleasure in supporting the Bill as it stands at present.


Mr Chairman, the hon member for Koedoespoort made a good speech and we thank him for his support of the Bill.

The envisaged arrangement in terms of which the chairman of the Atomic Energy Corporation need not be a full-time chairman in future, or, put differently, the fact that the chief executive officer of the Atomic Energy Corporation does not have to be the chairman, is a good arrangement which accords with those of related State corporations of which the SABC is a good example. We should like to support it.

The replacement of the definition of “special nuclear material” also seems in order as far as I can understand it. I trust that the hon member for Pretoria East will be able to give more expert opinions on the matter at a later stage.

As the Bill deals with nuclear energy, I do think that a few remarks on nuclear energy as such are opportune.

Since the Nuclear Energy Act was passed in 1982, considerable developments with regard to nuclear energy have taken place in South Africa. I think the most outstanding developments took place with regard to Koeberg, Pelindaba and Valindaba. I want to associate myself with the hon member Dr Vilonel by saying that these three installations are definitely monuments to South African technology. The work done here makes one truly proud of being a South African. Despite a world boycott South Africa has succeeded—and I think it should be said aloud—in enriching uranium, which can enable the country to supply the nuclear fuel at Koeberg itself. I want to go so far as to say that in my opinion this is probably an unequalled achievement in our history as far as scientific achievements are concerned. It should be kept in mind that no blueprint exists for the enrichment of uranium. One cannot go and read up somewhere in a library how it is done. All research in connection with the enrichment of uranium takes place in secret. South African scientists had to develop a uranium enrichment process de novo as it were, something that they achieved in record time. Because of the secrecy surrounding their work, these people are not in the front line when it comes to bring lauded for scientific achievements. They may not even publish their research, the very yardstick by which scientists in other areas are assessed. I think that these scientists truly deserve the thanks and appreciation of every South African. Hon members will permit me to mention the name here of a scientist who was involved with this and who is in our midst this afternoon, namely the hon member for Pretoria East, Dr Alant.

The capability that South Africa has developed in the enrichment of uranium, has again show that boycotts against South Africa have exactly the opposite effect to that originally envisaged. When the UNO introduced arms boycotts against South Africa, not only did we develop the capability of producing our own sophisticated arms, but in fact we became an exporter of arms. Today we have the ridiculous situation of a boycott, originally having been introduced to prevent South Africa from buying arms, now having to be changed to prevent South Africa from exporting arms. I hesitate to say this, but in my opinion boycotts, originally aimed at preventing South Africa from developing into a nuclear power now or in the future, have laid the very foundation for South Africa now or in the future being able to develop into such a power.

Another aspect with regard to nuclear energy which deserves attention involves the scare-mongering which usually does the rounds about the insecurity of, for example, a nuclear reactor. These stories are told both in the Western Cape and in the rest of South Africa. The stories normally concern the possibility of radio-active irradiation. In this regard I think that the following facts should be placed on record: Under normal circumstances everyone is, in any case, exposed daily to irradiation of some or other kind, whether he lives near a nuclear reactor or not. Cosmic rays are responsible for each member of the South African population’s being exposed to 35 millirems of radio-active irradiation. Irradiation from the earth itself amounts to 23 millirems per year, while the human body radiates 17 millirems. To put these figures of 35, 23 and 17 into perspective, I can mention that the radio-active irradiation of a nuclear reactor is only 1 millirem per year, and then this only applies within the site-boundaries of the nuclear reactor. That is much less than the 3 to 5 millirems to which a television viewer is exposed who, for a year, spends three hours per evening in front of his television set. What is more, the fluorescent paint on a watch’s face emits twice as much radio-activity as a nuclear power station would. When one undergoes an ordinary X-ray examination, one is exposed to irradiation in the region of 100 millirems. I think a last comparison should place this matter in perspective once and for all. Any radiographer is allowed to be exposed to as much as 5 000 millirems of irradiation. Compare this again with the 1 millirem of irradiation emitted by a nuclear reactor.

There is one more projection one should take note of in order to counteract the scandle-mongering concerning the safety of a nuclear reactor. There have been studies involving the possibility of disasters which could cause 100 or more deaths, and the following conclusion was drawn: A large aeroplane crash can take place once in two years, a tornado once in five years, a fire once in seven years, an explosion once in 16 years, an earthquake once in 20 years, the release of toxic gases, as happened in India recently, once in 100 years and then a nuclear disaster, if there are 100 nuclear reactors, once in 10 000 years. The chances are virtually zero. Therefore it is very much more dangerous to travel by aeroplane than to live near a nuclear reactor. I want to express the hope that this resistance to nuclear power will disappear.

I want to associate myself with viewpoints already expressed this afternoon by saying that without doubt nuclear power is the energy source of the future. The hon member for Heilbron said that the amount of coal is increasing; and he compared this with the widow’s cruse. That may be so, but I think that despite the availability of energy sources such as oil and coal, we shall be forced to turn more and more to nuclear power as a result of the dangers to health that these other energy sources hold for man. It has already been calculated that nuclear power will be responsible, by the end of this century, for 14% to 18% of the world’s electricity supply. That is equivalent to 1 700 million tons of crude oil, which again is equivalent to half the world’s present oil production. I think these figures suggest undeniably that nuclear power is the power of the future, and that that is why it is a good thing for its utilization to be ordered and regulated in good time. We therefore support this legislation.


Mr Chairman, I fully support the comments made by the hon member for Randfontein. I was fortunate enough to visit Pelindaba and Valindaba some months ago, and it is quite clear that the development of nuclear energy in this country is well on stream. I do accept the fact that the powers that be can take considerable credit for the development that has already taken place in this particular sphere.

Coming to the Bill itself, I think it is as well just to deal very briefly again with the whole text, including the powers which are now being brought into being to deal with the special nuclear material. Previous speakers have given an indication of how important this is, and it is not my intention to repeat what they have said. One also accepts that the contents of the Bill, in supporting and highlighting the importance of nuclear energy, cannot be emphasized enough. There is little doubt that the progress this country has made in regard to nuclear energy is very much envied by other countries. It is therefore a pleasure to be able to support this Bill.

It appears that the aspect relating to the requirement for the chairman not to hold that post in a full-time capacity is logical. This brings the principal Act into conformity with those relating to various corporations. We in these benches have no problem with clause 5 which removes the need for the chairman also to be the chief executive, nor do we have any objection to the proposed inspection procedures provided for in clause 7. Without further ado I want to reiterate that we in these benches will be supporting the Bill.


Mr Chairman, I said that we in South Africa are proud of our coal industry and the progress in the industry in the course of many years. I want to say that we are just as proud of our nuclear energy industry in South Africa. Right at the start I should like to thank the hon members very sincerely for supporting this amending Bill.

I would have liked to talk about this industry for a some considerable time. Technologically this industry is actually a highly sophisticated industry. Probably the most sophisticated technology conceivable in the First World, in the technological world of today, is used in the industry. Therefore I shall have to be a little careful. I think we in the House must take note of a few things that came to the fore in the speeches of hon members.

Firstly I want to thank the hon member for Randfontein, the hon member for Stilfontein and the hon member Dr Vilonel very sincerely for their very well-prepared speeches and congratulate them on them. They raised a few matters to which the other hon members also referred, although they did not deal with them as comprehensively, because they merely confirmed what the other hon members had said. I therefore accept that they also prepared their speeches very well and that they therefore endorse what the other hon members said.

The first thing we must deduce from this amending Bill, and the support of the hon members for it, is that this House, the highest council chamber in South Africa, is telling the public at large that it supports the future of a nuclear energy program in South Africa. That is the very first deduction we must make. Our nuclear energy people outside therefore have the assurance that today they have the full support of this House for the future nuclear energy program. That is the first point I want to make, and I want to content myself with that.

The second point I want to make about today’s speeches is that we take note of the absolutely conscientious and scientific approach of our nuclear energy experts to the irradiation security of our nuclear energy programmes. The hon member for Randfontein pointed this out very clearly. He was a little modest, but what he was actually telling us with his figures was that it is very much more dangerous, from an irradiation point of view, to sleep next to your wife than to sit and make love at Koeberg power station. [Interjections.]

With the information made available today, we want to tell the public at large that the nuclear security, the irradiation security, of our installations is of the highest caliber in the world, and that there is no danger that people can be adversely affected by it. We also want to say that in future we shall ensure that this great responsibility placed on the nuclear energy research people is handled with the utmost conscientiousness. Not one of us need have any fear whatsoever of any irradiation as a result of the Koeberg waste that will be taken to the storage site at Gamoeb.

I am very grateful for the support of the hon member for Greytown. The hon member made a very good speech. There is, however, one shortcoming in his speech. I really thought he was going to congratulate me for having corrected the language in clause 7. With the previous Bill he criticized me on my language in my second reading speech. Here we are now correcting the language, and yet he does not congratulate me. I hope that next time he will congratulate me on it.


He says congratulations.


Thank you very much.

To the hon member Dr Vilonel I say thank you very much for a very good speech. The hon member truly spoke with authority and stressed a very important point. He stressed that the nuclear energy industry is a very young industry which, from the point of view of development, has made considerable progress in a very short time. In a very short time we have developed a technique for doing our own enrichment. The relevant installation will be completed shortly. We have a Koeberg power station which is already in operation and which has been operative for a full year without any problems.

I also thank the hon member for Stilfontein for his support.

I think the hon member for Koedoespoort proved his support—especially with regard to clause 7—by saying that we shall do everything in our power to ensure, by way of inspections and our testing techniques, that there is no danger of irradiation for our people in this industry. I am grateful for the hon member’s assurance. He also said that we in this House can rest assured—that he could also give the assurance to the public at large, that as far as is technically and humanly possible there will be no irradiation problems. We do not have control over everything in life; we are, after all, only weak and fragile individuals. As far as it is technically possible, however, we shall do everything in our power to prevent this, and we thank the hon member for his support. [Interjections.]

I have already dealt with a few aspects of the hon member for Randfontein’s speech. [Interjections.] He gave a very good explanation of the different irradiation levels from various sources.


Order! The hon the Minister is being courteous enough to reply to certain members. It would be a good thing for the hon members to show the Minister the same courtesy so that he can do so. The hon the Minister may proceed.


Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. I think the hon member said that technologically our nuclear energy programme was actually a monument to the people who worked on it, and he referred to the hon member for Pretoria East. I think we in South Africa can be proud that we have in the House a man with the technological knowledge and background of the hon member for Pretoria East, and I think that we as members of Parliament are all proud of having such a man in our midst.

Another important point is also of interest. We must tell the scientists at Pelindaba and Valindaba that we are proud of their achievements. This is also the message the hon member for Randfontein conveyed. We must tell them clearly that we regard their achievements as amongst the best in the world. We thank them sincerely for having put South Africa’s name, technologically speaking, very high on the list. We want to give them the assurance that we shall support them as far as possible in this programme.

†I want to thank the hon member for Mooi River and his party for their support. I am sure the hon member agrees with everything that has been said by the other hon members. I want to thank him for his support.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

ATMOSPHERIC POLLUTION PREVENTION AMENDMENT BILL (Second Reading) (introductory Speech delivered at Joint Sitting on 4 February) *The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HEALTH AND WELFARE:

Mr Speaker, I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The Bill now before us envisages the amendment of the definition of “local authority” in the Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act, 1965, so that the boards of management in the Coloured rural areas and Black local authorities may also be brought within the scope of the Act. These boards of management and Black local authorities came into being a long time after the Act was passed during 1965.

As hon members are aware, local authorities are responsible for the prevention of pollution of the atmosphere by smoke and fumes emitted by vehicles. This responsibility rests only on local authorities whose area of jurisdiction falls within an area designated for the purposes of the Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act, 1965.

This Act, as amended by the Bill, will not only grant the management boards and Black local authorities wider powers to ensure a safer and healthier environment, but will also provide that they may in future be assisted financially from State funds for this purpose.

The remainder of the Bill merely rectifies certain obsolete expressions appearing in the text of the Act.

Second Reading resumed


Mr Chairman, this Bill refers mainly to smoke. Unfortunately, it does not refer to verbal pollution, which is apparently a malady suffered by hon members on the Government side when it comes to the Order Paper.

Having said that, I want to say that we fully support, and in fact welcome, the amending legislation which is before us today. We do so because the provisions of this legislation are being extended to the rural Coloured areas and to Black local authority areas. One only has to drive from Johannesburg to Potchefstroom, or from Johannesburg to Heidelberg, particularly in winter, to see the valleys densely filled and polluted by smoke so that one can hardly see ten metres ahead. The time has come now for pollution in all these areas, as well as other areas— also in the Cape, where coal-burning stoves cause severe smoke pollution of the atmosphere—to be properly controlled.

My mind goes back to 1965 when we paid tribute to Dr Halliday, whom I had the pleasure of working with, before the Act came into effect. Much research was done, evidence taken and thought given to the matter before the principal Act came about. Having now reached this stage where the provisions are being extended, certain obligations now fall directly on the shoulders of the Minister. He now has to implement the extension of control in this Bill to the areas to which I have referred. I want in particular to call upon the hon the Minister to use the powers vested in him in terms of section 8 of the Act to declare the Black authority areas and rural Coloured areas as controlled areas as soon as possible. He should do so without delay. That is the first step. Having declared those areas to be controlled areas, the other aspects of the Bill can then flow from it.

In terms of section 14 of the Act atmospheric pollution refers mostly to the control of smoke. Local authorities will be able to use that provision in conjunction with a request to the Minister, who can then take the matter up.

Section 15 deals with control over fuelburning appliances. We have all seen those high chimneys belching smoke in the cities without proper control. This is particularly the case where industrial activities take place. Control should be exercized there. This aspect is dealt with in section 16 of the Act, which contains the principle of the Act. This section takes care of the health of people and provides that people should not be a nuisance to the occupiers of premises in the surrounding areas. Smoke control regulations can then be enforced by the local authorities, who then draft them.

Different aspects of control are also provided for in the Act. We deal, for example, with traffic. There is a lot of smoke that eminates from motorcycles, motorcars and from lorries, and this is where section 36 Part V of the Act gives the local authority the right to control regulations in order to diminish their polution problems by means of the Hartridge meter which measures the density of smoke which should not exceed certain limits. One can thus control the traffic in that regard, which is very important.

In terms of section 20, within the boundaries of the local authorities one may declare “smokeless zones”. An area may be divided into various “smokeless zones” where smoke may not be emitted from any source, not even from burning garden refuse, for example, during certain hours, or not at all in certain cases. That is the only way one can control the smoke in the densely populated areas.

Part IV deals with Dust Control, which requires a certain amount of attention as well.

In all those circumstances we see now a new era of control over a very important aspect, which can only improve the quality of life of people living in those areas.

My party therefore calls upon the hon the Minister to see to it that the act is implemented and the local authorities to which I have referred have proper control in their specific areas. In those circumstances we will gladly support the amendment brought before us.


Mr Chairman, we thank the hon member for Hillbrow for the support which he is giving this amending Bill on behalf of his party. He justifiably referred to the smoke pollution in certain parts of the country, a subject to which I should also like to refer later in my speech. He also referred to other aspects to which I shall return in my speech.

The object of this amending Bill is to extend the definition of “local authorities” as contained in the Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act, and to include certain local government bodies, which was not previously the case. It is important that the powers granted by the Act be extended to make provision too for the inclusion of those additional local government bodies. It is imperative that every person in the Republic become involved in the prevention of atmospheric pollution. We are so health conscious in the Republic of South Africa that many people avoid sugar, spices and fatty food for example, just to stay healthy. Those same people, however, will argue with someone if it is pointed out to them that they are polluting the air, which other people inhale, with cigarette smoke … [Interjections.] … to say nothing of how they are polluting and ruining their own bodies by inhaling that smoke.

The atmosphere is polluted by a wide range of activities. The emission of fumes by vehicles is but one example. In terms of the Atmospheric Pollution Prevention Act of 1965, local authorities in all of the principal cities and towns already have the power to control the exhaust fumes of diesel-powered vehicles. I think that my information is up to date if I say that there are already 40 local authorities in the Republic which exercise such control. We can also refer to atmospheric pollution by power stations and the harmful precipitation of acid as a result of this pollution. We think too of the waste products discharged by factories, for example those of fertilizer factories, but the worst are those of paper-mills. Apart from the pollution they cause, those plants stink to such an extent that one cannot live there. If hon members ever go touring through the Eastern Transvaal I want to advise them to hold their noses when they are travelling between Waterval-Onder and Nelspruit. [Interjections.]

I do not think it is necessary to waste the time of the House by enumerating any more examples of atmospheric pollution. The fact remains that atmospheric pollution has the most harmful effect on a person’s health. Just look at the dark smoke clouds in winter to which the hon member for Hillbrow also referred. They are caused by people who still make use of coal stoves and coal heaters. It is therefore necessary to make provision for the inclusion of authorities so that they will contribute to combating atmospheric pollution. This measure makes provision for the inclusion of authorities, something that did not exist previously.

Therefore it is a great privilege for me to support the second reading of this amending Bill.


Mr Chairman, in his speech the hon member for Middelburg declared himself to be quite strongly opposed to cigarette smoking. To me it is interesting that when we discussed this Bill in the standing committee, we spent far more time deciding whether or not we could smoke in the standing committee, than we did on the legislation. The hon member then voted for an amendment which made provision for a compromise proposal that we do not prohibit smoking, but only request hon members not to smoke. The hon member for Parktown and I were in the minority of the White House then, but the Coloured House supported our point of view, whereas the Indian House supported the point of view of the NP. We could not achieve consensus on as simple a matter as cigarette smoking, and therefore I think that the matter should now be referred to the President’s Council. [Interjections.]

The question of atmospheric pollution becomes more and more important as the world population and industrial development increase. Although we should like to see that development, we may never allow the environment to become so polluted that human health is undermined by it. In industrial countries overseas, serious health catastrophes have already taken place. High death rates have appeared in children even in Britain for example, as a result of a very serious smog problem with accompanying respiratory infections. In our own country, fortunately, strict measures have existed since 1965 with regard to the combating of atmospheric pollution, measures which are applied inter alia by local authorities and which in fact have already brought about a great improvement in the large industrial cities of our country. Therefore we on this side of the House support the amendments by which they are extended in order to include a board of management, as defined in the Rural Coloured Areas Law, 1979, and a local authority, as defined in the Black Local Authorities Act, 1982.

In the latest available Annual Report— that of 1983—the Department of Health reported as follows on page 26:

Smoke and sulphur dioxide measurements are carried out by local authorities in co-operation with the CSIR to determine long-term tendencies in order to evaluate the efficacy of existing control measures or to consider introducing suitable control where needed. Smoke is at present being measured in 33 of the main cities and towns at 138 monitoring stations while in 21 cities and towns sulphur dioxide measurements are being done at 92 stations.

In accordance with Standing Order No 19, the House adjourned at 18h30.