House of Assembly: Vol2 - MONDAY 18 FEBRUARY 1985
announced that Mr Speaker had reported to him that the proceedings at a joint sitting on certain bills had been concluded and that he had placed these bills on the Order Paper for the second reading debate.
laid upon the Table:
- (1) Part Appropriation Bill of the Administration: House of Assembly [No 45—85 (HA)] (Minister of the Budget).
- (2) Certificate by the State President in terms of section 31 of the Constitution, 1983, that the Bill deals with matters which are own affairs of the House of Assembly.
as Chairman, presented the First Report of the joint meeting of the Committees on Standing Rules and Orders, as follows:
- (a) On a day on which a Minister has in terms of Rule 40 delivered his Second Reading speech on a taxation bill, Mr Speaker shall refer the bill concerned to the Standing Committee on Finance.
- (b) The period for the deliberations on a taxation bill shall be limited to a maximum of two consecutive days on which Parliamentary business is disposed of and following on the day on which the speech was delivered.
J W GREEFF,
14 February 1985.
Mr SPEAKER stated that unless notice of objection to the Report was given at the next sitting of the House, the Report would be considered as adopted.
as Chairman, presented the First Report of the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders of the House of Assembly, as follows:
- (a) 3 hours for the Second Reading;
- (b) 45 minutes for the Third Reading.
J W GREEFF,
14 February 1985.
Mr SPEAKER stated that unless notice of objection to the report was given at the next sitting of the House, the Report would be considered as adopted.
as Chairman, presented the First Report of the Standing Select Committee on Home Affairs and National Education, relative to the Electoral and Related Affairs Amendment Bill [No 37-85 (GA)], as follows:
A E NOTHNAGEL,
15 February 1985.
Bill to be read a second time.
Mr Speaker, I move:
Mr Speaker, this matter, I believe, has been fully canvassed, and I simply wish to state that we in the Official Opposition will be supporting the measure at third reading.
Mr Speaker, I am standing up only to indicate that we on this side of the House also support the third reading of the amending Bill.
Mr Speaker, the CP also supports the third reading of this Bill.
Mr Speaker, the NRP will be supporting the third reading of the Bill.
Mr Speaker, I should like to convey my sincere thanks to hon members on both sides of the House for their support. This is the very first Bill this year to have gone through all three stages, and I regard it as a particular privilege that I was the Minister who introduced that legislation.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a third time.
Fair copy of Bill certified and presented to the State President for his assent.
Introductory Speech delivered at Joint Sittingon 18 February
Mr Speaker, I move:
We are dealing here with a fairly short Bill which, as will subsequently become clear from this speech, will be welcomed by all who value the interests of shipping.
The Merchant Shipping Act, 1951, contains a number of provisions with regard to the licensing of small vessels, which have to be amended for practical reasons. I shall mention only a few.
Section 68 of the principal Act requires all small vessels, ie vessels of less than 25 gross tons and of more than three metres in length, as well as ships of more than 25 but less than 100 gross tons, which have been exempted from registration in terms of section 13(3) of the Act, to be licensed. As a concessionary measure, however, the Act empowers the Minister to exempt the owners or masters of small vessels used exclusively for sport or recreation from adherence to that particular requirement. Such exemption constitutes an important advantage for the owner or the master of a vessel in that he will not be subjected to the red tape associated with regular annual inspections of his vessel and equipment as a prerequisite for the renewal of his licence.
On the face of it it may seem that this does not increase the Minister’s work load unduly, but when I state that there are approximately 70 000 small vessels and ships involved, hon members will realize readily enough that it would be an impossible task to grant individual exemptions on application. For this reason the implementation of this measure was kept in abeyance in order to formulate a simpler substitute measure. After talks with interested parties the Act is now being amended so that general exemptions with regard to specified categories can be issued by the Minister, subject to such conditions as he may deem necessary. Small vessels which are exempted from the licensing requirements shall, nevertheless, remain subject to all other conditions of the Act pertaining to small vessels, since these provisions are mainly concerned with the promotion of safety at sea.
†Pleasure yachts of more than 25 gross tons but less than 100 gross tons, which are required to be registered in terms of section 13 of the Act, but which have been exempted by the Minister under section 13(3), are, in terms of section 3(7), not subject to the provisions of the Act. It is, however, necessary that all ships and vessels which are utilized for sport or recreational activities should be subject to the provisions of the Act, and sections 3(7) and 64 are consequently being amended for this purpose.
Section 5 is being amended to authorize the Director-General: Transport to delegate certain control measures applicable to ships and vessels used for sport and recreation to approved boat, angling or other clubs or associations. I am delighted that those bodies who have already been approached have reacted most positively and, by involving them, I trust that the application of law enforcement measures will improve significantly. However, I may not fail to mention that local and other authorities also play a very important part in the management of beaches and inland waters. The existing and contemplated legislation with regard to boat safety is, however, not in conflict with the activities of these authorities. The proposed measures will in no way infringe on the powers vested in such authorities with regard to control measures instituted by them on beaches, in the surf and in inland waters for recreation. An important objective of the proposed legislation is to provide for uniform standards by means of regulation. Such norms, as will be introduced later, will be an authoritative instrument in the hands of beach and inland waters authorities and will, among other things, provide them with the necessary jurisdiction to prevent unseaworthy vessels, with incompetent persons at the helm, from entering navigable waters.
Section 240 of the Act prohibits the use of unseaworthy ships registered in the Republic. As I have already mentioned, small vessels can be exempted from the requirements of registration. Although I believe that the yachting fraternity and persons participating in related sports are in general responsible people, it is regrettably so that there are those who will venture into stormy waters with virtually anything that can float. Therefore, there is no other alternative than to extend the prohibition in section 240 to include licensed ships, vessels, ships and small vessels used for sport and recreation, in order to prevent avoidable loss of life.
*The fact that the Republic acceded to the International Convention regarding the Tonnage Measurement of Ships on 24 February 1983 necessitates that section 261 of the Act, which has as objective to reduce by 15% the limitations—which are expressed in gold francs per ton of a ship’s tonnage—on a ship-owner’s liability with regard to loss of life or personal injury or loss of or damage to property, must now be amended since the enforcement of the relevant provision of the Convention will result in the previous reduction of a ship’s tonnage with regard to space occupied by propulsion units becoming inapplicable.
For the sake of those who are wondering what a golden franc is, I wish to mention that it is a monetary unit which was in use in France between 1879 and 1928, but which subsequently fell into disuse. At the time the golden franc was equivalent to 0,3225 grammes of gold, which today will realize approximately R5,58. A ship owner’s liability with regard to claims resulting from loss of life or property has therefore increased, and it is consequently necessary to rectify this artificial increase in the limit of liability by amending the Act.
The definition of “port” is also being amended in order to distinguish between ports situated within and outside the Republic, and in addition to include places along the coast where vessels may be launched, beached, berthed or moored.
These are in broad outline the principles of the Bill, on which country-wide consultations with approximately 100 persons and/or organizations were held, and which enjoys unqualified support. I do not wish to single out any names, but I do wish to point out that the comprehensive consultations which were held, covered the whole area between Walvis Bay and Richard’s Bay. Any person who therefore wishes to oppose this Bill, should have his head read.
Second Reading resumed
Mr Speaker, the first thing I want to comment on in regard to this Bill, is that this is in fact the first Bill to have been referred to the Standing Committee on Transport Affairs, and I believe that this is a definite step forward in the legislative process. We were able fully to discuss this Bill among the members of that standing committee. We sorted out a number of areas of concern and I, for one, welcome the way in which the whole matter was handled. Obviously there are problems with some of the standing committees, not the least of which is that there have to be three separate quorums within one standing committee. I believe that this is obviously going to give rise to a fair deal of difficulty in future. Furthermore, in that it has its racial context, we disapprove of it and would wish that there was only one quorum necessary for one standing committee. Be that as it may, the standing committee worked well and we were in fact able to approve an amendment that was suggested by the hon member for Bezuidenhout. The amendment now appears in front of us in the amended Bill. I shall come back to that in due course, but I want to thank the members of the standing committee for having accepted the amendment that we put forward.
The Bill releases certain boats from the provisions of the Act. These are boats under 25 tons and which are longer than 3 metres. There are, therefore, a tremendous number of vessels that are going to fall within this category. Sailboards, for example, will fall within this category and they will have to obey certain regulations. At the same time almost any fishing boat that one cares to mention—on the little estuaries, the little rivers—‘and little rowing boats, are longer than 3 metres. Therefore, they are going to have to obey the regulations that the Minister prescribes. I believe that this is where we do have a bit of a problem with the Bill and we should like the hon the Minister’s comments in his reply on the various points that I want to raise during this second reading debate.
Firstly, we have no objection to all these prescribed regulations being brought into force in the event of the vessel concerned being a boat that is going to sea. In the event of its being for instance a deep keel yacht or a skiboat going out to sea, because there are many fools who use the sea and endanger their own lives, it should apply. I have no objection to people endangering their own lives—after all, that is their own business— but when they endanger other people’s lives through their own foolhardiness—perhaps the lives of people who are passengers on their vessels, or perhaps the NSRI who do a fantastic job in this country might have to go out to rescue them thus endangering their own lives—the expense could be tremendous if a yacht has to be searched for by air. All of this adds up to fairly considerable State expense I should think that the hon the Minister could probably tell us of the amounts of money that have been spent on this type of search in the past. We obviously want to try to include these people within the regulations to ensure that they obey the regulations before they go to sea.
One comes to somewhat of a different problem when one realizes that those who are also going to be involved in terms of these regulations, are the people who use estuaries—people, in other words, who use the salt water tidal rivers, some of which are not open all the year round. They have blind mouths some of the time and other times they do not have blind mouths.
What concerns me is that the many, many little boats which use these estuaries all up and down our coast can be caught up within these regulations. I do not think that this is advisable. After all, take a windsurfer who is 16 years old or not even 16 years old and who wants to go to sea on a windsurfer. He should have supervision in terms of the regulations which we understand are going to be promulgated. If a 12-year-old is going to do his windsurfing on a quiet little estuary— there are thousands of such estuaries around our coast—why should he have to obey the same regulations as a windsurfer who goes to sea? I think this is a problem area, and I should appreciate the hon the Minister giving us some idea of how he intends dealing with those who actually go out to sea and those using the little tidal rivers of which, as I have said, we have many.
The second point is that I am well aware that the department has canvassed a number of associations and bodies representative of the various fishing and yachting associations. There are a vast number of owners of boats who are members of these associations, and I am aware that they welcome these regulations. There are also thousands of boat-owners who do not belong to any club or association. The windsurfers, as I have said, the little fishermen on the estuaries are, not some of these, and I do not think their opinion has really been canvassed. I believe that it is our duty to ensure that they are not caught up within regulations that would be onerous and serve no real purpose.
I should like the hon the Minister to reiterate what I understand is the intention behind this amendment, and that is first of all that nobody will be forced to become a member of any such club or association in terms of this legislation. The hon the Minister is given the right to prescribe regulations for the boats which are being freed from the regulations which may be promulgated in terms of the Bill.
In fact, this is what our amendment deals with. The amendment makes it clear that those regulations are going to be published before they come into force. It also provides that comment has to be invited. We think that this is good.
I should also like the hon the Minister to confirm that those same regulations will be submitted to the standing committee for comment before they are published in the first place. We believe that the standing committee has a role to play not only in the law-making process but also in the regulation-making process. We believe that it would serve a very useful purpose if these were placed before the standing committee before they were published. I should like the hon the Minister to comment on that.
The next aspect is the question of fees. Will all these sailboard owners have to pay any sort of a fee to anybody, whether it be to a boating association or anyone else? I understand from the questions we asked on the standing committee that it is not envisaged in the foreseeable future that there will be any fee involved. I would again like the hon the Minister to confirm this so that we have it recorded in Hansard.
In this Bill we are giving the Minister power to make these prescribed regulations. Naturally, any power we give the Minister to make regulations without coming back to Parliament is something we look at very carefully. One does not consider the hon the Minister personally in this respect because of course it affects any Minister, whether it is the present incumbent of the job, or future Ministers—they may even be from different parties. One looks at the power which has been given to the Minister to prescribe regulations with a fairly jaundiced eye. Notwithstanding that, in view of the fact that the standing committee was given a full opportunity to discuss this Bill and that the amendment on regulations was accepted, we have pleasure in saying that the Official Opposition will be supporting the progress of this Bill.
Mr Speaker, first of all I want to thank the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central for his and his party’s support of the Bill. In the same breath I am also grateful that we can say that this Bill enjoyed unanimous support in the standing committee. I think that that in itself is a very great achievement. As the hon member said, we are introducing an amendment here and that amendment also had the wholehearted support of the standing committee.
The hon member—and it is his right—today expressed certain misgivings here. I believe that the regulations that will now be drafted will completely obviate most, if not all, of those problems once we get those regulations. I do not believe that it is necessary for the hon member to worry unduly about what will happen in the river mouths and tidal waters, because those regulations will be drafted and applied in such a way that it will be possible without difficulty to accommodate the people concerned properly.
It is also true that there will be boat owners who are not members of clubs. What I found particularly striking about this Bill, however, was the fact that the department liaised beforehand with these people, with the hundreds of boat and angling clubs and other associations, and that these people gave their wholehearted support and intended to play their part in this respect. I therefore do not believe that we have cause for concern. I believe that the few who are not members of such clubs will also look forward to becoming members of such clubs and organizations as soon as possible in the future because of the particular advantages it will have for them.
I was amazed that there are no fewer than 70 000 small vessels in our country’s waters. If one bears that number in mind, one realizes that there is every reason to introduce a Bill that will obviate the problems. As I have said, I find it heartening that people who belong to clubs of this sort are prepared to play their part. However, that does not alter the fact that local authorities will have a very important role to fulfil in the future as regards the waters under their jurisdiction—in the interior as well as in the coastal areas.
In a lighter vein, I have to confess that this is the first time I have come across the expression “gold francs per ton of a ship’s tonnage”. I must confess that I did not have the faintest idea what this was.
The most important aim of the Bill is to ensure that unseaworthy vessels do not leave our harbours and to prevent untrained people and people who are not capable of handling a vessel from doing so. In this way we can attempt to make our waters and the sea safer places. I want to congratulate the hon the Minister on this measure and assure him of the support of this side of the House.
Mr Speaker, the CP also supports the Bill and is also in favour of the amendment proposed by the standing committee, namely that before regulations are made such regulations shall be published in the Government Gazette so that interested parties can make inputs.
In any case, clause 9 of the Bill empowers the Minister to issue regulations. Furthermore, the Minister can prescribe more comprehensive safety measures in respect of smaller vessels that are used for sport and recreation. We welcome this because we believe that these days there are people who use vessels on our dams and rivers and in the sea, who are not qualified to do so and who are a danger to themselves, to the people on board their vessels, and to the other people on the surface and under the surface of the water. It is in the interest of everyone using our waters for the skippers and crew members of vessels to be better trained to handle their vessels.
I should like to refer to the question of boardsailors. I would welcome it if a method could be found of looking after the safety of especially young children who use sailboards. Perhaps older and better trained people could play a role in this connection.
Clause 6 empowers the State to forbid any unseaworthy ship, whether South African or foreign, from leaving any port. We are particularly happy about this measure.
In my opinion the measures contained in the Bill, generally speaking, contribute greatly towards the safeguarding of all users of boats and water. We support the Bill.
Mr Speaker, we too support the measure. I am not going to repeat all that has been said, but I want to thank the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central for the support he gave to various matters which I raised with regard to boardsailors and others in the standing committee. The whole committee was agreed on the points which were raised. I think it is necessary to emphasize the fact that boardsailing is not essentially a club sport, but very much an individual sport where chaps go out for an hour in the evening after work to amuse themselves. However, it is necessary that the safety of lives should be ensured.
In this respect I want to pay particular tribute to the organizations which dedicate themselves to ensuring safety on beaches and in the sea. I refer particularly to the National Sea Rescue Institute and to the South African Surf Life Saving Association, which is now amalgamated with the inland fresh water organizations to form an even more effective countrywide national life saving organization. These organizations function on an entirely voluntary basis. They have no paid members—no professionals— and they bring hundreds and even thousands of young people together. They offer up their weekends, but they enjoy it and they have their competitions and their sport. However, they are there basically to protect and help those in danger in the sea and on the seashore.
I see this as a supplementary measure to strengthen safety measures because people who get into trouble often endanger the lives of those who go out to help them. People endanger their lives through their own ignorance, stupidity, obstinacy, and often through their own misbehaviour. They may for instance, go out to sea while under the influence of liquor and get themselves into trouble. In being rescued, they endanger the lives of other people trying to save them. There has to be some sort of discipline. However, I do not think we must make the mistake of using a sledgehammer to kill a gnat by imposing unreasonable conditions. I refer here particularly to the fact that they should not be forced to become members of clubs with which they have no common interest. This point has been made by the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central. However, the hon member for Kempton Park gave this a slightly different emphasis. He indicated that they should join clubs. There have been occasions in the past where a person who went fishing for the fun of it, was obliged to join a club. He did not want to go to sea in boats, he did not want to make big catches; he was a bloke who went fishing for an evening or a day or night to amuse himself. However, once they were forced to join clubs, the clubs put the screws on. They put up their fees and they imposed all sorts of conditions. I see the hon the Minister of Agriculture is not here now, but he knows the example of a particular club which is virtually a closed club and which is keeping people out of an area because they have obtained a monopoly for the use of that area. This would be undesirable.
We need the safeguards and we welcome the willingness of clubs to implement the safety regulations that are being applied. We welcome and accept this as part of their service to their sports, but not as a back door in order to impose membership conditions and to obtain membership fees from people who are essentially not engaged in organized sport; for instance, people with a boat of their own on a dam who will never participate in the activities of the clubs themselves.
The estuaries which were referred to by the hon member for Kempton Park and the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central are not all the same. There are those which have closed mouths except when there are floods, and those which are open to the sea. It often happens that a child or somebody who does not know the danger is swept out to sea although he has no intention whatsoever of going to sea. However, he gets caught in a current and is swept out. So, one would have to look at those regulations very carefully to ensure that they cover both types, ie those that are quite safe and enclosed, in which the kiddies can have as much fun as they like and which are often largely not even deep enough for them to drown in, and those where there is a danger of their being swept out to sea.
There is a last point I want to make. In the standing committee it was brought to our attention that the original Act was being considered. We have asked that in that process attention be given to insurance coverage and protection on a share basis for fishermen who go to sea in boats, who are not protected by the owners because they are not employees, and who often do not take out cover for themselves.
With those few remarks we shall support this measure.
Mr Speaker, I should like to thank the hon member for Durban Point for raising an important point, viz that surfers, too, are involved in this matter. However, they are not organized in clubs. A surfer takes his surfboard and goes out to sea.
†The most important point he made concerned the National Sea Rescue Institute. They offer their services free, gratis and for nothing. They are saving lives. They also came to us with proposals in this connection.
I think that the hon member for Durban Point understands the whole thing, as do the hon members for Kempton Park and De Aar. I thank them for their contributions.
The hon member for Port Elizabeth Central asked me certain questions. Firstly, I cannot say that eventually nobody will be compelled to pay a club fee. A club may decide to ask for money, but nobody will be compelled to be a member of a club. It is completely free. However, it is impossible for me to give the undertaking that the regulations will be brought back to the standing committee. The new system cannot work like that. This Bill still has to go to the other Houses. It may happen that at the end of a session we have to wait for a standing committee to decide on the regulations. The hon member has approved the Bill and according to it we have the right to issue certain regulations which will be promulgated after the Bill has been through the three Houses.
One can call the standing committee together at any time.
One can call them together, but in practice it will not work like that.
I should like to assist the hon member. He made quite a few practical proposals and he understands the problems. This was also discussed in the standing committee. However, the hon member must not expect me to give certain undertakings with regard to fees for members and so on. There are at least 70 000 boats involved, as I said in my introductory speech. To that one can still add windsurfers. We do not have the necessary people to play policeman in this regard. We must have the co-operation of the clubs.
*The whole purpose of this legislation is to compromise with the people who practise the sport and also, as the hon member for Durban Point said, to ensure safety in sport.
I do not wish to lay down unnecessary laws. However, I am acting according to the advice of the various clubs who asked us to assist them with these regulations. Therefore, I thank hon members for their support for this legislation.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Certified fair copy of 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.
Introductory Speech delivered at Joint Sittingon 18 February
Mr Speaker, I move:
A few days ago the Cape Province received a graveyard from the Transvaal. Today I want to give something back on behalf of the Cape Province to the Transvaal, but I want to give hon members the assurance that it will not be the rugby Currie Cup! [Interjections.]
The petitions for the alteration of the provincial boundary between the Transvaal and the Cape Province at two places in the vicinity of Vryburg and Schweizer-Reneke were submitted during June 1983 to the House of Assembly by Mr J P du Toit, MP for Vryburg, and Mr W A Lemmer, MP for Schweizer-Reneke, after the provincial councils concerned had approved the boundary alterations.
The necessity for the alteration of the provincial boundary in the vicinity of Schweizer-Reneke, stems from the fact that a portion of the Cape Province, where three farms are situated, is geographically separated from the remainder of the Cape Province by Bophuthatswana.
The alteration of the boundary is further necessitated by geographic separation because farmers living on the three farms find it difficult to fall under the jurisdiction of the Cape Provincial Administration for all official purposes.
Taxes are paid to the Divisional Council of Stellaland, but almost no services can be rendered because the roads to the farms run through Bophuthatswana.
Stock thefts, which occur regularly, have to be reported to the police in Hartswater, while the nearest police station is Amalia, in the Transvaal, and is considerably closer to the three farms.
The other area with similar problems is the area known as Rooigrond in the Cape Province, situated between Mafikeng and the boundary between the Cape Province and the Transvaal. The area known as Rooigrond consists of a number of plots and small farms that are rather densely populated by Whites. The area is situated along the western boundary of the Transvaal and was formerly part of the Divisional Council area of Mafeking. Before Bophuthatswana became independent, the divisional council areas of Vryburg and Mafeking were amalgamated and is presently known as the Divisional Council of Stellaland. Rooigrond was, however, excluded from the divisional council area of Stellaland mainly because the incorporation of land by Bophuthatswana was not yet finalized.
The rendering of services to the area is presently undertaken by the Cape Provincial Administration and the Stellaland Divisional Council. The school for the area is situated in the Transvaal, but the school bus is not allowed to operate in the Cape Province and parents in the Cape Province are not allowed to serve on the school board in the Transvaal.
Police services are rendered from Lichtenburg and the registration of Black employees takes place there, but trading licences have to be taken out in Vryburg.
Because of several problems that I have mentioned that exist in the area, it is necessary that the alteration of boundaries take place as soon as possible in order to consolidate the rendering of services to the area and to give the inhabitants of the area their own local authority that will fall under the Transvaal Board for the Development of Peri-urban Areas.
Clause 2 of the Bill deals with electoral matters and provides for a reallocation of polling districts for all three Houses of Parliament to electoral divisions in the Transvaal.
The only saving contained in the Bill is provided for in clause 3 in which it is determined that the areas that will form part of the Transvaal, after the promulgation of the Bill, will not be regarded as such for the purpose of sections 2, 3 and 10 of the Development Trust and Land Act, 1936 (Act 18 of 1936).
This Bill is not controversial; it is merely aimed at solving practical problems.
Second Reading resumed
Mr Speaker, on the basis of the considerations put forward here this afternoon, it is clearly essential for the necessary boundary adjustments to be made in the regions concerned in order to avoid unnecessarily inconveniencing and penalizing the people who live there. Those people, as we were informed in the standing committee, were also consulted in the matter. The Provincial Councils concerned gave their approval to the measures contained in this Bill. It is therefore with pleasure that we on this side of the House support the Bill.
Mr Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to stand up here today and support this Bill in the strongest terms.
In the first place, these people were greatly inconvenienced by the incorporation of Mafeking into Bophuthatswana. This also goes for Rooigrond, Hawendal, Colga and Spring Valley—those farms. They are situated roughly 200 km from Vryburg, but only about 50 km from Lichtenburg. The same goes for Pendover, Killarney and Home Rule. They are also, as a result of the consolidation of Bophuthatswana, totally cut off from the Vryburg district and are at the moment very near Schweizer-Reneke.
It gives me great pleasure heartily to support this Bill.
Mr Speaker, in the days in the NP, when the hon member for Vryburg and I worked on the consolidation of Bophuthatswana, we agreed that these parts should be cut off by consolidation, as is the case at present. I am very grateful that my neighbour from Vryburg could take part in this debate today, and that the petition he handed in can be presented in the House. I also want to tell the hon the Minister that the CP believes that the different peoples must have their own fatherland where they can govern themselves.
As a fatherland, Bophuthatswana has been consolidated from 145 small blocks to six areas. Now it so happens that two of these six areas—the area in the vicinity of Mafikeng and the Taung area—cut off certain areas from the Cape Province. As a result this legislation is necessary to incorporate those two areas into the Transvaal.
We therefore support this legislation.
Mr Speaker, as this Bill is quite obviously being brought forward in the interests of good provincial administration and to accommodate the people who have been affected by the creation of the self-governing state of Bophuthatswana, it is quite obviously a Bill that has to be approved by the House. It is thus logical and common sense that we should support it.
Mr Speaker, who am I to upset this wonderful spirit of unanimity? I am very grateful to the various parties for their support and their contributions. I refer to the hon member Prof Olivier, the hon member for Vryburg—it was a pleasure to hear his voice in the House today—the hon member for Kuruman and the hon member for Umbilo. I hope and trust that the people of the Cape who are now going to the Transvaal will be very happy there.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Certified fair copy of 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.
Introductory Speech delivered at Joint Sittingon 18 February
Mr Speaker, I move:
This measure makes provision for various divergent adjustments that have become necessary to the Post Office Service Act, 1974. Its main objects are:
- 1. To revise the manner in which posts and personnel are classified in the Post Office.
- 2. To make the same arrangements that are in force in the central Public Service with regard to the appointment of Heads of Departments for a specific term applicable to the incumbent of the post of Postmaster-General.
- 3. To effect various changes to the Act that have become necessary in the 10 years that have elapsed since its commencement.
- 4. To bring the Post Office Service Act into line with improvements that have been effected to the Public Service Act in certain spheres.
As far as the latter adjustments are concerned, I should like to point out to hon members that in certain respects personnel administration in the Post Office is still very closely consistent with that of the central Public Service, and that provisions concerning important matters such as misconduct have deliberately been kept identical with those of the central Public Service, in the interests of personnel confidence. In addition Post Office officials continue to fall under the pension laws of the central Government. The service Acts of the central Public Service and the Post Office consequently remain closely related, and that of the Post Office differs mainly from the Public Service Act only in respect of matters peculiar to the Post Office.
I should now like to deal with the more important adjustments that are being proposed in the Bill.
†Classification of Posts and Personnel
The proposed new arrangements for the classification of posts and personnel are contained in clause 2 of the Bill. The change involves the grouping together of personnel presently classified in the administrative, clerical, professional, technical and General A Divisions, into a new A Division. The present classifications are no longer considered necessary since, insofar as service conditions are concerned, a distinction is no longer drawn among the different groups.
The other change is that the existing General B Division is renamed the B Division. A B Division is still necessary since decisions concerning certain matters affecting personnel classified under it, such as discipline, may be taken without reference to the Staff Management Board of the Post Office. The B Division mainly accommodates personnel in the postman and telephonist grades and in certain lower graded posts on the technical side.
The same broad classification of posts has already been written into the Public Service Act.
Staff Management Board of the Post Office
It is proposed in clause 3 of the Bill that the board be empowered, subject to specific conditions and in specific circumstances, to exercize certain powers in respect of former officers and employees. It is furthermore proposed that the board be empowered to delegate to officers of the department its powers in respect of the discharge of officers serving on probation in the A Division and officers who are unable to continue with their duties on account of continuous ill-health, according to medical evidence.
The provision in respect of former officers and employees will eliminate a shortcoming in the existing legal provisions, and places beyond doubt the board’s powers with regard to the granting of, for example, travelling privileges to officials to enable them to settle at a place of their own choice after their retirement on pension.
The proposed extension of the board’s powers to delegate will ensure greater efficiency in personnel administration.
*Appointment for a Specific Term of the Incumbent of the Post of Postmaster General
In clauses 8, 14(a) and 23 provision is being made for the appointment of the incumbent of this post for a term of five years or for such shorter period as the Minister may approve, for the extension of such term, for specific arrangements relating to the retirement of the incumbent of the post and for the granting to him of any particular service benefits prior to or at the termination of his term of office or extended term of office or at the time of retirement or discharge from any specific service benefit which the Minister may determine. The provisions are consistent with similar provisions in the Public Service Act applicable to heads of departments in the central Public Service. In the interests of uniformity in the State administration, these arrangements are now being introduced in the Post Office as well.
To facilitate personnel administration, it is being proposed in clause 11(a) that the existing provision requiring the Minister’s approval of a decision of the Staff Management Board that an appointment shall be made on probation, be deleted. For the same reason the existing powers of the Postmaster General in respect of officers in the B Division, whose probationary appointments cannot be confirmed, are being extended by clause 11(b) to officers appointed on probation in an entry post in the A Division.
The grounds on which an officer may be discharged are being extended by clauses 14(b) and (c) also to include cases in which—
- (i) An officer’s discharge will be in the interests of the department;
- (ii) he has made a misrepresentation of his position in relation to a condition for permanent appointment; or
- (iii) his continued employment constitutes a security risk for the State.
These measures are considered essential for the maintenance of discipline and sound personnel administration.
As far as the latter two grounds for discharge are concerned, hon members will have noted that the standing committee which considered this Bill proposed an amendment supplementing clause 14(d) to make it clear that it is only for the purposes of pension and other retirement benefits that it is deemed that in the one case a person has been discharged on account of misconduct and in the other case on account of unfitness for his duties. I accept this amendment and thank the standing committee for its contribution in this respect.
Hon members will, no doubt, also welcome the provision being made in clause 14(e) for the elimination of the existing statutory requirement that a female officer may not remain in service after her marriage unless special approval has been granted for her continued employment.
†Service Irregularities and Misconduct
In clause 15 of the Bill it is proposed that the existing legal provision be adjusted to make it possible for more than one of the permissible penalties, namely a warning or reprimand or fine, to be imposed for a service irregularity. The maximum fine for a service irregularity is also being increased from R20 to R50. The present maximum fine has been in force since 1974 and, as a result of the decline in the value of money since that time, it is no longer considered an adequate deterrent.
As far as the misconduct provisions are concerned, the existing legal provision is being extended by clause 17(e) to stipulate that it shall also constitute misconduct should an officer contravene any rule of a medical aid fund or medical aid scheme or medical society of which he is a member, or fail to comply with it.
A few other transgressions constituting misconduct in terms of the existing legislation are being more closely defined in clauses 17(a) and (b) to eliminate uncertainties. In clause 18 provision is made for the Minister to delegate to an officer his power to appoint a magistrate to enquire into a charge of misconduct. In clause 20(a) the power to decide on the penalty to be imposed for misconduct in respect of officers in the B division and officers in entry posts in the A division is transferred from the Minister to the Postmaster General, while clause 20(b) increases the maximum fine that may be imposed for misconduct from R400 to R2 000. Clause 20(d) authorizes the Postmaster General to delegate to an officer his power to postpone his decision regarding the imposition of a penalty in a particular case of misconduct.
These proposed adjustments of which some have also been taken up in the new Public Service Act, are considered necessary for the maintenance of discipline and sound personnel administration. The existing maximum fine of R400 for misconduct has not been revised for decades and the increase thereof to R2 000 is fully justified.
I should like to record my acceptance here of the amendment proposed by the standing committee to clause 17(b). The provision of the Act being amended by this clause to define more closely its meaning, concerns attempts by officials to secure intervention from outside sources in relation to their positions and conditions of service.
*Quite a number of less important, miscellaneous measures which are aimed mainly at eliminating shortcomings in the existing legislation and at bringing about greater flexibility in personnel administration are also being proposed in the Bill. I do not wish to burden hon members with the details, but I shall gladly elucidate specific aspects if this should be required.
An important point I should like to mention in conclusion is that the proposals contained in the Bill were previously dealt with in detail by all six staff associations which represent the personnel of the Post Office, and that they have signified their satisfaction with the measures. If this and the support given to the measures by the standing committee are borne in mind, I express the hope that they will also be acceptable to all three Houses.
Second Reading resumed
Mr Speaker, this is a rather comprehensive Bill affecting the service of those employed in the Post Office. It is a Bill involving some 33 clauses and occupied a substantial amount of time and interest of the members of the standing committee who examined, in great detail, the legalities involved.
I think hon members will be happy to know that the Bill received the support of the six staff associations. No doubt the staff associations were there to convey the wishes and queries of their employees and of the members within the organization itself.
One of the most important clauses is the one that now brings them into line with the Public Service, namely, the question of appointing a Postmaster General for a period of five years under contract, “or such lesser period as the Minister may decide.” It is timeous, I suppose, that at this moment Mr Ridgard should be the first incumbent of the post under this new contract of five years. He is to take office on April 1 but, no doubt, we will have an opportunity to discuss the matter further when we deal with the budget itself. However, in my view the idea of a five-year term is to be recommended because a man can sit down and plan for five years. I sincerely trust that the next incumbent of the post when planning for five years, will plan the budget in such a way that he will keep increases in tariffs to the absolute minimum, in view of the fact that he will know what the requirements are and also what the income from revenue will be over that period.
Another important amendment is that which has a bearing on the grouping of staff in the A Division. Paragraph (a) of clause 6 refers to the different categories, inter alia, administrative, clerical, professional or technical divisions which will now all fall under the A Division and this will undoubtedly bring about easier administration.
There are two important matters which created difficulties for the standing committee. The first is in regard to clause 14 whereby a new provision is being introduced for an officer to be discharged, inter alia, if he is a security risk. The committee was rather upset by the fact that, having decided that the man was a security risk, he could then be demed to have been discharged in terms of the proposed new subsection (4A) to be inserted by clause 14(d), namely on account of unfitness for his duties or incapacity to carry out his duties efficiently. The committee felt that it was wrong that if a person, was a security risk he should be discharged on those grounds which would prejudice him because he may well be fit to occupy the post. In this regard however, we must also consider clause 14 which provides that where a person is founklp0d to be a security risk, there must be a proper hearing before a magistrate where the official can defend himself. We are therefore satisfied in that regard, and we thank the hon the Minister for accepting the amendment which mainly has a bearing on pension matters and which is now incorporated in the Bill before us.
In clause 17 there was a difficulty in connection with intervention, namely that a person was not entitled to seek intervention from political or outside sources. We argued that the word “political” was superfluous because, obviously, it is covered by “outside sources”. An amendment in that respect has been effected, and we thank the hon the Minister for it, also for the definition of the word “intervention” which we all understand. Incidentally, we did welcome the presence of the hon the hon the Minister on the standing committee. We hope that in future we will see more Ministers present at standing committee meetings when matters that have a bearing on Bills for which they are responsible, are being discussed.
I will however be failing in my duty if I do not refer to one very important provision. Clause 14(e) provides for the deletion of subsection (5). This in itself looks very innocent, but I should like to read subsection (5) as this will be the last time that we will see it in the Act. Here I think we strike a blow for women’s lib and for the quality of the service rendered by women. [Interjections.] Section 17(5)(a) reads:
We are very happy that that provision is being deleted because I have ascertained that there are 20 839 females employed in the Post Office, of whom 11 947 or 57,3% are in fact married women. We think therefore that the deletion of the above provision will give rise to celebration.
After looking at the second part of the section, something occurred to me that I want to put to the hon the Minister, and perhaps he could allay my fears. Section 17(5)(b), which has also been deleted, reads as follows:
I do not know how many married women were affected by the fact that whilst in the employ of the Post Office they were married and were then placed on a lower or different grade. I assume that the Bill will come into operation after having been approved by the State President, and these provisions will not be made retrospective. Perhaps the hon the Minister will give us an undertaking that any woman who got married and was prejudiced by this particular subsection by being placed in a post different to that which she held before, will be reinstated as soon as possible, in view of the amendment in this Bill. I must point out that we on this side of the House have over the years appealed in budget debates to the hon the Minister to do away with these inequalities.
I think we have adequately covered the proposed amendments and we support the Bill.
Mr Speaker, the Post Office Service Act has now been in force for more than 10 years and as a result it has now obviously become important to update the law and also to bring the law into conformity with the provisions of the Public Service insofar as that service has also undergone changes over the last 10 years.
Even though the Post Office is run as a separate undertaking and run on business lines, it is still a fact that the Post Office remains a State department. Consequently the differences between the Public Service and the Post Office have to be limited to those features which are peculiar to the Post Office. The hon the Minister has mentioned the fact that the pensions legislation governing the Public Service also governs staff of the Post Office.
This Bill of 33 clauses was by far the longest and potentially the most divisive to have served before the standing committee. The standing committee was fortunate in having the benefit of the expert advice of senior officials of the department, and as the hon member for Hillbrow mentioned, it also had the benefit of the attendance of the hon the Minister himself at its proceedings.
The indication of support of the staff associations for the provisions of the Bill obviously had some influence on members and consequently it was possible to reach general agreement among the members of the standing committee by introducing amendments to clauses 14(d) and 17(b).
It only remains for me to place on record our appreciation to all the members of the standing committee for their open-mindedness and their willingness to co-operate in disposing of this measure so that it was possible to reach general agreement among all parties in and all members of the standing committee. We are very happy to support the Bill.
Mr Speaker, the CP also supports the second reading of this amending Bill. I just want to express the hope that the steps now being taken and the amendments now being made in connection with the classification of posts and staff will in point of fact be of particular value to the Post Office staff. We accept that these amendments has been so considered that they will be to the benefit of every member of staff of the Post Office and will not be to anyone’s disadvantage and consequently we take pleasure in supporting them.
As I understand the Bill, the Staff Management Board is being given certain additional powers and it seems as if these powers are going to contribute towards the smooth functioning of the Post Office and its staff. Consequently we also want to express the hope that these amendments will be of importance to the Post Office staff and the postal services as such.
As far as the matter of discharge is concerned, I just want to say that as far as I am concerned two of these points are fairly relative. These are the matter of an officer’s discharge in the interests of the department and the matter of the security risk. In my opinion these two matters will have to be applied very judiciously so that no officer will be jeopardized unnecessarily as a result of these two measures which are now being introduced in connection with the possible discharge of officers.
Mr Speaker, the CP has a problem with clause 8. I just want to state that problem here. This clause concerns the appointment of the Postmaster-General by the Minister for a term of office of five years. Last year, when we debated the Public Service Act, this amendment was also introduced in connection with the Director-Generals of the State Departments. At that stage I also opposed the clause because we were convinced that when a person comes of age as it were in the service of the State or the Post Office, he is an excellent officer, the man who has attained that highest post, particularly today where merit and such things count. Consequently it is possible that a person can be appointed to that post at a relatively young age.
According to this amending Bill he may only be appointed for five years. Provision is made for the lengthening of that period, but the fact remains that he can only be appointed for five years. The hon member for Hillbrow said that this would give him an opportunity to plan for those five years. But if that young man is so valuable to the Post Office or the State, and he can remain in that post longer than five years without waiting for a possible re-appointment after five years, he can in any case render a far better service than would be the case during the five years he may remain in that post. Consequently I consider it a waste of time and energy to appoint a man to a post for a period of only five years and then possibly have to get rid of such a young man after that period if he is not re-appointed. The alternative is to subject him to continuous re-appointment. I feel that this is really not a sound measure. I am sorry to say that I was not given a satisfactory reply last year as to why this must of necessity be the case. Personally I think that a young man, who battled to reach that highest post, should be placed in a position while he can remain in the service of the State, to realise his potential and to use that entire period, even if it is 10 years, to build up that department to its full strength and to function at his best.
For that reason I must tell you that we are unhappy about the amendment to this clause. I should like to ascertain from the hon the Minister whether he can give us the reason which really applies to this amendment. We hope that this is not being done solely because the Public Service introduced this amendment that the period of office is only five years. We hope that the Post Office is not weekly following the lead of the Public Service.
In a certain respect the Post Office is actually an entity, a department, an undertaking on its own. I cannot understand why the Post Office must repeat this mistake the Public Service has made with regard to their highest official.
If problems should arise regarding a person’s state of health or something of that kind, provision has been made for such a person, when there is sufficient medical evidence, to retire on pension. Provision has also been made in the Public Service Act for such a person to ask to be allowed to retire on pension earlier. I think adequate arrangements have been made for a person, if he prefers, or if his health requires this, to retire on pension earlier. Nevertheless, I do not think in the normal course of events we should in this way prejudice a young man who has risen above the rest and only offer him a possibility of five years’ service. Personally I feel that this restriction of five years actually hampers that man and that it is not beneficial to the service he is going to render. But if he knows that he will retain the post until he retires one day, good health permitting, he is going to do everything he can during that entire period to occupy the position he has worked for all those years in the service of the Post Office.
I want to express the hope that, if this cannot happen in our time, it will one day dawn on the Government that this measure is wrong and that it will in fact have to be amended in future.
Mr Speaker, attending the meetings of the standing committee that dealt with this Bill was for me a fascinating experience because it was, I believe, a wonderful opportunity for “new boys” and “old lags” alike—for the new boys to learn about the workings of the Post Office, particularly with regard to Post Office service, and for the old lags to be reminded of some of the finer details and also to be reminded of exactly what working for this giant organization entails.
I want to point out—in humour and certainly not with any other motivation—that if we have a bone and the hon member for Hillbrow happens to chew on that bone, there is precious little left when he has finished with it. When the hon member for Hillbrow has finished with that bone, however, and places it on a table where the hon member for Bezuidenhout can get hold of it, it is quite incredible how much more that hon gentleman can chew off it. [Interjections.] When these two hon gentlemen combine their efforts in respect of going into the detail …
It is a dog’s life, Brian!
It is indeed a dog’s life. [Interjections.] Be that as it may; when these two hon gentlemen combine their efforts in examining the finest detail of a measure, I can assure you, Sir, there is precious little left in the end for anybody to question. Of course, Sir, I commend those two hon gentlemen for it because in doing so they gave us a wonderful opportunity once more of examining the nuts and bolts right down to the nth degree. It also meant that the officials—from the Postmaster General through to the Postmaster General designate and other gentlemen from the department— had to be in attendance at all times. The hon the Minister too indeed honoured us with his presence on one occasion.
Having said that, it but remains for me to say that I believe everybody has digested this measure very well here too this afternoon. It is indeed a Bill that serves and does in effect improve the lot of the Post Office workers generally. The most important point about this Bill, I believe, is that the six staff associations obviously support the measures contained herein. It can therefore only augur well or better for the people who serve the Post Office in its multi-faceted operations in the Republic of South Africa. We support this measure before the House.
Mr Speaker, right at the start I should like to thank all hon members who participated in the debate. I also wish to point out immediately that, as far as it concerned me as the responsible Minister, attending the meeting of the standing committee and hearing the gratitude conveyed to me by hon members was truly an exceptional experience. It became clear to me that if these standing committees functioned as well as the one in question, no problems would be experienced in the proper functioning of this system.
From the discussions I was able to attend personally, and from those on which I received reports from the chairman concerned, it appeared that differences of opinion had arisen on certain matters. In consequence the meeting was adjourned and convened again at a later stage.
†When the committee met on the second occasion I attended that particular meeting, and it was possible for me to allay the fears of hon members in respect of a few of the points that were made. What was really interesting, Sir, was the openheartedness and the frank way in which matters were discussed at that meeting. I had the feeling that people were joining hands in bringing about sensible amendments to the Act. It was quite different from the way in which the process used to take its course previously. For this particular reason, I believe that this system, if it is properly executed, will still become one of the strong pillars on which this new dispensation will rest.
Having said this, however, I also want to point out that I am convinced there can still be an improvement in the system, particularly in so far as second reading speeches are concerned. If the second reading speech is actually attached to the particular Bill when it is introduced and handed to you, Mr Speaker, both can be circulated among hon members simultaneously. If that were done we could actually embark upon the second reading debate in each of the three Houses immediately instead of listening to the speech being read in a Joint Sitting without opportunity being given to hon members of discussing the Bill here.
Well, Sir, by the sound of it appears as though hon members unanimously agree with this suggestion of mine. It is, however, only a suggestion which I am putting forward for consideration by the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders. I feel it could really help to facilitate the business of this House even more and even help us move still further away from the so-called Westminster system in an even briefer space of time.
Order! I do not know whether it is a matter of great minds thinking alike. However, I happened to have a discussion with the Secretary about half an hour ago in connection with this very matter.
I am really delighted to hear that, Sir. It is good to learn that you also feel the same about this matter. If this change could be brought about, Sir, I am sure you will get all the credit you deserve for initiating it.
I should like to thank the hon member for Hillbrow for a number of very interesting remarks that he made. On the standing committee his experience proved valuable. I appreciate the way in which he and the hon member for Bezuidenhout actually took part in the discussions. It was interesting to hear the hon member for Umhlanga refer to him and to the hon member for Bezuidenhout as “bone chewers”—in a nice sense; not in a nasty sense. I am quite sure, however, after having listened to the discussions on the standing committee, that the hon member for Umhlanga is correct in stating that when these two hon members have had their say the important point is that whenever other hon members have convinced them of certain things, they have accepted it. On the other hand, when they convinced other hon members, the chairman and even myself of certain things, one could then reach consensus in respect of accepting certain amendments, because one finds that the discussion on the standing committee in this case is actually for the benefit of the Post Office worker, and not for that of any particular party or for anybody else.
Last year I referred here to the question surrounding married women in the Post Office, but this is the first opportunity that we have had of doing away with a certain stipulation. When women who already have a permanent post get married there will now be no change in the position. One cannot alter a person’s post. It is in fact now more definite than before because they get married and remain in that same post. The only way in which a person’s status can be altered, or his rank changed, is when there is some sort of misconduct, or when he has been found guilty of something, for example, putting his fingers in the till or something of that nature, in which case he will then have to appear before the board and later on before a magistrate, if necessary. I understand peoples’ fears in this regard, but there has never been, and never will be, any change in the status of a person, except in the case of some form of misconduct.
Mr Speaker, may I ask the hon the Minister whether it did not perhaps stop them from being promoted?
No, they would normally get their promotion. We have a very fixed system of promotion and an excellent system of merit assessment, which is done by top members of our staff. Firstly, our staff is very conscientious, and secondly, our staff associations are such that we make very sure that nobody—and I stress this—will ever be penalized if he is in line for promotion. The hon member can rest assured that there should not be any problem as far as that is concerned.
*I should like to address a word of thanks to the hon member for Umlazi. Under his chairmanship of this first standing committee in which certain amendments—as announced—were accepted, discussions took place in which all members participated, but I could understand that there were possible improvements to what we had submitted. We do not mind admitting this. I also wish to thank the hon member for the manner in which he was able to keep the Committee together when tricky questions cropped up. He succeeded in gradually ironing out contentious points to everyone’s satisfaction, including myself and the Department. An important point the hon member made was that unanimity existed in the ranks of our associations. When they put a request to us and consensus is reached after thorough discussion, it is gratifying to be able to comply with such a request. I therefore wish to thank the hon member for Umlazi for the way in which he conducted the matter. I am of the opinion that his chairmanship contributed greatly to the fact that unanimity was ultimately achieved.
I should also like to thank the hon member for Koedoespoort for his support. He pointed out a number of possible problems. He mentioned that the Staff Management Board would be obtaining new powers, but an aspect of our departmental policy is to delegate powers and to expedite matters as much as possible, if they are within the province of the Board—so that they do not have to be taken all the way to the Postmaster-General or the Minister. They can deal with matters there. This Board is actually the Commission for Administration of the Postal Services and involves our top management, people who are at the controls all the time. I am sure they will be able to acquit themselves creditably of this additional burden.
The hon member said he did not like the provision concerning a term of appointment of five years or less as Postmaster-General. I think he is concerned about a specific case in the sense that it may apply to a young man who gets to the top. We would welcome any young man who, getting to the top, would be able to serve as Postmaster-General for perhaps longer than 5 years—say 10 years— which would probably be the maximum period. I cannot see anyone making such rapid progress in the face of the incredible number of good people we have in the Post Office. The Post Office suffers no lack of good manpower.
We should actually view it in the light of experience and long periods of service. Our present Postmaster-General, Mr Henry Bester, is retiring after a period of 45 years’ service with the Post Office. His successor will follow close on his heels in the sense that when he has served for 3 or 5 years his date of retirement will be on the doorstep. Post Office officials may retire on reaching the age of 60. Perhaps the official concerned is 57, and it may happen that he does not choose to serve for a further period of 5 years after his original appointment for such a period. He may prefer to retire.
I offer it as my personal opinion I have faith in that top post; in the light of the continuity we have, our top management and the system in use, 5 years is a very suitable time for anyone to serve, provided he has reached that retirement age. If someone has progressed so well, as the hon member pointed out, it would be very foolish of the Minister and the Cabinet not to offer him a further period of 5 years, or perhaps of only 3 years is he should prefer this. That is why we have set the period at 5 years or less. It may be a case of a person’s preferring only three years after completion of his 5-year term. Then we do not lose his services and he has every opportunity of fulfilling himself within the next few years.
I do not believe it should be seen as a sword of Damocles over anyone’s head. If a person is good enough and has proved it as he has done up to that point, there will be no danger of his ever being pushed aside to make room for someone else.
In my entire career in public life I have always been of the opinion that, in the case of such top posts, five years is an adequate period for the incumbent to leave his mark. Subsequently someone else can succeed him in pursuing the old pattern but with an infusion of new ideas and setting a new course. Should the incumbent wish to continue in the post, we then have the right to offer him a further appointment for a portion of the 5-year period.
We do not follow the Public Service slavishly but I do believe there should be a reasonable measure of uniformity; uniformity, that is, but not slavish uniformity. When the Public Service made this recommendation, I discussed it with my top management. At one stage we held differing opinions on the matter, but subsequently thrashed it out carefully and reached the conclusion that it would be better to include this provision in our legislation as well to obtain uniformity— if that is the term one must use. Besides, we did not regard this provision as holding any danger for staff of our Department.
I think this provision was the main source for the member’s concern regarding the Bill. He agreed with us on the remaining provisions and also as far as the Board’s new powers were concerned. He was also satisfied with the classification of posts into categories which would bring about greater streamlining. Further action will also be taken regarding the B division to make it unnecessary to refer matters involving misconduct, etc, to top management.
†I just want to refer again to the presence of the hon member for Umhlanga on the Standing Committee because he has given us the occasion to have a debate in the House. The hon member has shown that he takes an interest in these matters. I am sure that he will realize that I for one pay a lot of attention to his views, as was the case in the standing committee. I think in his quiet and disarming way he was responsible for some of the amendments which the standing committee actually accepted. I want to thank him sincerely for his remark that it is a wonderful opportunity for the older and newer members to find common ground in an effort to improve their own knowledge and to play a part in bringing about a better deal for the Post Office worker.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Certified fair copy of 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.
Introductory Speech delivered at Joint Sittingon 18 February
Mr Speaker, I move:
During 1984 the, University Staff (Education and Training) Act, Act 91 of 1984, was passed to make provision for the pension rights of staff members of certain universities and for their employment after the termination of their service.
The universities under discussion here are briefly those situated in states, the territories of which formerly constituted part of the Republic, and in regard to which the Minister of Co-operation, Development and Education exercised his powers and discharged his functions in terms of an agreement between the Republic and each such independent state.
Section 5 of the University Staff (Education and Training) Act, Act 91 of 1984, provides that when the control, in accordance with an agreement, of the Government of the Republic over such university is terminated, or when the appointment of a staff member at such university is terminated before he reaches retirement age through no fault of his own, the Minister of Co-operation, Development and Education shall, at the request of a staff member of such university, offer him an equivalent appointment in the service of inter alia a university or any other educational institution in the Republic. The section further provides that if such appointment is not offered to the staff member, “he shall for the purposes of an applicable pensions law be deemed to have been discharged from his service from the date determined by the Minister on reaching the age at which he would be entitled to retire from service on pension.”
The intention of the Act, is therefore that such a staff member shall receive a pension before he reaches retirement age.
†However, after the said Act had been passed, it came to light that the Pension Fund for Associated Institutions only provided for the payment of pension benefits to a person on reaching the retirement age. Therefore, where provision is made in the said Act for payment of additional pension benefits on the ground that a person is deemed to have been discharged on reaching the retirement age before he has actually reached that age, the fund will not be able to pay such additional pension benefits, and provision is now therefore being made that such benefits will have to be paid out of the State Revenue Fund.
It is further necessary to include the words “other educational institutions” in section 5(5) in order to provide for greater flexibility in accommodating persons who have to be withdrawn from a university. This measure must be seen as a means of finding a suitable post for such a person should such a situation develop. Since the coming into operation of the Act, no persons have asked in terms of section 5(5) that an appointment as contemplated in section 5(2) be offered.
The objects of the Bill are therefore to rectify the defect regarding the payment of pensions that I have just mentioned; and to provide for the creation of posts additional to the establishment of educational institutions other than universities, in order to increase the possibility of finding a suitable appointment for a staff member.
Mr Speaker, the Bill now before Parliament is not a controversial matter and I trust that hon members will lend it their support.
Second Reading resumed
Mr Speaker, the original measure, which we supported, was introduced last year. We had long discussions and debates about various changes we thought were necessary. We pointed out last year the problems that would be experienced with that pension fund. It was discussed in the standing committee where it was unanimously supported and we support it this afternoon.
Mr Speaker, it is logical that we on this side of the House would also like to support this Bill. It gives certainty to the staff attached to those universities. Through this measure we want to give them the assurance that we are looking after their interests. We also thank the Official Opposition, which is supporting this measure.
Mr Speaker, the CP also supports this amending Bill. I should just like to ask that, because provision is being made here for staff who through no fault of their own will not retain their posts at a university in an independent state, by employing them at another university or in another state department, or by paying them additional pension benefits, the department will make the least possible use of additional pension benefits. Everything possible must first be done to use such staff members productively in the service of some university or other, another educational institution or the State before additional pension benefits are granted to them. We take pleasure in supporting this measure.
Mr Speaker, purely for the record, the NRP will be supporting this amendment.
Mr Speaker, I should like to thank the hon members for Cape Town Gardens, Lichtenburg and Umbilo most sincerely for their support. I think it is very important that we pass this Bill so that we can also give these members of staff certainty regarding their futures. In reply to what the hon member for Lichtenburg said, I should like to say that it goes without saying that we are dealing here with measures which will only be applied in highly exceptional cases. We heard what he said and I thought it made sense. We shall try to do it this way. I should also like to thank the hon member for Gezina for his contribution, as well as all the members. I am grateful that we were able to pass this Bill in such a peaceful manner.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Introductory Speech delivered at Joint Sittingon 18 February
Mr Speaker, I move:
The Companies Act, 1973, makes provision for a Standing Advisory Committee on Company Law, and it is, inter alia, the function of this advisory committee to make recommendations to the responsible minister from time to time concerning amendments to the Act that it deems advisable. Thus, the amendments to the Companies Act proposed in this Bill were recommended by the advisory committee on the basis of the representations submitted to it for consideration, mainly during 1984.
As the Bill contains proposals for amendments covering a wide series of subjects dealt with in the Companies Act, I shall single out and explain the most important aspects of these amendments.
In the first amendment an obligation is placed on every company, including every external company which has established a place of business in the Republic, to display the registration number assigned to it by the Registrar of Companies, on all its letters and other company documents.
This obligation is deemed necessary because it is being increasingly found that companies attempt to evade or confuse their creditors by way of changes of name or even the switching of names. Registration numbers, however, cannot be changed.
By introducing this obligation, a cheap and easy measure of protection is created by way of which persons dealing with companies can protect themselves from possible prejudice. Clauses 1 and 8 give effect to this amendment. As this obligation will affect all companies, and as letterheads and other company documents will most probably have to be reprinted, the provisions of clauses 1 and 8 will not come into force immediately but only with effect from 1 December 1985. That was suggested by the standing committee; I think it was a sensible suggestion and I am grateful for it.
The amendments contained in clauses 2 and 6 are of a consequential nature and impose a statutory duty on the Registrar of Companies, at the time of the incorporation of a company or the registration of an external company, to assign a registration number to such company. Although it was not a statutory duty up till now, the Registrar of Companies in the past allocated a registration number to every existing company or external company at the time of its incorporation or registration. It is interesting to note that the same obligation to display the registration number assigned to it already exists in respect of close corporations.
The amendment contained in clause 3 deals with section 135 of the Companies Act, which at this stage provides that brokers’ transfer forms which are used during the transfer of securities listed on the Stock Exchange, may only be prepared by a stockbroker or an authorized banking institution.
Since the Johannesburg Stock Exchange started to clear gilt securities, the market in gilt securities has expanded considerably and it has become evident that better control should be exercized over the clearing of these gilt securities. It has consequently been decided that the function of clearing gilt securities should be performed by a special gilt clearing-house. The gilt clearing-house has now been established by and is already functioning under the control of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
It is further the intention that a company under the control of the Stock Exchange and the commercial banks should be formed to manage this gilt clearing-house. However, in order to enable the Stock Exchange and this company to perform their functions in this regard, it should also be authorized to prepare brokers’ transfer forms. This authorization is given in respect of securities in general in order to facilitate also future administration and development.
To summarize, section 135 is being amended at the request of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in order to authorize a stock exchange to prepare brokers’ transfer forms and to make it possible that a company of the aforesaid nature may also be authorized to prepare brokers’ transfer forms.
The next amendment deals with section 142 and more specifically rights offers. Sections 145 and 146 of the Companies Act, 1973, prohibit the making of any offer to the public for the subscription for the sale of any shares unless that offer is accompanied by a prospectus. Section 144 however provides that this prohibition does not apply if the offer is a “rights offer”, and in effect exempts a company from the duty to issue a prospectus if that company wants to make a rights offer.
According to the definition of “rights offer” in section 142 a rights offer must further be made to all members or debenture-holders of the company wishing to make it. In practice, however, the latter obligation often causes problems in respect of members and debenture-holders residing abroad.
*Some of these foreign legal systems prohibit the making of an offer of shares to residents of the country concerned unless that offer is registered with the appropriate authority in that country. Such registration has the effect that virtually a complete prospectus and even more has to be prepared for those few members or debenture-holders in respect of that offer of shares or rights offer which of course could entail great and unnecessary cost implications.
Such registration has the further effect that the company concerned will fall under the jurisdiction of those foreign courts, and the company therefore runs the risk of being prosecuted there for matters and conduct which in that particular country constitute offences, but which are not offences in South Africa.
On the recommendation of the Standing Advisory Committee on Company Law it is now being intended in clause 4 to amend section 142 in order to grant the Registrar of Companies the discretion to authorize, in certain cases and on the conditions determined by him, that a rights offer may be made with the exclusion of certain shareholders abroad.
Clause 5 seeks to amend section 226 of the Companies Act. The said section prohibits companies from making loans to its directors or managers or providing any security to any person in connection with an obligation to such a director or manager. This prohibition also applies in respect of loans and security to directors or managers of other companies or bodies corporate controlled by the directors or managers of the former company.
Section 226(1A)(b)(2) now prescribes under which circumstances it is deemed that a director or a manager of a company controls another company or body corporate. This definition, however, does not include the recently introduced close corporations, and the possibility therefore exists that directors and managers may in future exploit this deficiency to their personal advantage. Clause 5 will rectify this matter by also including close corporation in the definition.
The next amendment deals with section 327 of the Companies Act, which provides that directors or local managers or secretaries of external companies registered in South Africa, have to lodge their written consent to act in these capacities with the companies. In the case of an external company which only established a share registration office or a share transfer office in the Republic and does not conduct any of its normal business here, it is sometimes difficult to obtain the said consent from those persons who are not resident in the Republic.
In addition this requirement serves no real purpose with regard to an external company which only established a share registration or share transfer office here, and the amendment contained in clause 7 therefore exempts such companies from the provisions.
The same underlying principle is applicable in clauses 9 and 10, which amend sections 417 and 418 of the Companies Act, namely that the Master of the Supreme Court shall also be vested with the powers which the court has under these sections.
Sections 417 and 418 deal with the examination of persons during the winding-up of a company. This examination may at present be carried out only by the court in terms of section 417 or by a commissioner appointed by the court in terms of section 418, and is intended for use in urgent circumstances. Furthermore, it is aimed at persons in respect of whom it is suspected that they are in possession of some of the property of the company or that they are able to furnish information with regard to the affairs of the company.
Abuse of these provisions and cost factors gave rise to the Standing Advisory Committee on Company Law recommending that the Companies Act, 1973, be amended so as also to authorize the Master of the Supreme Court to examine persons in the liquidation of a company as contemplated in section 417 and also to appoint a commissioner to take evidence or hold an inquiry in connection with the liquidation, as contemplated in section 418.
Owing to the specialized knowledge which Masters have in respect of liquidation matters, they should be extremely capable of holding these inquiries and ensuring that these investigations are carried out properly.
The other amendments to the sections are of a consequential nature.
I trust that hon members will perceive the ned for these amendments to the Companies Act and will support this Bill.
Second Reading resumed
Mr Chairman, we will be supporting the Bill before the House. It has a number of important provisions. It will now be compulsory for every company always to use a registration number and to display that number. I do not believe it is overregulation but rather that it will improve control. The development of a gilt market on the Stock Exchange is a fact of life. The method of handling gilts through a company has already been established and the company is in operation. The Bill provides that this company will have the power to prepare brokers’ transfer forms.
Clause 4 is an important clause. It deals with rights offers to overseas holders of shares and avoids the exposed situation we are in at the moment, which could be quite embarrassing. It will now no longer be necessary for us to make these rights offers to foreign shareholders because they will be compensated differently.
Clause 5 deals with the making of loans by close corporations to majority shareholders. This has the effect of bringing them into line with companies in that respect.
In clause 7 special provision is made for companies who have to establish share registration offices in this country.
Finally, there are provisions relating to the examination of persons in the winding-up of companies. We agree with all these and will support the Bill.
Mr Chairman, I rise merely to say that the NRP will support the Bill.
Mr Chairman, the CP supports this legislation. We feel that it is a good amendment to the Companies Act that companies must now have registration numbers, because many problems cropped up in the past. Because companies did not have numbers, it was sometimes difficult for one to ascertain whether one was dealing with the right company. Consequently, we take pleasure in supporting the Bill.
Mr Chairman, I should like to thank hon members for supporting the Bill. I take great pleasure in saying this as it is, in fact, the first Bill I have dealt with in this House.
†I should like to make just one point with regard to this question of registration which, as hon members have said, is a sensible thing and is in line with the provisions of the Close Corporations Act. In a sense it can be called the Schwarz Amendment, because the hon member for Yeoville proposed this amendment in the House last year. It is a very good amendment. In 1983 some 5 000 companies altered their names, and in 1984 a similar number did so. It sometimes becomes very difficult for creditors and consumers to establish who they are actually dealing with.
These provisions are perhaps a demonstration of what happens when a measure has been dealt with by a standing advisory committee presided over by a judge, with as his deputy another judge, with six additional members who are laywers, two Masters, four accountants and a great many other experts. They evaluated all the various proposals and ultimately came forward with advice to the Minister. This advice was laid before a standing committee, which, in turn, came forward with a sensible amendment. While the standing committee agreed that the registration number of a company should appear on its documents, it felt that that provision should be delayed for a year or so. That amendment was accepted, which does help to save a bit of money for those people who feel that they do not really want to reprint all their official documents.
With those few words I want to thank hon members for their support. We appreciate it very much.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Introductory Speech delivered at Joint Sittingon 18 February
Mr Speaker, I move:
The current provisions of the South African Iron and Steel Industrial Corporation, Limited, Act, 1979, have the result, among others, that no member of the President’s Council, the House of Assembly, the former South African Coloured Council or the former South African Indian Council may be appointed as a director of the South African Iron and Steel Industrial Corporation.
The Standing Committee on Trade and Industry has considered the amendments initially proposed to the Act and has decided that the disqualification in respect of members of the President’s Council from being appointed as directors of the corporation and the obligation which rests on directors of the corporation to vacate their office should they become members of the President’s Council, should not be repealed.
*Since the decision of the standing committee implies that the status quo should be maintained in respect of members of the President’s Council and Parliament, I accepted it like that.
The only amendments contained in the Bill relate to sections 6 and 8 of the existing Act, in order to bring the wording of the Act into line with the present tricameral Parliament. In a similar way the name of the department is being rectified.
Second Reading resumed
Mr Speaker, this Bill in its original form should have contained only two changes which were consequent upon the introduction of the new Constitution. They should have referred to the title of the Minister and they should have related to the removal of the terms “South African Coloured Persons Council” and “South African Indian Council”. These should obviously have been substituted by the term “Parliament”.
Unfortunately the Bill changed the Act radically in one respect. It amended section 6 of the principal Act by substituting a new subsection (1), which had the effect of excluding members of Parliament and provincial councils from being entitled to membership of the board of Iscor. However, it failed to apply the same provision to the members of the President’s Council.
The standing committee considered this matter carefully. After long and objective deliberation it came to the unanimous conclusion that the same restrictions which apply to members of Parliament should also apply to members of the President’s Council. In reaching this conclusion, members were aware firstly, that in terms of sections 54 and 71 of the Constitution Act, members of the President’s Council were not debarred from holding other offices of profit under the Republic; and secondly, that a principle was involved, namely that those people elected by the public to monitor quasi-Government organizations like Iscor and Escom, should not also serve on the boards over which, in their other capacity, they sit in judgment. Recent events at Escom have proved that they were quite right.
The committee was also aware that in terms of the new Constitution, the President’s Council was even more of a political body than it had been previously. It would never before have been called upon to make political judgments but now it could very well be called upon to do so. If it had been thought inadvisable previously that a member of the President’s Council should sit on the board of Iscor, then obviously it was even more inadvisable now. They also felt there was no need to get a member of the President’s Council to sit on that board when there were enough competent people well able to make a contribution to the board of Iscor.
In the light of these circumstances the standing committee made certain suggestions, and they made them unanimously. These were considered by the law advisers and were unanimously approved.
It must be borne in mind that this is the second Bill to be considered by this new Parliament. It could have been a contentious Bill. It did concern a matter of principle, but consensus was reached unanimously. The Minister’s attempt to withdraw the Bill must therefore be regretted.
First of all, I believe he must have caused severe embarrassment to the chairman of that standing committee. Secondly, I think that his rationale for withdrawing it did not make sense. He said he wanted to save the House’s time, but the time had already been spent. Thirdly, it left the strong impression that he was attempting to withdraw this Bill for reasons of pique or for some ulterior motive.
Anyway, we are very glad that the Bill is again before the House and we on this side endorse it.
Mr Chairman, we on this side of the House should also like to support the amendments before us. We also thank the hon members on the other side of the House who support the measure before us. It is a pity that the hon member for Walmer made an effort to score political points towards the end, but we do not begrudge him that small pleasure.
We on the committee decided unanimously that it would not be a good idea for it to be possible for a member of the President’s Council ultimately to be able to help make a decision on legislation that concerns a particular body and that would also concern him personally. The committee therefore had no doubt that we could not agree to the legislation as it originally appeared before us, specifying as it did that an exception would be made for a member of the President’s Council. The amendment we have before us today was unanimously accepted. We also believe that this proves our bona fides towards the members of the President’s Council. They occupy an exclusive position in the process of ruling and decision-making in South Africa, and we must spare them the embarrassment of perhaps having to decide on matters that concern themselves. It was for this reason that we confidently submitted the measure to the hon the Minister. He accepted it and we are happy to support it.
Mr Chairman, I find it incomprehensible that the hon the Minister should have wanted to withdraw this Bill. I find it strange that, while we are changing over to a committee system, we find that Ministers still want to be in cock of the walk after they have set up a committee to investigate a matter. This legislation has more implications than meet the eye. [Interjections.] We leave this for those who usually lay an egg like the hon member over there.
It is much better to lay eggs than just to cackle. [Interjections.]
That is true, because when a man starts laying eggs, he has a problem.
The hon the Minister’s problem is that he thinks the Government can establish committees and afterwards push them around. I want to say that these committees that have been created are going to become a monster for the Government. They are going to become a monster in this House. The Government is not going to govern here. In the committees we are going to show the Government that they will no longer be able to do what they have been doing here over the past few years, simply by swinging the will of the people to one side by means of a caucus decision. They can forget it. They will no longer manage it.
There is a second matter I want to raise. How important is the work of a member of the President’s Council? Is it right that a member of the President’s Council is still today the chairman of the Tourism Board?
What does this have to do with the Bill?
I do not think that hon member, who was previously the Chief Whip and is now merely an ordinary member, ought to try to point out what the Chair ought to do. The time when he could sit here sending round notes, has also passed.
If he would like a chance to speak, I shall give it to him. [Interjections.] The time has come for President’s Council members who are political members simply to be withdrawn from their Government posts. The President’s Council member who is chairman of the Tourism Board at present ought to be withdrawn. That post must be declared vacant. It is not right for people who hold certain posts to be members of the President’s Council and have a say and to be able to decide, together with the State President, on certain matters.
Do you want to send Jaap in?
This will not take long. There are now three chambers. The hon member is probably still confused. We are busy with legislation concerning Iscor.
We are not as confused as you are.
Why does the hon member not ask for a turn to speak for once? Then we can hear what he has to say. The important point is that the hon the Minister attempted to impose his own will on this House. However, we shall not take this. [Interjections.] It is clear that this lot of hon members, who are creating the impression among their people out there that they can decide about their own affairs cannot stand up for themselves on a committee or in a caucus. No, they cannot do it. Those hon members are a disgrace to their own voters.
You are a disgrace to yourself.
That hon member at the back, who is so talkative, talks of “a disgrace to yourself”. Does he know why he is getting angry?
Order! The hon member must come back to the principles of the Bill.
Yes, Mr Chairman, this is exactly what I am doing. That hon member does not have enough confidence to show his people that he can support what is contained in this Bill.
Who opposed that Bill in the first place, you or I?
That hon member wants to know who opposed that Bill first.
You are a political point-scorer.
I shall tell the hon member who opposed that Bill first: I did. [Interjections.] If the hon member wants to tell the hon the Minister that he opposed that Bill, I want to ask whether he said so in the caucus. He did not say a word because he did not have the courage of his convictions. I ask the hon member: Did he jump up and say to the hon Minister that he was opposed to the Bill? No, he did not.
Order! If the hon member does not return to the principles of the Bill, the hon member will have to resume his seat. The hon member may proceed.
Mr Chairman, I understand that one must give a couple of these hon members a little time to recover, but the point that I want to make is that the hon the Minister tried in this House, by means of this Bill, to have even the rules of the House changed. Will the hon the Minister tell me that he did not try to have the Parliamentary rules changed? Moreover, it was all done to keep a member of the President’s Council in a post that a member of Parliament may not occupy. That is what is so disturbing.
We support this Bill as it stands because that Committee acted in its own right. We shall do it again in the future. I appreciate the fact that some hon members took a stand on this matter. Furthermore, since this Bill calls attention to the fact that President’s Council members occupy certain posts, I want to ask the hon the Minister to bear this in mind when, in the future, we ask that President’s Council members occupying posts of this nature summarily vacate such posts.
We support the Bill.
Mr Chairman, I have no intention of getting involved in the argument to the same extent as the hon member for Langlaagte. However, I do believe that, in so far as the point he makes about a member of the President’s Council being on some other board—or serving as chairman thereof—is concerned, an omnibus amendment to the appropriate legislation should be brought before this House. It is, I believe, a standing procedure in any parliament that members of Parliament—in the South African context, this should include members of provincial councils and of the President’s Council—should not hold two offices of profit under the State. So I think it will be very wise to have an omnibus law in this respect. However, as far as this Bill is concerned, had it been proceeded with in its original form, we would of course not have been able to support it, but in view of the amendments that have been made, the position is indeed being sufficiently clarified. If it sets a precedent in so far as holding two offices of profit under the State is concerned, we are indeed very happy to support this Bill.
Mr Chairman, I believe that the South African Iron and Steel Industrial Corporation, Limited, Amendment Bill provides evidence that the committee system is functioning well; that it is a forum where ideas can be exchanged and where hon members have the opportunity to persuade one another and also to persuade the Minister. The fact is that the proposal to remove from the Act the restriction regarding members of the President’s Council with reference to directorship of ISCOR has caused the Committee to recommend that that amendment not be effected. In other words, the committee felt that the present restrictions in the Iscor Act must be retained. The committee advocated the preservation of the status quo, and they convinced me: I accepted their recommendation. I therefore do not understand why the hon members are looking for something sinister in this. There is no sinister attempt to circumvent this House of Parliament. I accepted the recommendations of the Standing Committee, and the prohibition in respect of members of the President’s Council as well as members of Parliament remains in the Act in its original form. The only alterations to the Act that are now being effected refer to the wording, and this is being done only to bring it into line with our present tricameral parliamentary system.
†The hon member for Walmer has it completely wrong if he is looking for some obscure motive. There is no obscure motive. I accepted the recommendations of the committee. We encountered no problems, and my only purpose was to have this Bill passed by the House or dispose of it in some way. It has been passed by the House and is welcomed by hon members. I therefore support their recommendations.
*As far as the hon member for Langlaagte is concerned … well, I believe it is sometimes better not even to react to certain speeches. [Interjections.] I can only say that in my opinion it was an unfriendly, uncalled-for and unnecessary attack on, or reference to, the Chairman of the South African Tourism Board. He is providing outstanding leadership in that area and under his dynamic leadership this Board does much to promote tourism in South Africa. After I listened to the hon member I found it strange that he supported the legislation at all, but perhaps it still contained a considerable number of things that were not clear to him. [Interjections.] However, I thank the hon members for their support.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Introductory Speech delivered at Joint Sittingon 18 February
Mr Speaker, I move:
The 23 clauses contained in the Bill relate mainly to the hours during which liquor may be sold, supplied and delivered; the detaching of off-sales from hotels and off-consumption authorities in terms of section 23(l)(b); the repeal of the prohibition on the restricted supply of liquor on polling days; a prohibition on the sale of flavoured wine by grocers; and provision for adaptations in respect of the sale of liquor in terms of authorities granted by virtue of section 23(l)(a).
In order to bring about uniformity in respect of the hours during which liquor may be sold by the holders of off-consumption licences and wine farmers’ authorities, appropriate amendments to the Act are being proposed. If a specific need exists—as appears from representations—to extend the hours of sale in respect of a holder of an off-consumption licence or wine farmer’s authority to 14h00 on a Saturday, the Bill provides that extension of the hours can be granted on application and with the consent of the local authority.
On account of the geographical location of licensed restaurants in, for example, metropolitan areas, the irregular arrival and departure of tourists and visitors, as well as the availability of dining facilities for cinema- and theatre-goers, there is a demand for the extension of hours during which liquor may be sold at such restaurants. In order to provide for these needs, the hours applicable to restaurant liquor licences and wine and malt liquor licences are being extended until 01h00 without having to apply therefor.
*There was a time, in the early sixties, when the hotel industry seemed to lack direction. Most hotels were more interested in the return on their liquor sales than in the accommodation and services side of the industry. To my regret I have to say that a small number of hotels are still in that category. In 1965 the Hotels Act was promulgated. The object was to improve the standard of hotel-keeping in South Africa. Today the majority of hotels maintain high standards. The grading system for hotels which was introduced in 1965 has also played an important part in this development. South Africa can now hold its own in comparison with international hotel establishments. However, the hotel industry must constantly adapt to new situations and ever-changing patterns of demand. Dynamic forward planning and innovation is necessary, not only to meet future demands, but also to stimulate growth in the tourist and travel industries.
In order to achieve this objective, adaptations to the existing grading system for hotels are being envisaged. The intention is to enable the hotel industry to meet the growing demand for specialized services.
At present there is a world-wide trend towards specialization to meet only the specific needs of a particular type of customer, for example, by hotels that offer only room accommodation and breakfast. The development in this respect has already made a great deal of progress in the USA, and similar developments are being planned for South Africa. However, these objectives can only be pursued effectively if the hotel industry is allowed to develop independently. Consequently the legal attachment of hotel establishments to off-sales licences is being terminated.
The statutory amendment affords the holders of hotel liquor licences an opportunity to have their liquor stores licensed separately. In this way they can decide to remain in the hotel industry or even to leave the industry and concentrate exclusively on the retail liquor trade. No existing rights are being impaired in any way. In the new dispensation each applicant will be considered on merit for a liquor store. The same will apply to the holder of a hotel liquor licence. The hotel and tourist industries will ultimately benefit from this change.
†The disappearance of those factors which gave rise to the restricted supply of liquor on polling days, for example, the use of liquor to influence voters coupled with the fact that the abuse of alcohol could result in disorderly behaviour, means that a prohibition on liquor sales on polling days places an unnecessary restriction on licencees. The provision is consequently being removed.
The sale of natural wine by the holders of grocers’ wine licences is in accordance with the policy to promote the consumption of wine together with food. Flavoured wine, which recently came on to the market, cannot be reconciled with the traditional consumption of food and wine. The consumption pattern of flavoured wine is probably more in line with that of, for example, cool-drink or other flavoured drinks than with that of natural wine. However, it is particularly the combination of taste and appearance that gives rise to doubts as to the marketing of flavoured wine in grocery stores. The product is bottled in containers and marketed under labels that can easily lead to its being confused with cooldrink. The possibility of confusion, and the misuse by especially juveniles who have free access to grocery stores, are the most important reasons why the Government considers it essential in the public interest to prohibit grocers from selling flavoured wines.
At present the holders of section 23(1)(a) authorities may sell liquor only to members of the Black population groups. In view of the fact that a need has been identified to make liquor available also to other classes of persons, the holders of new and existing authorities are enabled to supply liquor also to such persons.
*In law it is at present impossible to obtain an authority in terms of section 23(l)(b) to sell liquor for off-consumption unless the applicant is already the holder of an authority to sell liquor for on-consumption. This measure is obsolete and in terms of the amendment holders of authorities may, as in the case of section 23(1) (a), choose for themselves which business they wish to operate without compelling them to obtain an on-consumption authority first.
The Act presently stipulates to which legal persons and associations of persons a liquor licence may be granted. No similar provision exists in respect of persons to whom such a licence may be transferred, and it is desirable to bring about uniformity in this regard.
In view of the commencement of the Close Corporation Act, it is essential that the Liquor Act should make provision for the granting or transfer of a licence to such a corporation.
The prohibition relating to the alienation of liquor store licences is being extended in order to prevent a circumvention of the Act.
At present it is possible for organizations such as the Police and Defence Force to sell liquor in canteens which are under their control. No similar concession exists in respect of the Railway Police, and the concession is consequently being extended since a similar need exists in their case.
As a result of interpretation problems, section 154 of the Act is being rephrased in order to clarify the intention of the legislature.
Owing to previous amendments of the Act, as well as the fact that the administration of the Act now falls under the Department of Trade and Industry, the necessity for certain provisions in the Act has fallen away, and the Act is being brought into line with the factual position. At the same time conflicting provisions as well as a few other anomalies are being rectified.
Second Reading resumed
Mr Chairman, as hon members will know, this Bill deals with liquor, and this party does not have an official policy with regard to liquor. I therefore speak in my own capacity today. However, having said that, I am sure that what I say will enjoy the support of most of my hon colleagues on this side of the House, even the teetotallers among them, because there is nothing in the Bill which makes liquor more readily available. I shall be supporting the Bill but would, however, like to make one or two comments on some interesting features contained in it.
My first comment relates to the question of bars being opened on polling days during elections. This is obviously because politics is considered to be conducted in a more civilized manner these days, but having just listened to the exchanges between the hon member for Langlaagte and the NP, I would say that perhaps bars in certain districts should not be opened on polling days.
Some of the other amendments are largely of a technical nature, but there is one amendment which in my opinion is worthy of comment, viz the one which prohibits the sale of flavoured wines through grocery outlets. Hon members will remember that last year we had a long debate in this House when we discussed the Wine and Spirits Amendment Bill and that certain hon members on my side of the House opposed the introduction of flavoured wines. We opposed it for a number of reasons. The most important was that we did not consider it the right thing to do to broaden the market as far as wine was concerned and hence attract new entrants into the market who would probably consume the new product. Of course, we were also against any idea of encouraging people to drink.
It is interesting to refer to the hon the Minister’s Second Reading speech today because many of the fears which we voiced last year are, in fact, mentioned by him in his Second Reading speech. [Interjections.] I quote:
This is precisely the objection which many of us raised here last year. It is not that we are against liquor; we are consumers of the product ourselves and we enjoy it but we do not like the idea of the broadening of the market. So, as far as those of us are concerned who opposed the introduction of flavoured wines last year, this amendment is a welcome amendment in the Bill.
There is one final point which I should like to mention which relates to the same clause and the sale of wine in grocery outlets. I am not being inconsistent here, because I do not regard beer in the same light as flavoured wine. I should like to ask the hon the Minister why it is that wine should get special preference over beer in grocery stores. I know it is policy to promote the consumption of wine with meals, but it is certainly not unknown for people to have beer with meals as well. As a matter of fact, there are very few braais that I have ever been to where beer was not served. I think that, if the hon the Minister is absolutely honest with us, he will admit that this is the result of a wine lobby in Parliament promoting its sectional interests. Obviously the wine drinkers and the wine farmers have an advantage in this regard in this House. Nevertheless, if one looks at the Act, one sees that it refers to wine and malt licences. So, beer and wine are linked, and I do not see the justification for excluding beer for sale at grocery outlets.
With those few words, I support the Bill.
Mr Chairman, I am pleased to be able to speak after the hon member for Pietermaritzburg South. I could not hear him very well, but I caught something about a “teetotaller”. If that was so, there is something wrong. [Interjections.] The hon member also asked why wine should receive preference above beer and other …
That is a mistake.
It is not a mistake. I shall return to it. Wine is a noble product, but there are few articles or products so restricted by legislation as liquor. On the one hand this is probably just as well because liquor has some people entirely in its power. This used to, and still does, cause a stigma to be attached to it at times. There is liquor and liquor, however. Some liquor is good, some not so good. I rate brandy and wine among the best types of liquor. These two products of the vine were originally made for medicinal purposes and not as a source of revenue, as is the custom today. [Interjections.] In 1910 near Babylon—we who still read the Bible know where that is … [Interjections.] … archeologists found a small tablet on which a Sumerian doctor had inscribed a prescription for some disease or other in the year 2200 BC. This is the oldest known medical prescription and wine was a prominent ingredient in it.
In the region of 400 BC Hippocrates, the originator of the modern oath adopted in medicine, said:
Almost a thousand years later his view gained support from the great Saint Augustine who said:
This is of especial importance to older men:
Wine does that to this day. The Wynboer of February 1985 contains a speech by Dr Jacob Deist, Director of the Research Institute for Oenology and Viticulture, in which he says:
It is difficult to interest any appreciable number of people in a subject if one drowns it in high-sounding terms. This applies to wine as well. If the consumer does not like it, words will not convince him otherwise—one should merely introduce him to another kind of wine. If that is to his taste, it is a good wine for him.
I support this Liquor Amendment Bill and everything in the amendment aimed at ensuring the orderly sale of liquor so that its consumption may be orderly and proper and consequently promote the image of liquor, and especially wine, because the moderate use of wine is a good thing.
Experiments conducted over the years have proved that moderate consumers, like some of us here, run 33% less risk of having heart attacks than non-drinkers of wine. The fact that the interior walls of the arteries of such imbibers are still elastic and permit the ready flow of blood even at an advanced age, that the polyphenols in wine counteract certain virus infections and that moderate imbibers, for example, normally are less subject to the common cold prove this statement. Mr Chairman, one never hears any coughing from this corner. [Interjections.]
Perhaps we should convey this to our medical friends who are so apt to recommend so foreign a product as whisky to those with heart problems. Our own wines can have the same or even a more beneficial effect. Perhaps we should also inform our friends who feel so strongly about toxic residues in the human food chain that of all the natural products, wine contains the least amount of toxic residue. The reason is the built-in biological filter, in the form of yeast, in the fermentation process. This should convince us that natural wine is still beneficial to the physical well-being of our present-day society. Wine also helps us to live a longer and more relaxed life—of course if we do not die prematurely. [Interjections.]
I join other hon members on this side of the House in supporting every amendment which makes it possible for liquor to be obtained more easily and freely. As soon as numerous restrictions are placed on the availability of liquor, the aspect of smuggling with all its attendant disadvantages comes to the fore.
We also support the amendment relating to closed days. That provision now lapses and bottle stores, where one may naturally also obtain wine, will therefore be open on election days in future. This is a good amendment. In earlier days the danger naturally existed that the electorate could be bribed by means of a drink to vote for a specific candidate. Now this restriction is no longer necessary, however, because we all vote for the National Party anyway. [Interjections.]
As it has now been established beyond all doubt that flavoured wine will no longer be obtainable in grocery stores, our wine farmers have been satisfied that such wine will not easily fall into the hands of the youth, although it is of course true that if they had been properly educated in this regard, the availability of flavoured wine need not have held any danger either. Furthermore we support the provision with regard to extended selling hours of wine. This should prevent crowding at marketing venues and curb the unnecessarily rapid consumption of wine.
Seen as a whole, this is a very good piece of legislation. I therefore wish to thank the hon the Minister for having made it possible for the people of this country to live longer by taking such good medicine. [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Worcester has a talent for expressing a subject so well. I liked hearing him say that everyone votes for the National Party now. He also says it, of course, with reference to those who previously regarded the tot system as a problem. He also pointed out that in the days when Coloureds and Whites were on a common voters’ roll, the consumption of liquor created great problems on election day. The hon member has just said that everyone votes for the National Party at present. Well, one can understand that. I see that there is actually an hon Minister from the ranks of the Labour Party in the Cabinet of the National Party. One therefore accepts that everyone is now voting for the National Party; everyone except those of us on these benches and naturally also those who vote for the PFP.
The view I actually want to express here today regarding the Bill under discussion is that it is probably a good thing that one can repeal an Act or remove a restrictive provision from legislation. This usually occurs, for example, when there is a decline in the consumption of a product which is not actually worth recommending. I am the last person to declare that wine should not be made available to people at all. I stated very clearly, however, on a previous occasion in this House that the sale of flavoured wine in grocery stores could create problems for the youth of our country. I am also opposed to the sale of all kinds of wine by grocery stores because in this way it is already too easily available to the youth and also because a parent who buys wine at the grocery store places it in the refrigerator at home to keep it chilled. The child accepts that wine simply as a matter of course, in the same way as he regards a bottle of some soft drink which is usually also kept in the refrigerator. We know that drinking problems already occur amongst the youth. One of the reasons for this is naturally to be found in the fact that in many homes both parents take a drink. It is certainly a problem, and that is why I am overjoyed that the hon the Minister also views the matter in this light. In future flavoured wine will therefore be sold by bottle stores only—as it should be.
The provision in the Electoral Act, namely that liquor may not be made available on election days, has been in existence in this country for many years now. There were probably reasons for this provision—there probably still are today—but it also has the great disadvantage that many people in no way involved in an election are restricted by it too. One should examine this problem. I wish to tell the hon the Minister today, however, that he will be remembered as the man who made more amendments to the Liquor Act in two years than have been made to all South Africa’s liquor legislation from 1940 until about now. One need only look at the number of amendments effected. If the hon the Minister’s statutory amendments had been correct to start off with, they would not have required further amending in this House every three to six months. I am of the opinion, therefore, that those statutory amendments were not all well-considered. I should like the hon the Minister to listen to this because I refer regularly to the Bills he introduces in the House. I shall give him an opportunity in a little while to reply. [Interjections.]
But you are talking rubbish now.
The chief idea prompting this legislation is to make wine less freely available because the existing legislation does not appear to require one to vote against it. I do not consider it a problem if a person takes wine with his meals. I do not feel called upon to see to it that legislation should prescribe to an adult, who can afford to take a meal at a restaurant, that he may not have wine. We are not opposed to certain legislation the hon the Minister has introduced in this House. We support the provision for flavoured wine not to be offered for sale in grocery stores and we remain convinced that no wine ought to be sold in a grocery store. We hope that the hon the Minister will see in future that it is best for liquor to be made available only through normal channels such as bottle stores. We therefore support this Bill, but we should like to ask the hon the Minister to have legislation studied more thoroughly before amendments are effected as there was no need for flavoured wine to have been available in grocery stores for a while. In consequence a pattern was established and people developed a taste for a beverage that was not actually wine! It is nothing but a soft drink with a 4% alcohol content. People have now already experienced it, however, and developed a taste for it. We have no actual objections to this Bill and therefore support it.
Mr Chairman, we shall be supporting this Bill in its present form. In so doing, however, I wish to make a few comments. I believe that these amendments that have come forward are just a few more amendments to make this Liquor Act of ours in South Africa a little more civilized. I do not know why it should be, but any country which was within the old British Commonwealth or Empire—call it whatever you will—when it finally gets its independence or becomes a full dominion, finishes up with one of the most extraordinary set of liquor laws one can imagine.
South Africa is no exception. Australia, as we know, once had the peculiar set-up of the 6 o’clock swill. They could not trust their people to drink after 6 o’clock, so at 6 o’clock the people had to get as many drinks as they could lined up in front of them, and swallow them within the next half-hour; and the result—a great deal of drunkenness in almost every city of Australia.
What about Jersey?
In Canada—Jersey was never part of the British Empire as such; they were part of the United Kingdom—some extraordinary laws also existed. I remember that if one wanted to get a bottle of liquor in Nova Scotia one had to sign that one was an alcoholic. The same applied in India—one had to sign that one was an alcoholic, and would then go along to a local establishment with one’s bottle of hard tack, and they would supply you with the minerals and charge you a table charge. In Vancouver, in British Columbia, they had another system: Men and women were not allowed to drink in the same room. So they designed specially long rooms with windows all the way along, and people sat on the seats on both sides of this so that they were in separate rooms, but leaned over talking to one another.
I mention these few little points to illustrate the peculiar provisions which one has in the various liquor laws. We in South Africa still have a number of very peculiar provisions. If one wishes to take a lady into a place to have a drink, unless that room is properly certified as a bar to be able to serve as a ladies’ bar, then one cannot buy a lady a drink across a bar.
This is a peculiar thing. If there is no certificate that it can be used as a ladies’ bar, she cannot be bought a drink in there, but if one wants to give her that drink for free, then it can be done. In other words, if the public house is giving the drinks away, they can do so. One also has the peculiar situation that if they serve the drinks just around the corner, the money is taken just around the comer and not across the bar, then, when the drink is subsequently brought, then they can drink those drinks in that bar.
We have all sorts of peculiar anomalies in our liquor laws. At one stage I had to act as a licensee and therefore I realized some of the troubles that emanated from our liquor laws. While I agree that these are a few amendments which seem to accept the fact that we are growing up and getting somewhat away from the hillbilly days when one could not trust people to have a drink without getting thoroughly sloshed, we still have a long way to go.
Did you have to act as a bouncer too?
I would really have liked to bounce that hon member out, and I would probably have managed it too.
These are improvements in our legislation and therefore we are very happy to support the Bill.
Mr Chairman, I want to focus the attention of the hon the Minister for a moment on clause 5. This clause provides that the Minister can on application change an off-sales licence to a separate licence. I gather that the Board deals with a licensee, but a licensee can have leased that licence, because a lessor can lease both the premises and a licence. There is concern among the lessors that a lessee may apply to the Minister to have the off-sales licence separated from his licence for the premises. In that situation he can then at the end of his lease period return to the lessor his liquor licence for the premises but without the off-sales licence.
I have discussed this with the officials of the hon the Minister here in Cape Town, and they referred me to Pretoria. I have been through to them in Pretoria and they say that they cannot at this stage give a decision on this particular problem. I think that we in this House should make sure that, if we approve this exactly as it reads now, a commitment be borne in mind perhaps to bring in some retrospective legislation to ensure that a lessor has not been unjustly dealt with in this fashion.
I ask the hon the Minister to reply to this in due course.
Mr Chairman, I should like to deal first of all with the hon member for Walmer who raised an interesting and important point. He referred to the owner of the premises, the owner of the building, and if we were to accede to such a request, we would be protecting the owner of the building and not the licensee. Throughout the Liquor Act the licensee is the person held responsible for everything that has to do with the licence. The physical condition of the building is, inter alia, from the point of view of the authorities likewise the responsibility of the licensee. All the responsibilities and the rights are therefore attached to the licence and not to the building.
Although no records are kept of the number of buildings leased for the purpose of conducting a hotel, the information I have received from the Board is that, according to their knowledge, in all cases relevant to the provision, the right must return to the owner on termination of the lease. In other words, the landlord has protected himself sufficiently if the licensee does not continue with the hotel, in that the rights of the licensee will refer back to the owner of the building. I quite agree that there may be some owners whose rights are not protected in this way, but they can take the necessary action in providing for themselves. They have the buildings, they can apply for a licence on its merits and it will be considered by the Board.
We have also decided to allow two years for hotels being erected at the moment to exercise their rights in terms of a liquor licence and off-sales.
I thank hon members for their support of the Bill. The hon member for Pietermaritzburg South correctly indicated that there is nothing contentious in the Bill and that they support the various proposals. He also said that when the question of flavoured wine was introduced in the House last year, they voiced their concern as to the effect this would have, especially the increased consumption of flavoured wines by juveniles. They referred particularly to the selling of flavoured wines in grocery stores. In all frankness, the hon the Deputy Minister of Agriculture who was dealing with the legislation last year, did indicate quite clearly that flavoured wines would not be sold in grocery stores. I have the Hansard edition containing his speech on the matter here and I want to quote from it.
*It is in column 5382 (Hansard, 27 April 1984) and perhaps the hon member for Langlaagte had better also pay attention to this as the Deputy Minister made it very clear last year that flavoured wines would not be sold in grocery stores. The hon the Deputy Minister said the following:
End of quotation.
After the matter had been examined, it appeared that the definition of wine could also include flavoured wine. The holder of a grocer’s wine licence could therefore, strictly speaking, certainly have sold flavoured wine—which brings us back to this amendment. It is actually a consequence of the hon the Deputy Minister of Agriculture’s undertaking to state beyond all doubt that the sale of flavoured wine in grocery stores would not be permitted.
Concerning the hon member for Langlaagte, let me tell him at once that it is no good merely firing a shot in the dark and waiting for the consequences. That reminds me of the story told about the Boer War and a visitor who had come to the aid of the Boers. When shots rang out and he smelt gunpowder, however, he became very frightened and sought refuge behind a rock. Every now and then he merely fired a shot and said: May it find its mark. A shot in the dark like that of the hon member’s is also a case of “may it find its mark”, but in this case the shot was wide of the mark. He said it was unnecessary for flavoured wine to be sold in grocery stores, only to want the provision changed six months later.
Is the hon the Minister maintaining that it was not to be found in the shops?
I shall reply to that. When it became clear that grocery stores could, in fact, sell the wine …
Is the Act so obscure that nobody can interpret it?
The hon member has had the opportunity of making his speech. Now he should listen to the facts. When it became clear, upon interpretation of the Act, that the holder of grocer’s wine licence would also be able to sell flavoured wine, the commercial sector was approached. Discussions were held on the subject and this sector, and specifically the grocery trade, decided that it would not sell flavoured wine. So there was agreement and co-operation from all parties, the result being that to date flavoured wine has not been sold by any holder of a grocer’s wine licences. This Act is amended practically every year. The hon member should tell us exactly where past amendments are now being negatived. The situation has changed, and in this case we are dealing with a complicated Act with many implications. From time to time it becomes necessary to modify the Act.
The hon member for Pietermaritzburg South asked why the sale of beer was not permitted in grocery stores. We debated this subject on a previous occasion. There are various reasons why this is not permitted. If the hon member had listened at the time to the hon member for Worcester’s lyrical description of the virtues of wine, it would not have been necessary for him to put such a question to me. Taking wine, especially with food, is a way of life which may be traced to the distant past. It is a beautiful, cultured lifestyle. He knows that the Malan Commission, in those days, recommended that wine and beer be sold in grocery stores. Upon due consideration, however, the Government decided not to accept that recommendation and to permit wine to be sold in this way only by grocers in possession of the necessary licence. The fact is that we wish to promote the good, healthy custom of taking wine with food. I wish to go further. There is no ambiguity about this in the Government’s attitude. In this way we wish to contribute not only to establishing a good pattern of living in taking food and wine, but also to promoting a product which is of the utmost importance to the economy of the Western Cape. Thousands of employees depend upon the wine industry, and in reality it is the life blood of many communities in that area. We are therefore not ashamed to say that we also have the interests of the wine industry at heart. We are not doing this on behalf of a wine pressure group, as hon members of the other side claim. Definitely not. We are doing it because we realize the importance of this product to the economy of the Western Cape. I wonder whether the hon member has ever attempted to establish precisely the implications of such a step to the retail liquor trade. In many cases it could lead to the collapse of the present retail trading pattern in the short term. These are all factors the Government has to consider.
I wish to ask the hon the Minister whether he is aware that wine is being imported from Zimbabwe.
To the best of my knowledge Zimbabwe has never been a wine producer, but this is possible within the existing extensive commercial network through which products of various origins and from various countries are traded in South Africa. To the best of my knowledge South African wine has been exported over the years, not only to countries in Africa, but also to other countries of the world, as is the case at present. [Interjections.]
I wish to thank the hon member for Worcester for his excellent contribution. It took me back to Leipoldt’s fine and wonderful piece in which he praises wine as good medicine. I almost thought the hon member could have formulated a motto for us, something like: “Drink wine and live! Drink wine and live longer! Drink wine and live a happier life! Drink wine and live a better life!” It did one good to listen to the hon member for Worcester. His words were from the heart and we appreciate his positive comments.
I wish to agree with the hon member. I believe it is also of importance for the wine industry to note that the unnecessary restriction of a product is, in the long run, to the disadvantage of the very people one is trying to help by means of the restrictions. Unnecessary restrictions lead to undesirable practices. In saying this, I am definitely not advocating an unrestricted, undisciplined situation. The promotion of the orderly and responsible marketing of wine, as well as of other products, is necessary. Its use should also go hand in hand with the right education and the right approach to life, in the spirit of the hon member’s speech.
†Mr Chairman, the hon member for Umbilo referred to peculiar elements in the Act and he quoted one example. It is certainly possible for any licensee these days to upgrade his bar to a ladies’ bar. The whole purpose was really not to open all bars to ladies, but to give an incentive to those who would like to improve their standards, to upgrade their facilities. We are in a situation in this world of constant change and transformation, and this is also evident in respect of the demands and the standards of people. We are trying to encourage them to improve the standards and to use liquor in a more responsible manner by means of the Liquor Act. I think it is not quite fair to refer to the Liquor Act as being antiquated and outdated. If there are particular aspects of the Act which worry the hon member …
I did not say it was outdated.
Then I misunderstood him. However, if there are any matters related to the Liquor Act, which he finds rather antiquated or outdated, and he would like to recommend changes in that respect, then he is welcome to write to me or to recommend changes. We shall consider his recommendations sympathetically.
*I am grateful to the hon member for Langlaagte and other hon members for supporting the Bill.
Question agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Mr Chairman, I move:
The House adjourned at